Monday, March 6, 2017

A Plan and A Purpose

Hi Everyone!

This past week was Carnival in Brazil, and I celebrated it in a public Brazilian hospital! Haha, I am sure my mom had a heart attack when she read that I had to go in. I didn’t want to go because I knew I would have to tell my mom. But really, I am fine, I was just really sick and threw up so much that they had to re-hydrate me with IV's. I had to walk an hour and a half to the hospital and it was funny because my companion and I were still finding ways to laugh. Yes, I felt like I was dying, but everything was funny. They couldn’t get the needle in my veins the first or second time so, yes, I cried. Yes, it was embarrassing, and yes, I am still a drama queen. It wasn’t so much that it hurt, but I have a little PTSD from all of my surgeries. All is well now; I’m just happy I’m not dying of dengue fever and I am back to eating everything in sight!

I couldn’t be as productive as I wanted this past week, not just because of my sickness, but also because it was Carnival, and we could only work during the mornings and early afternoons. After that, we were in our apartment and had a lot of down time with nothing to do. Missionaries aren’t used to free time, and we don’t know what to do with it, so we played a game where we flipped to a page in the scriptures at random and read a "revelation" for our companion. We also found ourselves just talking for hours about the gospel … welcome to the life of a missionary! When we were talking about the Plan of Salvation, so many things clicked in my head. It is hard to explain how much I am learning, and through gaining that knowledge, how much I am growing. When we teach people about our purpose here on earth; nothing else matters. We have been given the sacred opportunity to come to this life and make choices that will determine our eternity. Jose, our recent convert, spoke in church and sounded like he’s been a member all his life. We gave the members sticky notes to write him a note after his talk, and he felt so good and so loved! It was so special, because Jose was teaching our investigators in both sacrament meeting during his talk and later in Sunday School class. He said exactly what our investigators needed to hear. We visited with him afterward, and he told us he already has three other talks prepared! Haha, we set a goal for him to prepare to go to the temple next January! I will be praying for the next year that President Melo will authorize me to go.

We received our transfer news, and Sister Bagatoli and I are being separated! She is transferring and I am staying here. I am happy that I am staying here, but there will definitely be tears when I have to say goodbye to my trainer. She is one of the best in the mission.

Charles, one of our good friends here, is really progressing. In church on Sunday, we were being taught about the scriptures and how The Book of Mormon is true scripture. He looked at me from across the room and I mouthed "It’s true" and he said "I know”. Then he raised his hand and talked about how he knows that The Book of Mormon is important and crucial. Later that night, when we were following up with him, we invited him to pray with real intent. I can’t describe the feelings I felt in that moment, as he prayed with sincerity and with his whole heart. I have hopes for Charles, because I truly know that God answers our prayers when we exercise our faith.

Lima is so sweet, and progressing toward baptism! She has a family and we started teaching her and her husband, but after a while he faded out. Yesterday, when we were at the bus station, we saw her husband and he had the restoration booklet in his pocket! I said, what is this, and he said he felt like he needed to bring it for the bus ride! My heart soars in those kinds of moments!

Every day I want to find ways to be better … a better teacher, a better missionary, and a better disciple of Christ. I love the opportunity I have to teach people about their purpose here in life, and that nothing in life can go permanently wrong when we are focused on our Lord and Savior. I feel like I am able to think so much clearer here in the mission, and really have an eternal perspective. I know that Jesus Christ lives, which is why we can’t be passive about our faith or about our lives. When we remember our purpose we find ourselves wanting to be more like Christ, and wanting to do the will of the Father. I know that every decision in our lives matters, and we have a choice in our own happiness. Every decision in our life can be based on the knowledge of who we are, why we are here, and where we want to go. I know when I am teaching people about this plan, I am not necessarily teaching them anything new, but only helping them remember the plan and the love that our Heavenly Father has for them. I want others to feel the same happiness and HOPE I feel in my life right now. I want to live my life in a way that, when Christ comes, He will have no problem recognizing me as His disciple.

I love you all, and I want you to know that our investigators pray for you in their prayers … for my family and friends. It is so sweet. I am so excited and looking forward to the next six weeks in Parnaiba … keep my investigators in your prayers.

As a missionary, I am called to extend invitations; and so I invite all of you to be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Help someone remember who they are.

Love you all,

Sister Vance

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