Note: For the duration of Riley's mission, this blog will be produced and edited by his parents, Daisy and Todd Stonely.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 28: "Attitude of Gratitude"

Dear my boss Friends and Family,

Man oh man does time seem to fly by. I feel like I was just writing a weekly email and now I'm here again! Last P-day went by really fast. The three other missionaries had a lot of stuff to get done so we were running all over little Foley. But man, the week this week was almost like a roller coaster too. With ups and downs, highs and lows, fast and slow, and man just crazy! Hopefully my Spanish mind doesn't mess up the email. :)

So Tuesday we didn't have District meeting because we had a Christmas Mission Conference with 1/2 the missionaries. And man, that day was so crazy. Probably cause my routine was so thrown off. We did go to a little thrift store to do service, which was supper fun! We got there and normally when we arrive they just have like a couple shopping karts with stuff that needs to be put on the shelves and all we do is put it out so people can buy it. But this time they had like 5 shopping carts and 4 giant racks of clothes that they needed to hang up. We started with the shopping karts and put everything out, but then we got to the cloths. HAHA And let me just say, a good 90% of the clothes were woman's shirts and pants and dressed and it was hard for us two guys to determine where to put them. The person in charge ended up just giving us something and telling us exactly where to put it! we are such typical guys... The best part of the service though was seeing how happy it made the workers in the store. We walked in and they were all fighting for some reason, and by the time we left, they were all happy and they really enjoyed us coming. I think they were all stressed and overrun with their work, so we tried to just joke around and make them laugh and lighten their day by doing the service. And it worked! We left with smiles on our faces and felt really good for serving and making other peoples days better. Service is boss!

Wednesday was the mission conference, and it was very good. We had a musical program with Sister smith narrating and that was great! very spiritual. Then we had a lunch that was prepared by the Relief Society and It was AMAZING. I'm jealous because I will never be able to cook like the woman in the Relief Society. But thats ok cause i still have my mom right? Just kidding.

The rest of the week was another week and very good. I am glad for opportunities that I have been given to grow and to strengthen my testimony about the gospel. I am grateful for our mission president down here who has been called to serve us. I know he knows where I need to be and when and am grateful for him. I am even more grateful for the savior during this time of year and for all he has done for me. He truly is my greatest gift.

I hope you all enjoy your Christmas. I know I will be enjoying all of the members and the opportunity to serve them. Thank you for all your support and for everything that I have received from wonderful people back home. Have a Merry Christmas!

From the little town of Foley,

Elder Stonely

    Monday, December 21, 2015

    Week 27: "Light of Christ"

    Dear Friends and Family,

    Out of all the weeks I have had so far this one was by far the best one. A lot happened that has confirmed to me just how true the gospel is and the eternal impact that it can have when applied and lived. There are over 10+ mini experiences that we have had as a companionship with members, investigators and with us that have really sparked my interest and I would like to share just briefly a few of them.

    For starters, the last couple of weeks I had really been worrying and thinking about Ramons family (the recently baptized family) There was a lot of things that were going on and they seemed to only be taking this family farther apart. It was tearing me up to watch and feel like all I am doing was sitting and watching. So I put a lot of thought into their family. And I used the help of the Branch President. I asked other missionaries what they could do in a situation similar to theirs and then I formed a plan. The main theme that we wanted to teach to them was the basics of the gospel. Along with basic family activities. We went over and had about 3 really good lessons throughout the week that were very well needed. Overall, I have been able to see the blessings that come in a home when based upon the basics of the gospel and when simple family activities like prayer, scripture study, and FHE are put into place. I have grown a strong love for this family and for all they do and now they are stronger together then ever before. And they have a goal to go to the temple and be sealed as a family. I love the Gospel.

    Second, we have recently started teaching another investigator named Gabriel. He is 26 years old and is from Mexico. When we first started teaching him he would act like a teenager at first and would be really goofy. I wondered how we would ever seriously teach him. But lesson learned, never doubt. Because we had planned to go over and teach him the gospel Saturday morning. We had our scriptures and everything ready to teach. When we got there we started teaching and the lesson went very well. Scriptures are a perfect way to bring the spirit into the lesson. With Gabriel, we explained things very simply and he understood them well. Now comes the great part, when the lesson was about to come to a close, we felt prompted to read with him Mark 10:39 which talks about baptism and how we need to be baptized like Jesus Christ. We read the passage and felt prompted to invite him to be baptized. (now at this point my mind was going insane because we have only taught him twice and we had barely introduced it) We extended the baptism commitment and without hesitation he said yes. It made me step back and think. I was so happy and just super excited! I'm still not sure really what happened there or why he so readily said yes, but I believe that he has been prepared and that the principles of the gospel were something that opened up his heart. I know the spirit was very strong and testified to him the this message was true. I am grateful for this experience.

    The last topic I wanted to mention comes from a lot of different experiences. But it is the Light of Christ and the change that it makes in peoples life. We had a lot of investigators that we were teaching and a couple of times when we went over, they had family there, but weren't there themselves. So we just got to know the family members and a lot of them told us that they were interested in what we were teaching because they had been seeing the change in their families lives. And we picked up 4 new investigators just from that! Amazing right?? Blessings for those families for doing what they should be doing. And the Light of Christ really is bright!

    Funny side note, this Sunday, I had to translate and there were a ton of Hispanics that showed up and it was super stressful. HAHA and not sure if the Hispanic members like stressing us out, but the teacher for gospel doctrine didn't show up so they all looked at me and said, "your turn" HAHA so yeah taught my first lesson in Spanish without any preparation. It didn't go as well as it could have... HAHA still learning!

    Other than all the fun we had this week, We are continuing to push forward and forward! I have enjoyed every minute out here and it seems to be going really fast! i hope to be able to find more people and to report back to you all how amazing Foley is. Much love from the coolest and most humble missionary in the world! (HA totally a joke)

    Elder Stonely

    Love you all!

      Monday, December 14, 2015

      Week 26: "Service is the Key to Happiness"

      Dear Friends and Family,

      This week has been all just adjusting. Adjusting to being a trainer and adjusting to having a new companion. It is all so great! Only thing is I hope I don't stress out my companion with too much new stuff. He is doing awesome and enjoying the mission! And I am super glad that he is my new companion.

      This week I had a great birthday. It was spent serving others and enjoying time with members and helping them do missionary work. Some people would say that that is the worst way to spend your birthday, but I believe that it it the best way I could have spend my birthday! I enjoyed it so much! Its almost like every day is my birthday!

      So this morning I was reading in the Book of Mormon and that is where my spiritual thought comes in today. I was reading in Alma 28. Chapter 27 is the story of Ammon leading the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi to safety which is the land of Jershon. They had established themselves and then came a period of time of war and hardship. And in chapter 28 it talks about how many souls were lost. There were people mourning the death of their family members, and then it went on to mention two important ideas. The people in this story were divided into two different groups.

      "...yea, and many thousands are mourning for the loss of their kindred, because they have reason to fear, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are consigned to a state of endless wo." -Verse 11

      "while many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness." -Verse 12

      While I was reading these verses, I read the last verse of the chapter:

      "And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing-- sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life." -Verse 14

      And these verses led me to think a lot. These are actually my "Ponderizing" verses. It made me think about first, the effect of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and two, How important missionaries are. There are many people in the world who are either sad, or happy. Those that are truly happy I have found to be the people who understand and apply the teachings of Jesus Christ. Homes that are centered on the Gospel and People who apply the Atonement. People who have faith in Jesus Christ, His atonement, and the Plan of Salvation. And I reflected a lot about this. And just how happy the Gospel of Jesus Christ can make people. It changes lives. And truly makes people happy.

