Friday, June 8, 2012


Over this past week I have had the opportunity to learn a lot from people I have met, my companion, and my mission president. The experiences I have had recently have helped mold me into who I am right now. The work here in Northern California is great. Erika, one of our investigators, continues to grow. She told us she was missing a spiritual connection with God. Elder Richins and I testified to her that it was through prayer that she could strengthen that link with our Father above. She is doing very well and has a baptismal date set for July 7th. Selena and Luis are also continuing to progress. It is amazing to see how much light has filled them. They radiate with the light of Christ and I really love them both. Their family is slowly starting to become active again in the church. It has been such a great experience to see how this gospel unites and blesses families.

Today I want to talk about freedom; how all of us can feel spiritually free in our lives. This past week at a Zone Leader Council, President Bunker discussed this topic. He talked a lot about the army captain, Moroni, from the Book of Mormon and why he was so motivated to fight for freedom and what freedom really means in this life. In Alma 60:34-36 it says:
34 And now behold, I, Moroni, am constrained, according to the covenant which I have made to keep the commandments of my God; therefore I would that ye should adhere to the word of God, and send speedily unto me of your provisions and of your men, and also to Helaman.
35 And behold, if ye will not do this I come unto you speedily; for behold, God will not suffer that we should perish with hunger; therefore he will give unto us of your food, even if it must be by the sword. Now see that ye fulfil the word of God.
36 Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country. And thus I close mine epistle.

I love these verses. I remember before my mission a lot of my friends would question why I don't do certain things and why I went to church and lived my life by the standards of the church. I have now come to know that it was because I kept my covenants to follow Jesus Christ and the commandments of God that I am here today. That was the motivation for Moroni too. He made a covenant to keep the commandments of God and he knew they were true. A covenant is a promise between us and the Lord. Moroni had a witness; he had a testimony that keeping the commandments of God was the most important thing he could do. Because of his covenant, his oath and his witness, he fought for the religious freedom of his people. He had a firm faith in Jesus Christ. He was afraid to go against what he knew to be true.
When we are baptized we make a covenant with God to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to keep the commandments, and to always remember Him. I know in my own life I have not been perfect and have made mistakes that have caused me to stray me off the path. But I have a strong testimony that by keeping our promise to God and living the commandments, He has given us a promise in return that we all can be free. Sin is what binds us in this life. Satan tempts us and when we sin we become chained by him. But God has given us the privilege to choose. He has also given us this way to be free from sin and to stay out of the grasp of the adversary. True freedom comes from keeping the covenants with our Heavenly Father. I have family and friends that have gone astray. They have gone astray because they have forgotten the covenants they have made. Covenants are not made to bind us, they are made to free us and help us become more like Jesus Christ.

When I became a missionary I made a covenant. I made a covenant to live the missionary rules to the fullest and to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength. I know that it is through that covenant that I will have these amazing experiences that will change my life. I will be happy through my obedience here on my mission. The same goes for those that are baptized. As a missionary we teach people about the atonement of Jesus Christ, so they can increase their faith, so that they can repent and make covenants with God through baptism, and so that they can be free. I love my mission because I can help people understand that it is not the church that saves people. The way people are saved is only through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

If something is true today, it will be true forever. If you know and feel something is true today, you can know it is true forever. I know this day that the prophet, Joseph Smith, saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that this gospel is the same one that Christ himself taught to the people here on the earth when He came; and that witness will stay with me always if I allow it. I can change, but this witness that I have will never change. My witness is what will help me stay strong forever and help me stay free.

Les Amo Muchisimo,

Elder Vance

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