Monday, June 29, 2015


In 1993 Neal A. Maxwell said that "the gospel's principles...require synchronization. When pulled apart from each other or isolated, men's interpretations and implementations of these doctrines may be wild."

Wise words. The gospel in its entirety balances itself out. Every time it says something specific, in a more general view it is really saying "Yes, but..."

I think that not being aware of this has a lot to do with why people get so frustrated by religion, missionaries included. 

Here is a scripture that I just got off 
  • Mormon 9:8

    8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.
  • I do not share this to feign that I understand all of the scriptures. I share this becuase all of my past frustration with the church came from not understanding where it was coming from. 
  • Life is like that--we're frustrated with people until we understand where they're coming from.
  • If you want to understand the church, seek to understand the Gospel, and then seek to understand the church. The gospel answers a lot of questions, such as "Why is life hard sometimes?" and "How can I be sure that what I'm doing is worthwhile?"
  • I tell you now, as a missionary for this church but also as Allison Tolman, fledgling human, that if you are sincerely looking for the truth, and if you are willing to swallow your pride and put your heart out on a limb, you will find out a lot of things. Some examples could be: There is such thing as truth. Something bigger and definite that exists independent of us and all our scrambling and the chaos we are used to. Or: God is more than willing to speak to you, but on his terms. Are you willing to listen, even if he told you something you weren't expectig to hear?
Hermana Badu and I had a lovely week. Yesterday the sky waited to rain until after church, which made for an unusually full chapel, and lots of happy hugs and double-air kisses. We are teaching an investigator named Olga who is one of the most beautiful, charitable young mothers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She is a good friend of Hermana Armoa, who shares the gospel with everyone she knows. Hermana Armoa and other members have been sitting in on discussions with us, which invariably makes for better, more productive discussions, and we are very grateful for this place and all these good people here, members and non-members, in our corner of Formosa. Due to reducing numbers in the mission, we have a bigger area now, and are discovering a couple of previously unknown barrios, which invariably causes us to feel excited and uncertain, in a swashbuckling adventurous sort of way. 

That's all for now, sorry no photos this week! 
Love, Hermana Tolman

Monday, June 22, 2015

Scatterbrained, but...

Me at the Costanera! I showed Hna Badu a few places in Centro today.

Hello all who may have been expecting something detailed and juicy.
I do not have much for you today, although the meat we ate in a blessed Sunday father's day asado was juicy and delicious.

We went to an asado at the Apontes'! A Sunday father's day asado at that.
Very fitting. Pablo did it all himself (on the left side sitting farthest back).
Very delicious. Meat meat meat. If it looks like my face is snarling a little bit,
it's probably just because I want to start eating already!

Hermana Badu is brilliant. We synchronized easily. We work well together and I think she is great. We're tired because we work well together and we worked hard all week. I'm tired. I love you all very much. I love God even more, because he is our Father and he really does want us all to progress and to be freed from the things that hold us back: grief, confusion, sin, weakness, pain, neurosis, distraction, anything. It is really so simple. God loves us.

Until next week,
Hermana Tolman

Hna Patricia Gonzales with her brilliant daughter, Amarilis, who is ten.
This is some of Pablo's asado...a Carnivore's masterpiece!

We have much talent in our ward! Meet Leo Camarotta.
He is 16, and it may not be happenstance that his full name is Leonardo...
He also has some of the most insightful comments in seminary.

Leo's Art

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The pains of becoming optimistic

This transfer smells like.....Brazil.
Meet Hermana Badu, everyone. (pronounced ba-DOO!)

Hermana Badu and I

But, I am getting ahead of myself. I only met Hermana Badu yesterday. The rest of this past week was as precarious and sweet as ever. We went to Pirané to go on divisions with Hna Rodriguez and Alduenda, who have been perfecting their now-restaurant-quality tacos. I went out with Hna Alduenda, and we contacted quite adventurously, finding many good people for them to go back to.

Hna Beecher and I waiting for the bus to get back home from Pirane.

