Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Navidad!

Elder Vance here. I don't have much to say today and I don't have much
to say even wat I don have BUT I shall give a little update on how
things are going down here ( or 'up here' depending on where in the
world you are) in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission. :)

We had our Christmas party this week and it was a blast! Old friends
and companions and a nice talent show. Our investigator pool is
growing little by little. We are teaching a family of five that is
close to baptism if they would only come to church and read their
scriptures more! That's the eternal missionary problem. If you don't
read, pray, and keep comitments, you don't recieve a testimony. :( But
we shall not give up! :D We taught this 18 year old investigator that
has met with the missionaries for a couple months. It went well and he
could be getting baptized one of these upcoming weekends.

The weather recently has been warm and rainy. Quite different than the
usually white and wintry Christmas I'm used to. Well I guess it never
did get too white in Las Vegas but it hasn't snowed at all here. Sooo,
ya it's a bit different. But I do enjoy it here a lot. I will never
quite again experience Christmas like a missionary does. One really
has to soak up the experiences here! :D

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope you all find ways to
give a gift to your Savior this season by serving your neighbor. Who
is your neighbor, you ask? I'm sure there is a good parable you could
read in the Bible all about that ;)

con mucho amor,

Elder Vance

Former companion and great friends, Elder Chilcote and Long and Sister Beck

Former District leader, Elder Amaro from Mexico 
With Elder Santos from Brazil

With Elder Loveland

With his District leader Elder Evans

With Sister Adorable.  That is really her name. 

Elder Vance did some contacting at a huge flea market

Branch Christmas party.  Love all those cute brown heads. 

Elder Vance in the kitchen with Elder Galvez, his zone leader from Guatemala

Elder Vance and Sister Beasley.  She is a friend of Makenzie's from SUU!

Christmas as a missionary is fun!

Letter from Dec. 16, 2013

How is everyone this week? I hope things are going swell as most
schools are finishing up their last week until Christmas break. :)

This week has been filled with walking, talking, a bit of stalking (I
kid ;P) as we spread Christ's name here in Georgia. We have been
spending a lot of time down in a neighborhood that is full of
diversity! And by that I mean it's mostly blacks with a few Latinos. I
enjoy the feeling of being in different surroundings than I'm used to,
but my companion on the other hand is a bit nervous to go there
anymore. Some people down there have expressed their beliefs that we
are working for the police or social services and that we are just
using this 'church' thing as a disguise. Are they going to do
anything? Nah. Will we push our luck though? I'd rather not. So after
tracting most of the buildings we are leaving it alone for a good
while before returning :)

The people down here are great and the religious excitement is excited
as Christmas roles around. God bless and I hope you all have a great

Tambien uds. estan invitados a una fiesta navidena este sabado en la
capilla aqui en Georgia. Para todos que estan cerca ;D

Elder Vance

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I admit it. I play with Barbie dolls.

What a beautiful month we have here as we get ready for Christmas and
remember our Savior more. Winter here in Georgia has been less than a
'winter wonderland' as the temperature is still in the 60-70 range and
it seems to rain most days. I'm grateful to have a car and feel
compassion for all of the wet missionaries on bikes.

Right now we have five people with a date for baptism. One is an 18
year old girl going to UGA here and the other is a lovely family of
four. The family was found and taught a few lessons by our Zone
leaders. One of our Zone leaders is from Guatemala so he's pretty good
with his Spanish. (Though he wishes he could be as good as me :p) We
have been working hard and were able to talk to a lot of people this
week. It's so awesome just stepping back and seeing all of the amazing
and different people we meet every day.

Two people I want to highlight this week: 3 year old Naya; and 54 year
old Billy;

Naya is a little black girl with a whole lot of attitude! So funny to
talk with! She enjoys inviting us to come into her house and showing
us the picture of Dora she has in her room. One time we said to her,
'Here, we want to give you a picture of Jesus.' and she responded
quickly with 'Where he at??' Elder Dudley and I just laugh and laugh
at how quick and full of energy she is.

Billy is a nice old-looking man with a white beard on his face and a
beanie on his head. Everyone in his neighborhood knows him and he is
full of interesting things to say! We believe he has some sort of
mental disability but he is nice and fun to talk with. We saw him
walking one day looking kind of bummed out so we asked him what was
wrong. He simply replied, 'I don't want to talk about it, homes.' He
has lots of friends from the 'hood' and derives much of his language
from them. He brings a smile to our face when we think of him. :)

Other than that our week has been great, we ate awesome Latino foods,
I played dolls with a ten year old, and gave a five minute talk in
Sacrament meeting. We're pressing forward here and wishing all a very
Merry Christmas! :D

No cae mucho nieve aqui,

Elder Vance

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hello from Athens Georgia


Basically I love you all and don't have too much time to write this
email. But the gist of what has gone down recently is I am now in a
different area with a new companion. Well, sorta new. I was actually
with him before I trained my last companion. So we are reunited in a
new area. :)

Athens is a lot more open with fields and farms and long roads with
not much traffic. I am driving a car now, which is pretty neat. No
accidents so far. I'll try and keep it that way.

Elder Dudley, my current companion, and I are off to a great start of
hard work! He only has six weeks left in his mission so he is trying
to make it the best possible. I am going to do my best to help him
accomplish that. :D

Our apartment is clean, are car is clean, our clothes are hung up, our
Mormon.Org cards are ready to go and we are prepared to baptize
nations! Or at least do whatever the Lord would have us do. The branch
is the Oconee River Spanish branch and they are great! Each branch has
it's differences and each has it's great, great members (which is
everyone, cause they're all great!). I'm excited to get to work here
and am always thankful for the prayers and support form home.

My Thanksgiving was good too. Had two dinners of normal thanksgiving
food with a little Latin twist in some areas. Just for those who were
wondering. :3

Les qiuero mucho!

