I have to admit, my mission has been and continues to be the happiest, most REAL and rewarding experience of my life. Every day is a new adventure. Every day I learn something new. I meet someone, I serve someone and I just love everyone. It's all worth it; every moment. It's all about the work and other people, but it always just comes right back to me personally. The MORE we serve, we give, we share and we love … the MORE blessings WE receive. We can't ever really pay back our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, because the more we do for His cause and try equal it out, the more we realize that we will always be indebted to Him … and His great sacrifice, blessings, and mercy. I know blessings await us as we serve Him with all of our heart, might, mind and strength; and that this is just a training for me for my life. He is preparing and changing me. I am so blessed to be one of the Lord's missionaries, called to bring to pass His work and His glory!
Tuesday (July 14): This morning we saw our friend Victor. We met him the week before, and he told us that he really needs the gospel in his life. He told us he wants to set a good example for his 8 year old son, especially now that he and his wife are planning on getting a divorce. We told him that this gospel is the best way to help his kid; that in this generation it just continues to get harder and harder, and that he has got to be walking on steady ground if he wants to bless and help his family. Victor is great and he has a big heart. He is an overwhelmed middle aged man who is just looking for that relief in the midst of life's craziness. He just doesn't know how to go about changing or finding that peace. That's why we're here. I'm excited to see where everything goes with him.
Wednesday (July 15): Today we were able to visit a woman named Marcela. One of her friends is a member of the church, and told us to stop by and that she wanted to meet us. As we stopped by she told us that she had accidentally fell asleep, and still had a ton of things to get done for the day. When we were at her door, she said she was sorry, but didn't have time to see us. We asked if we could just talk to her and share something for 5 minutes. She said that was fine and let us in. We simply testified of faith and the power of prayer. She wept as she explained to us that she was going through a lot of really hard times in her life right now and she was just exhausted. She just had a baby about 5 months ago and is searching for work. As we finished and prayer, we were able to notice how scattered everything was around us. We asked her if there was anything we could help with and she at first said no; but we insisted. We first helped her clean and organize her kitchen. We wiped some things down, swept the floor and put things in the fridge. She then led us to her bathroom that was just filled with dirty clothes. In the sink, in the bathtub, on the floor; you name it. She told us that her washer had broken the other day and she was just swamped with all of this. We then went out onto her little balcony with big tubs of water and put the clothes in. We poured some soap in and began stepping on the clothes and washing them with our feet. The bottom of my dress was soaking wet as we were washing, mopping the floor, and hanging up the clothes on the line. We were there for about an hour until we had finished with all of it. She was overwhelmed with gratitude and thanked us for what we did. She told us that we were true representatives of Jesus Christ, and that she knew we lived what we preached. What a blessing to experience that.
Thursday (July 16): We have a friend named Guri. He is about 17 or 18 years old and is from India. We have been helping him with his English. He is currently working on a project about the difference between Indian Culture and Spain Culture. It was so interesting for me. I realized I know very little about that part of the world, and he shared his passion for his country and his religion. I have so much respect for him because, even though his religion is different, he believes and he is faithful to his principles and beliefs. So cool!
Friday (July 17): Today we met with a less active woman in our ward named Doris. It was the first time we had ever met her because she is new here in Spain. It was hard for her to move here and she misses her family. She also is in a somewhat abusive relationship. We were able to go over there and give her comfort, and share our testimonies with her. It was such a sweet moment and she said it really helped. Please keep her in your prayers.
Saturday (July 18): MIRACLE BAPTISM! Joshua Simon Suleman was baptized! He is our other best friend from Nigeria! I love these people so much! He had been learning about the church for over a year, but because of family and girlfriend problems, he wasn't able to take this step. He has been waiting for this moment for a long time. We finally got things handled and fixed, and he was baptized and confirmed as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! Such a special day for him! He is so happy! I am so proud of him and this amazing decision he has made in his life. The boy that baptized him is actually going on his mission in about two months to the Córdoba, Argentina Mission!
At the baptism, we sang this children's hymn. I love it; it is so cute and simple. It really makes me reflect on my life.
“If the Savior Stood Beside Me”
1. If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do?
Would I think of His commandments and try harder to be true?
Would I follow His example? Would I live more righteously
if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me?
2. If the Savior stood beside me, would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind if He was never far away?
Would I try to share the gospel? Would I speak more rev’rently
if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me?
3. He is always near me, though I do not see Him there,
And because He loves me dearly, I am in His watchful care.
