Monday, December 30, 2013

Well it was a good week for the mission but as for the work in our area it was pretty awful. We had a really busy week just getting everything done that we needed to. Monday and Tuesday we played Santa and just drove everyone packages around to their zone leaders so people could have their presents for Christmas. It made a lot of missionaries happy so that was fun. Christmas Eve we went to the Morgan’s and hung out there. Their son Danny was there and of course Anna was there so me and Elder Wunderli had a fun day with them. Elder Jones and Elder Rausch were there with us too so it was a fun night. Christmas day we spent the whole day at the Morgan’s again and pretty much just watched basketball. It was a great day until the Heat won but even after that it was still fun. 
Thursday we had a 5 hour meeting with President Morgan just planning out MLC which was the next day. Then Friday we had a 6 hour meeting turn into a 7 1/2 hour meeting so we sat around a lot this week. We accomplished a ton and got a lot of really important things decided so it was a good couple days. Saturday we had a few lessons planned out and all of them bailed so we pretty much just drove around and tried to see a million people. Unfortunately none of them were home and when we tracted around their houses no one was home either so pretty much we spent endless hours just knocking on empty doors. It should have been an awful day but we just kept working and every time an appointment canceled we just kept going and thankfully Elder Wunderli stayed happy the whole time and by time it was 9:00 we felt like we had had a really good day. It was a lot of hard work but we felt really good for doing it. 
Sunday went a lot better than the rest of the week thankfully. One really cool thing happened when we went to go see a lady in the ward named Sister Huston. She is the funniest African lady and she is amazing. We talked a little bit about her neighbors that she has been working with and she told us we should just go over and try talking to them. We walked up to their front door and they all pulled up and asked who we were and about 5 seconds later let us in. They were so nice and it took us a little by surprise. We weren’t sure exactly what to say so we just asked them if they would take the lessons and the mom said they would love to. She called her husband and set up a time for us to come over with her and her husband and their 3 kids so hopefully we can have a good meeting with them on Saturday
This weekend we had 21 baptisms with 2 more coming up on Tuesday so it was a really, really good weekend. With all the baptisms that happened this weekend it puts our year-end total at 443. So we fell a little bit short of our goal. But we still know that it was the perfect goal cause if we had set it at anything else we probably wouldn’t have pushed as hard as we did and there would have been a few people that didn’t get baptized. And we had 7 extra baptisms last year so it all totals out to perfect haha. It was a great week and a great year. We have our goal set up for next year and I’m so excited for it! The mission is going to be so excited. It hasn’t been announced yet so I’ll tell you next week. But hopefully 2014 is just as great as 2013 has been!
-Elder Banks

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jasmina and Husein Todorovic Baptism


As normal, transfer week was crazy. Monday we got a call at 2:00 that we had a missionary who was going home sitting by himself at the mission home and no one was there. Of course it was Elder Williams haha. We went over and spent a couple hours with him and all the other departing missionaries started to trickle in throughout the night. We got to spend a good last night with all of them and it was a really good night. Elder Williams was one of my really good friends out here so it was sad to see him go but I’m excited to see him again sometime.


Tuesday we took the departing missionaries to the airport and sent them all off then stopped by to get some lunch in the airport waiting for the next set of new missionaries to come in. While we were sitting there waiting a guy wearing a Utah Utes jacket came over and started talking to us and it turned out to be Elder Petersen’s dad. Elder Petersen is one of our really good friends who we spent a ton of time with this last transfer so it was fun to get to meet his dad and take pictures with him. It was even more fun to get to show Elder Petersen after. We spent the rest of the day with the new missionaries and it was a normal fun day with them.

Wednesday we had transfer meeting and it was the most exhausting one ever. Something we didn’t realize is that with the way the office elders were set up this transfer neither one of them had ever prepared for a transfer meeting before. So pretty much nothing was ready with phones and cars and new areas. The meeting ended and we just ran around like crazy trying to figure out how to do a bunch of stuff that none of us had ever done before. It was crazy but it worked out. It made me extra thankful that I never have to go to one of those again. After transfer meeting we helped the sisters in our ward move cause their apartment pretty much exploded with water damage and that took forever moving an apartment with only a minivan. That was pretty much the rest of our day.

