I'm under two weeks left now in the MTC. It's kind of scary in a way, but I'm excited to get out and work. Our mission presidents will be visiting the MTC next week, and we get to sing a choral number for them, and get to meet with them a little. We're singing President Steimple's favorite hymn, #200 in Spanish, or #305 in English. It's really pretty, and I encourage you to look it up. I'm excited for that. And Dad, you guessed correctly: I will indeed be leaving the CCM on Tuesday, Nov. 1st, 2011. Also, please send anything you are going to send me to my mission home address starting today. Thanks!
We haven't had as many opportunities to teach our investigators this week. Due to our awesome field trip last week, helping the new group of missionaries get settled, and some other people's lessons going a little long, Elder Najarro and I have only been able to have two lessons since my last email. It's hard, and I feel like we're getting a little rusty, but we're still getting good feedback from the teachers who are acting like the investigators. I really like that they talk to us here, in Provo we literally got NO feedback from our investigators, and I don't think my teaching really improved while I was there. Here, I feel that I've really learned how to teach people the gospel, and it's fantastic.
I still love my district and my companion. The district is already talking about having a reunion road trip or something when we all get home.
Since my last email though, the only thing that's really changed is the people here at the MTC. My new Latin companion, Elder Torres, is from Chihuahua Mexico, and he's really cool. He even speaks some English, so we're able to communicate really well (though usually in Spanish). My new roommates are pretty cool too. Also, I met an elder who lives within the Mexico City East mission, where my good friend Elder Cody Ashcroft is currently serving. He was my Elder's Quorum president at BYU. I asked this elder if he knew him, and he did!! Elder Ashcroft was one of the missionaries assigned to his stake.
I've also met a couple of missionaries from Guatemala, who live within my mission. I've especially been talking to Elder Soto, who is from Antigua! In case I didn't mention this already, Antigua is, to my knowledge, an area only for sister missionaries right now, so I won't be able to serve there, though I'll probably be able to see it on a P-day much like today.
Last night we got to watch a devotional given at the Provo MTC by Elder Russell M. Nelson, and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson. It was really great. They talked about obedience. Sister Nelson said that Obedience brings blessings, and exact obedience brings miracles. As you know, I'm generally a pretty obedient person, and I know that I have been feeling the blessings of my obedience as I am here. Elder Nelson spoke of many things, always reminding us that we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ in all we do.
At this time, I am able to speak and understand Spanish well enough to survive, and maybe even teach a few lessons, thanks to the gift of tongues. I'm not going to stop learning, though. I want to master this language. We went to get referrals from people at the Temple this past Saturday, and we talked to one sister who talked really fast. I was able to catch about 80% of what she said, which was really cool. Elder Najarro is even farther along than me, because both of his parents are Latino, so he's heard Spanish all his life, though not spoken it much. We tried to do a day completely in Spanish yesterday, and our district didn't do quite as well as anticipated, though I believe Elder Najarro and I tried harder than some of the other missionaries. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, probably because It's a lot easier to understand North Americans speaking Spanish than it is native speakers! We're trying again Friday, and I'm excited, and looking forward to success!
Today we're going to the temple again, and it's always one of the highlights of my week. I'm really excited to feel the spirit there again, it's always refreshing and edifying.
Also, we get to leave the MTC again, I believe next week, to go proselyting again, but this time I'll be with Elder Najarro, not my Latin companion. I'm nervous of course, because that's how I am, but I'm super excited. Last time, it was really cool, because we weren't even in the good part of town, and I didn't feel in danger ever. The Lord was watching over us. Also, I wasn't tired when we were finished, even though we had just spent three hours walking around in the hot sun. My legs hurt a little, but it wasn't a big deal. But this time, I won't forget my sunscreen.
I just want you all to know how much I love you, and how much you all mean to me. I miss you, but there's no place I'd rather be right now than sharing the Gospel that has brought me so much Joy in my life. In the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "I am doing a great work, and cannot come down."
And if you're ever having a bad day, or a hard time, look up the scripture Joshua chapter 1 verse 9. It helps me a lot as I'm trying hard to do this great work.
Thank you for your love, your letters, your thoughts and your prayers. You are the best!
See you in less than two years! :)
Elder Nicholas Banks