Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012

Alright so this week I have to start by saying that it’s a good thing I’m on my mission cause I officially hate the sports world. We went to our ward mission leader’s house on Sunday with another guy in our ward and we talked about sports for a while and I was so mad when I found out Peyton Manning is on the Bronco's. But at least Tim Tebow is gone now. And then i found out in a letter from Weston this morning that Mcgee is on the Nuggets now. Chris that was an awsome picture of you trying to get his autograph. I’m way jealous! And i knew Kentucky was playing Baylor on Sunday so I was glad to find out that they won. That was one good thing from the sports world.

Just another random thing real quick, make sure that when you send letters to the mission home to me to write Elder Parker Banks. If you don’t put Parker sometimes they send them from the mission home to the other Elder Banks. So i just got a bunch of letters from the first week i was here that just arrived 2 days ago.

But anyways missionary work this week was interesting. I spent most of the week with missionaries besides my companion which makes it way hard to get stuff done. We had a pretty bad week teaching cause a bunch of appointments fell through and overall it was just way long. Monday was just a normal P-day and then Tuesday we went to the temple and that pretty much took all day. That night was way fun cause all six of the missionaries in our district slept over in our apartment. But then Elders Jensen, Barney, and Adie all went to St. Louis so me and Elders Ward and Gubler were a tripanionship for a few days. That was pretty awful. They are cool missionaries but it was just way hard to do everything with an extra companion. We taught one good lesson to Yana and James and a not so great lesson to Kodie. But then Wednesday night when all the other elders got back it was way awesome. I was so happy that Elder Jensen was back and we could start doing our normal work again. Friday was a pretty normal day then Saturday I got to go on exchanges with the district leader Elder Barney. He and I get along way well so that was fun. Elder Barney and his Companion Elder Ward slept over that night as well so we could all just go to church the next morning together. We woke up and played a game with a giant exercise ball and we called it destruction ball. I’ll send my SD card home today and it has a few pictures of our apartment after we played it. That should explain the name.

Something that I just thought of that is way important is that conference is this weekend and we are all so excited! I have never really looked forward to conference that much but I couldn’t be more excited now. It’s going to make Saturday and Sunday so awesome. All my friends better watch on Saturday and Sunday. I never watched on Saturday but now that I am out here I wish that I had. I can’t believe that I was passing up the chance to listen to the prophet and apostles to go watch basketball or some other stupid thing. They all know what they are talking about so I encourage all of you to listen and learn from those amazing men.

So a crazy story that I heard this week was about Elder Bednar. So apparently he came down to St. Louis for a meeting and met with a few missionaries that are in St Louis. During the meeting he gave them all an apostolic blessing and apparently it was really cool. Then after the meeting everyone was just chilling in the chapel and they got to go up and shake hands with Elder Bednar and it got pretty loud and a lot of the missionaries were talking a ton. So Elder Bednar stepped out of line of shaking people’s hands and went back to the mic. He chewed them all out for a second and then took away the blessing that he had given them. I head it was pretty crazy and they all felt pretty stupid after that.

So this week wasn’t too eventful but one cool thing that happened was on Sunday we were set up to go to a Baptist church. We were going to leave the apartment in like 15 minutes and I seriously felt terrible. That night was so horrible and i had no idea why i felt so terrible. I told Elder Jensen that maybe we shouldn’t go to that church with the guy who invited us. Then he told me that he didn’t feel too good about going either. So we called the guy and told him we wouldn’t be able to make it. It was the craziest thing cause I instantly felt so much better. We both got the Spirit back and we felt so good. Even though we just walked around and talked to people all night we gave away a couple copies of the Book of Mormon so hopefully one of those can turn into something more.

I guess the last thing I will talk about is that we went to a baptism for a lady named Crystal Davis. She is a pretty big lady and the guy baptizing her was pretty little. He also had some problems saying the prayer 100% right. So it took him dunking and praying about a dozen times before the baptism was done correctly. Even though it was way hard to watch and super awkward the last time when they finally got it done the Spirit just overtook the entire room. No one felt uncomfortable after that and everyone was so happy for her finally getting baptized.

Oh and I almost forgot. Shelly, Betty, and Katelyn all made it to church this week which is awesome. Hopefully we will be able to get them all baptised in the next couple weeks! Thank you for your prayers and keep them coming cause they are working! I hope all of you have an awesome week and I will talk to you all again soon.

