Dear loved ones,
I apologize for the short email this week, the computers are all
closed for the holidays, so we are emailing from our iPads, which
takes a little bit longer than normal. I want to thank all of you for
all of the warm Christmas love that I have felt from you this week. I
am so blessed to have such wonderful, loving family and friends!
I appreciate those who took some time out of their busy schedules to
talk to me on the phone. I loved catching up and hearing your voices.
My area is doing better! Our we have the majority of the presidencies
of the auxiliaries called by now, and there is a little bit more
organization to the madness. We even have a ward mission leader, which
is a huge blessing for us! I see so much potential for the area that I
am in. The people here are amazing, and the Lord is blessing them in
so many ways.
I promise a more detailed letter next week! I love you, and hope you
have a Happy New Year!
Love, Hermana Townley
Monday, December 28, 2015
I want to apologize in advance for not being able to write each and every one of you an individual "thanks" for the outpouring of love and support that I have felt this holiday season. Being away from family at this time of the year isn't the easiest thing in the whole world, so I appreciate all of you writing me and staying close!
This month, my Mission President and his wife challenged all of us to study about the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ to help us remember the purpose of the celebrations of the Christmas season. I have learned so much and have come so close to him as I put this special focus on my studies. I am so grateful to have the guidance of my priesthood leaders in helping me develop and strengthen my relationship with Him. It is the most wonderful and beautiful thing to learn and study about. I love this time of the year!
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is gift giving. How wonderful it is to see someone's face light up when we buy that "perfect gift". It brings so much joy to my heart to see others happy and take some of the burdens off of their shoulders. The traditions of gift giving to celebrate Christ's birth bring a special spirit to all of the homes that we visit. My Mission President sent me an email a few days ago that prompted some thought about the concept of gift giving. We are celebrating the miraculous birth of the Savior of the world. The question that he asked me was: what can we give Him in return for all that he has done for us and all that he is still doing for us? What can we adequately offer him as a gift to repay him for all that he has already given us? I was reminded of one of my favorite Christmas songs The Little Drummer Boy: "Come they told me, a new born king to see. Our finest gifts we bring to lay before the king, so to honor him when we come. I have no gift to bring, that's fit to give our king. Shall I play for you? Mary nodded, the ox and lamb kept time. I played my drum for him. I played my best for him."
On that thought he sent me this poem:
What can I give Him
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb
If I were a wise man
I would do my part
Yet what I can, I give him-
Give my heart
Think of it! Our Savior, who created worlds and commands the elements of the earth to obey him, who reins in the heavens and will rein on the earth, who we are eternally indebted to....only asks for our hearts in return. That's it. Thus we read in 3 Nephi 9:20 "And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit." And, of course, the promise, "And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost." What a beautiful concept. I wish I had more to offer, but that's all that he wants. He wants us to give our hearts to him and keep his commandments. It is a gift that all people can give despite their social status, financial situation, race, gender, or age. May we all ponder these things in our hearts during this Christmas season and devote ourselves to giving back to him who gave his all for us. As we open our hearts to him and submit our will to his, he has promised to bless us forever. The gift of eternal life, which he gives freely, is priceless!
I love you! Have a merry Christmas!
Love, Hermana Townley
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
My dear family,
The Lord strengthens me in so many ways. These past few weeks have been especially crazy as we played catch-up in our area since my companion was sick for a whole week and our missionary work came to a bit of a halt. This new branch that I am serving in now has just officially been combined with my old branch in Sahuaro into one ward! Lots of big changes, and we are super excited! Yesterday was the first Sunday that we had together as a ward, and the callings had all dissolved, so no one knew what to do or who to teach. All of the full time missionaries of the ward had to spread out among the auxiliaries and taught the majority of the classes without previous notice. As stressful as it was, it was actually a huge answer to prayer because one of our goals that we set together as missionaries was to do everything we can to help the ward transition with the new changes to build trust between us and the leadership. With all of the disorganization and chaos of the past few weeks, the leaders of the ward were actually really grateful that the missionaries were able to help out as much as we did.
