Hola a todos! Como va la semana!? MAGNÍFICO!? Muy bien, me alegro muchísimo.
Wow, it is getting hot and humid here in Barcelona! Summertime is the best; everyone is out of school and on breaks! We are able to see so many more people now, except when they go on their two-month vacations to visit their families back in their native countries. South Americans, I just love ‘em! Haha, I hope all of you are enjoying your summers as well, spending time with your beloved family and friends, soaking up the sun and every moment together.
This week was another great one; but aren’t they all! Haha, oh the mission, it´s incredible. If you are thinking about going … GO! If you´re not … you are really missing out! It has been the greatest decision of my entire life. It is worth everything to go!
Monday (June 29): Another fun preparation day! These days are so nice to just get yourself organized and have some fun. Today we went to the gym in the church and played volleyball with the other hermanas and elders. It is always so fun, and at the very end, we had filled up some water balloons and brought them from the bathroom, and snuck into the gym. We attacked the elders and had a huge water fight! It was hilarious!
Cool story. Hermana Steinfeldt and I were walking when a man called out to us and said, "Sisters of Jesus! Sisters of Jesus! Wait!" Haha, of course we stopped and talked to him! His name was Eddy and he is from Tanzania, Africa. It was so cool, as I had never met anyone from there! He told us that back in his country, his house was right across the street from the church, and that he was interested in learning more about it and he has always had questions. We will see where it goes!
Tuesday (June 30): This morning we "heart attacked" Dary! We cut out all of these hearts and wrote little notes on each of them and stuck them all over her door. We hadn't seen her for about a week, because of her crazy, long schedule with her new job and everything. We knew she had been pretty stressed out and she felt bad that she couldn't see us. As we went to do the "heart attack", we met a man named Victor on the way up. He was super nice and said he had seen a lot of missionaries before in Ecuador. He told us that he actually lived right in front of the temple when he was still in Ecuador. He said he was kind of busy at the moment, but that we could come back a different day! We will see what happens. Late that night, we got a text from Dary at about midnight, thanking us for the notes. She had come home super late from work and was just exhausted and a little overwhelmed. She told us that when she saw the notes, she immediately began to cry. She was so grateful. I just love that woman so much!
We were also able to see Imilse again! We are getting to know her older daughter (Imi) better, which I think has been helping, as we are trying to work with the family as a whole. We shared with her the "Articles of Faith" … there are 13 of them. They are simple, but so powerful. These are the articles of our faith … declarations that were written by the Prophet Joseph Smith to help explain to nonmembers some of the basic things that we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, believe.
1 “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."
(We believe in the Trinity, that there are 3 members in the Godhead. They are ONE in purpose and unity, but they are 3 separate beings.)
2 “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression."
(Adam partook of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, and was cast out of the presence of God, and into mortality. It was all a part of God's plan. Adam transgressed and fell, but because of this … we have been given the gift of agency, or the ability to choose right or wrong for ourselves. We will be held accountable for our own choices and mistakes.)
I love this talk from Elder Holland. In my opinion, it explains this principle perfectly.
3 “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."
(Because we are mortal and we are not perfect, we are bound to mess up and fall short; to sin and make wrong choices. But because our Father in Heaven loves us so very much and we are His children, He wanted us to have a way to fix that … to be cleansed, to be forgiven of those errors, and to come back into His presence. He provided that way through the Savior, Jesus Christ. He came to this Earth to save and redeem us all.)
4 “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."
(This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are 4 steps: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost/Spirit. We first must have faith that Jesus Christ really is our Savior and that through Him, and only Him, can we be redeemed and receive eternal life. The Atonement of Jesus Christ will only be effective in your life, if you have this faith in Him.
5 “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof."
(These people are given power and authority from God. We are to act in and under His name. We know that in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the priesthood authority of Christ and His prophets and apostles has been restored once again onto the earth. "We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth …“built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone”. (Ephesians 2:20))
6 “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth."
(Jesus Christ established His church and His teachings while He was on the Earth. We know that Christ stands at the head of our church today, and under that authority, direction and revelation, we too have living prophets and apostles. Our modern-day prophet and President of His church today is Thomas S. Monson, who works with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to lead the church under the direction of the Lord. If this is Christ's church, doesn't it make sense to have it organized and run the same way as before … under His direction?
7 “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth."
(These things happened in ancient times and the work of God has not ceased.)
8 “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God."
(There are many different ways that the Bible has been translated. We believe that the King James Bible is the most correct, and also know that The Book of Mormon is truly the word of God).
