Monday, December 29, 2014

It's go time!

"Well, hey everybody! Merry Chri-" 


"Woah, hey, I just wanted to wish every a merr-" 

"No! Just stop! It's January already. You can just say 'Hey'. "

"Well, 'Mr. Grouchy-Pants', it's actually only December 29th." 

"Like two days makes a big difference! The point is that Christmas came and is now gone and you'll have to wait til next December to mention it again."



"...and a Happy New year!"


Hello everybody! Just a little fun dialogue I spit out to represent how some of you might be feeling right now. Are you Christmas-ed out yet? Well, you at least have eleven months to recover. As for me, myself, and I it was an enjoyable week. Being Santa's elves and delivering 'Secret Santa' gifts, lots of yummy food, Skyping with the family, completely, totally-unexpected-visits from aunts, uncles, and cousins; you know, the usual. Well, that last one wasn't very 'usual' but it defiantly was unexpected. But what else can you expect when some of your extended family is going to Florida and you're in Georgia. 

Anyway, it is no longer the Holiday season. Now.. it's go time! Especially for those of us missionaries who only have a few weeks left in full-time service. No way I'm spending my time with overly long visits to member's homes we are hitting the pavement. We have already found a few really sweet new investigators and we have hopes to find some more. We are doing more tracting and working with some less active members and families. The members are really supportive and will help us out when we ask for help. Church also is changing from 10am to 2pm for 2015. And for the Spanish branch that means more after-church food partaking. Nothing to complain about on my part. :) 

With love and the best new year's regards,

Elder Vance

Monday, December 22, 2014

Let it drip, let it pour, let it flood!

Hey family, friends, and future GANM missionaries. I add that last one because I found out that a few missionaries in my mission read some of my emails home before they came into the field. They simply searched 'Georgia Atlanta North Mission' on Google and happened upon my Blog of emails. I guess I'm famous now or something. Or at least I'd like to imagine that I am. So if you happen to be one of those future missionaries, hello there. Get ready to serve in the best, most waffle-house'd mission ever! 

There is still no snow down here and it's not too cold. It is wet occasionally but that's not a huge problem...if you are lucky enough to have a car and not be on bike of  course! :D But even so, the sky isn't the only thing pouring down these days. So our washing machine only has two water-level settings, 'small' and 'extra large'. I thought that is strange so I decided to try and put it in the middle and see if it would fill to 'medium' level. Turns out it doesn't work like that. It's kind of an older machine. So we didn't know anything was wrong until maintenance came knocking at our door asking if we had a leak somewhere. I said, 'No i don't think...Oh my gosh!' I turned to the washing machine to see it flooding all over the floor. I had confused the machine to the point where it didn't know when to stop filling. Os it didn't. And it soaked through the floor into the neighbors first floor apartment. 

Jeepers, first I hit a little girl with my car, then I flood my neighbors apartment. What next? It turned out fine. The workers came in and sucked all the water up and gave us new floor padding under the carpet. The good thing is that they cleaned out under and behind the washer and dryer, which is nice! :) 

But on a more spiritual note we will be having a baptism this Tuesday for our good friend Christian. He's been waiting a long time for this and so have we. I'm glad I was able to be here with him form the beginning of his teaching to his actual baptism. We'll need your prayers that nothing goes wrong between today and tomorrow!

Oh, one last thing, all of the missionaries got to go to the temple this past weekend! It was my first time my whole mission because it is technically outside of our mission borders. So I was super excited to be able to finally go and enjoy the sweet spirit there and just, oh my goodness, I can't really express myself well enough over email. But it was awesome. If you can go to the Temple, do it. If you can't, well do it anyway! Or makes plans to one day. :) Really worth it.

Love you all! And as a few wizards put it one time, "Happy Christmas Harry!" "Happy Christmas Ron!"

-Elder Vance

Monday, December 15, 2014

I almost committed manslaughter

This week is the week of the mission Christmas get together and Temple trip. We are all super excited down here. Everyone has there new companion and are ready to rock and roll! With regards to missionary work, of course. Actual rock and roll is not approved... :(

Anyway! I'm with Elder Young again and he is excited to be killing me off. I'll do my best to stay focused and not make my companion trunky. I'm not trunky, really, which is the words missionaries use for someone who wants to go home already. I'm going to be way sad when I leave! But change is a part of life I suppose. 

