Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not Even Once

Hola Everyone!! I have two weeks left in the MTC! Sooo crazy. Days feel like weeks, but weeks feel like days. It's a good thing I have kept a journal because everything is a blur. After October 10th I will be in Santa Rosa, California, so if you want to write me, send it to my Mission Field Address listed in the blog’s right column. I have enjoyed receiving mail from all of my friends and family. To hear and feel the love and support from all of you has been amazing. Thank you all so much for that.
Last Tuesday, we heard from another Apostle!!! Elder Russell M. Nelson! Insane! That never happens at the MTC! Three apostles in four weeks! It was amazing. Every time an apostle of the Lord steps into our huge conference room to speak to us, it reaffirms my testimony that THIS GOSPEL is the Lord’s church on the earth, and is led by a prophet and apostles. The focus of Elder Nelson’s devotional was The Book of Mormon. The October Ensign was all about the Book of Mormon, and the significant role it plays in all of our lives. I always participate in the choir because there is such a special spirit when you sing on Tuesday nights for the Elders and Sisters here. So we went to the devotional and we sang prelude, not knowing an apostle was coming, and then everyone stood up and it was Elder Nelson and his wife. We then sang as a choir, "Consider The Lilies of the Field". The spirit was magical and I could feel it being burned into my soul. Sister Nelson then gave a wonderful talk on obedience. She said, "Being obedient will save you. Obedience brings blessings, EXACT obedience brings miracles. YOU want to be the missionary that the Mission President can send to ANY area, and that area will flourish. BE TOTALLY FOCUSED on the Lord, Jesus Christ.  NOT EVEN ONCE should you be disobedient. BE EXACTLY OBEDIENT".  Such an amazing talk. Elder Nelson spoke on The Book of Mormon and the Book of Mormon Ensign articles. He had four missionaries come up and tell everyone what they knew about The Book of Mormon. One of them ended up being his granddaughter, which was really cool. Some of the things they knew about The Book of Mormon were:
-It was written for us.
-We got the royalties.
-God speaks through it.
-The Book of Mormon proves our church is true.
-That Jesus Christ is our Savior.
-The Book of Mormon is the conversion tool.
-The Book of Mormon is used for the gathering of Israel.
He then said, "What is the purpose of the Book of Mormon? Start reading it at the Title page; that is where it begins. You should never start at “And I Nephi” This is the ONLY book God has testified is 100% correct. Joseph Smith, an illiterate young man, translated 8-10 pages per day. Years ago, translators that were translating the Kings James version of the Bible, could only translate 1 page per day. That shows the Power of God. The Book of Mormon has been translated into 107 languages. We have distributed more than 150 MILLION copies. Without The Book of Mormon there would be no Gathering of Israel. WE are the connection for the people of this world to their ETERNAL GLORY. The purpose of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints is to:
1. Increase faith in Jesus Christ.
2. Gather Israel.
3. PREPARE THE WORLD for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, The Messiah.
The Book of Mormon is a GIFT to all mankind. We have the privilege to be the messengers of this great work. Approach your assignment with JOY." Wow....what an amazing message to the missionaries of this church. I love this gospel with all my heart.
I had a cool little experience last week. My companions and I were contacted by some Portuguese missionaries. I have figured that Portuguese is basically dirty Spanish (haha). It is Spanish with a lot of "Jscha" sounds. But it was so cool because I could understand every word of that different language and I could feel the spirit, which was the most important part. It's great to know that these languages were created by our Heavenly Father and He is fluent in all of them! (haha) One day I definitely want to learn Portuguese, Italian, and maybe even some French. Who knows?! Maybe even some crazy Mandarin or Creole or something like that. I guess we will see, but gotta learn Spanish first (haha).
We have been concerned about Elder Tarver in our zone this last week and we had a neat experience with him. Elder Tarver is this 6'6" African American elder from Cleveland, Ohio. He is 25 years old and has only been a member for a year. He has been struggling with everything. He got in a few weeks ago and he has been contemplating going home. Elder Latham and I talked to him to see how we could help him. We told him that we love him and what HE needs to do to gain a desire to work hard and to receive the Gift of Tongues. We then proceeded to give him a blessing and the spirit was incredibly strong. Elder Latham and I blessed him with comfort and strength. It was an incredible experience. After he received the blessing, he just sat there for a couple minutes, not saying a word and just basking in the love of our Heavenly Father. He seems to be doing better :) and I have already been able to see him grow. The Priesthood is REAL. We are merely the instruments in the Lord's hands.
