Monday, September 24, 2012

New companion, Elder Williams

             I can’t believe it has only been 7 days since I emailed last. So much stuff has happened it feels like it has been a year. Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal days. Then Wednesday was transfer meeting and we headed out to St Louis to get new companions. It was tough to see Elder Waldron go home but from what I have heard he is doing well with his new life. I must say transfer day was probably the most stressful day of my mission so far. I don’t think there was 5 minutes where our phone wasn’t exploding with calls and texts. Between having to drive back to St Louis to get some lost keys and opening 2 new areas where elder’s didn’t have rides to get back from the meeting it was quite the day.

The best part of transfer day was getting to meet Elder Williams. He is awesome. He is about 6'4" and close to double my weight. He is a huge goofball. Just like all the rest of my companions he is really tough to figure out. He loves outdoor stuff like hunting and has worked on an oil rig/ in an oil field thing since he was 13. But he is also super good at singing opera. Haha that is definitely a talent that can keep us entertained. Unfortunately he is a Broncos fan so the trash talk has been pretty much nonstop. If the Raiders lose next week I will probably never heard the end of it. It has been amazing to have him back in Fairview Heights though. Everyone in the ward loves him and is so glad he is back. He has only been out for 6 weeks longer than me and he spent his first 6 months in Fairview. He has never really had a normal companion because he got trained and then trained twice. So this is a big change for him but he loves it. As zone leaders we are co-senior companions which is great. I am ZL1 but I’m 99% sure that doesn’t actually mean anything. We are both just really happy to have a companion who is close to our same mission age and we can work completely as equals. Apparently there was a ton of confusion between when he left Fairview and now because he has like 20 investigators for us to go and see. Our teaching pool has doubled in the last couple days just from people who were lost or forgotten after he left. We stopped back by and they are excited to see us and want to learn more.

            Of course it has been a big change getting a new companion. One big difference is that Elder Waldron would ask me every time we left the apartment if I had the keys, and every time I thought Ya I’m not stupid of course I have the keys. So of course the 2nd day that he is gone I locked the keys in the apartment. That was a humbling experience. It was really fun though because it would have been so easy for us to get frustrated and for Elder Williams to get mad, but it ended up being a ton of fun. Luckily the night before we had unlocked the window of our apartment. The bad thing is that window is on the 2nd story. So we spent the next 30 minutes breaking into our 2nd story window and getting the keys. It was a fun night.

            Another theme this week was humbling experiences. We met up with a kid named Alex White. He was a former investigator and is a really cool kid who is about 13. Because the weather is cooling down when we go down to Cahokia there is always a million kids outside playing street ball. So of course when we saw Alex outside playing basketball we did the whole, if we can beat you in PIG we get to teach you thing. Let’s just say getting killed by a 13 year old in PIG will knock your pride down a couple levels. But thankfully he wanted to have a lesson with us anyways. He is a super bright kid and we read Lehi's dream with him. He picked up pretty much everything that we wanted him to and we are going back for a little bit of redemption in basketball and a 2nd lesson sometime next week.

            This coming up week is going to be absolutely crazy. Tonight we are going to O’Fallon for an exchange and I will be spending the night there. The next night we are going up to Alton to have a blitz up there. We are going to drive home from that and head straight over to Zone Conference. Zone Conference is a 6 hour meeting with about 60 other missionaries and president and sister Clark that we are in charge of. Then Friday we are going to St Louis for Zone Leader Council and that’s another 6 hour meeting. Then we get to finish the week off with DLZLC for a couple hours on Saturday and then church on Sunday. It sounds like a lot of long boring meetings but we are so excited. This is going to be the quickest week ever for us.

             Something in my mom’s email to me this week that really surprised me was hearing that Connor got his mission call. It is so crazy that it has been almost a year since I found out I was headed to the St Louis Mission. And now hearing about all of my friends coming up on their missions is the coolest thing ever. I can’t wait to hear about all of the mission calls that are coming to my friends now. Going on a mission is by far the hardest decision I have ever had to make. And don’t try to fool yourself into thinking it’s going to get any easier once you are out in the field. It’s always going to be tough, but it is also always going to be worth it. Having the testimony that what you are doing is the greatest thing that you could ever do for your life and for the lives of so many others makes all of the hard times worth it. There is no physical, mental, or spiritual pain that any of us could ever go through that Christ hasn’t already gone through first. No matter what comes our way the quiet assurance that all of our losses and trials will be made up to us if we are faithful can always keep us going. There are many people in our lives who have tried their hardest to point us in the right direction, but that is about all they can do. They can show us the right way and try their hardest to help us down it, but we won’t ever budge down the right path unless we make that choice ourselves. I love you all and I pray for you every day. I am so thankful for good friends who are making the right decision to go on a mission. I know that if you put the effort into it that God expects of you then it will be the greatest experience of your life.

-Elder Banks

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