Sunday, July 28, 2013

Estoy Viviendo la vida loca

July 24, 2013

Hello family :)

Today is not my preparation day but my president told me to send an email home to let you know that i am alive and well and tell you how everything is going. The first few days of the mission has been sweet! We got to the airport and the president picked us up with his wife and then we went to their house and ate taco salads. It was very american haha.. but it still made my stomach a little upset :P We had some meetings that day and then took a taxi and stayed the night with some other missionaries in Guadalajara. The next morning we woke up, got ready, had some more meetings and had a crazy bus ride. The best way I could think to describe it is in harry potter when they get in that bus and the guy says "Its gonna be a bumpy ride!"... I couldnt help but laugh the whole time, it was so crazy! we got bounced around quite a bit.

Our mission got 24 new missionaries. And only 4 of us are from the US. All of our meetings are in Spanish but the president does speak some English and he encourages the latinos to learn English from their companions. So we had our meeting with the trainers and new missionaries. He would ask the trainer to stand up and then announce the new missionary. Elder  was the second trainer to stand up. The first thing that went through my head was "Ed Del Toro" I think he is exactly what dad looked like when he was younger. I knew right when he stood up that he was going to be my trainer haha. So we met each other, finished the meeting, and then took a four and a half hour bus ride to Morelia. I love this place. I have never seen poverty like this but the members just seem so happy. My new nickname is Elder Green. Im sure you can guess why. Im pretty sure they speak Spanish here but I havent really figured it out yet. They speak real fast! Our house is pretty sweet. Ive already had the chance to smash two cochroaches in our room! and the cold showers wake me right up! I am really popular amongst the mosquitos too haha :) I know exactly why I lived in the Juanita house first semester, that place was a paradise. Honestly though, I love everything about the mission so far. Elder  is super nice and Im learning quick because he only knows a few words in English. It is so green here! June July and August are the rainy months. Its a lot like Washington right now. The culture is so fun. we walked around the city for a while today and then met up with a couple other missionaries to eat lunch. First meal in the field: Burger King. hahaha. I wanted authentic but all the other missionaries wanted a burger. Oh man I almost forgot about this morning! we live close to the church so we walked over there to exercise cause they have an outdoor basketball court. I ran lines and did pushups and stuff but Elder  did the real work out! He did taekwondo before his mission so he was doing round house kicks up and down the court and kicking the brick wall and stuff. I am for sure going to take advantage of the training. Dont be surprised if I come back a cage fighter!!  He is a super good singer and is just super unique. I cant believe he doesnt have an "im a mormon video" ... I am a singer, I love taekwondo, hablo español, my name is Elder Elizondo and Im a mormon... either that or he could be in the most interesting man commercials.  We get along great. Ill send pictures on monday! Well, I am doing great, I absolutely love my mission, y estoy aprendiendo español.

Te amo familia :)

Elder Del Toro

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lock, Stock, and Barrel

Well, my excitement level is just about to boil over right now. Whenever I think about how I'm going to be in Mexico in just a few days, my throat gets choked up and I start to sweat. Kind of weird but I am the most excited I have ever been. First of all, my flight plans got changed. I still leave the MTC at 4:30 am on monday and then we fly out at 8:30, we land in LAX at 9:30, fly out at 11:10, and land in Guadalajara at 4:30. Much better than the last flight plan :)

This week was amazing. We had this "In field orientation" where we learned a bunch of stuff about being in the mission field. It was 8 hours long but it was super fun and got us way excited. Something that I thought was cool is in the scriptures in says the phrase "The field is white already to harvest" 52 times. That is incredible. I know that people are just waiting to hear the gospel and I can't wait to get out there are share what I know. The other thing is in Alma 13:24. In the verse it says "Angels are declaring it unto many... preparing the hearts of the children of men" I know that that is true at this time. And I know that we can be those angels too. My emotions are just crazy right now. I am beyond excited but at the same time I am scared to death.

I love being a missionary. I love what President Monson said about us. He said that we are called of God to serve His people and build up His kingdom from the time we wake up until the time we go to sleep. We are all his for two years, lock, stock and barrel.

That has kind of become my motto this week. Whenever I feel like slacking off I give Elder Bowen some knuckles and say "Lock stock and barrel baby!!". We aren't on our time anymore, we are on the Lord's time, and his time is too precious to waste. I love serving the Lord :) It's the best feeling in the world.


Elder Del Toro

 Half of our district with our Teacher Brother Rouse, our whole district with our other teacher Brother Urquhart, and a picture of Elder Jacobsen, Elder Brown, and I.

