Dearest Family and friends,
This week, we are scheduled to have the first baptisms of my mission! We are going to baptize two children, Wanda and Omar, whose parents are inactive members but want their kids to be baptized. The kids are great, and understand better than a good number of our adult investigators. Hopefully we will also be baptizing Marisol as well, who is a single mom. We didn't find her, she found us. She came up to us in the street and said "Are you from the church in the next street? I want to come to your meetings!" We set up an appointment with her, and from there it's just been great. She has a great testimony, and she's definitely ready to be a member of the Church. We'll be trying to work with the members more as well, because when you work with members, great things are accomplished.
This week, my companion and I have been studying repentance a lot. He pointed out that we've been called to declare repentance unto the people, and we have barely even been talking about repentance! So, we studied it, and, of course, we've been repenting daily of our mistakes. The biggest thing that I've learned is that repentance is hard, but the results are always worth it. The joy you experience afterwards is always worth the embarrassment, and the courage one needs to muster up to repent. It's a fantastic feeling, to be filled with joy and peace, and to know you're in good standing with your Father in Heaven. And remember, we all make mistakes, we all sin. Nobody is perfect it's impossible. So my exhortation for this week is repent! I promise you, you won't regret it if you do so, and your life will be filled with more joy and peace, and you will be a happier person. (Also, read the talk, I think it was by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, entitled "The Divine Gift of Repentance" from the October General Conference.)
This week was very productive. We contacted 199 different people, and we found 25 new investigators. And today in our district meeting, I really got thinking about why I'm here. I'm here not just because the Lord commanded me to be here, but because I love this Gospel, and I know it is true. Without the knowledge of the Gospel, I wouldn't be where I am today. Knowing that Jesus Christ suffered for me, all my sins, mistakes, sicknesses, pains, and everything of that type helps me to remember that I always have a friend up above on whom I can rely, and knowing the Plan of Salvation reminds me where I will go when I leave this world, and how I can make sure that I will be with my family for the course of Eternity. Heaven wouldn't be heaven without my family. There is no question about that. I am here in the mission because I want everyone to have the opportunity to experience the immense joy I have experienced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another thing I've been learning to do is joke around with people more. My companion is giving me more confidence, and teaching me more jokes. I've been using a guessing game a lot with the people: If an electric train is moving South at 60kph, and the wind is blowing to the West at 70kph, which way does the smoke blow? So far, only a couple people have fallen for it. The people here are pretty attentive to the words you say, it would seem, because usually I get the answer that "Electric trains don't make smoke!" I've also learned a few more dumb jokes in Spanish. One of my favorites is "What did one fish say to another?" the answer is "Nada," which means "nothing," but is also a conjugated form of the verb "nadar" which means "to swim."
Also yesterday, we had a zone activity for P-day, and we went to the Guatemala City Zoo. Unfortunately, we arrived at the gates to find out that the zoo was closed, so we went to the mission office to take care of some business, and then we ate lunch and went home. (thanks for the package mom!) We picked up some paperwork to get some people married, and we picked up some scriptures (bibles and triples) to give to people after they get baptized. We wanted to get some hymnals too, but they were out of the normal sized ones. Here, you have to bring your own hymnal to church in most wards. The normal sized hymnals cost Q7, but the pocket ones cost Q34.50. The church subzidizes hymnals and scriptures so everyone can get them (but apparently not the pocket hymnals). For example, a softcover triple costs Q8, and a softcover bible Q10. The most expensive book of scripture is the leather bible with tabs, which costs Q216, or about $32. There is no such thing as a quad in Spanish. Also, if we have time, we stop at a paca or two (basically used clothing stores) to look for ties. So far, I've bought two ties for Q3 each. One of them needs to be pressed, but it's branded J. Crew. The other was just neat, so I bought it too.
Always remember that you have a friend, and you are never alone in anything you do. Help through Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in any challenge is only a prayer away. "Ask, and ye shall receive, knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen." (D&C 6)
I Love you all. Thank you for your many thoughts and prayers.
Until next week!
Yours in the Faith,
Elder Nicholas Banks