This week back in Italia Centro (which is the area Hermana Badu and I are going to be in, thus fulfilling the popular sarcastic prophecy that I am going to replace Hermana Beecher as the queen of Formosa) we had many experiences. This tends to happen when you wake up in the morning and go outside and start to have experiences. We had many discussions. We followed the Spirit. We are missionaries.

Antonela Escobar and her siblings (she is the oldest kid).
She is 11. She was baptized about a year ago
and we are working with her mom.

Hermana Beecher went away to Quitilipi to be with Hermana Quevedo. Here is a photo of her in a posture of prayer yesterday morning after packing all night.

  Hermana Quevedo is the Guatemalan sister whose face appears in one of the photos I sent of Corrientes back when.

Hermana Quevedo in Corrientes

Quitilipi is in Chaco, and instead of having a ward or a branch, it has what is called a group, or enough people to get together and take the sacrament every Sunday, but not enough people to establish auxiliary organizations. I am excited to hear about how she does there. Hermana Beecher taught me excellence. Over the past 4 months she taught me that even in my weaknesses I can build up strength, and that I have to be willing to dive in and work hard.

Our happiness and success here is not determined by reaching a quota or filling a mold. It is determined by how much we can trust in God and let our perils be "swallowed up in the joy of Christ" (Study Alma 31:32-38). D&C 64:34 says that the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.
Being my dear trainer, Hermana Beecher helped me as I learned how to let go of my old expectations and form new ones, which is to say, to receive the promise in the rest of D&C 64:34, which tells us we will eat the good of the land of Zion.

Confused at what "Zion" refers to? So was I. Look it up in church resources. If you want to know what it means in a church context, of course.

Love you all, bye!

Hermana Armoa, who is just the best.

Walking to Church

SLEEPING DOGS: a good representation of how we feel
before we let our perils be swallowed up in the joy of Christ

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Best is Yet to Come

We were in Resistencia on Tuesday for consejo. We waddled into the chapel like confident ducklings and I insisted we plant ourselves in the f-r-o-n-t  r-o-w. Oh yeah. I was on fire, all ready to be competent and contribute to the discussion in meaningful ways. As the meeting started and we got focused on the tasks at hand, I realized that I had left my copy of Preach my Gospel in Formosa. Furthermore I had made a fool of myself by having desired to sit in the front row. I could not even look down and pretend to be following along in an imaginary book. I had nothing.

In times like these, when you realize that you might not be as cool and excellent as you thought you were, you have no choice but to listen. You defiantly put your chin up and open your ears like two little satellite dishes on the sides of your face, and you LISTEN. Luckily it just so happens that Presidente was on fire, and this was no tired habitual sloggish church reunion. On the contrary, Presidente was conscious of the problems we're presented with in our various corners of the Resistencia mission, and he insisted that we re-think our methods. How can we help the people we've been entrusted with if we're not constantly checking our motives? If we're not constantly letting them know why we're there and helping them overcome their fears and hesitations? How can we help them overcome their fears if we don't overcome our own first?

Hermana Beecher and I have had a very good week trying to puzzle through it all, and the good news is we will never be done puzzling. But to all you other missionaries out there, or to anyone who reads, why do you think Mormons go to church on Sundays? There are many answers to this question ranging from social lives to family ties to callings and other obligations. And they can all be a-okay for a while, but none of them are constant. If I had internalized the doctrinally constant reason why Mormons go to church on Sundays sooner, I might have avoided a couple of years of unhappiness.
Latter-day saints go to church on Sunday to take the sacrament. As Elder Oaks said, "this is the center of our worship". The sacrament is a renewal of the covenants we made at baptism. It is more than just bread and water; it is an outer manifestation of our inner commitment to keep making the Atonement of Jesus Christ a part of our lives.

Speaking of Jesus Christ, Basilio Sanabria and his family have been steadily coming more unto him since I last mentioned them in an email.