So I’ll be the kind of person that I know I’d like to be
if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me."
Sunday (July 19): I once again had to speak in church. It is the 7th official talk I have been asked to give in church during my mission. I love being able to stand in front of all of these people, whom I love so very much, and share that love with them. I shared a lot of very tender and special experiences from my mission. These experiences are so dear to my heart and so powerful. They have become a very sacred part of my life. As I continue to think about and reflect on my mission every day, I notice and learn a lot of things about myself and this blessed experience that I am having here.
I feel like I have changed a lot on my mission. It's interesting, because I still have my outgoing, bubbly personality … but I also feel that I have matured so much in every area of my life. I have realized what really matters and what is truly important. Like I said recently, if it's not eternal or of eternal significance, I don't want it in my life … it's simply not worth it. God knows us perfectly and knows exactly what we need. He knows our strengths, and how we can use them to the best of our abilities. He knows our weaknesses, and how we can strengthen them. We won't be perfect, but He won't let these little imperfections and faults immobilize us; we are stronger than that. Being here and having this opportunity, I have learned so much. I am able to witness things that are just so different and that really open my eyes. It has helped me see some really big problems that other people have, that are beyond me and any difficulty that I face. But it has also shown me that there is always a solution. It has humbled me so much and has helped me realize how truly blessed I am.
In The Book of Mormon, there is a very popular verse that I have really come to understand out here. It is in Ether 12:27, and it reads:
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
His grace is sufficient. We can’t do it alone. It is not humanly possible. Even if we are obeying each and every commandment that God has given us, and being the very best we can be … it still won't be enough. We have to meet Christ in the middle. We have to offer him all that we can, give our all, and do our part … and He will make up the rest. "To believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."
In Alma 26:12 it says,
"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."
He strengthens us because he loves us. There are so many experiences I have had, and I feel like you all only hear about 10% of what happens. It's not just life changing, it's eternity changing … and that's what we want right?
I have met or taught people from: Spain, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, Columbia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Angola, Liberia, Gambia, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Romania, Armenia, England, Austria, Russia, Poland, Pakistan, India, Tanzania, Italy, Philippines, Canada, Guinea, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Portugal, France, Morocco, Korea, China, Sweden, Cuba and a handful from the United States.
I have witnessed and tried to help:
-A young woman suffering with anorexia
-A mother enduring the pain of losing her only son
-Marriages and families being torn apart (physically and emotionally)
-Men with their overwhelming alcohol and drug addictions
-A girl fighting off cancer, people with very severe illnesses
-Many homeless people find comfort and peace in their lives
-People who've lost their jobs and have been kicked out of their apartments
-People getting out of abusive relationships (physically and emotionally)
-People with non-Christian backgrounds (Hindu, Muslim, Buddhism)
-Burglaries and fatal accidents
-Youth running away from home
-People being wrongly accused and thrown into prison
-People illegally living in Spain and their problems with the police
-People with life threatening depression
We, as 19 and 20+ year-old “kids”, are supposed to have all of the answers and be able to fix everything.
You have to be the:
-Shoulder to cry on
-The best friend or only friend they have
-One who loves and notices everyone
-The volunteer for everything
-One who always is smiling
-Hero to the rescue
-One constantly serving
-One that never gets tired
-Representative of Jesus Christ
We will meet with someone, or step into their homes, and be expected to bring this faith, hope, love and joy, to each and every situation. We need to show them the way to everlasting happiness and their personal salvation. They will come to us with a problem, and look at us with sadness in their eyes and fear in their voice, and ask, "Hermanas, what are we supposed to do? Help us. We have nowhere else to turn." As they turn to us … we turn them to the Savior. We guide them to the Way, so that Christ can show them the way. We are standing in the place of our Redeemer. We are doing all that we can to become more like Him and develop His attributes. We are his representatives and his disciples. He is depending on us. Many times, people and their longing and pleading prayers and hearts are answered and comforted by those around them. We are the Lord's instruments. We are His hands. He went about doing good, always. We must all be worthy of the call and be ready to be His hands, however and whenever He needs us. He is counting on you. He needs you. God loves each and every one of us. We are equal in His eyes. "Remember the worth of every soul, is great in the sight of God". While He loves us all, we have to gain His trust and be worthy of it, by being obedient to His laws and loving His gospel and His children. We must live that gospel and be His hands.
Con amor, para siempre,
Hermana Lydia Pamela Vance
Hermana Lydia Vance
C/Calatrava N, 10-12, 1