Despite my companion's illness, we've actually been able to get a lot done. I don't even know how we've been able to do it, which is how I know that we are being blessed and divinely strengthened. While resting in our apartment, we were also able to plan (with the help of many members, of course) a wedding for our investigators, a funeral for a less active family, and a Christmas party for the combining ward. This ward is pretty heavily reliant on the missionaries to organize and teach, which can be stressful at times, but it's really more exciting and fulfilling than anything else. :)
I've noticed that the harder I work and the more I try to do, the less stress I feel and the more weight I am able to bear. I feel as if we are, in a way, carrying the burden of this new ward and being held responsible in anything goes wrong or if anyone gets left out. In any other circumstance, I think I would have crippled under the stress, but right now I feel unusually calm and at peace with the place that I'm at and the responsibilities that I have. I am grateful that the Lord strengthens me so that I can bear the weight of the burdens placed on my shoulders. I have faith that I really can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I love you all so much. I hope to hear from more of you soon. You are always in my prayers.
Love, Hermana Townley
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
It's been a wonderful week just completely filled with miracle after miracle! I know I say this a lot, but this week was one of the best that I've had on my mission. I wish to share with you just one of those many miracles that was proof to me of the infinite love of our Heavenly Father for His children:
On Thanksgiving morning, Hermana Ferwerda and I were trying to figure out how to fill our day with meaningful activities, because everyone we had talked to previously were either going to Mexico to see family or were having family come visit from Mexico, no surprise. So we said a few prayers hoping to receive some guidance as to who we should go see. At about 10:00 in the morning, we went to see a less active lady whose husband has been in prison for a few years. As we visited with her, we found out that she gets really lonely during the holidays without her husband and she was so grateful that we came and stopped by. From there, we didn't really know who else to go see, so we walked around hoping to pass out a few cards for the new video A Savior is Born that the church just came out with. We also had a few king-sized chocolate bars that we wanted to hand out to people who needed some upliftment.
As we walked down the main street, the first person (and only person) we contacted was Morticia. When we first started talking to her, she was a little standoffish. But as soon as we gave her the chocolate bar, her face just lit up and she started crying. We found out after getting to know her a little bit that she had lost her house to a fire, she was abused and taken advantage of by her husband, and was now living homeless on the streets of south Tucson. Apparently, she had been having suicidal thoughts for a few months, and 5 days earlier, she'd decided to starve/drink herself to death. While walking down the main busy street, she was feeling hopeless and was seriously considering taking her life by jumping into traffic, when we stopped to offer her some chocolate.
After getting some food in her, we took her to our church to teach her a little bit about the Gospel and of our church. We didn't say much, she was really drunk and just needed to talk about the things going on in her life, but she was able to see the Lord's hand in stopping her from taking her life. We also coordinated with some members to bring her a nice, hot Thanksgiving meal, which she was so grateful for.
We haven't seen her since. We are hoping we run into her again soon, but we were able to give her a Book of Mormon and the directions to our church. Hopefully she makes her way back! It was a beautiful experience. My companion and I are just hoping she remembered even a little bit of what happened that day. Maybe not, but maybe! I was really touched by that experience, and she is someone I will never forget.
We are planning on a wedding this week for our investigators! They are amazing people, and they are so happy to be a family forever! We are planning on them being baptized shortly after.
Well, I love you all so much! I hope this little story reminded you of how mindful the Lord is of us, even when we don't feel it or recognize it ourselves. Hope you all have a good week!
Much love, Hermana Townley
I'm getting transfered again! My area in Sahuaro is getting shut down, and we have so much organizing and cleaning to do in our apartment and car. The news was really surprising to me because I haven't been here very long, but I'm moving to an area really close by and I was told that both of the areas will combine starting in January. I will now be serving in the Los Reales branch with my previous companion Hermana Ferwerda starting tomorrow!
