Monday, April 28, 2014

6 Months!!!!!!!

Holy smokes. I have never in my life spent as much time on my knees praying as I did this last week! It was a mixture of a lot of things. It was just hard being back to knowing NO one again. Not even the missionaries I’m serving around. I understand though that this is an opportunity to grow. To learn. President Monson puts it perfectly:

“Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.
This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. The poet expressed much the same thought in these words:
Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

I also struggled this week with feeling unworthy to be here. Since being out I’ve had so many things pop into my head. Past mistakes, mess ups, sins. I was/am constantly getting them out of my head and not entertaining the thoughts, but it still got me thinking. I finally poured my heart out to the Lord and asked to know if I had truly been forgiven of my past. Right after I began my personal studies and opened to this scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 25:3

Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.

Wow. I can’t even put into words how I felt when I read this. I knew that it was the Lords way of telling me I was just fine and that I have been called to preach the gospel to the people here in California.
Mormon Helping Hands this week:)

One of the biggest tender mercies this week was on Monday right after I’d gotten to Hesperia. I was at the library emailing and my trainer (Sister Havens) emailed asking where I was. I told her then she asked which library I was out very franticly. I told her and she goes “ME TOO! We had to come down here to fix our car today!!!” I turned around and there she and Sister Richardson were. I was in tears being so overwhelmed at the time and Heavenly Father sent them as a way of telling me He was very aware of how I was feeling and that He would do all in His power to help me. 

We have a lot more people to teach here so we are staying busy! The ward is ¼ deaf, so my companion does sign language and interprets during meetings and lessons. It is SO neat. I am learning a little bit of ASL and loving it. The deaf members of the ward have SUCH strong testimonies.

Sister Treadwell and I.  Everyone says we look like sisters?
Some things about Hesperia? It’s brown. It’s comedy because you’ll see little patches of green in people’s yards and you’re just like: no. it just doesn’t even fit in. It’s windy as all get out here!!! I’m constantly feeling like a model. Mainly because I’m just super hot and rockin’ it…I can’t help I was born that way…..but I guess the wind plays a part in that too :p

The people here are very interesting and different. I’m learning to love it. One man we met this week showed us his pet piranha..yes, you read right, piranha. Like fish that will eat you or whatever and he goes “dawg. Don’t rat me out to the feds or nothing. They be coming and takin’ my zoo away! Some Mexican smuggled it for me…dang. I can’t believe I just sold myself out to yall” hahahaha. It’s been a funny time so far. :)
My new little friends
 Oh yeah, I hit my 6 month mark on the 23rd :) WHOA NELLY! It does NOT seem like I’ve bene out half a year! It also doesn’t seem like 4 months since I’ve talked to my family! No worries though, Mothers Day isn’t too far away :) I love you all and hope you’re constantly striving to do better. Don’t forget to read your scriptures and say your prayers. It’s amazing how those are the two ways we can best communicate with our Father in Heaven and that He sent us here with EVERYthing we needed to be successful. I love the gospel. Feed the missionaries, especially on Sundays. Send me letters. 

Sister Toolan

Monday, April 21, 2014

HELLO Hesperia, CA!!!!!!!!!!!!

This week was FAR from laid back, boring, or even normal for that matter.

For starters we went over to Jennas at a really bad/inspired time and ended up being there as her cat died. The whole family was a mess and it was hard because I had no idea what to say. I hate animals. Luckily, us missionaries come in two and Sister Hansen loves them and was able to share some words of comfort. I did ask what I could do to help though and no joke helped dig up a grave and then buried him. I guess there really is a first for everything? Her little boy kept running around asking if the cat was going to come back and be a zombie cat someday. Hilarious. That’s what video games will do to ya, kids!!!
Diamond Bar Missionaries

Thursday night we looked down and the “Assistants to the President” were calling us. Yeah, I knew it could only be bad. So they ended up asking me to train a new missionary. Well, finish train. They asked whether or not I was up to it all I said was “that poor girl.” I pretty much knew right then that meant I was getting transferred and whaddddaya know, I got transferred! HELLLLLLLLLLO Hesperia. Goodbye Diamond Bar :(

Sister Hansen took a picture of me while finding out about transfers

I will admit, leaving was so hard. I was/still semi am heartbroken. Having to tell the people I’ve been working with and seeing them upset killed me. Church Sunday was by far the hardest though. BUT! On the bright side I have never felt so loved in my whole entire life. I love that Heavenly Father sent me there. I love all of the things I learned from that ward. I also love that He obviously has so much trust in me right now with all of this responsibility. To say I’m not scared out of my wits would be a lie, but I know with His help I can accomplish what He sent me here to do. My new companion is Sister Treadwell and she is a doll. It’s going to be great!
I LOVE THIS FAMILY! They gave me two lava lavas as a going away gift :) 

2 Nephi 33:3 explains how I’m feeling perfectly.
But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.

I love the people I’ve met more than I ever thought I could love someone. I pray for them every single day. They are on my mind 24/7 trying to figure out how I can best help them and bring them closer to the Savior. When they hurt, I hurt. When they struggle, I feel their pain.