Elder Vance
 Me and the Bartlet family. I am standing kind of awkwardly...but they are awesome!

My district before I left. The camera looks to have some spots on its lens. 
But these are a great bunch of  Elders :)

Member in our branch and I think that's her little cousin. The little one is so cute! We walked in the first time and she said 'Oh, you guys are handsome!' and then she kissed us on the cheek...Do i need to talk to President about that?? ;P


What's good family and friends?? Elder Vance here with another little update on mission life here in good, ol' Georgia.

So this week is transfer week! Yikes! Different companions, different areas, and sometimes even different languages!! At this point most missionaries here in the Georgia Atlanta-North mission have already found out where they are going. I am currently in Roswell, GA in the Cumorah Spanish branch with my 'son' Elder Chilcote. I will now be leaving this area and going to Athens, GA to the Oconee Spanish branch with Elder Dudley. Elder Dudley just happens to be the elder that I was with BEFORE I trained Elder Chilcote. So I will be spending the last six weeks of his mission with him! :) Doesn't happen too often that you get put back with the same companion so quickly but 'I'll go where you want me to go' :)

I'm sad and excited to be leaving this area. The members are great, the investigators too, and I'll be leaving behind many good memories. Of course I'll be taking a copy of those memories with me in my brain so I'll have them for hopefully quite a while!

Our good friend Johnny has not been baptized yet but his faith in Jesus Christ has for sure grown in the past month. I don't think we could have done much more or taught any differently to have gotten him baptized while I was here. He has progressed a lot and is moving toward his Father in Heaven at his pace. That's just the way it seems to go as a missionary. there is never 'one size fits all' for the way one teaches and helps people enter the waters of baptism. 

Remember, perfection may be the ultimate goal but a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Our Eternal destiny will not be reached here, but we set the tone of our progression in the hereafter through the choices and desires we make and have now. As we desire to come close to God and be more like Christ, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ our ability to act on those desire will be greatly increased beyond our own, mortal, faltering ability. Everyday as a missionary I learn a little bit more about the Plan that God has for us and my love for Him and everyone else grows. No, I'm not too different than when I left home nine months ago, still that goofy, fun-loving redhead kid; But my experiences sure have expanded. Worth every minute :)

Oh, tambien encontramos una rata muerto en la casa de un miebro este manana. Solo si queria saber.

Con mucho amor!

Elder Vance

Monday, November 18, 2013

I love crashing my bike

So there we were riding our bikes one night this week. Elder Chilcote led seeing he had the light on th efront of his bike and I only had one on the back. A younger black man was also riding his bike coming towards us. Moving off to the side to let Elder Chilcote pass he then moves back onto the sidewalk. By the time I realized that he did not see me, well, it was too late. We collided head on. No injuries were had, hand shakes and hugs were shared, and journies were again begun. Turned out other missionaries were already meeting with him too. I'm not mad or upset for always seeming to get thrown from my bike, honestly I just think God was trying to tell that man something and needed to 'throw' a missionary at him to say it. :) (Yes I've crashed since then too...)

Things down in here in Georgia are moving along well in the now cool, moist weather. Yesterday it wasn't raining all day, it was 'misting'. It was the thinnest rain I'd ever felt and it left a layer of moister on everything, especially us as we rode our bikes through it. I swear it was just melted snow falling from the sky...I guess that would just be rain, huh? I dunno! :P

We are working hard to help our great friend and brother, Johnny, to enter into the waters of baptism soon. I fear I won't be able to see his baptism when it comes but I won't let that bring my heart down or stop me from helping his heart be brought up. 

My friends and family, I thank you for your love and support and I thank you for being faithful followers of Christ right along with the missionaries. There can be miracles when we believe! You've all been moving mountains long before you knew you could. :) (Yes that's from a song...I'm not cool enough to make up lines like that)

Con mucho amor!

Elder Vance

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winter Chills!

It's getting cold!! But supposedly going through tough things builds character, or something like that... Nah, someone probably just took that phrase from the back of a Quakers Oatmeal box :P

No, of course I'm still loving it here! I won't have many more chances ever in my life to be on the Lord's errand quite like this. It's great to be out here and be able to meet so many wonderful people. Anyone can walk up to a stranger and say hello, but it brings out something different when you are wearing a black name tag and introduce yourself as a representative of Jesus Christ. I really love the people who allow us to share a small portion of their lives with them. There are precious moments had by missionaries when you are within the walls of a truth-seeker's home.

Our great, nineteen year old friend Johnny has been on fire this past week. Eating up everything we teach him and reading more and more of the Book of Mormon, he really is coming closer to his God and his God's church. I haven't ever met anyone quite like Johnny before. 

Denise, another great friend and investigator of ours, has been learning more too! She had previously studied with the Jehovah's Witnesses and thus has held a different belief of the purpose of life than we hold. When we shared the Plan of Salvation with her a couple days ago she was quite overwhelmed with the amount of new doctrine. But she is a bright one and has taken to more reading in the Book of Mormon and lots and lots of more questions! It makes me so happy when people read for understanding and ask for answers! :D

I'll put on my scarf and pick up several copies of El Libro de Mormon. You pick up your Book of Mormon and strengthen your own testimony. And together we will both participate in the glorious Work of Salvation in our different ways and callings. God loves each one of His children. 

Con mucho amor,

Elder Vance


The chef

Their one and only fall decoration 
Fall colors and their apt, 

The temple!

Tract-ing :-)

Would you like some cake?

Letter 11/04/13

Friends, family, Romans, lend me your ear!

Well, of course, if you don't want to then I can't make you read this. You are free to choose. Isn't that great?! 

