Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Before I start writing away and forget to say this: HAPPY THANKSGIVING, YALL :) Make sure you have an attitude of gratitude this week. You should at all times, but you know what I mean.

One thing that I’m eternally grateful for would have to be my parent’s hardheaded-ness. I remember my senior year when it came time for me to make college plans how tense it got in our home. I had a boyfriend there at home and I lived practically within walking distance of my whole family; I was scared to leave and didn’t have any intent on saying goodbye.To anyone. There was one night when I was trying to convince mom and dad to let me move to Tallahassee and they flat out said “Katie, we will not be paying for school or anything unless you go to Idaho.” UHH. I was sittin’ there like “You wouldn't even let me have a job in high school so I literally have no $$$ to my name to support myself. Is this a joke?!?” It’s safe to say I probably didn’t talk to them for a week. I was so angry. I felt they weren't allowing me to make my own decision about my life and that they were taking the fun out of this new time in my life.

Now that I’m a few years older, not AS stubborn and on a mission learning the roles in a family I understand. Regardless of whether or not my parents knew it at the time—they were simply following a prompting from Heavenly Father by making me go there. I’m sure it was NOT easy layin’ down the law like that to me because they knew me and how I’d react. But they stood their ground.

I am convinced that had I not been forced to move to Idaho I would have never even considered a mission. I would still be back home, doing the same ole same ole high school crap. Who knows! I could still be in the same relationship, talking about the same things, hanging out with the same people and making the same mistakes. Instead though, I was out in Idaho when they made the age change for girls going on a mission, not around my distractions/temptations anymore which gave me room to figure some things out for myself. Now, here I am on a mission wondering what in the world I would do without it and the experiences it’s brought me. I am thankful, oh so thankful, for good parents who knew what would be best for me.
Festive lights in our room

Some little things I’m grateful for: Mormon Messages, warm showers, my stuffed animal frog ( baby!!!), the Spirit, friends/family who email every single week, crazy socks, when people wave back to me :) chocolate, painted nails, rain, a house that's cold at night, laughter, compliments, chapstick, scruffy faces (they remind me of my daddy), hugs-n-lots of lovin', that my piano skills are improving, technology, the name tag that I get to wake up and wear every day right now, earrings, music, when elderly people tell me their love stories <3 a sense of humor, crossfit workouts, service, GREEN (which I haven't lived around in 7 months now haha) clouds, 1Direction, journal keepings, goals, pictures, memories, my testimony, my future family (who I pray for daily), sleeping in boys clothes, members who do missionary work and FRECKLES :))
1D Cup

The list could go on and on for forever, but that's all I have time for right now :) 

Saturday was probably the craziest day of the week. There was a baptism going on that afternoon at 12 that we had invited some investigators to. Well, last minute the member we had lined up to give them rides got sick so we had to start calling around. We literally spent ALL of our studies calling people. We had an appointment at 10:15 and by the time we left we were 1. Late. (I can’t stand being late :( just a little FYI) 2. Had called 19 people already that said they could NOT give them a ride. We get to our appointment and we just were praying and praying that everything would work out. We were especially nervous because we were going to visit ‘talkers’ - if you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down…we knew by the time we got out it would be 11:15 with no time to figure out the ride deal.

We get up to our appointments door and the little old lady was in such bad shape that she legit didn't have the strength to even unlock the door for us to come in!! It was really sad…but a HUGE blessing because we got to go help our investigator get ready to come and I’m proud to announce we found a ride. Sure, it was 26 people and 39 phone calls later..but indeed they got rides. The member that did it was the one we did service for at the Frozen birthday party a few weeks ago. WOW. I love how stuff like that always come around back to ya :) I love how Heavenly Father provided a way for everything to work out because He wanted some of His children there at that baptism feeling the spirit.