Being here at the MTC has really changed "who I was", if that makes sense, I can honestly say that I am already a different person. I feel my Savior's love and I have had my eyes opened to the importance of this work and to "WHO I NEED TO BE". Looking back at the last 19 years of my life, I never felt like I was a bad kid. I have ALWAYS had a strong testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, but there were times where I wasn't doing all the best things. I did my fair share of dumb things and there are things that I regret doing. I have also gone through ruts and difficult (and even dark) times in my life. But in that darkness, there was always a light. Because light always prevails through darkness. In that light was a hand and all I had to do was trust and take it. Jesus Christ LIVES. That's why I am here, because I love Jesus Christ. I want to help free others from that darkness and put them into the arms of our Savior and Redeemer. As imperfect as I am and even though I am not happy about some of the choices I made in my life, I am grateful for those experiences. Because I have learned so much from them. Without messing up in this life, and feeling that guilt and regret, I would not have a testimony of The Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know He can take our sins, our grief, and our pains away because He has with me. All we have to do is take His hand. There is no way I could possibly teach others about The Atonement of Jesus Christ if I did not have a testimony of it first. As low as I have been in my life, I know He has been lower. HE HAS SUFFERED so we don't have to. In my trials and guilt I have always had a LOVING HOME to come HOME to. And I am forever grateful for that in my life. I want to continue to strive to go back to our true home, to live with our Heavenly Father. The best decision I have made besides serving a mission was being “born of goodly parents”. Without them teaching me about Jesus Christ and His Restored Gospel from the start, and keeping me on the straight and narrow path, I don't know where I would be. I am grateful for them, because they taught me everything. I remember my first Especially For Youth experience; I was 14 years-old and I will never forget the message I learned that week. The name of that year’s EFY was called "The Greatest Gift". Jesus Christ is giving us that gift, to return to live with our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, through his Atonement. All we need to do is open that gift, use it and rejoice! Because Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ LIVE!
A few days ago I watched a Mormon Message on Virtue. By the way if you haven't seen Mormon Messages, you must check them out on or You Tube ASAP! They are incredible. Anyway, I watched the one on Virtue, using different parts from Elaine S. Dalton from the General Young Women's Presidency. She said this in the video, "Virtue comes from the Latin Root word virtus, meaning strength. Virtue is based on high moral standards. I TRULY believe that one virtuous young man or woman, led by the spirit, CAN change the world. But in order to do so we must return to virtue. Cleave to your covenants, Stand in Holy Places, lay aside the things of this world. Never underestimate the power of YOUR righteous influence. RETURN TO VIRTUE." What a great message. I do want to change the world and change peoples' lives. I remember I had a conversation with my good friend Kent Thalman before I left on my mission. We talked about the things we love like acting, animation, screen writing, and dancing. And we said to each other, “let’s change the world, for the best”. Let’s be an influence to all those we come in contact with and let us raise or recreate the virtue in the things we love. I know WE ALL can change the world, even if it's not in big ways, and that “WE can be the Lord's missionaries, to bring the world its truth” … I believe it.
On Saturday, Elder Green, Elder Latham and I went to go teach our investigator. We planned to teach about prophets and I was in charge of reciting the First Vision, in Spanish of course. So we began our lesson and we began talking about prophets. We had already taught him lesson #1, but we never recited the events of the first vision. So we talked about prophets and then I started to talk about Joseph Smith. I began by saying "Jose Smith fue un propheta de Dios." Joseph smith was a prophet of God. I then went on to tell him that he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I said "En sus palabras, estos fue lo que paso" In his words this is what happened. "Vi una columna de luz, mas brillante que el sol. Directamente arriba de me cabeza, y esta luz gradualmente descendio hasta descansar sobre me. Al reposar sobre me la luz, vi en el airre arriba, cuyo fulgor y gloria no admiten descripcion. Una de ellos mi hablo, llamadome por mi nombre y dijo, senalando al otra, esto es my hijo amado, Escuchalo." I could barely get through the first vision. The spirit was so strong, and that was my first time reciting it in a lesson. My testimony of this restored gospel was reaffirmed and I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.
My mission means everything to me. I am so grateful to be a representative of Jesus Christ. Thank you all for your love and support, and for all the letters, packages, and Dearelders. I love hearing from you all and I am going to be in Santa Rosa, California in two weeks! Hasta Luego!
Les Amo y Amo mi mision,
Elder Vance

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