Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Week in the Vineyard

Dear All,

It's been a pretty good week. We're almost done with this transfer, so a week from tomorrow we'll probably be going to transfer meeting so one of us can go, and the other will receive his new companion. It's been fun with Elder Luna, but I think we may just be running out of patience one with another.

The baptism in the attached picture is a young boy named Marcelo in the ward. His family is inactive, but returning to activity in the church, and none of the family was able to baptize him, so I had the privilege of doing so. This time the heater worked in the baptismal font, so it was nice and comfortable. It was really cool, because when we came out of the water, he went and said to his Mom, "Mom, I feel brand new!" It was so cool! We stopped by the house yesterday so we could chat a little with the family, and the mom told us that "He's been acting really well today, and he's been really obedient. He told me that he feels all new and he's been saying he has to be good because 'I can't fail Jesus!'" It was pretty cool to see that baptism really is something that changes people's lives, not just something we're obligated to do. It's something very sacred and special, and though each one of us must pass this step, we should never take it for granted.

Many people do not remember their baptism, or were never baptized by priesthood authority.  Those of you who have been baptized, try and remember the day. It's something I wish I could remember better, because I've seen how it helps, and the miracles it can work. I always ask my converts how they feel within one day of being baptized, because I wish I could remember. One responded "My brother, I felt very joyful." Others have responded that they feel fresh and clean, like it's a new start, because that's exactly what it is. In John Chapter 3, Jesus Christ taught Nicodemus that baptism is the way to be born again, which is necessary to be able to return to the presence of our Father in Heaven.

I also had the opportunity to give a talk on Sunday in church. They assigned me to speak first, followed by 2 recently returned missionaries. I spoke on retention, which is very important. If someone who is baptized doesn't receive support, they probably won't endure to the end, which means that they won't be able to go to the Celestial Kingdom. If we can't keep people in the Church, we're not really helping them obtain salvation. I spoke on the hymn 208 "Brillan Rayos de Clemencia," which in English is number 335, "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy." To understand it, we need to understand the symbolism: In the days when ships navigated with map and compass, lighthouses were a necessary tool to be able to find the harbor. Sadly, sometimes all the ships could see was the lighthouse, and couldn't see the rocks just outside of the harbor, and crashed, destroying both cargo and passengers. What was done, is people were assigned to maintain lights burning on the beach or near the shore. These lights then reflected off the surface of the water, thus allowing the ships to see the rocks, avoid them, and enter the harbor safely.
The words of the hymn in English are as follows:

Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy, from his lighthouse evermore,
But to us, he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.

Let the Lower lights be burning, send a gleam across the wave,
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled, loud the angry billows roar,
Eager eyes are watching, longing, for the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother! Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying hard to reach the harbor in the darkness may be lost.

So our job, then, is to set a good example, and help our brothers and sisters come to know the gospel, and if they know the gospel, to live it. We do this by inviting, but mostly by living the gospel, and setting an example. My favorite part of the English lyrics (this part was lost in translation to Spanish) is the third verse. Even though you may think that your light is weak, and you don't have an influence, you do. Keep your light burning, and keep being good examples.

I love you all. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Yours in the Faith,
Elder Banks

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