      I thought of little situations that could be found in daily life. For example, feelings of doubt or inadequacy. I thought of rough moments that I have experienced out here and moments of rejection. I thought of how I handled these situations and the outcome of each. And for me I noticed that when I was thinking about Jesus Christ and using his atonement and trying to serve others and be like him, none of the negativity seemed to bother me. Though When I started to dwell on the thoughts of doubt and inadequacy, I felt like the people who had "reason to fear."

      Overall, because I am not sure just how clear the last couple paragraphs were, I have found through these scriptures, that if I wanted to be happy, it was only going to be through the "light of Christ." It is simply said in verse 14, as the reason for rejoicing. And I am glad that I have this opportunity to take this "light" to people in darkness.

      I am grateful for all of those whom I have come in contact who have blessed my life in some way or another. There are many people who don't know the impact that they have had on who I am. I am grateful for my Savior who constantly is helping me become better. And I look forward to the day where I can great my Brother and Heavenly Father. I love you all! Enjoy this upcoming week :)

      Elder Stonely

        Monday, December 7, 2015

        Week 25: "New Comp...Elder Sturdevant!"

        Dear Friends and Family,

        This week has been Boss! It was kinda funny too just because of all the things that happened. HAHA So my new companions name is Elder Sturdevant. It is Dutch and is very AWESOME! Mostly cause I laugh at all the Hispanic members who try to pronounce it but fail. They all thought that once elder Chapdelaine left that they would get another missionary with an easier name. PSYCH! even harder... HAHA Fun fact about him. He is actually 1/4 Hispanic! And he looks nothing like a Mexican. HAHA his grandfathers last name is Moreno, and there is a Moreno family in the branch, so they call him their cousin. HAHA Elder Sturdevant is boss and is going to learn a lot of what it is like to be in the Hispanic family down here in Foley.

        So the beginning of transfers was really rough... Our Zone leaders told us that this transfer was going to work a little different. And it confused everyone... Normally when missionaries get transferred from Foley and around this area, they go to Tallahassee and spend the night. But this time they told me that I would be going early in the morning over to Tallahassee and then returning the same day. So All Was well and the plan was going smooth. Until I got to Tallahassee... They told me I was staying the night and Would receive my new companion the next morning. And so Here I was stuck in Tallahassee, 5 hours away from my stuff and I had to stay the night. HAHA I just laughed at myself cause all I had was the suit I brought and my scriptures. So I slept the night on a couch. Then the next morning I made an Attempt to "clean" as much as I could. Thankfully I didn't smell bad because All I did the day before was sit in a car. HAHA So I pick up my new companion and then we head off to another transfer spot to pick up another missionary. (Oh and btw... It was me, my companion and two other guys who were sitting up front) So we are driving along side the road and all of a sudden the driver pulls over. I asked "whats wrong" And the missionary I could tell was so embarrassed... he replied, "the gas is out" And for those of you who don't know, we are supposed to keep out tanks above 1/2 so this doesn't happen. HAHA So We all had to get out of the truck and walk two miles to the nearest gas station to get gas. HAHA but while we started walking I jokingly said, "pray for a miracle!" And on the way back to the car, a member from the ward in the area pulled over and gave us a ride! HAHA I thought That was the greatest blessing of the day!

        Well enough of me rambling about funny things this week.

        Thanksgiving was a bomb and we had some pretty good food! We had a Hispanic activity, but lets just say they aren't as good at making american food as they are the Hispanic food! HAHA but yet I did have one of the Best Roasts That I have ever tasted. And It was awesome cause we had an investigator show up to the activity and so since we had time to kill, him, Elder Sturdevant and I had a chili eating contest. And We ate "abaneros" which are one of the spiciest chilies ever... And I only ate two and they were about the size of a quarter each and my mouth was on fire all day! and then the next day my stomach was in pain! Dang... Not sure how hispanics eat like this. HAHA But it was pretty great!

        I have learned just about double in this past week compared to the past three transfers that I have been here. With Spanish, with being a missionary and relying on the Lord to help me out. All of those Have been improved by 100 fold I feel like. Being the senior companion is a lot more work! HAHA DUH Elder! HAHA I was expecting it to be difficult, but didn't quite understand just how much I would learn. I learn so much every day and i realized that it is because I was in the week of struggles. I was put into a place where I would have to do things I've never done before and talk to people in my broken Spanish. And I was put into this situation where I would have to ask the Lord for his strength. Because I could not have survived this week without his help. I was thinking of if I were to give any advice to anybody, it would be, "learn to pray, and rely on the lord." And I think that applies for all aspects of life. Wait, I don't think, I know.

        Well I hope that each one of you is having a boss time with school, work, family and the world! I know I am :) I love you all very much and cant wait to share more experiences this upcoming week!

        Much love from the heart of Alabama!

        Elder Stonely

          Monday, November 30, 2015

          Week 24: "I'm Going to be a Daddy!"

          Dear Friends and Family,

          I would like to start out by saying that the Lord is always blessing each and every one of us. I have received more than my share fare of blessings this week and it only seems to get better! The best way to see the blessings that you have is to always be counting them! and thank Him for everything you've been given on a daily basis. Through prayer I have found much comfort.

          Transfers are this week! And I have some exciting news for you all! I will be staying in Foley Alabama for another Transfer, and I will be training a new missionary! I am looking forward to it and can not wait to see how it goes! I know that my mission president has great trust in me and now I have to live up to it and train this missionary the way that Elder Chapdelaine trained me! I will miss Elder Chapdelaine a lot due to our great friendship and unity together. We have just barely got it all down! But I know that he needs to go help strengthen another companion and another area like he did here in Foley. And with a lot of help from the savior, my new companion can grow up the same way! HAHA whenever someone is a trainer, we call it a "father" and "son" relationship for the trainer and the trainee. HAHA I find that very funny, but It will be great! Time to invest some major faith on my part!

          I have been again blessed with the opportunity to give many blessings this week. There have been a lot of hard times for the Hispanic members in this branch. About 50% of them have suffered a traumatic or family emergency within the last week. And a lot of the times they are illegal, so they cant do much about what happens. But, one thing that I have seen in all of them is their unbelievable strength and faith in the Atonement. All of them continue to come to church, and all of them have asked for priesthood blessings. And for us as missionaries, it is such a wonderful thing to have someone ask for a blessing. And side note, I have become really good at learning the blessings in spanish. HAHA The members here are great. And to me, this is just a proof of how powerful the Atonement is and just how blessed we are to have it here with us. I am truly greatful.

          For the fun side of this week, Elder Chapdelaine and I have spent a lot of good time with members, investigators and others this week, cause we had both figured that he was getting transfered. And so today, we have a lot of fun plans to go out and do stuff together and to enjoy our last P-day together. I am too excited probably. HAHA

          Well this week was fun and This upcoming week will be great to see my new companion and enjoy the day! thank you for all of your love and support! Until next week :)

          From the Heart of Alabama, Foley :)

          Elder Stonely

            Monday, November 23, 2015

            Week 23: "Atonement - At-one-ment"

            This week has definitely come with its trials. Not only for us as missionaries, but for members of the Branch. It made me think of the cycle that often happens, where things seem to be going great, then something bad has to happen. There are a couple families in the branch whom this week have been experiencing major difficulties. Us as missionaries haven't been able to help much with their situations, other than just be there for them and love them. And when I thought about it at the end of the week, I think the only thing they needed was to feel the love that the savior had for them and their families. I know they have felt it because I feel it every day. And this brings me to the topic I frequently bring up, the Atonement.

            Many people, may not understand the meaning of the Atonement and just how it can help them. I know I have definitely struggled searching and learning about the Atonement. However this week has opened my eyes a little more deeper to how the Atonement can help me.

