Elder Tolen's Transfer History

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


Monday, January 18, 2016

Week 59 [68]: I'm Dreaming of a White January!

Monday, Jan. 18, 2016

Hello everybody!

Like you can probably assume from the title, IT SNOWED! I don't think you understand how big of a deal this is! It doesn't really snow in Japan. At least not in the area I'm in, but we were still able to wake up to a good  5 inches of snow this morning! That a great miracle to wake up to.

This week we were able to meet our progressing investigator Yamaguchi! It was great! He is so prepared. We were able to teach him about baptism, and we even extended the soft baptismal commitment! He said yes! I'm so happy I got to work with him. But I probably won't be able to see him get baptized unfortunately. I have been in Takao for  over half a year now, and transfer announcements come this Saturday. I really love the Takao area. It is a fantastic area, and I really have grown attached to it. It is like my second home. I guess that's what happens when you spend a quarter of your service to the Lord in one area. I'm grateful for the time and trust He has blessed me with in this corner of the vineyard.

So this last Sunday, there was a baby blessing in the ward. Baby blessings always bring the sweetest of Spirits into the room. There is something amazing about a soul beginning its adventure here in this life. Children have an amazing Spirit about them. It's amazing how quickly this transfer has gone by. So much has happened, and so much has changed. It really is hard to believe how long I have been in Takao. Honestly speaking, I wouldn't be upset if I spent the rest of my mission here in Takao. I have grown to love the people here so much.

The Lord truly is hastening his work. I have seen it firsthand. I have seen so many miracles recently it is impossible to comprehend. We are finding so many prepared people to learn. Recently I have been focusing some of my study time on the New Testament. I realized that as we are engaged completely in the work of the Lord, who better to turn for for an example the He who created the work in the first place! As I've been reading in Matthew, I've realized how lonely the Lord must have felt throughout this life. Jesus Christ walked on this earth knowing that there wasn't a single living person on the face of the earth that was his intellectual or spiritual equal. He traveled with his disciples teaching and spreading the Gospel, only to be killed by the very men unto whom he preached salvation. I began to wonder what this must have felt like for him. Even so, before the end, He gave us a challenge: Take up thy cross and follow me. He knew the price of discipleship, and He knew the challenges that we face as we enter into adversity.

Being a member of the church is not an easy task. No one said it would be. The Lord commanded us to be in the world, but not of the world. By following Christ, we literally face the world. What an insurmountable task this appears to be! Such a challenge would literally be impossible to overcome, if it wasn't for one thing--something that we, as members of the church have. That key piece is help from the very being who created the world. Jesus Christ has never said that the price of salvation would be cheap. It would literally take everything we have to give. But something the Lord did promise us is support. In the 88th section of D&C we can find this promise: "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." He will not forsake you. So hang on to the rod. Stay on the Old Ship Zion. You're on the right path. The quote that I always put at the end of my email is from Elder Holland: "Hope on. Journey on."

That's all I have to say. Hope on. Journey on. I love you all more than you know. Thank you for all of the support you have shown me. If you have a dream build it! If you have a goal, attain it! The only thing stopping you from doing it is yourself. I hope you all have a fantastic week.

Keep striving,

Elder Tolen
The Sisters Made Snowmen!

Week 58 [67]: District Blitz!

Monday, Jan. 11, 2016

Well, this week we have been jumping all over the place. Meetings all over. Which means lots of time to teach people on trains! It has been great! We have been teaching so much recently, it's been fantastic.

So like the title says, this week we had the opportunity to have a blitz as a district! Which means we all gathered together, and proselyted in the same area for a couple of hours! We were able to see some great success. In fact our recent convert Saito came! It was great experience! I even had the opportunity to go and teach Brother Saito how to do some missionary work! It was a fantastic experience.