But then do you know you'll make the right chose? What if this particular email is actually the best one I've ever sent home and you choose not to read it and miss out on five minutes of sweet brain and spirit food??  Wow, that's a lot of pressure for you. 

Of course, if I don't grab your attention within the first few lines of the email you will be much less likely to deem the rest read-worthy and move on with your evening of Angry Birds, Pintrest and Facebook. Man, that puts all the pressure back on me to be somewhat interesting! But, then who's fault is it then if you don't end up reading this? Mine because I was just plain boring in the intro or you because you judged too quickly? Hmm, I'm sure there is a really long and intellectual paper written somewhere on a topic like that but really I just wanted to bring your minds a little closer to that of a missionary's on the topic of preaching the Gospel.

What do I mean by that? Well here is another example. I have a really tasty chocolate cake sitting next to me and I want to share it with people. I know how much they will enjoy eating this cake and how much joy I will also have because I have someone to eat it with. I grab a plate and a fork for my good friend but then I don't use anything but my hand to cut a piece. I smash my hand into the cake and grab a handful of chocolate and frosting and plop it onto the plate. How appetizing! Err, well, not really. My would probably look down at the lump of chocolate on his plate and kindly decline as I sat wondering why he didn't want my yummy cake. 

Would the cake not taste just as good as an evenly cut piece neatly set on the plate? It probably would, but I failed in my job of presenting the cake making my friend have to go on with his life for who knows how much longer until another opportunity comes for him to eat cake! The same applies to missionary work. The Gospel is sweet. The Church is absolutely true. But there is a huge part to play as a missionary who presents the Gospel to other people who a lot of the time are already set in their ways. They already have a cake. Ya vanilla is pretty good but they would so much more enjoy a chocolate one!!

Okay enough with cake examples. This was just on my mind as I thought about all of the people who we talked to this week who just were not interested in our message! We work on and think about a lot the way in which we approach people and present the Restored Gospel to them. But sometimes no matter how hard we try or well we do they just don't accept. Maybe someday later but not now. But I do want to quickly tell you all of the newest investigator we have!

Johnny is a nineteen year old kid from Mexico. Grew up here so speaks English just as well as Spanish. We met him walking his dog through an apartment complex and just started talking to him. He's super nice and was open to the fact that he has had so many questions about life and our existence his whole life. Perfect, right?? We were able to teach him briefly about the Book of Mormon and Restoration this week and it just clicked with him. "You have no idea of what you have just told me", were his own words. It all just made sense to him! He was very excited about knowing about what happened here in the Americas a long time ago and about how there are prophets today. he came to church on Sunday and continues to show an increase in interest. It wasn't at all because we are just great teachers but because God had prepared him to hear us. Will he get baptized? Well, we hope so on the 23rd of November. If not, he will one day. But he is just one of the awesome people that we know.

Thanks for lending me your ear ;) Hope I didn't hurt it.

Hasta luego,

Elder Vance

How do you say bold in Spanish?

Letter 10/28/13

No, really. I don't know how to say the word 'bold' in Spanish. Not sure that there is a translation for it. But it would have been useful in the lesson we had last night we had with our top four investigators! 

First I will quickly relate the tale of meeting and shaking hands with Dallin H. Oaks. He came to Georgia and spoke to several different audiences, one of which being both entire Georgia Atlanta and Atlanta North missions. Other members of the Seventy spoke including Elder Soares of the presidency of the Seventy. Sister Oaks also spoke and won the award for the quote of the day. 

Speaking of her husband she said, 'He is truly an Apostle. Trust me, I wash his socks.'

The look of Elder Oak's face was priceless, kind of a 'where in the world did that come from??' face. I guess when you're an Apostle you get cool socks? Maybe with your name stitched into them with cute, little, blue thread. Over all, the talks were great. Elder Oaks basically bounced around from topic to topic in no particular order, following the Spirit as he thought of what to say. He spoke, of course, on missionary work and how we can really become missionaries. Powerful.

Our lesson last night was probably the best lesson I've been in so far. We went in really hoping to change directions and emphasize the seriousness of the lessons we teach and get them to see that we are not wasting our breath when we talk and invite them to act. Threw down a little at first with Mosiah 2:9, feel free to look it up :) , and then taught the Restoration. It went really well and at the end Elder Chilcote followed the Spirit and really just went to town testifying and connecting dots for them. He gave a powerful testimony and then I followed when Denise, one of the people we were teaching, asked for mine. It went super great and today we should be having a family home evening with an older family in our branch and the four we taught last night, Santos, Nelly, Bernardino, and Denise. If God be willing and if I have anything to say about it they will all be baptized before I leave this area!

Oh, and elder Chilcote and I will be making a rice krispy dessert for FHE tonight.
Rice Krispy treats + spirit = Baptism. It's doctrine. (...Don't quote me on that.)

Con carino,

Elder Vance

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Declare the Gospel with the Sound of Rejoicing!

Que tal?!

Transfers are over. A few Elders have gone and a few new have ones come. We have a new District Leader who is hitting the ground running with helping us fulfill our purpose and we are all preparing to listen to the counsel that Dallan H. Oaks will give to us this Saturday when he comes to our mission. Exciting, huh? :D I'm excited. A little sad as well because I'm going to miss some good missionaries for a while because they are in other areas. Happy to meet new people. And a bit more humble realizing that I have a lot more to work on to really be a good missionary.

