Monday, November 21, 2011

His Arms

Hola! I found out that I am going to be staying in Fairfield, California for another TRANSFER!! Haha YES! This next transfer will end January 2nd, so my Peachtree address is the one you all can continue to write to until at least then. Elder Rollins (my trainer) and I are tearing it up! This last transfer was hard work, but so fun, because we are opening up a new area and everything was so new. WE LOVE IT HERE, and now we have met everyone and our love for the people grows every day. I wanted to stay because we have four progressing investigators and I know that they are going to enter the waters of baptism soon! Our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us and He knows our wants and desires. As missionaries we want to love the people and to help them onto the path back to our Heavenly Father. We know that through the gospel of Jesus Christ and making sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father, starting with baptism, they can have the most happiness and peace in their lives.

Service!!! I love doing service because afterward you have such a great feeling, because you go in and expect NOTHING in return. Through service you get to feel just a piece of that Christ-like love for the people you serve. A couple weeks ago we helped this lady move out of her apartment. She is an inactive member of the church and is trying to come back on a regular basis. We went to her small apartment and were appalled. You COULD NOT see the floor. Luckily there were four of us missionaries there ... Elders Glaus, Tanner, Rollins, and myself. She had to be out of there, packed up and everything by the next morning, so we began the gross job of organizing and picking up "mystery" items, not knowing what might be under everything. It was all covered in kitty litter and tobacco products. There were plates of food left out and I didn't even know where she laid down to sleep. Everything was layered, so you picked up one thing and saw 20 other things under it. It was a tedious job and once we saw carpet we had a glimmer of hope. The vacuum we used began to smoke because it was so filthy. We took out about ten garbage bags of trash out to the dumpster. Everything smelled terrible, but we did it. We put her things in boxes and moved her furniture. Two hours later everything was set for the next day and her move out. I definitely needed a shower, but we all felt so great after. She said, "there is no way I could have been ready without you young men. Thank you." We weren't looking for acknowledgment, we were just looking to serve and help. Christ never stopped and asked himself, "should I help him?" He just went and did it. It was a great lesson for me; and I hope to do that in my life ALWAYS.
I began reading the Book of Mormon once I got into the mission field. I am currently in 2 Nephi and the spirit and blessings I have received from diligent study in The Book of Mormon is incredible. I keep a study journal for every chapter and answer the same four questions for each chapter I read. 1) Give a summary of what I read. 2) What principles are important? 3) How can I apply the things in this chapter to my personal life? 4) More importantly, how can I apply the things I read to the lives of my investigators? As I have answered these questions and really pondered what I have read, I have begun to understand why the Book of Mormon is so crucial for EVERYONE to read. Before my mission I had read The Book of Mormon, and we read it as a family as well, but I guess I never really DOVE into it. I never had a STRONG DESIRE to partake of it. But right now I am strengthening my testimony of The Book of Mormon and understand WHY this was given to us. As I have read from it every day, I bear testimony to everyone that, along with the Bible, it is the word of God. I have seen The Book of Mormon change my life and, more importantly, it is changing the lives of those we are teaching. The Book of Mormon is The Iron Rod.
A few days ago I was walking through an apartment complex and we talked to a man that was shoveling dirt. He said he wasn't interested and I asked him, "What would it mean to you if you knew your family could be together forever?" He busted out laughing and mocked me for my question. We moved on without delay and talked to more people about this amazing gospel. Yesterday we came across the same man ... but he was different. I looked at him as my brother and said. "Hey, how are you doing today?" He was cleaning his car and looked up at us. I could tell he really wanted to know; he wanted to know THE TRUTH. So we began to talk to this man and he opened up about the problems in his life. We taught him about The Restoration and about The Book of Mormon and how it could CHANGE his life forever. He told us his uncle and cousin had joined the church recently and wondered what was behind them giving up smoking and drinking. We taught him that through the gospel of Jesus Christ we can all find happiness and joy in this life; that we are here for two years to help people understand that becoming closer to our Heavenly Father happens through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was an amazing experience. He saw the light, the very light we try to carry with us, and that he tried to put out three days before. He wanted the light and God knew it. In the end I learned a lesson … there is HOPE for EVERYONE. No one is excluded from this gospel and from the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Never give up on anyone.
I was reading in 2 Nephi 1:15, “But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld His glory, and I am encircled about eternally in THE ARMS of HIS LOVE.” That struck me, because there have been times in my life when I have been saved. I have literally felt HIS ARMS around me to comfort me. Through The Atonement of Jesus Christ we can ALL be forgiven and cleansed. We can form a fresh view and rededicate ourselves to be better. I have lived with the guilt and sorrow that comes with an imperfect life, and I have felt my Savior’s arms around me and the cleansing power of His Atonement. He lives. He loves each and every one of us.
This week is Thanksgiving and I am so thankful for the things in my life that make me truly happy. I am grateful for my wonderful family, this gospel, and for the opportunity I have to be a representative of Jesus Christ. My life will never be the same because of these things. Thank you all for your love and support. Every week I receive inspiring letters filled with testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ. There are many things I am thankful for and I hope you all take a few moments to think about what makes you TRULY happy in your life and to thank our Heavenly Father for those things. In the midst of this declining world of darkness and immorality, we will always have Jesus Christ in our lives if we open that door. LES AMO MUCHISIMO!!!!!!!

Elder Vance

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