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