Wednesday, February 27, 2013


What a crazy week! It probably was the most exhausting week of my mission, but I loved it! My new assignment is stretching me and helping me reach my full potential as a missionary. There are always things that we need to do, like giving rides, getting materials out, fixing things, and so forth. Being so busy has helped me trust in the Lord and go to Him in mighty prayer for energy and help. Elder Mahoney is such an amazing missionary. He has a strong testimony of the gospel and is willing to go the extra mile. I love serving with him and I hope we stay together for a while. 

This past week I had one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. I would like to share it with you because it was so special and so powerful. 

We received a phone call from a member named Adam. He had recently moved in from Minnesota and is working for a solar panel company. His family is in Minnesota and he said he is working to save up money to bring his family out to California. He told us that his roommates wanted to take the missionary discussions, so we went over and we taught his roommate named Matt one evening. He is 34 years old and from Lacrosse, Wisconsin! It was good to hear some northern accents (I was born and raised as a child in Wisconsin). So we taught Matt about the Restoration and the prophet, Joseph Smith. He showed a lot of interest and wanted us to come back. The second time we came back was such a sweet experience. Adam invited three other young men from their Vivint Company team to hear the lessons. So it was me and Elder Mahoney (Missionaries), Carter (20 yrs old- Less active member from Utah), Anthony (21 yrs old- Less Active from Utah), Matt (Investigator), Selver (19 year old- recent convert from Utah), and Adam (the member) in their apartment. Everyone had their story. Selver recently was baptized in Utah 4 months ago, Anthony and Carter both left the church in their teens, and Matt was investigating the church. We all were together. We opened The Book of Mormon and read 1 Nephi Chapter 1. We all took turns going around the room reading one verse each. As we were reading, a real peace filled the room. The spirit entered, and by the end of the chapter it was so strong. It was a feeling that was undeniable, and a feeling of joy and comfort swelled in our hearts. Anthony said, "I can feel it. There is a special feeling here." Carter, with tears in his eyes, said, "I can't even talk man, I haven't felt this in a very long time." The spirit testified to us all that what we had just read was true. Elder Mahoney and I went on and talked about repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Selver, the recent convert, shared his testimony of repentance. "In high school I didn't care about anything, but at one point I came to realize that I was living in sin, and that something was missing in my life. Through praying, I was able to receive forgiveness for my sins. I remember driving one day after I had prayed and I felt something come over me. It was an experience I will never forget. It is a feeling that is hard to describe. I just knew that Jesus Christ died for me. I knew that I was forgiven and that this church was true. At that point, I made the decision that I needed to be baptized." The spirit pricked our hearts as we spoke of what Jesus Christ did so that we all can be forgiven of our sins. It was such a special moment. Adam, the member, bore a heartfelt testimony that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is real, and that because He came, we all can be cleansed of sin. They all committed to go to church and to repent of their sins and follow Jesus Christ more fully in their lives. That experience helped me see that we are all in this together. Selver, Carter, and Anthony went to the singles congregation this past Sunday. Adam and Matt came to our church yesterday. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it brings us together as children of God. That night I learned what the word "brother means" and our experience brought us together as brothers. We all committed to following Jesus Christ together. Member, non-member, active or less active; we are brothers, and it was a sweet and tender moment for me. I know that it is never too late for anyone. I know we can never give up on anyone, and that includes giving up on ourselves. I love being a missionary and helping others follow the example of Jesus Christ. Matt has a baptismal date for March 23rd. He is so excited and we are excited for our brother as well.

Los Amo,

Elder Vance

Monday, February 18, 2013

Forever Bonds

What a great week! We received transfer information and I have been called to be an assistant to President Alba in Santa Rosa. I am so excited about my new assignment, but it still doesn't make it any easier to leave this area, which I love so dearly. The people here in Napa are so loving and so special to me. It has been an amazing last three months serving here with Elder Cosman. I truly see him as one of my brothers and I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to be here. I know that Elder Cosman will continue to lead the Napa 3rd Ward area and continue to work miracles here. The desires of his heart are pure and I know that the people are being blessed by having him for at least another six weeks. As for me, I will now be serving in the Brush Creek Ward here in Santa Rosa with Elder Mahoney. Being an assistant will give me the opportunity to work with and help all the missionaries in the Santa Rosa, California Mission. I know that I will continue to grow Christ-like attributes that will not only benefit me here in my mission, but for the rest of my life. 

