Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Dear All,

This has been a pretty good week.

As last week we had district meeting with Pres. Brough, this week was different, too. We had a training session with the whole zone, which was pretty cool. We did some practices, looked through our area books, and watched a short video on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and how it relates to missionary work. It was really powerful, and awesome. Our zone leaders are really cool, and our zone is fantastic. The secretaries and assistants are in our zone as well, so it's nice to be able to get things quickly.

Speaking of getting things, thanks to the Mulveys for sending me the notes from the 31st! It's so awesome to be able to hear from my aunts, uncles and cousins!

Yesterday we had a zone activity, and we got permission to go to Zona 1, where the central market is. I bought a little duffel bag made of "Corte" (typical Guatemalan fabric), a white shirt adorned with a little black-and-white corte, and a jersey of the Guatemalan soccer team. It was pretty cool, and it only cost me Q195, or about $25. The white shirt alone would have cost at least $15 in the states. It sounds like a lot to spend 195 of any currency, but for us North Americans, it doesn't really seem to add up to that much.

And it was perfect timing, too, because today I'll be going on divisions with Elder Finau Ngalu, who is from Australia. I believe he is of Tongan descent. He entered the mission with Elder Luna, so he's pretty new as well. Elder Silva will be with my companion, Elder Perez, until tomorrow morning. For the first time in a while, they took me out of my own area for divisions, because usually the senior companion stays in his own area, but due to some special circumstances, the divisions have been arranged differently this time. It should be really fun, and I hope to learn a lot from Elder Finau Ngalu.

We also have a baptism this Sunday! We will be baptizing Alonzo, who is 67 years old and a widower. He's got so much faith! We set his baptismal date last week, and taught him about the Word of Wisdom. Yesterday we went by to make sure that he hasn't had any coffee, because people who will be baptized have to give up these things for a certain amount of time before they can be baptized. We talked to him and he said "Since the day you taught me it was bad, I haven't had any coffee. I've had a few aches and pains because of it, but if it's bad, I won't drink it." What faith!! He's one of the coolest people I've met here. He told us he wants to serve in the church after being baptized. We also taught him that he can be sealed to his late wife, and have an eternal family. Now, we just need to find and baptize his kids! They don't live in our area, but we can always pass on the reference! This man came to church the first time 2 Sundays ago, and while there, asked us when we would be having baptisms. He reads the Book of Mormon and marks it, and is now reading the Gospel Principles manual the Ward gave him. I am so happy to be able to be associated with him!

I guess that in this area it's the older guys who are awesome. Isidro was just baptized (in the attached photo, I've got my arm around him), Alonzo will be baptized soon, and a guy named Augusto came to church for the first time this Sunday. It was funny, because the member of the bishopric who conducts welcomes in the meeting every person when there for the first time. The bishop and 2nd counselor can be funny, but the 1st counselor is really serious and almost never smiles. He was conducting, and said something really funny without noticing. The name "Augusto" sounds a lot like the phrase "A gusto," which means "to your liking" or "comfortable." Before church, Augusto said to us that he always feels "a gusto" in church, or something to that effect. Then, in sacrament meeting, the really serious first counselor said "We would like to welcome our brother Augusto, who is visiting us for the first time. Brother, we hope you feel 'a gusto.' " I was sitting at the piano, and I had to really contain myself not to laugh. It wasn't his intention to make a joke, but he said that, and noticed afterwards. I couldn't really see his face from the piano, but it was great.

I love the people so much here. They're so funny and full of love. Some are very closed to the Gospel, but most are very kind about everything. The people here would give us the shirt off their back if it were necessary, something which in the States just doesn't happen all that much. It's really a manifestation of charity, which is the pure love of Christ.

Thank you for all your prayers and your love. Never lose the faith!

Elder Banks

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