Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Central Mission

Dear All,

It's been a fantastic week in the Lord's work.

I've seen the power that the Lord has to change people's hearts. Oscar, the son of Patty, who was just baptized, has some challenges with some of the commandments of God, which is why he hasn't been baptized yet. He's 21, and it seems to me like he had a little desire to change all along, or he would never have listened to us in the first place. When we met him, he was very quiet. Sometimes he would have a little question, but he would just kind of keep to himself. This week, we've visited him twice, and each time he's been more and more open about his problems. The Lord is really taking away his temptation to drink alcohol and do other things which God does not like. And he's open about it, and happy. I wouldn't say overly happy about it, just a  little more upbeat than he has been in the past. It really is true that when the Spirit touches a heart, the heart changes.

I am writing today because we had a little change of schedule this week, because yesterday we had the annual Christmas activity!!! It was awesome. But I'm going to start with something else that was even more special, because only our zone got to participate.

On Monday, we got to go to the mission home (for my second time ever) because we earned a reward. Our zone, Escuintla, was the most successful zone in November, so we got a reward on P-Day with President. Usually, he and Sis. Brough come to the stake center of the most successful zone and cook something for us, usually one of the things we're not supposed to eat, like pork. The rule is that if Sis. Brough buys it at PriceSmart (basically Costco), and she makes it, we can eat it. Last time, she came to our chapel in Sonora and made BBQ pork sandwiches. This time was extra special because we got to go to the misison home, and she made us Christmas Dinner! She made a big old turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and texas sheet cake for dessert. It was kind of cool, we walked in the door and there's our mission president, carving a turkey! The other thing she made that was really cool were the rolls. They were really, really similar to Chris' rolls (if you're part of my family and know what that means.) and were absolutely fantastic. Anyway, that was basically awesome.

Then, Monday night, we spent time working with the Zone Leaders in their area. We had to stay with them, because we had to be in Escuintla at 3am, but there are no buses from Puerto San José to Escuintla until 3:15am. We had to be there that early because we went to the TEMPLE!!! It was a great experience, and I received revelation to know what we need to do in January to have a great successful month. The temple is in Guatemala City, which is about an hour from Escuintla by bus, and my area is about an hour from Escuintla by bus. So, yes, we're out in the boonies.

After the temple, there was a service project, but we got put into a later session at the temple, so we missed it. What we did have was a delicious lunch, and some time to relax and play around in the afternoon. Then, we had a really spiritual meeting with President Brough, and we received the assignment to read the entire Book of Mormon before Conference (and they gave us a schedule, and a copy of the BoM and everything), and we received instructions about how to be more effective missionaries. It was really cool. It was like Elder Holland's talk this past conference, and we talked about staying focused and dedicated on missionary work, like when Christ asked Peter "Lovest thou me more than these?" In our case, "these" wouldn't be the fish Peter was trying to catch, but rather anything that distracts us and makes us lazy or shifts our focus away from the work. We have to love the Lord above all, and always remember, when things get hard, that "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" (D&C 122:8)

I just wanted to reiterate how much love I have for you, for the people of Guatemala, and for our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. The secret to happiness is to love them and to serve them with all your might. "He who findeth his life shall lose it, and he who loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." (see Matthew chapter 10).

Thank you for remembering me and my companion in your thoughts and prayers. Please keep praying for us, because I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the strength God has given me. He has changed me and taught me, and is making me into the person he wants me to be. And that's what matters most.

Con mucho amor,
Elder Banks

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