All in all, God does not leave us helpless. Speaking of the counsel of General Authorities, we got to listen to a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Aidukaitis, come speak to us at Stake Conference. I believe he is the first picture on the list of General authorities that is in the Ensign. He is from Brazil and thus has an entertaining accent and a fun personality. He gets everyone's attention when he speaks and is very inspiring. He spoke to the MTC when I was there actually :)

My companion and I have more investigators this week and are working on getting them to become progressing investigators. A key part in that is using the members and getting them to church. We all know the urge of member-missionary work that is being declared by the Prophet at Apostles so I don't need to mention anything on that, only that they might just be on to something. Who knows? ;)

With regards to important additions to my collection of few personal options that I have as a missionary, I bought a comb today. I have always parted my hair just with water, gel, and my hands, but recently another Elder who has been using a comb to part his hair I was interested in trying it out. It gets the part much more sharp and precise. So far it seems good :) I probably won't use it all the time but at least for the occasion of an Apostle of the Lord I think it might be useful. No, this information isn't anything big but I thought you might be interested in knowing a little bit of the details of my life :D I'm just 'doing my part'. Eh? Ehhh? Get it? You know, I'm doing my-...okay never mind.

I've got to get going but I do oh so love this opportunity we have had to chit-chat a bit :) Placticando un ratito. :)

Con amor,

un abrazo de Elder Vance.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

You tell me where the nearest Hispanic wedding is and I'll tell you where you can party hard.

I don't have much time to email this but I want to describe a few interesting things that happened this pat week. 

First! I had sushi for the first time with an investigator. She works at a Japanese restaurant and invited us for lunch. It was actually really, really good! :D

Second. My companion made me laugh and embarrassed himself as he threw a toy on the roof of this family we were contacting and then broke a work bench shelf in half as he tried to climb on he roof to get it. Not too good, but hilarious at the moment! It was an old bench and no one is mad. We are going to go back as Missionaries and actually do some good :/

Third. We had a wedding and baptism this weekend! He had been living with a member for a while and coming to church and they finally got married and baptized. Our branch first counselor baptized him and a member baptized his step son. Then we had a crazy fun reception filled with Hispanic traditions and dancing. Great food and great fun with our investigators who also came! If you haven't been to a wedding of your Mexican friends, well, try going to one. It's quite the experience. They sure do love to party ;P The groom himself was from Peurto Rico but I believe she is from Mexico.

Other than that not much else happened. Well we did almost get scammed by a con artist who seemed very convincing with her sad-story. We had some awesome Zone leaders and members to solve the case for us.

I Love you all. You all probably love me at least a little. We are a happy family and all that jazz.

Un abrazo de Elder Vance
Us after an intense game of ultimate frisbee! I am so red!! (totally was mvp) 

Counting coins and then teaching tithing to our cool investigator Santos, his future wife Nelly and (off the screen) his brother in law Bernardino. Mostly dollar coins and quarters. Probably around $800 in there no joke! (also 105 pennies..I counted)

Yes we did have a baptism. And a wedding. The light was coming in the window but there they are :)

Picture of me and Santos..who is taking a picture of the dancing going on. Silly!

My companion explaining from the white handbook why we probably shouldn't dance with the bride..

Throwing his tie over his head. My investigators are among the contestants.

The elders, Santos(left), Nelly, and Bernardino(right) :) Now they just all need to come to church!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hey, I found an exclamation point.--->!

This past week wasn't too different than the many other weeks I have spent here in Georgia so far. Well I guess there was new people and new experiences and new words learned in Spanish and new senses of responsibility. So with that regard it was a whole different week! As they all are and should be :) 

No super new investigators though. This weekend we should be having a baptism for an investigator who was really brought into the church by his girlfriend long before I got here. I guess we are just the lucky ones who get to be at the baptism.

The highlight of the week was, of course, General Conference. For me it was the best Conference I have ever watched. Maybe it's because I am a missionary, or maybe it's because I have a deeper desire to learn about my Savior, or maybe it's because I am learning to recognize the Spirit more and can feel it even more while listening to our church leaders. I think it's all of the above. Many of those talks were answers to specific things that were weighing on my mind recently as I'm sure they were for everyone. I just love General Conference! <----Look. Another exclamation point. 

My companion, Elder Chilcote, and I are striving to be more unified and to pinpoint the things we can do to give more of our hearts to the Lord. As long as we give it our very best we can never fail. Missions are fun. (That was my motivational line for all those who are under the mission age still. ;D Go on a mission! It's worth it. It's worth everything!)

Happy-late birthday to my little brother Jared! He turned nine last week! Yay for God-given bodies and aging processes! :D Miss you buddy!

Con amor y un poquito de queso,

Elder Vance

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Love the People

Another week gone by.
My, oh, my.
My, oh, my.

There was your daily dosage of my poetry skills. Hope you enjoyed. :)

We all know that time doesn't literally move faster or slower depending on what you're doing. But we can pretty much all say that at times in our lives time seems to us to fly by very fast. As a missionary one will find out that the days are long but the weeks are short; the weeks are long but the months are short; the months are long but the years are short; And finally, the years are long and your whole mission goes by in the blink of an eye. In hindsight, time always seems very fleeting. 

I have come to recognize more that the happiest moments I have had so far on my mission are when I am with an investigator or someone I just met and I just feel an immense amount of love for them. Just a couple of days ago we sat down and talked with our investigator and good friend Santos, his wife, and older sister. He is young, only twenty-three, and his child-expecting wife even younger. We taught and talked about the Word of Wisdom with them in the chill, Georgia-night air in front of their apartment. During our time with them I just felt so happy! As I saw them hear and try to understand new commandments and start to come even closer to Christ, I just felt as if I would do anything for them. Anything to help them be happier themselves and taste the real fruit on the Tree of Life. We chatted, we joked, we laughed, we practiced some English (for them) and of course Spanish for us. 

The hardest part about leaving an area and moving on to a different one is always the feeling of missing the people you grew to love. Missionaries, members and investigators alike. But with the hope that Christ brings there is always tomorrow. :)

One awesome thing that we got to experience was an event called 'La Fiesta de los Naciones' or The Party of the Nations. Every year a few hispanic branches in our area get together for food, dancing, and fun. People bring food specific from their country as well as some cultured dances. I got to enjoy some food from Mexico, Peru, and Brazil. There was also Argentina, Nicuragua, El Salvador, aaaaaand America. Of course. It was a blast and a lot of people not belonging to the church came. We missionaries had a table with pamphlets, cards, and DVD's for all those who were interested. Que bueno!

