Thursday, April 13, 2017

Why We Are Here


I can’t believe it’s been another week; it passes by so fast, yet so many things happen here! Fabio was baptized Saturday, and I know you guys are probably thinking … wait, who is Fabio? I know I haven’t mentioned him, but to be honest I haven’t mentioned 90% of things that happen here! There is just no time, and even if there was, words couldn’t describe it! It was a beautiful service and he was a little nervous before, but the branch was so welcoming and so great. I must admit that the water in the font was greener than the Olympic swimming pool in Rio this past summer, but nonetheless, it was a great night and I know that Heavenly Father was aware of Fabio and the life-changing decision that he made!

This week we were walking home to our apartment and we were passing an outdoor restaurant when I saw one of our investigators working as a waiter. He is 23 and his name is Brandon. We had tried stopping by earlier at his house but he wasn’t home. I got so excited and started yelling his name from the other side of the street. He wasn’t hearing me, so I started flailing my arms, but still nothing. So I started running across the street yelling his name, and when I caught his attention I just completely ate it, and face planted on the curb. It happened so fast and so spastically! I was on the ground and I didn’t even want to get up, because I just knew the whole restaurant and everyone in Brazil just saw that! I just rolled over on my back and was dying laughing! These things always happen to me! Anyway, it was easily the funniest thing and everyone helped me up and I was doing that laughing thing, but then I was laughing so hard that I was crying and everyone was worried, and didn’t understand what was going on with this crazy American. Anyway, I am all good, except for a few scrapes, and some badly damaged pride. We will see if Brandon will talk to us ever again … probably not, haha.

This week we had to travel via an 8 hour bus trip to Teresina, because my companion needed to go for health reasons. She has been in the mission for six months and already has a parasite in her stomach, been bit by a dog, and is going blind because of how strong the sun is here. Poor thing … it is a very physically demanding mission. I have had to stay with her in our apartment a bit, and it is the worst thing. It sounds relaxing, like I get a break, but I am sure other missionaries feel like I do … I just can’t turn my brain off. I pace around our apartment, and can’t sit still. As missionaries, we are constantly thinking of our investigators and how we can help them.

One time when I was 13 or 14, I was in trouble with my dad, and he sat me down and he asked me why I did what I did. I responded, and he continued to ask the question, "why", at least 15 more times in a row. It was definitely annoying but when he had finished, we had gotten to the root of the problem … that I was selfish or something, I forget, hahaha. But I was able to self-identify what my own problem was and what characteristic I needed to work on. I do that here with my investigators. They say that they don’t pray and I use my dad’s tactic and ask “why?”. I ask not 15 times, but a few, to get to the root. It has worked; they say that they are tired or forget and by the end they realize that their priorities are not in check, or that they don’t have faith that He really hears our prayers.

Sometimes it is so frustrating, because I just want to give these people my faith or my testimony, or have them lean on mine, but that’s not how it works. They have to have a desire, and that desire has to drive them to act … to read the scriptures and to pray. I sometimes wonder why my faith isn’t enough for them to change or receive answers. I am praying and fasting for them, why isn’t is working? I have learned time and time again, that each and every person here needs to walk their own path and put in the time and the work to receive a testimony. Once we "have a testimony", the question we need it ask is whether or not we are exercising it in our daily lives. Are we putting it to the test in our daily life? Are we keeping it vibrant and alive? Could someone watch us and know that we are striving to be like our Savior? Are we praying every morning and every night? If not, then what are we doing with our lives? The simplest things are the most important. It is great when I can remember a spiritual experience that happened in my life 5 years ago, but why am I not having or recognizing the spirit THIS week? Why, when we have a trial or a difficulty, do we choose not to pray? I am so guilty of this. Why do we choose to abandon the only person that can truly help us? It’s foolish, but we all do it. When we remember to pray every morning and every night, we are showing our Heavenly Father that we want and need His divine direction and that we know we can’t do this alone. I know it is so important that we self-evaluate our actions or our thoughts, and ask ourselves why we do what we do. Then we must go to our Heavenly Father in humble prayer and ask for His help. No one here on earth knows you better than you; and no one knows you more than our loving Heavenly Father. We can receive the answers to the biggest “why” question. Why are we here? Our prayers and soul searching, and the still small voice of His Spirit, will help us understand the answer and show us how we can become more like our Savior and return to live with our Heavenly Father. That truly is our goal here on this earth, and the goal of our loving Heavenly Father as well.

Love you all!

Sister Vance

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