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

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