Let's get this out of the way first: My new companion is Elder Calta. He is from Cuzco, Peru, and he and I are hitting it off rather well. His style is very different from that of Elder Caceres, and I like it! He told me he really wants to help me progress, and that when we work together, we can accomplish great things in the area, and we already have. He's a convert to the Church, as of just a few years ago, as I understand it.
Now for some more good news: Alicia, one of our baptismal dates that fell through, came back from Jalapa, and lives in our area again. We'll be reviewing some of the lessons with her, and we've set a tentative baptismal date for 11 February.
We've also been doing a lot more contacts, so we've found a lot more people to teach. He really knows how to follow the guidance of the Spirit, and I hope to learn a lot from him, in many aspects of this great work, and of life.
Yesterday, I started something which President Baldwin, President Brough's predecessor, had the missionaries here do. You take a standard blue copy of the Book of Mormon (the type we give away to people to read), and you choose one thing to mark, choose a color, and read the Book of Mormon while marking this particular thing. Then you read it again, with a different thing and a different color. Elder Caceres was given a Book of Mormon of this type in English to learn the language, but he decided to leave it in the apartment when he left, so I decided to turn it into an Utchi. Utchi is what they called these with Pres. Baldwin. It's a Mayan phrase that essentially means "and it came to pass." Anyone who has read the Book of Mormon knows that this phrase appears quite often therein. It is written with one symbol, which would have been easy enough to engrave on golden plates when writing an ancient record, rather than a whole sentence.
Anyway, I've started with the color orange, and I'm marking every time I see a name that refers to God the Father or Jesus Christ. Names such as the Lamb of God, the Holy One of Israel, and the Eternal God come to mind. I'm currently in about chapter 20ish of 1 Nephi, and I think I've only had one page so far that doesn't refer to either God the Father or Jesus Christ at least once. It's neat to see that even in this short time, the Book of Mormon really does testify of Jesus Christ, because according to what little marking I've done thus far, it talks about him a lot. Also, I'm finding a lot of awesome scriptures that I never noticed before, probably because I'm reading with a purpose, and therefore paying better attention to what I'm reading. This will be my fifth time reading the Book of Mormon, and I'm excited. In addition, I'm spending some time in Doctrine and Covenants and Jesus the Christ. After I finish D&C, I'll be reading the Pearl of Great Price and the New Testament. My next topics will probably be words spoken by Jesus Christ or the Father, scriptures that confirm or speak of the Bible, and possibly others afterwards, when I think of other things to mark. I bought a pack of Uni-Ball 207 pens in the MTC Bookstore with lots of colors, so I'll run out of mission before I run out of things to mark in the Book of Mormon, and colors to do so. (speaking of which, I've been out here for 5 months today. How the time flies!)
Yesterday during my reading of the Book of Mormon and D&C, I received a confirmation of testimony. I now know more than ever that Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God, that he translated the Book of Mormon, and that every word upon its pages is entirely true. This is my exhortation for this week: Make an Utchi. Read the Book of Mormon with a purpose. Look for something, and you'll find it. If you've never read the Book of Mormon, read it. I promise you, you will learn something new about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that you will be uplifted and feel the influence of the Holy Ghost more in your life. I would also like to give you an exhortation that Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet gives in Moroni 10:4-5:
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true. And if you shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
These are the instructions. I promise you, as did Moroni, that if you put this into action, you will receive an answer. You will know that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet called of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is truly the Church of Jesus Christ here on the earth today. He answered me. And if he answered me, I know he'll answer you. Do it, you won't regret it!
This week, I'm going to finish with another Spanish testimony:
Yo sé que el Libro de Mormón es verdadero, y que José Smith fue un profeta verdadero de Dios. Yo sé que por medio de este profeta, la Iglesia Verdadera de Jesucristo fue restaurado a la tierra, y se llama La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días. Yo sé que hay un profeta hoy en día quien habla con Dios, nos da sus mandamientos y consejos para nosotros. Yo sé que este es la Iglesia verdadera, y que la autoridad para bautizar y efectuar las ordenanzas del evangelio, incluyendo las en los Templos, ha sido restaurado. Yo sé que por medio del Evangelio Verdadero de Jesucristo, las familias pueden ser eternas. Yo comparto este testimonio con ustedes en el nombre de Jesucristo, Amén.
Thank you always for your thoughts and prayers. They are much needed, much appreciated, and the results and fruits of them are seen daily here in the vineyard of the Lord.
¡Les quiero mucho! (I love you all very much!) Until next week!
Yours in the Faith,
Elder Nicholas Banks