Monday, April 29, 2013

Si puedo hacerlo, Usted puede hacerlo.

?Como estan!

This will have to be shorter for my time's sake. The work is going the same here in Georgia. I am learning to open my mouth more and speak Spanish even with horrible grammar. The food is still amazing and the people are so nice! At least the people in the ward... Most people we meet are friendly but some can be, well, not friendly. But it's all part of the job :)

So I have found that tie shopping is very exhilarating (10 points for using a big word like that!) as a missionary. Especially when you find a whole ton of deals on great looking ties for only eight dollars! Thank you Berlington Coat Factory :)

One cool person we met this week was a 79 year old man doing yard work! We were about to leave the area but I felt we should at least talk tothis nice looking old man mowing the lawn. I'm glad we did! He was one of the happiest, most energetic almost-eighty-year-old men I've met! (My grandpas are tough to compete with in that category) An interesting this that he told us about, and which we saw right off the bat, was that he had no jaw bone. So he spoke a little differently but he had a sweet beard to make it look good. He didn't get baptized right then and there or anything but he defiantly  brightened my day as a missionary. 

'Now where in the Bible does it say I can't have fun.'-Lloyd, old guy doing yard work. Very go-lucky-happy for his age and medical conditions. Tons of energy too. If I grow up to be an old guy, as opposed to growing down i guess, I want to be as energetic as he was! I hope i'll still have my jaw though....

Keep the letters/emails coming! :) love reading them all! Hope you all find success in your endeavors and find time to laugh everyday! I know my companion and I do! :D

-Elder Vance
Brandon finally got his bike together

A zone tie exchange on p-day

Brandon likes to decorate his planners.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

?Lo Aguanta?


So, I don't NOT like spicy foods but if you're looking at me it's pretty easy to tell if what I'm eating is hot. 'Aguantar' is Spanish for 'to handle , so when the members we eat with are serving somewhat spicy foods it is common for them to say something along the lines of '?aguanta?' . What they are basically saying is, 'Are you sure that you can handle this? You are pretty white.' I always do my best to eat everything no matter how spicy. It's all delicious, don't get me wrong! But in the end the Mexican and other hispanic-sauces on the food reemphasize the fact that, yes, I am white.

The next hottest thing to the food here is of course the sun. We've had some nice thunderstorms that have cooled things down but I've definitely felt the heat. It's quite enjoyable to sit down in a member's home after long hours of walking in the sun and drink down a nice glass of freshly made fruit juice. It's very common for the hispanics we eat with to just take one type of fruit and make a juice out of it. Pineapple is particularly good! :)

On the other side of things we are still doing our best to find people to teach. We haven't come in contact with anyone that has really 'stuck'. But we definitely have met a lot of great people. In the end it is not about the number of Baptisms we get. It is about fulfilling our purpose as missionaries! 

'Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo al ayudarles a que reciban el Evangelio restaurado mediante la fe en Jesucristo y Su Expiacion, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepcion del don del Espiritu Santo, y el perseverar hasta el fin.' 

That was Spanish for 'invite people to come unto Christ by helping them received the restored gospel of..' So in the end if we as missioanries have helped anyone come just a little closer to Christ, we have done our purpose. The end goal would of course to be lead by the Lord to those who are ready to receive all the Gospel has to offer. But it doesn't hurt talking to everyone! :)

When we think of all the evil in the world, like the recent Boston bombing, we need to bring ourselves closer to Christ and really, truly understand what the Atonement can do for us. I'm still on my way to really understanding what the Atonement really means for me personally. As we do this, we will see the worries and fears we have held onto for so long sink away from view in the love of Christ. 

!Que Dios los bendigas!
-Elder Vance 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Showing off My Skills

Hello everyone! :)

One thing I have noticed and really like about Georgia is the awesome weather. Not the heat and humidity, but the thunderstorms! The clouds always move so fast and the rain is always very bi-polar in the way that it will be pouring so hard at one moment and sprinkling the next moment. And when I say pouring hard I mean pouring hard. To the point where our view is severely limited while driving our car with its brights on. But the lighting action is pretty sweet!

On the missionary work side of things ( which is almost all sides of everything I do...seeing that I am a full time missionary and all..) we were able to teach and commit to baptism a man who was referred to us by a member! Yay for baptism, our first covenant with the Lord! We later learned that he was most likely intoxicated when we taught him. It would kind of explain the slightly strange behavior. Especially the fact that he was drinking straight white-vinegar from a bottle. At least we hope it was only vinegar. Oh you Hispanic-Georgians, you never disappoint! :)

I have noticed myself become more bold as a missionary. I often quote to my companion, 
'The wicked flee when no one pursueth; but the righteous are as bold as a loin.' -Psalms something.. 

Well, while contacting a man we met while tracting, we were able to find out that the didn't belong to any church but believed in the God head and the Bible. We give him our information and started walking away when I really felt like I should ask him a question. 

'Hey, so you believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost as well as read the Bible and believe it to be the word of God?' (Take in mind this is in Spanish too. I'm a boss at Spanish) He said that he did.

'So have you been baptized?' Boom. Throwing down the heavy questions. He said that he hadn't but knew that it was important. 

'Well do you have the desire to be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?' Going for the Gold! Ya, he said that he would want that. So we set up a time to come back and teach him and hopefully move further. Even if he isn't interested in the end I enjoy the opportunity to be bold as a missionary!

I also got the show off my super cool skills as a professional handstand-er. I totally had a show down with an eight year old girl. She was pretty good but in the end everyone seemed pretty impressed with my hand-walking abilities.

All in all, things are good. May things be good in your lives as well!
!Que tenga un beun dia!

-Elder Vance
A sunburned face. Though with him it's hard to tell!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tortillas: The Utensil You Can Eat

Hey world!

