Friday, December 21, 2012

One Night, One Star, One Child


Before this life we all lived in the presence of our Heavenly Father. We talked with Him and walked with Him. We did not have bodies and yet He did. He made a plan and laid it out before all of us. He needed one of us to sacrifice ourselves for all the rest of His children. He needed someone that would do His will and not their own. He needed someone that would be perfectly obedient to His commandments. I know the person that volunteered to come down to be the Savior of the world was Jesus Christ. 

"With the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment - a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar. This child was to become the King of kings and the Lord of lords the promised Messiah- Jesus Christ, The Son of God." 
- President Thomas S. Monson -

Christmas has always been a special time for me and my family. I look back and remember all the special moments I have shared with my family and friends and the laughs and love that accompany those precious memories. The Christmas season is such an exhilarating time for me. Looking back, I hardly ever remember the gifts I received. But the thing I always do remember is that Jesus Christ has been at the heart of every Christmas of my life. I attribute that to wonderful and faithful parents that always taught me to follow Jesus Christ in my life. As a young boy I remember sitting by the fireplace and my mother reading Christmas stories to me and my four younger sisters. I could feel a spirit of love and I could feel how close the young precious babe was to me. To this day, I know and believe that the true meaning of Christmas is love. 

I have felt that love throughout my life, that special love that Jesus Christ offers to all that remember and come unto him. Christmas as a missionary is something very special to me because I have the opportunity to share that love with everyone I come in contact with and see that love change the lives of many.

"To catch the real meaning of the "spirit of Christmas", we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes "the Spirit of Christ". 
- President Thomas S. Monson -

There was one night that changed the world for eternity, one star that shone through the heavens, and one child that would save all mankind. I know that this one event changed the world forever. I know that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem to the virgin, Mary. I know He was sent from our Heavenly Father to come to earth and save us from our sins. I know that He lives and that He loves us. I also know that any person can change and become a new person through Jesus Christ. I know that His birth, mortal ministry, and sacrifice for us was part of God's plan from the beginning. I know that one day Jesus Christ will come again, and it is up to each of us to decide whether to follow Him or not. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ and that is one of the reasons I decided to serve a mission. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to testify and bring this special message about Jesus Christ to my brothers and sisters here in California for 2 years. I love testifying and teaching people about Jesus Christ. I feel so blessed for all the many things Heavenly Father has given me. I love my mission and am so grateful to my family and friends who love and support me here. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and share the true meaning of Christmas with your friends and family. It is because He came, that we may all live with our families forever.

"Jesus Christ is... the light of the world because his example and his teachings illuminate the path we should walk to return to the presence of our Father in Heaven". 
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks -

"There is a magic in Christmas. Hearts are opened to a new measure of kindness. Love speaks with increased power. Tensions are eased...

"Of all things of heaven and earth of which we bear testimony, none is so important as our witness that Jesus, the Christmas child, condescended to come to earth from the realms of His Eternal Father, here to work among men as healer and teacher, our Great Exemplar. And further, and most important, He suffered on Calvary's cross as an atoning sacrifice for all mankind.

"At this time of Christmas, this season when gifts are given, let us not forget that God gave His Son, and His Son gave His life, that each of us might have the gift of eternal life"

- President Gordon B. Hinckley -

Los Quiero Mucho!

Elder Spencer Guy Vance

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our Gifts

“For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.” - Doctrine & Covenants 46:11

I am filled with gratitude for the special and wonderful gifts that my Heavenly Father has given me. My eyes have been opened to all the gifts God has given me throughout my life and throughout my mission. I love the Christmas season and the time we have to think about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

These are some blessings I have received in my life:

My family and friends that love and support me in my life … I am so blessed to have such a great family and friends. I know my parents are the perfect parents for me and I am so grateful for them and for helping me stay on the path that leads to everlasting happiness. They both are Christ-like examples to me. I am grateful for my four sisters that shine with the Light of Christ and virtue. They are my four special lights that I will always keep close to me. I love my family.
I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that, because Jesus Christ came to earth and suffered for me, I can let go of my past and look into a future filled with hope and light. I know I can repent daily and be forgiven of my sins. I can live a life full of happiness and joy. Now that I have a strong testimony of His Atonement, I have no desire to sin and to do evil. This is the greatest gift God has given to man … His only Begotten Son. How grateful I am to know that I can be free from sin through the Perfect One, Jesus Christ. 

