Monday, July 29, 2013

Another week in Panorama, and a good one!

Maybe our numbers didn't reflect the best this week, but we had a good week as far as excitement and progress.

The bad news is that we had to go to Zona 15, which is where the temple is, but we didn't go to the temple, we went to the hospital that's right next to it. My companion has a nasty ingrown toenail that he needed to have looked at, and we're going back this week to be able to get it worked on. He'll be down for a couple of days, so I'm going to try and find some members to be able to do divisions, so one stays with my companion, and one goes out and works with me!

The good news is, we called a member who really knows his way around the capital to find out how to get to zone 15 by bus, and he said "What time are you going? I'll take you in my car!" So we went in his car, and we came back in his car, because he had some errands to run nearby, so he picked us up after. Then, on the way home, he asked "are you guys hungry?" He then took us to lunch at Pollo Campero (basically Guatemalan KFC, even though KFC exists here too, all the way from Salt Lake City!)

The other cool thing is that there are two members of the Panorama ward who are going on their missions to the USA this year, after I get home, and they will both be passing through the Provo MTC. It looks like I'll be allowed to go and pick them up, especially Elder Mac, who will be going to Wisconsin. Hermana Lopez will be going to one of the carolinas (I forgot which) as well, so we'll see what happens there, but what a cool opportunity to be able to see and help a missionary from an area in my own mission! I talked to the Mac family last night and gave them my information so we can be in contact and their son can get from the airport to the MTC. So many opportunities to serve!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, things are going well. My companion is awesome in spite of his foot, and is a trooper. He has had so many challenges, and he's just going right through them with courage and strength.

Anyway, I had a very special spiritual experience this week. This experience was the third and strongest witness to me that the Lord is satisfied and pleased with my service. I know that he now expects me to endure to the end and leave it all out here. And that's what I intend to do.

I love you all. Take care!

Until next week,
Elder Banks

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Best Surprise Ever

Okay, I'll just go right into it.

I went on Friday, to Jerusalén, my first area, with Elder Luna, my first "Son," or greenie. While we were there, I saw a TON of members that remember me. One told me that since I left, nobody has played the piano in that chapel. They all said hi with lots of love, which was really cool.

The coolest part was when we walked in front of the Carrillo family's house. They said hi and everything, then they said "They already invited you to the sealing, right?" We then got talking, and I went into their house, where a sister with whom I had set a baptismal date with Elder Calta was there, and gong to be sealed to her husband the next day. He was an inactive member at the time we found them. They are SO POWERFUL! I love the Camel (Cam-ELL) family so much! Elder Daniels, who entered the mission with me, and who is in my zone, and myself were requested to be the witnesses of the sealing. I called President Stay immediately and he authorized us to go, and we went!

We got there a couple of hours early, so Elder Daniels and I offered ourselves for some time here in the CCM (MTC) to teach a district of new North Americans. They didn't understand most of what we said, but we did a demonstration with the teacher. The teacher was a sub, and the real teacher of that district is in the Panorama ward, and was Elder Refuerzo's teacher when he was in the CCM. Also, while at the temple, I saw Hno. Peña, a member from Sonora, at his shift in the temple. He told us what we needed to do. Then, after taking pictures with the Camel family oustide the temple, a bunch of members from Puerto San José were entering the temple, and recognized me. The current branch president, who wasn't the president when I was there, came, and I had already met him, but just before he had become the branch president. He said that the branch now has an attendance of 80 every Sunday, and there are baptisms every month!

It was basically the coolest day of my entire mission, and it all happened by ACCIDENT/COINCIDENCE. Except for the fact that that doesn't really mean anything, because it was all just a tender mercy of the Lord. I am so grateful for the opportunities that the Lord has given me to be able to participate in these things. The Lord must really love me, because he's blessed me so much.

I love you all!
Elder Banks

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Week in Panorama

First of all, there's a new address to send me mail (and make it quick, because I may not get it for a while).

Nicholas Banks
Misión Guatemala Sur
Apartado Postal 340-A
01909 Guatemala, Guatemala C. A.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get on to the good stuff.

We have an investigator who was born in Kansas. His name is John Wright. How more American can you get than that? He's the nextdoor neighbor of our ward mission leader, and he was a reference from the same. He's really cool and he appears to be ready to be baptized, or at least that he will be soon.

My companion and I have so much in common that it's scary. He and I are both into the same hobbies, and are both into the same things. He has some of the same problems and challenges I did at the beginning of my mission, so it's really weird to see what I was like. I'm doing all I can to be able to leave him a lot better than I was when I started out.

Other than that, we're just working with the schedule changes and new things to get used to in the South Mission. I had an interview with President Stay on Friday and it was really great. He's a very inspired man who has an extensive knowledge of the Gospel. As much as I love President Brough, I know things have changed for a reason. And it is for the Lord's wise purpose, and that is enough for me.

I really don't know what else to talk about. Not a whole lot has changed.

We're working a LOT more with the members now. We have a new rule to visit members (preferrable recent converts or less actives) and teach them about the Plan of Salvation, and then ask them some certain questions to be able to find out that they DO know someone who is ready to receive the Gospel in their life. We do it 7 times a week and it's worked really well, we already found a great family, Mario and Silvia, through the Lopez family, which makes me really happy. I love missionary work!

