Friday, August 28, 2015

Stacie's email August 24, 2015

Dear family,

My heart is just full today. I know that I don't get back to responding to everyone's emails, but I want you all to know that I read all of them and am so grateful to hear about everything going on in your lives and keeping in touch with people who mean so much to me. Forgive me for not responding to all of them, but I do think and pray about all of you everyday! Happy birthday this week to my sweet Jakey!

This week has been so busy! We've seen a lot of miracles happen in our efforts to find people to teach. We had a finding activity for our area with several other companionships where we were able to find 8 new people who are interested and excited to have us back over in under an hour! The Lord really blesses us when we put in some work. I've learned so much in this past week about diligence and hard work. On Wednesday, my companion and I had a "language fast" where we had to refrain from speaking any English the whole day. Man, it was tough! I didn't realize until that day how much I still speak in English, especially with other missionaries. Through our fast, the Lord helped me understand how important it is for me to master the language in every way possible. As a result, I was able to receive specific counsel from the Lord as to how to adjust my language study plan to help me get more out of my study; including writing, reading, pronunciation, teaching, grammar, and vocabulary. I wish I had done this earlier on!

I would like to share a spiritual thought on something that I've been studying diligently to understand this week, something that has been very personal and important to me ever since I started my journey to know my Savior, and that is the principle of forgiveness and reconciliation. My words will never do this topic justice, so I want pull from the inspiring 5th chapter in the book of Alma, who exhorts us to ponder in our hearts questions that will help us realize our position in relation to our readiness to meet our Savior. Echoing his words, I want to encourage each of you to consider: Are we prepared to meet God? Are we continually keeping ourselves blameless? Have we been spiritually born of God? Can we imagine hearing the voice of our Savior saying unto us: Come unto me, ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth? Will we be able to look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? Do we feel to sing the song of redeeming love every day of our lives?

Now, if not, what can we do differently today to experience this mighty change of heart?

I love the part that the Atonement plays in helping us prepare to meet God. For anyone who's lives are not in accordance with the Saviors teachings, remember that it is NEVER TOO LATE to make Jesus Christ and his teachings the foundation and center of our lives, so that we can one day hear those beautiful words directly from him.

Alma 5:33-34 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto ALL men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you! Yea he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and waters of life freely. 
The Atonement is a free gift given to all who desire these blessings.
I share these things because I love you; because the Gospel brings me so much JOY and I want to share it with every one that I love.
With all my love, Hermana Townley

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stacie's email and pictures August 18, 2015

Buenos dias mi familia querida! 

Happy Birthday Alec! I can't believe that cute boy is already 2 years old!
This morning my companion and I found a baby lizard wandering around our apartment. I spend the morning studying with it in my hands. What a great start to the week huh? I find a lot of joy in my missionary work, a lot more than I thought I would before I started my mission. There is such a special feeling of love and protection that always surrounds me, and I miraculously have never felt unsafe here in South Tucson. I found a quote this week by Richard G. Scott that said "Missionaries are literally in the hands of the Lord". And it is so true! I literally feel the arms of his love around me, and I know I'm in good hands :) 

Joceline came to church yesterday!!! I was actually pretty surprised. So far, I have seen a lot of desire in her, and not really any action. And she brought her friend who was asking us lots of questions about the sacrament. We have an appointment to meet with both of them tomorrow!

