Thursday, July 20, 2017

You Will Never Regret It

Hi Everyone!

Well, it was a great week, not counting the time when a dog tried to attack me as I just stood there, ice cold, eyes shut, and waiting for him to bite my thigh off. It’s fine though, he only bit off a part of my bag. I used to like dogs, but I think I will always have PTSD from so many ravenous street dogs here. Also, as of this week, our brick cell phones are able to send texts, so that has been a weird experience, bringing back my muscle memory from my pink razor in 6th grade, hahaha!

I am trying to lose my American accent, but too many times the following situation happens me … I start talking with someone in the street and the person asks me if I am American. I say “yes” and continue to keep the conversation more focused on the gospel, bear my testimony, and try to ask them inspired questions about Jesus Christ. The person responds with one or more of … "did you vote for Donald Trump?", "Do you have a Facebook where I can practice my English”, or some totally unrelated point, haha. That’s my life … my companions try to encourage me and tell me it’s not just my accent that gives it away, but it’s the fact that I am white, with light eyes and my hair is getting blonder and blonder each passing day. It’s a hopeless situation.

We brought Irmao Gerry to the shelter where we have the group of investigators! He talked to them and I just wanted to scream. He taught and shared his own experience of being baptized and the changes he has seen in his life. He told them, "I know how you are feeling too, I used to live on the streets, but if you listen to what these angels that God sent all the way from the United States and Sao Paulo, you will never regret it". I was literally biting my knuckle because there is nothing greater in the mission than seeing your recent convert testifying to your investigators. The Spirit is so strong. After the lesson, we got the whole group kneeling and said a closing prayer. One of them, who we thought wasn’t paying attention, asked to say something. We were a little surprised, but he bore his testimony too … that this is the path that will help these men and so many other things. I was so shocked but he had such an impact on the men there. It was a lesson I will never forget. The next morning we had planned that we would walk to pick them up and walk with them to church. We were running a little late, and I turned to my companions and I was stressed and said we need to run! We turned the corner, and what did we see? Irmao Gerry walking in the middle of the road with 7 of the men from the shelter! It was like a scene from a movie! I don’t think I have ever smiled so big in my life. They loved church and a Seventy was in our ward that day and later asked about all of our investigators! They also came to a devotional at night with two Seventies there!

We had a zone conference, and a speaker told us that he wanted our missions to be hard, to be the hardest thing we have ever done. He said that in the next life we will be surrounded by prophets and even Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father will look at us and ask us, "What did you for me?”, “What did you sacrifice for the gospel, or to save my lost sons and daughters?”. The prophets will say that they were persecuted and hated, and even Jesus Christ will say that He bled from every pore. Then it will be our turn to answer … will there be an awkward silence or will we be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the prophets and be able to say that we too gave our lives? Not physically, but did we give it all of our time and attention … did we truly gave it our all? I loved that.

Being here in a different country and culture has made me grateful. When a member gives us a ride in their car, I smile the whole way just because I don’t have to walk. Haha, it’s so funny how there are so many things I took for granted. I have been looking to be more thankful and grateful in my life. I have realized that the happiest people are also the most grateful people in the world. After this week, which was so good, I felt prompted to say a prayer of gratitude. It was so powerful me and such a good reminder. I am trying to realize that the hand of God is everywhere, and the blessings from my Heavenly Father are so abundant … I know that they are everywhere!

Love,

Sister Vance

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Charity and Clarity

Hi Family and Friends!

I saw my trainer this past week … Sister Bagatoli! She is seriously so awesome. We always say bye with a huge headache from talking so fast and so much together, haha. I saw some missionaries that are serving in Parnaiba and they told me that my man, Jose Eugenio, was made a counselor in the branch presidency! I love that man!

So many things happened this week … story time. This week we taught Messias (the name itself just tells us we gotta get him baptized). He was a contact we made in the street and he lives in a homeless/rehabilitation shelter. At first, we taught him and he showed up at church, but these last couple times we went there to teach him and 8-10 of the other men also started swarming to participate. Before we began, they got a little rowdy and talked over each other, so when we started the lesson, I told them that we would say a prayer and during our lesson if any of them wanted to comment or ask a question they had to raise their hand, hahaha. One man interrupted another one time, and I snapped "hey, raise your hand". I felt like such a mom, except that they were grown men, haha. After that, they sat and listened and commented perfectly. It has been so fun and such a cool experience, as they really comprehended what we taught and have a desire to be better.