Also, they're going to take part of our area away because the sisters in the ward have a really small area. The only problem is that they might take away the most productive part of our area. Whatever happens, it'll be alright, we'll keep working hard.

Anyway, just keep on keeping the commandments, and everything will work out. "Whatever happens, trust in the Lord."

I love you all. I hope you all have a fantastic week, and that the Lord keeps blessing you. Remember, you can only win when you play by the rules. If you try to rewrite the rules, well, nobody cares and you'll still be judged by the originals, so just follow them. And you will win Eternal Life.

Elder Banks

Monday, July 8, 2013

Change in the Schedule!

Dear All,

From now on, I will be writing on MONDAYS, so those who wish to write me should write me on SUNDAYS, because I don't know at what time I will be writing. Things are different here in the South mission, but they're good.

We met President Stay on Friday, because we had a zone conference with him. My companion and I are doing well, and tomorrow we have a training meeting in Montufar, which is the central chapel of the south mission, and was also the first chapel in Guatemala. It's where we went to hear Elder Christofferson and Elder Maynes. And I have no idea how to get there in a bus, because the zone got buses both times, so it'll be interesting.

The ward is doing great. We learned a way to be able to contact members effectively. We put it into practice that very night, and it was fantastic! The members took us right to the hosue of one of their neighbors who is ready to accept the gospel, and we're going to have a lesson with them in the Member's house on Saturday. I am SO EXCITED!!!!

Little, temporal aspects of the mission have changed, as has the mailing address for the mission, but since the central mission office is one floor below the south mission office in the same building, I'm not too worried about it. I'll get you the address next week.

For now, we're in good shape. I've got a couple things to talk to my parents about, but other than that, things are going well.

Well, time is short.
Know that I love you all, and that I am fine.

Take care and keep the faith,
Elder Banks

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Goin' South

Dear All,

This has been a week of BIG changes.

So, let's get the big one out of the way: I am no longer a missionary of the Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission. Monte Joseph Brough is no longer my mission president. Although I did not change areas, I now belong to the Guatemala Guatemala City South Mission, as of yesterday. My mission president is now Laurence Richard Stay from (you guessed it) Utah.

Although I'm a bit sad because I will no longer see President Brough or my many friends in the Central mission, and a little disoriented from the changes, It's funny, because it's almost like I knew it was happening.

After receiving my mission call, I talked to a member who said: "I just met your mission president, President Stay." I was confused until I got here, and saw that President Stay is from the South mission.

On Wednesday, I received my new companion and third "Son," Elder Refuerzo from Spanish Fork, UT. He's so much like me it's scary. I'm now learning what I was like for my trainer.

On Thursday, we had a very touching conference, in the which Pres. Brough and Sis. Brough said goodbye to each of us. It was a very spiritual moment, and although I will miss them very much, I know there's something I need to learn from President and Sister Stay that President and Sister Brough couldn't have taught me. It's the Lord's will, so I'll do it, and I'll do it "with a heart full of song."

On Friday we went to my last meeting with President Brough, a meeting for the new missionaries. It was in the Villa Nueva stake center, which was the chapel in my previous area. I saw some members I know, and I got to even see one of the Yuman family! He wasn't at the church, but we went to the park to take a bus. I crossed the street quickly and my companion stayed behind, and there he was, standing next to my companion! It was pretty cool and special for me, a sign that the Lord loves me, and sends me little things to tell me it's all okay.

I close with a few choice words from a beloved hymn:

"There's surely somewhere a lowly place
in Earth's harvest fields so wide,
Where I may labor for life's short day
for Jesus, the crucified.
Then, trusting my all to thy tender care,
And knowing thou lovest me,
I'll do thy will with a heart sincere,
I'll be what you want me to be."

Sometimes it's hard to accept, but that's how it is. The most important thing we can have is humility. It doesn't matter where we serve or in what capacity, only how. As the hymn says, this life is but a short day, and we have to take advantage of it. What pain I feel for those who can't understand or refuse to understand this principle, wasting away their lives wallowing in pride or in thinking about what could have been! What matters is TODAY. What can I do TODAY to be better? What can I do TODAY to serve the Lord and do his will? Everything. But first I have to be humble enough to be able to accept it. Then go to work. Don't waste your time worrying about things that don't matter, about tedious temporal details or trying to maintain your pride, but rather "be thou humble and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give the answer to thy prayers." In the end, our will doesn't matter much, nor our social position, nor our job, nor even our calling in the Church. "[Press] forward, be faithful, the promise is sure."

I testify of the truth of these things with all my heart. I hope you can feel my love for the Lord and for each one of you as you read this. Ask yourself "Have I done any good in the world today?" and then "put your shoulder to the wheel . . . we ALL have work, let no one shirk!" (emphasis added)

I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He lives, and loves us to the end, as does our Heavenly Father. Love them, and if you feel that you love them and want to love them more, consult John 14:15.

"Oh, sweet, the joy this sentence gives: 'I know that my Redeemer lives!'"

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Banks