Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tudo Vai Dar Certo

Hi Everyone,

This past week we had exchanges with the other sisters up in the mountains in Tiangua. We are usually so excited for these exchanges because it’s chilly up there, and there is hot water to take showers! But with our luck, we got there when the water stopped working. So another week, another few bucket showers! Haha, life is a struggle.

Maurcelio is still so awesome and was back at church with us this week, attended a baptism, and attended a youth activity. He says that every time he enters the church his excitement and desire to be a member and get baptized grows! His countenance has changed so much. I will never forget when we contacted him and talked about the love that Heavenly Father has for him. He looked up at us and asked, "I'm important to him?" He is truly discovering now for himself all the God has in store for him. He always says the most shocking things; I would just like to take a minute to quote him right now.

Maurcelio: “My friends looked at me today and said that something was different about me. I told them that I am becoming a Mormon. They started laughing in my face and said that they will give me two months before I become inactive, and that they won't be friends with me anymore. I responded that, ‘it doesn’t matter if I lose you guys, because I will have Jesus Christ’”.

Maurcelio: “When you guys started walking towards me, I thought you were Jehovah’s Witness and I almost got up and started running, but God held me down. Haha, and I am so glad He did because I have never felt happier in my life”.

Maurcelio: "Serving a mission is something that I would be interested in.”

I can't even write or describe all the comments that he makes, but most of the time I just want to sprawl on the ground during the lessons because it just seems too good to be true! This kid is awesome and will be a powerhouse for sure! He will be baptized on the 27th!

This week we had companionship inventory, when we talk about our relationship with our companion and what we can do to be better. My companion, who I have known for my whole mission, looked at me and told me that she knows me well. But at the same time she feels like she doesn't know me because she says in all situations I act the same! She said she never knows if I am mad, sad or annoyed … because I am always the same. She said, “you will make a comment like, ‘man, that guy was rude’ but with a smile on your face!" Haha, I started laughing so hard because I told her that in the mission I feel like I have been in the same mood for the past year! I have just been blessed with an attitude of "tudo vai dar certo", or everything will be alright. When life is a struggle here, it just always is funny to me, and I just ALWAYS feel happy. I know that I only feel this way because I am striving to truly consecrate my life and while I am doing that, my difficulties fade away and the world just seems so much brighter and so much more hopeful. I love this work! The key to happiness is found in LIVING THE GOSPEL!

Love you!

Sister Vance

Friday, January 12, 2018

"We Touched His Heart"

Family and Friends,Family and Friends,Family and Friends,

We started talking to a guy this week that was in the streets and he explained that he was an alcoholic because his wife died. There was still some alcohol in the bottle and we told him to "throw it out". Then he said, "okay, … no, I am going to throw it IN", and just went to chug the rest of it. Then the wind picked up and blew the alcohol right into my face and mouth! When someone asks me in the future about what my experience with alcohol was like, at least I will have a good story to tell! I was dying laughing and was using my hand sanitizer as mouthwash! Haha!

On a sad note, one of our investigators passed away this week. His name was Raimundo and he was married to Luzia. They have been going to church with us and had a baptism date for this past Saturday. His blood pressure ran high and he had 3 strokes and then went into coma in the hospital. But they didn't have room for him in the unit that he needed. It was all so sudden and such a shock to us. We have been teaching them for about two months. But as sad as it was, my testimony kicked in and we had powerful, spiritual lessons about temples and how Luzia can have the opportunity to be sealed with him for time and all eternity. I would try to explain more, but I can't put it into words how special these moments were for us, testifying as his whole family was there listening to us and the Spirit that was present. His kids were shocked that he had been attending church with us because for all of his life he had refused to attend. They all started crying as they heard that when we contacted him in front of his house and talked about the plan of salvation, that HE was the one that accepted our messages and asked us to teach him and his wife, because "what we said touched his heart". I have no doubt that another set of missionaries in the spirit world are finishing our work.

