Tuesday, February 7, 2017

First to Feel, First to See, First to Act

To my wonderful family and friends!

Before I talk about my week, I need to let out a shout of joy to my family for what I just learned today! My beautiful sister Madeline is engaged, and my brother Spencer and his wife Nicole are expecting a baby! I am so beyond happy and was definitely crying when I saw the photos of their engagement and the ultrasound of my future nephew or niece! I was showing the pictures to everyone in this computer garage, even total strangers! I am so happy for Madeline, and so happy that she found Michael who, by the way, is top notch. Yes, I knew him before I left and my last words to them were that I expected them to be married when I return, and to "get on with it already!" I am so happy. It is also hilarious that they are getting married on the same day, and in the exact same place, as my best friend Katie! Spencer and Nicole are going to be such great parents and I will be dying to see what he or she looks like! I am sure my parents are looking forward to spoiling someone besides me!

(Side note, this cute boy name Thallies that we know from the street just came up and hugged me and is now sitting next to me and he says “hi”! He is the cutest, and has a really, really rough family life. In my mission, I have learned so much more about how Jesus felt with the children. The children here are so precious.)

But I will talk about my week. I can’t believe it’s another preparation day; time flies. For all those people I still haven’t responded to … I am sorry. One day I will get to your name on my list! Just know that I love you and think about you and definitely pray about you. Speaking of prayers, this week I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself sitting up and saying a prayer out loud in PORTUGUESE! You can say I definitely am a missionary, because I am in such a habit of saying my prayers that I literally do it in my sleep!

Portuguese! Yay, it’s improving! I can now speak really well on the phone when people call and I don’t have to run and pass the phone off to my companion. I love it, because now during lessons I don’t have to watch my companion’s emotions and laugh when she laughs or gasp when she gasps! Seriously, it was struggle, because my laugh or gasp was always delayed and it was awkward. I don’t like being awkward, but I couldn’t talk, so I would just stand there like a waste of space. Also, this week we had four lessons where there were people telling us we were from Satan and all this other crazy stuff. But when I testified during these lessons, of our Savior Jesus Christ, my Portuguese has never been better and I seriously felt the sacredness of my calling … as a representative of Jesus Christ. Later, my companion said, “when you testify, I don’t know what it is but everything stops and the whole room is quiet and the people are so fixed upon you, and they don’t break eye contact with you. The room literally feels different when you open your mouth”. It was so sweet that she said that, but I know it isn’t me, it is the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost is such a big part of what we do. This past week we fasted with our investigators, Raimundo and Maria Alice, because Raimundo has a problem with drinking and he wants to stop so he can be baptized. It was really special. I usually have a difficult time fasting, and it is such a test of my faith, because if you know me at all you know that I am constantly eating … and I do it for fun. But to go without food and water for 24 hours in this blazing heat, while we walk an average of 9 miles a day (my companion has one of those trackers) was definitely not easy and not something I was looking forward to at all. But during this fast I was not thirsty. Not at all. I know that fasting is a real thing, and something we can use in times of need to give power to our prayers and righteous desires.

I have been thinking a lot about the Holy Ghost in our lives. I know that everyone can feel the Spirit, but we also choose whether or not to follow it. This week we were walking in the streets on our way to an appointment, and we passed this young girl around 20 years old. In my head I thought, “we need to talk to her”, but we continued to walk because we needed to go to an appointment. Then again, I heard “you need to talk to that girl”. I told my companion, and we turned and walked up to her. We introduced ourselves and asked her name. She responded that it was Mira, and we asked if we could share a message with her. She looked down and then looked up and she had tears streaming down her face. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and about her worth as a daughter of our Heavenly Father. I have experiences like this all the time. I know that the Holy Ghost can truly guide me to those that need the message we have to share. I am working on becoming fluent in Portuguese … but more importantly I want to be fluent in communicating with the Holy Ghost! I know I need to be listening carefully, but I also need to be ready and willing to act. I have set a goal for myself in my mission and for my life. For anyone that knows me, you know that I am competitive in anything and everything I do. I always want to be first. Here, I have made it kind of like a game. I want to be the first person to recognize a need and then first to fulfill that need. I want to be the first person to recognize that a woman on the bus needs a place to sit, and then be first to give her my seat. It is so critical. I am able to accomplish this when I become completely selfless. I pray every day for opportunities to do more, and serve more. I will continue to strive to find more ways to be the Savior’s hands here in Brazil. I love you all and pray for you, even when I am saying my delirious prayers in the middle of the night. I hope you can feel my love for you.

Sister Vance

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