            We had a Zone conference/training this past Tuesday and I went in not really knowing what I was going to learn. And coming out of it, I didn't learn from anything that was said, but what I needed to learn personally. (the way it should be right?) All the information that was presented, I had previously been trained on. So it was like a brush up lesson for me. However, there was another fellow Spanish elder sitting with us who I learned a lot from. He is struggling with his own issues and what not, but I really noticed just how much he understood and was using the Atonement. He serves in a difficult area with members who aren't very supportive and the missionary work is beyond slow. I noticed that he is just under a year serving, and is currently training. On top of those difficulties is that fact that he is a District Leader. And for those of you who don't really know what that title signifies, lets just say it is stressful and hard. This missionary I could tell was struggling. Though more than that, the power of the Atonement was more noticeable. He talked about his experiences with me and what he does to reach out for help from the Lord. And I really was surprised. I walked away from the day with a little more understanding about the Atonement.

            This week I have been in need of the Atonement. There have been trials and difficulties like I mentioned above, along with others. I don't like to mention the hardships because those are just little parts that we all have. What matters is that we have the Atonement with us to always ask for the help we need to complete a task. The savior is with me and I know that he knows how I feel. Every day I cant wait to pray to him and to ask for help and strength. I have felt great peace come from this simple act. And I know that the Lord is always watching over every one of us. I thank you all for all of your kind support in all that you do! And I am grateful for the love I feel every day. Bless you all! and remember that when you feel alone, you don't have to be if you ask Him.

            Much love from Foley!

            Elder Stonely

              Monday, November 16, 2015

              Week 22: "Patience is a Virtue!"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              So learned a lot this weekend! Probably more than ever before. HAHA no just kidding. But this week has definitely been a week of knowledge gain. For starters, we have been coming to the library to get ready for a Family History lesson on We will be teaching at the Genealogy society's meeting this Saturday, so we had to come up with an outline and everything had to be ready. We figured this lesson cant just be made up on the spot like we normally do... HAHA so I learned a lot about Family Search on the website and have been using that a ton! But the part that I wanted to just mention is really funny cause now I feel really lame. HAHA It brought me back to High school in 10-11 grade. Everyone knows about those lessons that are taught and those concepts that are taught where the students always say, "When am I going to use that?" or "When will I ever need to know that?" Yeah well guess what?!?! That happened to be and I now feel really dumb for saying that phrase. HAHA We were writing instructions on how to order a film from the catalog so that the people can look at it. (that was one thing they wanted us to teach). So Elder Chapdelaine went on the site and went through and made a little instruction sheet. And I looked at it, and just knew it would not work out... HAHA mostly cause we are dealing with old people who don't know how to use computers. So I thought back on possibly three classes... And I'm pretty sure it was Geometry with Mr. Gilbert. but it could possibly be Mr. Bown. We had the unit on proofs and writing instructions. And I thought that unit would be SO lame just cause it seemed pointless... But it came in handy! I remembered that Mr. Gilbert said that you have to be VERY specific in your instructions so that a child could read it and know how to do it. So I went through the instructions and added little things like, "click the 'search' tab on the top right hand side of the scree" when it was originally just "click on search" HAHA Elder Chapdelaine thought it was pretty silly, but then we practiced it. I had Elder Chapdelaine go through the steps pretending like he didn't know what he was doing. And it seemed to work! So hopefully when we teach it will make sense! HAHA Shout out to my High School teachers who are boss!

              Alright so this past Sunday, I was thrown under the bus when Elder Chapdelaine told me I could practice my Spanish by translating. Yeah that was a bad idea! I only translated the announcements and the prayers, but according to him and everybody else it made sense and it went well. But I thought that it went terrible. I took it as a compliment. So now I think that I will be translating more and learning more. Spanish is coming easier and easier. There are only a couple ROUGH edges. HAHA... Ok maybe more than a couple. HAHA

              We also had the primary program this past Sunday which was awesome! It was so nice to just see the 10 kids that they had up there sing and to see their bright spirits. Kids always carry a very sweet spirit and it was very nice to watch as a billion of the adults started crying. HAHA But i don't blame them cause if it were my kid i might just cry too!

              The last thing I learned this week has just been more patience. Its been a struggle learning how to go from having an investigator family to having no one. And Lucia and Ramon are out of town this week which has been made it more difficult! And on top of that the spanish this week has been a little rough. But Ive learned a lot of patience, cause as we just continue to go each day doing our best, there is always blessings that come. We are now just starting to work through members and finding people and we are currently teaching another Family. They have two kids and we have gone over a couple of times and talked to them about the importance of families. It was kinda funny cause we were walking by one day and he was painting, so we talked with him and then got a return appointment. Then the next time we went by we sat down outside with the husband. And we started talking and once we started talking about families, he paused us and said he was going to go grab his wife! So we taught both of them and are currently going over once a week. I am hoping they turn into another Lucia and Ramon!

              So other than those adventures, this week has been pretty slow. Its almost as if time is ticking till transfers, which are causing mixed feelings. HAHA but I am excited to keep going and pushing forward with the work of the lord! I love you all and appreciate all of your support! May you all receive the blessings that come from living the gospel :)

              From the heart of the middle of nowhere! Foley Alabama,

              Elder Stonely "wiwee" Thats for you Dustin!

              Monday, November 9, 2015

              Weel 21: "Power of the Holy Ghost"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              This week has been a very slow one for sure! now that our boss family has been baptized, we havent been able to go over as much and do lessons with them. We are now getting into teaching them everything again, but they are always so busy with the members and activities and stuff and we want to teach them when Ramon is home from work. So all of that has been limiting our contact with them! But Im glad to see that they are being loved and supported :) I actually had a very good experience with them which I will share later.

              So like I said, the week went by REALLY slow... P-Day was a rainy day all day so we just stayed inside and didnt do much. It was nice to get everything cleaned and make the apartment once again feel "at home." and it was just an overall awesome day!

              Tuesday we had District meeting which was one of the best district meetings that we have had while ive been out here. We actually discussed the way we are supposed to be doing missionary work down here and how to work with members and less actives. And We got a TON of things we are going to have to try out. But this day was also the start of another slow week... HAHA My companion, Elder Chapdelaine, is allergic to Gluten and we went to Arby's for lunch. And normally the fries are ok to eat for him, but I am assuming that the fries at Arby's have some sort of covering on them that contain gluten. SO... long story short, just the little amount of gluten on the fries that he ate cause him to get really sick. He had no energy during the day and He threw up during one of our lessons. I felt kinda bad for him... Yet i was laughing cause I knew that it was cause he ate gluten. We laughed about it after too so dont think I am a terrible human being! HAHA

              Wednesday I woke up and looked over at my companion and he didnt even get up... I knew that it was cause he was sick. And he mumbled to me, "Im sick... you probably already knew that." HAHA and so we got another two hours of sleep and poor Elder Chapdelaine was dying all day! he kept throwing up and his poor stomach, which had nothing in it was not very happy. So I spent the day taking care of him as he rested and just slept. I felt terrible! And he didnt eat anything until the next day. So the whole day was just crazy nuts!

              Thursday and Friday Elder Chapdelaine made me plan for the days and They were aweful! mostly cause of all the Halloween Parties that were going on and what not, so basically everybody that we went to go see wasnt home or said they were going somewhere. So we spent the day with pretty much a bunch of members and Helping them do their family History or something productive.

              Saturday was a little bit more interesting! We were able to help One of the member families move. and this was my fifth move in the four months that Ive been here... HAHA Not quite sure whats up with that. But it all went out really fine and we were able to help them move in and get settled in! But this should give you a glimpse of spanish culture. The family we helped move was hispanic, so Right when we moved everything into their home. Literally right when the last thing was brought in, Lucia and Ramon and a bunch of other hispanics came over and had lunch in their new apartment! We had to set up the table while lunch was being made just so we could eat. HAHA Hispanics are all so close and friendly and they all love eachother! Which is awesome.

              Halloween as a missionary isnt the same just so you know. HAHA My mother was so generous as to send me a package that contained a ton of little bags of candies and toys for us to pass out to kids. and we took it to the ward "trunck or teat" and passed them out to all the families that came to that! and they were all very excited to see it and the cute little bag. So shoutout to you mom! We dressed up as hondurans with all the honduran stuff that one of the members has given us and we looked like some pretty boss missionaries. HAHA And the activity was pretty good, so pictures should be coming soon!

