Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stacie's email January 28, 2015

Hola mi maravillosa familia y amigos!!! 

Well this is the last P-day I get until I fly out to Tucson. This email will be really brief because they've really only given us this allotted time to pack.... Can you believe I leave on Monday??  It feels so surreal. I  don't feel ready at all.  I have this illogical worry that I need to be a fluent native Spanish speaker in order to share the Gospel.  As a result, I've been panicking all week. 

This week has been really wonderful though.  I feel much more confident in my speaking, and I've made it a goal to bear my testimony and say prayers whenever I get the opportunity.  It's great language practice I've found :) Also, I've started reading the Book of Mormon in Español as far I've gotten through the entire book of 1 Nefi, it takes a long time though because I really want to understand and learn while I read.  I can't wait for the day that I'll be able to read through without a dictionary! 

It's amazing how close you can get to someone in just 6 weeks. The thought of leaving to Tucson without the rest of my district really brings pain into my heart.  All of the Elders in my district are going to Philadelphia, PA and my compañera is going to Dallas, TX.  Which means I'll also be travelling alone.  All of a sudden, the badge on my heart feels really heavy.  We all plan on buying cheap Spanish Books of Mormon in preparation for our plane ride, just in case :)  I can't wait. 

I've come to realize this week the deep significant calling of being a representative of Jesus Christ.  I always knew it was important, but I have gained a much deeper understanding of the role this week.  My teacher, of all people, pulled me and my companion aside one day during our lunch break with tears pouring from her eyes. The first thing she said was "You are missionaries, right?" (in Español, of course).  Then she just talked, she talked about her family, her job, her school, and her faith.  She had great feelings of inadequacy and she didn't know what to do about various situations that she was in.  It was that moment, while I was completely taken off guard, that I realized that people everywhere, members and nonmembers alike, will flock to me for help, just because of the name that I have over my heart.  I felt the intense realization that I had incredibly enormous shoes to fill, that I am expected to help people in the way that Christ would if he were here.  It was also in that moment of my own feelings of inadequacy that I felt a very profound love from my Heavenly Father for me.  It is amazing that he puts his trust in someone as imperfect as myself.  I felt strengthened in the moment as I felt his love for my teacher, Hermana Rameirez, as well, and I was able to remember a scripture that I hadn't used in months, that was exactly what she needed.  Then I cried with her, and expressed my love for her. 

This work is amazing. I haven't even started my mission, yet I've been so blessed to have already witnessed so many miracles as a result of complete dedication to our Lord.  What a wonderful blessing it is to be a part of the fullness of the Gospel!  I am so blessed to know that the Lord has entrusted me to play a special part in the bringing of His children back!  He is real, I feel his presence in my life constantly! 

Sé que esto es verdad al recibir mucho bendiciones. Estoy agradecido por el amor de nuestro Padre Celestial! El Evangelio de Jesucristo es verdadero. Yo sé que Jesucristo es nuestro Redentor! En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen. 
Sister Stacie Morgan Townley 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stacie's email January 21, 2015

Buenos Dias!!

I'm so sorry I don't have time to write you all back individually. Thank you so much for keeping me updated on the things I'm missing out on at home.  I feel so much love and support from you all, and your prayers for me are working!  I feel them strengthening me everyday!

I feel as if Heavenly Father is always finding new ways to challenge me.  Every week gets harder, every week presents a new challenge.  This week especially has been very difficult.  Remember last week when I wrote about how healthy and strong both me and my companion were?  Well, this week we've both been terribly ill.  In fact the whole CCM has contracted a really nasty and highly contagious virus (I think the new wave of missionaries last week brought it from the states).  Almost half of my district was up last night with migraines and throwing up every half hour at least.  I found out this morning that several other districts were experiencing the same thing. 

Thankfully, I seem to be immune to this particular bug, however, last week I had some sort of stomach flu and also a sore throat and dry cough.  My poor companion is still not doing very well :(

Because of our health conditions, my companion and I have missed a lot of class.  It's been very hard on me because I learn so much everyday in class, and this week I've felt like I'm getting a bit behind in my language studies.  I've had to do a lot of catching up in my spare time. 

On a more uplifting note, it's really quite amazing the different ways that the Lord answers prayers!  This week I had a very special experience in Sacrament Meeting.  As I was waiting for the Sacrament to come around, I felt prompted to write my thoughts down.  I started mindlessly writing,  I really wasn't paying close attention.  I didn't think anything of it in the moment.  But I kept writing, and the more I wrote, the more I was able to...feel?...the words that I needed to write, like I was being told what to write.  This continued for about 20 minutes....when I finished, I reread my paper and was so touched at the words. They weren't my words, but words of comfort and guidance, and it had answered a question that I had been pondering all week.  I had never had the Spirit direct me in this way,  I never really had words put into my head before!  But it was amazing and I'm so grateful that the Lord is so mindful of me and is able to answer my prayers so directly!  What an amazing experience it was! 

