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