Very first I have to say Happy Birthday to my sister Anne in just a couple days. I hope it is an awesome day. I’m sure you and Matt are going to some crazy country or something, but whatever you do I hope you love it.
This week nothing to grand or exciting happened in the first few days (except attempting to change Brother Michaels door knob) so I will just skip closer to the end of the week. On Thursday we got a mini missionary. It was great to have him with us because we constantly had a man and a member with us. So every lesson was a member present and we could meet with single women without having to call someone from the ward. His name was Brother Chandler and he was awesome. He is going to be a great missionary in 3 years when he is old enough to go.
Saturday night is where all of the craziness from the weekend really begins. We had exchanges on Saturday so I spent all day with Elder Schriver and that was really fun. It was a pretty long day though because we both knew that later that night we were going to be getting transfer calls, and we would find out what we were going to be doing for the next 6 weeks. After sitting on my bed holding the phone for what seemed like forever we finally got the voicemail letting us know what was going to happen. We got the news for the entire zone and it was pretty fun to hear. We heard about Pittsfield and what’s happening to them first. Elder Cooper is headed out to serve in O' Fallon Missouri as a district leader so he is going to have a blast doing that. Elder Schriver is staying in Pittsfield.
The time that my heart really started pounding was when the zone leaders said that Elder Anderson was staying in Jacksonville and his new companion was Elder Foster. So at that point I knew I was gone. The next thing I heard was Elder Banks you are going to go serve in Fairview Heights with Elder Waldron as your new companion. I calmed down for a second after I heard that because I figured that I was set, but then the news that really put my stomach in knots came. They said that Fairview Heights is the new zone leader area in the O' Fallon zone and me and Elder Waldron are the new zone leaders. They said a few things after that but to be honest I have no idea what it was.
I recently read a talk by President Uchtdorf and it was his very first talk as a new apostle. I remember him talking about how humbled and inadequate he felt to be called to his new calling, and now I know a lot how he feels just on a much smaller scale. In my head zone leaders are people who have been out for a year and a half and know everything. Not elders who have been out for 6 months and don’t know anything. Needless to say I am really nervous and lost a few hours of sleep over the last few nights. But I have come to realize that no matter what I get called to do I know that God will help me out. I later found out that my new companion Elder Waldron has 6 weeks left on his mission so I am going to be his very last companion. It came as great comfort to know that my companion has been out for a while and will hopefully be able to help me out and teach me. I also thought it was pretty cool because Elder Jensen is in the same zone as me now so I hope he is a district leader and I can go on exchanges with him. I have no idea what the next 6 weeks have in store for me but I am excited to go out and learn. I don’t know much about my new area or the address I will be living at but next week I should know more and I will let you all know.
There were so many miracles in Jacksonville this week there is no way I have time to talk about all of them. But I will mention some of the ones that really stuck out to me. Church was the craziest 3 hours of my mission so far, emotionally at least. But I can safely say it was 3 of the best hours. Earlier this week we heard that Mary was in the hospital this week and they found a fairly serious heart problem and were going to be keeping her for a while. This was really sad news because she was supposed to get the Holy Ghost at church. We walked into church and the first person we went over and talked to was our ward mission leader, Brother Mathusek and he looked at us and said "Did you know Mary was going to make it today?" I can’t even explain the joy that went through me when I looked over and saw Mary sitting in her normal spot. She could barely walk but she knew she had to make it to church to get the Holy Ghost and nothing was going to stop her.
As the meeting started I was getting nervous because Betty wasn’t there yet and she has a habit of being late for church. Oh and by the way the fact that the church had cameras all over the building filming some church movie did nothing but add to the stress of the day. But anyways Betty wasn’t there yet and it was time for the confirmations. Mary made her way up and received a great blessing from Brother Michael. And just as I was about to look at the bishop and tell him Betty didn’t make it I took one last look at the door I saw her and her family walking in. If she had been 5 seconds later she would have been too late, but she made it. That was one of the best starts to a church block anyone could ever ask for. The rest of sacrament meeting was pretty much me just sitting in my seat bawling like a baby. Every time someone got up to bear their testimony i realized how much I was going to miss them. I finally started to pull myself together and then our ward mission leader got up. He has helped me out so much since I got here and has been an amazing friend to us. He bore his testimony about missionary work and thanked us for the hard work me and Elder Anderson had done together and I lost it. I don’t remember crying at all since I have gotten Elder Anderson as a companion but I definitely made up for it on Sunday. The rest of the church block was a lot easier though and it really was a Sunday that I won’t ever forget.
After church we had a baptism for Bryan Woods. He is the first of the 3 best friends Bryan, EJ, and TJ. I knew I wouldn’t be there for the other 2 so this one was extra special for me. Everything went perfectly and the Spirit was so strong just like it always is at a baptism. I was kinda sad knowing that I was going to miss 3 baptisms and 4 confirmations by less than 2 weeks but at the same time I knew God was sending me off for a reason and I had done what I needed to do in Jacksonville and now I was needed somewhere else. Last night (Sunday) we finished out the night by having a lesson at Terry Andersons house with Terry, TJ, EJ, Bryan, and us. Terry was having a pretty hard time because another one of his cousins was found dead. He has had that happen several times since I got here and started teaching him. But in that lesson the 6 of us all knelt down around the table and had Terry offer a prayer for us. I can’t do justice to that experience so I won’t even try. But I will just say it’s something I won’t ever forget.
I know this email is getting long but I just want to finish up by bearing my testimony about something my mom wrote me about this week. She read a talk about service and giving our all to the Lord. I recently read in True to the Faith under the baptism section. It talks about taking the name of Christ upon ourselves. These two topics are almost the same thing. When we were all baptised we promised to take Christ’s name upon ourselves and always live worthy of that. That is just another way of saying that we promised to completely forget ourselves and do everything we can to serve God. We always put His will above our own. Christ never turned down anyone looking for help. It doesn’t matter how annoying your neighbor is or how many terrible things your brother has said to you or anything else that you can think of. If we are going to live up to our baptismal covenant we must always do as the Lord would do and love the people around us and serve them as much as we can. We aren’t perfect and that is what the Atonement is for. God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does expect progression. We must always strive to do our very best. As all of us come up on new chapters in our lives with great changes ahead we all have to commit to progress. To change ourselves for the better and do what Christ would want us to do. I know without any doubt in my mind that this is the only way for us to find true happiness. I have come to know these things and I know that anyone who is willing to put in the work can know these things as well.