We went out and knocked on a lot of doors! Then we came back, and I started to hand out some English flyers. While doing this, I saw a man come out of a shop near me, so a walked up to him and said, "Hello! Do you like English?" And then he also responded, still in English, "Yes! I do!"'. Well, after talking to him, I found out that he did an exchange program, and had had the opportunity to live in Ireland for a few months, and that's why he was able to speak so well! We got to talking, and I found out he was an English teacher for a nearby school, and I told him that we were missionaries, and we had a great conversation. He then took a flyer and said,"Let's meet again," and then left. After another 20 minutes of handing out flyers, my hands were frozen. It's hard to hand out flyers and wear gloves at the same time, so I usually do it without gloves, but when it is literally freezing outside, it can get kind of uncomfortable. But while I'm handing these out, I see the guy I had met 20 minutes earlier, and he runs up to me, and gives me a piping hot can of black coffee! It was in a can, and it was so warm I could refuse! Don't worry, I didn't drink it. Anyways, he asked me when I would get off work, and I said, well, technically I'm a full time missionary so I don't get off, and we both laughed, and he sad, "Well when do you finish? I want to take you drinking with me!" I was flattered, but I had to tell this great man that I don't drink because of my religion, and he understood, and said, "What about dinner?"  By this time it was almost 8:30, so we didn't have time to do that, but I said that we didn't have time now, but that we would love to go out to dinner with him another night, and I would also like to explain our purpose as missionaries, and said he would love to, so we exchanged contact information, and said our goodbyes. It was a great experience.

This week's ponderize scripture is from 2 Nephi 33:4: And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.

I want you to know that I love each of you, and I'm so very thankful for all of the support you have shown me! I hope you have another great week! Love you!

Dad, about the Book of Mormon, I don't know if I have any noteworthy thoughts or anything that I wouldn't have already said, but concerning the tree of life, I think the thing that stuck out to me the most was Lehi's reaction immediately after partaking of the fruit. He ate this fruit, which we can assume was more delicious than we can comprehend, and the first thought was he wanted to share this. And I think this not only related to missionaries but to all members, we have this fruit, and all of the blessings thereof, and we all just want to share it, and we want other people to eat it, but sometimes we're scared, but they might not think the fruit is as delicious as we think it is, or they might take it less seriously than we think they should, and that can be a scary thought. But the reason we do share it is because of the sweetness we found from it. And it's true, some people might not be ready for this level of deliciousness, but if we share it even with those that aren't quite ready, they will know how to find it when they are. They will know how to get the fruit when they are ready, but it's up to us to show them how, so that they will be able to when the time comes! Those are a few of my thoughts on it. I hope that helps!

Love you all!

Elder Tolen


Elder Tolen and his first Zone Leader, Elder Etchu

Week 57 [66]: Deep Cleaning and Finding Miracles!

Tuesday, Jan. 5 2016

Hello! This week has been quite busy! Because it's a new year, the mission president told everyone that it is time to do our yearly deep cleaning, and so that has been the main focus of this week! It's hard to believe how much can build up in an Elder's apartment over the period of a year. We are making it look beautiful.

So this week, I had the opportunity to give a training at District Meeting, and it was on how to introduce Jesus Christ while finding. Personally, I've been trying to improve this concept for a little while because Christ is the center of our message, so I've been trying to find ways to introduce the concept of a Savior to a people with no concept of God. People don't really understand why we needed a savior, or what role Jesus Christ actually played in our lives. So after I had been told I would be giving this training, I began pondering on how I could make this a meaningful training. One night while I was pondering, we were handing out flyers for English class, and it was about time to go home, so the other Elders started walking towards me, but I felt like I wasn't finished. I just knew that I needed to talk to someone. So as the other Elders were walking towards me, I saw a man, and I offered him a flyer and wished him a happy new year. He didn't take the flyer, and didn't stop walking, but said thanks. I don't know why, but I knew I needed to talk to him, so I asked him if he liked English, and by this point he was probably 10ft away. He stopped walking and said that he is pretty fond of it. Not wanting to lose an opportunity, I quickly walked over to him before he could change his mind, and shook his hand.

