Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Another Fantastic Week in the Work!

Dear All,

I know I'm going to freeze when I get home. Today we had a meeting in a chapel that has air conditioning, and I was FREEZING during the entire meeting. I hope that the winter isn't too cold when I get home.

As for winter here, "winter" is rainy season. Right now, summer is starting and it's HOT. But you all already knew that, so let's move on with things.

My companion and I have the best relationship I've had with any of my companions until now, and it really shows. We're really having some good progress in the branch here. We've got the leaders out working with us, we're activating people, and also baptizing. This Sunday we had our 3rd baptism here in Puerto. Her name is Silvia, and she's one of the coolest people I've met. She's super humble, and she stood up in testimony meeting and told her conversion story. She's one who will be enduring to the end, I can feel it! She loves the Lord so much, and loves the Church. She already has several friends here as well. She bore her testimony about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and it really helped some of our investigators who were in attendance.

The cool thing about such a tiny branch is that it feels just like a family in many ways. Everyone knows each other pretty well, and it's fantastic. We've got a missionary activity this month to be able to get people out and bring us investigators and less-actives to teach. This branch is on the verge of huge success, we just have to give it a push, and then we can watch it fly! I couldn't be happier to be here at this time.

And yes, it's true, I am now 21 years old. No, I don't believe it either. But attached is the photo of my birthday party. The branch president and his wife found out, and gave me the piece of cake and the bottle of cologne that you see right there by me (his wife sells cologne and beauty products) and my companion bought the pizza! It was super fun! But there's nothing I would rather have done on my birthday than preach the Gospel. There's nothing that makes me happier than to be able to see someone change their life through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

This Sunday we also had a miracle. We had about 13 investigators in Church!!!!!! That's the highest I've had in any of my areas, ever! We'll be working super hard to get all of these people baptized this month, because the Lord expects 8 baptisms of Puerto San José this month. We received that as revelation. We have one, and three more great possiblities for this Sunday, and it'll be a great thing. Like I said, we just have to give this branch a push, and watch it fly.

As we start out this new year, remember our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Don't let a single day go by without thinking about him, and without praying to our Heavenly Father in his name. Your prayers will be heard, and you will feel their love and know of their reality as I have. I have never seen either the Father nor the Son, but I am certain that they live and love us. Being good and right before their eyes is the most important thing any of us will ever do in this life. "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God. Yea, the day of this life is the time for men to perform their labors." (Alma 34:32) We must perform our labors in this life: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End, including magnifying your calling. I'm helping people do it here. If you haven't done it, there's a missionary near where you live who is anxious to help you. If you need to (and we all do), repent, and keep on pressing forward. In Spanish, "Endure to the End" is "Perseverar hasta el Fin." This is the phrase we use. "Perseverar" directly translates to "persevere" in English, which has a lot more meaning. So, my dear friends and family, I exhort you to persevere until the end.

I love you all. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with us during this special time in the work.

Elder Banks

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