It was a really cool baptism. Both of the girls giving talks gave them via skype because they were in different states. You know, technology can be a real evil thing at times—but it also can be such a beautiful blessing. Technology was the reason two girls who gave their friend a Book of Mormon 5 years ago were able to attend/watch/participate in such a sacred experience even across the country. I love it.  
I am currently soakin' up the Holiday season like none other. I can't even tell you how happy Christmas time/music makes me! Michael Buble's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" came on the other day in some store and I about died. I remember when Dakota and I would turn that on (at all times in the year) and just sing our little hearts out. Boy, the day will soon come when I'll be home and we will be jammin' out to it we are on our way to the the summer...and it will be glorious.

Ok, eat your weight in food this week for me. Enjoy being able take a nap afterwords, as well. LOVE YALL TOO TOO TOO TOO MUCH.  
Sister Toolan
The ladies dog we live with who waits on us at the window daily

Monday, November 17, 2014

Van Heel and Toolan get to stay in Apple Valley for another 6 weeks

As I’m sure most of you already know, I am staying in the Village ward another transfer with Sister Van Heel!! Whoop whoop. Alright, on to business. Little warning before you start reading this though: it could be a doozy. We had a ton of great things happen this week and I just have GOT to let you know!

On Friday we had a special Zone Conference where Elder Golden (of the area 70) and his wife came and talked to/trained us. When we have conferences like this we are always asked to ‘prepare for it’. Luckily, I had an incredible Zone Leader in Hesperia that explained to us the way we can ‘prepare’ is by going with a question that we need answered in our heart. I totally forgot all about that until Thursday night when I was lying in bed. 
Well, Sister Golden got up to talk to us and let us know at the very beginning that just yesterday when she was getting to train the missionaries in our mission down in the Valley she talked all on ‘enduring the end’. She told us, however, that she was prompted to say this: You are SO important to Heavenly Father. He loves you. He knows you’re working hard and trying your best. You are so very important to him. 
Zone Conference
She literally talked to us about this for a good 20 mins. I sat in complete awe. Little did she know that the prayer I had come to that meeting with in my heart was this: Is Heavenly Father proud of me? How does He feel about me right now? I need to know He isn’t disappointed in me. WOW. I know that obviously there were more people there than just me that needed to hear the words she spoke. However, the thing I took from it all was this: I am so important to Heavenly Father that He allowed her to change the course of her message to answer MY question because He cares about me that much. She was talking TO me FOR Heavenly Father. I will never forget that experience. Afterwards I went up to her and thanked her over and over for following the prompting of the spirit that allowed me to get an unshakable answer that Heavenly Father loved me. We cried together. It was so special. Isn’t it great to know that He hears every single one of our prayers and that He will do whatever He has to do for us to get our answers and for us to understand we got them? 

-I saw Vanilla Cokes on sale somewhere we went and got one simply because it made me think of Emily Grace and our love for them. Yep. Yall might assume I never think of you anymore, but you’re darn wrong :)
-While having a lesson this week with a grandpa and 3 little boys the 7 year old of the bunch, after the older 2 getting a little rowdie (and yes I know that’s not how you spell rowdy, but that’s how we spelt it in cheerleading so it just feels right ;p) he stands up and goes “Ok. We are getting off track!” HAHAH. So great. 

-Sister Van Heel and I were talking during lunch the day before Zone Conference and I asked her what she was wearing to it, she told me she didn’t know and I responded (in all seriousness…which is the part that makes this sad hahah) “Look. We’ve already talked about laying out your clothes at night.” She makes me feel like a mom haha. I guess it’s good practice? :p

-WE GET TO DRIVE A JEEP NOW. WHAAAAWHOOOOO. I seriously get to drive nicer cars on my mission than I’ll ever own in my life. Love the mission life. And thankful we have a car!

-Our Zone Leaders had to come get something from our house and at some point in the conversation we brought up how Vicky gave us those awesome fur coats last week…I think you already know where this is going.

-President Hobbs said ‘Yall’ on Friday. Warmed my little heart. 

-After a really long and busy week of mostly service and meetings and feeling like we hadn’t got to do much teaching at all we had 13 honkin’ people at church on Sunday. It was the most incredible feeling to be sitting there and to keep seeing more and more people walk in that you never thought would come. We couldn’t thank Heavenly Father enough the rest of the day for that miracle. Shoot! I’m STILL thankin’ Him! It’s just proof to me that no work goes unnoticed to Him and that hard work will always pay off, even if you don’t get to see that until the eternities. 