I hope you are all pumped for General Conference this weekend! I know I am! I miss you all and will see you soon ;)

Con amor,
Elder Vance

La Fiesta de los Naciones'

La Fiesta

Brandon's district in a bamboo forest


Just hanging around this little casa

Becoming quite the cook!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Officially Have 80% Spanish

Letter dated Sept 23, 2013

I really don't know how to open these emails. Yes, I could say something in Spanish like 'buenos dias!' or 'como estan?!' but I feel I should switch it up a bit. Maybe I'll just open each email with a line or two about how I am unsure of how to open my email. I like it!

On the quick topic of official news, yes, it's true. I have officially been deemed as having eighty percent Spanish skills. We were just contacting a few guys standing around on their day off. One of them commented that my Spanish was pretty good. He said it was '80%' to be precise. Does that mean I know 80% of all the Spanish words there are? No, that can't be it, I don't know nearly enough for that. Maybe he meant that I sound like I'm 80% Hispanic when I talk or that he could understand 80% of the words I was saying... Well I'll just accept the compliment and leave it at that. :) Now I know what you are probably thinking.

 "Elder Vance, I fear that thy joy in your language skills doth carry thee away unto boasting"

 And I take my response from the words of that great missionary himself. 

Alma 26: 11-12

"..I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom..Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.."

So I give all credit of my Spanish learning to the help of God and the calling He has given me to preach to His children here in this language. I'm really not that good at it still but I will strive to keep learning and improving :)

On another note, I totally crashed on my bike while going down a steep hill. The grass was taller than I thought and my tires slid as I tried to pass a guy walking on the sidewalk causing me to flip onto the ground. I'm all fine and my bike is still good. All I could do was give my companion the thumbs up and laugh at how awesome that must have looked to the cars passing by. Sure, I was a little embarrassed but you just gotta shake it off and keep going. And yes, it was a super busy street too so lots of people saw. ;P

On the work side of things we have been teaching more lessons and planning and bringing to action our plans of talking with more people. My companion's Spanish is improving well, despite his thoughts on that, and we are looking upward as much as we can. We are planning to have a baptism of a brother from Puerto Rico. He has been living with a member and coming to church for a few months and they are finally going to get married and he baptized this October! Hopefully it all works out well :)

I'm excited for General Conference as I hope you are too! I will keep moving forward if and only if you promise to do that same! Well, I'll probably still be here whether or not you decide to keep it up. But I just want to let you know that it's worth it. It's so worth it. :)

Con mucho amor!

Elder Vance

911, What's Your Emergency?

Letter dated Sept. 16, 2013

Como estan?! Bien? Que beuno!

The thought just came to me, I hope my family is prepared for me singing Church hymns constantly for at least the first two weeks after my mission. That will be mostly because of habit. But, hey, there are some great hymns!

My first full week with my new companion has gone by and it's been going spledidly! He loves to clean our apartment a ton and I love to sit and watch him do it. I don't know about him, but I think we are a great team! No, I do my cleaning part too but he does seem so far to be much deeper with regaurds to the cleanliness of things. Voy aprendiendo! ;)

Elder Chilcote and I are doing better at contacting more people and visiting less active members. It is challenging at tiems to try and figure out how to help specific people with there gospel related problems and questions. Especially when yo uare used to only dealing with one specific kind. For example, a less active man in his twenties is dealing with the question of whether God really exists or not. It's different becuase 99% of the time we work with people who already have a faith in Jesus Christ. But it's nice to have to apportunity to pray and study for different people everyday. My companion is great and trying to focus in on the needs of specific people. He teaches me a lot!

Now on the side of intersting experiences we have, last night we were able to have one that involved a small kitten, hispanics and a police officer. Basically we were walking thorugh an apartment complex when we saw a family trying to get a small kitten out of some bushes. Turned out that the kitten was actually inside a hollowed out railroad tie that was used as a wall. It was dark and the kitten wouldn't come out and we didn't know what we could do. So the hispanic family decides to do the best thing and calls 911. What's even better is that because the parents don't speak english and the kids I guess don't like tlaking on the phone, they handed it to me. So I had to explain that our 'emergency' was a kitten who would come out of his hidey-hole. In the end a friendly officer was sent over and basically said that we should just wait for it to crawl out itself. Hah, I felt bad for making him coem over but he was nice about it.

One more thing we were able to do this past weekend was attend the funeral service of the Second Counselor in our stake Presidency here is the Roswell Stake. I had never met him but it was a beautiful service. He passed from cancer that he had been fighting for a year. He was high up in the ranks of UPS so there were many of his co workers as well as family and friedns at the church for the funeral. From everything that was said about him it is easy to have no doubt where he is right now. And for those of you who might still have a little doubt about where he woudl be, well, I'll tell you that he is in the Spirit World continuing the work of salvation with our kindred dead. Never heard of that before? Want to know more?? is a great place to start ;)

I love you all and pray that you are fiding an increased desire to come closer to Christ is your own lives! Until next time,

Elder Vance

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Learning the Ropes

Buenos dias!

First off, yes the rumors are true. It was indeed my birthday this past Thursday. I am now twenty! Crazy! I am no longer a teenager!! Haha, but of course nothing much other than the number of my age has changed. ;P Same smile, same hair, maybe a tad taller and possibly a bit better looking. That last one is debatable buuuut we don't need to discuss it now. :)

I am officially a 'father' here in the mission field because I am training a new missionary. My companion's name is Elder Chilcote. He is from Utah and is great elder! He was in the Mexico City MTC for six weeks learning Spanish and still doing his best to learn more. I'm really glad to be able to help him do that. It makes me want to even better at trying to improve too! :) We are setting our goals higher and higher and have the desire to become even better harvesters in Christ's vineyard!

