Elder Tolen's Transfer History

Elder Tolen's Transfer History
Elder Tolen's Transfer History


Friday, July 29, 2016

Week 82 [91]: The Converting Power of Hope

Monday, June 26, 2016

Hey everyone! I don't have a ton of time to email this week; we have a concert we are going to in Tokyo today, and we have to leave by about 4 pm, so I'm going to make this as simple as I can, because we have a lot to do, and not too much time!

This week was packed. We have been traveling everywhere. There has been so much to do, and not much time to do it. President Wada leaves tomorrow, and so there has been a lot of bustling and hustling around the mission to make sure everything is prepped for our new Mission President, President Warnick.

This week we had zone meeting, and it was fantastic. I had my first opportunity to act as a translator, which was hard, but my testimony of the Gift of Tongues has increased ten-fold. The Spirit was so strong. So many great testimonies, and great examples. We received some very inspired trainings, and received a lot of revelation. Great experience. Immediately after that, we started our splits with the Zone leaders. I went with Elder Matsumoto. We had an amazing time together. We saw so many miracles. We were housing, and found about five people who because PIs in one small block. The Spirit was very strong, and helped lead us to those prepared children. Elder Matsumoto became one of my very good friends. We just clicked. It was a great experience.

After that, we headed back into our own area the very next day in order to hasten the work in the vineyard we have been asked to tend. We had a very powerful lesson with one of our "Eternal Investigators." He has been investigating the church for about five years now, and has said he will get baptized when his mother says it's okay, but his mother is very opposed. We really hit on why baptism is so important, and how it truly is a wonderful gift from God. The Spirit was so strong. We were able to see his countenance change, and the Spirit of the Lord burn within him. He looked me right in the eyes and said, "Elder Tolen, before this lesson, I did not have the courage to try and convince my mother to let me get baptized. But now, because of you two Elders, I know we can do it together." It was one of the most amazing experiences I have had on my mission. The Spirit was present, and hearts were changed. If there is one thing I have learned from my mission, it is that the Spirit is a real being. He exists, and is present in every single person's life. Every single person that has ever walked on the face of this Earth has felt the influence of him in their lives at one time or another.

My challenge to you: do not delay acting on a prompting. There is so much to be done, and so much joy to be had, and the Lord is ready to guide us there, but He can't steer a parked car! Put yourself in gear, and get driving. As long as you are doing your best to follow the promptings of the Spirit, you can never fail. Do not get me wrong, however. Mistakes will come by th truck-load. I can promise that from personal experience. You will mess up, and you will fall. And you know what? It will hurt. Sometimes more than others. But the key to success is standing up, and moving forward again. You only truly fail when you decide to give up. Until that moment, hope still can, and will be found.

I talk about hope a lot in all of my emails, and it's because throughout all of the trials, tribulation, mocking, embarrassment, and pain, that's the one thing I've been able to hold onto. The same goes for everyone. Hope is the power that propels you on your next step, and the step that proceeds that. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes the tunnel is long, and we can't see what's between us and the end, but the light will always be there, constant.

The church has released a new video based on the talk given by Elder Holland in October of 2013 entitled, "Like a Broken Vessel." It is a powerful talk, and an equally powerful video. I recommend it to all who feel like their burdens are too much to bear, or feel like giving up the race. I plead with you, don't give up the fight. Take one more hit, give it all you've got, and then hit the pavement running, and I can promise you, the Spirit will guide your every footstep.

"Press forward, Saints,
with stead-fast faith in Christ,
With hope's bright flame a-light
In heart and mind,
With love of God
And love of all man-kind.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!"

Press forward my brothers and sisters. All things are possible. I now go to repent, and then invite others to do so.

I love you all,

Elder Tolen


Us at Game Night...We Played a Lot of Ping Pong!

Me and Elder Jenner


Week 81 [90]: Personal Refinement

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hello my beloved friends and family! This week has been crazy! So much has happened! I don't have much time! We had to change our Preparation Day to a Wednesday this week for the temple because the temple is going to be closed next week, so I'm emailing on a weird day! The temple was such a fantastic experience. I love going to the temple. The Lord always helps me learn so much. I highly recommend going.

We have had quite a few adventures this week! We did a ramen eating challenge, and each of the Elders ate 7 bowls of Ramen, and we all got our names on the wall of he restaurant. Then we had an absolutely amazing lesson with our investigator. We were able to set a baptismal date with him for the 16th of July. We are very excited to see him continue to progress. There is nothing better than watching the influence of the Spirit change one's countinence. There really is nothing like it. I am so grateful for the Lord and the opportunity he has given me to labor in the land of my dreams. Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful for that.