9 “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."
(We believe in the prophets of old, such as, Noah, Abraham or Moses. We know that God has not ceased speaking with His children. We have a modern living Prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson, who leads and guides the Church. He is called of God, and this is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints. He receives direct communication and revelation from God and then shares it with everyone. We can also receive personal revelation for ourselves and our lives. The Prophet receives revelation for the entire church, just like in Biblical times. He will continue to manifest the things of God unto us. How blessed we are to know that God has not stopped talking to His people. He LIVES, and He speaks to His children through personal prayer and through His living prophet and His apostles.)
10 “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory."
("We testify that He will someday return to earth, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts. Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the Light, the Life, and the Hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son." (The Living Christ) I know that He is coming. We don't know when, but what a glorious and joyous day it will be!
11 “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
(We are merely here to invite people to come unto Christ. We don't and won't judge anyone for what, how or where they worship and believe. So many churches like to get into the political side of things, but we don't. Everyone has their agency to choose for themselves.)
12 "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."
(Of course we have our religion, but we know how very important it is to follow all of the laws of the land and our leaders.)
13 “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul--We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." (See the end of this post).
Wednesday (July 1): Today we had our very first Conference with our new mission President and his wife, President and Hermana Dayton! It was a really special moment. The second he walked into the room, I knew that he was a man called of God to preside over this wonderful mission. We had 4 of the zones together and sang “The Spirit of God”, as a musical number, but for the 4th verse, we had all of the missionaries stand up and sing it in Spanish. It was awesome and so powerful! We are so blessed to have them here, and we are just going to take off as a mission! There is a new energy … here we go!
Thursday (July 2): Tonight we had a great and pretty intense lesson with our new friend Ivan. He is from Russia and is about 20 years old, but speaks perfect English. He is super smart and is studying to become a lawyer. He comes from a rich family and is honestly a little prideful. He recognizes that he needs God in his life, and now. He is hanging out with the wrong crowd and is into a lot of bad stuff. We went to the church to talk. We testified of the love and saving Atonement of Jesus Christ. He asked some very deep questions. He made a comment about how the world has to get a lot worse before the Second Coming of Christ, and that maybe it would be better for him to help make this world get worse, faster. I told him that this world is slowly dividing between the righteous and unrighteous people. I said that we have plenty of people who are willing to do anything to destroy the good in this life. I explained that we need him on our side to fight for the right, and that he can be a powerful leader of hope, faith and justice. We were all in tears. He said that we were right, but that he would have to think about it. I think his heart was softened a bit.
Friday (July 3): Today were we able to visit a lot of less active families. We visited a woman named Raquel. She is just so sweet, but has been having some problems within her family, and was quit emotional about it all. Sometimes it´s just nice to sit there and listen; to let them just get everything out, and just be there and care. I´m glad we were able to be there for her.
Later that night we visited Yennis, Maikel, Markel and Majorie. They are a Dominican family who I just adore. They are just the cutest! Markel is 9 years old and Marjorie is 7. They have a wonderful family and they have been sealed in the temple for time and eternity. Maikel actually just got out of jail for being falsely accused of murdering his best friend. It was a really rough and sensitive situation for their family. Every time we are over there we just try to lighten everything up, and just talk about love, family and Jesus Christ (the best topics right?) They are such an incredible family that is just filled with light, and I know the Lord will bless them.
Saturday (4th of JULY!!):
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY AMERICA! Happy 4th of July! AHH! I hope you all enjoyed the fireworks! I love fireworks and miss ‘em! We sang a lot of patriotic songs though from way over here in Spain!
Sunday (July 5): I just love church every Sunday don't you? It's the best day of the week … to be able to partake of the Sacrament and feel the Spirit so strong in the House of the Lord.
We BELIEVE. We HOPE. We ENDURE. We BELIEVE. We HOPE. We ENDURE. If we are being "honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous" and if we are doing things that are "virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy … we will happily endure and we will endure it well. We seek after these things. I have learned that if there is something in my life that isn´t ETERNAL or of ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE … I don´t want it in my life.
I invite all of you, to SEEK after these things and apply them in your life. That is when you will be TRULY happy!
Love, Hermana Vance
Hermana Lydia Vance
C/Calatrava N, 10-12, 1
08017 Barcelona ESPAÑA
(Sometimes snail mail is more fun to receive! I'm not always the best at writing letters back but … thank you! You know who you are! Love you all!)