Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lay It Down

Last week we had a Zone Conference here in Woodland and it was so uplifting. Our new mission president, President Alba, has such a love for the missionaries here and I am grateful to have him as my mission president for the second half of my mission. This Saturday, Luis (16 yrs old) and Selena (11 years old) are going to be baptized!!! Elder Richins and I are so excited to have this opportunity to witness their faith in following the example of Jesus Christ. This family is so special to me. Satan, the adversary, has tried their faith and attempted to halt their progression but they are doing so great. Luis and Selena are so excited to be baptized. Luis has expressed to us that he wants to serve a mission when he turns 19. What joy filled my soul when I heard those words! Here is a kid that hasn't even been baptized and yet he wants to serve a mission. He has so much faith and such a love for The Book of Mormon. Luis, his mother, and Selena read and pray every night. I know it is because of this family that I have been here for six months. When I first came here, this family was less active and struggling a lot. None of them had a desire to even talk to us, let alone talk about to us about Jesus Christ. That change is nothing for which we should be credited for, because I know it is the Lord that humbled them and caused their hearts to be softened. We merely turned them to the source, our Heavenly Father and to Jesus Christ, where they could go to be so inspired. This family is a living testament to me that this gospel of Jesus Christ, that we bring to everyone we see, blesses families. As time goes on in my mission I realize how blessed my family was and is because of this gospel. I know it is real because I have felt it and seen it. That is something I can never deny.

The Lord is truly blessing Elder Richins and me here in the Davis/Woodland area. Transfers information comes in this Friday, so we will see what happens! If I do get transferred, it won't be until next week. I would love to stay another six weeks, but I don't know if that is what the Lord has in store for me. I know wherever I may go it is for a reason. I know I am here for a reason, and I know that there are things I need to learn in every chapter of my mission here in Santa Rosa, California.

At Zone Conference, President Alba talked a lot about sacrifice and obedience. He explained the significance of sacrifice and obedience not only in here in our missions, but forever. I loved this quote he used about sacrifice.

"Real personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal inside of you on the altar and letting it be consumed." -Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Before Jesus Christ suffered and died for the sins of the world, people would offer sacrifices to God for their sins. They would sacrifice the firstlings of their flocks or the unspotted lambs to show a pure sacrifice to God in turn for forgiveness of their sins. The law in which they followed, The Law of Moses, was fulfilled with the blood and death of our Savior, Jesus Christ ... the only perfect being to walk the face of this earth, The Lamb of God. Since his Atonement for us, we know that we receive forgiveness through His sacrifice for us.

We all have a different animal inside of us (figuretively). We all have different problems and things we deal with on a daily basis. But like that quote says, real personal sacrifice is a willingness to lay that animal inside of us on the altar and let it be consumed. It is a willingness to humble ourselves before God and give up sin, bad habits, and those things that go against the very heavenly being that created us. We are here to be tried and tested. It was never supposed to be easy but we are here to find out who we really are and whose side we are on. Every week at church we partake of the sacrament, the bread and the water that represents the body and blood of Jesus Christ. We take the sacrament to help us remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and through that we are made sacred. By purifying ourselves we become One with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Over this last year I have seen the old "Spencer Vance" put on the altar and the bad parts slowly consumed. There is still more to be consumed but the Lord has molded me into someone new and improved. Every day it is a continual process of repentance, a change of heart. The sacrifices I have made to be here are so small compared to what my Savior, Jesus Christ has sacrificed for me. It is because He died that I am here today. I have laid my burdens upon the altar and felt the pure joy of repentance. Lay down your burdens, take that animal out from within yourselves. Whatever it may be, big or small, I know that Jesus Christ can free you.

"To do it no more is the truest repentance." -Martin Luther

Lay it down ... go to our Heavenly Father every day in prayer. Ask for forgivness. I know as you do you will feel his arms of mercy outstretched towards you. Become sanctified, and be made holy through the blood of Jesus Christ. I know that they both live. I know that they are separate beings and yet one in purpose in every way possible. I love my mission. The greatest joys have come from seeing others accept the gospel of Jesus Christ into their lives. I love my family and friends that continue to support me through my time here on my mission. Always remember to lay down you burdens, lay down that animal within you and let it be consumed.

Les Amo,

Elder Vance

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