Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hello from Book of Mormon Country

Dear All,

This has been a pretty good week.
On Friday, our ward had a missionary activity. This week was Ward Conference, which is a HUGE deal here in Guatemala. There were activities every day this week, but the missionary activity was the most powerful. We taught about the Book of Mormon: what it is, where it came from, and why it's important.

To review briefly:
The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture like the Bible. It does not replace the Bible, but works with it to teach us about Jesus Christ and his Gospel.

It is an ancient record of the peoples who lived here in the Americas, very likely in the areas in which I am serving my mission. The people here knew of Christ, and had prophets who taught them what they needed to do, according to the Lord's will, just like the prophets of the Bible.

The record was translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith through the gift and power of God into English, and now exists in at least 90 languages worldwide. It teaches us clearly and simply the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and puts an end to false doctrines that have been perpetuated through the centuries. Joseph Smith did NOT write the book, he simply translated it.

These are some of the reasons that the Book of Mormon is important, but here in the Mission we use it as something else, which is: Convincing Evidence of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon contains the invitation to read it, ponder the message it contains, and ask God in the name of Christ in a sincere prayer if the book is true. Those who do this receive a testimony of its truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. If the Book of Mormon is true (which it is), that means that the Prophet who translated it, Joseph Smith, is a true prophet of God. If he is a true prophet of God, the church that God established through him has to be true.

And this is part of the importance of the Book of Mormon. It changes hearts. It changes lives. It shows the world that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that Joseph Smith was his prophet, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the one and only true church, directed in these days by the Lord Jesus Christ, through his living prophet.
If you're not reading the Book of Mormon, read it.
If you haven't prayed about it in a while (or ever), do it.

For me the Book of Mormon is something that is amazing that has changed my life. I have come to know my Savior by reading its pages. I recently finished reading it for the fifth time, and I marked in orange every time the Lord's name appears, in any form. I have found very few pages where there isn't at least one little orange mark. I am now starting to read it again, this time marking words spoken by Christ or the Father. I've already marked quite a bit, and I've just begun. This book is centered in Jesus Christ, and teaches what we need to do to earn our salvation through him. And I know that it is true. I have put the invitation into practice, and asked God if it's true. And it is true. I have no doubt of that. It's my favorite book. And it's amazing to teach about it here, teaching (in many cases) the descendants of those who wrote it! It's a way to know better and clearer what you need to do to be saved than anything else I've found, and on top of that, it's an enjoyable story.

As for the activity, we had some great investigators come, including a friend of one of our investigators who is an agnostic, or isn't quite sure God exists. It was cool to be able to answer some of his questions and help him see God's love for him. We had a good time, and we got some great references!

We also had 5 investigators at Church this Sunday, which was pretty great. Thanks to this, we'll be having 3 baptisms this next weekend, according to the plan.
Also, I'll be having divisions with the Zone Leaders this Thursday through Saturday. It'll be interesting, and fun. We'll be having some baptismal interviews as well, so I'm pretty excited!

Other than these things, life is pretty normal and uneventful here in Sonora. I love the members, I love the investigators, and my companion's not too bad either! :)

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They are felt on a daily basis, as I am able to do things I know that I alone would not be capable of doing. The Lord makes all things possible that are according to his will, if we have the faith that he will help us, and if we do our part. This applies not just to missionaries, but to all of you as well.
Thank you.

Yours in the Faith,
Elder Banks

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