We talked for awhile, and eventually led into what we believe because I'm a missionary. Of course. And we started talking about New Year resolutions, and I asked him if he had any, and he told me no, and asked if I had any, and I was able to tell him that I wanted to be more like Christ. And from that simple discussion I was able to teach him, very simply, who Christ was, and why I want to be like him. We were able to exchange contact info, and he said he wanted to meet again. Just another miracle to strengthen my testimony of finding prepared people. And because of his experience, I was able to completely change my outlook on the training, which really helped me out!

I really do love this Gospel. It has helped me through my hardest times, and whenever I need support, I know who I can turn to. I hope you all have a great week! I love you all!

Elder Tolen


Hiking Mt. Takao to See the First Sunrise of 2016
First Sunrise of 2016
Breakfast after Seeing the First Sunrise

Temple P-Day!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Week 56 [65]: Christmas!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Well! Christmas has passed, and I'm going to be honest:  it didn't really feel like Christmas! In Japan, the only people that celebrate Christmas are church members, so most people didn't even realize that it was Christmas. But we were remarkably busy on Christmas Day! I got to Skype with my family, and then we had district meeting, then we all went out to dinner, and got to eat delicious Curry, then we had to run back to the church because we had a lesson to teach with a recent convert, and then immediately after that lesson we had to run across the street for another lesson, but it turns out the other lesson didn't show up, so we just had a great heart-to-heart with our recent convert.

This past week, we have been surprisingly busy. We have just been running around everywhere for different appointments that we have. It is the best. It really helps me stay focused on what's really important.

This week is New Years, which is the biggest holiday of the year in Japan. Everyone wakes up early to go see the sunrise. And so we are probably going to get up extra early and go hike Mt. Takao in order to watch the sunrise with some members, so I'll tell you how that goes. Other than that, I don't have any really noteworthy stories, just living every day in the best way possible.

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

Elder Tolen


Elder Tolen as Santa for the Takao Ward Christmas Party
District Mac and Cheese Party

Takao District Just Before Transfers

Week 55 [64]: No Email

Monday, December 21, 2015

[There was no public email this week due to an unexpected situation that arose, coupled with the need to coordinate for Elder Tolen's phone call home on Christmas.]

Week 54 [63]: Transfers and Staying in Takao

Monday, December 14, 2015

Well everyone! Big news! Transfer Emails came...And I'm staying in Takao! This will be my fourth transfer in Takao! And let me tell how crazy this is going to be! They are closing the Takao B area, and making Takao a three-man. So I'm going to be with an Elder named Elder Hunsaker, and another Elder named Elder Adachi. Elder Adachi went to this mission for a few transfers, then went to the MTC, and now is back. So we are kind of training him? Not really, but it will be fun! I hear he is a drummer, so we will have some fun! Elder Burton, Elder Inumaki, and Elder Nakamoto are all going to Hodogaya, and are going to be companions there! It is a really strange situation. It will be an interesting transfer! I'm excited.

Other than that, not too much has happened. I get to play the part of Santa in the upcoming Christmas party for the ward, so you can bet your trousers that I am elated about that. I've always wanted to be Santa.

Not much else has happened this week, but I'm sure I'll have a lot to write about next week!

I love you guys! Keep up the great work!

Elder Tolen
After a Workout at the Gym with an Investigator

Week 53 [62]: Christmas Concert and a Cold

Monday, December 7, 2015

I don't have much energy to write this week. I know I should, but I'm just exhausted. I had a cold that put me out of commission last night. I made it until dinner, but by then I was just dead.  I feel alright now; I think it was just the combination of riding bikes 10 miles, fasting, and a cold kind of just destroyed me so I'll just send some pictures. I love all of you!  We went to a Christmas concert and met one of my best friends, Elder Harrison! I also found Elder Dunn! And Yuki! We taught him while we were in the MTC. It was so good to see both of them! They are both giants! And, we also met some of the members from Odawara when we were both there.

Elder Tolen

Elder Harrison and Friends from Odawara
Elder Harrison and a Friend from Odawara

With Elder Dunn and Yuki at a Christmas Concert