Friday, April 21, 2017

Answering Prayers Through Service

Hello Everyone!

Transfers are in and I am staying in Parnaiba for another six weeks! WOOHOO! Haha, it was funny because I was almost positive that I was going to be transferred, but the Lord had other plans! I am excited and, by the end of the next transfer I will have been in the same area for 6 months. This week also is the 6 month mark for being on my mission! What? It seems like I was just in the MTC yesterday. This past week was great because we found and completed a service project that I will always remember. I don’t even need to write about it in my blog or in my journal, because it will be impossible to forget. We were visiting Oscar, a recent convert, the one with the tattoos of “Love” written on his hands. He is classic and great. His 81-year-old mom named Maria was baptized in January, and she is a true pioneer. She walks to church every Sunday, and for general conference she walked to the chapel and fell on her way, and was badly bruised and cut up. She is already so skinny and seems so fragile, but she insisted on not getting medical attention until after the session was over. Then the next day she was back in the church for conference. She is remarkable, and I am truly humbled. I will send you a picture of her next week. This week when we were visiting their house, she was really sick with a fever, and wasn’t eating. They never let us into their house, but this day we were let in. We brought the president of our branch, and he gave her a blessing of health. Right before he gave the blessing, the only worlds that I heard her say were, "I want to be in church on Sunday." I just am blown away every day by the faith and commitment of the people here.

While we were in the house we realized that they were in need of a service project. Their house was falling apart, and our branch president was worried that it would even cave in on them. Maria had been living there her whole life … 81 years. On Friday we got the troops (other missionaries and members of the branch) together to help. It was easily one of the best days on my mission. I can’t begin to describe the condition of everything in the house and the amount of things in the house. I kept thinking that this could be on a TV show about hoarding or fixing up a house, but then I thought it would be more fitting to be on Nat Geo, because I don’t know how they have lived or survived there. I am not saying this to be rude, but to help explain the conditions … it was unbelievable. We found bugs in their rice, rats under blankets and then families of rats with babies. They don’t have plumbing so they were using the restroom in another way, and there was absolutely no ventilation in the house. Also, I have never seen bigger bugs in my life. As I helped catch the rats and clean out their means of using the restroom, I showed an elder what I was doing and he ran out screaming and ran down the road. But it was really so awesome, because when we left I felt like we really were able to help, and that the branch will continue to help. I know that finding opportunities to serve is critical to becoming more like Christ. These people here are such an example to me. I am so grateful for everything, and I love to serve! You all should find opportunities to serve too, but maybe a little more sanitary, haha. The only life worth living is in the service of others … in the end it may not matter how many prayers we said, but the number of prayers we answer will be of greater importance!

Another heartwarming moment this week was when we contacted a lady after her daughter’s ball rolled into the road. We taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and while we were teaching her, her 8 year old daughter Beatrice was listening and watching intensely. When we were leaving, the little girl hugged me and looked up with these cute huge glasses and asked, "Will you bring me to church”? My heart about exploded in that moment, and for a split second I was able to see this child through the eyes of our Savior. I know how much He loves little children.

This week I read a talk by Elder David A. Bednar that about knocked me off my chair. I translated it in Portuguese for my companion because I loved it so much. It was called "Accepting the Lord’s Will and Timing". In the talk, he shares an experience he had with a young man who was dying of cancer and asked for a priesthood blessing. But before he gave the blessing, Elder Bednar asked him, "Do you have the faith to not be healed?" When I read that, I got chills up and down my body. I read the New Testament before Easter and, time and time again, I read about faith and how we can have miracles in our life through faith. But this question turned everything upside down for me. It got me thinking … do I have the faith to ask for something, believe that it will happen with full confidence in our Heavenly Father, but when it doesn’t happen or I don’t receive the miracle or response I wanted, do I completely lose faith and feel forsaken by the Lord? Am I striving to seek the Lord’s will and not my own? I love knowing that, when Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, His first words were "IF IT BE POSSIBLE, let this cup pass from me”. Heavenly Father didn’t give Him the answer He wanted, but He continued forward firm in the plan of the Father. Two weeks ago I had, on two different occasions, prayed earnestly for one specific thing. My desire was righteous and I was praying and fasting, but in the end what I asked for wasn’t granted. Before my mission, I may have handled it differently with a different attitude, but now I know that we can walk patiently and full of hope, never doubting that the Lord has His hand in our lives, and there is a greater purpose that we can’t see right now. Never forget or forsake our Heavenly Father, because I promise that He never has and never will forsake you. I know that our Heavenly Father is always looking for ways to bless us, as we seek His will before our own, and never fail in faith … no matter what.

Love you all!

Sister Vance

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