We also had the opportunity to go to a fireside hosted by President Wada. It was his last big fireside before he leaves the mission on the 28th. It was a very emotional time for me. President Wada has helped me in more ways than I can even comprehend. I will always be indebted to him for the skills and knowledge I have gained from him. He truly is a man who has magnified his calling. The Lord truly qualifies those whom he calls.

Recently I've been pondering a lot about why God allows trials to afflict his servants. I always used to think that God should shelter his servants. These are the very people hastening his work, and yet, I felt that they were the people experiencing the most tribulation. As I was pondering this, Nephi came to mind. I started thinking about 1 Nephi 17, when Nephi was asked to build a boat. The first thing he asked was where he could find the ore to forge the tools. Even Nephi couldn't work with unrefined materials. He needed to forge them so that they could be used in the construction of the ship that would eventually take them to the promised land. We are in the same situation as the tools. The Lord needs refined tools in order to construct the ships for his children embarking toward the promised land, and the only way to refine His tools is through the refiner's fire. The Lord is using us as His tools to construct ships for others to come to the promised land, and not just any tools will do. Only those of the finest quality can construct a ship capable of making it to the Promised Land. He is doing everything He can to ensure a safe journey home for everyone.

I am so grateful for the Lord. The testimony I have gained over the course of these almost two years is invaluable, and I will always be grateful for the Lord's blessed guidance.

I love each and every one of you. I hope you have a fantastic week. I now go to repent, and invite others to do the same. Keeps striving, and never give up.

Elder Tolen


Elder Tolen and Elder Languido at the Temple
Tokorozawa District at the Temple

Elder Tolen and Elder Palomino (He's like a Brother to Me!)
At a Fireside
At a District Meeting Where We Made a Cake for a Recent Convert's Birthday

Visiting a Less-Active Family

Week 80 [89]: Oh, the Places You'll Go

Monday, June 13, 2016

My beloved friends and family! We don't have too much times is week either. I'm currently waiting for my last interview with President Wada, so I have to make this quick, but I just to let you all know that I'm doing great, and I'm loving every second of this work.

I just want to share a quick story, and it's a story I hold very dear to my heart. I might have already shared it here, but I'm going to share it again! It has helped me so much over the course of my mission, and it has really helped me keep a good perspective on life.

Oh, the Places You'll Go!  by  Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!  Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course, you'll head straight out of town.
It's opener there, in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do,
to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And then things start to happen, don't worry, don't stew.
Just go right along. You'll start happening too.
You'll be on your way up! You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't. Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true,
that bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a Lurch.
You'll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...or
right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused that you'll start to race down long wiggled
roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place......for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a better break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls,
or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.
NO! That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping, once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you're that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don't Because, sometimes they won't.
I'm afraid that some times you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you.
All Alone! Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something you'll be quite a lot.
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.
But on you will go though the weather be foul.
On you will go though your enemies prowl.
On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up manya frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike, And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
So...be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Brayor
Mordecai, Ali, Van, Allen, O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places! Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!

Our mountains are waiting, and more joy than we can imagine is just around the corner. If we remember the counsel the Lord gave to Joseph Smith in the midst of his afflictions, anything can be kept in the right perspective: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." If we really think about it, a perspective is what defines a reality to an individual. And if we remember our eternal goals, the trials we face here can easily be overcome. As long as we remember our purpose, and that is to return to our Father. I know this is true. I wouldn't take two years of my life to teach it if I didn't.

I love each and every one of you. I hope you all have fantastic weeks.

Elder Tolen

We found a cool hat in the church...

Visiting a Referral with the Sisters

Week 79 [88]: Riku!

Monday, June 5, 2016

Hello everyone! This week is going to be pretty short because we are going to be going to Costco later today, and it is pretty far away so we won't get too much to email today, but I'm way excited because we are going with my good friend, Elder Palomino. It will be legendary.

As for an update, I transferred! It's crazy. The new area I'm in is really rural! I haven't been in a place this rural for a long time! I missed it! My new companion is great! His name is Elder Languido, and he's from West Valley, Utah! He is way cool! I think this is going to be a great transfer. We have already seen so many miracles together.

