Monday, December 12, 2011

The Greatest Joys

First of all, I got word that the Packers are killing it this season! YES! Superbowl … Round  #2 anyone?! YES! That is great to hear and hope they go all the way again. THE PERFECT SEASON! Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Vance for the Packers Beanie! I LOVE IT! REPRESENT!

This last week we were able to do service for this man in our Spanish branch. His name is Hermano Flores and he is awesome. We got to use some of our testosterone on this huge tree we were cutting down, branch by branch. A couple hours out in the rain doing "MAN" work, haha. It was so much fun and we got to use his Guatemalan machete, saws, and tree clippers to destroy this tree. He is an older man and his wife is so nice to us as well. Overall it felt great to tear down that tree bit by bit and to get a workout in hauling logs and tree branches. I felt like I was at an Eagle project in my ward. It seemed like there was always an Eagle project happening and I loved taking part in those. It also reminded me of my Eagle project and how that seems like so long ago even though it was only about four years ago. I love service because you grow close to those you serve with and the people you serve. Elder Rollins, Elder Tanner, Elder Norris and I helped Hermano Flores with his tree. Elder Tanner was here last transfer and Elder Norris is a brand new missionary that filled in for Elder Glaus. Elder Glaus went home! His two years were up! Elder Norris is from Los Angeles and is already fluent in both Spanish and English. So he didn't even go to the Missionary Training Center. I was able to go on an exchange with him this last week. He has only been a member for two years and his testimony is so strong. He is the only member in his family, and to see his desire for the work is amazing. I know with him serving here in Fairfield and in the Tolenas Spanish Branch, the people will be blessed and we are going to DO WORK!

Being a missionary has really strengthened my faith. Every day people try to shake our faith, and to shake our beliefs. Some even seek to destroy and disprove the sacred things in which we believe. Our church respects all religions and people, because we believe that every single person on this earth is a child of God. But sometimes it is tough when individuals accuse you of being someone you are not, and make ridiculous judgments based on the twisting of sacred truths. This last week there have been many times where people have literally yelled at us and accused us. All we can do in situations like that is to bear our solemn testimonies, that we know these things are true, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for EVERYONE and it can change their lives for the BEST. The only way they can know these things are true is if they ask God. Everyone has their agency and that is part of our Heavenly Father's plan for us. We are here to be TESTED and to learn how to CHOOSE the right.

I was watching a Mormon message on the other day and this quote hit me from President Henry B. Eyring, "He has offered us the FAMILY as an example of an ideal setting in which we can learn how to LOVE as HE LOVES. That is because the GREATEST joys and the GREATEST sorrows we experience are in family relationships. The JOYS come from putting the welfare of OTHERS above our own. That is what LOVE is." I LOVE this … because I have seen those JOYS in my life. I have seen my family lift me up when I have been down. I have experienced their love when I have been in darkness. I have seen my father look after his only son. I have seen my mother care for and raise her children. I have been fortunate enough to witness these things in my life. I consider myself a lucky young man. I have family members that have loved me even when I was on the lowest step of the ladder. I LOVE my family. And I know I am going to be with them forever.

The other day we were doing service and raking up leaves for this elderly lady. Something struck me and I was taken over by a flashback. I remember making huge leaf piles with my sisters in Brookfield, Wisconsin. My dad starting a fire, burning up the sticks and leaves. All of us were playing together and having fun, and my mom was working hard and helping us take all the leaves and put them into one HUGE pile. Those moments are the molecules that make up eternity. Raking up leaves with three other missionaries was different, but we still made huge piles of leaves and had our fair share of FUN!

I love this Christmas season when we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and grow closer to him. I love this scripture … in 2 Nephi 9:21 of The Book of Mormon it says, "And He cometh into the world that He may save ALL men if they will hearken unto His voice; for behold, He suffereth the pains of ALL men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the FAMILY of Adam."

I love my mission. I love CHRISTmas. I LOVE MY FAMILY. Thank you all for your support, letters, and packages … just want to let you know that you are ALLOWED to send Christmas packages (haha!).


Elder Vance

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