This week Jacikelly and Jaqaliny have been progressing and have a real desire to be baptized. They come from a family with eight kids and we asked the parents (the mom is a less-active) permission for them to be baptized, and she thought that the girls were too young. They are 15 and 9, so we taught the mom and the girls together, and we missionaries testified about how we were baptized at the age of 8. The mom said she wanted them to be baptized at 20. I then felt prompted to bear my testimony that being baptized at a young age was what changed my life all the way through my teenage years, and helped me to know and speak the truth here on my mission. I told her that teaching children young will truly redirect and change their future. It was one of the few times I have really been emotional during a lesson, because I am so grateful for being raised in the gospel. Without it, I wouldn’t have stood a chance. She then gave permission for the older to be baptized! Woohoo!

We had two or three lessons this week that were awesome. There are a lot of people here who have a hard time understanding all the principles in the gospel, so we take it real slow. But we had lessons this week with people that were strong in other religions and knew the Bible and were picking it up fast. A part of me loves these lessons, but it also makes it more difficult because they seem to be more closed off to the pure and simple principles of the restored gospel and its fullness. It does give me the opportunity to be BOLD, and straight up. One lady has family that are members we taught previously. We taught her about the restoration, and she says she knows it’s true and that the Book of Mormon is true, but continues to practice in her church and was talking about her pastor. I told her that all churches are good, but they don’t have the true, full restored authority of The Church of Jesus Christ. She just doesn’t want to change. It was so funny, because at one point I just decided to not have fear. We read Amos 3:7, where it talks about how God will always reveal to prophets, and I looked her in the eye and said, “Irma, is the leader of your church a prophet”? Haha, she looked at me and told me no. We fired about five more of those bold, and I mean BOLD, burning questions and she answered in our favor. But she won't change. It was one of those lessons where I left walking down the roads, and my companions and I just wanting to scream, haha, but it was also so good. Another woman, after explaining about priesthood authority and that it is necessary, asked about her recent baptism in another church. I looked her right in the eye and told her, that her baptism wasn’t fully valid because of the lack of proper authority. Sometimes, I just want to cringe as I say things so boldly, but I know when I am following promptings that this is my calling, to be a defender of the truth. And do you know what? THEY ALWAYS INVITE US BACK! They respond positively. These have been some of the lessons where I literally feel my testimony burning within in me and that the Spirit is helping me “not be confounded before men”! I had splits with Sister Lucas this week and we had miracles that day! I don’t have time to explain them, but at the end of the day we were evaluating our day and she said, "Sister Vance, when you talk to people in the streets, you literally love them in the same moment you meet them, and it’s the strangest thing but it always feels like you are talking to a member of your family." That was the best compliment someone could give me, because I pray every day for charity. It is one of the biggest goals I have in my life, but also that I am not afraid to be forward with the people here. I know that if the people here didn’t feel my love for them and I just burn them in our lessons, they probably would kick us out on the spot. But they invite us back because they know that we are here because we love them and want their happiness, not our own.

I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, I know that I am guided here to preach the truth, and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to testify of our beloved prophet. I know that God doesn’t change, and that we have modern day revelation. I know that in moments of feeling inadequate, I turn my prayers to Him, and tell Him that I am only the instrument and he has to do the writing. He has to tell me where to go and what to say, and that I don’t have to worry about doing this work alone. I won’t even try to do it alone. I am trying to pray as if everything depends on Him; and working as if everything depends on me. He is truly here, working hand in hand with us. This knowledge brings me comfort and confidence! I always wish I could write more and explain my experiences better, but there is no way to describe it. I am always taking mental pictures telling myself to remember these moments and these feelings. A mission is awesome.

Have a good week.

Love,

Sister Vance

Friday, July 7, 2017

Patience + Perspective = Peace

Hello Everyone!

Great news, I am staying another transfer here in Teresina! I will be staying in a trio, which has its positives and negatives, but the work will go on! Sister V. Lima had to return 4 months early from her mission because of the health problems, but I know the Lord is proud of her work. I am happy that I had the opportunity to work with her, and she was happy that she finished strong. She said that this past transfer was her favorite!

My Grandpa Gueller was in the hospital this week but is feeling a bit better and was released. I love you so much Gramps, and I am so happy to hear that you were still cracking jokes. I am sure the nurses were all loving your stories. I love you, and you are in my prayers.