As for miracles, I will share two huge miracles I was able to see this week! The first one actually begins eight months ago, while I was living in Takao. We were out proselyting with a newly returned missionary, and we stopped this Chinese man. He told us his name, and about who he was! Turns out he was Protestant, and had joined that church about three years before, so he wasn't interested in joining another church, but we testified as much as we could, and we actually were able to get his contact information and give him a Book of Mormon, but after that, I was never actually able to meet him again. He stopped answering our calls, and we weren't ever able to get in contact with him again. And then, I left. I transferred out to Fuchu, and forgot about the whole experience, that is until last Monday. I got a call from another missionary in an area called Hachioji who tells me a Chinese guy that knows me got baptized. I had no idea who he was! I had forgotten the entire experience, that is until I saw a picture of him! The second I saw the picture of him, the memories came flooding back, and I remembered the entire encounter. It was an amazing experience. I even had the opportunity to call him and talk to him. That was such an amazing experience! He even remembered who I was. He's actually registering for BYU as we speak, so maybe some of you will see him around.

Then, just when you would think that things couldn't get any better, I had the opportunity to meet with Riku, a young man who did an exchange program at my house in Utah, and his father! They were both such wonderful people! We were able to go out to eat and have a great experience. I'm so very thankful that we live in a day and age where miracles not only occur, but a day and age where miracles can be expected. The Lord is pouring out his blessings upon each and every single one of us, and we just have to do our part and not get in the way of it. I have a very strong testimony of that.

I love you all, and hope you have a fantastic week! I love each of you!

Elder Tolen

Riku and His Dad

Elders in the District

The Chinese Man Elders Tolen and Burton Found in Takao

Week 78 [87]: A New Land of Promise

Monday, May 30, 2016

Well! I don't have too much time this week, but I would just like to share a few updates, and a spiritual thought!

I'll just cut right to the chase. We got transfer calls! I will be transferring to a new area called Tokorozawa. It is the northern most area in the mission! My new companion will be a missionary named Elder Languido. He's from Salt Lake City, and he has been in Japan for about a month-and-a-half. I'm really excited to work with him and do follow-up training with him!

So this last week I had the amazing opportunity to go on exchanges with the wonderful missionaries of Yokota, Elder Palomino and Elder Gutierez. They are wonderful people! I had a great time with them, and we were able to see a ton of miracles. Elder Palomino is a great friend of mine! Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures with them!

So as for a spiritual thought, I just want to keep it pretty simple. This week, we had a baptism in the ward for one of my favorite kids on the planet, Zen. He is a hoot. I love him. Anyways, as a congregation, we sang "I Am a Child of God." As we were singing, I started looking around at all of the little children who had the song memorized, and they were giving it their all to sing this song. As I was watching them, I pondered about Christ. Out of all of the people Christ could have chosen to spend His time with, He often spent time among children. Why would He do that? We are talking about a literal deity, who has all of the power of all of Heaven and Earth, power over life and death, and He was often found among children. What does that say to us? For us to truly grow closer unto Christ, we must become as the children.

Now I'm not saying we need to act as children would act, but we need that purity. There is nothing on this earth more pure than a child, and in order for us to be accepted in the presence of Christ, that same level of purity will be required. But nothing is impossible.

I am a child of God. And he has sent me here. Never have I heard more true doctrine in my entire life. Wherever we are called to serve, or no matter where we find ourselves, we are here to help us learn what it means to be children of God. And in the end, that's all that matters.

I love you all, and hope you have a great week!

Elder Tolen

Me with my Japanese Parents

Me and My Main Man Osamu

Week 77 [86]: The Price to Pay

Monday, May 23, 2016

My beloved family, hard to believe another weeks has already passed. This week was full of miracles, and some trials of faith, but that's to be expected in the service of the Lord.

Our friend who was on his way to get baptized decided to stop contacting us, so that has been pretty hard. It's always hard to watch someone walk away from something you know to be so good. We found a new person who we will hopefully start teaching soon. He is a 17-year-old surfer, and has a lot of interest in learning about and coming to church. The only problem is his parents are very much opposed, and with him being 17, he doesn't have the ability to join without his parents' consent. So we will see what happens. There is a time and a season for everything in the garden of the Lord.

Today I was studying in the first book of Kings in the Old Testament. I was reading about the prophet Elijah. To be specific, I was reading about the occasion where Elijah was contending with the priest of Baal. The goal was simple; each would call upon the power of their own God, and whichever God sent down fire to burn up the offering was the true and only God. So Elijah gives the priest of Baal the opportunity to go first. I always thought it was weird why Elijah didn't go first. Wouldn't it have been so much easier to just cast fire down, and be done with it? Elijah knew he had the power to do so. So why did he wait? I feel like this is where the mantle of his true priesthood begins to show. The patience and faith exercised by Elijah is almost beyond comprehension. He knew everything would work out the way the Lord needed it to, so, without a trace of doubt or fear in his heart, he endured, and waited while the priests began what became a day long attempt of accessing the powers of a non-existent God. And when the time came, Elijah stepped up to the plate, and demonstrated what it truly meant to wear the mantle of the prophet. With complete access to all the powers heaven had to offer, it was a simple task for Elijah to prove to the nation who the one true God of Israel was.