Maurceilio is an 18 year old boy that we contacted sitting in the road, and then when we went to teach him in his house realized that we had already knocked on his door! But the Lord has given us and him another chance to meet! He accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 27th and was at church on Sunday! His aunt, when she saw that he was reading the BOM, said a ton of bad things about our church and even said that we don't like black people … lies. He told us that, "I shut her up and said that, in fact, one of the missionaries that visited me is black, so you're wrong". Wow! My companion and I were just ecstatic because he is already defending the church! Investigators usually get disinterested when someone starts making things up like that about our church There are so many miracles and so many changes in the lives of so many here; and in my own life as well!

Love you!

Sister Vance

p.s. Raimundo looks like a mad grumpy man in this photo, but he is the sweetest man ever!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Keystone of Our Religion

Happy New Year Everyone,

I can't believe 2017 is over; it was a great year filled with so many things! When I think back, I will always remember 2017 as the year I was a missionary for the entire year!

This week was so, so busy. Christmas night my companion and I traveled to Teresina for the leadership council, but we had to travel a day earlier because of the holidays. I won't lie, I wasn’t upset about it one bit, because I had the opportunity to visit my old area! It was cool because I showed up at Irmao Batisita’s and he started crying and said that he had been thinking about me that afternoon. We drank his specialty, mango juice, and I left with my mouth hurting because I was smiling so much. We also visited Irmao Gerry, a recent convert, and we went in to say hi to his mom, who I had had a few interactions with when I was there. She is very Catholic, but is grateful that we helped Gerry, and always offered food for us, but was never interested in the church. We walked in to surprise her, not thinking much of it, and when she saw us she buried her hands in her face and burst in to tears. We hugged her and then she explained that she had left her house in the hot sun many days, walking in the roads, looking for us and she had just missed us so much! I was shocked … I thought this women wouldn't even remember us. It was such a testimony builder to me of the work we are doing here. Sometimes we feel like we don't make a difference, and then go back and realize that these people are changed, and their hearts are softened through the work we do.

This week we also had zone conference, and we talked a ton about the Book of Mormon and the power that it has. It is the most powerful tool we have to bring us closer to Christ. I LOVE THAT BOOK. I have really come to realize how confused people are without the Book of Mormon. Churches that only use the Bible don’t have the complete answers about the Plan of Salvation and so many other things; we need them both … the Bible AND the Book of Mormon! Who wants to complain about God talking MORE to us through the Book of Mormon? Not me! Anyway, I could talk all day about that book, but let’s just leave it at this … it is the greatest!!!

One last thing … Irmao Barretto was baptized and married! Woohhoo!

Love you all,

Sister Vance

Monday, December 25, 2017

I Love My Savior

Merry Christmas Everyone,

Skyping with my family on Christmas was just awesome; the whole time I was just struggling hardcore to speak in English, and they were just laughing at my accent. These last couple weeks have just been so crazy and full of so many experiences. Yesterday we went around with my companion’s ukulele, and we sang and gave snickerdoodle cookies to the members. THE SPIRIT WAS STRONG, and it brought real joy to us and to the people as well.

Irma Luzia and Irmao Raimundo were at the ward activity this week and they loved it so much. Irmao Barretto will be baptized this week on Saturday. He is an older man and he smoked for 50 years, and only uses one lung because he lost the other one due to the smoking,g so now he walks around with an oxygen machine but he still has so much energy! He is so cute and so excited for his baptism!

We had a contact with a girl in the street this past week, and we were talking about Jesus Christ and we asked her who He was and she didn't know a lot. We talked about Him and His ministry, and then asked her if she loved us. She got weirded out a bit, and said “no, of course not”! We then explained that she feels that way because she just met us! You have to know someone to really love them, and we can come to know our Savior through repentance, prayer and striving every day to walk, talk, teach and serve as He did. My mission is forcing me, and I am allowing it, to change my life. For this I am so truly grateful. I love my Savior and want to follow Him.

