Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Another Week in Villa Nueva

Dear All,

It's been a good week. The family I talked a lot about last week is doing great. The members are helping them out a ton! They visit them a lot, and they like it. They already have some great friends in the ward, and they're really excited to all be baptized on Sunday. I'm just happy and humbled to be a part of it. They already told me that they want to serve in the church, even if it's just cleaning the building! They're probably the most amazing family I've ever met. Next week I'll be sure to send you the pictures of the baptism, and how everything turned out. We're going to have a combined baptismal service with the Zone Leaders, because this week is stake conference and we share a chapel, and therefore use the same baptismal font. What we're doing we call a "white day" ("Día blanco"), because everyone will be dressed in white. The family will be 7 baptisms, and the Zone Leaders will have 2 or 3, then the other area, Villa Nueva 2, will be having two baptisms in their own chapel later that evening, for a total of 11, possibly 12 baptisms this week in our district! I'm so excited! Now, all we have to do is find the next big family to be baptized!

In the month of January, the Villa Nueva zone won the most successful zone in the mission, and yesterday, we had our reward P-day with President and Sister Brough. We played some games and ate Little Caesar's pizza (yes, it exists here, along with Domino's, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC.) We combined with the El Frutal zone to make it a little bigger, and it was fun. I got to see some of my best friends in the mission, like Elder Loayza from Peru, and Elder Snyder from Mapleton, UT, who are in that zone, and who I usually don't get to see, because they're not in my zone.

Speaking of zones, the Zone Leaders in both of the above zones are now training while being Zone Leaders, which is pretty crazy. They each have a "son," so there are now 2 more elders in my district, Elder Ellison frrom Utah, and Elder Parker from Chicago. They both came right to the mission from the Provo MTC because the CCM here in Guatemala was just too full to be able to fit them. It was pretty crazy. But they're both cool guys, and we're going to do great things here in the district, because now we basically have a whole other companionship, even though they all have the same area. They came in last Wednesday because there are changes in the MTC programs, like I told you, and that means there are a lot of missionaries entering the mission, and at different times. The change that is 9 weeks ends next week, in the "official" changes of the Central Mission, even though there have been 2 other change meetings in between this and the last "official" one. President will be calling all the trainers today or tomorrow, so they can attend the meeting for new trainers on Thursday morning. There will be over 30 missionaries entering, so there will be plenty of trainers.

This morning, I had a really cool revelation I would like to share with you. It happened while I was reading Alma chapter 50 in the Book of Mormon. In this  story, Captain Moroni is preparing his people and his land to protect it from the Lamanites, who are coming to war against them. I'll only share part, because it's kind of long, but he dug up banks of earth around the city, upon which he put works of timbers, pickets, and watch towers. There's so much symbolism in this chapter, but I'll just go over a little bit about how we can protect ourselves and our families spiritually. The banks of earth represent our testimonies: firm and strong in the faith of Christ, and based upon the foundation of his teachings, and those of his prophets (both modern and ancient), for it is the same (see D&C 1:38). The works of timbers are our obedience, made strong little piece by little piece. The pickets are good works, adding another level of strength onto our obedience and testimonies. The watch towers represent the Holy Ghost, who will be with us when our testimonies, obedience, and good works are where they should be, to warn us of dangers both physical and spiritual. Then, as the Nephites did, we can build our own "City of Moroni," or rather, our own eternal life, and our eternal home, with our eternal family. Then we can truly say what a popular hymn in Spanish says: "Las huestes de oscuridad atacan con furor, mas la victoria es de Dios, el Rey y Redentor." In English: "The armies of darkness attack with fury, but victory is God's, the King and Redeemer."

I testify of the truth of these things, that if we are "True to the Faith" and obey the Lord, trusting in him constantly, he will protect us from the real dangers that lie in wait to deceive us (See Ephesians 4). Through our obedience and good works, we will see the miracles that God has prepared for us, both in this life, and in the life to come. No, it won't always be easy, but things that are too easy are rarely worth it. As the hymn teaches us, Keep the Commandments . . . In this there is Safety and Peace."

Take care. I love you all!
Until next week,
Elder Banks

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