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

Monday, May 29, 2017

Week 102: Sweet Home Alabama!!!

Dear Friends and Family,

I got transfer calls and the ZLs told me I was going home!! So I asked them if I was going to Alabama again because that's what the song says!!! PSYCH, Utah will have to do :)

A lot of mixed emotions leaving the place I've called home for two years. At the beginning, I thought it would go on for ever and that the mission was what I would call life! It definitely has treated me well, though I'm not too good at saying goodbyes. And there was definitely a lot of hard goodbyes this past week with those whom I have come to love tremendously. I am grateful for the past and optimistic about the future! I thank everyone for everything they have done for me in providing support and love in every moment! I truly love you all!

Welp, mom, I will see you Thursday :) I love you lots!

Elder Stonely
Yep, I'm still crazy!
...and I like to take pictures with watermelons...

But lots of people still love me.

Good bye, everyone...I'll miss you all!!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week 101: Breaking Down Walls

Dear friends and family,

This week I learned this,

"There is no wall you cant...
     ...walk around,
     ...jump over,
     ...dig under,
     ...break through,
     ...or push aside."

As I sat reflecting on many things from the past week, that thought came to mind. There are many problems, issues, adversities and things pertaining to this earth life that are in our daily walk of discipleship. As I thought back on everything that I've gone through, I've realized that there has been a solution to everything. And If there hasn't, then it wasn't that important and I was able to push it aside trusting in the Lord. I have felt at peace knowing that through the Atonement of the Lord, we receive strength and peace throughout all the learning opportunities that the Lord blesses us with daily, weekly, yearly and for the rest of our lives. Some of the WORST, yet BEST advice that I have received from people this past week is that trials will only continue to come if not get bigger. HAHA Not sure that is something anyone wants to hear, though I feel glad that my learning doesn't stop here. I guess that is what we have life for :) So, I guess the thought of the week is that if you feel like you are stuck with a wall in front of you, find out how to jump over, dig under, have the patience to walk around, the strength to push through, or simply just put it aside and keep going through :) I love you all so much and am so very grateful for the many blessings that you all have given to me in my life! I wish you all the best of luck in all your journeys!

Elder Stonely

Here are some cool pictures :) Its been a while...


Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 100: Mothers Day

Dear Friends and Family,

BIG NEWS!!! It was mothers day for all y'all who said happy mothers day to your mom and then have now gone back to normal life since mothers day is over. Mothers deserve to be told that they are loved every day, so for those of you who don't, (me), please repent and do it every day! I love you mom!

Well we had a week full a crazy adventures! We have done some fun things, missionary work, mothers day party, talking to lots of people including someone named "alfredo." He is from Cuba, and has been in the united states for only a year. He is very friendly and doesn't know anything about the gospel. Literally knows only that there is a god. BUT hey! Thats a start! He has one up on King Lamoni. It has been very exciting to be able to teach him. We taught him about prayer. Literally, we had a lesson just on prayer. It felt like we were teaching a kid, though felt amazing cause he understood EVERYTHING!! and said a wonderful prayer at the end. I felt like a proud spiritual dad of Alfredo. We are totally friends now!

Other than this, we are still working hard! WE are eating lots of Hispanic food and learning how to cook it. And its going well :) I hope you all have a good week this week!

Elder Stonely

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 99

Dear Friends and Family,

This week flew by really fast. We did lots of great missionary work as always! I got sick which wasn't the best, but I'm getting back up to normal energy levels and am ready to fight the world again! We met with an investigator for a lesson about 45 minutes before a meal appointment with a member. When we showed up, they had prepared "mole" which is AMAZING! its like chicken and rice with a chocolate/spicy sauce. It is pretty darn good if i say so myself. HAHAHAHA so, we ate dinner with an investigator as well as with the members after. HAHA It was amazing!

Life is going great! We went to sonic and enjoyed a shake one night. And we have been doing great! I hope you all have a wonderful week this next week!

Elder Stonely

Monday, May 1, 2017

Week 98: Yup

Dear Friends and Family,

This was an amazing week. To be honest, it flew by way faster than what I thought it would be. We did a lot of service, worked hard, found some new investigators, went on a trade off with the DL and was really fun. 

Super sorry for the short email. Just know I love you all! I'm thankful for all you do! Remember the Lord loves you forever and always and that he blesses you as you strive to become like him daily! Happy Anniversary mom and dad!

Elder Stonely

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Week 97: :D

Dear Friends and Family,

I think the subject of this email fits perfectly. We should all have reasons to put a smile on our face every day. Despite circumstances and despite how bad you think you have it. The Savior, Jesus Christ made it possible for every child of God to be happy and feel joy every second of every day. That I am truly grateful for.

