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

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