We have a few good investigators and are working on getting more of God's elect to hear the message of the Restoration! Yes, I probably sound like I myself just came from the MTC. A nice little greenie ready to take on the whole vineyard myself. Well I'm excited to be able to work with a new missionary whose head is not filled with false preconceive notions about missionary work or the areas in which we work. I don't like hearing, "Oh, that's a terrible area!" Sure, some areas have higher rates of success than others but the elect can be found in the most unlikely places! did not Moses strike a rock and cause water to gush forth?? From a rock! I don't know about you but a rock is not the first place I would take my cup to be filled. I'd at least try and see if the nearby McDonald's has free water. Hmm, I wonder why the people of Israel didn't do that? I guess we'll just have to find out in the next life!

I hope all is well at home with all of your families. I know a few right now that have severe trials that they are being led to pass through and my heart goes out to them. As well as one piece of advice, turn toward the Lord. There is no other way for lasting peace, just as we have heard many times from the pulpit during General Conference. Onward Christian soldiers! :D

Con mucho amor y un pedazo de pastel,

Elder Vance

Happy Birthday Elder Vance!

Cumorah Branch Elders

Wonder what a missionary wishes for?

New companion and greenie, Elder Chilcote.

Monday, September 2, 2013

I Chose You Elder From the MTC

I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was. To get them from the MTC is my very test, to train them is my cause! We will travel across these hills, riding bikes side by side. Speaking Spanish like the natives, and showing power from inside!!!

Well, for those of you who aren't familiar with Pokemon that was the theme song with lyrics I made up just now. What is the message they hold?? Well, I'm going to be a trainer, of course! No, not a Pokemon trainer, a missionary trainer! I am going to receive a new missionary into my hands, my care, and I shall nurture him into the powerful servant of the Lord he was made to be! Yes..that was cheesy. But basically I am pretty excited to get my new companion this Wednesday and set off on our Spanish branch journey. :) I can only pray to be partly as good a trainer as my trainer, Elder Clark, was to me. Very loving, encouraging, and quite the humorous one.

Other than that, nothing too incredible has happened this past week. On Saturday I  was able to cook a chicken pot pie from scratch as well as bake a pumpkin bread and apple dumplings. Super good!! I am also learning how to bake bread from scratch. So hopefully I will be able to keep a few skills for my life after the mission. But who is thinking about that yet. :P Not me! Well, at least not too much. :)

Yesterday we were able to leave the Savior's peace and blessings in two different homes. The peaceful feeling of the Spirit was definitely felt in those rooms at that time and we were able to point that out to the families and invite them to remember it until the next time we visit. It was a great start to the week. 

I will be sure to let you all know how it goes with the first few days of training. Stay safe and have a fun school week! Remember to read your scriptures!!

-Elder Vance

Me with the final Chicken pot pie product! And lookin dumb with my turned around tag :P I did it all from scratch too! Sure, I had a recipe but I am still awesome. 

I also made pumpkin bread and apple dumplings soaked in mountain dew. So good! And I am learning how to make bread from scratch. We do this at sister Packer's house every saturday. She teaches us how to cook different things. She's cool :)

I eat well too!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Yo he perdido mi voz!

Buenos dias hermanos mios!

The title says it all right there. This week I lost my voice!  It's true, it's true. The tool that is vital to the work I'm involved in went missing and I'm still working on finding it again. My throat decided to catch a nasty, little bug of some sort and cause me a bit of discomfort. I must say, though, that the past few days have been pretty funny listening to myself try and speak. Yesterday in church I was called on to give a prayer and I honestly could barely say it! It's also funny that the best medicine right now would be to just stop talking for a while, but I have found that pretty difficult to do so far! But all is well in Zion, all is well! :) I shall recover to full strength in no time.

This past week we had a great Zone conference in which we were able to listen to our awesome mission president and his wife speak to us. Unlike my first zone conference there was no general authority there. BUT all of the Spanish speaking Elders in our mission were pleasantly surprised with a special little meeting with a member of the first quorum of the Seventy! Elder Pino came and spoke to us. Being from Ecuador, I believe, he spoke to us in Spanish. I still love the fact that I can understand and speak this awesome language! 

Another great thing that happened was that we got our investigator Santos to come to church yesterday. The members were very warm and welcoming and he was able to participate in the classes and get many questions answered. I ask for your help in praying that his heart as well as the hearts of many others may be touched by the Lord and softened and ready to accept the Gospel in its entirety. 

I have nothing more to say but that I would exhort you, just as Moroni did, that after you read all these tales of missionary work from me as well as others to pray to see where you can play your part! And if you don't yet know if it something worth the effort, well, pray about that too! The Spirit brings the sweetest feelings you could ever feel. As Lehi described the fruit of the Tree of Life, it is pure above all that is pure and sweet above all that is sweet. I can add my testimony to that.

Que vayan con Dios!

Elder Vance

Monday, August 19, 2013

'Cause We are the Army of the Church!

Some missionaries find it hard to speak up or just open there mouths to people. I too feel that way sometimes but more often then not my problem is not closing my mouth once it's opened. I can at times just get on a role of trying to explain a gospel principle or answer a specific question that I just overload the person with information and end up talking for ten minutes straight. It doesn't happen ALL of the time but I've noticed it's something I can work on.