This week I received my new companion. His name is Elder Cornforth. He is from Ogden Utah. He likes to Rodeo and from what I've seen in pics, he is pretty good at it too! He is tall, and very friendly. He is my 8th companion that I have had on my mission and something that I have learned is that no words can describe the amazing characteristics that our companions have. I wish everyone who reads this would have the opportunity to meet my companions in person because it becomes so real. I am grateful for the chance that I have to serve for six weeks with Elder Cornforth! He has a desire to work hard, move forward, and continue onward with faith and diligence! I am definitely grateful.

Im going to be honest, this week, from the moment Elder Cornforth has gotten here, we have been running around like monkeys with our heads cut off. We had so much to do, many service opportunities, and lots of missionary work. I don't think I have ever felt so happy being so stressed in my life! HAHA For those of you who know me, I don't do well with stress. Ive gotten better at dealing with it over the last two years, and I think this week was definitely the test. Though the blessings from working hard truly come in! Here is an experience that we had this past week.

We had lost contact with Gloria for about 2 weeks previous. She is the single mother with 5 kids who recently moved into a new home. We had no idea where she moved, and she wasn't answering her telephone. On Friday, we had planned to go visit some potentials, which we did and when we were about to head to another place, we decided to talk to one more neighbor. After talking with them, we headed out. As we were driving home, I noticed a car that looked just like the one Gloria used to drive. I sat there thinking, "hmmmm..." I then felt like we should follow the car, so I told Elder Cornforth who was driving, " FOLLOW THAT CAR!" So he did... I'm not a stalker or anything, but they pulled into a gas station. I wanted to make sure it was her, so i told elder Cornforth to pretend like he was buying gas. he pulled up next to her and I saw a darker man driving the car. I was a little bummed and said, " its not her..." so he started to drive away, but then I saw a "bun" or whatever ladies call their hair when it looks like a bun, on the persons head in the passenger seat. It was her!!! So I told Elder Cornforth to pull over and talk to her. So we did. She was happy to see us. She hadn't been able to text us back because it had been a stressful week with everyone and her new house, and appliances, work and all but said that she had been reading what we gave her and we set something up for the next week.

Now for most people that may not be that TOO big of a miracle. But for me in that moment, it was something that Lord was showing to us that he was listening to us and blessing our lives. He is here. He listens. And He loves every single one of us. I know that as we seek him and his guidance, he will bless our lives. I am so very grateful for all I have been given! And that you all for the many things that you have given to me and the much support! I love you all!

Elder Stonely

My new companion, Elder Cornforth.
Thats right, he's got 8-10 inches on me!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 96: Hey!

Dear Friends and Family,

This email will be a short one, I do apologize. This week is transfer weeks! Elder Leandro and I will be leaving each other. It was three of the fastest transfers ever if i\I might say so myself. Elder Leandro will be leaving Tallahassee and heading out to Defuniak, wherever that is, HAHA. And I will be here in Tallahassee with my new companion, Elder Cornforth. I have no information on him other than his current companion is elder Orndorff. So together they are "Elder Cornforth and Orndorff" HAHA. That's pretty cool. I'm excited to spend the next six weeks here in Tallahassee and enjoy the Hispanic Culture! I am also grateful for the countless opportunities that I have to serve those around me!

"I love it when I go to Easter Sunday and everyone is soooo happy and smiley and its like everyone is hyped on jelly beans and chocolate eggs but I wish everyday was Easter!"
-Credit to Elder Carpenter

Well, He read my mind on Easter Sunday! I really do enjoy Easter Sunday and Hope you all did too! There is nothing better than Constantly thinking about the Amazing gift our Heavenly Father gave us. His son, who was born, lived, taught us, carried out the Atonement, died and was resurrected so that we could have Eternal Life and Joy. I love you all and cant wait to talk to you next week! Much love,

Elder Stonely

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 95

Hello Dear Friends and Family,

I love you all so dearly! Thank you for all of your support and love. Missionaries tremendously feel it that is for sure. Missionary work is going great! We are knocking doors, teaching investigators and sharing our testimonies! There truly is no greater work than this. 

This week I would like to share with you all my thoughts from this week. Elder Rasband in General Conference talked about following spiritual promptings and this week we saw one of those spiritual promptings.

This week we had an experience where we had a lot of people and places to go. It was Sunday after church and as the events of the day rolled out, we noticed that a lot of them were falling through. I remember in our planning session during the morning, the last person we had put on our list was a potential to try to visit. We had attempted to go by a couple times before with no success, and this was going to be our last time trying her for a while. We knocked and Deisy, the potential, answered the door. I was pretty excited and glad that she answered! First cause she has my moms name, she just spells it differently, and secondly, she was home! We were able to talk to her and then set up a return appointment. Where she lives, is a neighborhood where the majority of the people are African American. So we didn't think that we were going to find many people there. Though, we thought we should ask Deisy if she knew if any of her neighbors spoke Spanish. At first she said no, but then remembered that there were two across the street in a little hidden neighborhood. We were pretty excited so we went to go try them! Long story short, we talked with a lady named Marta who is from Honduras, which by the way is my favorite country behind the united states. HAHA And we talked with her for about 30 minutes and set up a return apt. That may be pretty normal for most missionaries, and it should be. Thought for us, on this Sunday, Marta was the end of many spiritual promptings starting during planning, talking with Deisy, asking for referrals and doing what missionaries should do. I wouldn't say I receive many HUGE spiritual promptings, though I know that the spirit guides us with thoughts and feelings throughout the day and if they are uplifting and good, they are of the spirit and we should follow them "for we know not what lies in our path." 

