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

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