I am grateful for my mission. These last 16 months have been the greatest months of my life. I have learned how to recognize the Spirit and how to love all those I come in contact with each day. My mission has changed me forever and I look forward to the rest of the time I have left. I know that God has a plan for me and for every one of you. I know that what I bring to everyone as a missionary is true. I know that the true church of Jesus Christ has been restored and put back on the earth. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he did see God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that every page of The Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ and his ministry to the people here in the Americas. I know that ANY person can know of its validity by reading it and through praying sincerely to know if it is true. I know all of these things because it has been given to me directly from my Heavenly Father. It is pure knowledge and pure intelligence, because it comes from Him. I am grateful for my testimony.

I am grateful for all the talents and gifts that God has bestowed upon me in this life. I know that when God gives us spiritual or temporal gifts he expects us to share them with everyone. I know that it is up to me to decide how I use my gifts in this life. I want to use my talents to serve God until the end. I know that through my talents and gifts I can inspire others and help others come unto Christ. I know that it is through our own talents and gifts that we can help others see and develop their gifts and talents.  

"God knows our gifts. My challenge to you and to me is to pray to know the gifts we have been given, to know how to develop them, and to recognize the opportunities to serve others that God provides us. But most of all, I pray that you will be inspired to help others discover their special gifts from God to serve. I promise you that if you ask, you will be blessed to help and lift others to their full potential in the service of those they lead and love. I testify to you that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, this is the priesthood of God, which we hold, and God has prepared us with special gifts to serve Him beyond our fondest hopes. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." -President Henry B. Eyring 

I know we all can change the world one step at a time. One small act of kindness through this Christmas season can change someone's life for eternity. I invite you all to be a light in someone's life this holiday season, and to always remember the true meaning of Christmas. Remember the greatest gift that was ever given to us was Him.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not meant to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unceasingly give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." 

Los Amo,

Elder Spencer Guy Vance

Sunday, December 2, 2012

This Day of Thanks

Well, I found out this past week that I am being transferred to Napa and will be working in an English ward! Something new! My new companion will be Elder Cosman, and I am excited to serve there with him. I am so dearly grateful for these past few weeks in Santa Rosa. The people here truly have changed my life forever and I know I will always carry them in my hearts. I hope one day (hopefully during my mission). I can return and see their progression in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

With Thanksgiving and all the experiences I have had here recently, I want to give thanks to my Heavenly Father. I know that I am a son of God because I have been so richly blessed in my life. There is no substitute for the happiness I feel as I live the gospel of Jesus Christ and keep the commandments God has given me. That is what leads to true and lasting happiness ... keeping the commandments of God. I know that God is real and that He lives. I know that He lives because when I pray I feel His presence and receive personal guidance through the Holy Ghost. I am grateful for the guidance my Father above has given me, because He knows what is best for me and for ALL of His precious children.

I look forward to the challenges ahead of me here on my mission. I know that my faith will continue to grow as I climb the mountains the Lord puts in front of me. I know that Jesus Christ walks by us, step by step. I know that when no one else understands what we go through or feel, He does, because He has suffered for all of it. How grateful I am to know that Jesus Christ died for me and for all mankind. I know that He lives and that soon He will come again in His glory. I love my mission because it brings me closer to Him.

The toughest times of my mission have been when I have had to leave my areas. These people are my family. They are my brothers and sisters and I know God placed me here for them. I know that there are many more that need me here on my mission. I want to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ and serve him until the end. I am so grateful for all of my family, for they have anchored me in my life and helped me focus my life on Jesus Christ. I know I was born into the family I was born into because I needed them. My parents are my heroes because they helped me see who I am; a son of God. I know that we all need to be grateful at this time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray for all of you and I pray for my friends that are currently serving missions around the world. I know that their lives are being changed for the eternities and that they are bringing more of our brothers and sisters into the fold of God through Jesus Christ. I will keep you all posted about my adventures in the land of the vineyards. This day I give thanks for all the many miracles and blessings I have seen here in beautiful Santa Rosa.

Los Amo,

Elder Vance

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Spiritual Soldiers

Things are going well here in Santa Rosa. We had a great week and enjoyed our Thanksgiving with so many of the wonderful members here. Transfers are coming up this Friday, and I hope I have the opportunity to stay here for another transfer. I love my companion, Elder Eaton. He has helped me so much and we work so well together. We look forward to many more of the miracles and blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for us this week.
For everything that is good in this life, we know that there is an opposite. To know good we must all know evil. To know happiness we must know sadness. I know that Heavenly Father has created a plan for us and for our families. We chose before this life to come to earth and to be tested. We all have trials and difficulties, but we know that what we choose to do through the trials that come is what truly defines us.

