Monday, September 5, 2011


Wow, almost to the 4 week mark! This last week has been incredible. Some days are harder than others, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Every week I learn so much and the spirit testifies to me so strongly that this is the ONE and ONLY true gospel here on this earth today. This past Tuesday in choir for the devotional we sang "Faith of our Fathers". During the rehearsal earlier in the day, however, our choir director talked to us about the song and it really made me think about some things. It made me think about my father. I have 2 names to live up to; my father's and Jesucristo. Our director told us to think about who we are, where we come from, and who we have to live up to. Without the faith of my father I would not be on a mission nor would I be alive. I hope I can live up to the Vance name on my badge next to His. I hope I can not only live up to my father's faith, but my forefathers as well. Hopefully I can be THAT name for my kids and grandkids someday. That song is so amazing!

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke at our devotional!!!! It was the best feeling in the world to be in the same room as an apostle of Jesus Christ and wow his talk hit us hard. This may be a little lengthy, but let me share a few of the most important things he said. I am just writing some of the things I  liked best, but all of it was phenomenal. He started his talk with plainness and boldness, but also with love. A few minutes after his intro he banged the pulpit with his fist and said, "You do NOT have the right to DENY/DEFILE your missions. People are entitled to think you are perfect, you DO NOT have the right to make them think otherwise. You represent the whole dispensation. If there was a symbol/icon for the church it would be a picture of 2 missionaries. You have to be true to that. I want this to change your life FOREVER. Go in for the full experience. I have thought about my mission EVERY DAY. We are the most prayed for people on this earth. We are the chosen dispensation. We are carrying all the work of the people in the scriptures upon our shoulders. The earlier prophets have THOUGHT and DREAMED about you. They knew they would not succeed, but they kept going because they knew OUR day would come-that kept them going. People have died for this, and the last one just 4 hours ago. (He didn't tell us, but I found out later that a sister missionary died in the NY south mission in a car crash. So sad, but she was faithful and I know she was a Celestial Missionary). You can trust in the Lord with ALL thy heart. You are going to help people NOT suffer. He suffered so we don't have to. Claim the blessings of the Atonement. The best source to feel the spirit is to dive into the word. The Book of Mormon was designed to be an agent of the spirit. True of all scripture. James 1:5-one tiny verse of scripture and all mankind, those dead and alive, will be changed forever. BURST into the Kingdom with your prayers. What is the most important thing Christ wants you to know? That He told the truth. Everything He said was true. Every word Christ said was true. You are all apostolic with a lowercase "a" - because missionaries are the closest thing to being a General Authority. We are going to find ways to save the children of God. That's what you do. LOVE your apostolic service. What is the greatest thing we can give Jesus Christ? Give Him your heart. Our job is to unleash the power of the spoken word. Joseph Smith said, ‘Men's greatest work is done by the spoken word’. The gospel of Jesus Christ has to be buried in the marrow of your bones. It must be BURNED in your soul. Why does God love us? I am perfect in love for my children. If that is true for me, what does that mean for God? Who IS perfect!!! HE knows all of us. To care about the lowest ones on the ladder...THAT is a TRUE FATHER. During the atonement, when bleeding through every pore and in anguish, Christ cries out "ABBA", which, best translated, means "Daddy". A son to a father, a father to a son. I can't look out at all of you without seeing myself. God couldn't look at us without seeing HIS children he raised and carry them through eternity. WE LOVE WHERE YOU ARE. Joseph Smith said, ‘Every PROPHET, PRIEST, and KING have wished to have the success of the people of this generation’. My mission means everything to me and Thank You for all who you are." BOOM. What an amazing talk by an apostle of the Lord. That day was incredible.

After that devotional on Tuesday we had our district devotional afterward. We all shared what we took away from the talk and bore our testimonies. That testimony meeting was one of the best ones I have ever been to. After I went out in the hall for my Zone Meeting, I heard softly, "I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ LIVE”. The Holy Ghost has testified that to me numerous times over the past 19 years. My zone “sang off” two districts from our zone last week. They are going to Chile. In the guys’ residency we sing them off by singing "God Be with You Till We Meet Again" in Spanish. It is one of the coolest things, because we sing so loud and go crazy. It was sad because even though I have only known them for 3 weeks they seem like my brothers. I definitely will have to keep in touch with them. They missed Elder Holland’s' talk by one day! Aghh - they were here for 9 weeks and missed him! My Spanish is coming along great and every lesson I teach with Elder Green and Elder Latham, we get better and better. This Sunday was Fast Sunday and we took up Brother Zevic's challenge as a district. His challenge at our fireside a few weeks ago was for next fast Sunday to make a list of the things you need to "leave behind" in your life and put on hold for the next 2 years or 18 months. So as a district we did that. We fasted and prayed to the Lord to help us with our distractors here at the MTC. When I ended my fast, I felt rededicated to the work and "my distractions" were fading in my thoughts. It has been hard to leave the things of this world behind. Especially the things I love and am passionate about such as my family, friends, dancing, acting, sports, college, girls, music, movies, and dating. But I KNOW with all my soul that I will be blessed for my service to God. Those things will still be there when I get back and I believe I will even be better at some of those things because I served a mission. I would give everything in the universe to be here. THIS, RIGHT NOW is the best feeling in the world. To be a representative of Jesus Christ and to help bring lost souls unto Him. This last Sunday was fast and testimony meeting. I KNEW I had to bear my testimony but it had to be in Spanish, of course. That is the cool thing about learning a language - you realize the gospel is true everywhere, all around the world. So about 10 minutes into the testimony meeting I just went up. I have only been here 3 and a half weeks; how much Spanish did I really know? I got up there and introduced myself. Me Llamo es Elder Vance. Soy de Cincinnati, Ohio. Voy a Santa Rosa, California. Then the spirit took over. I know the gift of tongues is REAL. I see it EVERYDAY. But right then the spirit overwhelmed me, for I knew that He was with me.  I talked about how I know God and Jesus Christ live. How I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and how God listens to our prayers. How I know that my familia and I can be an eternal family. How I love my mission and how special it is to me. It wasn't a terribly long testimony, but probably the most powerful experience of my mission thus far. That was my first time sharing my testimony in Spanish in sacrament meeting.

What an amazing work this is and how I do love my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Like I have said before, I LOVE MY MISSION! There is no way ever in my life I can deny the work I am doing. I love you all and thank you for all of your support.
Le Amo Ustedes,
Elder Vance

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