Brandon was baptized this past weekend! It is always so fun to see someone young get baptized, because I can see the potential that they have, and the way this gospel will have an impact for the rest of their lives. I am so blessed to help others see and feel the joy that comes through Christ. I am also so blessed to feel the joy that comes every day from serving others and just being in their lives … whether it is tasting Irmao Batista’s famous amazon mango juice or just loving and teaching young children that their Savior is real and that He loves them so much.

I remember when I was set apart as a missionary, my stake president blessed me with "patience to see that every day is a blessing". With so many things that happen here in the mission, we always feel like we are running around, out of breath, stressed out and worried about the people we love and are teaching. But I can’t help but stop for a minute and feel so grateful for the immense amount of peace I feel here. So many times I am confused about how I can feel so calm when I don’t know what the next minute will bring here. I have learned the importance of patience. Before my mission, I associated the word patience with not getting mad when someone did something annoying, haha. But patience is also having faith in the blessings that the Lord has promised. That is why having an eternal perspective is so important. Before the mission, I loved and needed to go to the temple regularly for that reason, but now I am able to remember through reading the scriptures. I am reminded that we are a part of such a bigger plan and that when we have patience and remember our ultimate and most important goal, and live our lives in accordance to that goal, we will feel an overwhelming peace in our lives.

Things have a way of always working out in the end. I know that my Heavenly Father knows me and each one of the people that I have contact with here. He knows us, our needs, our desires, our dreams, and He will do whatever He needs to do to help us keep our eternal perspective. He doesn’t want us to just endure this life, but he wants us to endure it well … with faith, with patience and with hope … knowing that the reward is greater than any other thing.

So many people that we teach here lack the knowledge of who they are and the potential that they have because they are just focused on the here and know. I feel like my job here is more than just to preach the gospel, but to open the eyes of so many to the eternal reality of who they really are.

Love you all,

Sister Vance

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Do More and Be More

Hello Everyone!

I don’t think I have ever been more tired in my life. That nap that I thought about taking last week did not happen. Our trio is breaking down. Sister Fagundes hurt her foot and has to do physical therapy every day … talk about déjà vu. They say a mission is a mini-version of your life, and I have already done my fair share of PT. My other companion, Sister V. Lima, had to go to the hospital two times in the middle of the night because of complications from multiple surgeries she had three years ago. Her stomach is now opening with an abscess. They are both in jeopardy of having to return home early. It has been stressful, but we are pushing on. But I feel like, out of the three of us, I am the most stressed out and the most tired. I guess I get stressed because I don’t have health problems and feel ready to go to work, but my companions are suffering! I felt more like a mom than a missionary this week. But everything will be all right; the Lord loves His missionaries and is watching over our lil' trio here in Teresina.

We have an investigator named Daphiny. She is 18 and is in a wheelchair. When she was 12, a good friend of the family wanted to date her and she wasn’t interested. He got mad and, while she was playing with a doll, shot her in the back of her neck. Since that day she has been fighting for her life, as she has had many health problems. She is starting to lose the muscles in her face, and has to go to the hospital on a weekly basis. Yet she is still full of life, and the greatest example to me of enduring trials well. She has been taught a lot by other missionaries, but the family didn’t like it. We have been looking for ways to serve and open the hearts of the family and they have become so dear to us and have invited us over every preparation day for a barbecue! Service truly opens the doors for us here. One day when she was having a really rough day, so she called us and asked us to come over and share a scripture with her. We went over and her sickness was getting worse, so we shared a scripture about peace and trusting in the Lord. I then felt prompted to share the experience of my 2nd ACL tear. I told the story about how I playing soccer and I tore my ACL for the 2nd time and felt the worst pain I had felt in my life. I was screaming on the field and I remember being worried that my dad wouldn’t know that I was hurt because I thought he was watching from far off in the car. I was screaming and felt totally alone and only wanted my dad. Seconds later I opened my eyes to see my dad running across the field. I will never forget that image. He was like Heavenly Father … not saving me from my problem or taking my trial away, but was there to aid and comfort me in whatever way possible. The next day I went to church, only for sacrament meeting, and left even more upset. I sat in my bedroom for hours crying and crying, so angry with my Father in Heaven for making me or letting me go through this trial again. I knew that the comfort I needed was only a prayer away, but I refused to do it. I was angry with God. A week or two went by with this same attitude that was only destructive for me, and making my trial harder. Then one day I remember reading a quote, saying that I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in that day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, “Was that all that was required?” I believe that if we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in Their presence again, surrounded by Their love eternally. What will it matter, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior?