Elder Eaton and I have seen the blessings of heaven here. We walk and knock on doors, teach lessons, and serve the people in our area. We have been called to be representatives of Jesus Christ and with that comes a power of righteousness. We are doing all we can to be the soldiers God needs in His army. There is so much darkness out there in the world today and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to bring light into the lives of those who dwell in spiritual darkness. In this life we have the freedom to choose between following Jesus Christ or following Satan. As missionaries, we have had the opportunity to see the difference in those that follow Jesus Christ and those that do not. I love these verses from the Book of Mormon:

Moroni 7:16-17

16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
 17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
We are all born with the Light of Christ, or in other words, a conscience. It is a gift to all sons and daughters of God, but depending on what we choose to do, that light we will either shine for Christ or flicker in unlit corners with the Adversary. As it says in the verses from Moroni above, whatsoever persuades a man to do good is sent from God, but whatsoever persuades a man to do evil is sent from the Devil. I know that God and His Son, Jesus Christ live. They are as real to me as my friends and family. I know that they live because I feel their presence in my life. Prayers are answered and I am inspired to do good. I also know that the Adversary also is real, but I know that we can overcome him and the temptations he sends our way through prayer.

We are all sons and daughters of God. We all have a light within us that can shine in this world. We can make a difference.We can be spiritual soldiers for righteousness ... and by serving, reading, praying, and going to church we grow the light of Christ within us. I know that I am on the Lord's side. I know that Jesus Christ is going to return soon and I invite you all to prepare for His Second Coming. If you are not on the Lord's side, make adjustments in your life so that you can be on His team. We know in the end that God will win. There is so much happiness that comes from living His commandments and following His son, Jesus Christ. Be spiritual soldiers who march boldly onward.

Los Amo,

Elder Vance

P.S. I invite you all to watch and share the video below. It explains a little bit about the Book of Mormon and why it is so important. It is through reading in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon that we can come closer to our Heavenly Father above.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Like A Fire

What an amazing week it was for me here in Santa Rosa, California. I have been spiritually uplifted and have seen the blessings of heaven. Miracles are happening here in the Santa Rosa mission! A hymn comes to mind as I ponder the events of this last week. The hymn starts, "The spirit of God like a fire is burning..."

I have felt the presence of my Heavenly Father through His Spirit. It is through the Spirit that we all can experience true happiness in this life and feel His presence ever so close to us. In The Bible dictionary it talks about our personal spirits. We are all spiritual beings. We are not mere mortals put on this earth to live and die, but we all have a divine purpose.

It says, "Every person is literally a son or a daughter of God, having been born as a spirit to Heavenly Parents previous to being born to mortal parents on the earth. Thus each one of us is a dual being: an immortal spirit body, clothed with a body of flesh and bone. As defined in scripture, the spirit and the body constitute the mortal soul. A spirit can live independent of a body, but the body cannot live without the spirit. In the resurrection, the immortal spirit is reunited with the same body of flesh and bone it possessed as a mortal, with two major differences: The union will be permanent, and the body will not be subject to aging and death."

I know we are all sons and daughters of God. We all have been sent here for a reason. Even though we are currently living outside the presence of our Eternal Father we can still feel His presence through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit only can work with us if we are pure in heart and have a desire to choose the right.

As defined, the Holy Spirit is the third Person in the Godhead, being a personage of spirit, whereas the Father and the Son each are personages of spirit tabernacled with a tangible body of flesh and bones.

In Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 it says...

22) The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

I know that the Holy Ghost is real, because I cannot duplicate those feelings by myself. I know that the Holy Ghost testifies of truth. He testifies that God is our Heavenly Father and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of this world.  It is through the Holy Ghost that we receive answers from God. God is the source of all truth. If we ask in faith, He can and will send His Spirit down to bring feelings of happiness and peace into our hearts. Those feelings cause "the burning" within us. When we feel The Spirit, our spirits feel like they are at home. We feel a bridge built between our spirits and our Heavenly Father.

In Galatians 5:22-23, we are reminded ...

