Monday, July 2, 2012

It's HOT in Illinois

I have to start by wishing everyone a happy 4th of July! We got some cool news this week and found out that we get the entire 4th off. We get to just hang out with members and do whatever for a day. We also get to stay out until 10:30 and watch some fireworks so we are pretty excited for that. Also I was really glad that my mom gave me a couple updates on how my friends are doing on their missions. It sounds like Cole is having fun in the pouring rain out in Australia haha. As for us in Illinois we would kill for some rain. It has been so hot here it’s insane. There have been intense heat warnings going around everywhere and everyone is supposed to stay inside. The thermometer in our car spent most of its time this week between 100 and 105 degrees. There was one day where it was extra hot and it hit 114 and i don’t think we saw it drop below 110 that day. Of course the heat wave had to hit at the end of the month so we didn’t have any miles left on our car. So we ended up having a great week of riding out bikes around and pretty much being drenched the whole time.

Besides the heat it has been a really good week though. I want to thank my mom and Jennifer for the awesome packages that they sent me. When you only have 3 dollars to last you the last 2 weeks of the month it’s always nice to get some candy in the mail. Skittles make an awesome breakfast.

I never thought I would do this but I have to thank my mom for making me take piano lessons. I know that she is saying I told you so right now. But we took a keyboard from the church and put it in our apartment and it has entertained me better than anything else. I spend every free second of the day on that thing. I hope hearing that would make Justin Lowder proud.

This week was really good. We have a really strange area right now but it is working out really well. We only have like 6 people in our teaching pool right now which isn’t too good cause we are supposed to have between 12 and 15. But every time we get a new investigator they just drop us after 2 or 3 meetings. It is getting really frustrating. But the good thing is that with those 6 investigators 3 of them now have baptismal dates. Carlos is set for the 14th and that is really solid. Then Betty (Williams grandma) and Tj (Terrys son) are both set for the 28th. They are so awesome to teach and we love seeing them. They all love having us come over and we are some of their best friends. They always want us to come over every day and teach them and we love that. The only down side to that is it doesn’t leave us much time to find new people to teach. We were really running low earlier this week on people to teach and we needed a miracle to find some more because tracting wasn’t doing anything. Thankfully on Sunday we were able to get in contact with a family we have been trying to reach and they want us to come up and meet with them. They live in Beardstown so it’s kinda a far drive but they really wanted us to come over so we are really hoping that things work out with them.

Probably the coolest thing that happened this week was a lady in our ward came up to us at church with her friend and said Hey elders this is my friend Mary. She has been to church 3 times now and loves it. She has been reading my Book of Mormon and would love to have her own copy. She would also like to have you guys come and teach her. That was definitely not something that we had expected at church that day. We are really hoping that things work out with her and also with the family up in Beardstown. The one thing that I forgot to mention is that the family in Beardstown is from Africa and speaks French. That is going to be a really interesting meeting.

Unfortunately we still haven’t heard anything from Kodie. As always we are just hoping and praying he is alright. Another not so good thing this week was that Booker didn’t make it to church. We tried to figure out where he was and finally found out he was in the hospital. He had a heart attack on Friday night. We don’t really know how Booker is still alive. Since I got to Jacksonville he has been to the hospital like 5 times with strokes and heart attacks and problems because of the heat. But it always seems like 3 days later he is back home fishing in the 110 degree weather. We know that God has him sticking around for something and we are hoping that we can help guide him on the right path.

To close up this week I wanted to just bear my testimony on a couple quotes i heard this week. One was from a kid named Dylan who just got his mission call to Central Salt Lake and leaves on Aug 8th. He teaches the gospel principals class here an on Sunday he said "Sometimes we miss the silver lining because we are looking for gold." I really liked that because it applies to my life a ton. When I was with Elder Jensen for my first couple transfers I would get disappointed whenever things didn’t go perfectly right. But now I have really learned how to relax. Always look for the positive things in life. I can’t even remember the last time I really got angry or stressed out. God has helped me a ton to just relax and realize that sometimes there isn’t anything we can do. Sometimes the silver lining isn’t what we want it to be. But silver is better than nothing so I have really learned to enjoy it.

Also the second one is from a talk Kayla sent me from Elder Bednar this week. I don’t know if I already said this in an email but I have been obsessed with learning about the Atonement. Before my mission I really didn’t understand it at all and now that I have been studying it for about 15 minutes a day for 5 months I have started to learn a lot more. I am still only scratching the surface though. The reason I say that is because this quote from the talk really kinda sums up everything that I have learned in a small and simple sentence. "There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Savior did not experience first." I can promise that really is true. Christ, the greatest of us all, trembled because of pain in the garden of gethsemane and yelled in anguish from the cross after having the Spirit once again taken away from him. Any pain or anguish or suffering that I can experience is nothing compared to pain that could cause a God to suffer like Christ did for all of us. When you look at the trials in life compared to the trials of His life it really puts things in perspective. Not a single one of us has something to complain about but we all have numberless things to be thankful for. I know that if we can all spend a little more time thinking about Christ and a little less time thinking about ourselves we will be happier than we have ever been before in our lives. I know it will work because it has happened to me, and I know that I still have a ton of work left to do, but I am thankful to God for allowing me to learn and grow as much as I have already.

-Elder Banks

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