On Thursday I learned a powerful lesson from the Patriarch, Hermano Lopez, who was out doing visits with us. Hermano Lopez is about 85 years old and has to walk with a cane. He's a convert to the church so he never had the opportunity to serve as a full-time missionary, but he's close to one of the best missionaries I've ever seen.  This particular day was super hot, it had to have been over 110 degrees-or that's what it felt like! We had to do a lot of walking because there weren't too many people in their homes for some reason. He wore a smile from ear to ear the whole time we were knocking on doors. He was just so happy to be out working for the Lord. The whole time, we were feeling the heat of the sun, beads of sweat pouring down our backs, mosquitoes eating us alive, and we had forgotten water, so we were SO thirsty! We had been in this condition for about half an hour, trying to find someone-anyone- to teach, when I turned around and apologized for him having to be out in the sun walking so much without even being able to teach anyone yet. Without skipping a step, he replied, "After how much the Savior sacrificed for me, it is a real blessing to sacrifice just a little for him". What a wonderful example he had just set for me and my companion. Sometimes it's easy for me to give in to some of the physical trials that I have. It was a great reminder to me to be grateful in every circumstance, and to remember how much the Lord has done for me! 
​Right before we ended this knocking streak we found Veronica
, who we feel has been really prepared to hear the Gospel and it was 
​such ​
a beautiful lesson
 Toward the end of the lesson, she told us that she has no doubt in her mind that God loves her, but she's always felt like she was missing something, like there was something more that He wanted her to do. In that moment, I knew with my whole heart that we were guided by the Spirit to teach her and help her fill that gap that she feels in her life. 

We also got to teach the 3-year-old primary kids yesterday, I just feel so blessed. 

We are looking forward to a busy week! We have a lot of appointments, and are so excited to get things moving in this area! I love you all so much!

Love, Hermana Townley

Monday, August 10, 2015

Stacie's email August 10, 2015

Dear family,

I just feel so grateful right now for all of the blessings that I have! I'm grateful for a Father in Heaven that guides me and helps me through hard times, I'm grateful for a loving Brother and Savior whose love I feel so strongly in my life, and I'm grateful for all of the wonderful support I have back at home from my immediate and extended family members and my friends. I am so blessed and grateful for all of you and for the love that I feel. 

This week was a week of rejoicing for the people here in Tucson. There has been announced a groundbreaking date for the new Tucson, Arizona Temple!!! We are blessed here in Tucson already with 4 different temples only 2 hours away. I've come to really appreciate and cherish the covenants that I've made in the temple while being on my mission. I don't get to go very often, but I can definitely see the different spirit that the temple brings to people's lives. One of my favorite scriptures about the blessings of the temple is this: "And the same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory." D&C 130:2. I like to use this scripture when I teach my investigators about the purpose of the temples, and why it's so important for us to make it a goal to get there. In the temple, we receive very specific instruction on HOW we can obtain that glory, and also WHY it's so important to live all of the principles of the Gospel in this life. 

This week, my recent convert back in Nogales sent me a random text telling me how exited he was to have a temple going up in Tucson. He then bore his testimony to me about the truthfulness of the Gospel and how he just yearns to be sealed in the temple to his family for eternity. 

We've begun teaching a young woman named Joceline. She reminds me a lot of myself, and I feel as if, in some ways, I've been put here just for her. We are able to connect intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. She has been making some really bad choices, developing bad habits, and living a bad lifestyle that she just doesn't know how to get out of. I'm grateful to be here in this area helping her find her way back to Christ. I truly feel like an instrument in the Lord's hands! 

I love you all. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Love, Hermana Townley 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stacie's email August 3, 2015

Dear family, 

To start off, I want to welcome Angela into the family! I'm excited for the new starts and new people that our family is welcoming in. Our family is growing so much in such a little time, how blessed we are to have so many new faces in our lives! 

This week I've been pondering very deeply about the Great Plan of Happiness that our Heavenly Father has provided for us. With the perspective that we are all spiritual children of our Father and that we have a divine mission to fulfill and live in this life, we are able to more fully accept, endure, and even appreciate the difficult, heart-breaking, and unbearable trials that we face. I am not unaware of all of the corruption, evil, and injustice in this world, but because of this Merciful Plan of our Father, I know that even the bad things in this life serve a purpose in giving us everlasting happiness. Helping others see this is the goal I set everyday. 