-Elder Parker Banks

P.S. Thank you so much for the letters and packages I have been receiving!! It means a ton.

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012

Man, Weston I can’t believe your mission call!!! I got your letter like 2 hours ago in the mail and it blew my mind! I wasn’t expecting to hear about it for another week. I read it on my way to Wal Mart and my companion probably wanted to punch me cause I was freaking out haha. And you get to speak Fijian or some weird thing like that. Oh man that’s crazy. It makes me way homesick to hear about all you guys headed out to your crazy countries. I wish i was there to say bye but luckily I get to see you guys all come back as 21 year old return missionaries instead of head out as the the 19 year old weinies we all are now. Good luck out there man and let me know if you want to know anything.

Just so you know you should all look up Brandon Flowers and listen to his song. I think it’s called "On the floor" He is the lead singer for The Killers and he is a Mormon. He made a solo CD and about half of it is missionary approved so we pretty much live off of that thing. But anyway it’s crazy to think that my friends are headed out to Brazil, the Philippines, Australia, and now Fiji. It’s going to be amazing to see you all again in 2 and a half years and hear about all the crazy stories you have. Let’s hope you all come home without any weird worms or anything.

So from what I have heard it sounds like we are having about as opposite of weather as possible. I heard it’s about 30 and snowing over in Utah. This last week it has been over 85 degrees every single day. It has rained once or twice but even when it rains it doesn’t get below 70 which is awesome. It’s way too hot and humid during the day but early in the morning and late at night when the sun isn’t up it is so perfect it’s unreal. Something else that I think is weird about the weather here is that every morning it looks like it has rained. Everything is soaking wet. And it’s just cause the dew here and the humidity is insane. It is so green and the trees and crops grow so well because you don’t have to water anything. No one here has sprinkler systems and their lawns are green and perfect just because of all the moisture that comes in overnight. I thought that was way cool. It’s just not that fun to walk around in wearing a white shirt and tie.

The biggest change this week was in the ghetto though. It must be the summer heat or something but when we head over to the east side of town there are people everywhere. Most of them hate us and yell stuff at us but it’s alright cause we can’t understand them over the sound of their rap music coming from their car. It blows my mind how different people are here though. We will head over to the east side and people hate us and every single person is a thug. Then we can drive about 3 minutes to the middle of town and there are perfect little neighborhoods with green grass and nice families and they all love us and talk to us about our church. It is crazy. The people here couldn’t be more different.

So this week has been pretty normal. We didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary. We had some good meetings with people though so I’ll just tell you about those. We saw Kodie twice this week and we acted out some Book of Mormon stories with him and that was way fun. We let him be Nephi and cut of Laban’s head and we let him be Ammon and chop off some arms. Of course as a 10 year old boy he loves the gory stories haha. But we also helped his Grandma Georgia out a little bit by moving some stuff around their house and putting their AC in. The little houses they live in get’s so hot so fast they had to put the coolers in as quick as possible. While we were doing that we had to do our best to avoid stepping on cats. I told you about how there are a lot of cat people here. Well Georgia is one of them and right now she has about 4 or 5 cats walking around and 15 little tiny kittens. They are the cutest thing ever but there are a million of them. I’ll send some pictures home next week of them cause they are puny but way awesome.

We met with Shelly a few times this week as well and we committed her to be baptised the last week of April. She has been to church a few times but she doesn’t want to count those cause she really started over when me and elder Jensen found her. So in our mission you have to go to church 3 times before you can be baptised. So we need her to come every week. So keep her in your prayers and hopefully I will have a really happy email in a few days.

Going back to weather a little bit, the day after we met with Kodie and Georgia we were driving a few miles out of town to see a couple named Yana and James. We drive through corn fields to get there and it is literally flat for hundreds of miles in every direction. So it was way cool cause one of the rain storms i mentioned was happening and the thunder and lightning were insane. We could see every lightning strike for hundreds of miles around and it would light up the entire sky. The sky here seems huge. And all the rain almost seems like a fog because there is so much of it coming down so hard.

