Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Heat and Responsibility

Dear All,

I have been transferred.

The Guatemala City Central Mission is divided into 3 parts: The Capital, the Mountains, and the Coast. Up to this point, I have been in the capital. My 3rd area was supposedly in the coast, but it was really in the capital. I have now received the blessing to be able to get to know another part of the mission: the coast. I am now in the zone Escuintla, in the area Puerto San José. I have also received the assignment to be a district leader. First, I want to talk about the coast, then about the district, and then about General Conference.

As the subject line says, the coast is hot. And humid. I came to Escuintla once before for a zone conference, and I thought "Man, this is hot. I could put up with it, but it's pretty hot." That was the city of Escuintla, which is about an hour away from Puerto San José by bus. Puerto means "port," so, yes, I have a beach in my area. And no, I can't go swimming, it's a rule for safety reasons. Anyway, Puerto is a LOT hotter than Escuintla, which is interesting. I've been sweating a LOT, and because of that, my clothes get dirty faster, but I don't really care about any of that, because the people here are so fantastic! They are much more open and receptive than people in the capital, and while they may already attend their church, they don't make a huge deal about it, and listen to the message. There are a few who have heard something false about the Church from an outside source, and insist that they're right, but basically the people are a lot more awesome for missionary work here in the Coast than they are in the capital. They're very open-hearted and kind. Also, Escuintla is a Zone in the mission, and a District in church terms.

Since I have lived in Utah all my life, I never knew what a district was until I got here in the mission. In areas where there is a decent number of members of the church, the church is organized into wards (congregations), or if it's smaller, branches (smaller congregations). These wards and branches are then organized into stakes, which are groups of congregations according to the geographical area. In areas where the church is still developing, a district is established. A district is made up of only branches, not wards, and the district president operates under the authority of the mission president, whereas a stake president does not have to do so, he has his own authority for the stake. So here, there's a lot more work, and I'm excited to be part of it.

Now for the district. The district of which I am assigned as leader only includes 2 areas: Puerto San José, and Puerta de Hierro. It's a small, but great (and hot) district. As district leader, I will be required to interview candidates for baptism who have been taught by the members of my district. My investigators will now be interviewed by the zone leaders. I'm excited to be able to serve the Lord to an even greater level in this assignment, and I'm excited to be able to work hard, and bring about much success here in the coast.

Now for conference!!! I was pretty shocked when President Monson announced the new age at which young men and women can leave on their missions! Young men at 18, and young women at 19!! That's pretty exciting. And what it means is that we need more missionaries. I invite you all to read the talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from last October's conference entitled "We are all enlisted." Get ready, and go and do, just like Nephi (see 1 Nephi 3:7). This is the most spiritual experience I've ever had with Conference, and I really felt close to our prophet and the apostles, I imagine because we're engaged in the same work for the moment. I learned that it's important to repent, and always be ready, and that we need to find joy in the journey of whatever we may be doing. I also learned that no matter what area you're in, no matter what part of the Lord's work you're engaged in, if you're there on the Lord's assignment and doing you're best, it doesn't really matter what happens. Pres. Uchtdorf explained this in one of his famous airplane analogies. He compared flying a plane from the 1940's to flying with the Blue Angels. Both are work, and both are beautiful, but both are a very different type of activity. It doesn't matter if you're serving as a primary teacher, a bishop, a missionary in Guatemala, or an apostle, or if you do missionary work or family history work, the Lord has entrusted you with something, and you need to seek his guidance in taking care of it. And do your best, always. As we do this, the Lord will bless us with the guidance we need, and with many other things in every aspect of our lives (see Mosiah 2:41).

I know this is the Lord's true church newly established in these latter days, and I know that if we serve him well, he will bless us abundantly. He always remembers you, even when you don't remember him. So let's remember him together!
Thank you for your prayers.

I hope you all have a fantastic day!

Elder Banks

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