I've had the privilege this week of studying in depth of the great and eternal love that our Savior has for us. The Atonement of Jesus Christ was the greatest act of love that has ever happened in the history of time, and he did it for us. In John 15:13, we learn "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Truly, we are His friends and He loves us more than we can even comprehend. We obey His commandments because we love Him too, and in return, He pours out even more blessings upon us. We are and will forever be indebted to our Lord! He is truly merciful, and His plan is truly one of HAPPINESS. 

I want to share a few experience from our recent converts this week: 

First was Hector. Before he was baptized, (I think I've mentioned this before), he was in an extremely financial bind and told us that he wouldn't be able to pay tithing. I promised him numerous times that if he would take a leap of faith, Heavenly Father would take care of him and his family financially. I don't think I fully realized the truthfulness and literalness of that promise while I was saying it. Well, this week, after he had taken the leap of faith and was baptized a couple weeks ago, we showed up to his house for a lesson. When we got inside, he was so excited to tell us about a financial miracle that happened. Heavenly Father proved to them that He would take care of them by somehow zeroing out some of his bills. They have no idea how it happened, and they paid tithing for the first time yesterday. Oh and he also got the Aaronic Priesthood. We are just rejoicing! 

Also, Eduardo. Before he was baptized, he had extremely bad health problems. When they asked him to get baptized, he said no only because he would likely get a life threatening infection if he was immersed in water completely. They promised him that if he diligently read in the Book of Mormon every day, he would be healthy enough to be baptized in 3 weeks. It worked! When we went to visit them this week, he told us that before he was baptized, he could barely walk because of the arthritis in his knee joints. Then, after he got baptized, he told us that he felt absolutely no pain at all. We watched as he jogged around his living room to prove the miracle to us. I don't have any words to describe my amazement. 

As you can see, the Lord truly blesses us when we come unto Him.
I love you all, and pray for you everyday! Keep looking for miracles, they are there! 

Love, Hermana Townley

Stacie's email July 27, 2015

Dear family,

This week has been just full of miracles. I have to be brief this week because there is so much to do! I just love being a trainer! My new companion, Hermana Child, is doing well, she's picking things up really fast, she speaks really well in Spanish, and she's a really hard worker. I thank my Heavenly Father every day to be her companion. We have learned a lot from each other already and get along really well. What a blessing! 

I am really grateful for the guidance of the Spirit in my life. I'm grateful for the promptings and warnings I receive whenever I am confronted with a situation that could potentially be harmful. Every once in a while, when we go out knocking on doors, my companion and I both receive a warning from the Spirit about a certain house, and we turn right back around and walk away. I don't know why, I don't think I will ever know why we feel that way sometimes, but we just don't go there. Yesterday we had an experience that truly confirmed my faith in the protection and warnings of the Spirit. We went to see Yesenia, the lady we found after we lost our phone, and when we walked up to her house, she was crying. She has been in an extreme financial bind.  She had her phone, her tv, her couches and other things taken away because she couldn't pay her bills. All she had to eat was bread in her house. It just broke my heart. As soon as we started talking to her about Christ, a man walked in (most likely her boyfriend) and just started yelling at us and cursing at us, and tried to argue with us about points of doctrine. I would have liked to have shared my testimony and left it at that, but I just couldn't say anything. Not a word. The Spirit was strong with us, despite the situation we were in, and we were restrained from speaking. When we walked outside, after we silently endured his mocking us and swearing at us, Yesenia met us by our car so that he couldn't hear and told us that she was really impressed that we left without saying a word (he was really asking for an argument from us) and she could tell that we were good people and just wanted to help, so she asked us to come back in the morning when he wasn't there so that she could learn more. We were stunned. 

I am reminded of the scripture in D&C 84 that says "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life and it shall be given you in the very hour that PORTION that shall be meted unto every man." How true these words are! 

This weekend we had another baptism of Eduardo and Consuelo, I am so grateful for the people I meet and to be able to see the changes that take place in their lives because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a truly beautiful thing. 

May you all continue to look for miracles and tender mercies from God in your lives. They are there!

With all my love, Hermana Townley