22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The family we have been teaching was baptized on Saturday. They got baptized because they received their answers directly from God. The Holy Spirit bore witness to them that what we had been teaching them was true. They acted on the answer they received and followed the example of Jesus Christ. What a blessing it was for me to be able to baptize little Francisco and see the rest of their family enter the waters of baptism as well. There was such a strong spirit in the room and I was impressed that we as missionaries have merely been guides along the path for this wonderful family. Now that they have been baptized and been confirmed, they have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. To be able to know if our church is the true church of Jesus Christ once again established on the earth, one must pray and ask God for an answer. Below are a few verses of scripture that describe how anyone can TRULY know if what we bring to the homes of thousands around the world is true.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14

12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I know that this gospel is true. I know it is true because I have personally received an answer from my Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost. I am grateful for the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father. That connection has been strengthened so much here on my mission through fervent prayer and a desire to feel of His presence in my life. I know that faith is not what we see, but what we feel. I know that true conversion comes through the Holy Ghost. It is through God, the source of ALL truth that we can know which path is the right one. He is willing to answer us, only if we believe. This gospel has changed my life. I know where I came from, why I am here, and where I am going. I know that because we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father and we can receive answers "spirit to spirit" from the Holy Ghost that will stay with us forever. The Holy Ghost is like a fire that is burning and I want to live my life so that it is never put out. I would like to invite you all to read The Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true. Those that do, I promise, you will receive an answer through the Holy Ghost. You will feel a burning deep in your soul, with peace and happiness. That is your answer. This is a promise to all. All are invited to partake of these feelings of pure happiness and joy that will last for the eternities. I know that Jesus Christ lives and one day soon He will come again. The Spirit of God is burning in me; let it burn in you.

Los Quiero Mucho,

Elder Vance

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tall, Straight, and True

Last week we had the opportunity to have a mission conference in the Upper Redwoods here in Santa Rosa. We stayed at a camp owned by the church, named Camp Liahona. It was a marvelous experience to be with my fellow brothers and sisters. Being in the Redwoods was an amazing experience ... my eyes were opened to how much time and effort and beauty our Creator put into forming this world. The camp was so successful, as the focus was on how we can grow our faith and see the miracles happening around us. We all had a moment to find a spot for ourselves in the forest and pray. I had an incredible experience. I felt peace and comfort. I received strength from communicating with my Heavenly Father above. After I finished my prayer I was thinking that we are all results of miracles. We are all here and fulfilling our purpose here on this earth by following Jesus Christ. Sometimes because we are human we fall into routines or ruts or begin to lean or fall. One of the senior missionaries that was running the camp told us something that impacted me so much. We were all in one part of the forest and we were surrounded by giant Redwood trees. He said, "The Redwoods draw our eyes upward. They draw our eyes to heaven."
I looked at the Redwoods around me and it was true. They drew my eyes skyward. I grew so much at Camp Liahona. My faith was strengthened and my desire to share what is so precious to me grew. Elder Eaton and I are doing so well. He is a great elder and has already helped me so much. There are many miracles in store for us here in our area. I know that we must be as the Redwoods; standing tall and standing true for what we believe ... at all times, in all things, and in all places. I know that we are doing the Lord's work and am so happy and so grateful for all the blessings I am receiving. I received word that my sister, Madeline, will be leaving for her mission at the end of February. She will be serving in the Paris, France mission! I was so excited to hear that and I know that she will be an angel to her people over in Europe. I love being a missionary. There is no greater joy I have experienced than sharing this gospel with my brothers and sisters. The family we have been teaching are going to be baptized on November 10th! We are so excited for them and they are so strong in the gospel. I know that we all must stand tall, be true to the covenants we have made with God, and be that person that helps others draw their hearts and eyes to our Heavenly Father above.

Los Quiero Mucho,

Elder Vance

Monday, October 22, 2012

More Than Mortal

Last week was an amazing week here in Santa Rosa with Elder Lenon. We received our transfer information and found out that Elder Lenon will be going to my last area (Davis/Woodland) and I will be staying here in Santa Rosa for another transfer. We are both so excited for these upcoming weeks. We have had so many incredible experiences together and I am grateful for Elder Lenon and for all the things I have learned from him. He is such a diligent and obedient missionary and I know that there were people here that needed him and I know I needed him. I learned many life lessons serving alongside him and I will always consider him my brother. I know wherever he goes in this mission he will be successful because of his faith and the spirit he brings into the homes of the people.

"Be everything you were created to be."