This week was just amazing. Everyday I find new ways and new reasons to be grateful for the Savior and his gospel. With Thanksgiving Day coming up, my companion and I have been able to focus our teachings on all of our blessings and having an attitude of gratitude. I especially love teaching little children and doing fun festive activities with them for the holidays! What a special time of the year! I hope you are all able to take some time this week to ponder on all of the wonderful blessings that the Lord has given us!
This year especially, I am grateful for the knowledge I have of the Plan of Salvation. I've been pondering much this week on this particular topic, since several old ladies in our ward are preparing to enter the temple for the first time. We were given permission a few weeks ago to start the temple classes, and I've been able to really study about the Plan of Salvation with purpose, and really try to understand the material on a deeper level. I am grateful for the temple, more especially for the deeper relationship that I've formed with my Savior since I went through for my own endowments. It is a beautiful thing to make promises with Him and receive specific and powerful blessings in return. I am a better person when I go to the temple and learn more about the Lord's plan for me.
I've gained a greater appreciation this week of knowing that God has a plan for me in my missionary experience. Being in Sahuaro has made me wonder many times about my purpose for serving in that particular area, and my faith has strengthened after being tested and tried several times. I am grateful for the trials that I have that make me stronger and closer to my Father in Heaven.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! Let us focus all of our thoughts and actions in blessing and thanking God and others today and everyday!
1. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name.
5. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Much love, Hermana Townley
Friday, November 13, 2015
This week was one of the best weeks that I've had on my mission thus far. Sometimes I find it hard to put into words through an email all of the things that I experience on a day to day basis that make me love what I do so much. Most of my experiences, I've come to realize, will always be held close to my heart but cannot be shared with people through my words. I'm learning that true miracle of serving the Lord in this short time is seeing myself really changing and becoming more like Him.
I had an epiphany this week about my missionary work. I feel like I've gotten it on a big secret, like all of a sudden a light bulb turned on in my head to help me understand and make connections with my purpose here in Tucson. I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out, and I feel a little silly typing this out because of how simple and obvious it is, but for some reason, it just hasn't "clicked" for me until now. The key to being successful in the work of salvation is LOVE! Not just any kind of love either. It's the kind of love that you have to diligently pray for, the kind that is selfless, kind, patient, and long suffering; the kind that requires a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice. This is the only kind of love that changes hearts and changes lives. The scriptures refer to this kind of love as Charity. I have been told over and over and over again that that would be the key to my success as a missionary, but until I really tried to apply it, they were all just words to me.
I'm learning how to love the way Christ loves. It was an amazing revelation that I received, and I have put all of my energy and effort into being more Christ-like and charitable this week. It is a gift from God and we cannot obtain it without His help.
I went on an exchange earlier this week in Nogales, my first area. Oh how I loved to see all of my old friends and loved ones! It was a time of rejoicing when I heard of the progress of some, and a time of great sorrow when I heard of the regression of others. Either way, I was able to see that I've been able to form eternal relationships on my mission. I was also able to go to the baptism of Angelica in my other previous area, Sonora! It was a beautiful day :)
The work of the Lord is going forward. I have no doubt in my mind that I am participating in the work of the Lord, and that He is always guiding, directing, and taking care of His missionaries.
May you all have a blessed week!
Love, Hermana Townley
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
We love to do heart attacks! This particular one was for Hermana Bueno and her niece who just had a baby.
So my companion is the tallest sister in the mission, and I'm pretty sure I'm the shortest...
naturally we should be put together!
La familia Luna
La familia Sanchez
La Hermana Bonnie del Salvador
La familia Montoya
La Hermana Bravo de Peru
Fun at the zoo!
I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween! Will you all send pictures of your kids all dressed up?