              Sunday was by far one of the most special days of my whole mission. I woke up and was feeling really down. Not sure why, just something did not feel very right, or I was just having a bad morning. Not sure which one :) But sunday was the day where we were confirming our family members of the church :) and I was picked to confirm them, so I had to do them in spanish! I was freaking out about it, but it turned out fine. I confirmed them and It was super good! A very good sunday!

              That night we went over to their house, and they first wanted to thank me for giving them their blessings and confirming them. I was touched by their experiences that they shared with me. They both went into detail of what they felt and things that were awesome. And Ramon said that from the moment I gave him the blessing he felt like a different person. And he said that he still feels that way. Which was just the confirming witness to me just how powerful and influencing the Holy Ghost is. This gospel HAS to be true!

              So this week was a slow one :) yet one of the best ones that I have had. Probably life changing! I hope you all are enjoying your weeks back at home wherever that may be :) I love you all and pray for you all :) Thank you for your kind support and for all that you do to help the missionaries!

              From the small heart of Foley Alabama,

              Elder Stonely

              Monday, November 2, 2015

              Week 20: "My First Baptism!"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              A lot of great things happened this week and I have grown a ton personally and spiritually. I am constantly learning and this week wanted to share the experiences that I had.

              For one, we had the opportunity to have interviews with our mission president, President Smith, this week. Since these don't happen very often, I wanted to come up with some good questions to ask him and to talk about. When it was finally my turn to have my interview, I went in and we started it off. He began by expressing his love for me and my companion. and he told me a lot of things that he was grateful for. And they made me seem very blessed. I was, and still am grateful for the opportunity that I have had to have Elder Chapdelaine as my companion. President Smith made it clear to my mind just how awesome he was and I realized so much that I learned from him and still am learning from him. President smith went on to talk about how our area is flourishing and how grateful he was that We came into the area and changed it. He mentioned that he has to constantly keep tab on other missionaries, but he loves us because he doesn't have to worry as much about us or keep us obedient. I went on to ask him about advice and He gave me a couple things I could do which I have started applying to my missionary work. And Through those things I have seen a lot of additional improvement and growth in myself, our companionship, and the branch. And it has only been a couple of days! (now i share this experience not to be prideful, but to share the impact of being obedient and working your hardest.) When I came into the mission field, Elder Chapdelaine asked me if I wanted to work on being a Consecrated missionary. Which was basically putting everything on the alter of sacrifice and changing everything in a better way. At first I was a little hesitant because i thought I was doing great and didn't need much changing. Well Elder Stonely... you thought wrong. over the past three transfers I have come to the knowledge that I need to change so much. And I have been constantly working to improve. At times I don't feel like I am improving, but after this interview I noticed just how much I had changed, but hadn't realized. Though there is so much more I could do to become better and work harder, I am beginning to see the result of dedicated work and a focused mind. I love that I have such a dedicated companion who is willing to help me make little changes to become better. And this week especially, with interviews and the other experiences that I have had, I am experiencing the fruits of my labor!

              Now I hope that paragraph made sense, because it is beginning to come to my knowledge that my English skills, (well the ones i had at least) are starting to disappear... HAHA I should start taking English classes. Any how, another experience That i had was at Stake conference. And the stake president brought up a TON of amazing ideas. That came from three topics. One, the law of chastity. Two, Family counsel. And Three, Fasting. So many great words were spoken about these three topics and I learned a lot about things I could work on now and later down the road of "life." I thought of fasting the most. All the Hispanics down here have a hard time fasting. And we don't know if its just cause they don't know what it is? or if its "too hard"? or if they just don't do it. HAHA But we both felt impressed to help the branch out with fasting because of the many blessings that we can experience. I know that fasting is one of the best ways to feel the spirit and to receive blessings. I have experienced many opportunities where I have received the answer to a question or the help i needed. One of the biggest helps that I have received has been the strength to continue working hard. There have been countless experiences where I have struggled, but through fasting have received the help I need. And for that I am grateful!

              I invite all of you to fast at least once a month! And not to just fast for no reason. (if that's the case I feel sorry for the pain you have to endure as you starve yourself.) HAHA There is always something that you could fast for! Whether its for another person, or a blessing/ help that you need personally. Whatever the case may be, fasting is essential.

              Alright now comes the good part! We had a baptism this week! well three I guess if you count it number wise. Ramon, Lucia, and Daniel got baptized and It was a joy to see them baptized. We worked hard, and It was nice to finally see them make this step! As their son went first, I was overwhelmed by the spirit that I felt as I watched him get baptized. I felt so happy and so blessed. I knew that this was the right thing and more importantly I am glad they knew! They now have a goal to be sealed in the temple and I can not wait for that day! even if im not in the area :) Thank you all for your prayers and your thought for this family! I can assure you they are doing well ;)

              To end this week, I wanted to share another experience with the priesthood and the power of the priesthood. Yesterday I started to get really sick. I woke up and could not talk without pain because my throat was very swollen. I took some medicine to help it and told myself I would endure the pain the whole day. Sadly, I'm 100% sure that I yet again was wrong. HAHA I came home after one of the worst days (physically) I've had on my mission. We had just visited an 18 year old after helping him do family history. he noticed that I was sick and straight up told me, "have you had a blessing yet?" I instantly felt like the worst missionary in the world because I failed to recognize that I had people here with the Priesthood. I felt like an idiot and told him, "no I have not. But I will." And that night when I came home I asked for a blessing. Today, I feel almost 100% top notch! I am blessed to be able to have that 18 year old chastise me a little bit and have the courage to tell me to get a blessing. I wish I would have had the faith to ask for one sooner, but none the less am glad that I received one.

              Remember that there is always a priesthood holder near by. I, like many others, at times may not think of the power of the priesthood, but after last night I don't think I will ever fail to ask again. I know that Priesthood blessings work and I am grateful to hold this priesthood power. I love you all for your support and for your prays and thoughts. I continually receive blessings that help me every day. Looking forward to another great week!

              With much love, Elder Stonely

              PS. pictures will be coming shortly :)

              Tuesday, October 20, 2015

              Week 19: "Be a Member Missionary!"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              This week has been a busy one for sure. We have the Baptism of our family coming up this Saturday at 9 in the morning and they are SUPER excited! I can see it in their eyes every time it is brought up. They are beyond ready to take this first step and soon after they will have a goal to enter into the temple and be sealed as a family. I feel really special too cause their chose me to confirm them! Elder chapdelaine will baptize and i will confirm! It Has been on my mind all week and I feel honored. This will be a huge opportunity for me :)

              This week has been so busy for many reasons. One being the baptism and trying to figure that all out and squared away so it will be successful, we had a Hispanic activity again which we tried to get put together, and It was my last week of training, which was insane cause I now will be a lone ranger! Part of me still feels inadequate because I never quite figured out everything i probably should and there is still so much more that I could learn. But Elder Chapdelaine has done a very good job at helping me and letting me know that I'm doing everything i can. Which is perfect to understand. I thought of the Newly called apostles yet again this week and how they all felt inadequate to be an apostle. And they have a tough job! They have to do more than me... HAHA but they trust in the lord and have that faith. And for me that has been what is keeping me going! I have realized this week more than before that I will have times even worse than now and that I need to have my trust in the lord anchored into the ground. And so that will be my next step as I move out of training. I'm just blessed to be with Elder Chapdelaine for another six weeks. HAHA

              So not much more to report for this week. It seemed to fly by really fast which is nuts... The days go by faster and faster and by the time i look at my watch, its already P-day! Which is scaring me cause I don't want to be done! And i've only been out for four months. HAHA i still have plenty of time :)

              Ending on a more spiritual note, I have thought a lot about the less actives in the branch. There are many reasons why people don't come to church or why people fall away and at least here, a lot of the time they leave because they don't feel loved or wanted or needed in the branch. Which is terrible. Now I cant blame them, cause when I got here there were only two members who constantly came to church in the Spanish side of the world, and all the other people are retired people who like their own little world and honestly, don't speak Spanish. HAHA But we have had the blessing of watching as more and more people are activated in the church and brought back into the "fold." Yesterday we had a total of around 15 Spanish members come to church and they are beginning to support each other more and more! And that has been a truly amazing blessing. Just remember that missionaries can only do so much. All of YOU have a more positive, lasting influence on less active members and converts. When you reach out to them it doesn't just seem like someone is being assigned to them but that someone really does love and care for them. All of YOU can do so much even though you are not missionaries. The lord loves you and all of your friends and family. I thank everyone for showing me an amazing example throughout the years :)

              Much love from the freazing state of ALABAMA!\

              Elder Stonely!

