Monday, September 10, 2012

I love getting to hear about my friend’s mission calls. That is one of the coolest things that I get to read about in my mom’s emails. Way to go everybody for making the best decision that you will ever make! I heard about Jeremy and Sam today. Way to go guys. I also know there is a bunch of stuff going on in the sports world right now. I heard all about the Utah loss to Utah State which is great. And the Raiders play tonight. I will probably just have to tract in my McFadden jersey today. I also had the great realization a little while ago that a mission is 2 years and 5 days long. And just my luck in the 5 extra days that I’m out I will miss my 3rd super bowl. I guess that is Gods way of trying to get me to stop thinking about sports.

But anyway now we can start talking about the important stuff. This week started out reallllly long, but it got a lot better as the week went on. Monday was a normal P-day but I stated to feel my ribs on my right side acting up a little bit. I have always had problems with them coming out of place but it has never really been a problem so I just left it. That night we were in Mt Vernon and we slept on the floor. After laying on my ribs for 8 hours straight on a hard floor I woke up and they hurt a lot. It made sleeping really hard for the next few days. I would finally fall asleep but every time I woke up at night it hurt too badly to lay in bed. So I had to sit up and it took forever to get back to bed. Between that and not sleeping in Fairview Heights for a few days I was probably more tired than I have ever been before in my life. But the good thing about being tired as a missionary is that the more tired you are and the more you don’t want to do something the more blessings come from doing it anyways. The end of the week was filled with amazing blessings that were probably a result of pushing through those first few days.

Saturday was the beginning of some of the better things of the week. We went down to Cahokia and served food at the Atrium which is a retirement home full of crazy people. That is always an adventure. This time it was even weirder because while we were serving lunch some preacher guy was giving a sermon. It really helped me appreciate the Spirit more. Because the Spirit wasn’t with that preacher at all and it made a world of difference.

After we served lunch we stayed in Cahokia for a while and taught some people. There is a guy named Ron in our ward who I have talked about before who comes around with us to teach his friends. Thank goodness he is willing to come with us because without him we would be totally lost. We went to teach a few of his friends and every time we tried to explain something they got confused. So after we would talk Ron would translate what we were trying to say into the ghetto version and they understood perfectly. The MTC should definitely start teaching ghetto as a language. We had a really good couple hours down in Cahokia and a few appointments to come back later this week. Hopefully we can have a few people make it out to church with us next week and help them progress.

The one heartbreak of the day was when we went to teach Lee. He told us that he prayed about the Book of Mormon and knew it was true and knew our church was true. That was great news. The not so great news came about 30 seconds later when he told us that he was moving to North Carolina tomorrow. So he is already gone out of the state but now we just hope and pray the missionaries we pass him off to can help him make the final steps to baptism.

I forgot to mention this but Friday we got to go to the temple. It was in interesting experience. We went to Applebee’s right before the temple and it was a pretty worldly environment with ESPN on all over and just stuff like that. It was pretty cool to get to go from that atmosphere straight into the temple to watch Elder Waldron’s old ward mission leader get sealed to his wife and kids. I had never seen a sealing before so that was a really cool experience for me.

Saturday night was probably my favorite part of the week. We got a text from one of the members in our ward and he asked us if we wanted to come play basketball. After finding out he had a nonmember friend there we decided to go play. First of all I loved it because I haven’t played basketball forever and it was a blast. But the real testimony builder came at the end. We played a few games of 2 on 2 and we had to play the classic game where the missionaries have to be on the same team. If we win then we get to share a spiritual message. The game was fun and everything but I started to get a little worried at the end. We were tied when it got close to the end and the next team to get up by 2 won. The reason that worried me so much was because like i said before I was dead tired all week, and after playing basketball for so long my ribs were really starting to hurt again. I could barely walk around and I knew we couldn’t win without some help. Standing a few feet back of the 3 point line after I got the ball and just said a silent prayer of Heavenly Father, I’m so tired... I really want to share a spiritual thought and we have to win to do it. Please let this shot go in. So as a last ditch effort I faded back and just chucked the ball in the direction of the hoop. There is no doubt in my mind that God helped on this shot because it felt bad coming off my hand and looked even worse once it was in the air. But thankfully a simply prayer was answered and it went in without even touching the rim. After the game we shared a message with a teenaged kid named Kevin. He committed to read the Book of Mormon. At the beginning of the lesson he was cracking jokes and not taking it seriously but by the end you could tell he knew what we were teaching was serious. I really hope that we get talk with him again soon.
Sunday was good as always and it was Elder Waldron’s birthday. Before any birthday celebrations we went to church. The first hour was the primary program which is always fun and the second hour we were supposed to have a lesson on Charity by our ward mission leader. About 2 seconds before class started he looked at me and said hey Elder Banks, will you start the lesson off for me I have to go do something. I ended up teaching the 45 minute lesson on charity. I am so thankful for that opportunity. God obviously knew that I needed to work on my charity a little more. I thought that I was a really charitable person. But right when you think you’re good at something God likes to show you how much you still have to learn. I know that I still have a ton to learn and I am so thankful that I got to learn more on Sunday.

I have heard this quote a couple times on my mission and I might have shared it before. But my mom showed it to me again this week so I figured it was a good thing to end with. The quote is "Pray like everything depends on God, and then work like everything depends on you." I love this quote because it takes away any excuse anyone has to not work. To get results in anything we have to do our part. God won’t magically give us a testimony of everything. He could, but he won’t. We have to act and do our part. There is a story about a man on a sinking ship. He prays that God will save his life. A boat comes by and tries to pick him up and he says no thanks God will save me. Then a helicopter come by and tries to save him but gets the same response. The man drowns. When he gets up to heaven he is pretty annoyed and says go God I prayed so why didn’t you save me? God tells the man I sent a boat and a helicopter. What else do you want me to do? We have all been sent our own versions of boats and helicopters. God is always reaching out trying to save us. But we have to act, and we have to accept the gifts given to us by God. I hope we can all recognize and accept those blessings in our lives.

-Elder Banks

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