Well, i'm not really writing these emails to the world, more just to friends, family, church members back home and extended family who are forced into reading these because we share several strands DNA. So, Hey small portion of the world! :D If you do happen to be reading this then I consider you a part of the best, small portion of the world. :)

Another week has gone by with all of it's ups and downs, left and rights, round and rounds and all of the rest. The highlight was, of course, General Conference. We were able to watch all sessios at the nearby church building. We were the only ones there too! Haha, it's so funny watching what the Elders get out of conference. The main thing being discussed was who we thought would 'throw down' the hardest. 'Throw down' as in which Apostle would slam their metaphoric hand down the hardest on some issue. Elder Holland usually wins that one. This year Elder Bednar, Holland, and surprisingly Elder L. Tom Perry won for rebuking with authority. In the end I loved all of the talks! It's so refreshing to listen to the words of our Prophet, Apostles and other church leaders. :D

With regaurds to the work we have been knocking on more doors and eating more hispanic food. The food that the members feed us is always so good! It pretty much always consists of some combination of rice, beans and meat and depending on what country the family is from some spicy slasa too! I also have found it very enojyable to join in on the culture of using tortillas pretty much like a spoon. Fork in one hand, rolled up tortilla in the other, and a plate full of scrumptiousness! I leave feeling stuffed every time! I was fairly confident that I wouldn't gain much weight on my mission but now I am really not so sure. :P Those hispanic members sure do love us gringos-that-sorta-know-Spanish! :D

I have always enjoyed listening to entertaining stories from other people's missions, so now that I can I think I will give some of my own. To start, we were able to visit a family in our branch who has an incredible backyard. They live in a trailer on a sloped peice of land that is rihgt next to a little creek. They kept telling us that 'no, it's not big, but it's home'. And they sure made it there own. The mother of the family has taken her time at home to decorate not only the inside of the home but the surrounding yard as well. With the constructive help of her husband she has created the most unique and creative garden/back yard I've personally seen. Old antiques placed around, bathtubs as plant pots, bushes in the shape of hearts, hand crafted leaf-like stones as a walk way. I wasn't able to get pictures yet but I definately will! They also use the creek behind their home to baptize people! their daughter is going to be baptized there in the upcoming months. :) They also had 6 little, 3-week year old puppies. Love it!

On the more humerous side of things I've had some interesting expereinces. While tracting in a trailer park this week we knocked on a door and a white middle-aged man opened up. He was holding a dog (or was it a cat) in his arms and wasn't interested in hearing us. We asked him if he knew anyone else that would be interested, to hwich he replied, 'No, I'm wicked.' I thoght he was just being sarcasting about us thinking he was a bad person so I replied, 'No you're not.' He quickly replied 'Yes I am!' and shut the door. My companion, Elder Clark, was giving me a confused look and asked why I had said that. Well, I was just trying to let him know that we didn't think that he was a bad guy! That's all! Wellllllll, it turned out that he didn't say 'i'm WICKED' he said 'i'm WICKEN'. He was stating his beliefs and I was pretty much calling him a liar as I said, 'No you're not!' I felt dumb. :p Just gotta laugh at it. XD 

One last story that is again about me doing something without thinking. (sorry for writing so much!) We were at a members house for dinner. Tasty chicken, rice and noodles with a bowl of jalepenos in sauce to the side. I wanted to try the salsa so I dipped my pinky-finger in to taste it. Ya, it was pretty spicy so I declined pouring it all over my food. A few moments later, after forgetting which finger I had just dipped in Jalepenos, my eye was itchy. i'm sure you can connect the dots by now. 'That's odd, my eye feels really cold. Wait no, that'sa burning feeling! but why would.....OH SNAP! I just rubbed Jalapenos into my eyeball!!!' hahahah, we all had a good laugh aobut that as I ran to flush it out at the sink. Water didn't really help so I just had to wait it out. It wasn't too bad by the end. I think I've learned a very valuable lesson, though. Pay more attention while eating hispanic food.

Anyway, don't mean to take up too much of your time. Just trying to brighten your day with my expereicnes here in Georgia. I always love hearing of friends or family who enjoy keeping up with my letters. I try to make them somewhat entertaining.

Have fun with you life. Church is true. Study Conference talks! Be happy :)

-Elder Vance

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

That's a lovely accent. New Jersey?

Brandon  with his cousin and companion, Elder Jordan Clark.

It's finally getting warm! Yay! It's quite the thing when you get up to go running in the morning and it's actaully quite nice outside. :)

So basically what has 'gone down' this past week was, you guessed it, missionary work. We did a lot more door-knocking and house blessing than the previous week. It really gives me lots of chances to work on my language skills, which are improving.... I think. One thing that I have been told many times by my companion and that I have now seen for myself is that in all honesty Hispanics are much nicer than white people. Seriously, the only people that shut the door in our face or simply wave us away are white people! All the Hispanic homes we go to at least kindly tell us they aren't interested. And more often then not they just don't have time at the moment to let us in. Or should i say 'don't have time' with empasis on the quotation marks. Hah, yes we do get many lame excuses. But overall we have been very welcomed as we go walking around Georgia. :)

 It's been an interesting experience having a lot of 'firsts'. First house blessed, first baptismal commitment given, first flat out rejection, first 'bash' of doctrine, first claim by a man that our prophet is the anti-christ, first dog to chase us and give us near heart attacks before realizing it was tied up. First complete week in the field. Thank you for your letters, support and prayers. They are very, very appreciated :)

!Que vaya un buen dia! (See, you know I'm good at Spanish when you aren't completely sure what I said to you! :D I'm not sure what it means, though, if I myself am not completely sure what I said to you. :P )

-Elder Vance