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

Monday, January 2, 2017

Week 81: New Years!

Dear Friends and Family,

Being the new year, I think we all start to think back of what we want to set for new goals. I too did this, but then remembered that I couldn't even remember my other years goals. How often does each one of you reflect on what you did this past year as well as look to the next? As I pondered that subject I realized one this that I am truly grateful that I have learned. 2016 was the only year of my entire life that I have spent as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, and I have grown my testimony in probably the most important thing ever, The Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

For sacrament meeting here in the Spanish branch, we show up early to set everything up. We put chairs up, set up the translation gear for those who only speak English, make sure the microphones work and then set up the sacrament. We normally finish getting ready 30 minutes before the meeting starts, which was the case for the New Year Sunday. When the meeting started, I was asked to pass the sacrament. Due to the New Year weekend, our church attendance was a little low. As The opening hymn was being played, I looked at the sacrament table and realized that the bread wasn't on the table. And then the scary thought that most bishops or people have,,, "we don't have bread..." So, long story short, Elder Leandro and I drove home to grab bread since our apartment was the closest. And on the car ride home was when i had the most enlightening experience ever.

I have always thought of the importance of the sacrament. Why we go to church? what the sacrament symbolizes? and what our purpose for taking it is? Though I had such a great feeling as we drove back to church with the bread that this is truly our purpose of life. Now don't get me wrong, there is a lot more we have to do than just take the sacrament, but I started to think of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1. Faith
2. Repentance
3. Baptism
4. Gift of the Holy Ghost
5. Endure to the End

That is truly what we teach as missionaries. Is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. and that through that all men might find joy and eternal life. Life is simple! We come here, we exercise our faith in Christ, we repent of our mistakes and follies, we get baptized and then go to church every Sunday to remember our baptism and the covenants we made, we follow the spirit after we receive it, and we do what we need to to endure to the end! That's all we have to do! Isn't it quite easy??

This past year, THE GOSPEL is something that I have come to understand. I am grateful for every day i get to wake up and walk by faith, I am grateful for every chance I get to change my thoughts, actions and inner desires through the process of repentance, I am grateful to have been baptized and to have the sacred ordinance of the sacrament to remember what I have promised, I am grateful for the spirit that guides us, teaches us, testifies to us and comforts us in our deepest and darkest moments, I am grateful for the temple which offers saving ordinances and for the church organization that helps me lead myself to become who I need to be for the Savior and for our heavenly father. I am truly grateful for this testimony that we as missionaries get to share every day, 24/7 with people who don't have these blessings. I am grateful for 2016 and for all it has given me and can only wait for what the Lord has in store for me this upcoming year. 

I thank every single one of you who reads this email for all your support, your love, your joy, your prayers, your thought, your smiles and your love for Christ, our savior. I hope that all of you have had the chance to reflect on this past year and count the mighty miracles that you have received by the loving hands of God. I pray that all of you may have the best year of your life by following the counsel of my wise grandfather by "Making every day, your new year!" 

Much love and appreciation,

Elder Stonely

P.S. I learned how to make tamales from one of our investigators and this is it!!! Holy cow its amazing... MOM!! Can we make tamales???

I learned how to make tamales!!

Yeah, I made this!

I went on another selfie craze...

We ate some of these HUGE grapefuit.