So we had a bunch of dinner appointments with members this week which is way cool cause it gets them all to like us. People have been telling us that the attitude for missionary work since me and Elder Jensen got here has been insane. At first no one really liked us that much but now people are giving us every friend they have who might be interested in the church and they always want to have us over for dinner. It’s one of the many blessing of actually working and not giving up when we are having a hard day. At one of the dinner appointments with Bro. and Sis. Greene i learned that there are 51 different churches in the community. So that would explain why every single person we tract into "has their own church" and at the other dinner appointment i learned that Missouri and Duke lost in the first round, and BYU lost too. Oh and that the Jazz suck again. Awesome. So that was a productive member visit for sure. Mom you should keep me updated on the tournament. I know its lame to cheer for the 1 seed but go Kentucky. (I hope they aren’t out already or I will feel like an idiot).

So we did have a pretty boring week but yesterday was actually pretty entertaining. So we got to go to church which is always cool. But we also set up a ride to go to the temple tomorrow so that will be way fun. Me, Elder Jensen, Elder Ward, and Elder Barney all get to go over together and we are way excited. Then after church we did a bunch of studying then we tracted until dinner. Tracting was actually way cool. We didn’t really meet any super solid investigators but we gave out a few pamphlets and a Book of Mormon. It was way cool cause pretty much everyone we met with was super, super nice and they had almost all had Mormon neighbors. So they all had a really good view of Mormons already. So all of you out there who think no one is watching just remember that by being a good Mormon and a good neighbor you could be helping some poor little missionary not get yelled at some day.

Oh and also while we were tracting some Baptist guy wanted us to come to church with him. We couldn’t cause we had an appointment but we are going with him next week. So that will probably be super weird but fun hopefully.

Yesterday night was way cool. We went on a faith walk or pretty much just walking around and contacting everyone you see. It was like 8 at night and it was dark but it felt so good so we just decided to walk around for a while. We aren’t supposed to walk up and down the same street more than once cause then we are more likely to get jumped. But the street we were on was the only street with lights so we walked up it and didn’t find anyone. Then we had to walk back down it to get home. We saw one lone black girl walking towards us and she stopped and talked to us which was surprising cause most people you randomly walk up to in an alley lined with bars on both sides don’t want to talk to you. But she was way interested and we walked with her down to the main city square and talked to her for like half an hour and gave her a Book of Mormon and other stuff. We got to set up a time to go see her again and teach her and her husband so we are hoping that goes well. That just shows that sometimes staying out for that last hour instead of going inside really helps. God will lead the missionaries to where they need to be even if we are just walking around.

So real quick i want to talk about today and next week. So today we were just doing our shopping and getting our hair cut and stuff when we got a call from Sister Myers. She told us that her daughter works at a nursing home for kinda crazy old people and that someone there needed a blessing. So we headed down and we got into the room with the woman who wanted a blessing. She had had a stroke and something in her brain wasn’t working right. So she thought that she was talking to us but really it just came out as the same strange noise over and over again. So we asked someone for her name and gave her a blessing. When Elder Jensen finished talking the Spirit was insane. She was bawling and all of us in the room felt really good. The worker then went on to tell us some of the things that had been really hard for this woman to handle about being stuck in a nursing home. The cool thing was that Elder Jensen had addressed every single trial she had had in the blessing he gave. And that was without knowing anything about her beforehand. The Spirit works in crazy ways and being a missionary is sweet. We get the chance to be a tool in God’s hands 24/7 and you can feel it. Sometimes I get way homesick and I want to go home and chill with my friends again. But then i just think about what i would have to give up to do that. I would have to give up the chance i have to feel this unique spirit all the time. And that’s not something I would ever willingly give up.

This coming week is going to be really interesting. Tomorrow we are going to the temple like I said but we are also having a district sleep over at our apartment because all the Senior Companions have to drive up to St Louis the next day. So that should be way fun. Then on Wednesday and Thursday Elder Jensen will be in St Louis for leadership training and i will have 2 other Elders as my companions. Together the 3 of us will have a total of 8 months in the mission field so that will be way fun. It should be an interesting week. I have to go now but I want all of you to know that I love this gospel more than anything and I’m so happy to be out here helping Gods kingdom grow. I’m so excited for my friends to all get their chance to come out here as well. And all of my friends in high school right now. Listen in seminary! I have been in class with you and I know that you don’t listen haha. Sometimes it sucks but the stuff you learn in there will help you so much on your missions. We have the chance to teach seminary out here about every other week and it’s so cool. The stuff you learn is important. I love all of you and I will talk to you again in a week. Read your scriptures and pray! It always works.