Sister Hobbs on Friday asked us “If you were to go a week without food how would you feel?”
Elder Coburn (who I love and miss dearly): “DEAD.”
Well, that’s how we will feel when we don’t feed our spirit. We have GOT to be reading our scriptures, praying and obeying the commandments daily. We are literally a THREAT to Satan as we study daily. We can’t think we can go weeks or even DAYS without that spiritual nourishment. I want yall to try harder this week to spiritual feed yourselves. Ok? 

We met with a part member family this week. The mom is a non-member and her son is leaving for his mission in like 2 weeks. My heart went out to her. Yes, I know it’s hard for my mom and many others to send their “baby” out into the world with little communication and knowing they will have hard times and such. But at least they get it. They have the gospel in their lives. They KNOW the importance of letting us go out and share it with everyone. This poor mom had no idea. She doesn’t have the gospel. She is scared silly and I love that she is allowing her son to leave even though she doesn’t get it. That’s faith. It makes me even more thankful for the gospel though. It’s there to heal our broken hearts, give us peace and reassurance and to help us see the bigger picture of it all. 

It’s starting to get pretty chilly up here in the Hi-Desert, so I want to go to a bonfire. NBD though…there’s time for allla that at a later day :) I can’t believe I only have 4 transfers left. I know there’s still a lot of work left for me to do in this area. Oh and btw: after 12 long months of questioning where I need to live after my mission and after making the decision to not think about it anymore 4 months ago…I know I need to be in Utah. When it comes to school I got no earthly idea, but I know I need to be in Utah. Phew. How’s that for a public announcement? LOVE YALL! <3
Sister Toolan

The greatest GOOD BYE hug ever from Sister Havens!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Show me some LOVE!

I’m honestly not really sure how to explain this past week. I guess bipolar would be a good word??
Sister Havens & Price go home Monday:(

We were helping an elderly lady this week and I had an interesting experience while there. So her dog had just gotten back from the vets because she had a loooooot going wrong for her. She got back with a shaven bum (they had to do surgery or something? Idk haha) and had a rash and such. Well the other dog had been crying the whole time she was gone and was SO excited to see her be back home. He literally went up to her, kissing and trying to love on her (the hurt dog) and homegirl snapped at him SO badly. She growled and scared him. It wasn’t til then that I realized how much that related to us humans. There are times when we are so hurt/down/sad/depressed and someone comes around to try and comfort us and we completely backlash at them. The worst part is it’s always to the ones that love us the most that we do this to.

President Monson said “Brothers and sisters, some of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate our love will be within the walls of our own homes. Love should be the very heart of family life, and yet sometimes it is not. There can be too much impatience, too much arguing, too many fights, too many tears. Lamented President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Why is it that the [ones] we love [most] become so frequently the targets of our harsh words? Why is it that [we] sometimes speak as if with daggers that cut to the quick?”9 The answers to these questions may be different for each of us, and yet the bottom line is that the reasons do not matter. If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with kindness and respect.”
I have thought since then about how horrible I’ve treated people in the past and how much I want to do better. I want to accept love from other. I want to allow others in. I think that I’ve been so hurt in my past that I automatically assume everyone will let me down and when I do that I don’t allow good things to happen. I just want to show those that I love how much I truly love them. Because I do. I love yall.

Some miracles:
-A lady of the church paid for our groceries on Monday at Walmart. She isn’t even in our ward or anything, she just saw the good ole’ name tags. That was a 1st time for me! I didn’t want to let her, but then she pulled the whole “Please let me. I’d hope someone would do the same for my son.” So I couldn’t say no :( No worries though, we already wrote her a thank you letter, did some stalking (which missionaries are great at ;p) to find her address and put that bad boy in the mail today!