Monday, July 15, 2013

I am going home... to the land of my forefathers

I got my travel plans!! I depart Monday the 22 at 4:30am. I finally get to go home to the land of my forefathers :) Elder Bowen and I will be flying all day. I'll send a picture of my travel plans, but we are going to Dallas, Atlanta, and then to Guadalajara. We won't get there until 8pm.. it's going to be a long day for us and whoever sits next to us on that plane haha. We are super stoked to talk to people in the real world and get out there and do some teaching!

I heard something really funny this week... Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.. wisdom is knowing that you don't put a tomato in a fruit salad. I know both of those things so I think I am a pretty wise guy :)

I feel like I don't have a whole lot to say this week! Just another week in the MTC! By the end of your stay here, every day feels the same and time just goes by so fast. I have been learning so much though. My spanish is coming along great! I can't wait to start speaking it every day. I discovered caffeine free Mtn. Dew in the bookstore. What a find. at 36 cents per can, I've put down a few of those.

Something really funny happened this week. Elder Bowen and I were having companionship inventory but we were doing it all in spanish. companionship inventory is just where you talk about your companionship and how everything is going. basically like personal marriage counseling. So I asked him in spanish if there was anything I was doing that was bothering him and that he would like me to change. He looked down for a while... adjusted in his seat... look at me... started flipping through his notebook... and I'm thinkin, my goodness what did I do??! so I finally said "Elder Bowen did you understand what I said?" and he was like uhh yeah I think so, you asked if we were on time to all of our classes this week. I just started laughing and told him what I really said. Elder Bowen and I have companionship inventory in English now. Elder Bowen is the best. He is always laughing, always running around, and is so easy going.

At church yesterday, one of the branch president's wife told the story about John Grobergs mission. She told the story about how he needed to visit a family on an island a days trip from the island he was on. They set sail early in the morning and by the time they were halfway there, there was no wind and they were sitting there in the middle of the ocean. They prayed several times and then finally, one of the older brothers dropped the life boat and told Elder Groberg to get in. He paddled for hours and hours not saying a word, not taking a break. They made it there on time and Elder Groberg taught and baptized the family. The main idea of the story is that sometimes we need to be the Lords wind. Sometimes we aren't going to get the help we were looking for and we are just going to have to do hard things. Elder Groberg said about the story that there was no way that that man could have rowed that far and for that long without the power of the Lord. I am so excited to serve the Lord and be his wind. I know that there are people in Mexico waiting to be taught. Someone told us in a devotional this week that us missionaries are the ones who are lost. We are in a foreign place looking for people to teach and we would be getting nowhere if the Lord did not put people in our paths to teach. I just love my mission and am so excited to get to Mexico to teach.

I will be able to email again on saturday this week :)


Elder Del Toro

Elder Del Toro and his drink of choice: Mountain Dew 

Elder Bowen and Elder Del Toro... don't worry he didn't wear that shirt around

Monday, July 8, 2013

Welcome to the War, Elder

Another great week at the MTC :) my testimony grew so much this week and I think I am FINALLY becoming a full grown man!

This week I had the opportunity to host new missionaries that came in on Wednesday. It brought back flashbacks of when my fam dropped me off but I think we handled it fairly well compared to most of the people dropping off their missionary. Basically I just gave them a great big hug when they got out of the car, grabbed their luggage, took their picture for their family, and got them started at the MTC. I got to do this for 4 people and one of them happened to be David Leal, my old roommate at BSU. It was pretty cool to run into him and catch up. But the thing that got to me most was what this Elder said, who was also hosting. He looked a new elder in the eye and said "Welcome to the War, Elder"... At first I thought it was super funny but I started thinking about it and there is a lot of truth to what he said. In this world filled with temptation and evil from the adversary, it is all we can do to spread truth and happiness to people around the world. I wish you could see all of us missionaries together, chills run down your spine as you think about the power and potential of all these young men and women. I have a firm testimony that we are a royal army going around the world to spread the restored gospel. As I heard in one of our devotionals a few weeks back, "The power you have is the power to astonish this world". I love this work.

Our devotionals this week were so good, Brother Richardson from the general sunday school presidency talked to us about becoming truly converted. I loved his talk. He talked to us about how Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us to become much more than we could ever imagine ourselves. I also got to thinking how much I am being blessed as a missionary. Sure, I am serving the Lord, but he is serving me on my mission much more than I will ever be able to pay back.