Oh and I had to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting again... I think my Branch Presidency is picking on me...or I just really need extra blessings! :)

So I've been really trying to have the Spirit with me during my lessons.  I keep remembering that scripture from Doctrine and Covenants about how, if you don't have the Spirit, you cannot teach.  During a practice lesson with my companion, I started off and felt really good about the topic I was teaching about. I felt the Spirit and I didn't use any language notes at all.  Right in the middle of it, I was pulled away by a member of the presidency and got into a pretty light discussion with them.  The conversation with him turned really bad, from my perspective, when he said something to me that deeply hurt me.  It's a little embarrassing to admit, but it completely dampened my mood and I wanted to just give up, I was so discouraged.  But I had to continue on with the lesson that was interrupted.  When I sat down with my investigator, I tried so incredibly hard to forget about what had just happened.  I tried so hard to continue.  But my mind went completely blank.  I didn't know how to speak Spanish all of a sudden.  Not a single word.  It was afterward, as I was thinking about it, that I really understood the importance of the Spirit.  Boy, did I ever learn a lesson!  I will not be able to touch a single person out in the field if I'm thinking only of myself.  Also, there is no way I would be able to do this work without the Spirit, it is absolutely essential!  Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 How true it is! 

Heavenly Father loves teaching me new things!  And I'm so grateful for experiences like that, as embarrassing as they are, that help me realize how little I am in this great work.  I am nothing without Him!  I'm so grateful to know that He is always there when I need help.

Rely on Him, please! He is the only one, and He never disappoints! :)

I love you all so much! 
​Hermana Stacie Morgan Townley 

Part of an email from Sister Bringhurst!

Part of Sister Bringhurst's email to her family about one of Stacie's first lesson experiences:

We were teaching Mario the law of chastity, and he asked us what will happen if he breaks the law.  Well Hermana Townley must have been walloped by the Spirit because she jumped on her scriptures.  I was thinking, "Yeah, that is my companion. She is great."  She pulls out Proverbs 6: 27-32.  As she started reading it, I fist-bumped her.  It sounded great.  However, as I finished reading it in English, I couldn't help thinking it was a little, no VERY direct.  It basically said he was burning in hell and had damned himself.   As he finished, I couldn't help snicker a little.  That did it.  Hermana Townley broke into uncontrollable laughter.  Through sobs she said, "I--I am sorry. It--it wasn't th-that scripture. Ha ha ha."  I think our teachers have classes where they have to keep a straight face because Hermano Beltrán has never broken character.  This was the exception, though.  We were all laughing.  Just dying.  It took like three minutes to settle down.  Sigh. Gotta love it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stacie and her Companion, and the District!

Mas District

Sister Townley and Sister Bringhurst - Sister Training Leaders of their zone

Stacie's email on January 14, 2015

Buenas Tardes!!!

Hello my dear friends and family!

Thank you all for all of your sweet emails! It means the world to me that you've taken time out of your busy lives to pray for me and write to me. It brings me so much comfort every week and I always look forward to hearing from you :)

I apologize for the delay in my writing this email.  This morning we were able to finally leave CCM and visit the México City Temple. It was an incredible experience! It was closed for construction, but we were able to meet with other members and share our testimonies about the was really neat to hear their testimonies!

This week we got to teach a few members lessons for practice. This was a unique challenge because they expected us to know the language really well. We taught a woman named Zarahemla, she was so sweet. She is a single mother of three who has been out of work for a few months. Even so, she had a strong testimony and spoke so powerfully about it. It's amazing to hear the Gospel in another language.  It adds a whole new layer of depth and beauty to see different cultures and people rejoicing in the same truths. 

This week was another hard one. Me and Hermana Bringhurst were called to be the sister trainers in our zone, which meant our study time was cut in half because of all of our meetings. That just means we have to, from now on, rely on the Lord that much more during our lessons...pray for us! Spanish is getting harder too. I've realized that the more I learn the language, the more I realize how much I don't know! I've been praying so hard, but I get so discouraged sometimes. 

I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting this week about service. It was very difficult for me, I had written the whole thing out on a notecard, just in case, but I found myself really deviating from my notes quite a bit, which is a good sign I think! This was the only week that my mission President, Presidente Pratt, came to join our Sacrament Meeting so I was pretty nervous! 