We have just had a little dump of so many blessings this week! My companion and I have been brainstorming and trying to meet with different leaders from the Stake to get the work moving in the branch. We've been able to see the hand of the Lord in all of our planning sessions and our meetings. Our area is huge geographically, so we've had to really use the Lord to plan our time and our traveling in a productive way. Somehow, with divine intervention for sure, everything works out and we are able to plan our days with as minimal travel time as possible. Like Nephi, I've been able to see that "the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith."
At the beginning of the week, we found a new investigator who is now planning on being baptized at the end of the month! Her name is Mireya, and she is the niece of one of our less actives who the missionaries have been teaching for months now with no progress. We also received a referral from one of the members for the Ruiz family who were meeting with missionaries in Mexico years ago. They lovingly welcomed us into their home and told us that they've been wanting to meet with the missionaries again. They are so excited to start the lessons!
We also found a different family, the Romeros, while we were knocking! Because our area is heavily populated with people who only speak English, my companion and I have gotten really good at looking for different signs of a Spanish speaking home before even knocking on the door. From our experience, the people living in the house probably speak Spanish if 1) they have a sign beside the door that says "Bienvenidos" rather than "Welcome" 2) they have some sort of display of la virgen maria 3) they have aloe vera growing right beside the door and 4) they have a used, gray mop that's drying on the front porch. I absolutely LOVE the Mexican culture! I am so grateful to be serving with them :)
I got news early on this week that the Acosta family from the area that I just left are getting baptized this week! In contrast to the many recent converts that I'm working with now in my new area who are now less active, I've been caused to reflect on and focus my studies on the topic of conversion this week. I loved the story of the sons of Mosiah, who dedicated a big majority of their lives in full-time missionary service to the Lord. After they had spent some time with the Lamanites and set an example for them, they were able to bear powerful testimony to the king, converting the whole household. The kind then sent out a proclamation to his whole kingdom, giving Ammon and his brothers permission to preach the gospel everywhere. As a result, thousands of people were converted to the Lord, and "as many of them believed on their words, they "never did fall away". What did these missionaries do that was so impressive and powerful that not a single one of their converts fell away? We are told that they taught "according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them". That is the key to, not only missionary success, but the success of the whole work of salvation. In order to do this, however, we must be converted ourselves. We cannot be participants in this work without living the teachings of Christ ourselves.
I want you all to know that my conviction to be a part of this gospel, to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and to follow my Savior stands completely independent of any other person, besides Jesus Christ himself. If our conversion is reliant upon anything else, we will not last. "Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are build, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
I love you all so much! You are in my prayers always :)
So much love, Hermana Townley
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
My dear wonderful family,
This week has been better! The work in the area is about the same, but I feel like my attitude and hope for the area has improved drastically....and that makes all the difference in the world! I feel a little bit like I would imagine the Children of Israel felt (on a much smaller scale, of course) being led into the wilderness for 40 years with nothing but the Lord to depend on for sustenance. Missionary work in my area has not been easy for me, but what I've noticed about missionary work, as well as all other aspects of our lives, is we need to put ALL of our trust and confidence in our Savior, Jesus Christ to lead us to the things we need....in my case, to lead me to people who have been prepared to receive the wonderful news of God's restored church.
Today I want to share my testimony with all of you. I have a testimony of acting on the promptings of the Spirit, no matter what you are doing or how unusual the prompting might seem. During one of our finding activities, my companion and I were going through old records of former investigators when I came across on that didn't even have any contact information. The person on the record had only been taught one time, and there weren't even many details about the person or the lesson at all. But that was the one that I felt impressed to go see. It seemed silly, the only thing we had were some cross-streets for where they lived, we didn't even have their address! When we reached the street that they supposedly lived on, we found nothing but a gas station and a food market. It was obviously a dead end so we went back to trying to find something to do. We drove around for a bit and found a pretty nice apartment complex down the street and decided to get out and knock some doors. After knocking for about half an hour with no success, we offered up a little prayer asking Heavenly Father what he wanted us to do next. I have never in my life received a prompting so specific, the Spirit helped us know exactly which door to knock, and that's how we met Dissenia.
