So when my mom wrote in my email this week that Austin’s farewell was coming up in a few days I couldn’t believe it. For some reason I thought he still had a month or so before he left. But either way I know that he is going to be an amazing missionary. You're going to be awesome out there in those islands. And hopefully they have a little time to get over Manny’s loss before you get out there. But always remember that my prayers are with you and you're going to be awesome. It’s going to be hard, but it will be worth it.
A few really cool things have happened this week. About an hour after I sent my email last week we went back to our apartment and for some reason I just couldn’t stop thinking about my family. Not in a bad homesick way but I was just thinking about how grateful for them I am and how amazing they have always been to me. That my parents must have known what they were doing at least a little bit to get kids like my brother and sisters. I started to eat lunch and popped in a random conference talk to listen to while I ate. It ended up being President Packers from this most recent conference that was all about families. It may not really seem like much but it was a really cool experience.
I know this is still a little ways off but I am so excited for July. There is so much cool stuff going on. None of it is really spiritual but I’m still excited haha. Jacksonville is having a big 4th of July party at the park right by our church on the 3rd and 4th so that is going to be really cool to stop by and take a look at. Even though nothing can really compare to starting giant fires in the road with McKay and Jaron I’m sure that this will be pretty good. Then on the 11th through the 15th there is a big fair going on here. There are going to be a lot of random things going on but we are going to stop by and check that out too. Chris Young and Rodney Atkins are going to be there which doesn’t mean anything to me but I heard they are country singers so maybe my family will have heard of them. But the thing that I am most excited for is on July 23rd, I think it is, we are going to have the mission super activity. It is pretty much a giant P-day with the entire mission in St Louis. And we just found out that we are going to a Cardinals game. So ya, I am pretty dang excited for that to come up. I think they are playing the Dodgers but not really 100% sure. I know the Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball right now so hopefully the Cardinals can step up and win it for all the missionaries there.
This is another pretty random story but it made my day. We went to see Brother Michael and his nonmember wife the other day. We didn’t teach them a lesson or anything but we just stopped by during lunch to watch a movie about Thomas S. Monson and eat some pizza. And while we were there Brother Michael just said "Hey Elder Banks me and my wife decided that we wanted to give this to you cause you would probably enjoy it more than we ever will cause we never use it. Its older than you are but it’s still in pretty good shape" and then he tossed me a big white garbage bag. I opened it up and it was a sweet new Raiders blanket. At first I didn’t want to accept it but they said that they would never use it so they wanted me to have it. It is awesome and actually keeps me warm at night unlike my other blanket so it was a really nice surprise.
While we were over there we also talked about Jabari Parker. I am hearing more and more about this kid and it sounds like he is going to be an awesome example for the church. Hopefully he goes on a mission! On Mormon.org there is a sweet video about some kid who has a name that I can’t pronounce, but he is like the Lebron James of rugby. He is really young and one of ten best players in the league. He is getting like 1.5 million dollar offers to sign with a team but instead he is going on a mission. It is an awesome video so if you have some time you should definitely check it out.
So I guess I should probably talk about something spiritual at some point in the email. Sunday was an amazing day. In Jacksonville we have had some amazing numbers over the last few weeks. We have been getting about 7 times the average number of member present lessons and beating the mission standard of excellence in every other category. But the one thing that we just haven’t been able to do is get people to come to sacrament meeting. We have only had 1 investigator at sacrament meeting over the last 2 weeks. So we have been fasting and praying a lot about getting people to come to church. When we got there on Sunday we were happy to see 1 person there. But as we got closer to the start of the meeting they just kept coming in and we ended up with 5 investigators at church this week. It was a huge blessing and a miracle big time. We know that fasting and prayer has been helping us out a lot.
But there was one person there that was more of a miracle than anyone else. His name is Carlos. He is 26 years old and lives about 2 houses from the church. We had a few minutes before out next lesson on Saturday so we figured we would do some tracting real quick. He is one of those knocking on one last door stories. We decided to knock on one last door and he answered. He said that he has wanted God in his life more and we knew him for about 2 minutes before he committed to come to church with us. We picked him up before church and walked over. Before sacrament meeting started he was saying that he had read some of the Book of Mormon that we had given him. He kept saying that it just felt right and it just made sense. It was way more powerful than any other scripture he had ever read before. Then during all 3 meetings he kept fighting back tears and saying that it just felt like everything that was being said was being said straight to him and that he has a really amazing feeling in his chest that he had never had before. After church we were going to lunch at the Mathusek’s and they invited Carlos to come with us. So we ate lunch there and had a first lesson with him. So after less than 24 hours Carlos knows that our church is true. He still has a long way to go and a lot to learn but he wants to learn more and he never wants the lessons or church to be over. He said that he has never felt as good as he did walking out of church on Sunday. He is the kind of person who God has been preparing to hear our message for a long time and we were blessed enough to be the missionaries who knocked on his door. I know that God guides each of us step by step every day and if we will let Him, He will let miracles happen. And I am thankful for that each and every day.