              P.S. its not actually THAT cold... i'm just a wimp.

              Wednesday, October 14, 2015

              Week 18: "Get to stay in Foley, AL!"

              OK! well to start off, Transfers were this week!!! and last night, I had a period of 3 hours of heart dropping pain that would just not seem to go away. previously i had thought of the idea that it would be cool to go to a new area and just do something else, but I realized that I really did not want that to happen. I realized what it means to have Charity and Love for those you serve. And you know what made me realize that? The 6 hours of heart dropping pain of waiting for the announcement of transfers. I was SO scared that I would be transferred and would have to leave my whole world (Foley Alabama) behind! And Ill express some of the reasons why it felt so hard:

              One, we (Elder Chapdelaine and I) have been working really hard and doing well together. I did not want to leave that behind. And we had found Lucia, Ramon and their family. And they are doing awesome! We had a lesson with them the night of transfers and we set up their baptismal date and details that will happen. Which is awesome! they have really shown their testimony of everything and Lucia sent in a letter to her boss letting her know that she needed Sundays off in order to be with her family and go to church. Which really showed some improvement, and we thought she was for sure ready for baptism. So Lucia, Ramon and their son, Daniel, will be getting baptized on October 24. And they are ready. Probably more ready than i was when I got baptized. Or even went to the temple!!! HAHA they will soon have a goal to take their family to the temple and be sealed together. THAT if anything has made my mission a success. Which made me super sad to think that me and Elder Chapdelaine could be transferred.

              On top of that was one of my favorite "Boss" (for you mom... yes it means AWESOME!!!) HAHA Luiz Cruz from Honduras. He has been a super story! he was less active, but recently has received his patriarchal blessing and will soon be receiving the priesthood and going to the temple. There has been a HUGE improvement helping get less actives and people like him to the temple in our branch. And honestly it is people like him which make this experience perfect as well! so the people like them were on my mind as I was thinking of possibly getting transferred. Which was SOOO terrible...

              but luckily! We got the call and none of us had been transferred! That brought more relief to me than anything before. I wanted to be here for the baptism day and for the day when Luiz goes to the temple! And now i will be able to :)

              alright so moving from that to a more spiritual side, I wanted to mention some experiences that I have had this week that prove that Satan is working hard on missionaries and anyone who is trying to "hasten the work". We were in ward council like normal and we announced the baptism of our investigators. And everyone was SOO excited, but then one of the members said something that really made me a little frustrated. he said that he thought missionaries were just baptizing to fill a "quota" and that we are baptizing people who will just go inactive. And he REALLY was stressing that out to "us" really. And he was dead set on his opinion and I honestly lost all Charity that I had at that moment. I wanted to rip him a good one because he didn't even know our investigators and where they were at. But Elder Chapdelaine yet again, showed a perfect example of who I needed to be. Which calmed me down and I was glad he was their. he took the unnecessary advice and said he would work hard to give them a strong testimony and work with them. (even though he already knew Lucia and Ramon had a testimony). I felt a little better when another member on the council ripped the guy apart and asked him, "did you have a testimony when you were baptized at 8 years old?" and continued to mention that peoples testimonies grow in the gospel. Lets just say, the man didn't say anything else during that meeting. I kinda felt bad for him...

              on top of that story, there have been days this week that have been terrible... Terrible days where i get down on myself. But Ever day I realize that its just the adversary telling me im not good at it or I cant speak spanish or whatever the reason is. and I would always stop, say a prayer and continue onward with faith. And the days got better! I am greatful for the atonement.

              So that story kinda got side tracked, but why did i tell it? because Someone told me before I left on my mission that people would say things that would make me loose hope and they told me that people who I would think would care, for example this man, would try to rip apart our work. And Elder Chapdelaine told me to not listen to what he said. Because we are doing the right thing here. and we will continue to do the right thing. And so remember all of you back at home! People are going to say things that will make you doubt what you are doing. but remember that if what you are doing gets someone closer to Jesus Christ and helps them, its the right thing. so don't be discouraged!

              Alright so this week is already a novel, so time to end! I would invite you all to continue to reread the talks from general conference and to think about the words that have been shared. I love the atonement and everything the savior has done for me. I know that he is constantly with me and cares for me and my investigators. Because I feel the same love for them as daughters of Our heavenly father. And my spiritual Brothers and Sisters. We are all Spiritual Brothers and Sisters. and I love you all!

              Much love and Fun from Foley Alabama,

              Elder Stonely

              Here are some fun pictures taken this week....

              Big Foot?

              Bike Selfie!

              Some creepy thingy...

              LUIZ BOSS MAN!!!

              Monday, October 5, 2015

              Week 17: "General Conference"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              This week has been a growing week and learning week for me. Not much has happened and we have been faced with a lot of things that would probably have struck us down if my companion and I hadn't prepared the way we did. We had a Zone conference which completely changed the missionary work in our area and with General conference, I feel as if I am ready to take on the world! Some quick things that I have learned this week, 1. the importance of picking and setting goals. 2. how to interact with people and 3. the importance of centering Jesus Christ in our lives.

              I wont talk very much about those three things, but I felt it was important to share. I have learned to pick meaningful goals that will get me somewhere on my mission journey and better help my investigators. I have learned, and continue to learn better ways of interacting with people, and during general conference, I realized that my life needs to be more centered on Jesus Christ in order to keep my "clay" on the wheel. So it has been an adventure:)

              During our Zone conference, a new plan was set in place. Called "Opportunity Generation Next" Which basically, we are going to stop focusing on tracting and visiting formers and focus on Less actives and Family Search. It sounds terrible at first, but actually statistics down here have shown to be EXTREMELY different. We have been focusing on Less Active Members and helping them return to the church, and also focusing on getting Less Active members and Members to the temple to receive the saving ordinances that they so desperately need. And that has been a joy as we are currently helping 5 less actives and helping 4 members prepare to receive the Priesthood/ temple ordinances. Now THAT is something that has made me feel useful. In my mind, I thought missionary work was only for bringing people into the church. Well elder... WRONG! I am also supposed to care for the welfare of the members and help them:) And realizing that has been a great joy for me!

              I want to share a regret that happened this week. It has to do with Following the spirit so you can all probably guess what went down. We had just got back from biking, so we hoped in the car. ALL, literally ALL of our plans had fallen through and we had 2 hours to kill... So we sat in the parking lot trying to think of where we could go or who we could visit. The thought passed through my mind that we should stop by one of the Less active members. We had called her not only 5 min ago and she didn't answer. But I thought we should stop by. I expressed this to my companion and he hesitated and a little and so did I. So we took another 5 min to think of who we could go by. Finally I decided that we were just going to stop by. So We drove over to her apartment. And as we pulled into the parking lot a van was leaving. And guess who it was... the less active member. So to summarize the story, the five minutes we spend doubting and rejecting the spiritual prompting caused us to miss a possible appointment that only the Lord knows why we needed to have. The rest of the day I felt terrible and could not believe that i allowed myself to pay no heed to the prompting. In fact i still feel really lame about it. So lesson learned! Always follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost! I found that to be a central message for me in General Conference this weekend which only added to my guilt. HAHA but I can only do better next time! And You can count on me to ACTUALLY follow it!

