Friday, September 14, 2012

Everything's Not Lost

Well folks, we got our transfer doctrine this past week and I will be staying in Santa Rosa for another 6 weeks with Elder Lenon! Woohoo! I am so excited to become even closer to the people here that I already dearly love. I know that the Lord has many adventures and experiences in store for Elder Lenon and me here in the beautiful country of Northern California. 

It seems that the Lord never stops testing us. The last week and a half has been such a roller coaster ... many highs and a few lows. Elder Lenon and I are continuing to try to improve ourselves as missionaries. We know that it is so important to be unified and to be a team here on our missions. You learn so much by having a companion and I am grateful for Elder Lenon and for his example in my life. We are becoming closer as the weeks go on and I know that I still have plenty to learn from him in the weeks to come.

Over this past week I have really been thinking a lot about how our trials or difficulties sometimes cloud our vision or stop us from progressing; how at times it seems that everything is lost. A death in the family, a divorce, job loss, or whatever the trials we face in this life may be, are the storms God throws at us. Some may wonder, "Why would God give us trials?" The answer is not always one we like to hear; he give us trials because they make us stronger and they help us become more like Him.

"The storms of life no more indicate the absence of God, than clouds indicate the absence of the sun."

Recently we have seen so many changes in one of our investigators. We have been on such a roller coaster with her and it has taught me so much. This woman has gone through so much in her life. She has four children and is from Mexico. She has always had a strong belief in God, but when we found her she was very confused about which church was the right one. As we have been teaching her, we have learned a lot about her life and her past. Her second husband was deported two years ago due to abuse within the home and other series of events. One night about two weeks ago her husband called her to let her know that he was with someone else down in Mexico. I will never forget talking to her on the phone that very same night. She just cried on the phone and told us how hard life was and how she didn't think she could go on in her life. We went over and visited her. Her heart was broken and she did not know what to do. As I was looking into her tear-filled eyes I saw her as a sister, and could see how the weight of her trials and her situation were pushing down on her. She was hopeless and her future seemed dim. As we met with her we turned her to our Heavenly Father. As missionaries we are the ones that turn the hearts of the people to heaven above. We gave her a blessing of comfort and invited her to pray for strength, to ask in faith for peace and comfort. We promised her that He was looking out for her and we shared our testimonies about how our Heavenly Father gives us challenges to make us stronger. That was about two weeks ago ... since then she has been reading in The Book of Mormon, visited the Oakland Temple Visitors Center, and received strength through prayer. She has exercised so much faith and it is such a testament to me to see how her trial has been turned into an increase in her faith. She is an amazing individual, and notwithstanding her trials, has put her faith in God and Jesus Christ and seen the happiness that comes from that. The gospel of Jesus Christ gives hope and happiness to all that receive it with an open heart. We are continuing to teach Lupe and her children and hope that someday soon, in the upcoming weeks, she along with her children will follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized.

Sometimes it is hard to be a missionary. You see so many people struggling day in and day out. There are so many people struggling and trudging through life without the real answer, the answer that everyone needs ... that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. God has created ONE plan for us and Jesus Christ is the center of that plan. We have been sent here to this earth to be tested. Our faith is to be tried and stretched so that when the storm clears away we are more polished and fortified in our faith. I am grateful for my faith. I know that it will continue to be put to the test, but I know that through difficult times I will become a better disciple of Jesus Christ, that I might follow him more faithfully in my life as the days, years, and decades pass by.  I love my mission. It has been such a journey to look back and see the storms I have passed through and to see the renovations that have come forth in my life because of them. I know that even if things are dim, a tiny flame will always be there to grasp onto and grow. God loves us ... always remember that with Him, everything's not lost.

Los Amo,

Elder Vance

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