Nothing has really happened that is worthy of report. We didn't have a baptism this past weekend because it was postponed on the request of the investigator. We are meeting with him tonight and will talk about it then. Some people just need a little more time than others. That's alright :)

One more thing, I accidentally hit a little girl with my car. BUT DON'T WORRY! She is fine :) It was a small townhouse complex and there were a lot of little kids running around at a hispanic birthday party, pinata and all. I wasn't paying attention and neither was she when she ran into the middle of the parking lot. I stopped when I finally did notice but still knocked her down with my headlight. Everyone screamed and her dad kicked and dented the car. I had no idea what to say to them! She was fine though. After driving off then concluding that we needed to fill out a police report for legal purposes we went back and talked to the parents. They turned out to be nice and not angry and the police came and took all the info they needed and it was over. In the end we said a prayer with the family and I got a little card with my report number as a souvenir :) the little girl who I had hit, who I found out was celebrating her fifth birthday that day, came up to me and gave me a juice box, which I saw as a peace offering :D 

After it all we took our dinner hour at the Waffle House down the road. Man, it was just a weird day that day.

But any-who! I love you all! Stay warm! Build me a snowman if you have snow in your area!

-Elder Vance :D

Monday, December 8, 2014

Who shall go up to the Mountain of the Lord?

Seasons greetings! Happy holidays! Merry X-mas! 

Just wanted to be politically correct, you know? Who's to say that someone might read my email who doesn't like 'Christmas' and gets all offended. we wouldn't want that to happen, now, would we? 

Just playing! MERRRRYYYY CHRISTMASSS!! Well, not quite yet. Still a few days til the actually 25th, but close enough! this is the time to sing loud a clear that 'Christ' belongs at the forefront of Christmas. Did you watch the Christmas devotional last night? I did. It was great! 

What was also great is that we had a baptism for the little sister of Pedro and went to the Temple and did Baptisms for the dead the following day! Oh how sweet the Gospel sound! We attended the Temple with two of our recent converts, Pedro Chavez and Martin Alanis. IT was a really sweet experience for everyone and made for some great Temple-side photos ;D

We are planning on having the Baptism of Christian Gutierrez this Saturday. Then maybe we'll be able to go to the temple again and do some more Baptisms. 

So transfers are this week and I am pretty sure I am staying here in Norcross until I go home in January. My companion is leaving and actually getting switched to a Portuguese branch. Haha, fun for him! And I have yet to find out who I'll be receiving here in the Norcross branch. We'll see. It'll all turn out fine.

'Til we meet again. Or until I email next week.

-Elder Vance

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dreaming of a White CHRISTmas

I didn't have to look at the calendar to know that it's December already. Why? No, it's not snowing yet. Just that all I am hearing now is that classing Christmas music wherever we go! I don't mind it or anything. It actually brings back a lot of memories of Christmases in the past. 

We are all dreaming of a white Christmas down here as well. Again, not referring to snow. But to people dressed in white standing in a baptismal font. We had a lovely baptismal service this past Saturday for the daughter of one of our other recent converts. And we will be having another one this upcoming Friday for the sister of a different recent convert that we have. If we can keep this up our Christmas will be the whitest one I've had yet! 

Among the various miracles we've seen recently is one of Jesus. No, not the one from the Bible. But the one from El Salvador (which is funny because 'El Salvador' means 'Savior'). Jesus Ventura is a 23 year old who has only been in the USA for about a year now. Upon arriving, illegally, he was apprehended and incarcerated. While in jail he came to the point of praying and pleading with God that if he were allowed to stay he would serve him, he just needed God to guide him. Later he was told he would have to go to court once a year for four years and was allowed to stay for at least that time. Once freed he began searching for a church and happened upon the number of the Mormon misisonaries. He remembered having seen them in his country but never attended before. So around Friday Elder Galvez and I get a message from Jesus saying he wanted to come to church. We got him a ride and stayed by his side for all three hours of church yesterday. We can't say for sure what will happen next but he has expressed desires to become a missionary himself and serve like we do. What a miracle!