That's one thing about missionary work that takes a lot of 'getting the hang of'. Learning to work and teach with specific and different companions. Some Elders talk a lot when they teach so you have to learn how to get a word in yourself, while others might be more quiet making it easier to accidentally leave them out of the lesson from talking too much. So apparently communication skills are important to missionary work. And life, schooling, marriage, careers, etc. I'd best try and learn when to talk and when to keep my mouth closed now rather then later. Though I'm finding that it's much more fun to talk a lot in Spanish than English. :)

We have this really great investigator right now named Santos, oh and his wife Neli! They are a younger couple, he's only twenty-three! It's way cool though that he has a great desire to learn and a very high capacity to understand quickly. We have taught him three times so far and are getting him to come to church this Sunday. No matter how much they learn or progress on their own, they will hit a wall if they never come to church.

We are trying to get another investigator of ours to come to church as well. His name is Fausto and he is such a sweet guy! He's probably in his forties and his heart is too big for his body! He is 'new to the things of God' as he puts it and has been attending the Methodist church and other Bible classes to learn more. We have been meeting with him and showing him all the neat things the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon can offer him. His greatest desire is to help others. He is always thinking of those around him and he wants so much to go on a mission trip to some other country and build homes for people or something of the sort. I don't know if he will get baptized while I am here but all I can say is that if he keeps his heart I nthe right place he is bound to find God's truth wherever it is found. Aaaaand it doesn't hurt to have awesome Elders to come and tell him exactly where you can find that truth. :)

Thanks for the love and support you have shown to me! I'm just one of many missionaries in the world who need it :)

Stay active. Practique su espanol! Que tengan un beun dia!

Elder Vance

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Rains Came Down and the Elders Run Away! The Rains Came know the rest.

I always love when I get to experience something 'bad' on my mission. Not like cray bad, but bad as in getting caught in the heavy rain without umbrellas for example. Something that when I get home I'll be able to say to others, 'Tell me about it! This one time on my mission I...' Basically just to say that I did it. we actually did get caught in the rain this week though. Flash-flood-warning rain too. We had to run for about five minutes through it to get to our fellow Elder's apartment. Completely soaked! I couldn't help but laugh thinking how funny we probably looked as we ran through the apartment complex! Whether he intends to or not, a missionary makes a lot of memories during his mission. :)

On the work side of things we have a really cool new investigator. The first time we met him he was with his wife and they were the ones who approached us! they are younger and have only been married for three years. Very friendly and open to finding out more. It caught us off guard when he said he wanted to come to church and learn more. I was totally stumbling over my words because I wasn't prepared to meet someone like that. But it can happen! We taught him the Restoration so far and he has shown a sincere desire to learn more so far. It looks good!

I think I have been asked over twenty times so far if I painted my hair red. Hispanics are just really interested in it. I don't blame them, I actually enjoy it because it allows us to have a more friendly conversation. It is funny to see where they think I'm from. Someone guessed Russia yesterday. I guess there are lots of redheads there? When I tell them I'm from Las Vegas it's also entertaining to see their reactions and then questions of what in the world I'm doing here in Georgia instead of Vegas. I really do love the Hispanic people here! Much, much easier to start talking to than anyone else. At least in my opinion :)

'Tis all for now. As Jacob so poetically ends his writings I too bid you all Adieu. 

Elder Vance :)
New companion Elder Dudley.

First day of after riding bikes.  They rode far...

Sporting a new messenger bag getting ready to role!

Caught in the rain.

Soaking wet and still smiling.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Be the 4th Kind!

According to my fellow elders here in Georgia I sound like I have an Irish accent when I speak Spanish. I honestly don't know what to think about that. I don't even know what an irish accent sounds like. Pues, no me importa mucho!

So I've been trying to think of better things to eat for lucnh besides cereal. Don't get me wrong, I love cereal and milk but sometimes it's a good idea to broaden your horizons. Especially with food. So I bought some fettuccine noodles and alfredo sauce. I felt very sophisticated as I ate it. I just felt like letting you know that my kitchen skills are growing.

Another thing I have a goal to grow in is the overall missionary that I am. You're probably thinking, 'Well, of course that should be the goal of every missionary!" Well, yes. But I recently read a popular article that many missionaries read about being a missionary. It's called 'The fourth kind of missionary'. It's a talk given by a mission president a while back describing the four types of missionary he believes there are. The 1st is the kind who doesn't care what he does and eventually gets sent home. The 2nd is the kind that is equally disobedient but at least finishes his mission. The 3rd is the missionary who works hard, tries to be obedient, has success, but never really fully gives himself to the Lord. There is always that internal battle between what the Lord wants him to do and what he wants to do himself. He complies but is never fully happy. The fourth missionary is then, obviously, the one who is consecrated. The one who not only looks like a disciple of Christ on the outside but is one in his heart and mind.

That was a very brief summary of what the four types of missionaries are but the point is that it is very easy to go through one's mission without truly being changed by the work. Really, it's possible. I used to think that going on a mission meant a total spiritual transformation and that no matter the person they were before they would always return 100% better! In most cases, yes, it changes the person a lot. But I have quickly seen that even in the missionary life you can continue to slide your way through the work, even trying hard, but not give it your all and fail to truly be changed. I have felt like that has been the case with me, at least a little. But the reason Christ preformed the Atonement for us is so that we can change! :D

A quote I like from an amazing talk about grace from the ever-popular Brad Wilcox is, 'Have I been saved by grace? Yes! Absolutely! Completely! Thankfully! Have you been CHANGED by grace?" So that is what I aim to do. Allow God to change me and make me into the servant he wants, that he needs. I invite you all to do the same in all fields of your life. You're a brother,  sister, parent, cashier at McDonalds? Be the fourth kind of brother, sister, parent, or cashier at McDonalds! Give it your all. When done for the right reasons It will only ring true that when we lose our lives for Christ's sake, we shall find them.

Hasta luego amigos y familia mios! Les amo muchisimo!

