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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Week 45: Adversity

Dear Friends and Beloved Family,

My, oh my, this week was sure full of tender mercies as well as ups and downs. Its almost as if the adversary thinks that he can push me down a cliff and keep me there! Though when he tries, on a personal level its harder than ever! This week we were able to see a lot of blessings coming, and after every blessing and experience that we had followed some sort of disaster or act that caused feelings of doubt, despair, discourage and loss of hope. As I reflected on our experiences throughout the week I realized yet again that I'm not the only one with challenges and trials. Every individual person faces their own hard aches and issues. And so as I write this email, I hope that many who read may find this helpful.

Upon reflecting over the week, I found a speech given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at BYU in 1990. Now excuse my lack of references, I know my English teachers will be disappointed, though I did not have the whole speech and information so this will be a bit rough. Though in two of his speeches he addressed to students attending BYU, labeled, "Cast not away therefore your confidence" and "For times of Troubles" I found some useful quotes that really stood out to me.
"Oh Lord, I am yet strong. Give me one More mountain." -Joshua 14:11-12
Though I have felt week at times and though I have said to myself "I can't do it," I often remind myself that it is through our challenges that we grow and that the Lord turns us into the person that he wants us to be. When I am going through challenges, I have to continue to tell myself that I am going to learn. The atonement can be a place of refuge for all of us during these times. And when I remember that I find that it is easier to ask for another "mountain" so that I can continue to grow and learn. It also gives me an opportunity to exercise my faith.
Extraordinary faith comes by
Extraordinary prayers, which cause
Extraordinary results.
-Elder K
I often read this little quote and ask myself if I am showing my faith every day. Often when I have challenges I see that my faith could be greater! Other times I feel as if I am acting with faith and am doing all I can. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that hardships will come and go. He mentioned that when you have a hardship, you have to continue to push through and remember that it will end. Have faith through it all and you will eventually get through! However, I also noticed a fault that I had in myself as I read Elder Holland's words. He quoted Shakespeare and also gave another quote:
"The fault... is not within our start, but in ourselves." -William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

"The worst type of despair is self-despair. The kind of self-despising that eats at our image and crushes our hopes." -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
As I read this part of one of his speeches, I noticed that I was putting a lot of this "self-despair" on myself, and that was a fault within myself. Now, for those of you who know me well, that probably wouldn't surprise you. Though it was something that I took to considerable thought. I realized that a lot of the feelings of doubt, despair, discouragement and loss of hope were coming from myself. I re-read a scripture that I believe I had shared with you all earlier in Ether 12: 27:
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
Oh how true that is. I know that through the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can turn our own individual weaknesses into strengths. I also know that through the atonement we can be comforted in times of trial and times were we do feel down on our circumstances or situations. I have a testimony of this as I live every day. I know that you all, if you haven't come to realize the blessings of the atonement that you can! We don't have to feel down or sad any moment, anywhere. I know that our Savior loves us.

I love you all and hope that you  have a blessed weak! Until next week :)

Much love,

Elder Stonely

Fishing trip!

Some cute kid with us as we ate a yummy cake! Yup, Hispanics are sicker than all! HAHA
The Three Amigos!
President and Sister Smith visit the Cairo, Georgia Branch! (Photo from the Florida Tallahassee Mission Blog.)