Thursday and Friday were really normal days of missionary work with nothing too spectacular happening. We had a few good lessons and everything is going really well.

Jasmina and Husein Todorovic were by far the highlight of the week for us. At the beginning of the week we weren’t sure if they were going to get baptized or not and we met with them and asked them if we could move their baptism date back a week or so and they said absolutely not. They were so excited to get baptized and had been studying so hard they wanted it this weekend. It took a lot of work and meeting every day but we were able to get everything done in time and they were both baptized on Saturday. One cool thing about it was that neither me or Elder Wunderli had ever actually been the person down in the water to baptize someone before and we both got to do that this weekend. Elder Wunderli baptized Jasmina and I got to baptize Husein. It was a lot of work getting that baptism ready for the few days before and the few hours before. We spent about 3 hours boiling water on the stove and bringing it over to the font to fill it up. Our little building doesn’t have the greatest water heater in the world. But with all the work and stress that came with the baptism it was so worth it. It was one of the coolest days of my mission. Jasmina has 2 more sons that we are teaching now who will hopefully getting baptized soon. It’s been amazing to see over the last 2 weeks two families get baptized and completely change their lives and their family’s lives. Husein always talks about going on a mission and how excited he is. They’re just going to have an amazing future. 

Jasmina got to bear her testimony at the baptism and it was amazing. She isn’t much of a talker in front of groups of people so I didn’t think she was going to get up given the option. But she stood up and started by her best friend who introduced her to the gospel. She continued on through all her tears to explain how crazy her life had been recently and how she used to make fun of her friend all the time for becoming a Mormon. But when things got really tough she asked if she could come to church with her. She couldn’t even control her emotions when she parked at the church for the first time because she knew she was home. She knew before she even got into the building that this was the right place for her to be. Three weeks later she and her son got baptized. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had to be a part of that process and hopefully the rest of her family will be joining her soon. I couldn’t ask for more my last transfer as a missionary. I love this time of year and I love the people that I get to serve. Merry Christmas!

-Elder Banks



Monday, December 16, 2013

Troy and Bryson Outlaw at their baptism on December 14, 2013

Troy and Bryson Outlaw Baptism

           Transfer planning this transfer was quite a bit different than it has been over the last few. Things were a lot crazier this week than normal. We usually have time set apart to plan things out from about 10-4 on Tuesday through Saturday. With all the meetings that President Morgan had and all the appointments that we had set up, we missed out on a lot of that time. When we rolled around to Friday we still had half a board of empty places to fill up with missionaries. But thankfully we were able to make it through and get everything worked out. It’s looking like it’s going to be a good transfer. And of course because its transfer planning week I had to get sick. Me and Elder Wunderli both had a rough couple days in there but everything worked out alright and we’re feeling better now so that’s a blessing with the craziness of transfers coming up. 

            Saturday this week was by far the best day. It started with us coming into the office and finishing up everything with transfers and that went really well. Then, right when that all got done, we headed back to St. Louis Hills for Troy’s baptism. It was so cool! Troy was baptized and so was his son Bryson. A bunch of cool stuff happened that day at the baptism. We knew that Sister Outlaws dad was the one who was going to baptize Troy and Bryson. She had told us his name a couple times but it never really registered who this guy was until I saw him. He came to the baptism and I recognized him from Oakville because we went and visited him when I was there and his son was living with him. We taught his sons girlfriend and started to reactivate the dad. I know there was a lot of other factors involved but it was cool to see someone that I helped teach almost a year ago be able to baptize his son in law and grandson into the church. 

            Right after that baptism we headed up to Edwardsville Illinois for another baptism. Elder Wunderli found this girl a few months ago and she was getting baptized now and had requested that he come back and give a talk. I had met her once before and she’s super cool. It was amazing to see how many people were at her baptism. She had the support of the entire ward behind her. There were like 8 or 10 missionaries there who had all had a part in her conversion and it was just a really cool experience to see all the hard work finally pay off. I got to talk to her for a few minutes after her baptism and she told me something that was really cool for me. The time before when I had met her it was right after general conference. She was kind of thinking about baptism but had a lot of things in her way still. It was a really relaxed conversation not a lesson or anything but we started talking about President Uchtdorf’s talk and his quote "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" and almost as a joke I just looked at her and said "So ya. You should probably just do that." We left and I didn’t think much of it after that, but at the baptism she came over and talked to me about that experience and thanked me for saying what I said and the way that I had said it. She said that was something that had helped her out for the next few days to get her through some of the trials that came up. I love learning about the little things that missionaries and members of the church do or say and it turns out to be just what someone needed to hear.

