Monday, July 23, 2012

I have to start by thanking all the moms who put together the Friends in the Field packet for me and all my friends. That was easily the best thing of mail I have gotten since I came out. I loved reading it so much! I was so excited and happy all the rest of that day because of it. My companion thought it was the coolest thing ever too. He asked if he could see it for a second and thought it was so cool he ended up sitting down and reading the entire thing. I am so thankful to have so many awesome friends and I’m so glad that we have all made the choice to go on a mission. I know Taylor and Chad are heading out so soon! You guys are going to love it. And Nate you still have a few months but it’s going to get here really quick so get ready. And also thanks to Liz for sending me all the stuff from Japan. The Japanese Ramen was a huge step up over the normal stuff we get. You can always depend on those Asians.

I know my mom was a little confused on this so I thought I would clear it up real quick. Today is Monday and it’s just a normal P-Day. Thursday and Friday I will be in St Louis for the Super Activity and that’s when we go to the Cardinals game and stuff. But I will talk more about that later.

This week has been awesome. Last P-Day we went bowling up in Springfield and it was way fun. I am terrible at bowling. But some other missionaries in the zone are really good. The best score we had was Elder Thacker’s 209 but the really cool thing was that he had 9 strikes. So that was a really fun day.

Then Tuesday we went to the temple and of course that was an amazing experience as always. It was an interesting trip because I had a few questions that I took that I wanted to get answered. It was probably my favorite temple trip because I just felt so good the entire time but the weird thing was none of my questions got answered. So I was a little confused by that, but then I learned that God was just giving me a lesson on patience. I went on exchanges to Pittsfield this week and in the 2 days that I was there all of my questions got answered. It really strengthened my testimony of Gods timing and how it’s much more important than our own timing.

I mentioned it a second ago but I went to Pittsfield again this week. It was been really fun to get to go there so much recently. My first 3 months I never went on exchanges there. But I have been able to go every week for probably the last 6 or 7 weeks. So I have really gotten to know the investigators there and it has been so much fun to watch them grow. We get to go to the baptism of Rooster Allen and his family this weekend. Rooster is a 350 pound biker and living proof that the Spirit can touch ANYONES heart. The most fun thing that I got to do in Pittsfield was me and Elder Schriver woke up at 6 and went out to play some catch with a football. And for the first time in weeks while we were out there it started to pour. Playing football in the rain normally sounds pretty miserable but for some reason that morning it was amazing. And a member in Pittsfield gave us some pills that made us pee the color of Cheetos so that was pretty cool too.

The reason that this week was so good was because we had a bunch of meetings with our investigators and they are all doing great. We have 6 baptisms scheduled over the next 3 weeks. It has been so crazy to see how much God has blessed us in Jacksonville. All of these people we are teaching just love it and they are all golden. They keep bringing us more of their friends and family to teach and it is just an amazing experience.

Sadly there hasn’t been any news on Carlos. He was never confirmed so technically it’s like he was never baptised. We are still hoping and praying that he will make it to church sometime soon. We have been trying to contact him but because of his mom there isn’t much we can do without going to jail. So that stinks.

We are really excited for the Super Activity that is coming up. We head down to St Louis on Thursday and we will spend the day down there having a talent show and an awesome dinner and stuff. Then we are going to the Cardinals/Dodgers game that night which should be super fun. Then we are sleeping over with some other missionaries in St Louis and finish all the other activities the next day. That is going to be an amazing way to start the weekend.

Then on Sunday we have 2 baptisms. Mary Crouch and Betty Holsman are both getting baptised. They are both about 60 year old women and are completely different stories. Betty has been taking the lessons for a few years now and the baptism of her grandson Williams is what finally pushed her into knowing it was all true. And Mary has been taking the lessons for about a month and knows it’s all true. We left her with the Doctrine and Covenants DVDs and told her to watch them if she wants. There is like over 12 hours of stuff on there and we went back 2 days later and she had watched every single video on them. She is definitely excited to get baptised.

I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary and for the opportunity that I have to see all of these people’s lives change. I talked a little bit last week about maybe not getting to see some of the baptisms. There is a fairly good chance that I will be leaving Jacksonville the first week of August. The 2 people getting baptised are TJ and Booker who I have had the chance to teach for about 5 and 4 months. I would love more than anything to get to stay and see them baptised. But if God needs me somewhere else I will know that’s where I need to be. I am so thankful for all of the amazing people I have met out here. Being blessed to see other people like Christ sees them is one of the greatest blessings I have ever received. I am so thankful for this church and I know that without it our lives would mean nothing. I am so glad for the amazing friends and family that I have been blessed with to help me out so much and get me to where I am today. I hope that in some small way I can repay all that I owe to my loved ones. I hope that your testimonies are growing along with mine. I love all of you and will talk to you again soon.

-Elder Banks

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