Love you all,

Sister Vance

Monday, December 18, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Family and Friends,

We had transfers today and I am staying here in Sobral with Sister Lucas, and I am so excited! Irmao Barreto, one of our investigators, decided to be baptized and will be getting married on the 30th of December! We went to the courthouse this week to get his papers all ready for the big day. We are so excited! This transfer, our district had only sister missionaries. Our district leader was in my group when I was in the MTC and everyone told him that it would be his "Gethsemane" … the hardest part of the mission because he would only have a group of sisters! It ended up being the most baptizing, with the best numbers of the zone! Woohoo!

Also, a lot of our friends from the mission are going home today and we are so sad. We are seeing so many miracles and I am so excited for Christmas! There is no better Christmas in life than when you are on the mission during Christmas … truly doing His work!

Love you all!

Sister Vance

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Family and Friends,

This past week went by so fast! We had zone conference with President Melo and his wife and, as usual, it was so inspiring! Earlier in the week, we ate lunch at an older irma’s house and she made us such good food, but then said she was going to take a shower and asked us if it would be okay. We obviously responded that it was, until we realized that the shower was in the kitchen, so we had dinner AND A SHOW! The things we see here are hilarious.

We taught Irma Virlene this week, and we have been working with her for a couple weeks now. She is the mom of a little boy and lives with a man that uses drugs. She suffers and wants God to help her. She reads the Book of Mormon daily, and loves going to church. In order to be baptized, she can't be living with a man unmarried. We have cried with her and tried so many things. She prays and tells us that she wants God to change her life. This week she received an invitation to go to Sao Paulo to live with her mom, but she said the house there is small and some other things. In the last lesson, she said "I just want God to set me free to change my life, and take me somewhere far from here." I just told her, "Irma, far away is Sao Paulo! He is offering you this right now!” It just is really hard as missionaries sometimes, because we see the way that God is opening doors for these people, but they aren't willing to walk through and recognize that God works in simple ways. They want their lives to change without exercising their agency, and they want God to do all the work! It doesn't work that way folks! I liked what President Melo said this week; "the blessings or miracles come after the trial/test of your faith. And what is a trial or a test? It’s work; it’s your own effort.”

Tuesday was the craziest day ever! We had an appointment set with a young guy named Wesley, and we were so pumped for this lesson. We planned out perfectly how the lesson would go. We were teaching about the Restoration and it was going so well (we were teaching him in the house of a recent convert), and right after that we taught him about the First Vision. The mom of the recent convert busted in and interrupted us, and just started yelling a ton of things that weren't true about the Church. We answered some of her fire and the doubts that she had, but the Spirit was already gone so fast, so we wrapped up the lesson and left. My companion and I were raging a bit walking down the streets, upset about what had just happened. Then, to top it all off, as we left we realized that our skirts were both soaked, because the kid that was jumping all over on the couch peed all over us. I was just thinking, “come on”, you have GOT to be kidding me! Haha, these things only happen to me, I swear! Anyway, my companion and I started murmuring like Laman and Lemual … about how back in those days missionary work was so different. People always saw huge miracles and people would have these spectacular dreams and revelations. That afternoon we were walking to an appointment, and the woman was in her house asleep, so that fell through. But if you have been reading my blogs, do you remember Neide? She is the woman that was super Catholic, and we contacted her and it was the wrong house but she started crying because she was really needing the message? We had returned a couple times, but she was never home. As we were walking back that day, I saw her sliding into her house and I just yelled "IRMÃ!!" She turned around with the biggest smile on her face. She welcomed us in and sat us down and told us that the two huge family problems that she was having were completely resolved (her son who left his wife returned home, and her depressed daughter that wouldn't talk to her invited her over). She said that when these things happened, she had felt right away in her heart that we were REALLY praying for her. She tried to track us down at the church one Saturday night but we weren't there, and then that night she had a dream with us in it. We had come back and were at her door in her dream, and when she woke up she knew that God would touch our hearts and bring us back into her life. I almost fell out of my chair! I wanted to scream and cry at the same time. We had an awesome spiritual lesson with her and she accepted the invitation to be baptized, but she needs to get married first. When we tried to set a date for December 23rd, she heard the 3rd of December by mistake, and even accepted that date. I love her so much. I am so thankful for the Lord’s involvement in the small details of our lives. It was as if He was saying to me, "don't forget how involved I am in MY work; I’ve got my fingerprints all over it." This story has touched my heart … miracles still exist, even and especially in times like today. I love this work; it’s addicting!