              Alright so time is running short, but I just want to share with you all what I know to be true. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church and contains the fullness of the gospel on the earth. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God and that through him we have the BOM which he translated. I know that the BOM testifies of Christ. I have a testimony of the basic truths of the gospel. that is all I need right now to begin my journey. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for not only our sins, but pains and temptations of every kind. I know that he knows how we feel at all times. He suffered it. And I know that through him we can find the peace and comfort from this world of pain and discouragement. I love my savior. I know he loves me. I Know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet called of god to guide us and lead us. He couldn't have given such a simpler talk. Keep gods commandments. I know these things to be true and the way we can all feel happy.

              I hope you all can find peace and joy throughout your journeys and experiences back home. remember to not only listen to conference, but to read and reread the talks and continue to "Ponderize" the messages. I love you all and can feel the love that Christ has for all of you.

              From the Heart of Foley,

              Elder Stonely

              Week 16: "There's nothing like SERVICE!"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              Oh my goodness this week has been FANTASTICO! HAHAHA A lot of learning, growing, working and serving. But I love it and wouldn't want anything different:) Last Monday after we emailed and ate lunch, we were on our way to the store and someones car had broke down in the middle of an intersection. Cars were just going by and nobody was helping them at all. So we pulled over into a parking lot and ran into the middle of the street to help them push their car out. They were VERY thankful for the help that we offered and would not stop saying "thank you" and they were nice people:) But when we started pushing their car, a Fire truck happened to be nearby and they saw us so they drove over and put on their lights so nobody would go through and hit us. and they followed us until we were safe from the dangerous roads. HAHA but we looked back to thank them and they all had their phones out filming the four guys in white shirts and ties pushing this car. So we got a good laugh out of that:) And that set a really good tone for the rest of the day:) which leads into what my topic for the week is:) SERVICE!!! Serving people around you is one of the BEST missionary opportunities. And not just for missionaries but for all.

              We had some amazing service opportunities this week. For one, i taught another Family history class and they people were very interested. I found out that i am a terrible teacher, but that doesn't matter cause they were all very new to the site anyway, so just showing them a family tree was interesting! Although something cool happened when we logged into one ladies account to help her out and she literally had NOTHING. Just her name... So we did some digging and Elder Duncan (English Elder) Searched for her father and mother and BAM! She had like 7 generations that just appeared. And the look on her face was priceless! Those moments are some of the best ones I've had:) is when you get to see people so happy:0

              The other service opportunity that we had was to help this guy build a shed. and before i get started, its key to know that Hispanics most of the time don't follow directions... And this shed needed some serious help with the directions. we were out walking in a trailer park cause we had extra time, so we found this guy working on this shed with his wife. It looked like they were struggling with it so we put our bags down and jumped right in. At first they seemed a bit hesitant that a bunch of white kids dressed all fancy were helping people they didn't even know, but as time went on they seemed to trust us a little more. They had a couple pieces wrong and so we helped them and just kept helping them. Well over the period of four hours, we had finished the base and the walls. And the smiles on their face were nice as they had seen that shed go up so fast! I guess he had been working on it for like 5 days or something. So we told him we would come back the next day. Which we did. And spent another 3-4 hours putting the roof on. And It was one of the best service opportunities in the world. We did one of those days on Fast Sunday and the mix between being on a spiritual high from fasting and serving made our day perfect! If you ever want to feel happy just go out and serve someone! truly one of the best ways:)

              So Tuesday came along and I had the opportunity to go on a trade off with our district leader, (Elder Olson). I learned a lot more patience and charity during that 24 hour period. I don't know why, but when you are with other missionaries it is just different and they all do things in their unique way and I learned a lot. I came back to Foley after that trade off and started to apply some of the things that i thought would be good to try out. And my patience and Love for those around me has increased tremendously. So throughout my mission, Christlike attributes will be one of my main focuses:)

              OK so now on to the fun stuff:) well not all fun stuff, cause i had the worst experience of my life. (not really... ) We ate at a members house and he apparently makes the same thing every time the missionaries come over. Which is Fish, (some other type of fish i cant pronounce/spell) mac and cheese and pudding. And I am not too big a fan of fish for those who know me... And I was stressing out the whole day that i had to eat fish and be happy about it... HAHA so we got there and he had left it on the table, so it was already cold, and I was staring at my plate thinking... "How am i going to eat this..." And when it was time to eat i shoved all the fish into my mouth to get it all done and over with. And it was terrible!!! I kept a really good poker face though and said that it was really good ;) but my tummy was wanting to reject what i ate... HAHA My strategy with eating the fish first though was so that i could override the taste with the mac and cheese and the pudding. Which worked pretty well:) and that dinner appointment was interesting.

              Although i was rewarded later due to a double dinner appointment by mistake. Our ward mission leader took us out to a Mexican restaurant right after where i got some REAL food. HAHA now the mexi style is where its all at:)

              And we have found a new P-day activity! The member we went out with a few weeks ago has started playing with us too. We bought nerf bullets and made PVC guns. well more like those Indian poison dart guns. And we play zombies and some other fun games in our apartment. Those have been amazing! and they are a good way to get all the stress out from the week:) We continue to find more and more fun stuff to do:) OH! and our Family from Hondurez, Ramon and Lucia said that our Honduran shirts are on the way. HAHA so soon we will be Honduran people:)

              Speaking of Lucia and Ramon, They are doing awesome! They continue to impress us in their interest and willingness to change their life. Lucia is having a hard time getting to church because of work issues, but we are trying to hit her up with a job with some of the "hermanas" in the church:) we told her that they know people who can get her a job that wouldn't schedule her for Sunday. And that is what our next big step with her has been. But they are super nice people and we can not wait to see the gospel enter their lives even more as they continue to make these big commitments.

              Pictures should be coming! There is quite a bit this week too i think. HAHA I love you all so much! And hope that everyone continues to do what they should to be a better person. The lord loves you all! And there is a lot of love in Foley Alabama! Until next week!

              Elder Stonely

              Week 15: ":D I'm Still Rollin'!"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              This week started off well when we had district meeting this past Tuesday. Our district is seeming to be closer and closer. (I knew it would...) HAHA I gave a cool lesson about Patience using A chocolate bar and they all pretty much hated me!! HAHAH JK:) And now we have some great plans next Tuesday as a district! Its not the same without Elder Clayton anymore, but its good in a different way! I am continually blessed with more and more people with different experiences and talents. So our district will continue to grow together:)

              Now the Power behind a blessing is insane. I came home from a long, tiring, and terrible day. People weren't home, couldn't talk, I couldn't remember a lick of Spanish to save my life and overall You could say "the struggles are REAL!" And when I start feeling this down depressing feeling, all i want is instant relief. As we walked into our apartment, I asked Elder Chapdelaine if he would be willing to give me a blessing of comfort. And Gratefully he did. we went to a quiet room, I grabbed a chair, and he gave me a blessing. Now the important part i want to mention is that the stress from all of the things I had to do and all of my frustration didn't instantly go away. It was all still in the back of my head. But as the spirit entered the room I was given peace and comfort to all that I was doing. And I was able to finish the night knowing that I had the Lords Help. And throughout the whole week as I did all I was supposed to and worked harder than ever on the language I have been blessed. The Power behind a blessing is strong. The Enabling power of the Atonement is real. The savior knows what we go through and knows how to help us. And all we have to do is let him in. My testimony of the priesthood, blessings, atonement, and patience has grown this week. I was able to teach 2 lessons in Spanish fairly well! They could understand me and even though i asked for a little help, I was given the strength of the lord during those lessons. Truly a gift. The savior was with me this week as I tried my best and asked for his help. And for the opportunity that I have to receive, and give blessings I am grateful for.