Happy 4th of July!! I'm sure everyone had a good day but this was a 4th of July I will never forget. I spoke only in spanish the whole day! well almost, I let 3 english sentences slip and then at 8pm at the Independence Day devotional, I was just so proud to be an American I just had to start speaking English!! It was amazing that I could say almost everything I wanted to in spanish though. The devotional was about how our Founding Fathers paved the way for this country to host the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. It was amazing, and then we watched the movie 17 miracles. After the movie we got to go outside, eat an ice cream bar, and watch the fireworks going on at the Stadium of Fire. I always thought I was supposed to live in the time of the Pioneers but while I was watching 17 miracles, I realized that the Lord put me on the earth when he did so I could be a missionary in the year 2013. What a blessing it is to be able to serve at this time. I love the work.

It sounds like Ethan and I are going to be sharing our secrets about missionary work. I was asked to serve as District Leader earlier last week, boy does that bring a lot of meetings. I swear yesterday was one of the busiest sundays I've ever had. I love serving my district though, I have a love for each one of the guys and I am so grateful to have the chance to get to know them better through interviews and being able to serve them however I can. Ethan, I can already tell that the most important thing about being in a missionary leadership position is to love them and lead by example. You are going to be great! You'll love the work.
It's crazy to think I've been here just about a month. The time just flies! I keep looking forward to Mexico but I know that I am going to need every minute of these next two weeks to prepare to be a real missionary. I am becoming a better teacher, my "espanish" is getting better every day, and I LOVE THE WORK!!


Elder Del Toro

 Elder Del Toro and Elder Bowen working on their Technology Assisted Language Learning

Monday, July 1, 2013

"I'm Half Way There, Woah, Livin' on a Prayer"

Why hello family and friends :)

I am one happy boy! I just love being a missionary. This week has been a little tougher but I just keep taking it gym time to gym time, p-day to p-day. I've got awesome news!! I got my Visa!!! Elder Bowen and I are the first ones to get our Visas from our district. We found out Tuesdaymorning and 3 hours later we were on a bus to Salt Lake. I kind of forgot that life goes on outside the MTC. There were cars, fast food places, stop lights.. It's almost like nothing has changed since I left haha. But it was sweet to get off the campus for a few hours. At the Mexican Consulate in Salt lake we just sat around for a while and then talked to a lady for a while, took a picture and finger scans and drove back. While we were waiting I got talking to this guy named Raul. He was from Peru, 22 years old, and was there for his wife who was getting her papers. He was such a cool guy, he has been here for a few months so his English was about as good as my Spanish. We had some really good conversations in Spanglish but before I knew it there were 6 other missionaries around us trying to find out more about him and trying to tell him about La Iglesia de JesuCristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias. Utah missionaries... gotta love them. But I got to tell Raul a little about what we do and what our church is about and practice that Spanish. he was a huge help. probably one of the highlights from my week.

I also got a photo album from Jenna this week! She sent me a bunch of our family pictures that we just took. I prayed with you guys a couple times this week haha I think Elder Bowen thought I was weird. It was super funny, I was introducing Elder Bowen to the family and he saw Nicole and was like woah how old is she!? and I was like Elder she is 14... and then we got to Jord and he was like oh man how about her?! she is almost 21 Elder.. And then we got to a picture of Jenna.. We looked at each other and I said Elder Bowen don't even think of it. Hahaha.
We have two new investigators this week! Jose and Vicente. We are making really good progress, and our Spanish is improving every week. We really focused on the plan of salvation. I think that is my favorite thing about this gospel, that we can live with our families forever. I have such a strong testimony about that and I love to share it because I want everyone to know that they have the same thing. 

 I thought about you so much yesterday! I wish I could have been there for your birthday. I love looking through the pictures of you guys. My favorite page is one with you and Dad and then on the other flap it is one of our whole family. You and Dad look so happy and our family looks so great! love you guys so much, I realize it more and more each day. I think I've got the best family ever.

That sounds way too hot in St George!! It sounds like I got out right in time!! 

Mom, I seriously am the happiest missionary. I love being out here and doing the Lords work. It sometimes hard to stay focused because we aren't really doing the real work yet but I just keep trying to remember that the preparation is the most important part. I am so excited to get to mexico and start serving people. I am aching to just go talk to people and tell them about the gospel. The lessons are fun but it's just not the same because you know they already are members and return missionaries. 

I like to play the piano on Sundays! We had a really cool fireside on Tuesday, It was by a lady who writes a bunch of songs in the primary book and hymn book. She wrote all the classics. We sang them and I think almost every missionary was crying. It was so spiritual. I swear, everything reminds me of you. You are such a good mom.

I love all you and thank you for the support. I'm half way done with the MTC now! So stoked! I keep thinking about music from the real world and think of the best Mormon lyrics... That's what inspired the title of the email.


Elder Del Toro

 MTC Classroom

 Elder Del Toro and his companion Elder Bowen

Elder Del Toro and his companion Elder Bowen

Elder Del Toro and family friend Mary Blackner ran into eachother at the MTC.