Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Love at Home

This past week I was reading the conference edition of the Ensign magazine and it was filled with the spirit as I read the talks from our prophet and apostles from our April General Conference. I know that they have been called and chosen by Jesus Christ to lead His church here on the earth at this time. I love learning from them and following their council; and know that if we do we can be safe from the evil influences and temptations of the world.
I loved the talk, "For Peace at Home", by Elder Richard G. Scott. In his talk he says that “regardless of your circumstances, you can center your home and your life on the Lord, Jesus Christ, for He is the source of true peace in this life."
I know that to be true. As missionaries we go into many homes every week. We can instantly tell from the spirit in their home who is centering their family and their lives on Jesus Christ and who is not. There is a big difference in the feelings that are there and the love between the individuals of that family. I know that in my own family we strived to center our lives on Jesus Christ. It didn't come over night, but instead took time and work. Love at home is not a gift, it is acquired. Trials and challenges do come, but I know that as we build our lives and our homes upon Jesus Christ we can experience true happiness and peace every single day. I am so grateful … so grateful … that I was raised in a loving home and in a family that cared for me and my happiness. I know that any family that applies the principles of the gospel can have such a home. It starts with daily personal and family prayer, family scripture study, and setting aside time each week to be together as a family. These are small things, but they make such a difference in the spirit of a home.
One day, I want to build my home on a foundation that rests on Jesus Christ. There is so much joy that comes when we strive to apply what He taught in our homes. There can be such love at home, and I want my home to be a sanctuary for my children … a safe place in which they feel secure and protected. I am grateful for parents who provided that sanctuary for me. I never felt scared when I was home. It wasn't until I left home that I truly appreciated the spirit that always resided there. Our homes can be heaven on earth; they truly are what we make them to be. There is such a special feeling when I walk into a families' home that holds the spirit of the Lord … I feel like I am home. Our Heavenly Father wants us all to be happy and have peace. He wants us to feel of His presence here in this life. With the turmoil of the things around us, we need love at home more than ever, and it is through building our homes on Jesus Christ that we can do so.
Los Quiero,
Elder Vance

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eye of Faith

I just found out I will be with Elder Mahoney for another five weeks. He is such a solid missionary and we have learned so much together. This past week was a crazy, with 28 new missionaries coming in and people going to new areas! It was hectic, but the Lord truly helped everything work out in the end. There were some definite curve balls, but the Lord helped us hit them out of the park! Our vision for our mission is to bring 101 of our brothers and sisters into the fold of God; to have 101 baptisms in the month of July. There is a SURGE of energy moving through this mission like a tsunami building up in the Pacific! We are moving towards the 101; families are being baptized, and are experiencing the fullness of joy that comes from following the example of Jesus Christ. It is amazing to see how the Lord is hastening his work here in Northern California.
As children of God we need to have a vision for our lives. While we often only see ourselves as we are, our Heavenly Father sees us as the person we can become. We are all different, and yet He has the same vision for each and every one of us … to return to His presence after this life. We are required to follow the example of His son, Jesus Christ, to make sacred promises with our Heavenly Father, and to keep His commandments. Every day we have an opportunity to come closer to achieving that vision.
I love this scripture from the Book of Mormon:
"And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad." Ether 12:19
We can all have that glimpse of what it's going to be like after this life. We can experience true joy and peace by accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we have faith we can envision ourselves living in the presence of our Heavenly Father with our families. What an amazing vision to have for us and for our families. We cannot lose that vision … we need to have an eye of faith. Our lives are only specks in the eternal scheme of things. We can make the most of our lives by following Jesus Christ … by putting Him first in our lives, we are setting ourselves up for eternal life.
Our mission is taking off and it is amazing to hear about all the miracles that happen on a daily basis. We had five investigators at church on Sunday as the Lord continues to bless us. Our Sundays are paydays … to be able to have our investigators there with us is such a blessing. I often feel like a shepherd to them … guiding them along the path. People email me sometimes and ask "How is your mission?", and it is so difficult to share my feelings and my mission experience in just a few sentences or paragraphs. It is so hard because I love my mission so much and I can’t express how much Jesus Christ has changed my life. It is such a spiritual experience and words can’t do justice to the spiritual connections I have made and the people we have been able to bring unto Christ. Thank you for you love and prayers. You are all in mine as well. I love being a servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We are answering the prayers of many strong families by visiting their less active family members. What a powerful and wonderful experience, and I know that every missionary is led and guided by the spirit of God. I invite you all to join us in our VISION – “The 101- July 2013”. Wherever you are in your life I invite you to align your vision with the vision that our Heavenly Father has for you. Ask yourself if your life is acceptable in the eyes of your Heavenly Father. I know we can grow our faith by reading our scriptures, praying daily, and going to church to partake of the Lord's Supper. I love praying and writing down what I need to do to become what my Heavenly Father wants me to become.  With an eye of faith, we can all see ourselves as our Heavenly Father sees us.
Los Quiero,
Elder Vance