I am grateful for the constant blessings that I receive daily as well as the opportunity I have to share my testimony with everyone! Again, thank you so much for all of your prayers and thoughts! Happy Easter to all of you! And ill send you all my love from the great city of Tallahassee :)

Elder Stonely

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 94

Dear Friends and Family,

Conference was great! I felt inspired to work on Family History and improve my personal testimony on the Plan of Salvation. I learned a lot from conference but I don't want to type it out cause this week is going to be a long email. HAHA

This weeks email comes from a dear experience we had on Monday night.

We were headed home from an appointment and there is a Hispanic Store that sells a specific type of cookie that is used to make what we call a "Carlota." Two of the missionaries in our district were celebrating their Birthdays this week so we decided to prepare and buy the cookies. These cookies are normally sold in a package of a 4 pack which is sold for 3 dollars. We pulled into the store, walked in and went to where the cookies were located. They didn't have the normal box of 4, but they did have individually sold packs. Each pack was 1 dollar. So i had for, thus the cost was 4 dollars. It was towards the end of the month, so I had only 2 dollars on my card. When I went into the story I brought in 3 dollars and 25 cents of coins in order to buy what we needed. In total, I had about $5. My plan was to use the cash, then pay the extra dollar with the card. Though as many of you have experienced before, in smaller stores, there is a "card limit" where in order to pay with a card, you have to spend a maximum of $3-5. This is exactly what happened to me. I went to the desk to checkout, gave her the $3 in Coins that I had and told her I was going to pay the rest with my card. The total came out to be $4.26. I as really nervous because I did not have that amount on the card, and the card limit was $3. I could not pay with cash or card alone and was stuck. I was about to tell the cashier I would have to come back when a lady behind us jumped in putting $1 on the table. Rushing through her purse, she asked the cashier how much more I needed. The Cashier replied, "26 cents." The Lady behind us did not have a smaller bill then ten, so she pulled out a ten, handed it to the cashier and said, "break it." I stood in Amazement with my jaw wide open feeling quite indebted to her. I had a strong desire to pay her back every penny of the $1.26 cents that I lacked. I had only said hello to this lady as she walked in, and she knew not one thing of me. Yet, she willingly went out of her way to make up for my missing $1.26. In fact, she went the extra mile even when she had to pay 10 in order to make up for the last 26 cents. In shock, we thanked her tremendously, and headed out the door. We got int the car and headed home.

The whole car ride home I could not get rid of the feeling that I had to pay back the $1.26 she had freely given to me. I had the desire to go back to the store and wait for her the next day with the money so I could pay her back. She had said she goes every day after work. 

In that very moment, my thoughts turned to my savior. Shouldn't I have this same desire to pay my Savior back every day for his charitable, priceless act of Love, sacrifice and redemption? I realized that just like that woman who i knew nothing about had freely payed my lacking $1.26 for me, the savior had done likewise. A man I know not face to face, had paid the eternal debt brought on from personal sin and affliction. He has suffered for my pains and sorrows. He stands behind me in this eternal line waiting to succor my individual needs. When we slip up and make a mistake, or when we feel sorrow or sadness, our Savior and redeemer stands in line behind us with our lacking $1.26 spiritual dollars that we need to be freed from our guilt and spiritual captivity. In reality, the saviour is not just paying for what we lack, he has paid for everything and is our support and rock every minute of every day. Without him we are as King Benjamin states, " are even as much as the dust of the earth." Mosiah 2:25 All he asks of us as a payment for what he has so freely given to us is that we have faith in him, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, endure to the end and keep his commandments. He wants us to use his atoning power so he can bless us.

Pondering that thought, I realized the great importance it is for us to be grateful for what He has done and then to go out and serve, keeping his laws and blessing the lives of others so that one day, we will be able to pay him back a portion of what he has given to us. There should not be a day that goes by where we forget our Savior, redeemer and Kind. I am eternally indebted to Him for what he has done for me. 

I know Jesus Christ lives. I know He loves us. I know we can be happy and feel of His joy as we repent daily. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of god and I know because of what he did we have a living prophet, prophet Thomas S. Monson. I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored and that we can receive complete joy in every circumstance as we strive to live by it. 

I am grateful for all you do constantly for us missionaries. I wish you all an amazing week!

Elder Stonely

P.S. Happy Easter to all out there!!! I love you all!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week 93

Dear Friends and Family,

If you didn't notice i didn't send this email last week, I forgive you for not thinking of me. HAHA I am totally kidding. I couldn't help but put that line in there. 

