Monday, September 28, 2015

Pictures of Stacie! She's halfway through!

 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

Stacie's email and pictures September 21, 2015

Buenas tardes! 

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,
Hermana Townley

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Stacie's email September 14, 2015

Arizona sunsets are so beautiful after a nice rainfall!

Dear Family, 

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

Stacie's email 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

Monday, September 7, 2015

Stacie's email August 31, 2015

Dear family, 

Well, it's been a really short week with really long days! My companion and I have been really blessed in our efforts to find people who desire to change, learn, grow, and progress towards becoming faithful followers of Jesus Christ. This week we decided to change some things up to make our work in this area more productive and effective. Working smart :) 

We, unfortunately, had to refer Yesenia and her daughter to the English speaking sisters. I was really excited about teaching her and seeing her make changes in her life, but I know she's still in good hands. There is no doubt in my mind that she will eventually follow our Saviors example into the waters of baptism, it might take some time, but she'll get there! We have also had great success in teaching a mother and daughter named Maria and Estrella. They have both come to church 3 times now and have expressed desires to learn more and eventually get baptized. They come to all of our church activities and participate in classes. Maria cried when we taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel and shared the First Vision. She told us that she really relates to the boy (Joseph Smith) and can feel in her heart that this is the course that she needs to take to be prepared to meet God. It was so beautiful! 

Veronica too has been progressing very well. She has a pretty crazy work schedule (she works in the hospital) so we haven't been able to see her as much as I would like, but there is something just so sincere about her desires to follow the Savior and her willingness to hear us out, I just feel so blessed to be serving the Lord right now. It's truly a miracle to see people change their hearts and lives.

As of right now, we have 3 investigators that are really progressing....which is quite the feat in this area. I pray every day that my companion and I will be more diligent and more obedient so we can find more people like Maria, Estrella, and Veronica. 

I've been pondering a lot this week about the importance of gaining and retaining our own testimonies, especially in the Restoration of the Gospel. I've centered most of my studies around it this week with hopes of strengthening my own testimony in the Restoration, so I could teach it with more power from the Lord. A testimony can only grow from understanding points of doctrine, which comes from diligent prayer and scripture study. We can nurture it by LIVING those truths that we find. I pray that all of us may start letting that desire work in us, then do our part in nurturing it, so that we can turn that tiny seed of faith into our own tree of life. 

I love you and miss you all so much! Until next week :) Espero que Dios les bendigas.

Love, Hermana Townley