This one line gives me the inspiration to believe in myself and believe in God. I know that no one is a mere mortal, but that we all have been created in the form of our Heavenly Father. We ALL have divine potential. We are ALL sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father that will do anything and everything to help us and comfort us. Here on my mission I have been able to strengthen my personal connection with my Heavenly Father through prayer. I love praying. I feel the light of Christ grow within me when I pray and I feel the spirit. I am so grateful that I have the knowledge of prayer, the way in which we link ourselves to our immortal Father above. We ALL have the opportunity to return to His presence once again after this life. I have found that it is through prayer that I can have a very personal and deep conversation with my Heavenly Father. I know that He is there and I know that He listens. He has given us this short time here on earth to prove to Him that, outside of His presence, we can still be worthy. This time on earth is shorter than a blink of an eye on the eternal scale of our lives. I know that we lived with Him before, and that after our 70, 80, or 90 years on this beautiful earth we can return and live in celestial glory forever, and live as exalted beings with our families forever.

Remember that we are literal children of God. We all have been given imagination, talents, and gifts.
Our Heavenly Father is a merciful God. He loves us. He hears our cries and sees our tears. He sent his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for us. I know that He sent Him because He loves us and He knew that an infinite sacrifice was needed to give all of His children an opportunity to return to Him again. Through all of the trials and afflictions of this earthly life, our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are there for us. I know they both live. We all will stand before them and give an accounting of our life here one day. I invite you to pray and to strengthen that line of communication with our Heavenly Father. He wants to help us and He wants to bless us. Go to Him in mighty prayer to strengthen your faith and your testimonies. I love my mission and I love the people here in Santa Rosa. I ask you to pray for us so we can find the 101 of our brothers and sisters that are waiting for this message that will change their lives forever. Thank you all for your love and support. We are all more than mere mortals and we all have the same loving Heavenly Father. Be everything and all that you were created to be!

Los Amo,

Elder Vance

For all of my sisters out there in the world... I love this video:)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I'm A Mormon Missionary

The last week has had its ups and downs. I think there are always little trials we deal with in life but the amazing thing is that we can grow so much from them if we see them in the right light. A highlight of this past week was General Conference! It was an amazing experience to have the opportunity to listen to our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and to apostles of the Lord. So many of my concerns and questions were answered. I know that these men have been called of God to lead and guide the church of Jesus Christ here on the earth. After all the talks were given, I felt a new energy and desire to continue on the path that Jesus Christ has paved for us.

Elder Lenon and I are doing great here in Santa Rosa. It's getting a little chilly as we head deeper into winter. I love the area in which we serve. We already have had so many memories and experiences that I will never forget. On Saturday, we met a man named Moises (Spanish for Moses). He told us we could come by again some other day. He is from Guatemala and was so nice the first time we met him. Last night we stopped by his apartment and talked to him outside. It was a chilly night but it was an amazing experience. We began talking to him about his life. He is probably in his early 40's, and he explained to us that he had 4 children in Guatemala, but his wife left him and he was alone. He came to United States and works here so that he can send money to Guatemala. I could see in his eyes the weight of his past draining him spiritually. He told us that he regretted doing some of the things he used to do and he wanted to change. I asked him, "How would you feel if all of your sins were washed away and you were given a new life." He replied, "That would be amazing." We explained to him that it is through baptism that all of his sins could be washed away; that he could be reborn spiritually and follow Jesus Christ and that baptism was the first fruit of repentance. He told us, "I want that, I want to come closer to God, and I want to do it." We invited him to be baptized on the 10th of November. He accepted and we explained to him that it was up to him to commit to this and that it was a promise he would make with God ... a promise to keep His commandments and follow Jesus Christ. He told us with all his heart he wanted to do it and that he would come to church, read, and pray. Moises has a humble heart. He wanted to change his life. The definition of change is repentance. When we repent we form a fresh view of our lives and humble ourselves before God. Today I would like to talk about the importance of making that change and how each and every one of us can do so.

I pulled a lot from General Conference last weekend and I want to apply the things I learned to three categories of people ... those that are active members of our church, those that are members but may be less active, and those that have interest or are investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

To all the active members

"We all have the responsibility to keep our lamps of testimony aflame".- Elder David A. Bednar
I love this quote because it is our OWN responsibility to keep ourselves not only afloat but to progress on the seas of life. I know that it is through prayer, scripture study, and attending church that we can continue to keep our lights bright.

"Your future is as bright as your faith."- President Thomas S. Monson
Faith is a hope of things that we cannot see. As our faith increases so will our hope for the future and for our lives. I know that as we go through trials and are tested that we will be strengthened and stretched. Faith is an anchor for all of us and it is important that we continue to grow our faith.

"Take inventory and see the blessings you have received."- President Thomas S. Monson
Let us look around us and see the miracles and blessings we have received. We are here on this beautiful earth, we have our families, and we have the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. We are a blessed people and all we must do is count our many blessings that the Lord has given us. Let us all live in a state of thanksgiving!

