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!