Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Two Gringos in Puerto

Dear All,

It happened. It finally happened. I have a North American Companion! His name is Elder Muñoz and he is from Liberty, Missouri (he lives about 5 minutes from the Jail). His parents are from South America (Chile and Ecuador) but he was born and raised in the USA. The good news is that he and I have a lot of things in common, and we get along super well. He likes to work hard, and we've got some great things in motion for this time we'll have together.

Also, they are about to change the MTC program, and as a result of that, the mission will be changing the change cycles. Changes are normally 6 weeks, but this one will be 5, because President doesn't want to send missionaries home the day AFTER Christmas. Then, the next change will be 9 weeks. So, I basically get 2 extra weeks to preach the Gospel!!!

This Saturday, we'll be having a wedding, because a sister whose name is Patty will be baptized this Sunday, and you need to be married to be able to live with your spouse, and you need to be keeping all the commandments to be able to be baptized. She is so awesome, and she and her son, Oscar, met Pres. Brough at District Conference this past Sunday. It was a great conference, and President told the members off for a lot of things. But, he had the Spirit with him. If the Spirit is guiding, and you do it with love, you can and should speak strongly. If there's something wrong, God wants us to fix it so we can return to him in his kingdom when the time comes, so sometimes we need to speak strongly. Like the time when Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple. There was something wrong, and he spoke boldly to be able to fix it.

And yes, I'm getting used to the heat and humidity. I found a scale and weighed myself on Monday, and I've lost about 4.5 pounds since coming here to Puerto.

This morning we had interview with President Brough, and he really helped me know what to do. He told me a couple things I need to improve, and helped me out with a couple questions I've had lately. I feel like I'm finally on the road to becoming who the Lord wants me to be. After that, we had a really spiritual District Meeting, and we received revelation to be able to help the members participate in missionary work. As much as you may think to the contrary, members are ESSENTIAL in missionary work. We need to have members so that our converts have friends when we are transferred to another area, and they still have a support system. Conversion isn't an easy experience for the investigator, and I think it's one of the greatest miracles that can happen. These people are really changing their lives, and the Lord wants them to endure to the end, not to just weary by the way. Members' testimonies are also crucial to be able to get the investigators to Church. In Villa Hermosa, Alonzo never came to church UNTIL we brought Hno. Batres to meet him. They got along super great, and the next opportunity Alonzo had, he came to church. While at church, he basically asked us when he could be baptized. We told him, and he was baptized. And according to Hilton, the guy who makes the suits, he's super active in the church. He comes to everything, down to the activities.

So, if you're in a position to be able to help the missionary work in your ward or branch, do it. Go and visit with the Elders or Sisters. They don't need you to teach the lesson, they are trained to do that. All they need is your testimony, and maybe a personal experience to be able to help the investigators see how the Gospel will bless their lives. It's easy, so do it. And, if you still haven't talked to the missionaries, do it. I know I may be a little biased, but I wouldn't be here in Guatemala for 2 years of my life if I didn't know that this changes lives, and is true. If you've come away from the church, repent and come back. The Lord is waiting for you with open arms. And as I have heard said often about the good things in life, and especially salvation, "I never said it would be easy. But I did say that it would be worth it."

I love you all. Take care and keep praying.

Elder Banks

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