That's quite an accomplishment, demonstrating complete dominion over all things natural and consistent. But this is the power that God holds. And we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have complete, unrestricted access to all of it. The requirement? Faith. That's all the Lord asks of us. The capacity to perform miracles as did Elijah and many other prophets of old is within each and every worthy priesthood holder. Think about that for a second. If any of you are like me, that's almost more incomprehensible. But nevertheless, it is truth. An unshakable testimony, with faith rooted firmly in the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to move mountains, separate oceans, and change human nature. The question then becomes,"How does one obtain faith of that magnitude?"

Faith like unto Elijah is not obtained easily. There is a price for everything. "If you don't not pay the price of success, you will pay the price of failure." Success, spiritual light and knowledge, joy, happiness, none of these come with out a price. What are we willing to pay? What are we willing to sacrifice? Probably one of my favorite quotes right now comes from the prophet Joseph Smith, and he says, "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of everything, can in no way produce the faith necessary unto eternal life and salvation." That's a pretty hefty price to pay, don't you think? Everything? That's a lot! But then I read this quote that helped me see this in a different light. "

"Sacrifice is not just about giving things up. The roots of the English verb sacrifice mean 'to make something holy.' Sacrifice includes taking something that is precious to us and offering it to God, making it holy because we give it to the Holy One." - Voices of Hope by Wendy Ulrich

So in reality, the act of sacrifice is actually the act of sanctification, or consecration. That's is a little bit easier for me to understand. So how do you gain the faith and knowledge of Elijah? By paying the price of faith.

Now beloved friends and family, I don't want you to get the wrong idea here. It sounds hard, yes, but is it impossible? No! Far from it! But, it will take time. For example, if you want to go from Utah to Disneyland, it doesn't matter how much you want to be in Disneyland, you have to get in the car and drive! And you have to drive for a while! Faith is based upon the same principle. If you want faith, you have to start driving. You have to keep the commandments, get the knowledge, and keep going! A testimony is not forged in the company of frivolity, but in the deepest recesses of trial and struggle. The Lord expects diamonds, so let's not settle for coal.

I love each of you. Just keep going! Everything will work out. Just remember who you are, and what you stand for. Face forward, and press forward. The light and knowledge you seek will come, just like it came to Elijah. I can promise that.

I love you all! I hope you have a great week

Elder Tolen

Our District at Suzuki兄弟s!

Out for okonomiyaki with a member!

Week 76 [85]: Back to Back Splits

Monday, May 16, 2016

This week I don't have too much time! Again! We went and hiked Mt. Takao, again! But it took a lot longer than we thought, so this week's email will be pretty short as well! Sorry! I promise next time I'll write a nice long email!

To summarize, I had the opportunity to go on splits twice this week! I didn't get to spend too much time in my own area! It was an interesting experience!

For the first exchange, I went to an area called Yakota! It's a military base, and that was an interesting experience! We did everything in English--a pretty stark contrast to my current area! But we saw some great miracles. I have two that I would really like to share. The first one actually occurred right after we arrived in the area. We started walking by this school for Chinese people, and started talking to this group of guys, and one of them says he was born in California near L.A., but after saying that, he started to walk away, but I said, "Hey! I was born around there too!" I have never seen somebody so excited to hear that! He was ecstatic! We taught him a lesson right there, he took a Book of Mormon, and agreed to meet again! What a great way to start an exchange!

Then later that night, we had a lesson with one of their investigators who has really been struggling lately, but during that lesson, the Spirit was so strong, and she actually accepted the invitation to be baptized! It was an absolutely amazing experience!

After that, we had district meeting, and then I went over to Kunitachi for exchanges with the zone leaders! That was also a great experience. We were able to see a lot of tender mercies there as well. The Lord is truly hastening this work, and I am so thankful for the small role that the Lord has given me to play. I know that we each have individual roles, and different parts to play, but there isn't a single part that is more important that any of the others. I know that's true!

I hope you all have an absolutely fantastic week! I love you all!

Elder Tolen

Teaching the Gospel to All Creatures...
Ward Conference

Hiking Mt. Takao
Hiking Mt. Takao

Hiking Mt. Takao

Hiking Mt. Takao