Tuesday, April 9, 2013

General Conference!

Dear Friends and Family,

This has been a pretty good week. It didn't start off too well, but it ended up alright. The Lord really humbled me and I have had a change of heart, after a very spiritual experience on Thursday. I am so happy now to be able to be here in the Mission, and there is nothing I would rather be doing but preaching the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Part of what inspires me now is that there is absolutely no reason to be sad. Ever. If the Lord is in our life, and we know that He loves us, there is absolutely nothing negative that can trump his love. The words of a beloved hymn come to mind:

"The Lord is my light, then why should I fear?
By day and by night, his presence is near.
. . .
The Lord is my light, he is my joy and my song.
By day and by night he leads, he leads me along."

I testify that everything happens for a reason. I know you didn't ask for the challenges the the Lord has sent you--neither did I-- but "know thou . . . that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good." (See D&C 122:7-9) And this is an experience that I will never forget. I can now truly say that the Lord Jesus Christ IS my joy, IS my song, and IS my light. We all get to a point where we think we know him, then we have another experience, and we come to know him even better. I hope it keeps happening, even though it will be hard. We become acquainted with God mostly in our extremities, or rather, our challenges and trials. Personally, I am thankful for this challenge I have had. I don't know if I'm ready to ask the Lord for challenges, but I am grateful when it's all over. I'm sorry, but this life was not designed to be easy. Salvation was not designed to be easy. "We all have work, let no one shirk!"

I was also very thankful for the talks given by President Monson and the Apostles this past weekend, as I was inspired and uplifted, and told to do better. I especially loved the Priesthood Session, which I FINALLY got to watch in English! For the first time in the mission field! I am happy that the Apostles reminded us of what president David O. McKay taught: "Every member a missionary!" We learned this weekend that as members of the Lord's church, it is our calling, our duty, and our obligation to do missionary work, and we are entitled to receive inspiration regarding how to do so. Elder Andersen said that we need to "paint a missionary badge on our heart." Just because I have one on my shirt right now doesn't mean that my companions and I are the only ones responsible for this work. Even in Utah there are opportunities for missionary work. Find out what you can do, how you can help, and do something. You can also help with the missionary work on the other side of the Veil: temple and family history work.

Here in Guatemala, there are churches everywhere. People have garages on the fronts of their houses, and they set up podiums and enormous speakers there and turn them into churches. The way the world sees a church and the way that the Lord sees his church are very different. In any church one can go, have faith, keep the commandments, and even receive miracles, because the requirement for a miracle is faith. Anyone can love Jesus Christ and be blessed for it. But because of the orderly manner in which God has established his kingdom since the beginning of time, there is a requirement to be able to enter into the kingdom of God: baptism. But to be able to have a baptism that God recognizes, the person who performs the baptism must hold the Priesthood, or the power of authority of God on the Earth. This authority was lost for centuries after the death of the original Apostles of Christ, and has been restored to us again by those same apostles through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The only place that true Priesthood Authority can be found is in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I don't say this to satisfy my pride, nor for any other reason, other than that the Holy Ghost has testified to me that it is true.

And trying to explain this to the Pastor and his Wife we visited yesterday was a little difficult. Especially because he is hard of hearing. But the truth is that God love us all, and wants us to follow him. This weekend, it was quoted from the Bible that the Lord Jesus Christ came to be the author of eternal salvation for all those who OBEY him. The only way we can do so completely is in His church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have prayed, and have come to know for myself that these things are true, and that is what I invited the pastor to do, and that is what I invite all of you to do. If you have already, do it again. If you haven't, do it. You won't regret it, and the Lord will greatly bless you.

I testify of the truthfulness of this work. It has changed my life, and I have seen it change many other lives. And no one can make me deny it.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Have a great week.
Until soon,
Elder Banks

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