Love you all!

Sister Vance

Friday, December 1, 2017

Working and Running for Miracles

Family and Friends,

This past week was one where is seems EVERYTHING happens, and it made for such spiritual and funny week. We went to Tiangua for divisions with the sisters, and as sister training leaders we are supposed to be examples and help them with training, etc. But this area is up in the mountains, and we got to travel there and it was so chilly! I was so happy about that, and we even had warm water to take showers. My companion and I were dying from happiness. Anyway, I was with Sister Frietas and it is basically a rule of the universe that something strange always happens during the division. There was an old man that we were talking to and out of nowhere he just started yelling, and then was totally hitting on us and he asked me to talk to him with my eyes closed because he couldn't handle looking into my blue eyes. Haha, he said so many other things that are written in my journal that made me cry from laughing. Then to make things worse, my skirt totally flew up in the air because of the wind and he just screamed "ahhhh, your legs are so beautiful!" Haha, we left shortly after. But my favorite moment was when we were walking home and we saw a man sitting on a bench, and Sister Frietas looked at me and said, “Sister Vance, I feel like we should talk to that man, but I want you to make the contact”. I accepted, and as I walked toward him, I was feeling pressure and trying to be prepared to finish off the day by having an example of a good contact. I said hello to the 25-year-old guy, and then reached for his hand that was closed on his lap. He opened his hand and I jumped back and let out a scream! I had come face to face with “Wolverine”! He had yellow fingernails, the size of rulers! I then apologized, and was still giggling, but was also so scared and I shook his hand and his nails passed on my arm. I apologized but couldn't talk anymore because I was still in a state of shock. My companion finished the contact and then we walked away. It wasn't so much the nails that creeped me out, but it was that it was so unexpected and he opened his hand so fast and it literally looked like “Wolverine”! Anyway, I was dying and wasn't the best example, but come on, it was ridiculous! But the day was filled with miracles as well, and we set four baptism dates that day! Truly miracles!

This past week my companion and I started going hard on exercises, and we got a little too excited about it and a little carried away. Because of it, the next two days we looked like weirdos limping around while proselyting, haha.

This week we had two divisions and Sunday rolled around and we weren't even close to the goals we had set for the week. We were lacking 11 new investigators. Sunday is also the worst day for missionary work because everyone just stays inside and is feeling lazy or hungover. Sister Lucas and I just went to work … and we started running! Haha, we said that we wouldn't come home until we completed our goal. We prayed and prayed … and miracles started appearing everywhere! We found 12 new people to teach on Sunday. It was awesome and there is truly no better feeling here in the field than when you are walking home and you can't even think or hardly walk anymore because you just worked and talked to everyone. It was just awesome. I am so grateful to know, not only how important faith is, but how crucial our works and efforts are in God’s plan. Sometimes we want things so badly and ask Heavenly Father to work miracles in our lives, but we aren't willing to work for it and do our part. But if we combine our work and power, with the overwhelming love and power of the Lord’s, we are unstoppable!

Have a great week and I hope Thanksgiving was awesome! We ate pancakes and dipped them in the drops of maple that an elder gave us. Haha, it was perfect!

Love you all!

Sister Vance