Last week we were unable to finish writing our emails due to certain circumstances, so I decided to write this weeks email on a paper and then type it today! So this week there will be two weekly emails from your favorite elder in Tallahassee Florida!

I know I've never been very good at giving details of my day to day routine as a missionary, though it could be because my memory is not the best. THough my simple spiritual thought for today comes from our investigator Gloria. Gloria is a single mom with % kids. SHe lives with her sister, who is also a single mom with five kids, who both live together in a small double wide trailer. Whenever one sister is working, the other is at home with the 10 kids. I dont think I have to say much for all of you to know that her life is rough, hard, stressful, busy and frightening. Despite her circumstances, Gloria shows an extreme amount of faith, hope and Charity. SHe constantly expresses her great faith in the Lord and her hope for a better future for her kids. As we visited with her I noticed one thing in particular about the way she secretly shows her charity. That is through her faithful and meaningful prayers. We were following up with her to see if she read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. She had read, and had prayed, but felt a little guilty because she had not thought very directly about the BOM in her prayers. She said she had fallen asleep praying and that it often happens as she prays for other people. She shared with us how in her prayers, she prays for her kids, then for everyone else who she meets throughout her day. I thought to myself, if my personal prayers were the same and if I was truly praying for others. LEts just say I made the commitment to do better. That day I learned from Gloria not only should we pray for people, but we should have more charity towards everyone and do as many wise friends have told me, "look at them through Christs eyes."
As I focus on looking at those around me through my Saviors eyes, I stop criticising them and start seeing their true identity of a child of god, a brother, and a human with unique characteristics that god had given them. I hope to never forget to have charity towards others and look at them through Christs eyes~!

I thank you all for being tremendous support and examples for me! And I wish you all a wonderful week!

Elder Stonely

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 92: YUP!

My fellow friends and family, 

My heart is full of love towards all of you and hope you all had a good week as such did i. We had lots of missionary work and zone conference to lighten our spirits! If any of you want to know specifics of my weeks feel free to throw in a request! 

I recently picked up the habbit of writing poems in my free time so here is this weeks poem. Dont judge for bad grammar, spelling, rhyming, or bad poetry in general. I obviously didnt pay too much attention to my school teachers. HAHA Though I hope you enjoy it.

My Shadows Path:
By Elder Riley Paul Stonely

I once walked through
A dreary way.
There was no sun
There was no ray.

I could not see
Nor cared to know
My every step
Or way to go.

I told myself
There was no end,
Nor happiness,
Nor any friend.

Though said to me 
Along my way
A secret phrase
As not to stray.

There was a friend
Who cared to be
A loving heart
That shared with me.

You will perceive 
What cant be seen
Through Christ the Lord
He'll be your beam.

I now walk not
By fear alone
For I have one
Whom I can phone.

His name be Savior, 
Reedemor, King.
To Him I'll praise 
With joy and sing.

He is my rock
With Him concrete,
I will not fall
Or be defeat.

I follow Him
For hopes to see
His grace applied
To all of me.

I said at first 
I once walked through,
A dreary way
I now outgrew.

Behind me now
Is all the wrath,
I like to call
My shadows path.

I don't know why i felt inspired to share that with you all, though I hope you all know just how much your heavenly father loves each and everyone of you. He knows you, he knows your paths, he knows your sorrows, your pains, your joys, and success. He jumps up and down with you as you score an A on final exams and he weeps with you through your darkest of moments. He has provided a way to comfort you with peace and love through His son, our savior and redeemer, Jesus Christ. We have the Atonement within hands reach. All he asks is that we fold our arms, bow our heads, kneel to him and offer our souls in prayer to make the commitment to follow his sons example and strive every day to repent and serve others so we can "always have the spirit to be with us." -D&C 20:77,79. 

My fellow Brothers and Sister, do we remember to pray to him? Do we remember to study his Holy word to receive inspiration and feel of his love? I have a testimony of daily prayer and scripture study. That is the way we talk and listen to him.

I love you all so very much. My heart aches knowing we are so far, yet I like Moroni have great hopes in our reunion!

"And now I, Elder Stonely, bid farewell unto my family and friends, yea and  also unto my brethren whom I love, Until we shall meet again." -Ether 12:38

I love you all so much! Hope you have an amazing week!

Elder Stonely

Monday, March 13, 2017

Week 91: HEY :)

Dear Friends and Family,

This past week has been one to remember. Though... isn't every week one to remember? I think yes.

