Thursday, March 29, 2012

That Which Cannot Be Contained

Last week was simply amazing. I have been out for almost 8 months but it seems like time has just flown by. My mission really has changed me for the better and forever, and I really believe that ALL young men need to serve one. I am staying here in Davis for another transfer (at least another six weeks) and my new district is going to be awesome. Elder Lopez and I love the challenges and the good times as well. It seems like it rains here all the time these days, but we press on and enjoy the work with a few treats along the way … like Elotes! It is grilled corn on the cob jammed onto a stick then drowned in a limey mayonnaise sauce, rolled in crumbly cheese and sprinkled with lime juice and cayenne pepper. They smell terrible but taste soooo good! They are pretty fattening too but they are awesome. People laugh at us when we eat them because they just know how good they are! Good times!

In Chapter 7 of Alma, in The Book of Mormon, it says regarding baptism:
15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.
 16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.
On Sunday (March 25th) I had the opportunity to baptize Juan. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. More than witnessing his baptism with my eyes, it is what I felt that I will never forget. Elder Cordova from the Quorum of the Seventy recently spoke at the last stake conference here and said, "The difference between happiness and joy; is that joy comes through the spirit." In the scriptures it talks about groups of people feeling "exceedingly great joy." I can testify that is exactly what I felt this past week. It is something that I cannot do justice to if I were to put it into words. It's a feeling that was put into my heart and soul, and even if I tried, I could never deny the truth I felt. After church Juan and I dressed in white. I told him, "You will remember this day forever." With a smile he responded, "Yo se (I know)".  After a short program we entered the baptismal font. What a special moment that was for me as I performed the baptism, and baptized him in the name of our dear Heavenly Father, His son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. After the baptism I had this overwhelming feeling; not so much of happiness, but a feeling of joy. It is a feeling that I know can last more than for today or tomorrow, but forever. That moment took me back to my baptism when I was 8 years old, when I received a full remission of my sins and made my promise with my Heavenly Father to stay faithful forever. I remember my father baptized me and how that memory will be burned within me forever and ever.
The memory of Juan’s baptism is a sweet and tender one. I will never forget the feeling when he came out of the water, fully and completely clean from all of his sins, making a special promise with our Heavenly Father to keep His commandments and always remember Him. Our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us. We are HIS children. He wants us to return to Him once again. This is the way. As a missionary I am a representative of Jesus Christ, who is the gatekeeper to our eternal salvation. I love being a missionary and being able to feel of all of the joy that Heavenly Father has in store for me. It is truly a blessing to witness a baptism as a missionary. Some people think the harder you work the more baptisms you will see, but I disagree 100%. Yes, we need to work hard, but to be able to witness someone’s conversion is a gift granted by our Father above. Being able to witness this has strengthened my testimony and, in a sense, it has helped me become more fully converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and come closer to Him.  I am grateful every day for the rain we walk in, for the badge we wear, and for the people we get to see grow in their faith in Jesus Christ. These are the blessings of my life. It is Pure Joy; that is what I feel at this very moment because I am close to my Heavenly Father and I have the spirit of the Lord with me. I hope to continue to be able to see the blessings of His work and have more opportunities to see more baptisms throughout my mission. It is that which cannot be contained; my LOVE and JOY for my people.
Les Amo,
Elder Vance

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