I'll keep my eyes, ears, and heart out for more to tell you next week. Love you all!

-Elder Vance


This week was busy.
How about yours?
We had a wedding and knocked on some doors.
Said god bye to our friend and wished him farewell.
Hope he reads his scriptures so he won't end up in....a bad situation.

How are we doing? I don't have much time to type but in brief we had no baptism this week but are planning on having one this Saturday. We did have a wedding, though, of our recent convert Kiet. They are moving back to his place in Massachusetts today which is sad. :( But he was able to get his old job back and continue supporting his new wife's family from there. He is such as good guy! I'll miss that Korean-looking Vietnamese kid!!

I have two more things to say. One sweet and the other not so sweet but pretty funny. As we were driving to the library today to email we noticed a little kid in the car next to us looking at us while we were at a red light. One of the Elders in the car starting waving at him and as well got the attention of the dad. We rolled down our windows to be friendly and say hi and it turns out he spoke Spanish. He looked at us for a moment and then said, "Oh, are you from the Churcho f the Latter-day Saints? I am a member who just came from Mexico about a month ago and I don't know where the church is!" The light turned green so we couldn't talk much but we then pulled over and exchanged info. He said his wife was not a member either and was wanting to be baptized. It was just a crazy 'coincidence' that we found him like that but we know that wasn't just a lucky situation. God works in mysterious ways for the Salvation of his children. I'd count that as a nice, mini-miracle!

Thing number two: it was raining yesterday. But that's not any surprise. The funny and sad thing was that our driver-side front window was stuck down all day. We couldn't roll it up. And we got wet. It was open all night before we found out and then we tried to use a plastic cover to keep us dry but it didn't allow me to see as I drove. (my companion made me drive :p ) But it's not raining today and so far the car has not been stolen. Yay! :D Other than that we are all safe and sound down here in Georgia.

I love you all. Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy New year! ..Just in case I forget to say those later. 

-Elder Vance

When Elders find an emergency blanket in their apartment...

Wedding time!

Monday, November 17, 2014

This new scarf makes me feel kind of fashionable

Brrr. It's getting chillier down here in the south. No presence of snow yet but the signs are pointing to it soon. And after last winter I hope we are more prepared :/ Jeez, a little ice and these people go nuts...anyway!

We are pleased to announce we had another wonderful, successful baptism and confirmation this past Saturday and Sunday. Pedro Chavez is the oldest of four children of a family that has met with missionaries for a little over a year. They are related to a member family and have loved the missionaries coming over. Pedro was the first to take the steps to change his life, which he really did, and the rest should follow shortly. He is only fifteen but he has made a strong start for the rest of his life. I'm really happy to have been a part of it all.

No planned baptism for this week but we have a few goals for the following weeks. I'm not trying to slow down now that I'm reaching the end. I'm really trying to not even think of the end of my mission, which isn't made any easier by telling you all about it. :P But it's true, I am an oldy-folgy here is the GANM (Georgia Atlanta North Mission) But that's okay. I'm not worried about it. Just keep setting goals and knocking doors and koo-koo-ka-chu, soon enough I'll be heading out to the big ol' BYU... I'll come home for a little first, of course, Mom. :D But for now I'll enjoy what I'm doing more than ever. 

-Elder Vance

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's getting chilly!!

Greetings from way down here in the southern parts of the USA. Well, I'm not that south actually. But compared to some it's still pretty low. I have a question, though. I was always taught the further south you go the warmer it gets. But it is still super chilly! Jeepers I miss the heat. I mean, I like the change of season but overall I'd rather be hot than freezing. At least it hasn't snowed yet. But I hear next week it might. We shall see. Hmmmmm. But if it does I will have an excuse to use one of the only lines from 'Frozen' that I know of while I'm tracting. 'Do you want to build a snowman??' I can see it being a great proselyting tool. Hearts will be touched.

We were able to have a wonderful baptism and confirmation this weekend for our great friend Kiet Anh Le. Born in Vietnam and raised in Massechusets. He found the Gospel through his girlfriend who was baptized with her family when the missionaries found them one day. We only had to teach him for about a month before he was ready to be baptized unto repentance, as we read in the Book of Momron. He is a really smart guy and we feel luck to have been a part in his entrance to the Gospel. 

