Monday, November 14, 2011

First Full Week in Jerusalem

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was pretty good. Elder Caceres and I are getting along pretty well, and the work is good. We're really busy, because a lot of people we meet accept appointments, and we already have a good number of contacts. Our district has set goals to contact more new people, so we have to find time for that in between our appointments.

This week wasn't quite as productive as last. We got new contacts, but a lot of people weren't home, and a lot of our appointments fell through. We only had one investigator at church. We know what we need to work on, and we're working on it, so we can better serve the people of the holy land :)

I played the piano in church yesterday for the first time. The church has a glossy black Kawai piano in the chapel, and it's the only piano in the building. It's nice, but I won't be able to take it to the apartment to practice! I took the cover off the piano, and I had a new experience. I think it was the first time I've ever found a spider in a piano. I didn't have time to practice this week, but I was able to play the hymns more or less by ear for the meeting. President Brough said that I can only practice on P-day, which is Tuesday. Mondays we have a district meeting, and we're in an area with a good internet cafe, so that's why I write on Mondays. P-day is just an hour shorter (it ends at 5pm) because of it, but it's almost like having 2 p-days, so I'm fine with that. I'm going to try and talk to President Miron (branch pres.) tonight to arrange a time on Tuesdays when I will be able to get into the church to practice, and be able to get the hymns for the meeting to practice.

Saturday was Elder Caceres' birthday, and since we don't really have time to do a lot of stuff, we just bought and ate some cake. Then, we had a lesson in the home of one of our investigators, and she had bought a whole cake, candles, and something to drink, and we sang to him and ate cake. It was a really neat, and humbling experience. I could tell that this particular sister doesn't have much, but she remembered his birthday, and felt impressed enough to buy a cake for Elder Caceres.

Elder Caceres has been teaching this sister for almost the whole time he's been in Jerusalem, which is about 4.5 months. She's really nice, but she hasn't made up her mind about if and when she wants to be baptized. Her name is Reina. We've been trying to remind her to come to church as well. She told us about a dream she had, where she actually talked to Joseph Smith, and he told her she needs to keep coming to church. It was a really neat experience, and it strengthened my faith in this gospel. Elder Caceres says dreams like that really aren't a rarity here in Guatemala. A lot of people receive answers to questions in prayer in the form of a dream.

Also Saturday, the branch arranged a trip to the temple open house in Quetzaltenango (ketz-all-ten-ongo). The new temple is finished, and the open house is where they let people of any religion come and see the inside of the temple, because it's closed to the general public once it's been dedicated. They do the same thing in the United States, and all over the world. The members really enjoyed it, and I think a couple investigators went, but not many. They were gone from 5am until about 9pm, because Quetzaltenango isn't really that close. After all, there is a Quetzaltenango mission. This was really neat, and a lot of people asked us if we were going. Sadly, we weren't able to, because it's a full day where we wouldn't be doing missionary work. It's a really exciting time to be here in Central America for the church, because it is growing so much. This summer, a temple was dedicated in El Salvador, the new one here in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala will be dedicated soon, and early next year the temple in Tegucigalpa, Honduras will be dedicated. Elder Caceres is from Tegucigalpa, and he just showed me in a picture of the temple under construction more or less where his house is. How cool is that! He'll be able to see the Honduras temple out his window just like I can see the Mount Timpanogos out my window at home! ¡Que Pilas!

I just wanted to share one of my favorite scriptures, that I've already used in a lot of lessons, and I use in my life regularly. The scripture is found in the Book of Mormon, in the book of Ether, Chapter 12, verse 27. "And if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble, and my grace is sufficient for all men who humble themselves before me, for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." I find that whenever I find a weakness in myself, whenever there's something I don't like about myself, or anything about me that I want to change, I find that when I can muster the humility to get on my knees and offer a prayer, recognizing my weakness and asking for help, I am strengthened, and I am helped to change. Know that if you want to change, if there's something you want to change, something you don't like about yourself, or you have a weakness (for we all have many), help is only a prayer or two away.

Also, I wanted to give you a translation of the lyrics to Hymn 88 in Spanish, "It is Pleasing for Us to Work."
1. It is pleasing for us to work
In the vineyard of the great king Jesus
And we are honored to preach
to his people his law and his light
for his light, for his light, it pleases us to work
for his light, for his light, we will die in God without sorrow

2. Listen to the work of God
with zeal, loyalty, and fervor
and always remember for ever
his purity, truth and love
with love, with love
listen to God's word
with love, with love,
seize the flag of God

3. Oh brothers, goodbye, and goodbye
the moment to leave has already come
if we keep the faith in the great God,
we will see each other on the other side
on the other side, on the other side,
oh brothers, good bye and goodbye
on the other side, on the other side,
we will dwell with God in love.

I am glad to hear that my family is doing well, and I always look forward to hearing from you every week. Letters and DearElders are much appreciated as well! You are all great people.

I love you all, and I hope things are going as well for you as they are for me!
Until next week,

Elder Nicholas Banks

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