Monday, July 31, 2017

Come Unto Christ As You Are

Hello Family & Friends!

This week I will hit my halfway mark … 9 months! I just can't believe it. I don't feel like I have been gone that long, but yet there have been so many things that have happened and changed, and it feels like I never lived before my mission, haha. Emily doesn’t even seem like my real name anymore. The weird things that happen here have just become all too normal; usually I am just running around screaming "What is this? This wasn’t written in my calling!" Hahaha, the stories I will have to tell after my mission, man, oh man … This week Maria was baptized! She is a mother of a member here, and she has been investigating the church for over 7 years! She is so sweet, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to help her finally get baptized. It was funny because all of the elders that had tried teaching her kept asking how we got her baptized. All I have to say is that we did nothing; the Spirit does the real converting. Whenever we have baptisms, I swear Satan is always doing whatever he can to stop people from getting baptized! With Maria, the baptismal font wasn’t working and her own son forgot to pick her up for the baptism, and we sisters were just running around like crazy, trying to make sure that everything ran smoothly. She forgot an extra bra to change into after the baptism, and I was helping her in the bathroom. When she told me she forgot her bra and the other was sopping wet, the first reaction that came out of my mouth before I could stop to think was, "we can trade, take mine", hahahaha. It was easily the funniest thing because we weren't nearly the same size! Haha, but it made me realize that I would literally do anything for these people! I love them so much!

Here in the mission I feel so grateful for the way Heavenly Father has helped me distinguish and separate the sin from the sinner. One man named Wilson is always in the roads drinking, nonstop. One night a month or so ago, when he wasn’t drinking, we started talking to him and felt prompted to give him a Book of Mormon. Then a month later we saw him in the roads and we greeted him, and as we were walking away he said, "The book of Enos is really inspiring!" We stopped right in our tracks and were just like, “wait, wait, did we hear you right”? He has been reading the Book of Mormon and is in Enos! He then asked us why we decided to give him that book and to reach out to him. I felt the Spirit so strong, as I was able to bear testimony that when everyone loses hope in us, our Heavenly Father does not, and never will. I love the opportunities I have to see people not as they are, but as they can become, and remember that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to every person that walks on this earth. There have been some comments made this week that we needed to teach or baptize people that are “more educated”. Our response to them is that we teach those that let us in, and most of the time those people happen to be the humble in spirit or physically humble. This work that we are doing here in Teresina has never felt more like the Savior’s work to me. We are teaching people with problems, yes, but they are problems that can only be resolved through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I felt like I was literally in the Savior’s position, sitting with that group of men at the homeless rehabilitation center. It always reminds me of Christ sitting and eating with the sinners. We invite everyone into the fold of Christ, and it is “come as you are”. We love you for who you are and not for what you aren’t … but as you come to Christ, don’t plan to stay who you are. Critics say "we know that everyone is a child of God, but … they have this problem or that problem". There is no room for “but” in that sentence! When something is over and done with, when it has been repented as fully as it can be, it is not right or fair to go back and open up some wound that the Son of God himself died trying to heal. Let people repent, let people grow, believe that people can change and improve. Is that Faith? Yes. Is that Hope? Yes. And above all, it is Charity. Imagine the faith that God exercises in each of us every day. Imagine the faith Jesus Christ had to call me to serve here … quite imperfect me … to be a missionary and to represent Him? I love my mission, I love the people I serve and will be loyal to them until the day I die. They are my family here, and if you know me at all, you know that no one messes with my fam.

I am so grateful for these past nine months and am looking forward to the next nine months. I am starting the downward slope, but I am only going to go up from here! There are two absolute truths about my mission that I will forever believe … I am learning way more than I could ever teach here, and I needed my mission way more than my mission needed me.

Love you,

Sister Vance


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  2. What a great entry!!!! I loved the 'bra' story and the 'come as you are' which is so true in Christ's circle of followers. Reading missionary blogs always brings back a flood of memories from my own mission in Germany. It was such an amazing growth experience. There is nothing that can compare. It changes you....opens your eyes, your mind, your heart. I will always be so very grateful I made the decision to serve a mission. It was the gift that keeps on giving. It has served me my entire life and continues to do so in ways I never could have imagined. Welcome to the 'club' my sweet niece. I am so proud of you and your beautiful heart.