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.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Change From The Inside Out

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great week! It is weird because in Valencia it was SUPER hot every single day, and it NEVER rained, and some days it was just miserable. But now here in Bilbao, it is FREEZING! It is SUPER windy and it rains almost every day! Haha, oh well, it´s fun, especially with my companion Hermana Mendez! She just makes everything fun and always has a smile on her face!

Aside from the weather, there are plenty of other differences here in Bilbao compared to Valencia. We are working a lot more with families here in Bilbao. There are a lot of part-member families, and I just love working with them. We have also been trying our best and have been faithfully finding families! We have seen some incredible changes in people, with hearts being softened. I miss seeing Africans, there are hardly any here … they are the best! I try to talk to everyone I see, and it has been a great experience over the past couple weeks getting to know people.

This week we had Enfoque de Zona, where we discuss the things we learned in Concilio with the whole Zone. It was fun getting to know everyone and seeing new and familiar faces! I learned so much during the meeting that I would like to share with all of you.

After they had announcements, monthly reports and a couple “get-to-know-you” games, we began the meeting … with a question.

Am I trying to be like Jesus?

A very simple question, but it got us thinking. We then read this poem about a missionary that was having a hard time on his mission, but then had a huge change in perspective.

"The alarm bell rings at 6:30, I stumble to my feet
I grab my companions bedding and pull off the sheets

A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise?
It seems like just a second ago, I was able to shut my eyes
The morning activities follow - study, prayer and such
When it's time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven't accomplished much

‘We have a super day planned,’
My comp. says with a grin
I lowly utter a faithless breath,
"Yeah, if anyone lets us in."

Ready for a new morning, we start off down the street
Prepared to face another day of humidity and heat.
It's 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through
Now we are coming home, after not accomplishing all we thought we could do

We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to see something there
Only to look inside and see that once again it is bear.
We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete
The only thing to show for our work today is a case of blistery feet.

It's past 10:30 p.m. My companion is fast asleep,
Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep
In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray
I need to talk to Father, but I'm not sure what to say

‘Oh, Father,’ I begin, ‘what happened to us today?
I thought we'd teach somebody, but everyone was away
My hands, my aching hands - worn, hurt and beat;
If our area was any smaller, we'd have knocked every street

Why on missions are the days so much alike?
The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike
Will you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me
I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it's very hard to see

Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn't your protection enough?
People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff
Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack
I want to give them Books of Mormon, the weight of them hurts my back

And what about my family: They don't have much to say
I'm sick of not hearing from home day after day after day
Oh Father, why am I here; am I just wasting time?
Sometimes I only think about home, I'm sorry but that's on my mind

My companion, Heavenly Father, what have you given me?
We never get along and we always seem to disagree.
Now you have it, I can't go on, I don't know what to do
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you’

My prayer now finished, I stand up, and jump right into bed,
I need my rest for tomorrow, we have another long day ahead.
Sleep starts to overtake me, I seem to drift away
Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day

I'm standing alone on the hill. The view is very nice
A man walks towards me and says, ‘My name is Jesus Christ’
Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down at His feet
‘Arise,’ He states, ‘Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak’

My attention's towards my Savior, total and complete
He says, ‘Your mission is similar to what happened to me
I understand how you feel, I know what you're going through
In fact, it would be fair to say I've felt the same as you

I even know how you feel when no one will listen to you
At times I felt not quite sure what else I could do
I know you don't like to walk or ride a bicycle, for you a car would be sweet
Just remember the donkey I rode wasn't equipped with 21 speeds

I understand you don't like sweating, in fact it's something you hate
I remember when I sweat blood from ev’ry pore, oh how the agony was great!
I see you don't like your companion - you'd rather have someone else
I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth

It's hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you
I remember when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews
So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack
I recall how heavy the cross was as they slammed it on my back

Your feet and hands hurt from walking and knocking on doors all day
I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way
It's hard not to hear from home when your family's not there to see
I lost communication on the cross and cried, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

We have a lot in common, but there's a difference between us you see
I endured to the end and finished my mission, so come, follow and do like me’
He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love
With tears in my eyes I watched as He ascended to the Father above.

I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head
I listened and heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed
My companion let out a groan, ‘6:30 already, no way!’
I sat up and said, ‘Come on, I'll even carry your scriptures today!’

Each and every day, we see miracles of our very own.
So ALWAYS remember that in this marvelous work, we are NEVER alone.
That no matter what we go through, when we feel we can't take more
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ,
He's been there before!"

We know that Christ is always there for us and He wants us to succeed. As His servants, He wants the very best for us and wants to give us strength.

We talked about how there are things in our lives that hold us back from really fulfilling our potential; that we are like airplanes, so ready to take off, but there are things, dragging or weighing us down that keep us from just taking off and SOARING! We talked about how it all starts with us, and if we are going to change as a mission, it first starts with every single one of us. It starts from within and then, and only then, will we see the change.

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." – President Ezra Taft Benson

Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world. Men changed for Christ will be captained by Christ. Like Paul, they will be asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6) Peter stated they will “follow his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21) John said they will “walk, even as he walked.” (1 Jn. 2:6)
Finally, men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. To paraphrase President Harold B. Lee, they set fire in others because they are on fire. Their will is swallowed up in his will. (See John 5:30) They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29) Not only would they die for the Lord but, more important, they want to live for Him." - President Ezra Taft Benson

I love this video about Christ-like Attributes:

"And know ye that ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." - 3 Nephi 27:27

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." - Moroni 10:32

Christ was:
A Healer
A Teacher
A Servant
Full of Love

We continued to talk about how, as we start to change from the inside and become more like the Savior every day, one step at a time, we will see this miracle within ourselves. We need to have Christ´s name engraven upon our hearts, but there are those things that can slowly erase or replace His name. We need to be doing the little things EVERY DAY to carve his name deeper and deeper.

So everyone had a piece of paper and wrote down the things that are holding them back from becoming closer to the Savior, or things that were erasing His name from their hearts, little by little. Then we had our testimony meeting, and every single person went up and bore POWERFUL testimonies of Jesus Christ and His Atoning sacrifice and infinite grace. One elder, who had gone home early from his mission at one point and just now returned into the field, went up and said, "I just want to thank everyone who has spoken. I have felt the Spirit more here today than I have in my ENTIRE LIFE. So thank you. I know my Savior loves me and, through Him, I can change." Everyone handed in their sheets of paper, with the list of those things holding us back. At the end of the meeting, we told everyone that we are ALL going to start with clean slates and we are purifying or "PURI-FIRING" the Bilbao Zone. We then lit them all on fire!! It felt so good!

I know that we can ALL start with a clean slate and it is never too late. I know we can repent and that NO ONE has gone TOO far away from the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ. This gospel is all about 2nd chances. HIS wounds heal MINE. He loves you all so much and He is just waiting for you to drop the things that are dragging you down, so that you can just take off and be free! LIGHT THIS FIRE WITHIN YOURSELF AND LET´S CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE, AND PURIFY OUR LIVES TODAY!

I love you all! Let´s SOAR, and be perfected in HIM.

Hermana Lydia Pamela Vance

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