We had an opportunity to meet with an investigator about 2 months ago. She was just a potential and we were planning on working with her though we weren't able to see her for a couple of weeks. We didn't think much of it because all of our visits and appointments with her were being cancelled and all. It was pretty sad. Though we finally got into the house to teach her. First off, she is recently divorced, with 5 kids, lives in a small trailer with her sister who also has 5 kids. So yes, its quite the house and she has her work cut out for her. Though we taught the restoration and the plan of salvation and it went pretty well! She asked us lots of questions and she pretty much knows the answers to them, she just wants clarification. So we are expecting great things with her and her family. We both are excited to continue teaching them :)

Well, Other than that, lots of finding and missionary work! If anyone has any questions they want me to answer send me an email, other than that, my ideas of what to share from missionary life are turning into few... HAHA

Spiritual thought of the week comes from yesterday. The first Sunday of the month was stake conference so our stake did fast Sunday yesterday. We decided to fast for this investigator who I mentioned above. We were fasting for her specifically to have the desire to read the book of Mormon and start to keep commitments so that she could be ready to accept the commitment to be baptized. And As we were waiting for a meeting to get started, we got a text from her saying that she read and had a question about being Born again! How ironic... HAHA So we haven't seen her yet, though we are going to visit with her today! Though in that moment one of the first things that I thought about was how the Lord answered our prayers and helped our investigator have the desire to read the book of Mormon. It was something so very simple, though it was so powerful and it made my Sunday one to remember. Brothers and Sisters wherever you are around the world, I know that through fasting we can bring to pass many mighty miracles and receive much strength and guidance. I know that through sincere prayer we can always talk with our celestial friend above who loves us, cares for us and wants to bless us. He is waiting for us to check in and out every day so he can pour out the blessings of heaven. I love you all so very much and am grateful for everyone of you I have been able to meet in this life and learn from. 

Have a wonderful week full of tender mercies and miracles!

Your favorite elder, 

Elder Stonely

we played some cricket ball today! It was pretty fun :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week 90: Elder Stonely :)

Well my amazing friends and Family, I again set apart a couple minutes of my time to write you my feelings through an email on this marvelous Monday. I'm gonna be honest, I don't really know what to write so if this is choppy, don't read it and wait till next week :)

How grateful I am for the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit that our Heavenly Father gives us daily. I feel as if we may take for granted the biggest blessing of the companionship of the Holy Ghost almost weekly. Or at least I feel that I do at times. I do not believe that there is any other moment in my life where I am more happy then when I am feeling the spirit. Whether it be in the House of the Lord or walking down a street of a trailer park here in Tallahassee. The spirit will be with us as we ask, knock and seek for his companionship. My wise grandfather who i cherish dearly once told me around the new year season, "make every day a new year." I found that applicable in today's email. In the World Wide missionary broadcast they mentioned how every day starts off spiritually at 6:30 am. How the morning sets a tone for our spiritual days. And no matter how the day goes, the next morning will always come and we will always have a new 6:30. 

Every day we have the opportunity to make our days more spiritually filled and to make every day a new year :) I ask myself these questions frequently:

What do I choose to say? study? listen to? focus on?
Am I choosing to be obedient?
Is what I'm doing enticing the spirit?

If the answers to those questions are not the best, I ask myself:

What can I choose instead? or
What would the Savior have me do?

Now I am no perfect person. I don't believe we can find any perfect person alive, though I have a testimony of striving to invite the spirit into our every day lives so we can be guided in what we say, do, where we go, and what the will of the Lord is. The spirit also is a sign that what we are doing is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord and that he loves us and is happy with us. I know that the spirit is what leads us and guides us and that if we do all we can to invite his presence into our every day lives we will get closer with our Savior and our Father in Heaven. I love you all so very much and am grateful for your prayers and support. No missionary can say that they cant feel answers to prayers from those they love at home. I am eternally grateful!

Until we meet again,
Your favorite elder in Florida,
Elder Stonely

Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 88: Meeting an Apostle

Dear Amazing Friends and Family,

Well, this past week I got to shake the hand of an Apostle for the first time in my life, "according to my memory." Elder Gary E. Stevenson took two hours out of his busy schedule to come talk with all of us in our mission. Wow, I don't think anyone really know what to expect when they meet an apostle for the first time, but for anyone that doesn't know, They are a normal person! The only difference is you can feel of their divine calling and the spirit that they have with them. The conference with him was from 10-12 on Saturday though we were all in our seats by 9:00 listening to the prelude music and I had some time to think about what was going to happen with this great opportunity! When He entered the room I could just tell he was someone special. Throughout the meeting it felt so normal as he talked with us, it was as if we were talking with someone on the street, though he was obviously talking about gospel stuff and it was more inspired than a street contact. Though he has a sense of humor and is an amazing person. We got to shake his hand and the line felt like forever, then the next thing I knew i was sitting down. HAHA He has a wonderful handshake. Firm, yet gentle, and he has such a wonderful smile. He greeted us all by name and then we shook the hands of the other General Authorities :) It was great!!! So, Now I can say that I shook the hand of an apostle. If you haven't done it, I hope you all get the chance to do it some day!

