Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Storm

Elder Mahoney and I continue to love serving here in Santa Rosa in the Brush Creek ward. Things are going great! Matt came to church again and is excited about his baptism on the 23rd of March. I love being here and I love these people. I have only been here for about three weeks, but I feel like I have known them for my entire life. I know that at one time before this earthly life we all knew each other.
I had some challenges and trials last week, but I know that the Lord helped me through them. I know that it is through trials and challenges that we have the opportunity to grow. This past week, during one of my prayers with Elder Mahoney, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to send us "the storm" … to give us some trials and challenges. Well, let me tell you, they surely came. Two days later I went on an exchange with Elder Farnsworth about an hour north of Santa Rosa to a place called Ukiah. We had a great night as we taught two amazing people, and everything was going smoothly, but during that night I woke up feeling terribly sick in my stomach. I went to the bathroom and I was up every half hour the rest of the night going to the bathroom and/or throwing up. It was one of the worst and most painful nights of my life. My body was drained of fluids and I couldn't keep anything down. I remember about a year ago I got really bad food poisoning and a similar thing happened, but this was ten times worse. I remember sitting on the bathroom floor, shaking, and just praying throughout the night to my Heavenly Father. The pain never completely went away, but I did feel comforted and I was given the strength to endure it.  I received a priesthood blessing the following morning and stayed in bed for most of the day. I was picked up by my companion and taken to a member’s home here in Santa Rosa, where I rested the next day as well. Heavenly Father sent me a challenge … he sent me a storm this past week to test me. That experience really helped me understand that this life isn't supposed to be easy … that it is truly is a test of our faith. We need to be tested and we need to have things thrown at us so that we can progress. Sister Alba invited all of us to do that; to pray for "the storms" and go through the storms Heavenly Father gives us or allows us to experience so that we can come out of them with an even greater amount of faith. I have begun to understand that these "storms" are blessings, even if they don't seem like them at the time. Even though they seem like the worst things that can happen to us, they are blessings because they give us opportunities to grow. I know that even during the storms, when we feel like no one else knows our pain, there is someone that truly does. His name is Jesus Christ. I know He felt my pain that night when I was writhing on the floor and aching with pain from head to toe. I know that He has suffered my pains and afflictions. That is why I love him so dearly, because He knows me and He knows everyone and what we go through every day.
I was reading in 1 Nephi 18 one of those nights I was recovering because I couldn't sleep very well. Nephi and his family are on the ship during their journey to the promised land (the Americas). His brothers tie him up because they become upset with him and hard hearted. The Lord sends the storm and Nephi is tied to the mast of the ship for four days out in the storm and his brothers would not let him loose. But Nephi, being full of faith says;
16 Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.
What amazing faith! He did praise God even through his afflictions and pains. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that God, our Eternal Father lives. I love you all and I invite you all to praise God through the storms that life throws at you. Go forward in faith, always believing.
Los Quiero Mucho,
Elder Vance
p.s. I am now able to communicate with friends and family via email, so I encourage you to send me a message at my missionary email address:

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