It's been an interesting, and great week, and it's been really eventful, so I'm just going to dive right in.
Last Tuesday morning, we left the CCM, and went right to the mission home for some meetings. We had interviews with the president, and learned a little about the mission. There are a little under 200 missionaries in my mission, and last month, they had a record 180 baptisms!
Anyway, the mission home is a 14th floor apartment, which is kind of neat. It's a really nice apartment, and apparently they put the mission presidents up there because it's safer for them. President Stay of the Guatemala City South Mission lives across the hall from President Brough.
Unfortunately, they didn't tell us at the CCM to pack for 24 hours outside of our luggage, so we didn't have the opportunity to change our clothes. They bought us toothbrushes, soap, toothpaste, and shampoo so we could have a decent night. The mission has a bunk house where we stayed for our first night. The next day, there was a transfer meeting, and we all got our trainers and went to our areas.
But before we went to sleep in the bunk house, we got to go proselyting with the elders who work in the office. I went with Elder Cruz, who is a really cool guy. He has some similar interests to me, and I hope I get to work with him again. We contacted a little, and we taught two lessons to his investigators. I didn't really say much, but that's okay. I'm improving every day. One gentleman we taught is in his 50s, and isn't sure he wants to change his religion. I shared with him Ether 12:27, and told him that if he desired to change and would humble himself enough to pray, the Lord would help him to do so. The spirit was really strong. We taught another guy as well, who we just kind of talked to about faith and stuff. He thought it was neat that the temple is a place where not just anyone can go, except people who, as he described, are really dedicated to serving and worshipping the Lord.
The thing that really hit me that day, was when Elder Cruz, who has been out in the mission for 7 months, said something to me. He speaks a little English, but he said to me in Spanish "Don't ever change." That really hit me hard. Here I was, green as a greenie (new missionary) can be, and he was telling me to keep it up. Wow!
The next day we had the transfer meeting, at a chapel that's probably almost as nice as most of those in the United States. None of the chapels have real organs here, but this one had a digital piano that can sound like an organ. Oh, how I have missed the sound of the organ! The spirit was really strong in the meeting, and president Brough told us that we will have a mission conference in December. It will consist of a service opportunity, an evening he said we will never forget (general authority?) and an opportunity to go to the TEMPLE!!! The entire mission is going to the temple at 6am on a particular day, which is something I am really looking forward to. Normally, we only have permission to go every 6 months for a good reason, like a recent convert in our current area is going. Normally, we won't get to go at all, so this is really exciting.
Now on to the actual area, and my actual companion. At that transfer meeting, I met my trainer, Elder Caceres. He's from Honduras, and he's a pretty neat guy. At the moment, he and I are still getting used to how each other work, but it's not anything major. It's just two different people who don't know each other well yet! He's been teaching me, and really pushing me to do better. The other day, I actually taught a significant part of one of the lessons in Spanish to an investigator. It was really neat. The thing for me right now is knowing what to say in the context, and understanding the people. If I know what I want to say, and I know the vocabulary, I can say it, but I just need to know what I'm supposed to say!
We have a sister in the branch, Sis. Soto, who does our laundry and cooks lunch for us. Breakfast and dinner are on our own (usually not very big, but lunch is so it's fine). The members in the branch are really great and helpful. They like to come with us to lessons, and Elder Caceres says he's received a lot of referrals from them. At the moment, there is one person who lives within the branch boundaries who knows how to play the piano. His name is Elder Banks and he's from Utah. Perhaps you know him? :) I talked to the branch president, Pres. Miron, about playing in church, and he seemed excited, and that he would get me the list of hymns early. I just finished emailing president Brough so I can know if there's a time I can practice during the week, to be prepared for Sunday. I'm excited to be able to help invite the spirit through music to the meetings of the Jerusalem Branch. Jerusalem is the name of our area as well. It's really hilly, so by the time I leave, my legs wil be really strong! :) We usually have at least 2 lessons a day, and they're great.
Our apartment consists of most of a small house in a gated community (for safety purposes). I'll try and send some pictures soon from the CCM, MTC; and my first area.
Also, here's the final word on emails: immediate family only. Technically, I can receive mail from other people, but I only have an hour to read and write, and there's really not a chance to print, so I would appreciate letters if at all possible. The pouch mail works great (and you only need a US stamp!), as does dearelder.com, or you can send it right to Guatemala if you like. The address is a PO box, so you'll need to send anything you send US mail, or get the phone number from Mom (in the call packet) and use another courier. Thank you family, for your messages. It was a great surprise to get them when I arrived at the mission home! And thanks to those of you who have sent me other messages as well.
To my family, email will normally be on Mondays, this week is just an odd one.
Thank you for your love, thoughts, and prayers. They are much needed and much appreciated.
¡Les amo mucho! (I love you all very much!)
Until next week,
Elder Nicholas Banks