The Joy of the Journey

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This week has been a whirlwind adventure in new experiences and new challenges. But that is the journey, and there is a whole lot of Joy in it. I hope today to be able to communicate a little bit of what has happened this week and the growing experience that it has been.

Questions:  Tell us  about your new companion.

  • Elder Joshua Powner from Colorado. He is a great guy. He is 19, fresh out of the MTC, has played several different sports, is super strong both phsyically and spiritually. Is always excited and has a whole lot of love for everyone that he meets. Well except in our second lesson together where he said he was forgetting the 7th commamandment 🙂 However, he is fantastic.

How is being a trainer going?

  • Because of who I am training, it is fun. Because of all that I have to do, it is a lot of work and I am very tired mentally and physically, without a whole lot of hope in sight for being able to rest. However, I am anjoying it thoroughly. Elder Powner does not speak or understand a whole lot of Spanish. He had never spoken before he got into the MTC and therefore does not have a whole lot of practice with the speaking thing. It definitely makes me thankful that my last companion was latino and that I was able to get the whole thing down pat. The first couple days were pretty stressful because I had a whole lot to organize with training and district meetings, plus I wasn’t in my area until Wednesday night. It has calmed down a little bit now, and we are at least getting the basic routine down. The first couple days were a little bit crazy. You tend to forget all of the norms that a new person has to learn. I have definitely felt guidance though.

We weren’t clear from your last letter were you filling in as district leader or is that ongoing?

  • No, it is my new assignment. Along with being trainer, I am in charge of a district. It is fun though. I just have to be a little battery for the group and keep them excited, obedient and in good mental and physical health. They are a bunch of good, really young missionarys though. In the district there are Elder Powner (6 days in Chile) and I (about 8 months in Chile), Elder Romero (from Argentina, about 10 months in Chile), Elder Umbach (from Canada, about 1 year and 1 month in Chile), Elder Cordoba (from Nicaragua, about 3 months in Chile) and Elder Loong (half american, half chinese from California. He has the same time as me). The hardest part about the whole thing, I think, has been the fact that half the district has the same time as me or more in the mission and it is weird to be in charge of them. However, that is just life and callings and the way it works. It does humble me sufficiently. A very clear thing this week has been learning how to be a leader more like Christ instead of just a leader.  Leader is easy. Leader like Christ, requires a little bit more of an effort.

Share some things you are learning through that experience.

  • Revelation works in all languages and even if you don’t know the investigators. Elder Powner has shared a lot of scriptures that although common, have been exactly according to the needs of the investigators. Sometimes we rely more on our experience then we do the Spirit and we lose out.

In what ways have you felt the love of the Lord in your life in the past 24 hours?

  • Morning prayer today. There are few times where you really are alone in the mission. So when my companion goes to shower, I like to pray out loud. There is just a different effect. So this morning I was grateful for a peaceful 10 minutes to pour my soul out and recieve guidance and comfort.
  • Yesterday in sacrament meeting as a whole bunch of people got up to tell their life story as their testimony. One of the brothers who was sitting next to me asked me what a testimony is. I used what I remember a profet having said “A testimony is a statement of things that one knows for [through] the power of the Holy Ghost”.  He thanked me, agreed and then went and bore a simple testimony. I stayed there thinking and pulled out a little black booklet that I have with me at all times to record spiritual impressions. I wrote down the date, the location and then that simple definition of a testimony. I followed that with the things that I know for the power of the Holy Ghost.

Are you flossing?

  • Sometimes,  I need to do better about flossing. I am really good about brushing and I use listerine, but that still isn’t flossing. I should do better about that. Inspired question.

Share all you have time to write.

There is a lot of inherent stress in doing missionary work. There are naturally high expectations, and we aren’t selling Girl Scout Cookies. So there is a very real pressure to do it well. Add on top of that my naturally high expectations of myself, and it made for a whirlwind couple days. I want to stress something though. Although it was a whirlwind, I was reasonably calm the whole time. It is a change from the beginning of the mission. From my time in the MTC and from my first weeks in the field. A certain measure of progress made, skills learned and a new ability to feel the influence of the spirit consistently.

Elder Wintz and Elder Ariza called from Villa Alemana the other day just to see how things were going. It was nice to hear from them and laugh a little bit. Elder Wintz had a couple of pieces of advice for me, from when he trained me.

An essential part of the Gospel is that it doesn’t only apply sometimes and in some situations, but that it applies, everywhere and in every situation. What is hard, is applying that consistenly. I hope that in the course of my mission I make the application of the Gospel in every situation a habit. The power to be able to live 100% the gospel, brings an incredible power to the words and actions of him that does it. A grand lesson to be learned, remembered and applied in my life, will be this one.

In all of my studies this week I read a scripture. It is relatively common and I cant seem to remember where it is but I do remember the basic content of the last sentence.

“Oh remember, and perish not” [Book of Mormon, Mosiah 4:30]

That is most definitely an invitation. An invitation to remember the love of the Lord. An invitation to remember His commandments. An invitation to gain life eternal. An invitation to be happy for eternity. An invitation to recognize the day to day influence of the Gospel in our lives and therefore apply it and not perish.

My short time has come to an end. I love you all very much, Thank you for your constant love and support.

Elder Tonkinson

PS the mission now has a new website. 🙂


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