We had a really great first lesson with her! She doesn't have much religious background but she told us that she had recently (within the past few weeks) started thinking that she needs to start reading the Bible and praying to help her family. She said that right before we knocked on her door, she had started praying while she was blow drying her hair. She said she felt like her prayer had been answered, and she's excited to learn about God.
When I heard that, I remembered the wonderful promise in Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." It's true! He keeps all of his promises, and his promises are REAL! I know that this is the work of the Lord. I know that it is He that is directing all of the affairs of the church and the Gospel. We are all working side by side with him, and it is just the greatest privilege in the world to be wherever He wants me to be. He is in our midst, even if we cannot see him. He is always watching over us and guiding us! I found a scripture today in my personal study that I just loved, in D&C he asks us to "Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom." If we could all just pause and really ponder the depth and the meaning of this promise, we would all be comforted in our trials and be able to have "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding"(Philippians 4:7).
I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He is the only person we can fully put our trust in, He is constant, He is all knowing and all seeing, He is our teacher, He is our strength and our rock. We cannot make it without Him. As we submit our will and our lives to Him, He will be the one to bring us happiness in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come. I testify that He lives. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Sister Stacie Morgan Townley
Saturday, October 24, 2015
My first week in Sahuaro has taught me a lot about the will of God and my purpose here in Arizona. I've had some struggles this week because there is little to no work here in my new area and we frequently find ourselves looking for things to do and ways to be productive. We had no investigators and no one else really progressing. Before I got here, my Mission President was seriously considering shutting down this area for Spanish because most people here only speak English. I've been really trying to have faith and believe that miracles can happen here.
I remember a few weeks ago when I prayed to Heavenly Father, against the counsel of my Mission President I may add, for "mountains to climb". I wanted so badly in the moment to be tested and tried as much as I could handle so that I could be strengthened and stretched. I wanted so badly to just be the missionary and the person that the Lord wants me to be. I asked him to give me the experiences necessary for me to become so. Of course, I forgot all about that prayer until the mountain came, and my faith was tested and tried in several ways simultaneously. It wasn't a test of testimony or knowledge of the truthfulness of the Gospel, but a test of endurance and patience in the timing of the Lord.
During my personal studies yesterday morning, I was going through the most recent talks from conference, and I found comfort and peace as I read the talk called "What Lack I yet" by Elder Lawrence. He says "The journey to discipleship is not an easy one. It has been called a 'course of steady improvement'. As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher. The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion. If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home....If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us."
God answers prayers. He grants us specific blessings according to our faith. I love the scripture in D&C 6:20 that says "I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love." From personal experience, he very rarely answers them in the way we expect. My new area was an answer to my prayer, and I know that I will have to grow and stretch in ways that I've never had to before. The purpose of my being in this area is still unknown to me, but the Lord has comforted me by letting me know that there is a specific purpose for my being here and I have a specific assignment to fulfill.
The people here in Tucson are being blessed with a new temple! We witnessed the groundbreaking on Saturday, and were pleasantly surprised to hear Elder Uchtdorf dedicate the plot for the purposes of the Lord. The Lords work is moving forward!
I love you guys! And miss you all! I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Love, Hermana Townley
Friday, October 23, 2015
So I found out on Saturday that my new assignment will be in the Sahuaro Branch with Hermana Adams! It's been a crazy weekend of goodbyes and celebrating as we all start a new journey with new people. As sad as I am to leave Sonora, I have felt very at peace with this new phase in my missionary service and I'm excited to have a fresh start :) I feel like I've completed everything that God wanted me to do while in Sonora, now it's time to hit the ground running in my new area. It is an indescribable blessing to be a missionary of the Lord and to be sharing with others everything that brings me so much happiness. I love the counsel in the scriptures that encourages us to "consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God." and then the beautiful promise "they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness." (Mosiah 2:41)
I will send the address as soon as I get it! Have a great week!