-Had interviews with President. Those are always so great :)

-One of the older ladies we work that that has dementia yelled at her husband talking about Sister Van Heel and I “RON. THOSE ARE MY GIRLS!!!!!!” Oh, dear. How I love sweet little spirits like that :)

-After a HORRIBLE day Saturday we went to one of our investigators house who was ALSO having a rough day. It was so strange because we are all so upbeat and happy all the time, but we were down in the dumps. Luckily, after a while we all got silly and she ended up giving us these AWESOME fur coats and taking bomb pictures with us hahaha. It honestly wouldn’t have been so stinkin’ hilarious had it not been such a bad day, so I’m grateful for that hard time!!!
You think you fancy ugh?
-A few of our investigators came to church for the 1st time finally :)

-While at a members house last night for dinner he said such a nice prayer. In it he thanked Heavenly Father for our families and them ‘allowing their beautiful daughters to come out to share their light with us.’ After he held our hands and said “You tell your parents I say thank you tomorrow. We are so thankful to have you here. You have no idea how much your smile means every time we see you. You’re such a blessing to this area right now. You are beautiful. Tell them thank you.” <3 <3 <3 <3

-Quelf is an AMAZINGLY HILARIOUS board game that I would encourage any family to purchase. Just sayin’ hahah.

Sister Van Heel helped me have an AHHA moment this week. Before I go on I should probably let you know I love that girl. She is great. I’m thankful she likes to laugh as much as I do and that we know how to be open with one another :) anywho. So my WHOLE mission I have had companions that when I ask them how I can improve, they never have anything. Then I sit there like “WOMAN. I knoooow I ain’t no saint. I’m crazy as a run over dog. PLEASE tell me what I can do so I can be better. PLEASE.” I’ve struggled with that but Sister Van Heel opened my eyes a little. She said “Sister Toolan, God knows YOU point out enough things to fix in yourself.” We talked about it and it’s true. I see SO many things to improve on daily and I think if I had someone adding to my already HUGE list I wouldn’t be able to function from feeling so worthless. Heavenly Father knew alllllll along what kind of companions I needed. GO FIGURE. I will never complain about that again.
We twins!

We were asked this week how to know if our mission was successful or not and a few things came to mind. The one that has had the biggest impact on me however was the fact that I’ll know if it was a success if I come home and continue to share the gospel. If I learned how important sharing my testimony is, how powerful missionary work is and the joy that comes from the gospel then it’ll have been successful. I want to come home and never stop being a missionary. I want to come home and tell alllllll of you how crucial this is for you, what Heavenly Fathers plan is for you and how much you need the gospel. Because you DO! We ALL do!!!

I love my mission. I love changing. I love know Heavenly Father will always forgive me, no matter what. I love that my family is a forever family now. I love all of my old companions. It makes me sad that all of my favorites keep leaving me, but I’m thankful Heavenly Father allowed me to have them while I did :) hey, stay golden pony boys. Don’t forget to say your prayers.
Sister Toolan
Beautiful Beautiful sunset

My gurlllll!!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Beware - Weapons of War

I want to start by saying I love yall. I really do. Anyways.

Monday- Got taken to Applebees for dinner for the 1st time on my mission. No, it’s not the best tasting place, but it made me think of all the times my friends & I would go during the summer past 9 for cheap wings and it made me happy. Memories are something that means so much to me. Sappy, I know. That’s life for ya :) Also, I got new stamps…they are a little scary, and semi-disturbing hahah, but that’s all they had. So just a warning to all you great people that write me.

Tuesday- I must tell you before I quote myself that in the mission when you train a new missionary they occasionally will refer to you as “mom” and they are your “daughter”. Well, since Sister Van Heel had already been trained 6 weeks (you get trained for 12) when I got her, she technically became my “step-daughter”. So that night she was doing something funny to annoy me and I busted out with “Listen up, woman. Imma bout to beat you like the red headed step child that you are!!!!!!” We have a good time together. Hahahhaa. I feel like that’s one of the blessings I’ve experienced with all of my companions. No matter how different we were or how much we got under each other’s skin at times, we ALWAYS knew how to laugh and just fool around. I think that’s so important in every relationship whatever the situation may be. Humor is a good thing.

Wednesday- I got told that I have “lioness eyes”? Not sure what that meant, but he said it was an AWESOME thing haha. The member that we live with got home from her 9 day vacation and it was so nice to come home to someone again. Have I ever told you how much I love living with members??

