Monday, October 8, 2012

Pictures: Elder Banks cooling off with an Otter Pop, Elders Banks and Williams watching conference, Elder Waldron and Elder Banks with Ron and Vicki Kremer on Vicki's baptism day.

               So hopefully this email makes sense. We don’t have much time today because we are having a zone nerf war strobe light costume party at the church and we have to go set it all up so we are a little bit short on time. But anyways I think it is awesome that they lowered the age for missionaries! The age thing obviously doesn’t really affect me at all. But the reason I’m so excited for it is because, first of all, most of my friends that are back home are old enough to go pretty much right now. It is especially a huge change for the sisters. Second I hope that the amount of missionaries out right now shoots up like crazy soon. With all of these new people being able to come out I hope to see new missions all over and current missions get huge. I had to get that out of the way but I will talk about the rest of conference later.

This week was a really good one. One of the cool things that happened this week was I got to talk to all of my former companions. I got to call Elder Anderson to talk to him about some stuff going on in Jacksonville. While I was on the phone with him we talked about all of the recent converts and how they have been doing since I came to Fairview. Just as expected there was mixed results. There are the ones who are still strong and help the missionaries out all the time. Those are the ones that really make me happy. Then there are the people who get baptized and then completely fall off. It is so hard to hear about those people and wish I could do something for them. For now all I can do is keep them in my prayers, but if I ever drive through Jacksonville again I will definitely have some people to go talk to. Getting to catch up with Elder Anderson again was great cause I haven’t seen him since I left Jacksonville.

I talked to Elder Jensen this week cause we see him all the time so that was fun like always. And then between sessions in conference the Kremer’s got a call from now Brother Waldron. It was really fun to get to talk to him and see how he is doing with his new life back home. It was a really cool experience to get to talk to everyone this week and it’s great to see how good they are all doing.

             On Thursday this week I got the chance to go down and stay in Waterloo for a day. The reason I got to go on exchanges there is because they needed someone to be interviewed for baptism and I got the opportunity to do that. The bad news came early in the day during district meeting when the Waterloo elders got a text from the man being baptized that said he didn’t think it was a good thing for him to do at this time. Knowing that Waterloo hasn’t seen a baptism for about a year and a half this was a really hard text for them to get. After the meeting me and Elder Shivers drove over to this guy’s house to talk to him. I can definitely see why he didn’t think this was a good time. His house is half finished and he is doing the entire thing on his own. His wife has gone into this state of depression and rarely leaves her room and he has 3 small children to take care of including a 9 year old with autism. He just thought he was too busy to do the things he needed to do after he got baptized. It was an amazing experience to get to talk to him and help him realize that this is exactly what he needed to do. There was nothing better for him to do than to get the Holy Ghost and have that help and guide him in his life. After a long meeting with him at the end we ended on a great note. He passed the baptismal interview and he knew it was what he needed to do. He knew it want going to be easy, but it was going to be worth it.

            To be honest right now I don’t even remember what we did the rest of the week up until Saturday and of course that was conference. Conference is easily the best holiday for missionaries. Most other holidays just end up being us not being able to leave our apartment all night and sitting around for a few hours. Having the opportunity to go watch the prophet and apostles talk is the greatest thing we could ever hope for. This conference was even better than last conference because instead of watching it alone in a big church building, me and Elder Williams got to watch it with the Kremer’s. It felt just like being home again. It was so much fun and such a good experience for all of us. (especially cause I started convincing Ryan to be a Raiders fan). But of course the best part of conference is always getting to hear and learn from some of the greatest men on the planet. It is amazing to hear their words and know they are straight from God.

I have been thinking all day about which talk I wanted to quote or whatever to end this email. The main thing that kept coming to my mind was one of the overall themes of conference being our example as members of the church. They talked specifically about missionaries a lot. But we are all in the spotlight more than ever now. It doesn’t matter if you are going to BYU or if you live in Fairview Heights, Illinois there are thousands of people watching you every day. In Illinois those people may have never even heard of this church. Your example could be what changes their life forever. At BYU, or in Orem or wherever you are, you are still being watched and seen by thousands of people all the time. Just because they are members of our church doesn’t mean they don’t need your help. If they see you stand up for what you believe in when tempted with something you know you shouldn’t do, they will know they should always stand up for their beliefs. If they see you cave to pressure it just gives them one more reason to not read their scriptures, pray, or go to church on Sunday. We can’t ever take a break from being the good example to people around us.

             I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to stick out in a crowd of people. We don’t go anywhere without hundreds of eyes reading the little black name tag we wear. I don’t ever want to be the person that embarrasses our church because of something I do or say. I hope that I can always be a representative of Jesus Christ and do things the way he would have me do them. I am so thankful for all of the blessings I have and I hope we can all always remember how blessed we are.

Elder Banks

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