This week was pretty good. We kept busy and we found some new investigators. We had a training meeting at the mission office and I got some mail there! To my parents' primary class, I'll answer your questions a little later on.
Yesterday, we had a nationwide stake conference broadcast, to Guatemala and Belize. The speakers included Don R. Clarke of the 70, Mary N. Cook, 1st counselor in the YW general presidency, Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. They talked a lot about the importance of families, how to strengthen your families, and the importance of attending the temple. Elder Holland began and ended his talk in Spanish, which was interesting. He said (in Spanish) how bad his Spanish is, and that it will be easier for us to listen, and for him to speak, if he simply speaks in English and uses a translator. He closed by bearing his testimony in Spanish.
The church chartered a bus to get us to and from the conference, which was at the stake center. Pretty much every bus here is a school bus, either retired from the States, or made here. Blue Bird, the company that makes the school bus bodies, apparently makes some here in Guatemala City, as well as in the states. The driver drove us down some awesome twisty roads faster than I thought was safe for a bus. It was really fun! It was like an amusement park ride. I'm surprised nobody has opened a ride called "Buses of Central America" or something to that effect.
Sadly, on the bus on the way home, the name tag fell off my shirt, and I didn't notice until later. Fortunately, I had my suit (we use suits every Sunday for church) with its name tag, so I just put that on my shirt for the time being. Since the bus was chartered by the Church, we callled the driver to get my badge back. He found it, and we picked it up this morning on our way to district meeting. He lives close to our area, on the way to the meeting. I'm so grateful that he had it!! As a missionary, I felt disturbed not having a name tag. Sure, the other one works, but I'm really glad to have the other one back. For those of you who are wondering, we have a tag that is completely plastic and clips over a shirt pocket, and another that has a pin to go on a suit. I have a clip that the pin tag attaches to, so I can use it with different jackets, like my raincoat, without poking holes everywhere.
I apologize again for the lack of photos. I have divisions today, where I will go to another area with another elder, and his companion will go to Jerusalem with Elder Caceres. I'll be going to Panorama with Elder Gomez, and Elder Squires, our district leader, will be going to Jerusalem with Elder Caceres. I didn't want to try and bring my camera today, since I'll be staying in a different area tonight, so I'll try and remember next week.
As for Thanksgiving, it's normally nothing special, but tomorrow we have a zone activity, where we'll be eating turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, and I hope pumpkin pie as well! We'll be playing (American) Football and some other games at the stake center, as well as eating our Thanksgiving dinner. It should be pretty fun, because it will be a little break. At least this week isn't like last week, where we were so busy with meetings that we only had 2 full days in our area! We had meetings, activities, and interviews with President Brough. It was crazy, but it was good.
We're in the process of helping the branch presidency plan some missionary activities for the branch. We're centering them on the theme of Christmas, because that's something people will be more interested in. Since just about everyone here is Christian, just about everyone celebrates Christmas. Since I'm the branch pianist, Elder Caceres and I are trying to plan a special musical number. We picked the hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," which does exist in the Spanish hymnbook. Not many people know it here, and it's not too hard to sing, so we're pretty sure this is what we'll do for the musical number. The words, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, are absolutely amazing. I can tell you from personal experience that verse four is truth:
"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
with peace on Earth, good will to men."
To the 12-year-old Primary class in the Manila 9th ward:
Thank you so much for your letters! It was an absolute pleasure to be surprised with such a great envelope in the mission office last Friday!
I am enjoying the weather here at the moment. Yes, it's November 21st, and I'm outside with a short-sleeved shirt and loving it! It's more humid here than in Utah, so when it's cold, it feels colder, and when it's hot, it feels hotter, but it's pretty comfortable right now. It's probably about Spring or Fall weather for Utah, without the occasional snow. Everyone here is complaining of the cold! :) Spanish is coming. It's hard to speak at first, then speaking gets easier. Understanding what other people are saying is the hard part for me. But I'm still praying for the gift of tongues, and trying to practice a lot. My companion is from Honduras, so he does a lot of the talking. The work is hard sometimes, especially since the area I'm assigned to is pretty much built on the side of a mountain, and all the streets are really steep. But even when it's hard, it's worth it. Knowing that I'm helping someone to change their life and come to Christ is an amazing feeling. The Spirit is with us a lot, because Heavenly Father is guiding us to do the work in the way he wants us to do it. Always remember that you are a Child of God, and that he loves you, and no matter what hard things you are going through in your life, your Savior is there for you. I hope you all have the chance to serve missions, and experience the joy and peace I'm feeling, and we haven't even baptized anybody yet! If you have more questions, please tell my parents, and I will be happy to answer them next week.
Thank you for your faith, thoughts, and prayers. You are all excellent individuals.
Until next week,
Elder Nicholas Banks