Sister Stacie Morgan Townley
Sister Stacie Morgan Townley
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Our little nature hike this morning :) The famous saguaro cactus!
Good ol' Tucson!
Look what the Elders found in their apartment! Good morning Tucson!
t's called a horny-toed lizard....I've actually seen a lot of these running around.
Monday, October 5, 2015
I'm grateful for the guidance the Lord always gives us, whether it's in the form of scriptures, prayer, dreams, thoughts, feelings, church leaders, family members, or random strangers... God does communicate with us. I'm also grateful for opportunities I have on my mission to be an answered prayer for someone else.
This week we were introduced to the Acosta family. They just arrived from Mexico with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs. They have small children and came to America desperate for a place to stay and food to eat. It was amazing for me to see the action from the members in providing shelter, food, clothes, hygiene supplies, and even toys for the baby. Hermana Child and I had the privilege this week of stopping by their house often to provide some spiritual encouragement and hope. It would be hard for me to describe the look in her eyes as I saw the Book of Mormon coming alive to her. We shared with her a verse, and she asked, "Can we read more?" So we read....a lot! She just kept going, kept turning the pages one after the other, and she just couldn't get enough! We had to stop her when it was time for us to go, but it was just so amazing to see someone hunger and thirst for the Gospel the way that she did. What a blessing it was to witness her being changed by the word of God right in front of my eyes! Oh and they stayed for all 4 sessions of conference with a 2 year old....that kind of dedication was really impressive too!
On Thursday, my Mission President's wife came with us to a few appointments. She's learning Spanish too, so it was fun to take her to see some of our investigators and hear her bear her powerful testimony in broken Spanish. Her enthusiasm for missionary work was really impressive and encouraging to both me and my companion. She also came and helped us do some weekly planning. We are so grateful for the constructive counsel that we received from her. We feel a better sense of how to make goals and be more goal-oriented in the work.
On top of that, we were able to do a bit of family history work! What a wonderful week!
I hope you were all able to listen to and enjoy the new counsel we received from our church leaders this weekend! Let's put some of the things we learned into practice this week!
Love, Hermana Townley
Sunday, October 4, 2015
I'm sorry to be so brief! Thank you for all of the birthday wishes! I had a wonderful work day, we found a family at 10 in the morning and were our doing service for the rest of the day. We were then able to kick back and enjoy some wonderful talks from some of the leaders of the church for the General Women's Conference.
With General Conference fast approaching, and with the passing of one of my favorite Apostles (I know, I have lots of favorites haha), I would like to share a quote from Richard G. Scott about an important principle I learned this week: “Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit.”
This life isn't supposed to be comfortable or easy. I've learned to have a better attitude about different trials and challenges that I experience from day to day. God does not expect us to be perfect, but he expects us to continually improve. I feel stronger this week than I did last week, and I am thanking God with all of my heart today for all of the things that were really hard to go through last week. It was time for me to grow, and today I feel empowered and ready to take on whatever is thrown at me because I know I have the Lord on my side helping me every step of the way!
I hope you all enjoy Conference, I know I will :)
Love, Hermana Townley
Monday, September 28, 2015
Hermanas Dominguez, Anderson, Olivas, Budge, Burgoyne, and Ferwerda
One of the members made me a cupcake to celebrate my halfway mark in the mission!
Preparation day with Hermann Child, Hermana Budge, and Hermana Burgoyne
Friday, September 25, 2015
I'm so grateful to be serving here in Tucson. I just can't even describe all of the emotions that are running through me right now as I think about all of the wonderful ways I have been blessed this week. On Tuesday, we took a temple trip as a zone to the Gila Valley. As we traveled, I was able to just sit and ponder about the significance of the temple and the blessings I have personally seen because of the covenants that I've made with my Heavenly Father. This prompted me to do further studies on the temple and related blessings that has allowed my understanding and testimony of the temple to deepen. I am so grateful for the personal revelation that I can receive by going there, and I've made it a personal goal to attend the temple as much as possible for the rest of my life.