Really, the friends one makes on a mission, with the other missionaries and with the people they teach, are ones that will be kept forever. I'm so grateful to have been able to come here to Georgia and learn so much as I tried my best in helping others learn about who they really are.

Best of luck this week with all your goals and endeavors! And if you have no goals or endeavors I invite you to repent and get off of the couch and go get some! :D

-Elder Vance

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"This isn't even hot!..*cough *cough..uh oh"

Looks like I'm staying right here in Norcross, GA. Good place, really. I love my companion and the branch is way sweet. Plus we have baptisms that are looking to be happening in the upcoming weeks. The only downside of staying here is that because I'm leaving in January there is a chance that I'll get sent somewhere for only a month right before I leave. Or I'll just stay here the rest of my time. No biggie really.

This week was nice, as usual. It's getting colder which means we are wearing more sweaters! Yay! But to keep things ever warmer the members are still giving us spicy foods. Speaking of which, I was challenged to eat a whole Jalapeno that was just picked from a member's garden. I accepted, mostly wanting to get a video of it.

At first it really wasn't bad. I thought, 'Hey, this isn't even spicy!' Then it hit me. Red face. Red eyes. Burning mouth and throat. Really I couldn't believe how hot it was! Yeeah, yeah, there are those of you who can down those without problem, but I'm a gringo here! I was dying. I drank like a galon of juice and milk and bananas and stuff... Ya. Fun fun! Well, at least it was fun for everyone who was watching. Brother Castro, the member who gave it to me, was busting up laughing. Seriously, I don't know why he found my pain so enjoyable. But now I have a good memory that I will never forget. And a sense to not to do it again. At least any time soon. ;P

Hasta la proxima,

-Elder Vance :D

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

BCE: Baptism...Confirmation...Empanadas

This week was great! Mainly because we actually had a baptism and confirmation take place! Good ol' Martin Alanis has taken the steps necessary to enter into the waters of Baptism and make a covenant with God. Sounds fun, right? Cause it is! But more than being 'fun' it is actually the door to the path which lead to Eternal Life. And there is only one path. One door. One path. One way. One Savior who paved that way with his life and blood. It is just crazy how things begin to piece together when it comes to understanding the Plan of Salvation and Gospel. 

After the Baptismal service the members provided some nice Hispanic hot chocolate, sweet bread, and empanadas. Very good. 

We are now preparing to take a trip to the Temple with Martin to perform Baptisms for the dead. That would be such a good experience for him. And for all of us, really. I just hope I don't get transferred before we can :O

We are working hard and sleeping harder (Only after planning session of course) and then rinsing and repeating. Just like the shampoo bottles tell us too.

Mucho <3 para todos!

-Elder Vance

B is for Baptism

Have you heard the news?? Well probably not because I have told you yet. But we will be having a baptism this week on Thursday! 

Oh, Hello, by the way. Forgot to say that.

So you may remember, but maybe not, that I mentioned an investigator who was not allowed to get baptized because his mother said no. Well we started teaching one of his good friends that he actually rooms with now. His friend's name is Martin. After a few weeks of teaching and coming to church he is preparing to be baptized on Thursday and become an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! 

Martin is such a humble guy. He is eighteen and is a tad shy, but has seen that he has opened up as we have been teaching him. His family is from Mexico and he speaks both English and Spanish... But mostly English. He has no problem with any of the commandments and standards that we have taught and has already told his mom he cannot drink coffee anymore. Haha, I just love this guy.

Of course, opposition is real until the day we die so there is always something that might come up. So please pray that the baptism can go smoothly and that the Spirit can really be strong there for everyone. 

There is nothing else to report other than that it is raining. Like always. 

My love for all of you burns like the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. So always remember that! Hasta luego mis compadres!

-Elder Vance

Conference Weekend was Great!

Good morn-after-evening! You see, I don't know at what time you'll be reading this so I had to include all the options.