Alright, so this past week we had a really enjoyable time with finding, tracting, teaching, eating and sleeping :) And today we will be making baleadas as a district as well as a Mexican dessert called,"Carlota" we are all pretty stoked, and so that is what we will be off and doing today! HAHA Just know that I love you all and we are doing fabulous! I thank you all for your amazing support and love in all that missionaries do around the world. Best of luck in all of your adventures, 

Much love,
your favorite missionary in Tallahassee Florida,

Elder Stonely
Ingredients for baleadas.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 87: My week in an Email :)

Mis Queridos Amigos y Familia,

¡Los Amo! I love you all so much! I am so grateful for all the prayers and support that we have felt from you all this past week! Keep being amazing!

Three experiences:

Funny:     we had a Valentine party this past Saturday for the branch and we went to go set up all the table, chairs and decorations, well, when we were all done, Elder Leandro and I were on one end of the gym with a couple members and our branch president was siting on the other end by himself. We see this man walk in and start talking to the branch president. They were talking for about five minutes. Then this guy come over to us and mumbles something under his breath, and I asked him, "¿Como le puedo ayudar?" which means, "how can I help you?"  This guy, had this specific look on his face of such great confusion.... and I was waiting for a response, but got none, so for a period of about 10 seconds we stared into each others eyes in complete confusion. Then the bell rang in my head, (the guy didn't speak Spanish... ) HAHAHAHA I had forgotten that our branch president spoke enough English so I thought that this guy spoke Spanish when he came in. He was a little darker, and I didn't understand his mumbling voice. HAHA So anyway, funny moment of the week is that I spoke Spanish to a white guy and then we stared into each others eyes until I figured out I messed up. HAHA then we helped the man out. HAHA So now you all know that Elder Stonely isn't perfect :)

Stressed:     Ok, so this past Sunday we had branch counsel and all of the stake leaders came to our sacrament meeting. Now for those of you who don't know, since we have a Spanish branch, we translate from Spanish to English. You would think its easy, I'm here to assure you that it is, when people don't read stories or general conference talks. HAHA The only talk I had to translate was mostly a story that they read and if any of you realize how different stories are when you read them in your talk compared to just talking, it is like someone is talking a thousand miles an hour. So all these pour English speakers that were listening to me were listing to a made up story of mine about the topic of gratitude instead of what the speaker was saying because I couldn't keep up. HAHAHAHA it wasn't the best, and brought lots of stress! HAHAHA though I lived, and am still here :) Though the spirit was in the meeting and everyone was able to be spiritually uplifted :)

Spiritual:     So we found this really sick family this past week from El Salvador. Her name is Abigail and there are a lot of people in the family. We taught them the plan of salvation, then the restoration in two different visits, and she read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know its true! we are still working with both of them on helping them receive their own testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the restoration. That may not be too big of a spiritual experience, though I don't think words can describe the spirit that we felt in the lesson. It was amazing!!!

It was a great week and i am happy to be serving here in Tallahassee! The weather is slowly getting warmer which means spring is coming!!!!!!! wahooo!!!!!!! I love you all so much! 

Your Elder,

Elder Stonely

Blowing you my love and kisses!

A sick jeep with a wench in the church parking lot.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 86: Heavenly Father Loves You

Dear Friends and Family,

This week was amazing :) Truly one to remember :) So we went to a baptism of a 8 year old girl, did a lot of finding, and had a wonderful Sunday.

There is a wonderful young girl in the branch named Ali who got baptized this past Saturday. It was a very special experience for her, though for all who attended. I sat listening to the prelude music. The pianist was playing hymns in a soothing sort of way that invited the spirit into the service. I looked at all the children and started reflecting on my own baptism. Honestly, I do not remember much of how the service went, who spoke, or who was there, though Alis baptism was similar to mine in the way i felt. As I listened to countless people tell Ali to remember what she is feeling I wish that I would have written my feelings when i got baptized. Of course an 8 year old isn't normally the BEST at expressing their feelings, though it would be cool to reflect back on what my 8 year old mind thought. I may not be able to account the story of my baptism, though I could tell you what i felt because i felt the same that i feel at every baptism i attend. There is a feeling of peace, comfort, endless love, joy, happiness and everlasting hope. The room was filled with smiles. The children seemed to be more in tune with those special spirits that were in the room as well. Oh how i wish to be a child again. I want to know what is going on in their minds. What would they think? What would they tell us about what they feel. I am grateful for the joy that the gospel brings to every single on of us. I know it to be true!

I have a testimony of prayer. I know that our heavenly father listens to us and is always willing to bless our lives. We had a special experience this week with finding many potential people to teach and to share our testimonies with others. Though, as many missionaries experience, we meet many people, though not all of them let you come back again. So we were feeling a little bit of discouragement. (just random thought, there is a difference from feeling discouragement and being discouraged.) And In these moments of discouragement is when our Heavenly Father wants us exercise our faith a little more in him and increase our dependence on him. So, we prayed together as a companionship that we would find success in our finding. Though we didn't find success in "finding" we did find it in something great!