We are working with several people right now who feel the Spirit as we teach, have great desires to grow closer to the Savior, and desires to teach their children the ways of God. For some reason, however, they are having a really hard time acting and doing things that they know they need to do. It's been a real struggle for us. Last night during our weekly planning session, my companion and I were reviewing the progress of some of our investigators that we have grown to love so much, and our hearts just broke. My heart aches for people who know better, but choose not to follow our Savior and keep His commandments. If only they realized how much the Lord wants to bless them!
With my investigators in mind, I was prompted to study about following our Savior. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus walked on the seashore of Galilee and invited two fishermen (Peter and Andrew) to "Follow me". This is an invitation for all of us. and from my studies, I've learned that the invitation can be taken literally. In the Book of Moroni, we read about a certain "peaceable walk" that allows the children of men to eventually enter into the rest of our Lord. The only way we can obtain that special promise, the promise of eternal life, is if we walk in the path of our Savior. In 1 John 2:6, we read "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked."
Even with so loving of an invitation and such incomprehensible promises, we still have to CHOOSE to follow Him. I love the scripture in Proverbs that says "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left; remove thy foot from evil." (Proverbs 4:25-27) He has set a perfect example for us to follow. He has even warned us that the path is not the easiest one, in fact, it is very narrow and straight, and often times we find ourselves wavering even though we try to do good. That's why I love the encouragement to always ponder on the direction we are going, and being cautious of our actions. It might even be a good thing to regularly ask ourselves the famous question that we teach little children to always ask before making a decision... What would Jesus do?
The whole point of following the Savior is to help us eventually, and with a lot of effort on our part, become like Him. Later on in 1 John 3, we learn "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Can you even imagine what that blessing alone entails? Can you imagine what it would feel like to be pure like our Savior? Our finite minds cannot even comprehend how great the blessings that are in store for those who take up their own crosses, and just follow Him.
I hope this week brings you experiences that help you grow closer to Him.
With lots of love,
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
I realized today that for the past two weeks I haven't really told you all what's going on with the missionary work in my area or all miracles that I have seen, but there have been many! I pray every night for the Lord to open my eyes and the eyes of all the people that we are teaching right now to see His hand in every single part in our lives. I love the story in Alma where he explains the principle of our needing to actively LOOK for the wonderful signs and evidences of our Creator, "The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Being". (Alma 30:44). Sometimes we take advantage of these miraculous phenomenons in our world, and label them as ordinary. But as we take some time to really appreciate the beauty of the world, we can really see God working in great power and glory.
Hector and Patty are doing well :) Thank you for your prayers in behalf of them. Hector blessed the sacrament in church this week and is planning on a temple trip to do baptisms this month!
I want to share an experience that really confirmed in my mind the need we have to "Believe in God....believe that he has all wisdom, and all power....and that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend."(Mosiah 4:9) Thursday we had a really hard day. We had prayerfully set plans to see 5 different people, and we had backup plans, and backups for those backup plans. We had prayerfully planned to take out two different members at different times of the day, and we woke up really excited and ready to work. We were ready to go and make some things happen in our area! Then every single lesson fell through one by one. We had worked really hard previously to set up appointments in advance and felt like we had done our best to coordinate our schedule to match our plans to our investigators. We gave in to wonder why...why did all our plans fall through after we had done our best to be organized and prepared to help people? Why did nothing go according to plan?
Toward the late evening, we were, in all honesty, pretty discouraged. In a moment of desperation, we decided to try one last less-active member in the area who we haven't been able to see for months before we went home for the evening. While walking to his house, we were stopped by a guy who owned the car shop across the street. He flagged us down and started making small talk with us. After a while, he told us that the reason he stopped us is because his son had seen us walking through his neighborhood a couple weeks ago, and he was really interested in hearing our message.