Did you all enjoy conference weekend like we did here in Georgia? I hope so. I felt that the talks were so bold and powerful and loved the twist of listening to a few speakers in their native language. We listened to conference in English but would run to the Spanish broadcast in the other room to here the Spanish speakers. Very fun :) One of my favorite talks was Elder Christofferson's talk on the justice of God and how 'a God who does not require anything of us is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist.' Ooooh! Nice! :D

We got a couple of investigators to come and enjoy a few sessions or parts of sessions. Really that's all missionaries do before and after General conference, just run around and try and wake people up for it or get them to watch it at home. Same with church, really. It's quite the schedule! Busy, busy, busy. Well, a better description would be 'anxiously engaged in a good cause'. 

We found out something surprising about on of our 'less actives' we have been working with. She is the unmarried mother of four with one on the way and is only twenty-five. They are super sweet and the kids are way cute and a bit hyper. (Candy helps them focus..well it probably also does the opposite...oops) She was supposedly baptized when she was eight but then just never stayed with the church. We looked for her records but couldn't find them until one day our branch president called and said he'd found them. The problem was that it turns out she as baptized a few months before she was eight so it was never valid. So she will need to be baptized technically for the first time. :) This is good news too because she had always thought he baptismal experience wasn't a good one. Which makes sens now because it wasn't a real baptism! :O So we are exited to have a 'new investigator' and are helping her work to making, for real, a covenant with God.

Fun stuff like that happens every once in a while. :) Well, missions aren't always exiting, but they can always be fun.

-Elder Vance

Elder Galvez and Elder Vance.  Game face. 

Mission Pres., President Bennion

Matching new suits


Monday, September 29, 2014

Meet the Mormons!!

Hola friends and family! My, are you looking lovely today. I could just scoop you all up and eat you in one bite. But I won't. :)

The only thing that I can think of to tell you all is give you a short review on the upcoming movie from the church, Meet the Mormons. We were gathered as missionaries and allowed a sneak peak of the movie. It was really, really good! Like really, it was great! It opens up with a bunch of stereo typical Mormon jokes and even clips from television shows and movies that make reference to the Mormons. Then it goes into the lives of six different individuals from around the world who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. Each is so different from the other and each is so amazing. I really just have only good things to say about this movies, and it's not just because I am a missionary. (Or is it?) But honestly, you need to all go when it comes to theaters near you. The opening day will determine how long it stays in theaters and a bunch of other stuff, so get your friends and some popcorn and head on in! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be moved. :D

On the side of missionary work in Norcross, Georgia, we are doing well. We are finding a lot more people to teach and my new companion, Elder Galvez, is really teaching me a lot about being an effective missionary. There is a difference between working hard and working smart. You need to do both anyway. :) I am still running each morning, which isn't too unbearable anymore. We'll see if I get those nice six-pack abs from it though. If not I want my money back!

It is getting chillier down here. Sweater weather is coming up soon! Be prepared!

Con carino y chocolate

Elder Vance

Taking people to church

Sunday Selfie

Monday, September 22, 2014

Simon yes, "Ay, cuate! Como anda?

My fellow citizens of Earth! I am doing fantastic! Just thought you'd like to know. I mean, what else am I supposed to say? It's true of course. I really am doing fantastic. I loved my time with Elder Auelua but I am no longer with him. I am now with Elder Galvez de Leon. Fancy, right?

So last week was transfers and the rumor was that I was getting as a new companion Mr. elder Galvez, whom I met in the MTC actually. He is from Guatemala and is a super good missionary. Lie, really. He is good. And I am excited to be with him. I had always wanted to but never thought I would. And now we are together and ready to rock and roll! Of course not really rock and roll because that music is not approved for us. We'll just stick with our nice MoTab for now :)

Some changes taking place so far with my new companion is our morning workouts. I have never been a fan of running in the mornings and Elde Galvez is. So w are running! A lot. And sure I don't LOVE it yet but I might, perhaps, just possibly be able to say that I'm not as tired during my morning studies now that I've been running more. So hopefully that keeps up! We have high goals for these weeks together and by golly we are going to achieve them! :D

It is really fun to be with a native companion because, well, they have perfect Spanish. And I get to learn a bunch of cool, new words. Like 'cuate' which is another way of saying 'friend'. Or 'simon' for 'yes' instead of just 'si'. I'ts just a whole bunch of fun. Overall I think we will do well together and I am sure ready to learn a lot from him. 

