Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Instrument

This past week has been filled with so many miracles and blessings. The Lord is blessing me and Elder Mahoney, and He is providing us with so many opportunities to teach and bless the lives of the people here in the Santa Rosa area. The Brush Creek ward is so great and we love serving here, and it is really starting to heat up! Our week was full of teaching opportunities, which is a change, as we have been so busy with transfers and conferences lately and we were finally able to spend time in our area with our people.

Months ago I was serving in the Santa Rosa area (in the Spanish branch) and a girl named Ana (dressed in red in the photos below) was reactivated. At the time, the only active member of her family was her dad, but since her activation her mom and sister came back as well, and her older brother began taking the missionary discussions as a nonmember. Well, his baptism was last Saturday, and we got to go because it was in the branch in Santa Rosa! It was such a special and amazing experience. Ana gave a great talk on the Holy Ghost at the baptism and angels were definitely present. Now Ana is going on a mission later this year as well, and she is going to be such a great sister missionary! It was such a glorious day and a huge testimony to the ripple effect we all can have in the lives of others. It is an absolute miracle to see a family so blessed over the past seven month and is evidence that what we are doing here is God’s work. It just reminds me that what we are doing is God's work; so cool and so inspiring.

The other night we ran into a man named Jason. He was so open to the gospel and said to us, "I need something more for my family. We have been trying to find a church but we just don't know where to go. I feel like something is missing." We explained to him that we are servants of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and that we would love to stop by and bless his family. Last night we went by and had an amazing experience with him, his wife, and two young kids. We taught them about the Restoration. Tears filled Jason's eyes as he said to his wife, "Honey, I think we need this. Our kids need to learn about Jesus Christ. I want to have more happiness. I can feel it." We talked about how the gospel blesses families and how Jason could provide for his family, not only temporally, but spiritually as well. We talked about how Jesus Christ and His apostles were rejected and about how the primitive church He established while He was on the earth was destroyed, as the people entered into spiritual darkness. We told Jason that many churches were then formed by man, and that in 1820 a boy named Joseph Smith had the simple and logical question in his heart about which church he should join. We told him that Joseph’s simple prayer that followed ended the spiritual darkness and the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored once again, and that Joseph Smith in reality did see God the Father and Jesus Christ.  Jason and his wife listened and Elder Mahoney and I bore our testimonies about how they can be together forever as a family and that it is through the gospel of Jesus Christ that they can do so. Tears filled both of their eyes as the Spirit bore witness to them that what we had taught was true. Tears came to my eyes at the end of the lesson as I said, "I testify to you both in the name of Jesus Christ that this will bring more happiness and peace to your family than anything else. I know it because I have seen it in my own family. There is nothing else that brings the happiness and peace that the gospel of Jesus Christ provides. The Lord is waiting to bless your family, and as you continue to learn about our message you will see that gospel light enters into your lives and you will see the blessings from heaven." It truly was an experience I will never forget. They both committed to being baptized on May 25th… I know that this family is going to see so many blessings. I know that as missionaries we leave our families for two years to help families be together forever. I love finding those who have been prepared for the gospel … they are such an amazing family. 

I know that we are instruments in the hands of God. This past week we got a referral to go see a man that had leukemia in the hospital. His son had talked to missionaries in a different part of the mission and the missionaries offered to give a blessing to his father. Neither of them are members of our church, but the son accepted the offer from the missionaries and told them that his father really needed help. His father was in critical care at one of the hospitals here in Santa Rosa, so Elder Mahoney and I went to visit him. Before going into the hospital I told Elder Mahoney, "I love going to hospitals. There is a special spirit there. It is where people enter into this world and where people leave." The man's name was Brian and we found his room on the fourth floor. We had to put on elastic gloves and masks. When we entered the room it was dim and quiet. He had his eyes closed and you could see he was in pain and didn't have a lot of energy. There was a special spirit in the room, and we asked him if he would like a blessing from the Savior. He whispered, "Yes". Elder Mahoney proceeded to do the anointing and I voiced the blessing. It was a powerful experience. I remember saying "You are in the arms of your Savior, and He knows what you are going through. We bless you with the energy to endure this illness.” After the blessing his eyes were still closed, and at first we thought he had fallen asleep, until he whispered in a raspy voice with his eyes still closed, "Thank you, may the Lord be with you". We stood there for what seemed to be a few minutes and we could feel the presence of angels in the room. I know that angels were there, tending to his body and helping him endure. Tears came to my eyes as I felt the spirit touch my heart. I am so grateful for the priesthood, the power to act in God's name. I know that it is real. I know it is the same authority that Christ had when he healed the sick. I am grateful to be a holder of that power. I know that in that moment I was the vessel God used to reach out and bless one of His sons. I love being a servant of Jesus Christ. He lives, and I know that He loves each and every one of us. 

Los Quiero,

Elder Vance

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