When I read that I remember turning to my Heavenly Father in humble prayer and turning my will over to His will. When we shared this message with Daphiny, the Spirit was so strong, and I am so grateful for the Spirit and the way it helps us remember our experiences. When I looked over at my companion after I had finished speaking, she was in tears, as she right now is struggling with the same thing that I struggled with a few short years ago, but with her stomach. If I had to go through 3 ACL surgeries just to be able to help Daphiny and my dear companion to feel comfort and remember to trust in our Heavenly Father, then it was worth it.

Yesterday was really, really sad as one of the Irmas in our ward was murdered as she was getting ready for church. Robbers broke in and robbed her, then also took away her life. The whole story is very traumatic and has been really difficult for the members here and for us. Yesterday during church, before anyone knew, we had a lesson in Relief Society about trusting in the Lord God without wavering. The woman that gave the lesson was the sister of the woman that passed away. During the lesson we discussed the Plan of Salvation and the essential role of the Atonement. This whole week, she was preparing to give this lesson but, in reality, Heavenly Father was preparing her for one of the hardest trials in her life. I know that it is the same for all of us. We don’t know what trials or temptations we will have tomorrow, but we already know how we can prepare. We sometimes feel like we are at our ultimate limit, but Heavenly Father is very aware of our potential and will never give us more than we can handle. While it is almost always more than we ALONE can handle, it is never more than we and our Savior Jesus Christ can overcome together.

Heavenly Father is grateful and proud when we are being obedient and enduring well, but because He loves us and wants us to become more like Him, He will always ask us to do and be more, just like the rich young ruler in the New Testament. Jesus beheld him and loved him for his sacrifice in keeping the commandments, but because He loved him He asked him to sell all that he had and follow Him. The same invitation is extended to each one of us. Do more and be more, and don’t be satisfied until we are welcomed into the arms of our Heavenly Father. If I live to be 80 and can only say that I preached the gospel for a year and a half, that just isn’t enough. There truly is so much to do.

I know that this blogpost is all over the place, but that’s just what happens when you are learning a million things every week. Missionaries are truly the Lord’s personal investigators, and I can say that I am becoming my biggest convert on my mission.

Love you all,

Sister Vance

Monday, June 19, 2017

His Love Is Boundless

Hello Family & Friends!

First things first, Happy Father’s Day to the best man I know. This week is so special because my dad was baptized this week 32 years ago; and this week last year, I opened my call to serve a mission here in Teresina! Let’s all remember that it was two sister missionaries that taught my dad :). In recent years my dad constantly talked to me about my potential, and more specifically about my potential as a future missionary. I will always remember him telling me that, if I only redirected my annoying stubbornness and persistence, I could do and get whatever I wanted in life. I can finally say that yesterday, Father’s Day 2017, I think I finally did what you have been asking for years. One of our investigators who promised us over and over that he would be in church, didn’t show up for the first two meetings of class (we have sacrament meeting the last hour). We told him that if he didn’t show up we would come and get him, haha. So we were deciding whether to ask some members if they could pick him up, but then something told us that we needed to go over there. So we left church, and my companion and I got to the outside of his apartment and were knocking on the garage. No one was getting the door, and I looked at my companion and said, "if I wasn’t in this skirt I would totally climb this garage to let us in”. I was kidding, but only half kidding, waiting for her reaction. She looked at me, then we looked at the deserted road. Within seconds, my church shoes were OFF and my skirt hiked way up, and I climbed that wall! It was not a short wall. I had flashbacks to many summer nights sneaking into the neighborhood pools with my friends. Who knew that was preparing me for my mission, haha?! We got to his apartment, knocked on his door, and waited for him to take a shower and brought that lost soul to church and set a baptism date! BOOM baby! Too many times on my mission I think that I need to be more formal or professional and not do things like this, but I just can’t help myself! Too many times I think that angels, or even Jesus, is watching me and just shaking His head in embarrassment, thinking “not again, she’s representing ME?” All I know is that these people in Teresina will never be able to say in judgment that I didn’t try to help them. I will just say, "please roll the tape”, haha. I am not the best missionary, I still have the worst American accent, and I could be much more proper … but I am trying and giving my absolute all to love these people, and to help them feel the love their Heavenly Father has for them.

