This will officially be my final email from the Centro de Capacitacion Misional. I love it here, and I know I'll miss it, but the field will be a whole new adventure. To be honest, I don't think I'll miss living with a whole bunch of other elders, but I know I'll miss the temple. The Guatemala City Temple (along with the CCM) is in the Guatemala City South Mission, which means I probably won't get to go to the temple, unless a recent convert is going through and wants me there. This is literally the closest I have ever lived to a temple, and I'm really going to miss it. To those of you who are so near a temple, I encourage you to visit it, even if you are only able to walk around the grounds. The temple truly is the House of the Lord, and you can feel it.
This week has actually been pretty eventful. Every Saturday, we have something called CRE (the Provo equivalent is TRC) where we get to talk to a member, less-active member, or a real investigator and teach them a lesson. There's a building near the Temple called Casa CRE (pronounced "Cray") where we do this. It's basically a house with about 5 living rooms, a waiting area, and a bathroom. It's really fun, and we've been teaching a guy named Javier who just got his mission call to the Dominican Republic. Then, after we taught him, we went to the temple grounds to go ask members for references. We talked to a young man named Omni, and he got his mission call to the Dominican Republic, and goes to the same MTC as Javier, and on the same day! How cool is that?
The other thing that was really cool about talking to Omni was that I was able to speak Spanish with him. I know, that sounds kind of obvious, but I became living evidence of the scriptures in D&C that say "open your mouth and it will be filled" and "then shall your tongue be loosed (11:21)" I was just having a conversation with him, and a minute or two into the conversation, I realized that I had been speaking decent Spanish, with some words I know didn't come from me. I will be the first to tell you that the gift of tongues really is a gift from God, and it really works.
Yesterday was pretty eventful too. First, we went proselyting. Elder Najarro and I went with the rest of the missionaries in our branch to the central park to talk to people, and get references. We ended up talking to one lady for the whole hour, or rather, she ended up talking to us. She had a lot of misinformation about the Church, and it sounded like she was a very staunch Catholic. She told us that we like to kill people, and that we don't believe in the Bible, neither of which is even remotely true, and we were able to show her a couple things and give her a pamphlet on the Plan of Salvation, as directed by the Spirit. It was really hard, because I barely understood a lot of the things she was saying, and I didn't really have the Spanish to tell her the truth about it. Thankfully, a member recognized us as missionaries, and came and talked to her with us. She kept going on about how we weren't trying to teach her, but, to be honest, it was difficult to get a word in edgewise. It was probably the hardest thing I've done yet on my mission. When I got back, I read some scriptures that were given in a devotional a few weeks ago, and it told me not to contend, which means we did the right thing. I think that because we listened to this sister, and because she got the chance to talk to a "normal" person who is a member of the church, she may have had some different impressions. I felt like it was the right thing to do to listen to her, and it feels like we planted a seed of faith, that may grow sometime in the future.
Then, we got back, and the entire MTC was in a ruckus, because all the mission presidents of the central american missions were here touring the ccm and they had gone to the temple with Pres. Steimle earlier that morning. We sang a great hymn for them, #305 in English (but we sang in Spanish), and then we had a few minutes to meet our presidents. President Brough and his wife seem really nice, and pretty cool. He explained to us how our first couple of days in the field will work, schedule wise, which was a comfort for me. He explained that he has absolutely zero tolerance for disobedience, which is a good thing. I'm still nervous to leave (a week from yesterday), but all good things must come to an end, and it's time to go. There's not much more progress I can make here at this time.
Then last night, Bro. Martinez gave a talk, which was planned as purely instructional about inviting people to come to church, but it ended up being one of the most spiritual experiences of the week. He told a lot of stories from his mission in Honduras, and I could tell he was really speaking from the heart. He said some things that really touched me, and reminded me that everything will be alright, and even great. "I will go before thy face, I will be on thy right hand and on thy left, and my spirit shall dwell in your heart, and mine angels round about you to bear you up." (D&C 84:88) "Wherefore, be strong and of a good courage. Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9) D&C section 31 is also all about missionary work, and has brought me great comfort.
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and mail. They help me a lot, and brighten my days in more ways than I can count.
I wish you all the best, and I hope things are as well at home as they are here!
Elder Nicholas Banks