Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Charity and Clarity

Hi Family and Friends!

I saw my trainer this past week … Sister Bagatoli! She is seriously so awesome. We always say bye with a huge headache from talking so fast and so much together, haha. I saw some missionaries that are serving in Parnaiba and they told me that my man, Jose Eugenio, was made a counselor in the branch presidency! I love that man!

So many things happened this week … story time. This week we taught Messias (the name itself just tells us we gotta get him baptized). He was a contact we made in the street and he lives in a homeless/rehabilitation shelter. At first, we taught him and he showed up at church, but these last couple times we went there to teach him and 8-10 of the other men also started swarming to participate. Before we began, they got a little rowdy and talked over each other, so when we started the lesson, I told them that we would say a prayer and during our lesson if any of them wanted to comment or ask a question they had to raise their hand, hahaha. One man interrupted another one time, and I snapped "hey, raise your hand". I felt like such a mom, except that they were grown men, haha. After that, they sat and listened and commented perfectly. It has been so fun and such a cool experience, as they really comprehended what we taught and have a desire to be better.

This week Jacikelly and Jaqaliny have been progressing and have a real desire to be baptized. They come from a family with eight kids and we asked the parents (the mom is a less-active) permission for them to be baptized, and she thought that the girls were too young. They are 15 and 9, so we taught the mom and the girls together, and we missionaries testified about how we were baptized at the age of 8. The mom said she wanted them to be baptized at 20. I then felt prompted to bear my testimony that being baptized at a young age was what changed my life all the way through my teenage years, and helped me to know and speak the truth here on my mission. I told her that teaching children young will truly redirect and change their future. It was one of the few times I have really been emotional during a lesson, because I am so grateful for being raised in the gospel. Without it, I wouldn’t have stood a chance. She then gave permission for the older to be baptized! Woohoo!

We had two or three lessons this week that were awesome. There are a lot of people here who have a hard time understanding all the principles in the gospel, so we take it real slow. But we had lessons this week with people that were strong in other religions and knew the Bible and were picking it up fast. A part of me loves these lessons, but it also makes it more difficult because they seem to be more closed off to the pure and simple principles of the restored gospel and its fullness. It does give me the opportunity to be BOLD, and straight up. One lady has family that are members we taught previously. We taught her about the restoration, and she says she knows it’s true and that the Book of Mormon is true, but continues to practice in her church and was talking about her pastor. I told her that all churches are good, but they don’t have the true, full restored authority of The Church of Jesus Christ. She just doesn’t want to change. It was so funny, because at one point I just decided to not have fear. We read Amos 3:7, where it talks about how God will always reveal to prophets, and I looked her in the eye and said, “Irma, is the leader of your church a prophet”? Haha, she looked at me and told me no. We fired about five more of those bold, and I mean BOLD, burning questions and she answered in our favor. But she won't change. It was one of those lessons where I left walking down the roads, and my companions and I just wanting to scream, haha, but it was also so good. Another woman, after explaining about priesthood authority and that it is necessary, asked about her recent baptism in another church. I looked her right in the eye and told her, that her baptism wasn’t fully valid because of the lack of proper authority. Sometimes, I just want to cringe as I say things so boldly, but I know when I am following promptings that this is my calling, to be a defender of the truth. And do you know what? THEY ALWAYS INVITE US BACK! They respond positively. These have been some of the lessons where I literally feel my testimony burning within in me and that the Spirit is helping me “not be confounded before men”! I had splits with Sister Lucas this week and we had miracles that day! I don’t have time to explain them, but at the end of the day we were evaluating our day and she said, "Sister Vance, when you talk to people in the streets, you literally love them in the same moment you meet them, and it’s the strangest thing but it always feels like you are talking to a member of your family." That was the best compliment someone could give me, because I pray every day for charity. It is one of the biggest goals I have in my life, but also that I am not afraid to be forward with the people here. I know that if the people here didn’t feel my love for them and I just burn them in our lessons, they probably would kick us out on the spot. But they invite us back because they know that we are here because we love them and want their happiness, not our own.

I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, I know that I am guided here to preach the truth, and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to testify of our beloved prophet. I know that God doesn’t change, and that we have modern day revelation. I know that in moments of feeling inadequate, I turn my prayers to Him, and tell Him that I am only the instrument and he has to do the writing. He has to tell me where to go and what to say, and that I don’t have to worry about doing this work alone. I won’t even try to do it alone. I am trying to pray as if everything depends on Him; and working as if everything depends on me. He is truly here, working hand in hand with us. This knowledge brings me comfort and confidence! I always wish I could write more and explain my experiences better, but there is no way to describe it. I am always taking mental pictures telling myself to remember these moments and these feelings. A mission is awesome.

Have a good week.


Sister Vance

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