We are now working in a trio because there was an emergency transfer. It wasn’t my favorite situation at first, but now I am loving it. We had a zone conference this week, and I had an interview with my mission president. It was one of my favorite interviews with him. I am so grateful for worthy men who hold the priesthood. Here in the mission, I have gained such a stronger testimony of the power of the priesthood. That is why I am so thankful for my dad and for all that he has done for me. The power of God is here on the earth, and it is here to bless the lives of so many. I love my mission and the people here, and I love all of you!

Sister Vance

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It's Not About Me

Hi Everyone!

This week the title to one of my journal entries was "day of the devil". Let me explain … a couple weeks ago I had an allergic reaction that left a rash on my shoulders, back and stomach that also left my whole body itchy. I had the misconception that my head being totally itchy and driving me crazy was just a part of the reaction, but a new discovery was made. I had very alive, active and growing lice in my hair! I screamed, and I am still screaming. Luckily my companion is bigger than me and restrained me as I tried to run for my razor to pull a Brittany Spears and shave all my hair off. Hours were spent this week brushing through every strand of my hair, as bugs were literally falling to the ground. I wish I was exaggerating. When I saw that, I hit my breaking point with these bugs here in Brazil! We have a bathroom called “cockroach cemetery” that no one enters under any circumstances, because it has nests of cockroaches in the walls. The mosquito bites up and down the legs of every sister missionary here, is a trial from "satanas" but tudo bem, but this lice thing was way too much to handle! My district leader thought it was funny to start cracking jokes and calling me "Sister Piolho", which means lice. I told him to be careful or else I would ask him for a blessing of health, and he would have to put his hands on the nest of "Piolho" and his district would soon be known as the piolho district. He quickly repented. Anyway, enough of me being a drama queen, I am just so grateful for my wonderful companion. She spent hours and hours brushing through my hair, and helping me in every way possible, even at the risk of getting lice herself. She truly displayed perfect charity and perfect unselfishness. I just kept thanking her over and over again. She told me that I am the only companion that she has had that she would truly do anything for. We are working so well together and I am so grateful for her. She is an example to me.

This week my companion and I both received a prompting to stop by the local bar. I am pretty sure that is the first, and I hope only, time the Spirit has prompted missionaries to do that, haha. As we arrived we caught sight of one of our less active members waiting outside trying to decide whether or not to enter. He looked up, saw us and said "I knew you would come". I almost lost it in that moment. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost. I am literally scared to live without that guidance and direction in my life. If I have learned anything on my mission, it is to NEVER POSTPONE A PROMPTING. The difference could be immeasurable. I read a quote by John Taylor that said, "If you do not magnify your calling, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty." It makes me think of the time Jesus was told about Lazarus, when Martha ran and wept at His feet and said, "if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." And Jesus wept. The thought of seeing an investigator or less active member look at me after this life and say, “if thou hadst been there”, makes me more and more motivated to completely fufill my calling as a missionary and as a representative of Jesus Christ. I will never stop being amazed at how the Lord can direct the whole world, and yet have time to provide inspiration concerning the one individual. I know that the more we listen to the inspiration that comes to us, the more the Lord will trust us with His errands. This week was full of high and lows. Sitting in the chair for hours as my companion helped me, I was feeling down and frustrated about more than just my hair situation. Then an EFY song starting playing. It was about a girl that got her call to serve a mission and I started paying attention to it, then the chorus hit me like a smack in the face. It goes like this:

IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU

You look into your father’s eyes when he takes his hands off your head

He whispers that he’s proud of you and he knows you’ll do your best

You say you wonder if you can do it, that’s when he says

It’s not about you

It’s not about you

It’s for the people who are blessed by what you do

It’s not about you

Everybody’s gathered ‘round you

Eyes all aglow

You start to read that piece of paper

To see where you’ll go

And you wonder if you’re ready

But you already know

It’s not about you

It’s not about you

It’s for those who are searching for the truth

It’s not about you

You get home and you fall in love, but you’re scared to death

Cause you wonder if you’re good enough, but then a thought goes through your head

It’s not about you

It’s not about you

It’s for your children and the world they’re coming to

It’s not about you

It’s not about you

It’s not about you

It’s for the people who are blessed by what you do

It’s not about you

Sure you’ve become much better, because of what you’ve been through

But it’s not about you

I heard that, and we stopped brushing my hair and we got back to work with bugs still eating at my scalp. Every appointment we had fell through, but that song was stuck in my head. It wasn’t about me.