"Do you love me?"- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Do we love our Savior, Jesus Christ? Will we give anything or everything to follow Him? Our little sacrifices we make will never amount to that which He has already paid for us. I know that He lives and that He is there for us in our darkest hours. Let us partake of the sacrament in remembrance of Him and His sacrifice so we may become more fully converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and become His disciples.

"How do we make this change? It is through one daily practice. In your morning prayer ask God to guide you to serve one of His children. You will be prompted by the spirit to pollinate the world with the love of Christ."- Elder M. Russell Ballard

I know that is through service that we come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I have seen this very thing on my mission. We all can CHANGE the world for the better. We can change it one person at a time. Let us pray for service opportunities so that we may be lights to all those around us. I know people notice and that they will want that same light within their lives.

"We are to go to the lost, the last, and the least."- Elder Robert C. Gay
I know it is through this principle that we can help all those around us come into the fold of God. We are all missionaries forever. We have taken upon us the name of Jesus Christ and we represent Him. This life is for us to prove ourselves to our Heavenly Father that outside of his presence we may still be worthy to enter into His presence.

To those that are less active/or struggling

"We can avoid our biggest regrets of tomorrow by following the Savior TODAY." - Elder Dieter F. Uctdorf
I know that is by following our Savior TODAY that we can help ourselves get back on the path that leads to eternal life. It is through repentance and through a pure change of heart that we can have true happiness every day and at the end of our lives look back and see that happiness.

"With self justification, Satan triumphs." -Elder Robert C. Gay
Satan will always tempt us but we can overcome him by listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is through sincere prayer that we can overcome Satan.

"God forsakes no one." - Elder Robert C. Gay
It is never too late for anyone. You can change and come back. The Savior calls to all who are lost. I really know that God never forsakes us. He is will never turn away from us, but we have the ability to turn away from Him. That is why I am here on a mission. To help all turn unto God and come unto the Savior, Jesus Christ. I know if that those voids of darkness can be filled and those heavy burdens of guilt can be lifted. Come back.

"Distancing yourself from the church during a trial of your faith is like leaving a storm cellar right when the tornado is about to hit. During a trial of your faith, stay within the household of God."
- Elder Neil L. Anderson
Trials are "mini tests" that God gives us so that we may grow and come closer to Him. God gives us weaknesses to make us humble, but He promises us that if we turn to Him, He will make us stronger and bless us if we endure our trials well. Don't let trials in your life destroy you. We should all thank our Father in Heaven for the tough times and see them as blessings. In that light, we will come ever closer to our celestial Father above.

"Your Father in Heaven expects your love and loyalty in every stage of your life." - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
The Lord expects us to show our love to Him all the days of our life. As members or this church we know that we worship one God and it is through being obedient to the commandments which He has given us that we show our love to Him.

"Take any necessary action to feel the spirit NOW." -Elder Quinton L. Cook
If you have sinned or if you have fallen away, I invite you to pray and to ask God for forgiveness. If the Spirit cannot dwell with you, do all that you need to do so that you can be worthy of it's presence once again. Repentance is something beautiful. We humble ourselves and allow the Atonement to clean us. God rejoices when we repent. He wants us to repent so we all can be clean and return to Him.  I know that when we were confirmed as members of this church that we received the gift of the Holy Ghost. That gift has been given to us to help us on the path to eternal life.

"Relight your lamps and deepen your testimonies."- Elder David A. Bednar
Talk with your bishops and call the missionaries. These men can help you to get back on track and help you feel the same feelings you felt before. I know that it is through the gospel of Jesus Christ that all mankind may be saved. We are your brothers and sisters. We welcome you with open arms to return back to the fold of God. I know that you can relight your lamps. There is hope that comes through repenting and changing through this gospel. I love this gospel and I have seen so many less active members come back. There is hope for you. Act now and make things right with God so you can participate in the fullness of joy that comes from living the commandments and the gospel that was originally taught by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

To those that are not members but may be interested in the church or are investigating it

"A mission is a voluntary act of service to God and mankind. Missionaries preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. They can be heavenly help to you. ASK THE MISSIONARIES, THEY CAN HELP YOU."- Russell M. Nelson

I know as a missionary that we are sent and guided by our Heavenly Father to help you; to help you understand more about what we believe and how you can find out for yourself if what we believe is true. I am grateful to be a literal representative of Jesus Christ. I have seen how God has used us to answer the prayers of many. I have witnessed miracles as a missionary and I know that ANYONE can change. The message that we bring is true. I have left my life behind because I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that what I am doing now is more important than anything else I could be doing. I know I am helping God's children return back to his presence. I know the message we bring about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith is true. I also know that The Book of Mormon is true because I personally have read it and prayed to my Heavenly Father to ask and to receive an answer about it. I know that all of these things are true. I have received a testimony for myself and I know anyone that has a desire to know can receive answers directly from God. I know what we bring as missionaries can and will change your life forever. Your life will be filled with real joy and happiness that will last beyond this life.

