Can I just say HOW excited I am that Christmas is nearly here!?!?! Most of you are about to have your Christmas break, with time to spend with your family and friends! So fun! This week we want to do all sorts of things as a district … go caroling, bake Christmas cookies for our friends and members here, little acts of extra special and spontaneous service and, of course … tell everyone about why we celebrate Christmas while we teach them even more about Christ. I CANNOT WAIT!
I truly love and admire my new companion Hermana Worthington. She is adjusting so well and is just on fire and incredible. She has such a bright light about her and is always smiling! Even though at this time she is struggling with the language, she keeps pressing forward. She is a breath of fresh air to the Bilbao Zone! I love new missionaries (even though I still feel like I just got here myself after 7 months). She works so hard and is just a little ball of fun! I´m excited to see what these next 11 weeks have in store!
Some of the people we are working with are progressing so well, especially Mayra and Alex! They BOTH were in church on Sunday! Mayra is 19 and is from Columbia and Alex is 20 from Bolivia. It´s fun working with them because I feel like we are able to relate to them, and we have all become great friends. Everyone in the ward is so loving and supportive. They have taken these two in under their wing, and have been there for them, in the good times and the harder ones.
The Victoria and Bilbao Zones had Zone Conference with President and Hermana Pace this past Friday. I love them so much and I could never thank them enough for all they are doing. They work so hard and they are exhausted at times. They have the gas pedal ALL the way down, and they inspire me as they continue to give their all for US and for the LORD. On Saturday, there was a beautiful baptismal service of a 19 year old girl within our zone. We were able to go, and Alex came with us and loved it! After the service, President Pace talked with Alex and us for about 45 minutes. The Spirit was so strong, and I know Alex felt it. President Pace talked about the importance of prayer and scripture study and going to church. He told him that these seem like simple, basic things that we can brush off, especially when we are busy, and put them into the "if I have time" pile, when instead many of the other things we do should be in that pile. That really hit Alex, and I think he is really starting to realize how important it is and that, when he prays, God WILL answer his prayers. Alex is stressed out with college exams this week, so please keep him in your prayers! I know that when we put God first, everything falls into place, and it´s no coincidence.
We talk to many people here, all day every day, but last week I realized once again, why I am here. Throughout Saturday evening, we talked with a woman who was shocked and touched to believe that God really did love her and know her personally as His precious daughter. Then we talked with a different woman who we found crying on a bench, who just needed a hug and to know that God is aware of her and is there for her; and later we talked with a man who was happy to hear about our message of Christmas!
We had a conversation with one man named Rafael, however, that I will never forget. We were on our way home, it was cold and wet, and we were about to turn in for the night when a man stopped and stared at us. He began reading our chapas (nametags) and asked if we are students studying abroad. We began to explain to him that we are actually missionaries for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He took a step back, confused, and asked. "Really? If you don´t mind me asking, how old are you two?" We told him that we were 19 and 20 years old. At this, he chuckled and asked, "Then what are you doing? You are two very young, pretty and smart girls … why aren´t you out living your life, dating, studying, and preparing for and starting your careers and lives? You are losing and wasting your time!!" I simply smiled and said, "This is the best thing I could be doing right now. This experience is only a short one, and it is preparing me more and better than anything else could. I wouldn´t trade these moments for anything." He still didn´t seem convinced. He began asking who made us come here, and how much they were paying us to spread our message. Once again I smiled and said, "You want to know the truth?" At this his face changed, hoping to hear something of that sort. I went on to say "This is voluntary. I chose to come here, because I wanted to come; because I know it´s true. I KNOW it is true. This gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, has been the GREATEST blessing in my entire life, and ALL I want to do at this moment in my life is to share it with others … to show people hope and TRUE joy, and how they are sons and daughter of an Almighty God that loves them so much. This experience is preparing me for the rest of my life and is training for me as I strive to learn and become the best daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, student, etc. I could ever be. I am living my life like this now, so that I can have this same happiness throughout the eternities. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and through Him we can be made strong and be happy forever." He was completely caught off guard, and didn´t really have anything else to say. He took our card and walked away. I don´t know if I will ever see Rafael again, but it was in that moment, like many others before, that I knew why I am here. I love this gospel, and I invite you ALL to discover this Christmas, what is the best thing you could be doing? What are the most important things to you, and what goals have you set or should you set to change your priorities? This is the perfect time to start fresh with a clean slate. The New Year is also coming up … what are you going to REALLY change? Make goals, and reach for them and achieve them. With God, ALL things are possible.
I love you, and just want you to be everything you were BORN to be. I believe in you, and so does your Father in Heaven. GO FOR IT! No regrets!
Hermana Lydia Pamela Vance
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