Monday, December 28, 2015

Stacie's email December 28, 2015

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

Stacie's email December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!

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

Stacie's email December 14, 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

Pictures December 7, 2015

The Sandovals got married!! Darlene, Jesus, and little Carmen :)

The Acosta's baptism! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Stacie's email November 30, 2015

Hello everyone!!

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

Stacie's pics sent November 30, 2015

 Dinner at the Rodriguez house!

La familia Ochoa

La familia Quijada

Rick and Marta Salomon

 This is Morticia :)

Stacie's email November 23, 2015

Dear family, 

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! 

​Psalm 100:
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​