My mom told me this week that my cousin Logan is a deacon now and my dad got called to be in the young men’s presidency! That is so cool. I can’t believe Logan is 12. I swear I still remember him being born. And I guess the 20+ years of dealing with me and my older brother is finally paying off for my dad. Hopefully we gave you enough practice to deal with all the young men in the ward.
Last Monday night after I wrote my email was probably my favorite day on my mission so far. That might sound a little strange because really nothing that special happened. We got the chance to hang out with Bryan and EJ who are 2 of our investigators. It was great because they both love doing missionary work. We ran out of miles this month way early so they came over and pretty much just drove us around to get to go see all of our investigators. Getting to hear about how much they love missionary work and how badly they want to serve missions just warms my soul. It was such an awesome night getting to see how much their lives have changed already.
They next cool thing that happened this week was the Super Activity down in St. Louis. It was amazing. The very first thing that we did was go to Busch Stadium for the Cardinals game. It was such an awesome game to go to. The final score was 7-4 so it was pretty high scoring and really exciting. The Cardinals ended up having like 17 hits or something like that so there weren’t too many innings where something exciting didn’t happen. The starting pitcher was Westbrook which was kinda funny cause he is the same guy who pitched the first time I went to a Cardinals game. David Freese, my favorite player, had an awesome game and if the score card in my brain is right he was 3-3 with 2 RBIs and 2 Runs so he had a pretty awesome game and that was fun to watch. Then Matt Holliday hit a home run so that was pretty cool to get to see as well. Then I was really happy because Motte came in at the end to close out the game so it was really fun to get to see him pitch. Unfortunately Molina, Berkman, and Beltran were all out for some reason so I didn’t get to see them so that kinda stunk. But I guess I will just have to come back after my mission to get to watch them again.
It was awesome to get to see all of my friends from the mission again and to have all of us in one place. It was cool to get to be with all 3 of my companions again. Elder Anderson has heard a million stories about a bunch of different missionaries so it was cool for him to finally get to put faces with all of the weird stories. It was such a cool experience to get to be back in St Louis. It was like I had never left off of our family vacation the year before. We walked right past the hotel that we stayed in and I got to lead our district all over the city and show them some cool stuff. After the game we had a few hours to just do whatever we wanted. No one I was with had ever been to the arch before so that’s were we headed. It was really cool to get to see it again. We didn’t have time to go up inside but I have done that once before and that is enough for me.
Then after that we went to Forest Park and had a talent show. It is crazy how talented our mission is. It’s not like it’s just a bunch of 20 year old wannabes getting up and singing and playing their guitars. We have people in this mission who are amazing and piano and singing and whatever you can think of. We had a kid play hymns on 2 recorders out of his nose too so that was pretty amazing. We went and spent the night with the St Louis Spanish elders and it was really cool to get to hang out with them. One of them was Elder Crowley who I had met before at a meeting so it was cool to get to see him again. Then on Friday we had just a few hours of meetings to go to to finish it out. Overall it was an awesome trip to St Louis and not one I will ever forget. I am so thankful that we have a mission president who is willing to trust us to go and do something like that. 180 young people in a stadium with all eyes on them is risky but it turned out really well for all of us.
This weekend was amazing and also pretty sad. Right after the Super Activity on Friday we were planning on coming back and having a baptism for the Pittsfield Elders. They have been working their brains out recently and they don’t have much to show for it. So they were really excited to finally get some baptisms. It was the Allen family that they have been teaching for a while. But then the worst thing that can happen to a missionary happened. About an hour before the baptism the Allen’s called and said that they changed their mind. Without going into detail they pretty much just said that it wasn’t for them anymore. They went from having an entire family getting baptised to having a very disappointing night. It was inspiring to me to see how sad they were but how much they didn’t let it phase them. They just simply went back to Pittsfield and got to work. They have found a few new investigators that seem really solid since the so hopefully they can help make up for the loss.
Sunday was a good day for us because we had 2 baptisms, Mary Crouch and Betty Holsman. Of course all day Sunday things were crazy and Satan was working really hard to stop them, but thankfully they both worked out. Betty is a very very quiet lady and it is close to impossible to get her to admit she is feeling the Spirit. But after the baptism we couldn’t get her to stop talking about it. She loved it. Earlier today I opened my journal and read about the very first week I had here in Jacksonville. I thought it was really interesting that in my journal it said something like this "Today we had our very first teaching appointment. We went to see a lady named Betty Holsman and it went really well. She is really open to learning about what we are teaching." It gave the baptism new significance to me knowing that she was the very first investigator that I ever met on my mission. I am so thankful that I got to witness her make that decision.
This coming week is the last week before the transfer ends. There is a very good chance that me and Elder Anderson will be separated. It is always sad to go into the final days with a companion. But at the same time it is exciting because we have our minds set that this is going to be our best week yet. We are going to work our brains out and finish out strong. We are also getting a Mini-Missionary at the end of the week so we are excited about that. A priest from somewhere in the stake is going to come and stay with us for about 3 or 4 days. We are excited to help show him what a mission is really like. He will get to come to Bryans baptism this Sunday and hopefully he can feel the Spirit super strong while he does this. We want to make sure and help support his decision to work towards going on a mission.
Just a side note, I could be getting moved out of Jacksonville. So mail should be sent to the mission home now so it doesn’t get lost.
Elder Parker Banks
1850 Cragshire Suite 205
Maryland Heights, MO 63146
Thank you all so much for your support. I got a letter a little bit ago from some of my cousins and it made my day. It was so cool to get to know that so many people back home are thinking about me and praying for me. Thank you all so much for all you do. I know that the work I am doing out here is the best possible thing I could be doing with my life. Do I wish I could watch the Olympics? Yes. Do I wish that I could stay in the apartment sometimes and not go bike in the 105 degree weather? Yes. But I also know that when we do the things that we know are right even when we don’t want to God will bless us. I know that for a fact and I know that applies to every one of us not just missionaries. I hope and pray that we can all make the hard decisions in life that we know are right.
-Elder Parker Banks