Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Baptism in the Coast

Dear All,

Yes, it's true! As you can see in the attached photo, we baptized Patty this week. She's pretty cool. Last week, we just started talking a little about baptism and she said "Yeah, I really do want to be baptized." As missionaries, that's not usually something we hear very often, and it's a miracle when it does. Sadly, her son, Oscar, couldn't be baptized this week, but we're working with him on some challenges he has. We're also working to try and meet more with her husband, because he's pretty cool too, he just works a lot. At their wedding, he was really attentive to what we said, and their daughter and son-in-law had some really good questions, so we have some more people just waiting to become members there. I'm super happy and super excited. We also found some great families, one of whom was going to be baptized in the capital, but they took out the missionaries, and then they moved here, so basically they know the church is true, and want to get married and baptized, and later sealed in the Temple. This is what we call a miracle from God, and it's a really great feeling when you get one.

After my interview with President, I started divisions with Elder Acosta, one of our Zone Leaders. He really taught me a lot of things, like how to find more new investigators, and how to be more direct with people. He was here for 2 days, and interviewed Patty for baptism while he was here. Overall, everything went over really well, and I'm going to be working on some things. For example in the hymn "Praise to the Man" it uses the phrase "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven," and in Spanish it just says "por sacrificio se dan bendiciones" ("for sacrifice, you are given blessings"). Not quite as powerful in Spanish, but still very true.

Which brings me to a principle of the Gospel sometimes referred to as the Law of the Harvest. It's pretty simple: You reap what you sow. If you sow corn, you won't get rice. If you sow carrots, you won't get tomatoes. If you neglect the plants and let the weeds grow, you won't reap anything at all. The Gospel is very similar: If we don't put in our effort to keep the commandments and do all we can to be our most faithful self, we won't have blessings on that level. One of the apostles described it as the difference between being active in the church and active in the gospel. If we are active in the church, we go to church meetings, and to church activities. If we are active in the gospel, we are also active in the church, but we are also reading our scriptures daily, praying always, trying to learn more about the gospel, and serving our fellow beings, among other things. We need to make sure that we are active in the Gospel, not just in the Church. It is good to be active in the Church, and we will receive blessings for doing so, but we will receive even more blessings if we are active in the Gospel. I know this from experience. I have always been active in the Church, but only a few years ago did I really start to get active in the Gospel. I started taking notes in Church. I started really reading my scriptures. I started being more diligent in keeping the commandments. And then I started seeing the blessings. I started to want even more, and to keep serving all I could. Even when my homework made it difficult to be able to serve, I did my best. And the Lord blessed me with a good job, great friends, and a stronger testimony. And he keeps blessing me. I know that if I stay active in the Gospel for the rest of my life, he will continue to bless me. And I know that if I endure to the end, I will be able to return to Him in his kingdom. That's something I hope to be able to have someday. God gave us agency to be able to choose, but he also have us a set of instruction manuals: the Scriptures. We must study and use them.

The Central America area presidency has asked that every member in Central America read the Book of Mormon all the way through once before general conference in April. President Brough has added to that, that we must have a study journal next to it, open with pen at the ready, to be able to write down the revelation we receive to be able to help our investigators. It's a great feeling. I'm going to be doing all I can to reach this goal, because I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Scriptures. And above all, I love the Lord and his Gospel.

Yesterday, we had an unexpected lesson during P-Day. Byron, who is 25 years old, has a clothing store. We went to go shopping and he said "Hey, I've been reading the pamphlet, and I have some questions." He asked a whole bunch of great questions, and expressed his desire to be in good standing with God. He said he doesn't want to hear God tell him "You messed up." when he gets to the other side. We challenged him to pray, and he did right there in the lesson, and said he would after we left as well. He said he's willing to do whatever God tells him to do. We ran home and brought him a Book of Mormon, and I'm pretty sure he's reading it right now. He's so prepared. I'm so glad that God let us find him, and that we're able to teach him more. I know that if we're diligent, he'll be able to be baptized, and prepare to enter into God's fold.
I know this Church and this Gospel are true, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that he and our Heavenly Father live and love us very much.

I love you all. Thank you for being faithful.

Elder Banks

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