Told myself I’d save the Cheer Wine (Cherry Soda) emily sent as a birthday gift for a bad day…Sunday morning before church was deff an appropriate time to do so.

Ain't nobody messing with mah clique!

Brother Arnold made a comment this week that really made me think (in regards to us talking about caring for the people I’ve met). He said isn’t it crazy how much we can grow to love someone in such a short period of time? If we, as humans, have the capability to love like that when we barely even know the person, think about just how much Heavenly Father loves us considering He knows us SO well. Perfectly. Isn’t it wonderful to know that even when we feel like the world is against us, that the Savior and our Father in Heaven care so much about us? That they are rooting us on and doing ALL they can to help us out.

“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” Ain’t that the truth!!! As a missionary, we have to plan everythiiiiiiiiiiing, but we are also a lot more successful because of it. This applies to everything in life though. If you don’t plan to graduate high school, then you probably won’t do what it takes to get there. If you plan to get a job then you’ll probably make plans to go out and apply which will eventually get you a job! If we think about our lives, make goals, plan to succeed and to live up to our potential then we will.

Dad, you’ll be proud of me this week. I helped till someone’s yard!!! We looked like peasants out there working, but it was a darn blast! Thanks for teaching me to be a hard worker! Even though you didn’t think I knew how to work because I never would at the house….sorry about that lol, it’s just easier when it not YOUR house. :)
Workin it in the yard!
I love you all and can’t wait to fill you in on how everything is here in Hesperia next week:)

Sister Toolan

Us trying to get a picture with huge bubbles....FAIL

Monday, April 14, 2014

Learning from the past!

I am SO sorry that last week I barely wrote anything at all. I kiiiiiinda had a little something “come up” :) (literally) and didn’t have time to finish lol. Hopefully this week I will have more to say and it’ll be of worth to someone out there.

I "bumped" into this sweet family at the library....who knew?
This week was a little slow. Sister Hansen had a fall Monday night so she had to stay off her feet the first few days. When you aren’t busy doing work as a missionary time draaaaaaaaaaags. But it’s cool because we still got a lot accomplished and EASTER IS SUNDAY :) To get you in the Easter Spirit you should watch this video/share it with everyone!

Something I’ve thought a lot about this week: the day after Jenna was baptized we were at church and a youth gave a talk. He talked about how when we lived with Heavenly Father before coming here to earth we had friends and family up there that probably came up to us and said “Look, you’re going to be lucky enough to have the gospel in your life growing up and i’m not going to. I need you to promise me you’ll come find me, no matter what it takes, so that I can know the truth again. I need you to come find me.” Right after he said that Jenna looked at Sister Havens and I with tears in her eyes and said “you found me!” I will never forget that moment. I truly believe that something of that nature happened in the pre-mortal life. We not only told, but promised, people we would do whatever it took to help them find the gospel again. Everything in this church is about being selfless and serving others. Yes, we came to this earth for experience, but we also came for more than that. We came to bring others into Christ so that they could live with Him and their families for time and all eternity. I think we need to be more diligent with sharing the gospel for this reason. How many people do we walk past a day (including missionaries) that are confused and looking for answers, which the gospel can answer. How many of them did we tell we would help someday? We can’t pass up the missionary opportunities that Heavenly Father gives us daily.

I remember a time in High School that I wanted to be a “leader” in FCA. I filled out the application every.single.year and yet every time I never heard anything back. It started to really aggravate me that here I was, a good girl trying to do what was right (for the most part. We all are dumb and make bad choices lol, not saying I was perfect!) but some of the “leaders” were those who were really good at going to church on Sunday right after they’d stayed out all weekend drinking and “livin’ it up”. It made me SO angry. It wasn’t til the middle of my senior year that I figured out why I was never given the chance to be a leader. It was because I am a Mormon. It’s because I believe in not just the Bible, but the Book of Mormon as well. I was crushed. I was angry, embarrassed and left to question my beliefs. I thought to myself “is it worth this? I’m humiliated right now and it’s all because of my religion. Do I really want to put up with this the rest of my life?” I am thankful for this horrible experience because it allowed me to question my beliefs and take it up with the Lord. I asked Him, as I already had before, whether or not this was the true church. Welp, I guess you know what answer I got considering I’m on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints :) It’s not easy being a member of this church and it never will be. But it IS worth it. We need to be courageous. We have to replace our fears with faith. We MUST stand up for what we believe in every situation.