              Ok so other than having "the struggles" this week, we also had a lot of fun! We made our lessons enjoyable as well as spiritual. A lot of our investigators opened up to us this week and started telling us the "REAL" reasons they aren't doing things or don't want to do them. And for us that is exactly what we need to hear so we can help them in the best way. And when they open up like that it means they trust us! So we are glad that happened. There isn't much to report on any of our investigators other than the family of Lucia and Ramon now have another Baptismal date! They have been working hard and we had a lesson yesterday on Sabbath day observance. So we were able to share that our experiences with them and share the importance of going to church and doing the things they need to prepare. And they want to get baptized on the tenth. So that will be a day to remember! I have grown to love them so much and care about everything in their lives. They are at an important point in their life and I am greatful that I could be a part in bringing the gospel to them.

              Going back to thursday, we had an activity for the Hispanics! We were celebrating Independence day of Mexico and we played soccer and ate great food! although since there are only two-three Mexican Families in the branch, The members turned it into "Independence day of...(insert home counrty)" HAHA so that was fun. The greatest thing though was that the whole branch was having a talant show on Friday, (which was both hispanics and americans) and there were more members, investigators and people at the Hispanic activity than were at the Talent show. HAHAHA GOOOO HISPANICS! We rock ;D

              This week was a great one to remember and we did a lot of fun stuff :D I am greatful for the opportunity that i have to be out on my mission enjoying the experiences and the spirit. I hope you all have the chance to feel the spirit every day. I pray for you all and love you all so much! Remember who you are and what you want to become. Then be patient and ask for the Lords help and he will be glad to:)

              Much love from the Heart of Foley,

              Elder Stonely

              Thursday, September 17, 2015

              Week 14: "Patience"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              Santa clause is coming to town! HAHA totally kidding. But really... Its been like 20 degrees cooler in the morning every morning when we go running and it feels PERFECT! So nice:) I congratulated myself today as I noticed I finally am showing some hope for some upper body strength. Doing exercises for 5 min every morning showing off! TENDER MERCY! JK:)

              Alright so not much excitement this week, but I know that the Lord has been helping me in the little things. My main point of this week is yet again Patience. This transfer I have been blessed to have such a wonderful trainer and remain with him for yet another six weeks. And I would not have it any other way. During our training hour early on in the week I was having a rough day. rough time and honestly everything felt terrible... BUT! He mentioned some things and the only thing i could really think of was having more patience. Not only patience with situations everywhere around me but being patient with myself. (Something I now am understanding... After 18 YEARS!) But hey:) better now then never right? HAHA So as I have gone throughout the week everything that happens, i begin to see with a "patience" perspective. (not sure if that makes sense...) but in every thing that happens i notice that it takes patience. And when we have patience things are easier and better. I love this scripture which states it plainly:)
              "And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the lord" (Mosiah 24:15). Patience is so important in everything we do and makes my week and days 100 times better. So, now that my little rant box is over on to the good stuff!

              Tuesday we met our new district! Sadly Elder Clayton is gone, but Elder Olsen is a pretty boss District leader! Everyone in our district is either being trained or training. HAHA so pretty new district if you ask me:) and it is exciting! Everyone is pretty quiet during our meetings, which reminded me of when Elder Clayton went home telling everyone i was quiet! (which may or may not be true...) HAHA so now i have to break out of that box and actually talk to people! Shocking... i mean i am a missionary. HAHA No jk:) But i've been thinking of what i could do to bring our district a little closer together so we aren't so "NEW" to each other. And I thought of an amazing idea which i will try out! i'm not ganna mention it cause if it fails i will feel like Einstein without his persistence in trying and trying and trying. HAHA so we will see how the new district goes:)

              Last day for Elder Clayton's leadership!
              Elder Stonely and Elder Clayton saying goodbye!
              Missionary companions for a day, cousins forever!

              There has been like a Plague occurring in the branch. At least on the Hispanic side of things. HAHA Luiz cruz (one of the members) received his patriarchal blessing and is now preparing to go to the temple and so I think that has excited all the other Hispanics into getting their own! Which is great cause now all the Hispanics are excited about it!!!! So we have been helping them all out with preparing them to receive this amazing guide in their life's:) The members are now very attached to us which is good because they have been coming out to lessons with us and helping our investigators find better jobs and working with them on their journey. Which is how it should be because people need to feel loved in this world! And i'm glad that our investigators have been finding that through the members. I am proud of all of them down in the Foley Branch:)

              Lucia and Ramon and their family are doing great:) We had to push their Baptismal date back a little bit due to some small things, but they are excited and really want to keep going. Its been a joy to see the excitement in their life's. Ramon made mention to us during the last lesson with him how one day he showed up to work and He didn't say a single bad word all day. His boss noticed his change and asked him why he wasn't cussing. Ramon replied that he had met some people (us) from the church and that he was trying to change his life. His boss seemed really impressed with him. Needless to say, Ramon has been seeing some CRAZY changes in his life habits and he is progressing very fast. We are excited to continue teaching him.

              Today We had the really exciting chance to go hangout with a member in the branch! he invited us to come over and do some fishing for a bit in the morning and that was extremely fun! There will be pictures and stuff coming later hopefully! But basically... Fished for about an hour, i caught nothing, but the member was like, "alright, we aren't leaving till one of us catches something!" and not joking... right after that he threw his pole out into the lake and caught a fish. LIKE HOW???? HAHA it was pretty cool:) so we went up to the house and he decided it was cool to take us through the forest on his golf cart. And to make the experience seem less terrifying and scary as it was, my companion almost got his face ripped off by a "Banana spider" the size of my palm... IT WAS SCARY! The member was showing us cool looking spiders, so we got off the cart to look at one cool one and I look over to my companion and a foot away from his head is this GIANT spider. Like not kidding... biggest spider i have seen in my entire life. HAHA so the member told him to slowly walk away. and when everyone was out of the way he pulled out his hang gun riffle thing, (i don't know anything about guns) and shot the spider! It was pretty scary... But apparently that's normal or something. HAHA Well i think it was alright cause he took us out for lunch after:) and here i am. Still alive and still pushing forward! Tender mercy if you ask me. HAHA I felt like i was in Harry potter just surrounded by spiders. HAHA

              Glad that this week has been a changer for me. I am beginning to see the blessings in my life and things that i need to work on. But always remember to give thanks for your difficult trials and challenges. Because then you get to learn from them and apply the wonderful Redeeming and Enabling power of the Atonement. I love you all so much and pray that you may all see the Lords loving hand every day as you wander on this journey, continually holding to the Rod of Iron. The savor and redeemer loves each and everyone of you. May you find joy in his gospel.

              Much love from the little town of Foley,

              Elder Stonely

              Week 13: "Pasoli!"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              Well this week has been so great! For starters, i am addicted to "Pan Dulce" which is pretty much sugary bread that you can buy at the Mexican stores that look so fancy. HAHA those things are amazing... And they are what i buy for a good "pick me up" snack. HAHA some member gave us a GIANT tub of Ice cream so i pop one of the pan dulces in the microwave for 15 seconds and plop a scoop of icecream and it makes for a very tasty bowl of joy:) HAHA

              Also while on the topic of food... we ate this thing called "pasoli" (not sure if that's how you spell it, but whatevs!) and it is some Mexican soup type things that you eat with Mexican chip things. And it is amazing! so anyway we ate it at a members house and enjoyed it and wanted more. She always gives us the extras, so we brought a bunch home. And then one of the families who we are currently teaching invited us over around dinner time to have dinner and to have the lesson. And guess what they made?!?!?! PASOLI!!! It was so good. and not even old after eating it so much. BUT! that's not even the best part. we walked out of that dinner/lesson feeling so full and the white lady who we had tracted into and helped with their car came out with a big bowl. and what was it?? PASOLI!!!! HAHA we were a little hesitant because she was a white person cooking a Mexican dish so we didn't expect it to be very good. BUT, It was better than all pasoli we have ever had. So we thought that was pretty funny:)

              Ok now moving on from food and onto the good stuff. Honestly... This week was hard. VERY hard. Things falling through, we had to "Drop" a couple people, (which means stop teaching because they aren't reading or doing anything. they just like the listening) so there are other things we could be doing more productively. Its sad to drop people but necessary. and lessons were falling through especially with our main family, Elies and Patricia. They haven't come to church and we assume they are just busy and things are happening. so another way to have patience. And i am working on it! However... Something really truly amazing happened just within the last week that has been a blessing and will be a blessing to the branch here in Foley.

