Thursday, September 18, 2014

Countdown Week 1 ~ "This Was A Triumph. I'm Making A Note Here: Huge success" Vester's FINAL Update

Well this is Elder Vester's last week in his mission. I want to thank all of you that have keep him in your prayers while he has been out. He has grown spiritually as well as physically. We are very excited to welcome him home.

So, it's my last week! YEAH.
I've decided that if anyone asks me if I plan to go to the Young Single's Adult Ward, I'm just going to laugh maniacally, and walk away. I've decided that I need some time away from the YSA until I fully recover from the surgery. 
This last week has been well, hard. But, amazing in it's own rights. Monday, we had interviews, and I was able to say goodbye to a lot of the amazing missionaries in this zone. The rest of the week has kinda been a blur. I'm not sure what to really make of this. I'll finally be Jacob again by about 9:00 pm next Monday.
I'm excited, that's for sure. and at the same time, I don't feel like this is over. Haha. Like I have been doing this for so long, that I can't actually believe I have to change the routine again.
On my mission I've learned so much. I've had the pleasure to serve in 3 different missions, 3 different countries, in 2 different languages, with 19 companions, and 9 areas.
I have 4 journals, all of which I know will be a treasure to me later in life.
Sunday was a very emotional day for me. It was branch conference, so I had a chance to say goodbye to Stake President Stark, (I got to know him pretty well when I was in North Port.)
I was also asked to speak, literally right in the middle of Sacrament meeting, but I'm so grateful for that. I mostly talked about how much the Lord has been working in my life in the last 2 years, and how He's always these for us. I shared my "mission mottoes". I've never shared this on the blog, but there are two scriptures that are very special to me, and if you want to know them, you'll have to come to Homecoming!
I'm not sure when that would be, but you'll hear about it on facebook.
I guess it's time for me to close this.
I know the church is true, and this has been such a huge time of growth for me. I love this, and I will always be grateful for the people that have been faithful in supporting me through these two years.

"It's hard to understate my satisfaction." - Mom thought he colored his hair!

(Hair cut photos. Yes! That's sSster Bond, she does our haircuts for us, and it's awesome. <3)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Countdown Week 2 ~ A Week of Service :VWU

I am so proud of Elder Vester for all that he has done and for hanging in there. There should be just one more email from him next week. Enjoy!

So, I've noticed something interesting.
The longer I go, the more pain I have, and yet, the more spiritual the days become. 
This last week has been NOTHING but service. Haha. Monday was a holiday, so we spent it doing service and yard work for some elderly members in my branch . Tuesday was p-day, Wednesday, we also did more service. We cut about 6 chords of wood or so for a disabled man. (It was really neat. His daughter works for the member and investigator that we coordinated with to do the project, and she got so excited to know we would be getting wood for her Dad. Totally worth it.)
Thursday, we also spent the day splitting wood (following up from last Wednesday) with Brother Campbell. He's older, and pretty beat up, and needed to get his wood done before the cold rolls in. Friday, we had Zone meeting in Colville, and Saturday we did more yard work for less active members.
Every. Single. Day.
Most nights I was in so much pain I could hardly fall asleep till early morning. And finally, Sunday, I had had enough. I could hardly get up to go to sacrament. After sacrament, I asked for a ward member, and my companion to give me a blessing.
Through this priesthood blessing, I was able to understand a little better about what to do next.
I'm not doing any more service. The branch has really started to step up, and fill in the uselessness that I cause. Haha.
But, I know I can do this.
I have finally discussed this situation with my mission president, and he was really disappoint that i did not tell him about this sooner. I told him that I still had work to do, and things I needed to learn, and people I needed to see. I had to complete this work, and I would make any sacrifice necessary to do so.
He had no idea what to say to that. He just looked at me. He could hardly believe that I had gone the last 3 months in pain, because I needed to finish my mission.
So, I'm going to finish strong.
President is praying to see if he should send me home, but as of now, I'm being allowed to stay.
The members are amazing here, and doing anything they can to help. I love this place so much, and I can't wait to visit again after I am well.
So, I need to take my leave.
next week is my final email, and I can't wait!
I love you all so much, and I'll talk to you soon!
~Elder Vester
My last Zone photo. c:
I love these people!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Countdown Week 3 ~The Amazing Race: VWU

We are getting close to the end. What a great journey it has been. I have seen so much growth in Elder Vester, it makes my eyes water. I am so proud of the service that he has given over these past 2 years.
He has done a great job.