Thursday- We made some Halloween cupcakes that momma sent me in a package. We figured it would give us a really good excuse to stop by and see some people that we teach :)

Crazy story from this day: President Hobbs taught us something kinda cool a while back. It says in the seminary book, a lot more eloquently that I can put it “After years of preaching the gospel, Ammon praised the Lord and expressed gratitude for the blessing of being an instrument in His hands to bring the gospel to the Lamanites. Many Lamanites began to believe in the Lord, repented, and called themselves the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. After the Anti-Nephi-Lehies made a covenant with God to never again take up weapons of war”
These people were blood thirsty people who fought ALL the time, but because they were SO converted to the Lord they buried there weapons in order to prove that love to Him. He then related it to us missionaries and how we all have our own “weapons of war” or things that distract us from the work/keep us from having a good relationship with God. For all of you it could be something like spending too much time on social networking sites which makes you think you don’t have enough time to pray at night, or maybe you work so much that you feel too tired to read from the scriptures daily, maybe you KNOW there is a certain sin that you don’t want to give up but know you should, whatever the case may be we all have them. So occasionally we will do what President invited all us missionaries to do and invite the members to “lay down their weapons of war”. So first off, I want to invite all of YOU to evaluate your life really quick. Figure out what your own weapon of war is and if you can’t pick one, pray and ask Heavenly Father which one is most important for you to do NOW and do it. Bury it deep. Love the Lord so much that you’re willing to give up something of this world that you hang onto…
Anyways…the funny part of the story………after sharing this message with a member and after much awkwardness the whole dinner she takes us outside to show us what her ex roommate had left behind…it was this bad boy!!
She got SO excited…a little TOO excited about how she was going to legitimately bury her weapon of war after we left…she said we had inspired her and this was going to be AWESOME….oh. my. Gosh. It was hilarious. She is crazy. Life is good.

Friday- HALLOWEEN. Oh, yeah, just as a little disclaimer really quick since we got asked this question about a million times this week: members of our church ARE allowed to celebrate Halloween. Ok. So we took cupcakes to lots of people this day and it was awesome. I love making people feel remembered and love. So much power in that :) Katherine told me I “have the voice of an angel” and I was like WHOA. I wish hahaha. Super sweet. All the missionaries had to be in by 6 that night so yeah. PARTAY. Not. We planned…haha.
Halloween Night - kind of scary!

Saturday- BLAKE AND BELLA GOT BAPTIZED!!!! I taught them while I was in Hesperia so I got to go back for it. They asked me to sing so I couldn’t decline! Bella was so precious…she held my hand the whole time. I missed that little girl. It was a special baptism. The spirit was strong. When I had to leave bella wouldn’t let go of me haha. Those are the moments I live for as a missionary. It was nice getting to see all of my old missionary friends there too. Mini reunion WHOOP WHOOP.
I had a huge eye opener after a lesson with a 70 year old woman this day. That lesson was proof to me that as long as we, as missionaries, prepare ourselves for lessons that God will take control. We went in reading Mosaih 18 and she ended up opening up and asking questions about the 1st part of the Book of Mormon she’d read. Sure, that chapter wasn’t what she needed, but we followed the spirit in not just teaching a lesson and it allowed her to be open with us and let us in. Heavenly Father allowed the situation to go the way it needed to because HE is in control of the work going on. Not us. Especially not ME. Also, in the lesson I was prompted to something I’ve never said in a lesson before; the little “Missionary: someone who leaves their family for 2 two years so others can be with theirs for eternity.” She literally gasped and said WOW. Heavenly Father works through us. He won’t stop the work, especially with a daughter of his that is so close to finding the truth for herself. I love this work. I love the trust we can put in the Savior to provide a way for us to help bring his children back to Him.

Sunday- One of our investigators FINALLY came to church and LOVED it. More goodness happened but that’ll have to be told some other time :)

All in all it was a great week. Lots of laughing. Lots of learning. This week we have interviews with President so I’m pumped. I hope yall get something, truly GET something out of my post every now and then. Misssssssss youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
Sister Toolan