Take...luck! Take care of the luck that you might have...Don't everybody look at me, I'm a moron. (Brian Regan for ya?)

-Elder Vance

Monday, September 15, 2014

Errors in Translation

The two Elders nervously look at each other and then down at the headsets they were just handed. No amount of door contacts could have prepared them sufficiently to handle a task like this. Their shiny, brown, new shoes couldn't even fill the pit in their stomachs that at this point. 

'Do they seriously want us to do this?' the darker Elder said to his fellow redheaded missionary. 'I mean, speaking Spanish is one thing but translating is a whole different story!'

'Come on, you've got this. You're from El Salvador for crying out loud!' 

'Well, yeah. But I don't know enough English. You know more Spanish than I know English, so you do it!' he said as he pushed the translating equipment into the hands of the other.

'Are you kidding? I can't translate! Well, I did it once but that was a long time ago and it was only for one person. Man, I was so nervous for that.'

'I'm nervous for this too! Just do it with me, we can take turns.'

Elder Vance was the picture of being on the brink of decision. His fiery hair glowed as though his thoughts were setting his head ablaze. Elder Portillo had his usual huge smile on his face as he nervously laughed in reply to the stare of his missionary friend. A voice began to echo from the speakers as the second counselor of the ward took his place at the pulpit and began to welcome the congregation to the sacrament meeting and following Primary program.

'They're starting now. They need us!' Elder Portillo spat out.

'Alright! Let's do it!' Elder Vance said in reply as they plugged their device into the wall and got ready to speak. 'I mean, how hard could this really be? It's just a bunch of kids.'

Though they were unsure of their ability, the two, young Elders took their seats and began to speak. Their exiting, new adventure began.

So, did you like that? That was my literary-artistic way of portraying my experience of having to translate from English to Spanish for the combined primary program we had on Sunday. Haha, it was actually pretty fun. Some of the children who got up to speak their part were unintelligible so we had to do our best to get something from it. "Umm, I think she said 'Jesus loves me'."

Our week was great overall. We have three people with a baptismal date for October and are hoping all goes well. Transfers are on Wednesday and I will be staying and my companion will most likely be leaving. We heard from the grapevine of who I will be getting as a companion but of course anything is possible. So I'll let you know next week.

No other huge news at this point. Yes, I love you still. No, don't turn and look at your neighbor, I'm talking to you. ;D
-Elder Vance

p.s. I heard Apple announced the new iPhone6. Not that it has anything to do with me right now, just checking .:3

White boy gets schooled

A Micronesian family shows Elder Vance how it's done

White boys can't jump or break open coconuts

Monday, September 8, 2014

Yes, my birthday just past. Yes... I know I don't look 21.

Estos son las mananitas!!

Sorry, that's just part of a Spanish song that is sung at birthdays. I heard a bit of it last week as people congratulated me on surviving this long and wished me many more years of life :) It's funny what people say when we ask them how old we look. We get all kids of answers. Some think I am way older than I am but I think most agree I look a tad younger than twenty one. I'm just going by faith that that's how old I actually am.

Thank you to all of those who sent me cards. Your words and prayers mean more than anything to me! And thank you mucho, Mom, for the huge box of food. I now have enough cereal to last til doomsday. Or at least until transfers. Whichever comes first.

The work has gone on here as usual. In our mission there is a push to increase the amount we work with the members as opposed to simply knocking on doors. We will be getting trained more about that this week, but, hey, if it means less doors to knock than I'm down! Of course I don't mind tracting :) Switching things up a bit wouldn't be a problem, though. We have no super big changes in our investigator pool so far but we meet a lot of great people everyday. We're looking for 'the one'!

We had a nice, normal Fast and Testimony meeting yesterday in church. Nobody got up and said anything crazy or told super long stories. So I hope that's a sign this week will be good, haha. :) I hope you all have a great week as well. I'm still kicking around here in Norcross, Georgia. Keep kicking wherever you are! And as my father once said and possibly quoted from someone else, not sure... 'Remember, wherever you are.. There you are.' 

-Elder Vance :D

Birthday boy