This week was difficult, but the minute I saw Irmão Jerry enter the church in a suit for his baptism, the Spirit touched my heart as I realized how much this is worth! It is the feeling of seeing the change in people, and I will say this again and again, that Irmão Jerry is not the same man I met in the streets. He is so different and a changed man. He physically doesn’t look the same! Seeing his mom, who is a very strong and firm Catholic, show up at the baptism and hug Jerry and tell him through tears that she is so proud of him; those are the moments I live for in my mission. I beg and plead with my Heavenly Father to help me remember these moments, the things I am learning through my experiences and the way I am changing. I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have to be selfless, and the ways I am learning to sacrifice. I am seeing the mercy and miracles of our loving Heavenly Father, not only a spectator, but as a participant. He is so active in the lives of the people we have contact with and in my own life. I am looking forward to more opportunities when I can forget myself, remember that it’s not about me, and lose my life for the Savior because I know that only through Him can I truly find my life.

Love you all so much,

Sister Vance

Thursday, June 8, 2017

We Have Lives To Bless

Hi Everyone!

This week I was informed that there is a bug here that, if it pees on your skin, it leaves a huge burn. That’s about the scariest thing I’ve ever heard, and they told me it is common and it’s casual. Welcome to my new nightmare.

To be completely honest, a lot of times I don’t even want to write a blog because when I finish I just feel like the words I write don’t do my experiences justice!

This week my friend here, Irmão Jerry, has just been killing it. We met him sitting outside of the house of one of the less active members in our ward. They were sitting together drinking and when they saw us coming they started to scramble as they tried to hide the beer bottles. They were drunk, so we just shared a short message with them and were on our way. A day or so later we ran into Jerry in the road, and somehow he remembered us, and we started to talk and set an appointment to return and teach him … our one condition was that he wouldn’t be drinking! We showed up the next day at the house of Irmão Batista, a less active member, and Jerry was there waiting for us. We taught the Word of Wisdom and Jerry has not smoked or had beer or coffee since then! Woohoo! This week we continued to teach him and he is progressing by leaps and bounds! One night, we went to see him and he changed his clothes, cut his hair and I was moved to tears teaching him as I a starting seeing the Light of Christ literally appearing in his face. The difference in light was physical, and he told us that even his mom and his sister noticed a difference. He just loves church, and Irmão Batista is being such a good example and turning his life around too. Last night, Jerry asked us if, when he is baptized, he can visit and teach people like we do. We said that of course he could come with us and teach the gospel. When you know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, your strongest desire is to share it with everyone. That’s the only thing that gets my tired body out of bed every day at the crack of dawn! I am loving it! Irmao Jerry will be baptized this Saturday, even though he asked for it to be a lot sooner, haha. Keep him in your prayers please.

Yesterday was awesome as we were able to visit a lot of less active members with the sisters in the Relief Society. It was so fun and it got me thinking about what I did before my mission on Sundays, and what I will do after my mission on Sundays. Yes, the Sabbath day is a day of rest, but it’s a day of rest from the world and a day to save the lost sheep. I have been reading about the life of our prophet, and one day during my personal study, I was moved to tears about the love and charity he has for people in his life. That love he feels motivates him to ACT. When it comes to living the gospel we can’t just dip our toe in the water and say we went swimming; we can’t just testify and forget to DO. We need to pray with faith … Joseph Smith’s questions focused not just on what he needed to know, but also on what was to be done! His prayer was not simply, “Which church is right?” His question was, “Which church should I join?” Joseph went to the grove to ask in faith, and he was determined to act. We need to be doing the same. Pray for opportunities to find those that are lost, and then be prepared to do whatever is needed to bring them home.

Our Heavenly Father never loses sight of the eternal value of His children, even when they sometimes do. Find someone to visit and bring back into the loving arms of our Savior and Redeemer. I know that this is truly how we keep the Sabbath Day holy … we love and serve our Heavenly Father. It is the only way we can truly receive joy in this life. We have lives to bless, and brothers and sisters to carry home.

I love you all so much!

Sister Vance