Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Exodus

Dear All,

This has been a good week. We've been contacting a ton of people and it's really fun. We're getting new investigators, and finding more members whom we didn't know existed. It's always interesting to knock a door and find an inactive member. The conversation usually goes something like "Oh, I talked to a couple of missionaries like you a few years ago. They baptized me and everything." We've also got some really great investigators to work with, and I think they will go far, and be great members of the Church.

As my title suggests, I have a transfer this week. I will be leaving Jerusalem, thus, "The Exodus." Elder Calta will be finishing his mission with a new companion in Jerusalén, and I will be off to a new and amazing adventure in another part of the beautiful country of Guatemala. If I'm headed for the Coast, the Mountains, or if I'm staying here in the Capital, I won't know until tomorrow when I meet my new companion and go to my second area. Jerusalén is a great area, and I will miss it. It's a very big area, with lots of amazing people. I hope the next elders to come into the area will be able to take care of it better than I have, being a fairly new missionary. There have been good times and bad, sweet times and bitter, but we need to have both to be able to recognize the sweet. "There must needs be an opposition in all things." (2 Nephi 2) Besides, it has been mostly good here in the Lord's vineyard!

Yesterday was P-day, and I got to start saying goodbye to some of the members of the branch. It's always a weird feeling to say goodbye. Also, we went to the doctor (there's an office just for the missionaries!), and in the lobby was Elder Maldonado, whom I met in the CCM. He's serving in the Guatemala City North Mission, currently in an area quite close to Jerusalén, where everyone in my area seems to have relatives. It was fun to catch up a little and see a friend unexpectedly. I also wrote a letter to Elder Caceres to tell him how things are as I leave the area.

In the district meeting I just left, we had a workshop on the Spirit. Someone made the comment that the missionaries are only the phone company between the Lord and the Investigator. We need to connect them to the Lord, but we can't do that unless we have the Spirit to be with us always, and follow its promptings. It's an amazing feeling when it happens, and it's humbling to realize that my role is very important as a missionary, but also very small. It reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures, found in Alma 26:12 in the Book of Mormon: "Yea, I know that I am nothing. As to my strength, I am weak. I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things..." In this passage, Ammon is speaking. Ammon was a pretty big, strong person, and could easily have boasted of his own strength, and with reason. But, he was extremely humble, and knew his place in the Lord's plan. He knew that he was simply the voice and hands of the Lord, that none of what he did actually came from himself. What an example he is to all of us, because, as we read in the Book of Mormon, we are less than the dust of the earth, for when God commands the dust to move, it moves. When he commands us to wake up a little earlier and get to Church on time, sometimes we still don't move. When he commands us to read our scriptures, pray, and keep the commandments, somehow we still think we know better. My dearest friends and family, I am here to tell you that we do not know better. God knows what is best for each one of us. Each of us is one of his children, and he loves us very, very much. More than we can imagine. He will make sure we get the best outcome possible for all eternity IF we trust in and follow him to the very best of our abilities. This is my testimony, that God lives. He watches over us and cares for us every day. He knows our thoughts, our prayers, our needs, and our feelings. Pray to him, and ask him what you need to do, and he will tell you. He's helped me, and I know that if he's done it for me, he'll do it for you.
I love each and every one of you. I miss you sometimes, but as President Uchtdorf once taught, "I am doing a great work, and cannot come down."

Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and letters. They are always greatly appreciated.

Yours in the Faith,
Elder Nicholas Banks

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