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

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