The bonds I have made on my mission are eternal. They are eternal because I love the people here as my brothers and sisters, and have shared many spiritual experiences that have created those spiritual connections that I know will last forever. My relationships with these people are much deeper because of these experiences we have shared together. We read the scriptures together, feel the spirit together, bear our testimonies of truth together, pray together, laugh together, share personal experiences together, and believe together. There is a special love here because of the special message that we share. The message we bring to people literally changes them and brings them closer to their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It is amazing to see those changes in others but it is even more of a blessing to see how it has changed me.

Saying goodbye to the people in my areas has been the worst part of my mission. I know that it is really not a goodbye, but a more of a "see you later". I know that I will see these people again in this life or in the life to come. They feel like my family and indeed they are. I know change is necessary and change is good, and the very definition of bittersweet for me is "transfers" ... bitter that I leave the ones behind, but sweet because I know I will find more people to love in my next area. I am going to miss Napa, but I know that there are people God has prepared for me to come across here in Santa Rosa. It's Santa Rosa, round #2! Speaking English this time, ha ha! Our mission is taking off and I am grateful I have the opportunity to be here to witness it. I am grateful for my sister, Madeline, who reports to the MTC this Wednesday. She will be serving in Paris, France and I know she is going to be an extraordinary missionary. I am grateful for her in my life and for the faith that she has. She will be an angel to the people in France ... they don't know what they are in for! I love being here on my mission. Six months left; I know I have to finish strong and continue to create forever bonds!

Los Quiero,

Elder Vance

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Hastening

Elder Cosman and I continue to see many miracles that the has Lord blessed us with here in Napa, California. The area is doing so well. We are working closely with the members and reaching out to their friends and families that need the message we have to share. We found five new investigators last week including two families to teach! I would like to share a very special experience Elder Cosman and I had this past week.
Elder Cosman and I were parked in our car and we prayed to find a family to teach. As we finished our prayer, we looked up and a man was walking down the street with his little girl on his shoulders. We approached him and found out that his name was John. We began talking to him about his family and we found out that he was living with his mom and his young daughter. We talked with him about how our message blesses families and how it is something that could bring more happiness into his life. He was very nice and invited us to come back. A few days later Elder Cosman and I returned to the address he gave us and found him home. We pulled up some chairs outside to enjoy the beautiful Napa sunshine. We began teaching him about how God is literally our Heavenly Father and how He loves us and watches over us. The spirit entered the lesson as he told us about how God has always had a hand in his life and literally saved him from death as a young child. He told us about all the problems and challenges that he has had and how he knows that God lives. We then taught him about how the true church of Jesus Christ, that was once lost, has been restored through the prophet, Joseph Smith. We went on to share that the authority to act in God's name has been put back on the earth through him. As we explained, he paused and said, "That all makes sense. There are so many people out there running their own churches without that authority from God." The spirit was so strong and then I felt inspired to invite him to follow Jesus Christ more fully in his life. I said, "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone who holds the priesthood authority of God? We will be holding a baptismal service on March 2nd. Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that date?" He immediately responded with, "What do I have to wear?!" We then showed him a picture of the white clothing he was going to wear. He then asked, "What time is it at?" It was such a special moment for us. Then he said, "Hold on a second I gotta write this down." So he ran inside and we heard from outside, "Mom, I'm getting baptized!" It was amazing to see how he recognized the spirit and acted upon the feelings that he received to follow Jesus Christ. He has such a humble heart and so much faith. He was so excited about his baptism as he brought out his pad of paper to write down his baptismal date, his commitment to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and to come to church on Sunday. The Lord is preparing people like John everywhere. I have a testimony that God lives and that He wants all of His children to return to live with Him again. That is why I am here; to invite others to come unto Christ through baptism. I know the Lord is hastening His work and preparing the hearts of His children to receive this message. I love my mission because I have an opportunity and privilege to see this whole process of a child of God, with my brothers and sisters becoming converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I invite you all to pray for John as he prepares for his baptism, which has been set for March 2nd at 7pm. I love you all and thank you for your continual support and love.
Doctrine &Covenants 88:73
"Behold, I will hasten my work in its time."

Los Quiero,

Elder Vance