Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I figured I better start by saying sorry this week’s email is a day late. Yesterday was Memorial Day so everything in Jacksonville was closed. I am actually in Pittsfield today but we got to stop by the library and send an email. Thanks for the package Jenn. I had $1.62 left to buy everything for the week this week and we were running out of just about everything that you sent us so it was greatly appreciated. Oh and the Nerf ball combined with an upside down lamp shade taped to the wall has given us a lot of entertainment over the last week.

This week was really normal but really good. We were really busy which is always a good thing. We had 12 member present lessons and the mission average is 3 a week so that gives you an idea of how busy we were. Probably the coolest thing that happened this week was in a lesson with Kodie. I have been writing about Kodie for a long time and we have been teaching him since the first day I got here. He had pretty much stopped progressing and we were on the brink of dropping him. But then one day something in his mind just clicked. He started reading and praying. Everything in the lessons just goes better and it has been awesome. This week we committed him to be baptized. With a little bit of hesitation because he is so afraid of water he agreed. We have him scheduled for the 23rd of June. There is nothing that I would love to see more than him getting baptized.

Earlier this week we went to teach a lady named Betty. While we were there her grandson William came up and talked to us and wants us to start teaching him. He is 11 and loves Jesus more than anything. He loves the church so much. When he gets bored he looks at pictures of Jesus and reads the Gospel Principals manual. So he is pretty awesome. We met with him and his mom who is a member a few times and we also set a date with him. We are hoping to have both of these kids baptized on the 23rd so we can really look forward to that day.

The beginning of the week was really long for me because I got pretty sick. I wasn’t throwing up so we didn’t have an excuse to stay inside or anything but i felt awful all day. We had a few lessons that day and those were pretty much me sitting in the corner with my head down trying to stay alive while Elder Anderson taught everyone. It was good to have him take over for a while and it really helped me to see how good of a teacher he is. Like I mentioned earlier I am down in Pittsfield today so he is over leading in Jacksonville. I hope everything is going well out there and I am glad that he is getting this chance to really take over the area for a while.

Memorial Day ended up being pretty fun for us. At 8 that morning we headed over to the church and had a Memorial Day breakfast with the ward. It was a really good breakfast with more bacon that I had ever seen before. But the part that was really fun was when we got to play softball after. Even though it is about a million degrees here every day getting outside and playing games is still really fun. We had most of our investigators at that too so that was really cool.

The funniest thing that happened this week was actually today. Me and Elder Cooper are in Pitts and we went to do service over at a retirement home. The people there are super, super old but really nice and funny too. We went shopping with them at Wal Mart and that was fun but then we played a game called washers. It is pretty much a bunch of old people throwing washers into a little bucket and if they make a certain amount then the missionaries have to do the chicken dance. So for about an hour me and Elder Cooper ran around doing the chicken dance while a bunch of old people laughed at us. It was probably the most entertaining thing that I have done on my mission so far. If we were around anyone else it would have been super awkward and weird but these people just loved it.

The one sad thing I have to say this week actually happened last week but I forgot to talk about it. There is a less active member named Carmen who loves the missionaries and feeds us all the time. She was the most awesome member ever not too long ago but recently she has stopped coming to church and stopped doing all of the things that you have to do to keep your testimony. Last week she called us to let us know that she was officially taking her name off of the church records. It was really sad to hear that, but it really helped me realize how big of a deal the Spirit really is in our lives. I have seen several people change from miserable and angry to happy and loving in just a few short weeks. All because they have had the Spirit brought into their lives. Sometimes it is such a gradual change that they don’t even notice it until we point it out. And I watched the exact opposite happen to Carmen. She slowly lost that spirit and went from happy and loving to angry and bitter. It is sad to see people fall away especially when we know exactly what can help them.

So my challenge to all of you this week is to take a look at your life and see how happy you really are. And if you are becoming more and more miserable then see if you have been slacking in any spiritual areas. Reading scripture and praying every day being probably the biggest one. I know that every time I find myself slipping it is because I start to get comfortable and stop working as hard as I can. I also know that when we do keep working and never lose that excitement about the gospel we will never stop getting happier and happier. I love this gospel and the opportunity that I have to share it. It’s my hope that we can all realize how great of a blessing it really is and take advantage of the knowledge that we have.

-Elder Banks

P.S. Go Spurs

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