Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Are We Not All Beggars?

I found out a few days ago that I am being transferred to Davis, California!! I have been called to train a new missionary, open a new area, and be a district leader … whoa … kind of a big load, but I feel ready and I am excited to start up with my new companion in Davis! Apparently it is the self-proclaimed "Bike Capital of the World", but I guess we shall see. If you want to write me, send it to the mission office address and when I write you back I will give you my direct address in Davis. I find out who my new companion is tomorrow, or as we call them in the mission, “my son”! The person you train is called your son and so I plan on treating him with that kind of love and respect. I will always remember the impact Elder Rollins made on me and my mission. He set the tone for the rest of my mission. He showed me how to be organized, to be 100% obedient, and to sincerely love the people. Elder Rollins is amazing and I will never forget him. I will always love him and I will always be grateful that I had him as my trainer.  I hope I can have that kind of lasting effect on the new missionary I am going to train these next 12 weeks.

In the last four months I don't think I have ever seen so many homeless people in my life, and I think I know why. Every day I see people rummaging through dumpsters looking for plastic bottles that they can turn in for a couple dollars. I see hollow faces and bodies pushing and rolling around their squeaky grocery carts. I see cardboard signs and fingerless gloves. But there is something else I have never seen before … THEM. My brothers and sisters. I think the reason why I have never seen as many homeless people before is because I never looked. I never saw. How often do we go about our day and never SEE. My eyes have truly been opened and it has been such a blessing to notice someone and then go talk to them. It is something that I think all of us have struggled with in life. My mission has helped me realize that I, myself, am a beggar and have searched for spiritual nourishment. I have been in darkness, but through Jesus Christ and His gospel anyone can be saved.

I love these verses in The Book of Mormon where King Benjamin commands his people not to judge others, but to lift others up, and that WE ALL are beggars.

 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon
the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.”

We all depend on our Heavenly Father, because without Him there would be nothing. We all turn to him for forgiveness, for a remission of our sins, and if we haven't, we need to humble ourselves and turn to our Father in Heaven. As it says in the final verse above, those that beg for a remission of their sins will receive exceedingly great joy. I have experienced that in my own life. I have a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Without him I could not be cleansed of all the mistakes I make every single day. It is an amazing feeling to go to our Father in Heaven with a humble heart and to use the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to be cleansed and pure again. I have a testimony of TRUE repentance. I know that Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and died for ME. I know ALL can have their guilt, shame, and sorrow replaced with exceedingly great joy. As long as we humble our hearts and become beggars unto our perfect and great Heavenly Father.

It has been a bittersweet experience leaving Fairfield, the place where I started my mission. With tears in my eyes I have left those people behind physically, but in my memory and my heart they will NEVER be forgotten. Those are my people, forever. Some I may see, and others I may never see again. I hope and pray that I did ALL I could for them. I love them and I hope they felt and heard my testimony as I bore it to them. Before my mission, the reality of the experience of a mission was not real to me. I loved missionaries but I never got a sense of the experiences they were having. But this … this is real. The LOVE I have for them is real and I hope after this life I can rejoice with them in the glory of our God. I know the reunions will be great, whether it be in this life or the next. With all my heart, amo mi mision. Every day I write that statement at the end of my daily journal entry. I love my mission. I hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day and think about those you truly love and remember them.

Les Amo Muchisimo!

Elder Vance

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