I am grateful for my sister, Madeline. She has decided to serve a mission for our church in the coming months. I am so proud of her. She has such a strong testimony of The Book of Mormon and this gospel. I know wherever the Lord sends her, she will be an angel to them. I reeeally hope she goes to a Spanish-speaking mission! Fingers crossed! Santa Rosa?! She will change the lives of many, and I know that because she has changed my life. I know that she will be an amazing missionary and she will enjoy her mission just as much as I have. She will fall in love with the people because I know she will serve with all of her heart, might, mind, and strength. Even though I may not see her for a few years, I am so happy she has decided to put her faith in God and serve. She will be such a blessing to the missionary force in the world. I LOVE YOU MADZ!!!! She will be putting everything on pause for 18 months to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the Lord's work here on earth and I know that He is building His kingdom. My prayers go out to all of you and I thank you for your love and continual support. I invite you to refer EVERYONE you know that would benefit from the message we bring as missionaries on the right column of this blog under "MEET WITH THE MISSIONARIES"! I am a Mormon Missionary ... I am a Mormon for now, for life, forever.

Los Amo,

Elder Spencer Guy Vance

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Believe With Me

I learned and grew so much from my experiences of this past great week. Elder Lenon and I had a leadership meeting with President Alba and he told us that when Elder Gavarret came recently he saw our mission seal/logo (check the bottom of the blog to see our mission seal). When he saw it he saw the infamous 101 California Highway on it, and Elder Gavarret said, "101, the number of baptisms in a month!". It was a challenge that he gave to our mission, yet we are not just trying to reach a number; there is a name and a face that is behind every single one of those people. They are our brothers and sisters. The focus of our leadership meeting was about how we can do it and what we can do to help more of our brothers and sisters come unto Jesus Christ.

President Alba showed us a film called, "The Butterfly Circus". If you do not OWN this short film I strongly encourage you to find it and order it as soon as possible! It is an amazing film that teaches a valuable lesson about believing in ourselves and how we can help others see that they are "Magnificent". I don't want to give the movie away but I love one line from the film; "The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph". Afterwards, we talked about trials we all have and how the Lord tests us all in many different ways. I have been tested on my mission, and it is through trials that we prove ourselves to our Heavenly Father. It is also through our trials that we are prepared for the blessings and miracles that are to come. Without trials, blessings and miracles would mean nothing to us. I surely saw that this past week.

After our meeting I realized that I needed more faith. I needed to demostrate more faith in my life. I needed to believe that my Heavenly Father can do anything and that we can find, teach, and baptize 101 of our brothers and sisters in a month. I know the Lord is preparing these people and that this mission is going to see a lot of miracles and blessings in the near future because we are seeing them now! One miracle is that we already have 90 people that have baptismal dates for the month of October. What a blessing! Normally our mission averages between 20-50 baptisms a month. The Lord is blessing us immensely and I know it is because we are increasing our faith in Him.

"Hope is the understanding that ALL of God's promises will be fulfilled."- Sister Alba

The day after our meeting Elder Lenon and I were on our morning run and I felt like I could fly. I was filled with faith and with a strength that I know was given to me. I prayed the night before for more faith so that I could grow and strengthen my testimony of the things I know are true. I know that when God promises us something that if we have faith, those promises will be fulfilled. It was an experience I will never forget. I know that Heavenly Father can bless us with more faith in our lives. Faith is more that just a belief; faith is an action. President Alba said, "We want you to do anything you need to do to believe, and to act on the things you believe." My life has been changed once again. My faith has grown and I have a stronger hope for things to come. It is through the small things such as prayer, reading the scriptures, and going to church that our faith grows.

I love this quote as well that talks about faith...