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Last week was so great. I was able to Skype with my family (screen shot below) and it was so good to see their faces. It just made me grateful for them and for all the love and support they have given me throughout my mission. I love each and every one of them and am inspired by their examples and testimonies.
This past week some of the elders and I were able to help out with a “Human Race 3K/10K”, and it was super fun. There were hundreds of people that participated and it felt good to help out with such a big event. I have found that there is a special joy when we serve others. Service helps us take our minds off of ourselves. I felt that in a big way this past Saturday when we helped out with the race. That experience made me think of the following scripture from The Book of Mormon.
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)
I know that when we serve others we are truly in the service of our God. I have seen that as I have served my mission and have come closer to God and Jesus Christ. That is what I signed up for … two years, every day, 24/7. We can serve our Heavenly Father by serving our fellow brothers and sisters. I love being a missionary because I have the opportunity to put away all distractions and focus on inviting and helping God's children return to live with Him again.
I love my mission and I am also so grateful for the opportunity we had to celebrate our mothers on Sunday. How grateful I am to have been brought up in a home where the gospel of Jesus Christ was lived and taught by a righteous mother; a mother that has always believed in me and loved me every day. I thank my Heavenly Father for a mother that taught me to follow Jesus Christ and to strive to reach my divine potential. I know my mother was the perfect mom for me. I love you Mom. ♥
Remember that when we are in the service of our fellow beings we are only in the service of our God. I invite you all to do an act of service today!
Los Quiero,
Elder Vance

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Remember Me

Santa Rosa, California is the best mission in the world! These next two weeks are going to be nuts; we just got word that we are receiving an additional 9 missionaries on top of the 20 that are coming next week from the MTC. The 9 are missionaries waiting for their visas to go to Brazil. It is crazy, but we are excited! Three months from today my mission will be coming to a close and I have to finish strong! I have set goals for things I want to accomplish before I go home. It makes me a little sad to think about , so I try not to, and just focus on the precious time I have left here. I know I have to leave it all out here in the field. It is interesting because every day that goes by I feel like I am coming even closer to my Savior. The love I have for my people continues to grow and continues to strengthen.
Yesterday was Fast Sunday and there was a woman bearing testimony who talked about the famous YouTube video, "Christian the Lion" (see below). The video is about how two friends who raise a young male lion cub named Christian in a big city, but soon they had to release it because it had grown to be too big for their small city apartment. They flew Christian to Africa to let him go into the wilderness of the African savannas. A year later, the two friends returned to see Christian. By that time, Christian was the big alpha male of the pack and they were told that he was completely wild and would most likely not recognize them and be very territorial. When the two men saw Christian running towards them, they didn’t know what to think, but Christian jumped up and gave them a big lion hug and starts licking them. It was a grand reunion full of joy and love.
The woman that shared this story related this to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Before this life He knew us and told us, "Remember me, for I will remember you." We came to earth and have the choice to remember Him or not. Our daily decisions bring us closer to Him or move us away from Him. After this life the Savior will have His arms open and embrace us. Christian remembered his friends and remembered the love he felt from them. How great will be our joy when we have that same experience with our Savior. It will be such an amazing experience. As she related this story tears filled my eyes as I realized that one day I will be in the arms of my Savior. The spirit was so strong and it truly touched my heart. I know that He will remember me and that I will remember Him. Jesus Christ is central to the message we share and the center of my life. My life has been changed because of Jesus Christ. I know He lives and I know He will never deny or forget us, even if we choose to do so to Him. We can always come back into His arms and feel of His love and mercy. Serving a mission has helped me experience a taste of the love that Christ has for each and every one of us, and for that I am eternally grateful. This work we carry out is true, for it is done in His holy name. I love my family and my friends that love me and help me along the path that leads to eternal life. Let us all be as Christian the lion, and choose to remember the Savior every day of our lives, because He remembers us.
Los Quiero Mucho,
Elder Vance