-Elder Banks

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012

Hello everyone:

This is Parker's Mom. I tried to put a few pictures on his blog today. I am not good at that part. The first one is of all the new missionaries who went to St. Louis the same day as Parker. President and Sister Clark are with them in front of the St. Louis temple. I had to put one of Parker riding his scooter down the hall in his apartment building. Then it's his congratulations poster to his sister, Amanda. Finally a pic of Parker with his trainer, Elder Jensen. I'll put more photos on Facebook because that's easier for me!


Jodie Banks

So this week I have to start by saying congrats to my sister Amanda and brother Landen. They got married this week and I am so excited for them! I don’t know when they will read this because they are on their honeymoon but i hope they have an awesome week that starts an awesome eternity together.

Also I heard that Weston is getting his call pretty soon and I am freaking out haha. I was thinking about that a ton last week and I want to know where he is going to bad. I can’t wait for all of my friends to get to experience what I am right now. It’s true that it is almost impossibly hard at the beginning. And it doesn’t ever get much easier. But i have only been out for about a month and a half and it’s already way worth it.

This week in Jacksonville was insane. So many good things happened and we had such a busy week. It was a real roller coaster this week because Satan was trying to stop us from doing all the good things we did this week. It felt like we had lead weight around our ankles every time we tried to do anything. Especially get out of bed. But it was obvious that Satan was trying to keep us down so we just kept pushing on knowing that obviously something good was waiting for us. It has almost gotten to the point where when we feel awful we get excited because we know that Satan is trying to keep us from doing something good that day. And without fail every day that we push on and work hard something amazing happens.

The weather here has been super weird. Monday it rained a lot. And i mean a lot. Every street here has giant ditches dug off to the side of it because it’s like a hurricane when it rains and all the streets and everything floods. But when you're inside looking out the window at it, it’s pretty amazing.

Then Tuesday it snowed and that was awful cause it was freezing. But from Wednesday on it has been amazing. 65 degrees with a slight wind to keep you cool. We have to enjoy this weather for the few more weeks that we have until it gets unbearably hot.

So a lot happened this week like I said. Monday not much happened cause it was just P-day. But Tuesday was way interesting. It looked like it was going to be a horrible day. We had a full schedule at the beginning of the day but then because everyone canceled we ended up with about 6 hours with nothing to do. So doing our best to avoid tracting at all costs, we decided to go and see some less active members. There was one name on a list we looked at that stuck out to us and his name was Terri Anderson. We found out more about him and realized that the sisters before us had tried to contact him but he had moved. But because we were already in a pretty bad mood my companion just said "Too bad we're going to see him anyway!" So we drove to his house and turns out the sisters were right. He had moved. But we talked to his slightly crazy daughter who still lived there and she gave us his new address. So we drove down to his new house and knocked on the door. He was there with his son and we were pretty surprised when they let us in. He was just getting out of bed even though it was almost dinner time. We found out that he works from 6 at night until 6 in the morning. So very luckily we had caught him on a day when he had work off that night. After talking to him for about 30 minutes we found out he hadn’t been to church for a few decades and his life was pretty awful right now. But he wanted to try to fix it so he told us to come back later that night to talk more. When we went back he read some scriptures with us and it was really cool. But then what made the night really special was he told us about how his life had really fallen apart. He has been praying for a few days that God would either send him someone to help so he didn’t have to be alone, or to just take his life. He was pretty amazed that we showed up just a few days later. I am so thankful for the opportunity that we have as missionaries to be so in touch with the Spirit and know exactly what to do and when to do it. And I’m thankful for a good companion who won’t sit around and do nothing even when that’s exactly what we both want to do.

The next day was interesting cause we did a blitz of a city called Beardstown, which has the greatest name ever. A blitz is when all of the missionaries from a district go to one city for the day. So I went up with the zone leader Elder Young and we tracted for a few hours and then went home. That was pretty much that whole day.

On Thursday we went to my first ever zone conference. It was really long. But most of it was good. Elder Jensen wasn’t feeling to great after some weird gravy we had eaten so we spent some time in the bathroom while he was throwing that up. But a cool part of that day was the drive back to Jacksonville from zone conference. It was about a 2 and a half hour drive and in case you don’t know Illinois is completely flat. I can look for hundreds of miles in one direction and not see anything but maybe a water tower. But because of that when the sun goes down you can see some of the most amazing sunsets ever. I took a few pictures but they really don’t do it justice. It was amazing.

Friday was probably the most interesting day of the week. We had a member invite us over to meet with his friend who was a preacher for another church. To make a long story short he pretty much just yelled at us for 2 hours about how we don’t believe in the same God as people who believe in the Bible, while we tried to teach him something about the gospel. But one moment that was really cool for me was when he told us that it’s cool that we believe in our church but we need to do some research. And that later in our lives we won’t think the church is true and we will have to study it more to believe in it again.

When he said that I gathered up all my courage to look at this giant, crazy Brazilian guy and tell him as boldly and bluntly as i have ever been in my life that he was wrong. I respected the fact that he believed in his church and we believed in ours. I wasn’t going to try to convert him. But that i could guarantee him that I would never not know our church was true. That even if every other person on earth fell away and told me I was wrong I would be able to know it’s true. And nothing he said or anyone else says can change that. I could help but smile after I saw the expression on his face after that. He just sat back and said "You're one special dude. The Christian faith could use a few more guys like you two." We didn’t convert him. We didn’t even come close. But it was a very negative experience that turned into a positive one because we were listening to the Spirit. My companion looked at me on the ride home and said "Now don’t get a big head or anything, but you served your purpose as Gods representative tonight." Just hearing that from him was enough to get me through the rest of the long night.

Saturday was the day my sister got married which was awful not being able to be there. But we got to go to a baptism which was cool. Pittstown was baptizing a girl in our church that Elder Jensen had been teaching before he came to Jacksonville. So we got to clean the font which was surprisingly cool and attend that baptism which was way cool.

Then on Sunday we went to church and I gave a talk on the 3rd article of faith and that went really well. Then in elders quorum the member who invited us to come talk to the crazy preacher guy at his house stood up and said how much he respected us and how strongly we have the Spirit with us and that they should all take advantage of having us here for the short time we are here. It has been so awesome the affect that members have had on our work. We have been working really hard to get them to trust us and now finally the referrals are starting to come in.

As a result of one of these referrals, we went to a woman’s house on Sunday. They answered the door and let us in really easily. We then found out that the woman who let us in was from out of state and is taking the lessons back in her home town. She moved out here for 6 weeks to take care of her sister who is a less active with a non member boyfriend. They insisted that we stay over for dinner as well so we got some pretty awesome steaks out of it as well. We are going back over tomorrow to see how they are doing and teach them a lesson so hopefully it goes well.

A few good things happened this week with our old investigators. Kodie learned the Plan of Salvation and of course took it in and already knows it better than i do. He is a 10 year old sponge who never forgets anything we tell him. And Shelly accepted a challenge from us to pray about when she should be baptized last week. This week she called us up to cancel an appointment cause she was sick. But they she told us that she had prayed and God told her she was ready. She wants to set an exact date for sometime at the end of April which we will hopefully get to set sometime this week. She has some problems to work out but we are really hoping she goes through with that. She has taken a 180 from the first time we met with her just a few short weeks ago. It’s a trick getting them to come to church though. Kodie lives with his active grandma but his mom only gets to see him on Sunday. So he has to choose church or time with his mom and almost every 10 year old is going to choose mom. But he said he would come to church every other week so that’s a start. And Shelly has a really bad problem with being in big groups. She had some really horrible things happen to her as a child so she still has problems being around people. But we think that both of them should be getting baptized fairly soon so keep them in your prayers and wish us luck!
Real quick to end I want to tell you about a man named Father Weitzel. He is a former Catholic priest who is 85 years old and lives in Beardstown. He is the coolest guy ever! He loves the missionaries and treats them like his own children. He has the most beautiful dog I have ever seen and I decided that I am getting one when I am older no matter what. He always tells people to listen to the missionaries even though he would never become a Mormon himself. He is just a good example of how kind the people are here.

Real quick a couple things i forgot. There is an awesome guy in the ward named Darin Michael who lives with his wife but they work opposite shifts so he spends most of his time alone. He lets us come over and visit him all the time and he keeps me updated on sports. He let me know when Peyton got released (sorry Austin) and I got to watch about 30 seconds of a Kentucky game this last week which was my sports fix for the next little while.

Also, Jacksonville sounds tiny but it really isn’t which i don’t understand. It only has 19,000 people but it feels just like Orem. There are like 4 colleges here including the one for the deaf. They are all tiny but they keep a lot of people here. There is a Wal-Mart and most of the same things that Orem has so we don’t have a very hard time getting food or anything like that. We use the computers at Macmurry College in the library and it’s really nice. I have to go now so we can have time to get ice cream at the Frozen Penguin before we go out to work tonight. But I will talk to all of you next week.

P.S. Kinda forgot to bear my testimony. But the church is true. I’ll do a better job next week.

-Elder Parker Banks

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 2012

Hey everyone,

So my 2nd week in the mission field has been great! I am really feeling like I am getting used to it now. And just because I said that I’m sure something crazy is going to happen this week and mess everything up haha. But I will start today by just telling you a little bit more about the area and how things are going.

First of all my companions name is Jorden Lee Jensen and he goes by Joe. He is from Price Utah. He is way cool and it is interesting to talk to him about his decision to come on a mission. So far both of my companions have had good normal lives that they left behind to come on missions even though they had never really planned on it. Both of my companions are 21 and came into the field late. But it has been so cool to hear about their "conversion" to the gospel even though they have always technically been members. Elder Jensen is a huge joker. We have so much fun it’s insane. I think that people plan on missionaries getting more mature on their missions. We get a lot more mature spiritually. But when you are stuck without anything we used to have to entertain ourselves we have to find stupid things that will entertain us haha. But don’t worry we always work really hard. We just find ways to have fun in the car or between getting door slammed in our faces tracting.

The ward here is still amazing, especially the relief society president. She definitely knows how to get the missionaries to work hard for her. With food. She makes us cookies and cakes and stuff all the time and it’s pretty great. But all the other church leaders have been great too and everyone is really supporting us in our effort to make the ward grow. And just so i don’t forget anything that happened this week i figured the best thing would be to go through it day by day and mention the big things that happened.

Tuesday 28th: So on Tuesday we helped out at a hospital for 3 hours and that was pretty awful. It was super boring and we didn’t get to talk to anyone really so we just sat there and waited to leave. But then we met with an 18 year old kid Zach Orr and his 15 year old friend Sierra and that was way cool. They are super curious and we taught them the first 2 lessons in our first sit down which was awesome. Sierra is really excited to learn more but Zach is having a hard time cause he is catholic and it bugs him that we think you have to be Mormon to receive all the possible blessings. We had a few more appointments that night but nothing to exciting.

Wednesday 29th: So Wednesday we had our first district meeting and that was super fun. We have an awesome district and it is super fun to get to hang out with all of them in one place. A lot of them were already friends and so when I came in they accepted me instantly and we all get along really well. It has been really cool to see how the Spirit can help people who have nothing in common get along like best friends. Later that night we met with our investigator Shelly. She is a very interesting lady. She lives in a little shack and has terrible health. She has 0 teeth and like 5 cats. Her and her mom and her dad all live next to each other in little tiny houses and they are pretty much over run by cats. I hope Ashlyn reads this cause she would fit it just great with all of the cat ladies around here. But Shelly is an awesome lady and she is super faithful but it is hard to get her to commit to anything for a long time so we are trying to work with her to increase her desire about the church.

Thursday March 1st: Thursday was super long and we did a lot of tracting and a lot of hoping something would come up so we would have something to do. We got into a few members homes which was nice cause we have been trying to go around and get to know everyone in the ward. But our one appointment for the day fell through so we didn’t really get anything that great done.

Friday 2nd: Friday was pretty cool cause we got to meet with our investigators Betty and Kodie. Betty is like 60 years old and her family is insane but they are so funny. None of them are really all the way there we don’t think. But they are all capable of supporting themselves and important things like that. Betty lives with her 2 grandkids Jonavan and Deana. I will talk more about them and Kodie in a little bit. But the best part about today was that it was my companions 1 year mark. So we made jell-o and stuck a toothpick in it for a candle and celebrated that. And apparently you are supposed to burn stuff on hump day but we could find anywhere to start a fire. So we just dumped a bunch of hand sanitizer on the kitchen table and lit it on fire. It was pretty great haha. I got some way cool pictures that i will send home today so they should be up on facebook in just a few days.

Saturday 3rd: So Saturday was pretty good and really busy which is always nice. Saturday was also the moment of my greatest temptation to break a mission rule so far. We went to the church for a scouting activity that was a bunch of non member families. A bunch of kids were working on getting merit badges and belt loops and stuff like that. The thing that tempted me so much was that there was a room of kids all playing xbox and of course they had to be playing Madden. All the leaders and people kept trying to get us to play but we know we aren’t supposed to play video or board games except on Christmas or Thanksgiving so we just had to leave. It was pretty awful haha.

But that night was really cool because we went to see Betty again. Like i had said before her family is a little bit crazy. It is super hard to keep it on subject and we haven’t really had the spirit there for more than like 2 minutes at a time before a weird, off topic comment has been yelled out. But this family has been having a super hard time and one of their cousins is in like a special hospital and he is pretty much going crazy. He always talks about demons talking to him and won’t let nurses touch him. We never hope for bad things to happen to investigators but sometimes it’s an opportunity that we need. We brought a member with us to teach her and his name was Brother Thompson. About half way through the lesson we had him bear his testimony on prayer. It was one of the most powerful testimonies i have ever heard. And the even more amazing thing was that after that not a single weird comment was made. The spirit was so thick in the room no one could have avoided feeling it. So that was a really good way to end that night.

Sunday 4th: So yesterday we had church which was cool and I got asked to speak next week in sacrament on the 3rd article of faith so I’m pretty excited about that. But the real high light of the day for me was that we got to go over and see Kodie again last night. Kodie is a 10 year old kid who lives with his recent convert Grandma. His dad is a pretty messed up guy who left him and his mom and then came back a few weeks later and stole everything they own. So Kodie has a serious problem with boys. He was crushed when we replaced the sisters. But he has really adjusted well to meeting with us. We had the chance to go on a bike ride with him last P-day and that was really what won him over. He really likes us now and loves listening to us when we come over. So like I said before he is 10. But when i talk to him i feel like I am talking to a 16 year old. He is a genius. He is a seriously special kid. He has a lot of big hard tests coming up this week in school and he is really worried about them. So last night we went over and gave him a blessing. I had the chance to give it and that was really special for me especially cause i have never given one before. It was a really cool moment for me and hopefully for Kodie too. Something that i have realized about Kodie is that he is the first investigator that I have really loved. All our other investigators are great and i care about them a lot. But I care about Kodie so much and i want to help him get baptized more than anything. I really hope that we can continue to work with him.

Monday 5th: and of course I have to talk about today. Today has been really awesome. We went shopping for groceries and I bought myself a 1 month of being on my mission present (I can see my mom rolling her eyes right now). I bought myself a scooter to ride around the school on and it is pretty awesome haha. Me and my companion look like 10 year olds riding around on a scooter and a ripstick with our backpacks on. But then we got back and i found a bunch of packages outside our door and that was pretty much like Christmas for me and Elder Jensen. We have a bunch of candy now and turns our gummy sharks are one of his favorite candies too (Thanks Liz) so we sat there and ate candy for a while.

So this last week has been pretty good and i hope this coming week goes well too. We have exchanges and zone conference and we are going to a baptism on the 10th (not for us, it’s for my companions old area) so we are way excited for all of those things.

I am out of time but i want to finish with something real quick. This week i got a letter from Hannah and she asked me what one thing really makes me believe in this gospel and helps me the most. I hope it’s ok that i want to answer that question for everyone to read. I would say that if i had to pick one favorite thing about the gospel it would be knowing that we have a Father in Heaven who really knows and loves us and that He is willing to give us the gift of the Holy Ghost so that we never have to be alone. That’s kinda cheating and picking 2 things but they both mean a ton to me. Many times in my life and especially on my mission I have felt alone. But then I am reminded that I always have someone watching over me and someone who loves me. I am so thankful for the knowledge that I have of our loving God. He knows and cares about each one of us.

I know i have given a bunch of challenges but i have one more for this week. If you have something that you love the most about the gospel, i want to hear about it. I love hearing why other people love this gospel as much as I do. Thank you for all the support and prayers and i will talk to all of you again in a week!

Elder Parker Banks