              Our third family. Lucia and Ramon. Not sure how much ive mentioned about them, but i will debrief on their story so you all can have a little background. This family is AWESOME! They are from Honduras and have three kids. And we thought that the father was a member cause he said he was baptized, but it came out to be that he was baptized into some other church and he just knows a lot about the church! but we are looking for his records just in case... But we met the mother one day while tracting. she didn't seem too excited, cause i mean we are other "preachers" going around trying to convert. The father wasn't home that time so we weren't able to go in and teach but at least we got a return appointment. So when we went back for the next appointment we finally met the father and he seemed to be SOOOO excited about the church. Like he LOVES it! so we taught a simple lesson about how families can be eternal forever. and they were excited:) this time the wife seemed to show a little more signs of life. HAHA So long story short, we asked if we could come by and keep teaching them. And they agreed:) even asked us when our church was cause they wanted to come! And guess what... THEY CAME!!! 0ur first investigators that came to church:) It was way cool! and the cool part was they were participating in the gospel doctrine class. So that was super cool!

              K so cool part time! at church they invited us over for dinner so we could eat and then have a lesson. And though the food was SOOO good, that wasn't the best part. HAHA It was a great lesson and we definitely felt the spirit! and to cut out all the unnecessary parts, they accepted the baptisms invitation!!! Both the Mom, Dad, and if the son chooses to he will be baptized as well!!! and that will hopefully be happening the 26th of this month!!! super soon, but super possible! We are all excited about that. HAHA

              So all comes to show. Patience and hard work all pays off. Even though we didn't have to really do anything because these people were prepared by the lord and they are ready. And i am glad that i could be a part of their lives and be a part of this change. We have a lot of work to do this week and we are excited! Love you all so much and cant wait to keep you all updated on the family we are teaching:)

              Much love from Foley Alabama,

              Elder Stonely

              Monday, August 31, 2015

              Week 12: "Palabra de Dios!"

              Dear Friends and Family,

              Well this week has been shortened because of the P-Day being on Tuesday of last week. But it has probably been one of the fastest, coolest, spiritual, and PERFECT week that I have had so far! I simply cant mention it all today because it was that good! Before i get into the groove ill mention some other stuff before i forget. HAHA Number 1, Elder Clayton leaves this week so i will no longer be blessed with his presence in my district. So that's a little sad. But he's moving on! I'm excited for him:D Which brings us to transfers:D I have been blessed to stay here in Foley Alabama! I'm actually really excited because the past week i have gained an attachment to the people... HAHAHA But one of the English Elders in the area has been transfered and replaced by a newbie so we are excited to get to know him! We had our spanish activity this past Friday and i found out that i much be allergic to some sort of plant down here cause i keep swelling up every night from something! HAHA i seriously have had bumps up and down my arm from something. But they are only temporary:D They go away eventually. And its kinda fun cause im the crazy missionary enjoying the new environment. HAHA

              Anyway... Back to the fun people:D So this past Friday we had our Spanish Activity with all the hispanic members of the branch and a couple investigator families! it went so well and we had a great turnout! one of the less active members who is moving today actually came and enjoyed a little "goodbye" party. I think me and my companion brought the spirit back into her lives before and she is now wanting to get ahold of the missionaries in North Carolina where she is moving too. I may never hear from her again but i hope the spirit touched her and will lead her back on the path.

              But, we did have two Non-Member investigator families come to the activity!!! we were hoping that more would come and we would have more members show up too, but we had 30 people total and it was a perfect turn out. The nonmembers were what made it perfect:D The First family, I believe i talked about them last week. their names are Elies and Patricia. They have 3 kids and love families! Patricia used to be very religious but had fallen away when her Dad passed away from cancer. She doesnt understand why god would do that. (pretty much most people right?) Well anyway, we had a BOSS lesson with their family. It was funny cause their kids were playing outside with friends and they made them come inside and sit down and listen to the "Palabra de Dios!" (word of god) HAHA but... we shared the restoration and when we got to the First Vision, my companion recited Josephs Smiths Words. Now im not joking when i say i have never felt better in my life. The family was paying attention, i was trying to understand, but when he started, the spirit filled the room. It was so strong and i knew it was testifying to Elies, Patricia, and their family. All of their eyes were fixed on us and they could not move. We taught simply, but boldly. The spirit never left until we left. It was strong the whole time. But thats not even the cool part. The cool part was when Elies stopped us at the end and said "From the time you started describing Josephs vision, I felt something different..." And he went on to explain ALL the feelings that the spirit brings. And it was crazy because he felt it, we felt it and it was there. And it was perfect. They said they were going to come to the activity so they did! and they had a BOMB time at the activity and they said they loved it so much that they wanted to come to church sunday! Sadly they couldnt make it to church because something popped up and they live 30 min away from the building, but they said they are making all the efforts to come next sunday. We cant wait to meet with them this week.

              Next! We tracted into this family from Hondurez. They are super fun and actually the father, Ramon, is a member, but it sounds like they kinda just "lost" the church or something throughout their time here. They are super busy and he is only home on the weekends cause of work, but we were super surprised when we went over their and they preceded to tell us that they wanted to get married in the temple. We were both shocked... So they will be someone really cool to have in the branch and im hoping that they DO find time for this change in their life. They seem prepared by the lord.

              The other Non-member family that came to the activity we havent had a chance to followup with, but they seemed to really enjoy it and their kids had a great time. They left early cause they needed to go to their church, but we hope we can bring the gospel to them in some way:D

              Now. The topic that i have been studying this week was Christlike Attributes. Not really going very deep into all of them cause i will be doing that later:D but this week as i studied Patience in particular i realized just how important patience comes into play. And how it connects with the atonement. I've been having a hard time with investigators not making appointments or things happening or stress lasting longer or feeling insufficient at the language and this week i really took a step back. And i realized just how important it is to have patience. Patience with investigators or people around you because they have lives too! Things happen, they have to meet certain things and they have a life! i didn't really understand that till now because living as a missionary you don't have a normal life. Your life is appointments. Patience is required. I've been feeling really insufficient because i cant speak fluently. Taking a step back, I've realized i know nothing. The gift of tongues is real if i can have a conversation with people and teach lessons. I have been given a gift. And i shouldn't complain about not being perfect. If i have patience and study hard, i will have what i need. And with the Atonement. He suffered for our pains and afflictions, and we just need to have faith and patience that he will help us get through them. Big lesson this week and something that has been helping me keep my head up and keep moving forward. This not only applies to me but should apply to everyone. Have faith that things will get better, you'll be ok, and the Lord will lift you up. but then have Patience. There is a quote in Preach my Gospel from President Thomas S. Monson that sums this up perfectly.

              "Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such Challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of Patience is required."

              Now i don't know why Patience is required. But i do feel like most of the time He is trying to teach us something that we would not be taught if the problem we face was solved right away. The lord knows whats best for us and we need to trust in him and his timing. I pray for you all back home and hope that as you all strive to be more Christlike and submit to his will you will all be blessed. I love you all.

              Elder Stonely
              Activity selfie:D

              This is what happens when we come home late!

              Member's bird that lives outside!!