Monday, April 30, 2012

No letter

Hi everyone. We did not get an email from Parker today. I'll post something later if we happen to get a letter during the week.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012

This week was a really good week. So i totally forgot to thank my sister Jennifer for the candy and stuff last week so I had to give her her shout out this week. I want to say I’m really sorry to everyone who hasn’t gotten letters back from me yet. These last few P-days have been crazy busy and today we are going up to Springfield (an hour drive) to play wiffel ball for zone P-day. So hopefully next week I will get to write everyone back. The colleges here are going crazy because of finals though and I’m sure you are all the same way. But i promise you will get your letters when things slow down a little it. For me and for you.

So the first thing that I did this week was head up to Springfield for a few days with Elder Young our zone leader. A ton happened the first few days of this week. Springfield is pretty famous for Abraham Lincoln stuff and it’s almost impossible to look anywhere without seeing a picture of a statue or something of him. But one cool thing is that on Tuesday we got to go do service at the old state capital. They had a bunch of rooms there and it’s pretty much a museum. But because they knew us we got to walk around and wear our official white gloves and touch everything. It was pretty neat to get to go behind the red ropes and touch stuff Abraham Lincoln had touched.

Probably the coolest part of going up to Springfield was the house the elders live in. They live in the guest house of a mansion. I went up there Monday night and when we woke up Tuesday morning for our work out time we hiked up to the private lake and did a zip line. It is a good thing it is the zone leaders house and they are awesome missionaries cause it is full of temptation haha. The zip line is huge and it’s just a rope you hang on to and it’s over a perfect lake. It was really hard to not just let go and drop in on a hot summer day. They have a tv in their living room too and full cable and all that so you have to be a pretty good missionary to end up in that apartment.

But probably the most exciting part of that trip was when I got home and talked to Elder Jensen. They had gone to see our investigator Caitlyn. She had been having a really hard time reading the Book of Mormon and her family wasn’t helping. They were hurting a lot actually. But turns out we got a miracle this week. She told Elder Jensen and his companion for the day Elder Jager that she picked up the Book of Mormon to read and about 4 hours later she had to force herself to put it down and go to sleep she loved it so much. The real miracle is that she was reading 2 Nephi. She finished the whole thing in one night and didn’t skip a single Isaiah chapter. She said that even though she was probably going to lose her family she needed to get baptised. She is moving away soon so she wants to get baptised on the 5th of May. We are so excited for her! And thankfully and through much prayer when she called and told her family they weren't even too mad. They said they weren’t happy but that they still love her and her religion wouldn’t change that. So now we have 2 baptisms planned for the 5th and they are both really solid. We are so excited to see all of our hard work finally starting to pay off. And the ward is getting back into the missionary work now that they are starting to see results.

We had some awesome days this week but we also had a few really, really long ones. We had a day where 4 appointments canceled on us so we did our fair share of tracting and contacting that day. My favorite door though was our very last one. It was dark and this crazy looking lady answered the door. We found out she already knew like everything about every religion and she loves Jesus. She doesn’t celebrate Christmas the normal way cause she doesn’t like Santa so they make a birthday cake for Jesus and put it outside for the birds to carry up to God. So that was pretty weird. But she was really nice and we tried to give her a bunch of pamphlets and a Book of Mormon but she wouldn’t take any of it. But we really, really wanted to give her something so as she was closing the door on us a i just yelled "Hey you want some peeps?" and that got her to open the door back up so we could at least hand her a box of Peeps a member gave us. That was pretty much the most successful door we had that day.

So i have talked a little about Jared Jess in the past. Today I have a couple of cool stories about him. First of all in case you haven’t picked up on this he is awesome. He had a rough past and spent some time in jail and things like that but he has completely turned his life around and is starting his papers soon. He comes with us to a bunch of our appointments and there are two stories I want to share about him real quick. So a few weeks ago he took a Book of Mormon into work and gave it to a kid. The kid is kinda interested but not really. However, me and Elder Jensen were tracting on a trailer park one day (that was an adventure) and we went over and talked to a 20 year old girl and her kids. We talked to her for a second and then showed her the Book of Mormon. Her reaction was "Oh a kid in my work brought one of those in one day. Jared Jess. He is really cool" and so even though Jared didn’t bring it for her she saw his good example and took one from us. We really hope that we can keep teaching her and help her to grow.

The other cool story about Jared this week is one that he told Caitlyn when we went to see her. He went to an appointment with Elder Jensen and Elder Barney when they were on exchanges a few weeks ago. They went to a lesson with Betty and Elder Jensen told me it was one of the most worthless lessons he had ever been to. But Jared told Caitlyn this story about how he read the entire Book of Mormon and prayed to know if it was true. Nothing happened. A week went by and then another and another and still nothing. But then when he was at that appointment he got to bear his testimony about the Book of Mormon. When he finished bearing his testimony he realized that everything he had just said was 100% true. And that was the answer to his prayer. So even if Betty didn’t get anything out of that lesson Jared did. And getting him out on his mission will be an amazing thing for every person in this ward.

So real quick just a couple more stories. 2 nights ago a crazy old lady yelled at us a lot through the door and called the cops on us. That was pretty strange. But it wasn’t the worst thing in the world cause the cops made us go home for the night so we got to go in at 8:30 instead of 9 and we were pretty drained by that time anyways. But thankfully one of the cops had driven past us a couple hours earlier. We were in a not so great part of town and most people there hate cops. So when we gave him a wave he seemed pretty happy to see us. So when we saw him again later that night he was really nice to us and made it a funny situation instead of a really awkward one.

This week something I realized is that we can’t flatline, as missionaries or as normal people. We always have to be working to more up and make progress. As soon as we try to flatline and just stay where we are because we think we are good enough Satan grabs us, and before we know it 2 weeks later we are looking up at where we were before wishing that we had tried harder to progress.

And another cool thing this week was church. We had 3 of our investigators there and so that was awesome. And also the stake president was there and he gave a talk. He gave a quote from his wife which I thought was awesome. It said "Happiness isn’t being happy all the time" And i thought that was so true. I have been miserable more often than I have been happy on my mission so far. But then when I look back at all the long hours tracting and the dozens of random black guys yelling stuff at us from their cars it is all worth it to get that one person who wants to hear what we have to say. Caitlyn and Shelly are the perfect example of people that make it all worth it. I’m not always happy, but my life is full of happiness.

Oh man i totally forgot to say something. I hate to end on a bad note but i don’t really have time to try to slip it in somewhere else. Sister Scott is the woman that I gave a blessing to about a week ago. She passed away just a couple days after the blessing. No one was expecting it and it has crushed the ward. Her daughter Alex is a trooper though and she has one of the most amazing testimonies I have ever seen, so she is doing alright. She lives with her aunt now so she can still be in Jacksonville and she is still in our ward.

And of course my weekly sports paragraph. I was happy to hear that the Jazz have a pretty good shot to make the playoffs. Sounds like they have had some pretty crazy games recently! The last line of Austin’s letter answered one of the sports questions that I had: "P.S. The Wizards suck. Now. And always." or something like that at least haha. Thanks buddy. I hope you find a huge spider in your bed your first night in the Philippines. But I have to go now so I will talk to you all again soon. Thanks for all the prayers and support. I can feel it for sure. Love all of you.

-Elder Banks

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012

Real quick happy birthday to Cole! Sorry i didn’t say that last week. And good luck to Nathan Hamilton headed out to the MTC soon! It’s going to be way awesome for you. Good luck in Germany.

So this week was crazy. It was really good because it went by way, way quick. And it went by quickly because we were always doing different things and we got to be out of the normal routine for a little bit. But before I get into that I have a cool/terrible story from this week. So a woman in our ward named Sister Scott wasn’t feeling to hot so she went to the doctor. They told her she was fine but she was getting worse so she went to the hospital. She found out that she had had a stroke. She called us up to come and give her a blessing and that was really neat. I got to give the blessing and it was cool to go in without having even the slightest idea what I was going to say and having Heavenly Father fill my mouth. So that was really cool. The terrible part is that she has gotten a lot worse. She is in the hospital right now and it doesn’t look like she is going to make it much longer. It is really sad because she isn’t very old at all. But the part that breaks my heart the most is about her daughter. I don’t know the story but she has lived alone with her mom for her entire life. Now that her mom is no longer going to be around they don’t know what is going to happen to her. She is only 16 years old but doesn’t really have anyone to take care of her. She is an awesome girl and I have met very few teenagers who are as strong in the gospel as she is. She is in the seminary class we teach and she should honestly be teaching us. I’m sure her faith is helping her out a lot right now but it is still a way hard thing for her to be going through.

So one of the things that made this week go by so quick was that this week we went on exchanges. Elder Cooper came down from Pittsfield to be in Jacksonville with me. I was not excited at all to have a different companion than Elder Jensen but it ended up being pretty cool. It was fun to get to be with a different missionary and it was a good change. But i was definitely glad to have Elder Jensen back. Things always seem to just go better and be more fun while he is my companion. I thought this was funny cause when you train someone you are their "dad" and me and Elder Jensen think that’s stupid so we have never said it. But now because he thinks he is funny he calls me his "red headed step child" So even though most of the time he is just making fun of me sometimes he has cool insights. One that he shared with me this week that i really liked was about the iron rod. We taught a lesson to a less active guy and his non member son about Lehi's dream. They really enjoyed it and it got me and Elder Jensen thinking. Elder Jensen said something that really stood out to me. He said that just holding to the iron rod isn’t good enough. You won’t make it anywhere and sooner or later you will let go and drift away. We have to hold to the rod and move forward. Without walking we will never make it to the tree and eat the fruit. I have seen that in my own life and I know it’s true. I have had times when I figured i was good enough and i would just chill where I was at. Most of the time that resulted in me sliding down and having to dig myself out of a pit. Now that I am out here on my mission and I am constantly trying to move forward I can see how much happier it has made me. We also love getting the chance to push people forward on the rod and give them that little extra nudge that they need to get themselves walking.

So also this week we had to drive up to Springfield and have a DLZLC meeting cause Elder Jensen is the District Leader. I didn’t get to go to the meeting so they just had us tract for a couple hours until they were done. So i got paired up with Elder Ward and Elder Hoggan and we tracted. It was actually really fun. We didn’t really accomplish anything cause no one wanted to listen to us at all. It was really interesting though cause the weather here has been pretty bad recently. We haven’t had any tornados or anything and it has still usually been around 70 degrees but we have been getting random rain storms that are crazy. And just our luck we got to tract in one of those. And of course me and Elder Hoggan left our rain coats back in our areas. So we walked around in the pouring rain in our white shirts for 2 hours. We were pretty cold by time it was over to say the least. Elder Ward thought it was pretty funny. Oh and of course it had to be on Friday the 13th. That just kinda topped it off.

Another random cool story is that this week in church Raymond gave a talk. It was extra cool casue he is deaf. So he just stood up at the pulpit and signed his talk while a lady in the congregation translated into a mic for us. It was really cool and we could feel the Spirit so strong. I went over and said thanks to him after and that’s about all we can say really. He is having us over for dinner next Friday though so hopefully we will get to know him a little better. Even though we can’t really talk to him at all.

So the best part of the week (as always) was getting to teach lessons. We had a lot of really good lessons this week. We got a few new investigators which is way nice. We tracted into a kid named Larry a few weeks ago and now we are meeting with him every weekend. He is a way cool 16 year old black kid and he loves hanging out with us and learning from us. His mom wants him to get baptised way bad. Which is kinda weird cause she is a Baptist and takes him with her like every week. But she says that he just doesn’t fit in there and that he would be a lot happier with us. Last time we went over right as we all got quiet to say the closing prayer his mom answered the phone and in her way loud crazy black lady voice just said "Ya Larry is here but he is busy! He is with his new friends that are trying to get him baptised!" and i don’t know why but i could barely even talk to say the prayer after that i thought it was so funny. The people here are way crazy but we love them so much.

We also had a pretty good meeting with Shelly this week. She quit smoking. We have no idea how (well I guess we do) but she just stopped somehow. After years and years of smoking she just stopped. And even though her dad comes over and smokes in her tiny little shack every day with her she just sits there and doesn’t smoke anymore. It’s amazing. But even though she is doing so awesome we had to push her baptism date back a week cause April 29th the day that she was going to get the Holy Ghost is stake conference (and Liz's birthday) so now her baptism is set for the 5th i think and she will get the Holy Ghost the next day in church.

I know i mentioned this before but you should all watch the movie To Turn The Hearts. I think it’s available on You don’t have to watch the whole thing but it would be cool to look at for a second. The main family in that movie is the Jess family. They are awesome and some of our favorite people in the ward. Their son Jared has made a ton of progress over the last couple years and comes with us to tons of appointments. He is one of our best friends out here and he is hoping to start his papers in about 6 months. And also the daughter Karli is way cool as well. She is in the seminary class we teach as well and she is an awesome little missionary. We went over to her house last night to teach her friend Savannah and it went really well. I love seeing all the young men and young women in the ward starting to get interested in missionary work. The people here are awesome.

I have to go cause i need to go pack now. I am headed up to Springfield with a zone leader for the next couple days for exchanges which I’m pretty excited for. It will be cool to get out of Jacksonville for a few days and see some different people. But just to end I want to say how thankful I am for the Atonement. I didn’t really understand it too well before I came out. I understood what it is and what it does for us, but I didn’t really get how amazing it really is. I obviously can’t even come close to understanding it all. But i have been studying it a ton and learning as much as i can about it and it has made my mission so much easier. It takes away homesickness and disappointment. It is just awesome to know that there is a God in heaven who knows exactly what I am going through and wants to help me with it. Even though I constantly have a companion by my side there are moments out here that i have felt more alone than ever before. Gaining a better understanding of the Atonement has really helped me to get through that. I am so thankful to be a missionary and I love being out here. I know I’m doing the best thing with my life right now and I have loved seeing the changes in other people and in myself. I am so thankful for this gospel and i hope we all have the chance to learn more about it and grow closer to our loving Heavenly Father every day.

-Elder Banks

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9, 2012

Well I have to start out this week by saying congratulations to Kaylee and Ryan! My companion was pretty weirded out when I opened up a letter with a picture of a girl with a pregnancy test haha. But once he knew it was my cousin it made more sense to him. That’s awesome I can’t wait to meet some new little ones when I get home. Do Matt and Anne have any special news yet? Oh and happy birthday to Teagan and Mailie as well. All of you little kids are growing up!

So talking about that reminded me of a cool experience that I had this week. We go to a family’s house every week for breakfast named the Myers. They cook the best breakfasts ever. And when we were over there on Wednesday there was 5 generations in the room with us. It was crazy to see a family like that all in one room together. I didn’t even know it was possible to have 5 generations alive at one time.

I hope everyone had an awesome Easter! Thanks to mom and Hannah for the awesome packages! Especially thank you for the awesome hymn book Hannah :D So i got my Easter package on Wednesday and Elder Jensen got his last week. So our Easter Sunday was pretty normal. We had a delicious dinner of frozen burritos and Jell-o.

Not just Easter but the entire end of this week has been really interesting. Like I said last week we lost 5 investigators, and also we have visited with most of the members in the ward to share a message at least once. So we have a lot more free time. We did a lot of faith walks (contacting) and tracting this week. I fully expected it to be awful but it actually ended up being pretty cool. Maybe it was because it was around Easter but everyone was way nice to us and we gave out a ton of copies of the Book of Mormon.

One of the coolest meetings we had didn’t actually end up with us teaching a lesson or even giving away a Book of Mormon. But it was the most drastic change I have ever seen in a person in 5 minutes in my life. So we were walking around yesterday and just trying to give stuff away. There is a cool poem that Elder Jensen’s mom sent him about butterflies and it sounds way lame but everyone we share it with loves it a ton. So we were walking and there was a lady on her front porch and this is about what Elder Jensen’s conversation was with her from the sidewalk. "Hey how are you?" "fine" "Happy Easter" "..." "could we share a message with ya?" "Nope" "Are you sure? It’s really good?" "Yup" "It’s a poem my mom sent me, you will really like it" then he just walked up onto her porch and started reading it to her. He started reading it to her and she looked like she wanted to smack us. But apparently something in that poem really hit her because when he finished reading it to her she was a completely different person. She talked to us a ton and thanked us so much for sharing that with her. She introduced us to her husband and told us all about her family. We gave her a copy of the poem and also a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. Odds are we will never see that lady again. She wasn’t to hot on the idea of learning about our religion. But she will always talk to the missionaries I can almost guarantee. She loved us by time we left. So if nothing else some future companionship will get in the door of someone who wouldn’t have even opened it for them before.

Another interesting thing that happened at the end of this week is that we got a call from Pittsfield which is the other area that is in our district. Elder Adie was Elder Jensen’s companion right before I was and they are way close, so they loved being in the same district. But Elder Adie was actually calling to tell us he is being transferred. He was having some problems in Pitts and decided that it would probably be best for him to leave. So he called up President Clark and on Friday he got sent to the farthest area away. It is crazy that out here you can go from being so close to a missionary and such good friends with them, and then the next day they are 2 states away. It sucked to hear about it but I am proud of him for making the right decision to head to a new area. So now we have a new elder, Elder Cooper in our area. I have never met him before but we are going to do exchanges tomorrow so we will have at least 24 hours to get to know each other.

So going back a little bit I want to talk about tracting again. So we were just walking about tracting and we stumbled onto a house that Elder Jensen and Elder Barney had tracted into on exchanges. We knocked and a 16 year old black kid named Larry answered the door. He was way nice and told us to come on in. I was way distracted right when we got in cause Lord of the Rings was playing on his huge tv and it was my favorite part of my favorite movie. So thankfully he turned it off or I would have been pretty much usless. But we talked to him a little bit and gave him a Book of Mormon. His mom has been trying to get him to be baptised into any church. So it’s weird that she is a different religion but she loves us coming over and teaching him. A few of the girls in our ward already know Larry from school so hopefully they can fellowship him and get him to be more interested.

All of our investigators were kinda frustrating this week and none of them came to church. But we had a few good meetings this week so that was nice. Shelly is still on track to get baptized but she can’t miss church again. She fell and hurt her knee Easter morning so she couldn’t make it. Its way frustrating cause she has a ton of health problems that keep her from being able to leave her house but they have to be to church 3 times before they can get baptized. Hopefully she can still make it.

But at least there was some good sports news this week. I heard Kentucky won the national championship. But that might be wrong cause i can’t remember who told me or when they told me haha. But I will have to talk to Bro. Michael cause he is my sports hook up. We go see him about once a week and after the message we always have to talk about the week in sports haha. He is one of the greatest guys I have ever met. There is also a super old like 85 year old lady who we work with at the food pantry once a week. And she is a huge Cardinals fan. She can tell me the stats and everything for every game so that is awesome. I talked to Brother Hart about it last night and heard the Cards are 3-1 right now even though Wainwright got the loss so that’s a good sign. It’s great that everyone loves the Cardinals our here cause it’s so easy to talk to people. Either I tell them how awesome the Cardinals are or I tell them how awful the Cubs are. Even if they want to punch me at least they are willing to talk to us after that. It’s amazing how much more open people are after you make them laugh. Once they see we are normal people they just like talking to us. Sometimes talking bad on someone’s favorite baseball team is just what they need to hear.

Thank you so much for all of the letters and emails! They are awesome and it gives some awesome motivation for the rest of the day. It sounds like you are all doing really well. I don’t know when school ends but it must be sometime soon cause there is graduation stuff everywhere around here. There is prom stuff everywhere too. Yikes... But it’s crazy that so many of my friends will be graduating this year! It seems like just barely that I was the one wearing the dumb little hat and gown. I can’t believe all of you are going to college too. All you guys better be getting ready for your missions soon haha. If any of you ever have any questions or anything you want to know about missions write me and I’ll do my best to answer anything you're wondering about. If you aren’t planning on going, change your mind. Cause its hard. It is so stressful and people won’t even look at you walking down the street casue they are afraid you will talk to them. And even on the nights when all you want to do is go home, all you have to do is think about why you're out there and what you have gained from it. And you won’t want to go home anymore. It’s impossible to explain. But you will know once you're out here. It will be worth it for all of you, and it has definitely been worth it for me.

-Elder Banks

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2, 2012

I've included a few pictures that Parker sent last week. He mentioned their investigator who had all the kittens, so here is a pic of them.

There are lots of cool signs on the buildings and this is one of them.

A beautiful cardinal

Parker with their 10 year old investigator, Kodie

April 2, 2012

So first thing I want to say this week is to my friends that are about to go on missions. Weston wrote me this week and asked what I would recommend to get ready for your mission. I have very little time to write letters today so I’m just going to reply right here. I hope that’s ok. So the first thing that pops into my head and my companions head is to read Preach my Gospel. And not just the lessons. Before you go on your mission you should read Preach my Gospel cover to cover. I haven’t even done that yet but man do i wish that I had. It has so much information in there that never knew about.

I also encourage you to set expectations for yourself. In the MTC everything will be way strict and you will pretty much have to follow the rules perfectly. But then when you get out into the field (at least in my mission) the rules are pretty much do whatever you feel right about. My mission president is totally a spirit of the law kind of guy. We can pretty much do anything that feels right to us. Some missionaries take that a little too far though. The example that comes to mind is music. My companion is awesome about music and has some way good church music we listen to. But then I went on exchanges and tons of people listen to stuff I would listen to back home. None of it was way bad or anything but it was just like normal music. So me and my companion talked about it and we decided that we will only listen to the very best music we have and we went through and tossed all the other CD's we have that didn’t feel right to us. So even before you come out set expectations for yourself and don’t set them based on what other missionaries are doing. Every time i ask Elder Jensen if i can do something he just says "Don’t ask me as the Lord" It’s mainly cause he doesn’t want to tell me what to do. But it has actually been way good advice.

I have a lot less time today than normal cause we have to drive to Springfield IL for zone P-day. We are playing games at some church or something but that makes my p day about 3 hours shorter. So I’ll try to be quick with everything. I can pretty much sum up the first 4 or 5 days of this week by saying they were awful. We lost 5 investigators this week cause they don’t want to turn their lives around. But we still love them of course, even if they won’t listen to us. It was just an awful few days and they went by sooo slow. Then on Saturday we got to watch conference which was amazing! But I’ll talk about that more in a second. After conference on Saturday we had transfer calls. We weren’t too worried cause me and Elder Jensen knew we are going to be together for another transfer. But the call had some bad news. Our best friends in the mission are the Beardstown elders. We see them like 3 or 4 times a week and Elder Barney is awesome. We always talk about all the cool stuff we are going to do at UVU after our missions haha. He is a way good friend. But the transfer calls told us that they are closing Beardstown. Elders Barney and Ward are opening a new area and our district is 2 missionaries smaller now. It was really hard to hear we are losing them and our area pretty much just doubled in size cause we now have to cover Beardstown too. So that kinda ruined our day a little bit.

So now that i said all the bad stuff there were some good things. We got to meet with Shelly and it was awesome. We learned a lot about her. She has had a way hard life and she used to be a pretty troubled person. She lives in the Ghetto of Jacksonville and has pretty poor living conditions. She told us about how she spent 10 years of her life in prison this week which was news to both of us. But that’s what’s so awesome about the gospel. Even though she has had a pretty awful life she is completely happy now. She has gone from being miserable to being thrilled with everything. It is awesome to see her change. We went over the baptismal interview questions with her and she seems to have the right answer to all of them for the right reason. Hopefully she will be getting baptised in 3 weeks or so.

I don’t know if this counts as good news, but the weather here is crazy. It has been over 90 these last few days and its unreal how hot it is already. It’s going to be a long summer.

The main thing I want to talk about today is conference. It was so awesome to get to watch it as a missionary! It was so much cooler because I was actually paying attention. I didn’t even fall asleep. For the first time in my life i actually cared about what was being said and it’s amazing what that will do haha. So real quick I wanted to talk about some of my favorite things. I loved that the subject of families was talked about so much. I counted 4 talks that were all about families and several others that talked about families at least briefly. It doesn’t really apply to me yet but i can’t wait to have a family of my own. I have a few years ahead of me but it got me way excited to have a wife and kids and get to raise them in the gospel. M Russell Ballard gave an awesome talk on families and how important they are. I have been extremely blessed to have an awesome, supportive family in my life and I can’t wait to try to do the same thing for my kids and wife.

A few other themes that I got out of conference were we are all on the Lord Errand, act don’t be acted upon, forgiveness, and they quoted/talked about my favorite section of scripture Section 121 from the doctrine and covenants. So some of my favorite talks were one of Elder Eyrings about trials and growing from our hard times. I’m not sure what it was actually about but Elder Holland’s talk made me want to change. Especially when he said "Don't delay, it's getting late". Surprisingly one of my favorite talks was by David S. Baxter about single parents. That really doesn’t apply to me at all but I loved what he said about it. Elder Barney told me that he only wrote down one thing of notes for that talk and it said "Never ever make a girl have to raise a child alone" and i thought that was really cool. Even the talks that don’t seem to apply to us at all can help us set goals and change ourselves. Quentin L. Cook told and awesome story about seeing his mom praying and I loved that talk. Richard G. Scott gave a talk on revelation and it was like the first talk of his i ever actually understood. And Dieter F Uchtdorfs talk on forgiveness with his awesome quote "stop it!" And i have another talk i really liked that I’ll talk about at the end. The song that they sang at the end Come Thou Fount is my favorite song and I could listen to the choir sing it all day every day. It made me so happy when they announced that is what they were going to sing.

But I have to say that my favorite part of the entire conference was the end of the Saturday morning session prayer. I have no idea who said it, but in it they said something like please help us all to get something from this conference and make a change. I loved that. Conference is nice no matter what. But by now i would bet that most of us have stopped thinking about it. We can’t constantly think about the talks that were given cause we have so much going on in our busy lives. So i set a page aside in my notes to write down everything that I wanted to change about myself because of what i heard in conference. I can’t constantly think about the talks but I can constantly think about making myself better. Using change as motivation and setting goals to be better is huge in missionary work. I know we can all work to be better.

So the talk i want to mention now is when David F Evans told everyone to write the missionaries. The 4 of us that were watching it together all just looked at each other and started laughing. Everything he said was so true. I got an awesome package this week from the Atkins on Monday and every time i looked at it for the entire week it made me happy. Every single time we open the mailbox and see a letter inside we get so much happier. And i don’t want to just turn this into me begging all of you for letters. Write all the missionaries you know. Not saying you have to write everyone every week but even just a small note that shows up in the mailbox makes a world of difference for our entire day. The few minutes you put into writing a letter makes us happy for hours, days, or even weeks sometimes. So just keep in mind letters are awesome.

We are already going to be late to zone P--day so i need to go. But real quick before I forget the MTC choir was awesome cause the sisters from my district are still in the MTC learning Russian so they were in it.

Oh and by the way mom my mornings go like this. We wake up at 6:30 and work out for half an hour then we get ready to study and have personal study for an hour and that is possibly my favorite part of the day. I read from the Book of Mormon and Preach my Gospel every day and I love it. I love the scriptures so much now. My goal is to read the Book of Mormon every transfer while I’m gone so that would be 16 times on my mission. Then we have companionship study and because I’m a new missionary still we have 2 hours of that. We watch Preach My Gospel movies and stuff like that. Just so everyone knows those videos are nothing like real missionary work. If my life was like theirs I would be hating it right now. Missionaries have way more fun than the people on those videos do. And we work just as hard haha. That’s pretty much it for the morning. Then we eat lunch and head out for the day and get back around 10:30. So it’s a long day every day but its way fulfilling.

I want to end by saying how thankful I am for the living prophet and how much he has blessed my life. We are in a unique church with blessings that most people can’t even imagine. Babies in our church are taught things that professors have been trying to figure out for centuries. We have the answers and it’s our job to share them. Everyone should be doing missionary work not just missionaries. It is a huge blessing and i couldn’t be more happy to be our here on my mission serving the people of Jacksonville. I love all of them and I love all of you. Have an awesome week!

-Elder Banks

PS Oh man i forgot to tell you Mom! Sister Clark texted me on Saturday telling me you met her daughter. She was pretty excited haha. That is so awesome that you met her and her husband.