Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Even Unto The End Of The World

It's crazy that I have been out for 8 months! My mission is 1/3 of the way over ... NOOO!!! I am grateful for my companion Elder Lopez because my Spanish is really taking off. I love him for how hard he works every day and for the patience he has for me. I had a really cool experience this last week. Elder Lopez and I were walking down the street and this man with a Green Bay Packers hat was walking into his garage. With hope, I went up to him and tried to talk to him, but he immediately said, "Nah, I'm not interested." Disappointed, I slowly walked away but then quickly turned and yelled, "I'm a Packers fan, Go Pack Go!” He then came out of his garage and said, "You're a Packer fan?" I said, "Well, I was born and raised a Cheesehead. I am from Wisconsin and will forever be a Green Bay Packers fan." He then looked at me for a second and said, "Come here I gotta show you something."  He then led us into his house and into his lounge. We found out his name was Chuck and to my astonishment when I walked into his house I was standing within a Packers’ shrine.  I saw famous framed jerseys, helmets mounted, and pictures of players covering the walls. My eyes just got huge and I said, "Wow this is awwwesome!" It was cool to see a jersey of one of my favorite quarterbacks of all time (Brett Favre) hanging on the wall. I was speechless. Not only was it his jersey but it was the last jersey he wore in a regular season game as a Packer. Of course, I had to get pictures and he told us that just that day he had talked some other missionaries. I told him there was a reason that he was in our path that day. He seemed like a happy man but I could sense that there was something missing in his life. I think he even felt it too, but he insisted that he wasn't interested in hearing anything about religion, but he was really a charitable and nice guy. As I walked out I was stoked that I got to see all of that stuff but at the same time I felt unsatisfied. I realized that those things will only last a lifetime and not for eternity. I wanted to do all I could to help him. I wrote my testimony on a pamphlet about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and left it in his truck mirror. At that moment I felt good because I knew that I did all I could to bring him unto the true and everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. While I too enjoy things like that in my life … sports, games, TV, music, etc., I know that the root of true joy is the gospel of Jesus Christ, because through Him we can be with our families forever after this life and receive our eternal salvation.

I really felt something special this past Easter Sunday, a special spirit surrounding those sacred days. I love this time of year because it gives us all an opportunity to gain a better understanding and testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I read chapters 26, 27, and 28 in the book of Matthew over the weekend, which talks about the suffering of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. I love these chapters because they help me learn more about the life and purpose of Jesus Christ. What I loved most is what He says to His apostles after His resurrection in Matthew 28:18-20 ...

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD. Amen.

Many people in today’s world focus so much on His death and how terrible and awful his pain and suffering was. We recognize that He did suffer for our sins and die for us, but we worship and know the LIVING Christ, the one that is and always will be with us. He LIVES. His ministry continues after his resurrection. I love the promise He gives to visit His "other sheep" in John 10:16 ...

"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

Those other sheep He visited were the people here in the Americas. The Book of Mormon is a record of His visitation and ministry to the people here. I know that because I have read it. Every page of the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ. There were people here that knew of Christ's birth, ministry, atonement, death, and resurrection. There were prophets called of God here because people needed that sacred guidance from our Father in Heaven. God loves all of His children. That is why we have The Book of Mormon, because with it we have the full record of the life of Jesus Christ. The Bible occurred in the Middle East and events in The Book of Mormon happened here in the Americas. We have both of these records written by prophets so that we can gain a greater understanding and testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The promise of The Book of Mormon is that ANY person that reads it and prays to our Heavenly Father about it with a sincere heart can know if it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost is the way our Heavenly Father reveals truth to us. It is like a still small voice, a warm feeling in your heart, a feeling of peace and comfort inside of you. Anyone can receive an answer. God is the source of ALL truth and He will reveal to you if these things are true. All you have to do is kneel, pray and ask Him if The Book of Mormon is true.

Veronica (the sister of our recent convert Juan) and her boyfriend Antonio have committed to being married and baptized on the 28th of April. We are so excited for them. They both continue to grow so much and increase their faith through living the commandments of God. Veronica came to church on Sunday and then, after we ate dinner with her at our branch president’s house, she told us that in that home it felt like she knew us from long before and that it felt like home to her. We explained to her that we are children of our Heavenly Father and before this life on earth we ALL lived together. She said she loved the feeling she felt there and was grateful for this gospel. She told us, "Yo quiero seguir adelante" (I want to continue onward). It is an amazing thing to witness this and be a part of these people’s lives. I feel that I have the privilege to love as Christ loves here in my mission.

Jesus Christ is important to me because He will always be standing there, beckoning unto me to come follow him, with arms wide open waiting for me. Through the good he walks beside me and through the bad He carries me. I know He will ALWAYS be there for me. I am forever in debt to the everlasting price He paid for me and for His drops of blood that fell because of me. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ and because of Him, it is NEVER over. He died for every sin I have committed, every pain I have felt, and for every sorrow that I have been burdened with in my life. We can return to live with our Heavenly Father again because Jesus Christ came. He will always be the light that penetrates my darkness. I know He is with me, not only in this life, but forever. I testify that HE LIVES and that He can be with each and every one of us if we allow Him to come in, Even Unto The End Of The World.

Les Amo,

Elder Vance

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