Thursday, February 9, 2012

Always Rejoice

One more week here in Fairfield and hopefully I can squeeze out six more weeks as I come up on another transfer next week and find out if I am staying or leaving the area. I hope I can stay and spend some more time with the people here. I feel so privileged to be able to see these people grow, not only in the gospel, but in their lives and families as well. It is amazing to see how the gospel directly correlates to the lives of the members … it is simple, really. Those who live the commandments of God experience full and true happiness, while others experience sorrow and emptiness. I love these people and want them to find that true happiness.
I have learned on my mission that things can be tough. Days can be tough, life can be tough and everything can be tough. Sometimes it feels like the world is pressing down on us as missionaries. This past week was definitely a difficult one for numerous reasons, but in the end I learned that we should ALWAYS REJOICE. We are here and we are part of God's plan. We have a way to be free from ANY pain, guilt, sorrow, or suffering … through Jesus Christ. At times we need to humble ourselves to understand and follow that plan. I know people in my life that live the gospel of Jesus Christ and those that don't. There is a HUGE difference, and it saddens me to see and hear about those that choose not to follow Christ. Everyone has their free agency or free will, because it is part of God's plan. Within His plan, we can all choose to follow Jesus Christ or not, but I know that those who follow Jesus Christ and walk in his footsteps CAN receive a full remission of their sins and find true happiness.
Noe, our investigator that had a baptismal date, is still missing. He just fell completely off of the map. We are still dedicated to finding him though … we plan to go and tract the ENTIRE apartment complex and comb the area for traces of him or his car. Right now I feel like a shepherd going after the lost one. I feel like I have to do ALL I can to find him. We haven't had contact with him in a couple weeks, but we hope that we and the spirit of our Heavenly Father left a lasting impression on him that will stay with him forever.
We picked up a new investigator and his name is Miguel. He is the brother of Luis, a less active member, who is now coming back to church. Miguel has a baptismal date of the 25th of February! He is amazing and is soaking up all that we are teaching him. The Lord prepares people for us to teach, and as long as we are obedient we get the opportunity to teach these people about our Savior and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. I love missionary work!
On another high note, Domingo called me today! He is out of jail and we are going to be able to begin teaching him again. Great joy filled my soul talking to my brother on the phone today. He can come to church now and he sounded so excited to meet with us again. Domingo is an investigator we taught about 2 ½  months ago. We taught him EVERYTHING about this gospel, but because he was on house arrest he couldn't come to church. Later he was incarcerated, but now it's like he is free in many ways! He is another reason why I want to stay here in Fairfield for another transfer. He has come so far and we have been on a journey together. I hope all turns out well with him and I will definitely keep you all posted!
We were able to attend the Oakland Temple this past week. What an awesome experience that was, to sit in the Celestial Room and feel the presence and love of our Heavenly Father … it was just amazing. There is such peace in the temple and there is no other place like it. I love going there and love knowing that one day I can be married in one of these glorious temples, not only for time here on earth, but for eternity hereafter. While in the Celestial Room I opened the scriptures randomly. I opened to Doctrine &Covenants, section 75. The first five verses hit me so hard. They are a revelation given through Joseph Smith.
    "1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I who speak even by the voice of my Spirit, even Alpha and Omega, your Lord and your God— 2 Hearken, O ye who have given your names to go forth to proclaim my gospel, and to prune my vineyard. 3 Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be idle but  labor with your might—4 Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, proclaiming the truth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you. 5 And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many sheaves, and crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life."
What an honor it is for me to be here in Fairfield, California. I have already seen so many blessings from serving a mission. I am so happy I made the decision to serve, because it has changed me forever. I love looking back and seeing how far I have come. I still have a long way to go, but through the gospel of Jesus Christ we can ALL reach our full potential.
ALWAYS BE HAPPY! Be grateful for all the trials and challenges in your life because they make you stronger. I love you all and thank you for everything.

Les Amo Muchisimo!
Elder Vance


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