This picture was yesterday, but I will say that on Wednesday, Basilio asked me for my shoes. I shrugged and took them off, wondering why he would want to go for the Dutch gardening clogs / school nurse look. He said that he found out it had been my birthday on Monday, and this was his present to me. He took them out to the sink and, oh mom, Basilio washed the mud off my shoes. I never knew they were actually black underneath all that. It was the most touching birthday gift anyone could have ever given me, especially from this beautiful man. Basilio really does want the best for his family. Yesterday he shared with us his feelings about the gospel and the way he has come to see it. We all once again remembered how far these three have come, and Hermana Beecher and I walked away praying and praising God for having changed the lives of Basilio, Valentina and Dora.

Suprise birthday party at Apontes'!

Final thought about my birthday: it was like a dream. I felt so loved and so full of joy all at once, over and over again last Monday. Dad, I hope you had similar experiences.

Family Home Evening / Birthday at Yanina's

So, Dad, I will finish this email by saying something that you constantly repeated to me growing up. "The best is yet to come." I've had some stellar experiences in my life so far. And I find that as long as I keep myself capable of receiving it, no matter how bad things can get in the moment, the good always comes. Whether it's my birthday in Argentina, or just the relief of another p-day.

Whether it's kicking back to read a big old stack of letters from Julie Tucker, or that moment when Hermana Beecher lets me eat the last banana, or when an investigator says they know the gospel is TRUE, I've come to maneuver through the difficulties and trust that the good will always be ahead of us. So don't despair! Don't get lost sighing about your glory days and how great things were. 'Cause if you've forgotten that the good is still up ahead, then you're missing the point! If you live the gospel without knowing that the greatest glory still awaits, you're missing the point! As Elder Uchtdorf said last general conference, "Living the gospel faithfully is not a burden. It is a joyful rehearsal..." If you don't understand that mindset, you can talk about religion all you want, but you're missing the point!!!!

With love and much fervour,
Hna Tolman

In Resistencia

Awesome street art!

Monday, June 1, 2015

One Day More

Hello everyone,

I shall be candid, as candid as this photo Hermana Beecher took of me taking off a few of my many sweaters last night. 

I don't feel like explaining myself today. I didn't exactly want to be 20, but it was inevitable, and I can't find a reason to feel sore about something that was inevitable. Why do people feel so many things toward their birthdays, anyway? Your birthday happens on the same day every year. It's so predictable, you think we would have learned to steel ourselves over by the time we were 5.

If you want to get really weird, think about how missionaries talk about themselves in terms of mission-time. Your "birthplace" is your first area, your cumple-mes is about as eventful as your cumpleaños. One day about a month ago on divisions, Hermana Rodriguez and I were at a member's home washing dishes and a neighbor walked in with a baby on her hip. Hermana Rodriguez asked how old the baby was, and the mother said nine months.
"Hermana Beecher is nine months old too!!!!" I cried, not realizing how it sounded.

This week we found/charla-ed with a lot of people where it was hard to say what they might have wanted to hear in the moment. I found myself instead saying what I would like them to remember I said in the future.
As we teach these people these people I exert myself to teach it in a way that is right. If I feel like I'm talking to please them or win them over, I get a dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach. If I feel like I'm throwing hard cold doctrine at them just to make sure I'm fulfilling my function as a missionary, I get that same feeling. When Elder Oaks was here, he closed by talking about our missionary calling and said "I bless you to do it effectively and with love."
How can we do it effectively and with love if we're doing it just to do it? Doing something effectively and with love is a huge task, since you have to a.) have studied enough to know what you're talking about, b.) believe in it, and c.) keep your head from flying off your shoulders while you're in the pressure of the moment.
Well, the more you think about the answer the more you realize that it is indeed complicated, and it takes experience. But the more you get experience, then and only then does it become simple.
I have been studying and reciting D&C 50:11-22. I highly recommend it!

Here is a picture of Fabricio, Brian and Mariel. We had a lot of laughing to do with them yesterday evening.

Love, Hair-mana Tolman