I am serving a mission as a sister missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for a period of 18 months. I am serving in the Spain Barcelona Mission and I am speaking Spanish. I reported to the Madrid Missionary Training Center on May 13th, 2014, and I will return home November of 2015. I love each of you with all my heart and I hope to hear from you throughout this life-changing experience and journey.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Who Does This?

The days seem long sometimes, but the weeks just fly by! We had some great and fun experiences this week! One of our investigator families had a couple birthdays in the family … the mom (Ana) was having her birthday and their little girl (Nicole) was having her 11th birthday as well. Hermana Reid and I just love this family, but we weren´t sure if they were doing anything specific for Nicole, so we wanted to do something fun for them. On Monday we bought a bunch of decorations and balloons for Nicole. We got them ice cream and we surprised them by showing up with it all! The parents, Ana and Abi, were so grateful, and all of the kids had the cutest, biggest smiles on their faces. It was a sight to see! We did a similar thing on Wednesday for Ana’s birthday. We bought Ana a cake and cut out all kinds of hearts and wrote on them to stick all over her door! We had very little time to complete this surprise … it HAD to be good and it HAD to be a surprise! Here in Spain you can´t get into an apartment building unless you have a key or you ring someone´s timbre and they let you in. Hna. Reid just wanted to call Abi to have him let us in, but there was NO way I was letting that happen! It HAD to be a surprise for EVERYONE! Next thing I know, I am hurtling myself over the fence, shirt and all, to get in! We were laughing so hard, especially when I got over and my purse got hooked on the fence and was nearly choking me! Haha, after I did that, I was able to let Hna. Reid in as well. We quickly and quietly stuck all of the hearts on her door and put all of the candles in the cake and were about to knock on the door when we both thought, "We can’t go in with unlit candles!" So we snuck back out, but we didn’t have time to buy a lighter or matches. I immediately began looking for ANYONE who was smoking! Haha, we stopped this one lady and asked to borrow her lighter! She actually just gave it to us! So we went back, and over the fence I went again! We lit the candles and in we went, singing “Feliz CumpleaƱos”!  Ana absolutely loved it and thanked us so much for everything! She got a little choked up and was so happy that we came! It was so fun and SO worth it!

Somehow I ended up singing a Spanish hymn in church on Sunday, with a woman named Morelia. I don’t even know what happened! One time at her house we were just joking around singing, but apparently she later asked the bishop if we could sing together in church. All I know is that this past Sunday I was called up with her to sing! What!? Haha, it was actually a lot of fun and went pretty well! Crazy.

Last Friday we were able to do a service project at this woman´s house. Her sister had moved out of the house and she had to sell it for her. She was really stressed and overwhelmed about it, so we offered to help. We helped move furniture and we painted almost all of the walls in the house together! It was so fun! We were there from about 11am to 4pm … a very long, but great, day! She even gave us lunch … sardines and cookies! That’s a first! They were pretty good though … who knew!?

There are so many new things here I would have never done or tried on my own. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be in the middle of Valencia doing things like teaching a gypsy family how to speak English by showing them their "Head, shoulders, knees and toes", spontaneously singing Spanish hymns I don’t know in church, reading the Book of Mormon in Urdu with a Muslim Pakistani man named Farooq, or comforting Nigerian women and giving them my 19-year-old advice on their family and financial problems … I don’t know what I would have thought. This time last year I was with my family, I had just graduated high school, I was having a fun summer and getting ready for college. It was all about me. But that´s not how everything is supposed to be.

I realize I haven’t been on my mission that long, but I have just been thinking a lot about it. A mission is one of the hardest, weirdest, most physically, emotionally, and spiritually daring things I have ever done thus far. Thinking about it … who does this? What 18 or 19 year-old does this? Why, at this very moment, would about 88,000 young people drop everything and leave for 18 months or 2 years to go all around the world and serve complete strangers? Why do we do it? Because the gospel is true … because it is TRUE. This isn’t something we did on a whim. This has been one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences of my life. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ has truly been restored and can be such a blessing to God’s children. In the words of Elder Holland, "This is not a cunningly devised fable. I have not given my life because of some story. This is the kingdom of God on Earth." I know this to be true, and I will spend the rest of my life sharing and living that truth.

Hermana Vance

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