            Saturday night we called out all the transfer news and then headed home. We got home at about 11:00 just totally exhausted and still sick with our colds. I hit the bed and about 30 seconds later had to go to the bathroom and got hit with some great food poisoning. I finally got out of the bathroom and got back to bed at 5:00 am and tried to get a couple hours of sleep before church. Both of us were feeling pretty awful but we were able to make it to sacrament meeting to see Troy get confirmed so we were glad we were able to make it to that. We spent the rest of the day sleeping in the Morgan’s basement haha. But we feel a lot better today than we have for a while. We’re really thankful we got sick a few days ago and were getting over it now cause we have tons of stuff coming up this week. The departing missionaries are all coming in today so we have to get them on the road and then new missionaries come in tomorrow. We have 3 baptisms scheduled for this Saturday but because we missed quite a few lessons due to sickness we’re not sure if we’re going to be able to get them ready by this Saturday so it’ll probably have to get pushed to next week.

Overall everything is going amazing here. I love the opportunities I have been given and am thankful that we have been able to take advantage of the blessings that have been put in our path recently. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Matt!! Hope everyone enjoys their holiday season. 

-Elder Banks 


Monday, December 9, 2013

The weather has been freezing but I went out and bought a scarf and gloves and stuff so I’m nice and warm. Yesterday we were driving and it was raining/25 degrees outside. So when we got to where we were going our car had a solid layer of ice over our entire car. It was pretty cool.
I’m staying in the office for my last transfer with Elder Wunderli. With all the changes that are happening right now president wants me to stay. I’m so excited because we have 2 dates right now and a possible 3 or 4 more baptisms before I go home so I’m really thankful to stay. Things are good.

            I love the St Louis Hills ward so much. We had so much good stuff happen this week. Monday was a pretty normal pday but Tuesday is when things started looking so great. I was on exchanges with Elder Jenkins in Dardeene Creek and it was pretty normal, but we got a call later that night from Elder Wunderli and Elder Terrazas who were in our area and they had the coolest experience happen. They went over to the Biberovic family’s house to visit them and see if their daughter was interested in taking the lessons. They got there and of course, because their Bosnian, they sat them down and started feeding them dinner. One of their friends came out and she started talking to the missionaries and started to talk about how she was at church on Sunday and just loved it. She bought a Book of Mormon like 3 years ago at a yard sale and never really knew what it was but she loved it and kept it the whole time. To make a long story short she has a baptismal date for the 21st of December and we’re teaching her and her 3 kids. They love having us over and have been feeding us a couple times a week and it has just been awesome. They’re a Bosnian family and we have a few more meetings with them this week so hopefully things keep going well.

              We picked up a few more investigators over the next few days and they were all member referrals. One of them is the Masons son whose 11 years old. He is a really good kid and ready to be baptized and then his family is working towards being sealed in a year. It seems like every single day we are getting calls from members and the sisters in our ward and everyone with referrals for us. We went to church on Sunday and there were nonmembers everywhere. We were running around like crazy trying to meet them all and get appointments with some of them. One of my favorite things about our ward is the diversity. Our 2nd hour class that had all the nonmembers in it was a couple white people and then the rest of the room was full of all kinds of different everything. We had Bosnian families everywhere just like normal but we had tons of black people and it was so funny. We had guys with dreads down to their butts talking about praying to God and we probably had 5 people straight from South Africa in class. It was so cool to just sit there and be surrounded by all of that.

            This week we have transfer planning all week from 10 to 4. The thing that we’re excited for is all the evenings that we have this week. After transfer planning we have tons of appointments with different people and we have a baptism with Troy Outlaw this weekend on Saturday. We have a couple more things to teach him but he should be good to go. In our area over the next 6 weeks we are hoping to get a couple more baptisms. I am so thankful that I get to spend the rest of my mission in this great area with a great companion. