Today I want to start out by commenting on a few things my mom told me in her email to me this week. Yes all of the missionaries are fine here. We have had some serious rain and wind but the tornado warning sirens never even went off so it’s not that big of a deal. The streets drain after a few hours and everything just gets back to normal. Hopefully nothing too serious happens out here. The ward says that we usually get 1 or 2 pretty bad tornadoes in Jacksonville each year. I secretly hope I get to stick around to see one. And I was way excited when my mom told me that at stake conference Joel, McKay, and Jeremy all got the Melchizedek Priesthood. That is so awesome!! You guys are all going to be out here writing emails home to your mom’s pretty soon too.
Thank you Jennifer for sending me that package and letter. When I read that Delonte West gave Gordon Hayward a wet willy I was laughing so hard. Delonte West struggles. But Gordon looks like he is 12 so he was probably just treating him like his little brother.
We call our Ward Mission Leader every week and his name is Brother Mathusek. He is like 27 and he is the coolest guy ever. The only bad thing about him is that he is a Yankees fan. I called him a couple days ago to tell him about how our day went and right before he hung up he said "Oh hey, Elder Banks one last thing. The Cardinals lost to the Cubs in the 9th inning twice this week. Have a good night!" He thinks he is so funny. But ya that was depressing. However we went into an appointment and I looked over at the TV just before we turned it off and saw David Freese hit a home run so that was my little taste of The Cardinals for the week. The Clarks are talking about going to a Cardinals game this year for mission P-Day which would be sweet. And if you get put in St Louis you can go to games on P-Day whenever you want as long as you pay for the ticket. So the good thing about being in St Louis is that you get to go to Cardinals games. The bad thing is that it’s the most dangerous city in America right now. But missionaries are protected so i really hope i get to serve there sometime during my 2 years.
The first thing that we did this week was go to Sister Scott’s funeral. It was really strange. But if you knew Sister Scott then it was pretty much exactly what you expected. They played normal music instead of funeral songs which was cool but kinda weird. And there was a bunch of bikers and thugs there cause she was always friends with the crazy people down in the ghetto where she lived. I think i heard people describe her as a firey red head about 12 thousand times that day. So that was a pretty neat experience to be there. The rest of this week was pretty normal. We have had a lot of prep to do for the baptism on Saturday which has been stressful but a really good kind of stress.
For me probably the neatest thing that happened this week was when we went over to a less active member’s house. His name is Terry and i have talked about him quite a bit before. His son TJ is usually there when we teach the lessons to him, but he doesn’t care at all. He is like 21 and we think he is a little bit slow. Nothing serious at all but just a little bit off. He is the nicest person ever though. So we went over and at the end of the lesson we had Terry pray. It was the first time he had prayed out loud in front of his son. After the prayer TJ just said "Wow dad that was really neat. That was awesome the way that you said that." and he said that about 3 times. To make a long story short TJ is now taking the lessons and his dad is working towards getting back into the church and baptizing his son. There is no doubt in my mind that TJ will be baptised someday. It most likely will take some time and won’t be while I’m here in Jacksonville but i know it will happen sooner rather than later.
Nothing else too special happened this week. Of course I could write a novel about all of the miracles that happen each week, but for a missionary it was pretty normal. We had 2 baptismal interviews this week and they both went well. Caitlin and Shelly both made it the 45 minutes to stake conference so they can both be baptised on the 5th!! That is going to be an awesome day. We had stake conference this weekend which was really cool. We went to a special meeting on Saturday night for bishops ward mission leaders and elders quorum presidents, and missionaries of course. President Clark was there and he was going over this thing called the ladder system. It is just going over the numbers for each area but with a special emphasis on certain ones. The key numbers that really lead to numbers in the baptism column. So he went through each ward individually and briefly talked about their numbers. It was really scary because out of all the areas in our zone he only said good things about one. Not that he was being really mean but all he was doing was pointing out the areas that needed some work. So when he got to Jacksonville we were pretty nervous. But when the numbers came up on the screen it was really cool. They were horrible for a few months. Like almost nonexistent. But then when it got to March (when me and Elder Jensen replaced the sister missionaries) they shot up. He told us that we were doing a really good job and moved on to the next area. That was huge because the bishop and everyone was there and they all came and talked to us after and told us how good of a job we are doing. Then that lead to the bishop calling us last night and seeing if we could come to dinner tonight and teach a nonmember family that he is friends with. It is awesome to see how the confidence of the ward in us has grown so much over these last few weeks.
A little bit later in that meeting President Clark told everyone great job. He said that our zone was the best in the mission. Not just cause he was being nice but because we have the best numbers out of any zone. It was really surprising to hear that but really awesome. The reason it was such a surprise is because we are easily the smallest zone. We are about half the size of all the rest. The missionaries in the zone are awesome though. We don’t have a single one who doesn’t work as hard as he can every single day. It is an awesome experience to get to be around all of these awesome elders.
So I want to end with a quote President Kay read in stake conference. He is the stake president in this area. He started his talk off on Sunday by quoting President Packer saying "No matter how much we love our wives, it’s not enough." He then went on to talk for just a second about how important it is to love our wives, daughters, sisters, moms, and all women. I just wanted to say how happy my mom, sisters, friends, and all the other women in my life make me. I can’t believe that my sister just got married and is about to graduate college. I didn’t even think she was going to make it past high school. Ha just kidding. But I have the most amazing mom in the world and my 3 sisters are pretty dang close to perfect. My parents must have done something right to get such amazing daughters. They could have done a little better on the sons though. And I am so thankful for all of my amazing friends that are home right now watching so many of their friends go out on missions and supporting them the whole time. You are all amazing. The world’s view of women is awful, so it’s important to always remember the way God looks at you. Thanks to all of you for being so amazing and I will talk to you again soon.