We have a LA whom i will call, Susy. Susy has a rough life, she isn't a resident here in the states, she has two kids ages 5 and 3 who are constantly needing help though are a joy of her life. She has a rough working situation which makes it hard for her to work, which means a rough life financially. She comes to church on and off, though has a strong testimony. She has suffered a lot from depression which we didn't know before. Anyhow, we decided to go over on Sunday since she didn't come to church. We went over and started talking to her. Her appearance wasn't usual and she looked worn out and exhausted both spiritually, emotionally and physically. We asked her how she was doing and told her we missed her at church and that led us into a conversation about what was going on in her life. It was very cool to see her open up, though I felt really sad for her situation. We felt inspired to talk about Joseph Smith and prayer. She really enjoyed it and went on to tell us that there have been two really bad moments in her life where in the deepest darkest parts she has received a knock on the door and who have they been? The missionaries... HAHA She told us that when we came by this day that it was one of those moments where god was telling her that he was still there and he was listening. We felt special knowing that we were instruments in heavenly fathers hands. It was definitely a testimony builder for us.

As well as being a moment in her life where she knew that her Father in Heaven was with her and heard her, it was a testimony builder for us that our Heavenly Father hears our prayers, he knows our desires, and he has a will for each and every one of us. Let us put our faith in our Heavenly Father and in his son, Jesus Christ. I love you all so much and enjoy feeling the love from your prayers and your support. Have a wonderful week!

Much love,

Elder Stonely
Used wine bottle corks put to a useful purpose.

Good doggy, it is okay to eat that mail.

Tallahassee water tower.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 85: Tiernas Misericordias

Dear Friends and Family,

"Tiernas Misericordias" means "Tender Mercies" in English. I know that I have mentioned a lot of tender mercies before, though this past week as I focused on my journal a little more, I tried to write all of the Tiernas Misericordias that I could remember throughout the week. It truly was an amazing way to reflect back on the amazing blessings that the Lord gives to us daily. In fact, every hour. I always tell myself if i cant find a tender mercy every hour of my day, i need to look harder because there is always something if we go out and work for them, have faith to receive them, and ponder on them. I want to share with all of you one that I had this past week.

Sunday. Alarm goes off, i say my prayer and continue through my morning. Our schedule hasn't changed yet like all the missionaries around the world, so we still have the normal routine. If I told you all my week was full of flowers, smiles, laughing, tacos, and perfectness I would be telling you the story of a fantasy world. We did eat Honduran tacos which were AMAZING, though to sum of the overall week, it was enjoyable, but rough. I woke up feeling sad, feeling a little tired, down and not as motivated as always. After a couple minutes of starting to exercise i told myself that if i went throughout my day feeling the way i was feeling that nothing would be productive. 

Now, doing what most of you would probably do, I decided to focus my studies on the Atonement. I took some time to sing some sacrament hymns and reflect on the words. Given that it was Sunday, I thought that I would try to focus on the Sacrament and what it represents. Those hymns invited a wonderful spirit into my studies and I felt uplifted to focus on helping our investigators use the power of the atonement in their own life. I truly was spiritually uplifted.

However, daily struggles aren't always taken away as we may want. Sunday I learned that we must all be like Nephi and ask for the strength to endure through tough moments:

"But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound." -1 Nephi 7:17

What comfort, peace and strength both physically, emotionally and spiritually I have felt as Nephi felt. I know that the Savior is always here with us and is willing to lift us up and carry us on our way to reach our goals and to accomplish what needs to get done. And not just to accomplish, but to do it happily and joyfully. I know my savior lives and that he is with me. What a tender mercy we all have in every moment. 

I love you all so dearly and wish the best luck in all of your journeys! 

All my love from the small city of Tallahassee :)

Your very own, and only,
Elder Stonely
Some pictures from a District activity that we had...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Week 84: Memories :D

Dear friends and family,

This week was good, transfers happened, Elder Leandro and I are both staying in the amazing city of Tallahassee, church got canceled and we stayed inside because of the "tornado" storm, no one hurt, all is well, time goes fast, taught some people, shared the gospel, ate some good Hispanic food, did some exercise, drove, walked, talked to people and slept. There you go! That pretty much sums up the week!

Our Zone and District, groups of missionaries, have a couple mottoes that we are currently using in our areas which are, 

"Enjoy the Journey."
"TAMMI" the camel. 
     Through work
     In our lives

They have been a really good focus for us to enjoy our mission experience by working hard to achieve the miracles that we want in our everyday mission lives as well as personal lives. This week I had the chance to think of a quote by Thomas S. Monson:

"God gave us memories so we can have June roses in the December of our lives."

As I reflected on this quote as well as our zone and district focus, I began to look back at my "June rose memories." I asked myself, 

"What spiritual moments have I had this past week? month? year?"
"How has my testimony strengthened over these past weeks? months? years?"
"What topics of the gospel have brought me comfort and peace?"