I was having a really difficult time with some personal things earlier this week, so I asked my Zone Leader, Elder Carlson, for a blessing. The Elders here are really incredible young men. It was probably a really inconvenient time to ask, but as soon as I did, there were several Elders who dropped everything they were doing to join in. The blessing was beautiful (so beautiful that I even caught one of the Elders getting emotional), and very personal to me. It was a very touching experience, to feel a physical weight lifted off my shoulders as soon as the blessing was given.

Heavenly Father has poured out so many blessings over me, way too many to count! I feel like there is an invisible bubble of protection around me wherever I go. I have been blessed with abnormally great health, peace, and comfort since I've been here, and I've been praying so hard for my family back at home to feel those same tender feelings that can only be given by our loving Heavenly Father. 

May you all experience something, anything this week that will bring you closer to Him! 

Hasta proximo semana mi familia!!! 

With much love, 
Hermana Townley :)
Sister Stacie Morgan Townley

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Stacie's email January 7, 2015

Buenos Dias!!!

I apologize in advance, because of my limited time, I won´t be able to write back to all of you individually, but I have read all of your emails, and I´m truly touched by the experiences that you have all shared with me! My testimony grows with yours, it really does. So thank you so much for sharing with me, I look forward to another week of learning about the Lord and the work that He's doing in all of your lives as well as mine.

So this week has definitely been the most challenging and difficult thus far. Shortly after I wrote my last letter, I received news that the pipe connecting our campus to the water well broke, and we were without any water for 2 days. All of the toilets were backed up, no showers, no washing hands, no dishes, no water. I heard many Elders walking around in panic because there was no where for them to do their business, which sounds pretty funny now, but last week it was a real problem. There's been a really nasty virus going around, so all of the workers were going around sharing their hand sanitizer because no one was washing their hands.   Many prayers went up from the CCM for water, and it got fixed eventually, but it was a struggle. Oh how I take water for granted! You don't know how much you need it until you lose it.

Anyway, I've been really coming close to my Heavenly Father, especially this week. I've had so many experiences, probably too many, and some too personal to share. But I do feel like I need to share a few things with all of you.

First off, I would like to let you all know that Jesus Christ is REAL. He lives. He is with me and I feel His presence every single day! How amazing it is! My dear friends and family, don't take my word for it, find out for yourselves. He has a perfect plan for all of His children, and every time we struggle or go through something hard, know that He is aware of you and is helping you through it, whether you believe it or not.

My testimony of this has grown so much, it started on Saturday. Hermana Bringhurst and I were waiting to teach Mario, and we said a prayer for him outside. We found ourselves with a little bit of extra time to talk, and I don't know how we got on the subject, but she shared with me the story of the Apostle Peter. In this story, Christ had to ask Peter 3 different times if he loved Him, before He asked him to "feed my sheep". When He said this, I think  Peter finally realized what it truly meant to show our love for our Savior. The moral that I got from the story, is that it is simply not enough to love our Savior, but we MUST show Him that we do!

During our Sunday Devotional, this story came up again by Elder Holland. He told the story in great detail, and afterward, I decided to do a pretty in depth study about it. I read the story from the Bible, and prayed so hard about it. I just knew that Heavenly Father wanted me to learn something. So I tried to apply it. There was a bit of a struggle on Monday as I tried to figure out what kind of expectations God has for me.

Then the same story came up again during the Devotional on Tuesday. Three times in just a few days. It was almost as if the Lord was asking me, three different times just like Peter, if I loved Him and He was prodding me to really think about what that means. This particular Devotional touched my heart in a way that I can't put to words. I had prayed beforehand to understand it, or at least the message since it was all given in Spanish. The speaker, Elder Salida from the Quorum of the Seventy, began and halfway through, he threw his paper that he had his notes for the talk on away and said that he felt prompted by the spirit to talk about something else entirely.

When he spoke, and this was all in Spanish, I felt as if he was talking just to me. I felt like the only person in the whole room. The spirit was strong, tangible and real to me in this moment. My heart was pounding so hard, it was almost uncomfortable. He addressed every single thought and concern that was going through my mind, only a servant of God would be able to do that. And I just knew. In the moment, I knew that God was answering my prayers in a very direct and obvious way. Elder Salida was crying and looking right at me when he spoke about being a special witness of Christ. He knows Him. And he promised me that I can know Him too. He sat down, was still crying, but he was staring at me during our closing song. Our eye contact lasted probably two whole minutes, which felt like forever!

After the meeting, I felt prompted to wait behind so I could talk to him. When I approached him, -I was speechless at this point-, my heart was still pounding, and all I said was, "Elder, you needed to change your talk for me." And he replied with "I know, Hermana". 

Mi quierdo familia y amigos, yo se que Jesucristo es mi Salvador y mi Redentor. Él es allí. Dios es nuestro Padre Celestial y está es Su Evangelio. 

I love you all. Keep writing! 

Hermana​ Stacie Morgan Townley