So we went to his house to meet his son. His name is Mario, and he's made a lot of mistakes in his life that has really humbled him. It was so interesting to talk with him because, although he has little to no education in religion, he has grown so close to God through prayer. He expressed his desire to learn more about God (he just didn't know where to start), and when he saw us walking through the neighborhood, he said that God was answering his prayers. He told us that he had been waiting for us :) We will teach him for the first time tonight!
This experience, along with many other similar ones that I've had on my mission, taught me a great principle. It was apparent to me that the Lord already knew before we started our day that our plans were going to fall through. He knew we would keep trying. He set us on the exact path, even though it took some faith to keep on it, that would lead us to a person who needed us at that moment. Oh the wisdom and the LOVE that our Creator has for His children! He needs us to keep trying and to have faith when things don't go exactly right. We need to trust in Him to guide us and lead us because he sees the whole picture. We need to accept that there are many things that we just can't comprehend in the moment, but with the help of the Lord, the path is made clear, and we can look back with gratitude that he has never abandoned us.
I'm so grateful for the guidance that the Lord provides me. I know that He is there, always watching, always listening.
With love, Hermana Townley
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
What a beautiful day!
We have been so grateful here in Tucson for a little break from the heat. Today we have lots of overcast, a little bit of light showers, and lots of thunder and lightning! I love the monsoon season here, it's just so beautiful!
Today I would like to share with you all my testimony about some things that I've been pondering about deeply my whole mission, but more so this week. From what I have learned from working with so many types of people with so many different levels of faith, most people have a really hard time recognizing, listening, and understanding the voice of God. How are we supposed to know when He is "talking" to us? And when we try to listen, sometimes it feels as if we are getting mixed signals from the Spirit. How can this be when we know that the Lord cannot lie?
I've spent so much time on my mission trying to grasp this concept, trying to understand how the Lord "speaks" to me. What we already know is that there are three main sources that we can draw from when we are looking for answers: living scripture (or words from our living prophets), canonized scripture such as the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, and personal revelation. What I learned is that we NEED ALL THREE of them to support each other and confirm true doctrine in our minds and in our hearts, so we can know with an absolute surety that it is the word of God. We cannot understand the word of God spending all day with our nose in the scriptures and neglecting to listen to the Spirit testify of its truthfulness to our hearts. In this case, we are nourishing our minds but forgetting to nourish our hearts and spirits. It's the same concept with the words of our living prophets, we need to read them AND listen to the Holy Ghost testify to our hearts that what they are saying is true. This is the only way we can know.
Similarly, we cannot expect to understand the personal revelation that we receive from God if we don't constantly compare our "impressions" to the teachings of the living prophets and the canonized scriptures. We need all three to work together in order to receive all the understanding that the Lord wants to bless us with.
I have a testimony in all three of these wonderful tools that the Lord has blessed us with to know Him and to be able to build and strengthen a relationship with him.
I have a testimony in our living prophets and the keys that they hold:
"And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto Salvation." D&C 68:4
I have a testimony of our canonized scripture, especially the Book of Mormon and the power it has to covert and convince:
"The fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved." 1 Nephi 6:4
I have a testimony that the Lord speaks to me through personal revelation:
"Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.....For it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain." Moroni 7:33, 37
He is the same yesterday, today and forever! He still speaks to His children, He wants to communicate with us be cause of His infinite and matchless love for us. If we can't hear His voice, it would be good to pause and reflect on our actions and desires of our hearts, and use the Spirit to understand what changes we need to make in our lives to better coincide with the teachings of our Savior.
"Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." 2 Nephi 32:3
I hope you all have a wonderful week, may God bless you with happiness and joy in your journey back to Him!
With all my love, Hermana Townley