Thursday, January 26, 2012

One Love

This last week was great, but I did have a terrible cold/congestion/sinus issue. It lasted a good four days. No Bueno! Three “diseases” in three weeks; from food poisoning to pink eye to a hard- hitting cold, but I feel my immune system is up again and I am pressing onward! Elder Arredondo and I love it here in Fairfield. We continue to find and teach people every week. He continues to harp on my Spanish, and sometimes I give him some attitude about it, but in the end he is helping my Spanish a ton! We are getting along super well and I hope I can squeeze out one more transfer here in Fairfield. That would make 6 months here if I get to stay another transfer, and hopefully I can stay with Elder Arredondo because he is really helping my Spanish. We shall see what the Lord has in store for me. It's also been raining for days! The winter has finally hit and the rainy season is up ahead. Time to throw on the raincoat! Also, big news … I have been selected to be an online missionary! Basically, every day I go online (Facebook) for 45 minutes and spread the gospel online. I deactivated my old Facebook account and am solely friends on Facebook with my investigators and members here in my mission. I am so excited because post-mission I will be able to stay in contact with ALL of my people. I cannot add friends from back home or school (or family), because I am still a MISSIONARY online, so it is important for me to stay focused. I am so pumped!

This week I want to talk specifically about "my people" here; the people who I have grown to love as Christ loves, and those who will be forever close to my heart.  These are some of the people that I love so dearly here in Fairfield, California.
First, I want to talk about Hermana and Hermano Jaimes. Elder Rollins and I went tracting in our area about two months ago and came across the Jaimes. They opened the door and we told them we were missionaries. Right away huge smiles came on their faces as they said, "Somos miembros!!" (We are members!) We were kind of shocked because … uhhhh … that never happens (ha!). They gave us a return appointment so that we could come back another day. The next time we came back we had a sit-down lesson with them. We found out that they had been inactive in the church for 8-10 years. Their daughter was a member and she was really nice. She was married and had a young daughter. The Jaimes told us they went inactive because they were offended by something, but couldn't remember why anymore! They were super nice and said they wanted to come back. They began reading in The Book of Mormon again and slowly but surely they came back to church as we continued to teach them more and more. It is amazing to think that was only two months ago because now they are completely active members. What a treat it was to hear their sweet testimonies last week during fast and testimony meeting. It was one of the sweetest experiences of my life to hear their testimonies and to hear them bear witness that Jesus Christ is their Savior and Redeemer. During their testimonies I just kept thinking, “what if we wouldn't have knocked on their door? They would still be lost”. I sat by Hermano Jaimes yesterday during priesthood meeting and I just had this overwhelming love for him. Now Hermano Jaimes is receiving the Aaronic Priesthood next week and he and his wife want to be sealed as a couple for time and all eternity in the temple.  They will be special to me forever.

I want to give you an update on Noe, one of our investigators that I talked about on the blog last week. As of right now, he is getting baptized on the 4th of February! We had to push his date back a week because he is having some issues with his ex-girlfriend over who is going to have custody of their child and some other issues. He also won't be able to make it to church this Sunday because he will be in Santa Maria figuring that out. It's so sad to see these problems he faces in his life and all he has to go through, but I know that this gospel is going to bless his life so much and we are happy he has made the decision to be baptized. We know that this is the most important thing he can be doing and that it will change his life forever. We are fasting and praying for him so that he can do all he can to make the right decisions and everything will turn out okay.

In previous blog entries I have also talked a little bit about one of the investigators Elder Rollins and I were teaching at one point. His name is Domingo. I became really close to him and there is definitely something special about the relationship we have. Domingo is the brother of Rosi, Noe's ex-girlfriend, so Domingo was actually living with Noe and Rosi when they were together. Domingo was under house arrest while we were teaching him, but due to some money issues and not being able to pay fines, he had to go to jail. That was about a month and a half ago, and during that time I have written Domingo a few letters of encouragement. I also sent him a couple pictures and a poem to brighten his day. He has responded to those letters and I am always filled with great joy when I receive letters from him because it has been so long since I have seen him. My eyes filled with tears as I read the letter he recently wrote me and I would like to share a couple excerpts from his letter. He knows Spanish and English, so he writes in both (haha). He said, "Dear Elder Vance, Gracias for writing me. To be real, it was tough the first weeks but I never forgot what you guys were teaching me when I was out there. The more I ask and it pray it became just another day, but a bright day. Right now it is complicated but either way I will be out on the 4th f February (which just so happens to be the day Noe is getting baptized!! He doesn't know about the Rosi and Noe situation yet). Tu hermano Vance tu eres mi Angel. (You Hermano Vance, you are my angel.) Every word, testimony, and tear in your eyes opened my eyes. You guys showed me and woke me up when I was falling asleep in the dark. I thank God that you guys were sent in my path. Gracias por sus oraciones y bendiciones. Le quiero mucho hermano. (Thanks for your prayers and blessings. I love you brother)”-Domingo
Tears welled up in my eyes as I read his words. Knowing that I am truly making a difference in someone's life here on my mission is a feeling I cannot describe. As a missionary you are always making a difference, but at times you don't get blessed to see that. I believe Heavenly Father wants us to learn before He gives us something to "see". We are not entitled to see the entire success of our work because this isn't our work, it's the Lord’s. But being blessed with these little pearls of happiness or with a baptism is something that is given to us as a gift. I believe with all my heart that these people have been prepared for ME, so that I can help them. The Lord prepares HIS people. Every missionary is sent to THEIR mission because that is where THEIR people are waiting. I LOVE MY PEOPLE.