So, this week has been interesting...
You know that feeling, where you are anticipating something for a long time, and it starts out really slow, then zips by, and all of a sudden, it's taking forever again? Yeah. That's me right now.
This week has been so incredibly spiritual. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it. But, I'll try it like this.
It seems like every day has been getting more difficult to mount. Like, I'm putting more rocks in my backpack every few steps.
And, at the same time, I understand better what Alma talks about, in the book of Mormon, about how God made their burdens light. He did not take them away, but he did make them lighter. Every day has been getting more and more difficult. But, I've never been happier as a missionary.
On my sick days, I've had the chance to really reflect about how I am, and about what my mission has done for me. My current struggle has been knowing if I have gone home. 
Sometimes I feel like because I can't work every day like I should, that I am just wasting my time. And in the long hours of prayer and meditation, I always seem to get the same answer.
"Everything is going to be ok. You can make it. No sacrifice, is a wasted sacrifice."
I don't know why, but I know everything is going to be ok.
I've been through a lot in the last 25 months, and I know Heavenly Father has been taking care of me, and will continue to do so. I've seen more then most, and I've been so amazingly blessed.
I remember there was a point in my mission that I would not be sure if I could look back with a happy heart on the work I have done.
And thankfully I can.
It was only through the Atonement of Christ that I was able to leave the bad in the past, and continue forward, with my shoulders straight, and my head held high. Just today, even, I was talking about Brasil with Elder Naranjo, and the subject of my really difficult companion came up. (Back when I was in Cachoeiro.) And all the things I thought were so hard, and things I thought I could not put up with now, I laugh at! haha!
I am amazed at the many different ways that the Atonement can affect our lives. Not only can it wipe away the pain of sin, and mistake, but it can be a balm of healing to a injured soul. 
I've never quite understood it.
But, I'm getting a better grasp on it now.
We are almost never able to see change or progress in ourselves. It is only after time, and reflections that we can see where we've been, and how we've changed.
Like, a cut being healed. There is so much under the surface that we don't even see, or know what is happening. All we can see is the cut on the outside, when underneath, there is skin regrowing, veins correcting, tissues rejoining, and sinew reforming.
We can be so focused on the ugly scar that, that we forget to see the miracle at work inside of us.
This is much how I feel right now.
Despite the pain being even worse than it was when I was back in Brasil, I am at peace. 
I know that this was required of me.
A test of faith. 
Just another bump along the road to exaltation. 
I've given it my all. I look back, and I see how God has helped guide my steps every day, and I am so grateful for this work.
I am glad to say, that I will be going home with no regrets, and knowing I have satisfied the Lord in all I have done.
I love you all, and I'll be seeing you soon.
After all, only 2 more emails till I'm headed home!
19 days everyone. Keep on the look out.
This is the front of Elder Vester's apartment. You notice there is a BBQ place under his apartment.
~Elder Vester
This is a cute selfie!

Looking down the street from his apartment.
The last few pictures is the country side where he lives.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Countdown Week 4 ~ Ice Bucket Challenge Week! VWU

Here is Elder Vester's email from this week. He is doing really good considering the condition he is in. His procedure done in January doesn't seen to hold. I am not sure that he should have been cut wood, tearing down a barn and putting up a fence. He is a real trooper and does what needs to be done. Sure love this missionary. Can't wait to have him home.


So, this week was pretty uneventful.
For some reason, that I can't comprehend, everyone has been throwing buckets of water on people.
And, we were asked to dump water on people from our 2nd story windows, not once, nor twice, but three times.
And then we got free food from the restaurant downstairs. I'm only assuming that happened because we were dumping the water onto Freckle's employees, and our landladies. 
So, that was kind of awesome.
There is also a new guy working there that showed some interest in the church, so with any luck, we'll get to teach him.
We had to go down to Spokane for a tri-zone conference. I'm not sure what to think of what happened there. haha. It was mostly mission politics, and that always messes with me for a few days. (I finally understand what one of my last companions meant when he said the mission conferences here makes him loose focus as a missionary. Haha.)
And as a random side note, the song "Derezzed" from Tron Legacy is a musical manifestation of my soul. It has been decided.

So, I guess this is the part where I say something spiritual. 
I guess, lets talk about my momma.
My mother has been the greatest strength to me on my mission.
She has always had the spirit so close to her, and she has always told me what I needed to hear. Sometimes, It was not what I wanted to hear, but my mothers letters have always been the most valuable treasures I have accumulated on my mission.
As of lately, they have been what has kept me going. I've had some experiences happen to me in the mission that have made me very critically think about why I am here, and if I am making the right choices, not only as a missionary, but as a son of God.
And every single time, my mom has come through, and has helped confirm that I have made the right choices. 
Doing what I am doing, and continuing to be a missionary.
I only have just a handful of weeks left that I get to teach this Gospel in this way, and I am going to fight it out to the bitter end, no matter what.
27 days.
I've made it 2 years, I can make it another month,
I love you all, and we shall see what this week shall bring for me.
Stay close, and talk to you soon!
~Elder Vester

Countdown week 5 ~ Today Is A Good Day, To Have A Good, Good Day: VWU

Sorry I got behind. I don't have much longer to do this. I have to stay on top of it.


This is Tim and Joann. I'll talk about them in a sec.
So, this week has been good. I've seen the hand of the Lord working, and sustaining many. Tim, Joann, and myself included. The Lord understands my weaknesses, and even still is willing to work with me. I have seen so many small miracles this last week. It has been so humbling to be able to be here, at this time, and have these experiences. I have said this once before, but I'll say it again. I love being a missionary. Coming to this mission, and having had the experiences I have had HERE have been some of the most tender mercies I have ever received in my life.
In the book of Job it says "The good Lord giveth, and He taketh away"
I believe that this scripture call also say "The loving Lord exalts and humbles."
Heavenly father allows us to pass through some things, because he knows it will makes us better in the end, IF we allow it. In the missionary guide, Preach My Gosple, it says that "God rejoices with us in our triumphs and weeps with us in our sorrows."
Heavenly Father weeps when we suffer. He is our father, and he does not want to see us suffer. But, he knows it will be good for us. We would learn, and so he lets us suffer. Not because he likes to watch us squirm, but because it's the only way we can learn some things we need to know.
The Lord gives us trials, and the Lord, takes them away. And blessed be the name of the Lord for it!
It's taken me a long time to learn this, and somewhat understand it.
Besides, when you know that God loves you, then what else do you need to be happy? 
I love this quote from JK Rolling
"Rock bottom was the solid foundation, upon which I rebuilt my life."
So, at some point, we have to be taken to rock bottom, so we can have a solid foundation.
We have to meet the lowest point in our life, so we can lay the foundation stones of Faith, Love, Repentance, Good Works, and Saving Ordinances. 
Ok, I'm done now.
The week really was amazing though.
Tim, decided that he was not quite ready for baptism. And much to my surprise, he followed up his comment with "I WELL be baptized in the future, but I need to find some answers first."
So, even if I don't get to see his baptism as an Elder, I'll get to see it as Jacob.
The actual baptism was wonderful. The spirit was so strong, and it was so meaningful to see how much support Joann has been receiving.
And whats more, Joann has already began doing missionary work herself. 
This last week, she told us of a friend of her's named Rick. She told us that he needed to talk to us.
One thing led to another, and Rick is now a new investigator. 

One thing is for sure.
I never regret for even a second my choice to finish my mission. (both times I had to make that choice. 6 months ago, and 3 weeks ago.)
Thank you all for all the prayers that have been offered on my behalf. 
You're the best.
We will see what this week brings us.
After all, I only have 4 more "Vester Weekly Updates" to write.
I love you all, and I'll see you next week!
Elder Vester
Cleaning the font! One of my favorite parts of getting ready for a baptism! Mostly because I get to play in the water. Haha!

And this is a list of things to not buy in bulk. It came from a very sleep deprived Vester and Naranjo on Saturday. Haha

This is Tim, Joann, Brother Andreas, and us.

Joann and Brother Andreas

Monday, August 11, 2014

Countdown Week 6 ~ Simply Put, FULL STEAM AHEAD! VWU

It is hard not to get excited about Elder Vester coming home, 41 days! I will miss his emails!

This week flew by! Normally the last week of the transfer takes forever to go by. But this week was an exception.
We had a lot of fun this week, for sure. Elder Naranjo and I are the most dynamic companionship I've ever seen. Haha. I'm really grateful I get to spend my last 6 weeks here, in this area, with him. Normally I have a track record of getting a good companion for just a few weeks, and then getting stuck with someone who is hard to work with. So, It's nice to see the streak has been broken.
It's actually kind of surreal to be entering my last transfer. I wonder if this is what it's like to be entering the last term of your 7th year at Hogwarts? Like, it's nice it'll be over soon, but you don't want it to end?
I don't know. But, either way. I am so grateful for it all. I'm not sure what the next 6 weeks will bring me, but I am excited all the same.
I'm so excited for Sunday! Not only will it be Potluck, but most importantly it will be Tim and Joanne's Baptism. On Sunday, she was feeling up to going to church, and she went around inviting everyone to her baptism, and telling everyone how she's quit smoking, and it did my heart good to see how well the members are accepting them into the ward family.
It's been a very, very long time since I last had an investigator start calling me their child, and now Tim and Joanne have started calling us their children. I'll have to come visit these wonderful people.
if there is one thing that I feel I have really felt and learned this week, it's that God our Father, and Jesus our Savior, know us and love us.
In church this week, the poem "Footprints in the Sand" was read.
This has to be one of my favorite poems ever. Every time I hear it, I can't help but feel the spirit, and I love it.
I was reminded just how close our savior is to us. He takes us by the hand, and guides us. And in the moments we don't think we can make it anymore, he picks us up and carries us, and most of the time we don't even notice. It's only till after, when we have been through it, and we look back, and we see just how much he really does guide and carry us.
This is something I have seen in my mission, now as I come to an end.
There have been many times that he has carried me.
And I am no special case. he loves you, just as much as he loves me. 
So, look for the single pair of footprints, and thank him for the moments he sacrificed for us.
I love it.
I know this is the true church, and that God guides and directs this church by the hand of a modern day prophet. 
I know the atonement is real, and that Jesus has given his all for us.
I love you all, and I'll see you next week!
~Elder Vester

So, this is the fabled Joanne!

She put this sign up about a week ago. I just HAD to get a picture of her with it. Is this what it feels like to be a successful state side missionary? because it's totally awesome.

We also  had Zone Meeting this week, and we took our last zone picture because transfers. It's pretty great. :D

And look! This is my area. It's actually pretty clear in this photo. I thought the sun looked cool. So I took this. Haha. the fire is just about 10-15 miles away from here. I'm awaiting the Evacuation notice. YEAH~


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Countdown week 7 ~ Determination: VWU

It has been a rough week for Elder Vester, but with fasting and many prayers I think he will make it!

So, this week has been very long. Today was not much of a p-day, either. But, that's mission life.
This last week has been a real test for me.
I'm not sure how many my parents have told, but I'll come out and say it.
The surgery I had in January has failed, and I now need to have another, much more intense surgery to correct my veracose seal.
I've been in a lot of pain for the last 3 weeks.
Last Monday, I was about ready to throw in the towel. I told myself that if I would not be able to work the way I need to, that I would come home.
And much to my surprise, I was able to work this week.
On top of that, Heavenly Father reminded me of some things.
So, lets back up a bit.
About 2 months ago, when the branch was re-organized, the Sunday school president was called to be the new branch president. And the lot fell to me to teach until further notice.
(He did give me a break. they called a woman to be a teacher this week, but she is only able to come every other Sunday. So, I still get to teach the youth often. haha.)
This last Sunday, in "Come Follow Me", the lesson was on the importance of journal keeping.
Well, I just so happen to bring the journal that had about the last 5 months of Brasil in it.
Now, even though I have managed to move on from the negative experiences I had there, I never went back to look at it. So, I sat there on the couch with the scriptures in one hand, and the journal in the other.
And as I read, I could not help but laugh! I remember going through some really hard trials, and writing them down, and now looking back, I  find so much humor in them.
And I realized just how great the mission has been for me, and just how much fun I have had.
And, I would never admit this normally, but, as I was preparing, my scriptures fell to the ground.
When I went to pick them up, they were open to Alma 26:27. it jumped out from the page, and it solidified everything for me. 
"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."
That was it for me.
I knew what I needed to do. There was no turning back for me.
Heavenly Father not only softened my heart, but helped me to see the joy in the work that I had been missing for a long time.
The joy that comes from sharing the Gospel.
Now, with this, I made the decision to stay. No matter the physical cost. The damage was already done in Brasil, and I have nothing to lose from staying here, and only blessings to gain.
And this was confirmed by an experience I had Sunday morning.
My 2 main investigators, Tim and Joanne are trying to overcome smoking, and I was being a helicopter missionary. On Thursday, we gave her a blessing, and we left it to the Lord.
On Sunday morning, she gave me a call, telling me she would not be able to make it to church because she was on her way to the hospital to get shots in her head for her migraines. But, she told me that she had not smoked in 4 days.
I was so over joyed that I started to cry.
And so, God has not only told me to stay, but to keep working, and be happy, because I would be blessed, and would bring blessings to others.
So, yes. It'll be a long last transfer. But I have people I need to bring closer to Christ. I did not come back out on the mission to finish early.
So, to all of you who have been praying for me, and fasting for me, and making all kinds of sacrifices for me, 
Thank you.
I have felt your spirit, and your love, and it has been instrumental in helping me stay strong.
I love you all, so very very much, and I will see you soon.
When September ends.
Take care, and lets hope I stay in Republic with Elder Naranjo! Because as of yet, President does not know of my condition, and should I get transferred, the cat might be let out of the bag. Haha.
I'll talk to you all next week!
Love you all.
Elder Vester

So, today I said goodbye to one of my favorite elders in this mission, Elder Romero. But! he lives in Snowflake! So, I'll see him soon

And check this out! My companion has been working on this all transfer for me. It's a fancy wooden sword called a "Bokken".