"God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. In fact, He expects you not simply to face the future (that sounds pretty grim and stoic); He expects you to embrace and shape the future ... to love it and rejoice in it and delight in your opportunities. God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe." - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

I would like to invite you all to come with me and BELIEVE. I would like to invite you specifically to pray for our mission so that WE CAN PREPARE ourselves for the blessings and miracles that are being poured out upon us from the heavens. The heavens are open and the Lord is blessing us with our brothers and sisters that are ready to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. They are out there; those that are humble and are ready to make that sacred promise with God to follow His Son by being baptized. Pray for us so that we can develop stronger faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I want you all to believe in yourselves. We are not just ordinary human beings. We all have been given gifts, talents, and skills. We have the opportunity to change the world with our faith and with the light that is within us. Believe in yourselves. Believe in your family and friends. Have hope that with God ALL things are possible, and that it is never over for anyone. We all have a divine purpose and we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father. I know that He lives and that His Son, Jesus Christ, came to this earth to give us the opportunity to rid ourselves of sin. I know that anyone can change and that it is only through Jesus Christ that those true changes can occur. We all can return to live with our Heavenly Father again. I know that all of these things are true; that faith is action, and that with faith we receive answers and see blessings. Having an eye of faith allows us to receive pure knowledge. Become a believer.

Los Amo,

Elder Vance

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Your Name

What an amazing week it has been. The weeks fly by here on the mission because it is such a fun adventure. It is tiring and hard work, but at the same time I am having more fun than ever. You just have to enjoy it. Elder Lenon and I have seen some great miracles during this past week. Lupe continues to progress; she went to a Spanish fireside with Elder Gavarret and loved it! She also came to a baptism the other day and she felt such a special spirit there. She continues to read and pray and I know that in these upcoming weeks she will be baptized. Elder Lenon and I are so excited for her, as we have been on this journey with her, and it is amazing to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ strengthens and changes people. We have seen the changes in her and seen how much she now depends on the Lord. We love being here with our people in Santa Rosa and serving them and I hope stay for a while.

This past week we were privileged to have Elder Gavarret from the Quorum of the Seventy come and speak to us. He is from Uruguay. He spoke to us with such power and conviction. The very first few things he said struck a chord in me and I was filled with the spirit of God. He said, "You don't know the effect of your success. You can cut open an apple and count the seeds, but you aren't able to cut open the seeds within the apple to count the apples that will come from those seeds. Pray for others. Serve others. They will not forget you, they will not forget your name." I thought about all the people I have met on my mission and about those I have had the opportunity to teach and bring closer to Jesus Christ ... all the people I have loved and continue to love. A wave emotions swept over me and it brought tears to my eyes. I thought about those I will never forget ... those that I will have a spiritual connection with forever on into the eternities. In that moment my love deepened for my people here. I looked back into the pool of memories to see those people that will be in my heart forever. I know that I have needed them and that they have needed me. I will remember their names and it was special at that moment to hear that they will not forget mine. Elder Gavarret continued, "All of you are winners ... you decided to come here. The best way to help your family members is to do your best here. Pray for your families, stand up and go to work." I want to be the best missionary I can be so that my family can be blessed and so that those in my family that are struggling can find hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

"The Atonement of Jesus Christ brings hope to all. As missionaries we are the bringers of hope and we receive hope through the Atonement. When we sin we experience spiritual death, or in other words, we separate and further ourselves from God. Jesus Christ has already done the work, it doesn't need to be done again. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is a conditional gift, which means, we must do our part in order to access it." - Sister Alba

I can testify to the truth of that statement. It is through repentance that those burdens we carry are lifted off of us. We must repent (do our part) to be saved. Christ has already suffered, but we must access that precious gift through repentance. When we do, those burdens are lifted and we feel the light of Christ grow within us. We have a desire to improve because we feel the warming sensation of the Savior's arms around us. It gives us a fresh view of our lives and with that comes the hope we all can and need to endure to the end.

I love this part of a song: "He knows your joy, He knows your pain, He knows your heart, He knows your NAME."

I know that Jesus Christ knows your name. I know that he knows YOU because He died for each and every one of us. When we are going through a trial or a challenge in this life, He knows. Not only did He suffer for our sins but also for every physical pain, emotional sorrow, and affliction we have or ever will experience in this lifetime. He suffered for hours in the Garden of Gethsemane and bled from every pore. He did it so He could walk beside us. He did it so He could lift us in our darkest hour. He did it because He loves us. I am forever grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We bring this to everyone so that all may have faith, repent, and come unto Christ through baptism. I am grateful for this privilege to be a bringer of hope. It is never over ... no matter what you have done or how lonely you may feel, always know that there is someone that knows you. There is always someone that has felt what you feel. There is always someone that knows your name.

Los Amo Mucho,

Elder Vance