This last week I read a quote from a former prophet of our church (President Spencer W. Kimball) that I really enjoyed and that put my mission into an even better perspective. His article, which was entitled, "A Mission Is The School For Eternity" said “Your mission is preparation. It is YOUR school for ETERNITY. You won't forget that, will you? This mission is not just a two-year stretch. This is the time when you cultivate the seeds of godhood so that you can help other people on their way toward EXALTATION. How small are we who think of the mission as JUST being a stretch of time, some physical things to do, a little studying to do, some praying. This is the MOST purposeful thing that some of you will ever do. It's up to you to let this be the prelude to your life, to let it be the BEGINNING of a GREAT and GLORIOUS life." I love that quote. I myself know some return missionaries that put their mission in a box and stuff it under their bed. That is NOT the intention of their missions. As missionaries we receive so many gifts through our service; spiritual gifts, qualities, strengths, and knowledge. If we don't open those and share them with everyone, then there was no point to receive them in the first place. Some day my two years here will be up, but I want to do all I can to share my experiences and my testimony with everyone around me even when my time as a missionary is over, because I know what I have received from my mission already can bless the lives of my friends and family. My mission is preparing me for the rest of my life, for my future family, and for eternity. I have seen how far I have really come. I still have a long way to go, but through this gospel we can all be on that path back to our Heavenly Father, progressing bit by bit and following that ultimate and perfect example Jesus Christ set for us.

This last week I watched the film "5000 Days- Two Brothers." It is a documentary of two brothers and their journey from childhood up until they serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If you do not have a copy of this in your home, YOU NEED TO GET IT! It is amazing and you get to taste of the love a brother has for a brother and a missionary has for HIS people. I think everyone needs to see this film. I felt the spirit so strong during this and it put my mission in a more special and spiritual light. Here is the link; it is an instant MUST BUY.

This last week my father sent me a big picture that was taken of him the day he was baptized over 26 years ago. On the back of the picture he bore his testimony and talked about the time 20 years ago as he was expecting "me", his first child. It was probably one of the most special things I have ever received. To see this big picture of my dad dressed in all white and smiling … smiling with the knowledge that he was going to be opening the gate, for not only his salvation, but for the salvation of his future family. I gave a 15 minute talk yesterday … in Spanish! That’s crazy, right? My topic was how Jesus Christ was a missionary. I talked about how Jesus Christ was perfect in his example and as a missionary. I read 3 Nephi 17:1-8 when Christ visits the people in the Americas. Jesus speaks to the people and is preparing to leave them. It says in verse 5, "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer." Christ realizes that the people cannot soak in any more of his words and he has compassion towards them. Instead of continuing to speak to them, He SHOWED them. In verse 7 Christ says, "Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.” In verse 8, “For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you." Amazing. Jesus Christ was the perfect missionary. He had compassion towards them and taught them through his actions and I love that. After I shared that scripture, I talked about the two sister missionaries that baptized my father. I showed them the picture that my Dad sent me a couple days before and said,"El Estaba bien feliz" (He was so happy). The spirit was so strong. I said that I will be forever grateful for those two missionaries, because without them, I would not be here. They are my angels and I hope one day I can meet them and say, "Thank you … because of you I have had this life here on the earth and have had an opportunity to love MY people. Thank you."  I bore testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that we are ALL missionaries in this church. It was such an uplifting and amazing experience. My love for the people has grown so much and that love is the light of Christ; and just as my father loves me, our Heavenly Father loves His children. I LOVE my mission. It has opened my eyes to the wonders of God and to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thank you all for your continual support and your testimonies. AMO MI GENTE.

Les Amo,

Elder Vance

1 comment: