Monday, August 26, 2013

Last Week

Well, this is it, my last full week in the mission.

Today I have my final interview scheduled with President Stay. I really love President Stay, but I hardly know him, at least not like I know President Brough. He apparently took a couple of the Central missionaries to President Brough to be interviewed, and he may, especially because the Central Mission Office is one floor down in the same building as the South Mission Office.
But whatever happens, it'll be good.

This week has gone a lot better than the past couple and we set a baptismal date with a man named Hector who is a little obsessed with learning English. We got him to be serious about the gospel and he'll be baptized..... on September 7th. 2 days after I get home.

Oh, well, that's what's happened to me a lot. I leave the area, and then the missionaries start to baptize like crazy. I'm kind of "The Sower," because I sow the seeds, then the others come in to reap.

I love you all.

Please take care and know that I love you!

Elder Banks

Monday, August 19, 2013

The time has come...

Well, it's come.
They sent it today.
My itinerary.
For my flight home,

I felt like I'm not ready, but it's really time.
As a tradition here, to be able to receive more inspiration when we come to an area, we ask the bishop or branch president for a blessing, to be able to work well with the members and the leadership. Yesterday, the new bishop, Bishop Mac, did this for us, since basically all the ward leadership changed. He mentioned something in the blessing about "remember what you have learned in the mission field, and apply it to your next and greatest mission, which is marriage." In that moment, I felt the Spirit tell me that it's time. I will keep working until the end, but it's time.
I would appreciate all your prayers in these last two weeks.

I know now more than ever of the love of the Lord in all things, and that he is aware of us, he knows us by name, and sends us tender mercies to help us along. This was again confirmed in our trip to the Temple on Friday.

I love you all. Have a great week!

Elder Banks

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ch..Ch..Ch..Changes(in the ward)

So, I'll start with the big news: NEW BISHOPRIC!!!

The old bishop was great, but the new bishop will be even better. What's better is that he and the 2nd counselor were already 2 of our biggest supporters in the ward, so things are headed upwards here. I'll probably never see most of the success, but since Bishop Mac loves us so much, he'll be a great help to the ward, to create a culture of missionary work in the ward. I have so many great ideas and things we can do to change the ward and make this one of the best baptizing places in all the mission.

My companion is also doing well. Not really much to report. I'm just trying to do my best to endure to the end and honor my calling. There's not really much to report aroud here, just the bishopric changes.

This week, I wish to share the words of a seldom-sung hymn that President Packer quoted in his talk in October. This hymn has helped me in some of my most difficult moments.

Does the journey seem long, the path rugged and steep?
Are there briars and thorns on the way?
Do sharp stones cut your feet as you struggle to rise
To the heights in the heat of the day?

Is your heart faint and sad, your soul weary within
As you toil 'neath your burden of care?
Does the load heavy seem you are forced now to lift?
Is there no one your burden to share?

Let your heart be not faint, now the journey's begun,
There is one who still beckons to you!
So look upward in joy and take hold of his hand,
He will lead you to heights that are new;

A land holy and pure, where all trouble doth end,
And your life shall be free from all sin,
Where no tears shall be shed, for no sorrows remain,
Take His hand and with Him enter in.

This is what the Lord Jesus Christ can do for us if we follow His gospel. If we choose to do so, we will be able to be with him in the Celestial Kingdom, with our families for all eternity. If we choose not to, we have no promise.

I personally testify of the love of the Lord and of our Heavenly Father for each one of His children. Don't delay in taking advantage of the love and the blessings.

Elder Banks

Monday, August 5, 2013

A hard week, but a good week

Dear loved ones,

This was an interesting week. My companion had surgery on his foot on Tuesday, because of a nasty ingrown toenail. He blames it on me for walking too fast, but I know better! We had to stay at home for a couple days, because it was difficult to get members to do divisions (one member stays with him, and another goes with me) do it wasn't the most productive week ever.

The good news is that they took really good care of us. Sister Jensen, our mission nurse, and Elder Jensen, her husband, are excellent. Sister Jensen is very loving and knowledgeable, and Elder Jensen is one of the funniest people I know. Every single time I've seen him, he's said something funny. For example, once he explained that in the South mission, they don't give elders microwave ovens because "Sisters know how to cook, Elders just poison themselves." They get home 2 weeks before me, and they're from Utah, so maybe I'll get to stop by and visit them a little later on!

Then, on Friday, our district had house inspections, but the zone leaders didn't know where all the houses in the district are. I knew all but one, and Elder Huayta, one of our zone leaders, knew all but one as well, so I went with him in the Jensens' car to do the house inspections. While Elder Jensen Inspected the houses, Elder Huayta and I repaired things in the houses that weren't alright, and got things out of the car to give to the elders and sisters, such as shower curtains, shower heaters, insecticide, hand sanitizer, and the candy bars we gave to those who had clean houses. It was a fun day, and it was great to get to know the Jensens a little better.

Also, on Saturday morning, I got a call from Hilton, the guy who makes suits. Mine was done, and he verified my address to come drop it off. It turned out really nice, but you'll all have to wait to see it, because I didn't bring my camera today. Anyway, it's perfect. It's a very handsome, refined suit that will serve me for years to come. (unless I get really fat, but he said he left some room to take the pants out, so no problem.)

Anyway, that's really the eventful part of this week, we just had a really spiritual testimony meeting yesterday that really edified me.

I love you all.
Keep the faith, and don't ever get down!

Elder Banks

Monday, July 29, 2013

Another week in Panorama, and a good one!

Maybe our numbers didn't reflect the best this week, but we had a good week as far as excitement and progress.

The bad news is that we had to go to Zona 15, which is where the temple is, but we didn't go to the temple, we went to the hospital that's right next to it. My companion has a nasty ingrown toenail that he needed to have looked at, and we're going back this week to be able to get it worked on. He'll be down for a couple of days, so I'm going to try and find some members to be able to do divisions, so one stays with my companion, and one goes out and works with me!

The good news is, we called a member who really knows his way around the capital to find out how to get to zone 15 by bus, and he said "What time are you going? I'll take you in my car!" So we went in his car, and we came back in his car, because he had some errands to run nearby, so he picked us up after. Then, on the way home, he asked "are you guys hungry?" He then took us to lunch at Pollo Campero (basically Guatemalan KFC, even though KFC exists here too, all the way from Salt Lake City!)

The other cool thing is that there are two members of the Panorama ward who are going on their missions to the USA this year, after I get home, and they will both be passing through the Provo MTC. It looks like I'll be allowed to go and pick them up, especially Elder Mac, who will be going to Wisconsin. Hermana Lopez will be going to one of the carolinas (I forgot which) as well, so we'll see what happens there, but what a cool opportunity to be able to see and help a missionary from an area in my own mission! I talked to the Mac family last night and gave them my information so we can be in contact and their son can get from the airport to the MTC. So many opportunities to serve!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, things are going well. My companion is awesome in spite of his foot, and is a trooper. He has had so many challenges, and he's just going right through them with courage and strength.

Anyway, I had a very special spiritual experience this week. This experience was the third and strongest witness to me that the Lord is satisfied and pleased with my service. I know that he now expects me to endure to the end and leave it all out here. And that's what I intend to do.

I love you all. Take care!

Until next week,
Elder Banks

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Best Surprise Ever

Okay, I'll just go right into it.

I went on Friday, to Jerusalén, my first area, with Elder Luna, my first "Son," or greenie. While we were there, I saw a TON of members that remember me. One told me that since I left, nobody has played the piano in that chapel. They all said hi with lots of love, which was really cool.

The coolest part was when we walked in front of the Carrillo family's house. They said hi and everything, then they said "They already invited you to the sealing, right?" We then got talking, and I went into their house, where a sister with whom I had set a baptismal date with Elder Calta was there, and gong to be sealed to her husband the next day. He was an inactive member at the time we found them. They are SO POWERFUL! I love the Camel (Cam-ELL) family so much! Elder Daniels, who entered the mission with me, and who is in my zone, and myself were requested to be the witnesses of the sealing. I called President Stay immediately and he authorized us to go, and we went!

We got there a couple of hours early, so Elder Daniels and I offered ourselves for some time here in the CCM (MTC) to teach a district of new North Americans. They didn't understand most of what we said, but we did a demonstration with the teacher. The teacher was a sub, and the real teacher of that district is in the Panorama ward, and was Elder Refuerzo's teacher when he was in the CCM. Also, while at the temple, I saw Hno. Peña, a member from Sonora, at his shift in the temple. He told us what we needed to do. Then, after taking pictures with the Camel family oustide the temple, a bunch of members from Puerto San José were entering the temple, and recognized me. The current branch president, who wasn't the president when I was there, came, and I had already met him, but just before he had become the branch president. He said that the branch now has an attendance of 80 every Sunday, and there are baptisms every month!

It was basically the coolest day of my entire mission, and it all happened by ACCIDENT/COINCIDENCE. Except for the fact that that doesn't really mean anything, because it was all just a tender mercy of the Lord. I am so grateful for the opportunities that the Lord has given me to be able to participate in these things. The Lord must really love me, because he's blessed me so much.

I love you all!
Elder Banks

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Week in Panorama

First of all, there's a new address to send me mail (and make it quick, because I may not get it for a while).

Nicholas Banks
Misión Guatemala Sur
Apartado Postal 340-A
01909 Guatemala, Guatemala C. A.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get on to the good stuff.

We have an investigator who was born in Kansas. His name is John Wright. How more American can you get than that? He's the nextdoor neighbor of our ward mission leader, and he was a reference from the same. He's really cool and he appears to be ready to be baptized, or at least that he will be soon.

My companion and I have so much in common that it's scary. He and I are both into the same hobbies, and are both into the same things. He has some of the same problems and challenges I did at the beginning of my mission, so it's really weird to see what I was like. I'm doing all I can to be able to leave him a lot better than I was when I started out.

Other than that, we're just working with the schedule changes and new things to get used to in the South Mission. I had an interview with President Stay on Friday and it was really great. He's a very inspired man who has an extensive knowledge of the Gospel. As much as I love President Brough, I know things have changed for a reason. And it is for the Lord's wise purpose, and that is enough for me.

I really don't know what else to talk about. Not a whole lot has changed.

We're working a LOT more with the members now. We have a new rule to visit members (preferrable recent converts or less actives) and teach them about the Plan of Salvation, and then ask them some certain questions to be able to find out that they DO know someone who is ready to receive the Gospel in their life. We do it 7 times a week and it's worked really well, we already found a great family, Mario and Silvia, through the Lopez family, which makes me really happy. I love missionary work!

Also, they're going to take part of our area away because the sisters in the ward have a really small area. The only problem is that they might take away the most productive part of our area. Whatever happens, it'll be alright, we'll keep working hard.

Anyway, just keep on keeping the commandments, and everything will work out. "Whatever happens, trust in the Lord."

I love you all. I hope you all have a fantastic week, and that the Lord keeps blessing you. Remember, you can only win when you play by the rules. If you try to rewrite the rules, well, nobody cares and you'll still be judged by the originals, so just follow them. And you will win Eternal Life.

Elder Banks