Elder Vance

Thursday, August 1, 2013

North-Georgia Elders Sang as they Rode and Rode and Rode and Rode...

I'm here in my new area of the Cumorah branch here is Roswell Georgia! No more car riding for me, now it's all bike! It's actually the only bike area in this entire mission for Spanish elders. I have learned a great deal of things just in the first few days with regards to riding bikes. The first day I learned that the more I ride the harder it becomes to sing my favorite hymns out loud let alone do anything besides breath hard and sweat profusely. It hasn't rained at least. But then again, riding in full proselyting clothes in the blazing sun up-hill next to hot car exhaust coming from traffic next to you isn't the most fun thing to do either. It's kind of funny, the faster I ride the more the wind cools me off but to ride faster I put forth a lot more effort which in turn makes me sweat even more. There's just no way to avoid getting all red-faced and sweaty while riding a bike here in Georgia. At least for the first little ride out of my apartment it's peaceful. :) 

Don't get me wrong, I do really enjoy being on a bike! I feel more like a missionary now that I can say I have been in a bike area. I must say though that I have found new aches and pains each night the more I ride. Shout out to my dad and his four brothers who are all road/mountain bikers themselves. I especially felt a little more like you guys after I totally biffed it on the side of the rode the other day. Supposedly riding too close to a six inch concrete curb will send you flipping upside down onto the grass and break the light off of the front of your bike.... psshhh, but I wouldn't know anything about that, I'm great with bikes! ...anyway.

This new area is great though. No more trailer parks but a lot of apartment complexes filled with Hispanics. A lot of cool members too who are impressed with the amount of Spanish I know for just four months. But of course it's all thanks to the 'How to make people think you can speak a foreign language in four months: For Dummies!' book I have. I hope the other one I got, 'How to ride a bike as a red-headed missionary in Georgia: For Dummies!', is just as good. It's crazy how specific those books can get! :P

One cool experience I have had so far here was the opportunity to go do service for a member of another ward here is Roswell. Sister Packer is a young at heart black woman who has the Elders over to her house almost every week to do service and eat. She was once a Navy Seal and has over four college degrees, two of which are masters. So she's one tough cookie. She loves to tease the missionaries, so the first thing she said about me was something about a show called 'Howdy Doody'. But I'm afraid that's not the first time I've heard that. I don't mind, I like my red-hair! :D The cool part is that Sister Packer lets us pick what we want to eat and then she teaches us to cook it. It was sea-food this time. We had a big pot of squid-octopus-shrimp-muscle-scallop-shark soup. No joke, that was all in there. Not my favorite but I ate it. I also baked pumpkin bread all by myself. Yummy!

And for those of you wondering about any new changes in mission policies such as dress code or internet/Facebook usage, nothing has been implemented yet in our mission. There is talk of allowing light colored pants as long as you can have a crease in them but that is rumor at the moment. And so far I haven't heard anything about Facebook. If things change I will for sure let everyone know. :)

Sorry for the long email this time, hope I didn't bore you too badly. I hope all is well in your lives. I would like to leave you with a quote from a church Seventy's wife: 

"If you're not having fun you need to repent!"

Interpret that anyway which you feel. Have fun!

-Elver Vance

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Transfer Week!

This week I will have my first transfer on my mission. That means I will be leaving the area I started in and move to work somewhere else in Georgia. I've been here for about four months. The members here are awesome and I will definately miss being with them but I'm sure as a missionary it's not hard to grow to love the people you work with. :)

I am in the Cherokee spanish branch in the Marietta stake, kinda the north west corner of Georgia, and now I will be moving a tad bit east to the Cumorah branch. Biggest change I think will be the main mode of transportation there. I have had a vehicle up to this point in my mission and now I am going to a bike area. I'm down! :) It's about time I get to use my bike! Maybe I'll get to have one of those stories where I ride all the way to an appointment in the rain and they aren't there but some miracle occurs and we end up baptizing the next prophet. I don't know, I'm sure it happens more than you think!

This past Sunday we had the nice experience of attending a Southern Baptist church service. So the term 'mega-church' is used when churches try and be LDS conference centers for one congregation. This church was huge. First Baptist Woodstock Church. I have nothing bad at all to say about my experience there. My companion and five other missionaries in our suits and ties and skirts ( the sisters had the skirts. I promise I don't wear skirts to church) we went into a building which on the inside did remind be of the conference center. It was a little less formal with a bit more colorful lights and a choir and band on stage but it was cool. The main preacher wasn't there but there was a substitue who spoke about a parable Jesus gave about how 'the harvest indeed is great but the laborers are few'. Really great scripture and really great doctrine. They are honestly so right about the importance of Christ in our lives yet lack much of His Gospel, especially on the part where they believe that if you die without a relationship with Christ you go straight to hell for eternity. When put into perspective with the doctrine that has been revealed to us through prophets it is relieving to know that there will be a chance for everyone, even after death. The people were nice there and I would for sure go back another day to see a little more. :) Next church: Pentecostal. I hear they have a pretty good time at church.

Well that would seem to be it for now. We are going to be heading off to a barbecue that is being held in another ward. But our missionary tags are like a VIP pass to all church activities everywhere. So It's all good :)

Stay safe! Have fun! You only live once, at least in this mortal state of probation, so be smart!

Elder Vance

P.s. Just wanted to give a quick update about the Rodolfo and his wife that I talked about in my last email. We did go back and talk more with them. They didn't read the assignment we gave them :( But we have not lost hope! I won't be here any longer but I'm sure Elder Rindlisbacher will take good care of them.

P.s.s. Sorry about any spelling errors. Spell Check isn't working right now :(
Family of Chihuahuas

The long and windy road.
It would be nice to be able to see while driving.

Member family-Gonzalez

Member family-Guerra

Member family-Ayala

Missionary Mascot