The real question was, "what are my June roses?" I went back through my journal and started to read. I was surprised to see the many experiences I have had, people that we have met, and things that I have learned. As well as be remembered of the uplifting memories as i read my journal. For me, I have a really bad memory, many people tell me, and as i thought of my mission, i am glad that I have been writing those spiritual experiences, mighty miracles, and enjoyments that I have experiences so that during my hard times or sad moments, I can look back at my June roses. It brought me lots of smiles looking back :)

I ask you all today, "What are your June Roses?" and "what are you doing to remember them?" We have been blessed with memories, or ways to remember things so that even during the rough, bumpy and cold roads, we can remember the times we spent in our flower full, sun-lighten fields :) 

I love you all so much and am so grateful for your all of your support! May your week be full of the spirit as we all strive to share the gospel with our beloved friends. 

From the biggest heart in Florida,

Elder Stonely

Monday, January 16, 2017

Week 83: YUMMY!

Dear my favorite, mother, father, family and friends,

This week...
Yeah that was about it. HAHA I'm totally kidding. We had a lot of fun this week. For starters, this past Saturday we were out tracting, we decided to go through a couple trailer parks that we hadn't been to in a good minute, and we started knocking doors! We went to one trailer that was a referral from a different investigator. We had attempted to stop by before though with no success. BUT, that never stopped a missionary. So we went by, they were busy, so they kinda wanted us to get out of their night, but we decided to ask them some "get to know you questions." With Hispanics, if you literally only know one thing about their country and culture, they open up to you big time and become a whole new person! SO, being that this family was from El Salvador, I asked them if they knew how to make a "pupusa." For all you gringos who don't know what I'm talking about, the picture attached is a pupusa I had. It is pretty much a thick tortilla with a mixture of Hispanic cheese, beans, and chorizo inside of it. Then they put pickled cabbage and carrots on top with varieties of salsas. 

So back to the story, we got talking about the pupusas and we set up an appointment to come by and teach a lesson with them at 9:00 the next morning. So, at 9 on sunday morning, we went over, started teaching and while we were teaching, the mom was making pupusas for us to eat after the lesson. SOOO it was amazing... Pupusas are darn good, and we had an amazing lesson with them. They all accepted to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. WHAT OTHER AMAZING THINGS CAN YOU ASK FOR AS A MISSIONARY?!?!?!?! 

1. Amazing lesson!
2. Amazing people!!
3. Amazing food!!!

Alrighty, so that was our week in a jiff! We have a lot of miracles headed our way we can feel it :) I thank you all who are back at home supporting the missionary force around the world! I love you all dearly!

Elder Stonely
A few pictures of our District from last week.

Here are some pupusas I had back in November.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Week 82: :D SMILE BIG!

Dear my amazing friend and beloved family,

I love you all so much! I think if the world had a little more love than maybe there would be unicorns and rainbows everywhere :) random thought, well this week was a great one! Honestly it flew by really fast, and now as I look back on it, i almost feel as if yesterday was Monday. HAHA 

Welp, we had a wonderful experience this morning that made me reflect on our behavior and attitude throughout each day. Elder Leandro and I went to Walmart, there was hardly anyone there which meant less time in the line!!! so we got all our groceries gathered together and went to the shortest line which only had one person about done. We put our groceries on the checkout table as the lady in front of us swiped her card. Now, bless her little heart, this lady was an older woman and i think her memory was gone or something. She swiped her card multiple times, was frustrated that the machine wasn't working when in reality she was reading what it was telling her to do like type in her pin and information and all. She attempted many times to pay with the card without success. The cashier was getting frustrated at the lady because she didn't know what she was doing. So we tried to help the lady the best we could and she was grateful once it was done. While we were checking out, the cashier was still a little frustrated and then started having problems with the water we were buying. I felt really bad, so I tried to keep a positive outlook and smile. As she checked out all the other items, we asked her questions about her life and her work and her normal days and tried to cheer her up. After a couple minutes of talking with her, her composer changed, she herself had a smile on and the world felt a little happier :) 

By the time we got done checking out, there were three people behind us and everyone else in the other lines had already left. What we thought would be a short trip turned out to be a little bit longer, though a little more rewarding. It was surprising to me just how much a smile and a positive attitude can mean in life. I thought back at times I've been in a line, or a grocery store, or in any public place and have seen people getting frustrated and angry only to see myself feeling a little impatient and angry with them or my situation. Maybe you've all had similar situations, but if not, I'm glad you've learned your lesson faster than me! When we are put into these situations or when we have an opportunity to shed some happiness, just do it! People have bad days, people have hardships, people get impatient and angry, and maybe they only need your wonderful smile :) Everyone around us is a child of god, they feel sad just like we do, they are happy when we are, they feel the light of Christ just like we do :) And we have the responsibility to share that with others :) People see a difference in who we are. They observe us. And through simple acts of smiling and being a little happier in your daily lives, people will begin to pay more attention to you and will wonder, "how come they are so happy?" leading to the perfect opportunity to share something about the gospel and why you are truly happy! :) May you all have a wonderful week and enjoy the amazing year of 2017! I love you all!

Elder Stonely
Here are some pictures. Most are of the people in the branch and some fun ones! I made the yummy veggies and all :)