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.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Happiness in This Life, and Being Together in The Next

These past few weeks have been great! I absolutely LOVE Bilbao! Every day my heart is filled with so much peace, joy and happiness! I have just loved the past four and a half months here! Transfers are coming up next week, and I’m not sure what is going to happen. Whatever it may be, I know that what I will be asked to do during my next transfer will be for a reason, and it will help me to continue to grow.
As little side note, people have been asking me this and seem to be confused … just a reminder that you CAN contact me … at my email address or the mission home:

Hermana Lydia Vance
Spain Barcelona Mission
C/ Calatrava N, 10-12, 1+
08017 Barcelona

Anyway, Hermana Worthington and I are just on fire! I love her more and more each and every day! She has become one of my very best friends and she is incredible!

Today we went to this amazing castle close to the coast! It was breathtaking and I loved it … I felt like I was in a movie! It was pouring rain and we were soaked head-to-toe, but it was so worth it. Spain is so beautiful!

This past week I was able to go to Barcelona again for Leadership Council. I love meeting and talking with President and Hermana Pace and the other missionaries from all around the mission; talking about what we can improve, what we need to change and grow, and how we can strengthen our faith. We have such tremendous missionaries, with such great faith, that work so hard and are eternal examples for me.

This week I have had the wonderful opportunity to teach several people about the perfect plan that our Father in Heaven has for every single one of us. Whether it has been on exchanges with different missionaries and their investigators, the new members here in Bilbao, or people that have fallen away a little bit and have lost some hope. It’s called the Plan of Salvation or the plan of happiness. It helps them answer questions like, "Where did I come from before this life? Why am I here? What is my purpose in this life? Where do we go after this life? What happens to us?"

We all elected to have this earth experience as part of His plan. The prophets call it “the plan of mercy,” “the eternal plan of deliverance,” “the plan of salvation,” and, yes, “the great plan of happiness.” We were taught this plan before we came to earth and we rejoiced in the privilege of participating in it.

God is the Father of our spirits. We are literally His children, and He loves us so much. We lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth. We were not, however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body. This Earth was created so that we may enjoy these blessings. God’s whole purpose - His work and His glory - is to enable each of us to enjoy all of His blessings. He has provided a perfect plan to accomplish His purpose. We understood and accepted this plan before we came to the earth. Agency, or the ability to choose, is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children. Our eternal progression depends on how we use this gift. We must choose whether to follow Jesus Christ or follow Satan. Only through the Savior’s grace and mercy can we become clean from sin so that we can live with God again. This is possible through exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We are here to have so much joy. To fulfill the plan of salvation, Christ paid the penalty for our sins. He alone was able to do that.

"All of this is made possible by Jesus Christ. He is the centerpiece of the eternal plan of the Father, the Savior who was provided as a ransom for mankind. God sent His Beloved Son to overcome the Fall of Adam and Eve. He came to earth as our Savior and Redeemer. He overcame the obstacle of physical death for us by giving up His own life. When He died on the cross, His spirit became separated from His body. On the third day His spirit and His body were reunited eternally, never to be separated again.
Life on earth is of limited duration. There comes a time for all of us when the spirit and the body are separated in death. But because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will all be resurrected, regardless of whether we have accomplished good or evil in this life. Immortality is the gift to every mortal child of our Father in Heaven. Through the glorious resurrection, body and spirit will be reunited. We will have a perfect, immortal body of flesh and bones that will never be subjected to pain or death. But the glory we attain to in the next life will depend on our performance in this life. Only through the gift of the Atonement and our obedience to the gospel can we return and live with God once again." - Elder L. Tom Perry
I know that in this life we have many difficulties, and we face and will continue to face challenges every day. There are things that happen that we don´t fully understand. But God does. We can only see a glimpse of this life. He can see everything!  We are here to learn and progress; to be tested.  We make mistakes, we aren´t perfect, but that is why Christ came to this earth. To save us, to redeem us, to give us this comfort and peace. Because He is the ONLY one who knows EXACTLY how we feel. In The Book of Mormon it reads:
 "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me." - Alma 7:11-13

Even though Christ conquered physical death, all people must die, for death is part of the process by which we are transformed from mortality to immortality. When we die, our spirits go to the spirit world. Which is a place of rest. When our bodies and spirits are reunited through the resurrection, we will be brought into God’s presence to be judged. We will remember perfectly our righteousness and our guilt. If we have repented, we will receive mercy. We will be rewarded according to our works and our desires. Everything that we do in this life, how we use the Atonement (or sacrifice) of Jesus Christ, and what we do in the Spirit world will all be taken into account.
During our mortal lives we make choices regarding good and evil. God rewards us according to our works and desires. Because God rewards everyone according to deeds done in the body, there are different kingdoms of glory to which we may be assigned after the Judgment. Those who have repented of their sins and received the ordinances of the gospel and kept the associated covenants will be cleansed by the Atonement of Christ. They will receive exaltation in the highest kingdom, also known as the celestial kingdom. They will live in God’s presence, become like Him, and receive a fulness of joy. They will live together for eternity with those of their family who qualify. In the scriptures this kingdom is compared to the glory or brightness of the sun. (Excerpts from Preach My Gospel)

I love teaching and testifying of this great eternal truth. What great peace, comfort and joy it brings to my soul that I can be with my family forever … that If I do everything I can in this life to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I can return to live with Him and God once again and forever. I know that there is life after death. I know it! We don´t need to fear! We don´t need to be sad! You will see these people again, I promise you! God lives! He is real, He is there and His plan is perfect! I hope and pray that you will all find out and know these things for yourselves. I am grateful to God that He has given me a testimony of these things. I invite you all to find out for yourselves. Ask your Father in Heaven, who loves you so much and wants you to know these things, if these things are true. There is nothing that brings me greater happiness than this knowledge. I want to live with Him again, in His celestial, loving and infinite love, mercy, grace and glory. I must remember to do these 5 things:
- Have Faith in Christ
- Repent of my mistakes (daily)
- Be baptized (and always member my covenants with Heavenly Father)
- Receive the Holy Ghost (after Baptism)
- Endure to the end (meaning every day I know I am trying my very best to do what is right, and thinking, "What am I doing today that is better than yesterday?")

This is an everlasting process and a lifelong pursuit, but no other quest could be more important. I know that if we live by these precepts, that we will have true happiness in this life and in the life to come. I know that we can have victory over death because Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and He paid the price. Salvation is not won, He has already conquered it. We just need to make the choice to take part in it. 
I want to live a life worthy of being able to see my family on the other side; and be able to come face-to-face with my Savior and Heavenly Father and know I did my very best. I will be happy if I can do that; I cannot wait until that day! I want to be with each and every one of you, so do all you can to make it there … we need you, and God needs you!

Love you all, forever and always, throughout the eternities,

Hermana Lydia Pamela Vance

p.s. I love this music video …

… and all of the Mormon Messages! They made me cry, they are so good! You HAVE to watch them!

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