Speaking of good ole’ High school I thought I’d bring this up. There have been times when I wondered why if I was living my life the way the Lord wanted me to, why IIIII wasn’t as happy as all those others just “livin’ it up” as previously discussed. I now know the answer to that.
Happiness from worldly things will ALWAYS come to an end. If you find your joy in your coolest phone, or the huge party you threw last weekend that didn’t get busted, being the most popular at school, having the biggest house…..that happiness will ALWAYS come to an end. Being a member of this church brings an eternal JOY to us. Don’t think that just because it looks on the outside that these people are happy that they are. “Wickedness never was happiness.” Find happiness in knowing your Heavenly Father is happy with the right choices you’re making. Find happiness in not being scared to do what’s right instead of being just like everyone else out. Find happiness. Everlasting joy.

Cheers for having boysenberry apple juice!

Oh, so story behind the random picture of me jumping the fence last week? When  we go out in the morning to run we have a key that will unlock the gate going OUT but coming back IN it won’t work. So every morning people driving by get to see a Mormon missionary “breaking in” to her own apartment complex. It’s quite the adventure :)

Summer and I being...summer and I!

I have horrible luck lately with credit/debit cards. I guess I went to Bakersfield, CA last week and spent $162 at a Chevron……with my missionary card..uhhhhh??? it’s cool. It’s only gunna take like 2 weeks to get a new card…no big deal or anything….dang gena. Me and money don’t mix well anymore.

Well, it’s that time again. We find out about transfers Saturday. So if you send me mail send it to the mission office :) but DO send mail, it’s the best. I hope yall have a fantastic week!!!!! Eat lots of candy for me, but don't send me any ;p 
Sister Toolan

Becca thought messing up my hair would be funny -_- I looked like Cousin IT!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Working Hard!

This past week at District Meeting our District Leader showed us this video.

As I sat with tears pouring I wrote in my study journal “Christ paid the ultimate price, had more trial and hurt than anyone, and after all was said and done he was resurrected into His perfect state. It’s the same with missionaries…we go through extremely tough times and then after we’ve learned all that we needed to, after the trial of our faith, our Sunday comes. We get to see that bright and perfect light again. In a way, we die and then we are resurrected. Missionary work will NEVER be easy. But our Sunday WILL come.”

I’ve come to understand how personal and individual the atonement was.

Alma 7:11-12 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

He HAD to suffer for each and every one of us so that He would know how to succor us, to comfort, recuse, aid, support, and relive us. We all are affected by things so differently. Isn’t it incredible to think He went through all He went through for YOU! No one else could’ve done what He did.

Sister Hansen!
We text Guillermo a text this week asking him a question and he responded with this: “I don’t remember…see what happens when you drink coffee for many years, you start to forget things…lol” hahahah HOW FUNNY! We watched conference with him and his wife and it was AWESOME!

We had 16 adults and tons of kids running around for Sundays conference, then we had foods galore just like the good ole days back home :)
Conference was AMAZING. The thing I got most from it was that we need to love people. We need to use that talent, that spiritual talent we have to build up the kingdom of God here on earth! I realized then that Heavenly Father was talking to me through His prophets and apostles. He was saying “Katie. QUIT thinking it’s so bad that you love people. That you’re sensitive. I saved you for these times because I loved that about you and knew you would be of worth when the world has so much hate it in.” I think we also need to see spiritual gifts as talents and work on them just like we would worldly talents. Spiritual gifts are from our Heavenly Father and those are precious to Him.

After spending a lot of time with complaining missionaries this week I have made it a personal goal to STOP complaining. It is so annoying. We should be thankful for the things we DO have instead of dwelling on all that we don’t have. Our moods affect others, so make sure you aren’t being a burden by being a negative nancy 24/7.
Talk about a huge lemon!

I heard at a BYU-I devo before leaving that “If you work your mission easy, it’ll be hard. If you work it hard, it’ll be easy.” I KNOW this is true. On days that I slack off and goof off I feel like it’s been such a loooooooong day and I’m more than tired. When I do all that I can and work my tail off it flies by like none other!!! It’s the same with anything though. Work, school, play. If we do what we have to do anyways and give it all we got then life will be enjoyable. We will know it was time well spent. It will be easy no matter what it thrown at us.

Be grateful. Smile. Share and embrace the gospel. I love yall.
Sister Toolan

Cute little kittys (I kissed them for you Cambell!)

Still being Katie:)