Tuesday, December 20, 2011

¡Feliz Navidad a cada uno de ustedes!

Dearest Family and Friends,

This week has been pretty good, as usual. Yesterday, we went to Zona 2, to the dentist. Elder Caceres was supposed to get one of his wisdom teeth out, but they want to wait another week to make sure they need to operate. He's also got the grippe (flu), which isn't fun. We spent a bunch of time at home yesterday so he could rest. I was a little distraught at first, because I wanted to go out and work, and be obedient with the schedule, but he really was in a bad way, so I let him be and things worked out.
Rosa, with whom we set a baptismal date for Jan 1, didn't come to church this week, so we have to move her date forward another week, assuming she comes the following Sunday.

This past Sunday, I saw Hermana Ibañez again, my instructor from the CCM. She came to our branch, because she's in the ward just down the hill. She plays the piano, so I didn't get to this week. It was probably better for the meeting, though, because she actually has time to practice! The only time I can practice is P-day, and I have to go get the church keys, go to the chapel and practice, then return the keys, after I've found time to do it all. Usually, Elder Caceres wants to do something else (like take a nap, since it's the only day we're allowed to), so I actually haven't had the chance to go practice at the church yet. That's OK, I can usually pull together the hymns if I have 10 minutes before Sacrament Meeting.

Honestly, I can't believe it's almost Christmas, even though there are lights on a lot of the houses, and everyone is talking about tamales and ponche, traditional Christmas foods here in Guatemala. Tamales are like what we call tamales in the states, except they make sweet ones too, not just with meat. Ponche (pone-chay) is a warm drink with all manner of fruits in it. It's pretty tasty, and it's unlike anything I've had before.

We're also having our Christmas activity in the branch this Friday. There will be food, games, and hopefully investigators, too!
We're also getting a new mission leader. He's kind of like our ambassador between the branch and the missionaries. The outgoing mission leader is cool but he works a lot, and isn't available very often. The new mission leader returned from the Nicaragua Managua South Mission last week. He's already been out on a visit with us, and he's absolutely great. He'll be a great help to reinvigorate our branch, which used to be a ward.

I feel like sharing a funny story that actually happened a couple weeks ago. We were in a lesson with a sister who's a little less active, and she muted her TV but left it on. Elder Caceres was thinking "Man, she should really shut off that TV." About 2 seconds after he thought that, the signal cut out on the TV. There was a little kid romping around the room, me, my companion, her, and another member who came with us, but she looked right at my companion, and said "Hermano, did you shut off my TV?" (Hermano means Brother. She and many others call us 'Hermanos' instead of 'Élderes') My companion told her "No, Hermana, I didn't!" Then she replied "Oh, well. It's probably better to shut it off anyway!" and proceeded to shut off the TV! The Lord cares about the little things that we care about. And just think, if he cares about the little things, how much must he care about the big things!

That reminds me of another story along a similar line. This happened in the CCM. I was assigned to play the piano in sacrament meeting. I had to learn two new hymns in one week, with very little time to practice. I was praying pretty hard, "please help me play these hymns well, so the spirit will be there in the meeting," and I was thinking in my mind, "and so I don't look like a dunce in front of everyone." I was learning "We'll Sing All Hail to Jesus' Name" and there was a part I just couldn't get right, every time I practiced it. Then, when I played it in church, my fingers just fell onto the right keys and I played the first verse perfectly, thanks to the unseen help I received. After that, I got a little excited and made some mistakes, but the point is that the Lord answered my prayer, to help something small and insignificant go well, because it meant something to me. It was really awesome! When we pray for something, then work towards it, the Lord will help us out, no matter how small the issue.

Thank you for your letters and notes. I am trying to reply, but I don't have much time, because there are a lot of things to do on P-Day. Please know that I have received your letters, I do love you all, and I want to write you more.

Merry Christmas to you all! Don't forget what CHRISTmas is all about, and I hope you all have a great time.

Until Next week,
Elder Nicholas Banks

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