Too good! Feb.1, 2015

This week has been a memorable one and really neat! It was really interesting because it all got so much more prime by Friday. I guess I will write a funny story, i think, and then the goods.

Well on Monday we were at Joel's and we were talking about Chinese dynasties and found out we both had the same Chinese last name, Tong. We were talking about it and said we were related. Elder Campbell  couldn't believe it and asked how. Kind of joined a little late I guess? Anyways Joel and I said we had very distant Chinese relatives and that is where we are linked. He was asking generations but we both said we didn't remember. Elder Campbell wasn't fully convinced so I showed him my skin and said "look I have some yellow in my skin and it is different than yours!" He showed his pink white skin and realized that I must have chinese descent in me! haha 
Then a few days later we were with the Filipina sisters and talking somehow about tan or what not and Elder Campbell brings up the point that I wasn't full caucasian because I had Chinese down my line. It was hilarious. He is convinced.

Alright, well I had my last zone training meeting this friday and that was weird. It was good and I made sure I had fun. haha At the end, they called up the ending missionaries and had us share a few thoughts, I hadn't expected that so I had to scramble for words. 
What came out was the importance of being ourselves as missionaries. Not to try to be that "perfect" missionary because there definitely isn't one. We must be ourselves and be what the Lord needs us to be. He sent us as individuals to bring what He has given us. I feel the most joyful time in my mission is when I haven't worried about being that picture perfect missionary and just been myself, learning to shape that more like Christ, but being myself. I love being out here, it's too good! 

At the end, a missionary approached me and he said, "Elder Townsend, when I first got to the mission a year ago, you shared that you would write down the daily miracles each day in your planner so you could see the good in each day. I want you to know I am thankful for that. I have done that everyday since and now I can always look back in gratitude." I thought that was really cool, this elder continued to do this always to see on how he can always be grateful. I also had realized that I had stopped doing this everyday and not been seeing each day's tender mercies. With that, I decided I will continue on that practice and do it again, just to see what I could find.

The next day, we were out in DBay for a lesson and what not. We ended the lesson and were going to catch a bus to head home for the night and have dinner. We decided to walk to a farther bus stop in hopes to meet someone before that. While we were walking, we were talking about how neat it was that their were families that still continue to eat dinner together and not let the business of lives overcome them and ruin that. There was this mum walking with her boy and I thought, I wonder if they heard that? anyways, they were walking quick and we couldn't talk to them. Eventually we were farther down the road and the turned the corner to walk by us. I said Hello! They stopped and asked if we knew how to get to the North Plaza. we said yep, and started to walk with them to take them to a place they could catch a bus, walking would take long and they had a birthday party to get to and were running late. It was a good chat with them and we got to the bus stop. The bus came and stopped. She asked how much and it was about 5 dollars. She opened up her wallet and they didn't have any small change or bills to pay. She said "oh this is so embarrassing, but you two wouldn't have 5 dollars that we could have?" Elder Campbell and I reached into our pockets and both pulled out change for them each. They got into the bus and headed their way. While walking away, I turned to elder campbell and asked him how often he carries change or usually how much. he said "not too often, but when I do it is usually 3 or 4 dollars." I looked at him and said "me too."

The baptisms and Sunday was FANTASTIC! It was great. Unlike the last, the sun did not come out. Neither did the water feel warmer. But hearts were warm and filled with excitement. Arlyn, Gabriel, and Evan were all excited. The service went well and they each froze in motion as they made their first steps into the water. It would be a memorable day for each. 
When each came out, there was a gasp for breath and stumbled to get out to a warm towel. It was awesome. Joel also baptized Gabriel in French, it was so great. He did great and it had much more meaning to him and being the one to bring his son into the waters of baptism. This journey for him all started with him wanting to put his son on a good path and be believing in God. Now look where he is. The best part of the service was the closing prayer. Joel offered it. It was one of the most heartfelt and powerful prayers I have heard in my life. It was one truly speaking to God the Father. Joel thanked him for the experience and thanked Him for the blessings. He thanked Him for his grandmother that set him on the path of faith and led him to God. After expressing much faith, Joel said "o God, please hear my prayer and O God, please hear the Lord's prayer as well.." He then said the Lord's prayer and then ended. The Spirit was there and testified that God was pleased. Never have I heard the Lord's prayer said more powerfully and with more meaning than that day. It was incredible.

 At sacrament the three were able to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Brother Lau conferred sister Arlyn. She was able to feel the Spirit very strongly. She had mentioned before she hadn't felt it too much all the time, but new what was right to do. That day, she received her confirmation of doing the right thing. She received a very special blessing from brother Lau and it was very powerful. God bless her on this journey and that she will be able to bring her children into this faith with her. To one day be sealed to her husband and children for all eternities. 

This whole day and events left so much joy in my soul. Seeing what the past 3 months had brought left me feeling once again as Alma did in chapter 29 in the Book of Alma. It was great. The branch had done miracles. From the start of the branch's 40 day fast, miracles came. We saw a father receive baptism at the close of it. Then a month and a half later baptize his son. We saw a mother of 2 children receive baptism with goals and hopes of being sealed to her husband who has already passed. We saw miracles in all our lives as well. It was amazing. I couldn't hold it in and went up and bore a simple testimony. 

When I got up there, i went to say my testimony but at first my love for the branch came out. I didn't know how to express so I just said, i love this branch and everyone in it. I just love you all. I pray that I will never forget these experiences. I testified on the power of fasting. That the Lord will honor those sacrifices. The beauty that He will allow us to test ourselves and put more faith in Him. Then I ended with my testimony of the Savior. I believe He is endless and that His atonement is infinite. I believe this so much it consumes my energy and I feel joy. I believe that He has touched my heart, but much more than that, He has testified to me that I know that He lives. 
It was a great day in the Discovery Bay branch. I love this branch so much. It has the most special spirit and members. 
Sorry if the letter is choppy, we are at the Apple store today.
Elder Townsend

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