Thursday, March 1, 2012

Make The Turn

Last week was a great one. Elder Lopez continues to stoke my fire for my mission. He is such an example to me and he has a giant heart. I love him and I feel like the missionaries that come into the field now are so great. Last week I went to a Leadership Training meeting in Santa Rosa. One thing President Bunker said that really struck me was, “Ask yourself why someone is in your life. You are on your river of life. There are things we experience or people on the banks that sometimes we don't see. Stop and notice. Don't miss a thing." I loved that. Everyone around us is put on the river of our life for a reason. I have a testimony of that.

On a hot day last week, after sharing a lesson with a new contact, Elder Lopez and I went out knocking on doors. We were about to head to dinner, but there were a few doors left, so we agreed to finish knocking on them. We got to apartment #9 and knocked. A shirtless Hispanic man opened the door. I explained to him that we were missionaries and Elder Lopez talked about our message; about Jesus Christ. He paused and told us he wanted to go get a shirt and then let us in. His apartment was a mess, with bicycles, old food and junk all over. We found out his name is Juan. We began to talk to him about Jesus Christ and about our purpose as missionaries. He had a strong faith in Jesus Christ. I felt prompted to invite him to be baptized. I followed the prompting and said, "Seguira el ejemplo de Jesucristo y se bautizara por alguin que posea la autoridad del sacerdocio de Dios? Tendremos un servicio bautismal en el 17 de Marzo. Se prepara por esa fecha?" (Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone that holds the priesthood authority of God? We will be having a baptismal date on March 17. Will you prepare to be baptized on that date?). The spirit filled the room and almost immediately after he said, "Si". He told us he wants to follow Jesus Christ and that he now feels something different when we come over. But that one word, "Si" could not have had more power and impact in my life. It is one of the best feelings in the world when an investigator commits to follow Jesus Christ and to be baptized by someone holding the proper priesthood authority of God. I love these experiences. They help me see all the things I have been given in this life and all the things that have helped me become a better person. As missionaries, we are the only ones that can do this marvelous work. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of it.
I was reading Mosiah (chapter 7) in The Book of Mormon this past week. It talks about the TURN we need to make to receive freedom from bondage. In verses 29-33 it says:
 29 For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.
 30 And again, he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the chaff thereof in the whirlwind; and the effect thereof is poison.
 31 And again he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction.
 32 And now, behold, the promise of the Lord is fulfilled, and ye are smitten and afflicted.
 33 But if ye will TURN to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.

One of the greatest things I have learned on my mission is that the Lord is not going to bless people for transgressing. He just isn't going to do it. It is up to us to make that turn to the Lord and humble ourselves towards Him. As we do so, we can have real happiness in our lives and fill those spacious voids that at times Satan creates. I am a missionary. I help others TURN to God. My job isn't to MAKE them believe this gospel or this message, it is to invite them and help them SEE; see that they CAN turn to God and receive answers, joy and lasting happiness. We can be thrown off in our lives, but if we turn and focus on the straight and narrow path we can return to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father with our families after this life. I know this to be true. I love these people. There are my brothers and sisters and I invite you all to refocus and make the turn in your lives.
Les Amo Muchisimo,
Elder Vance

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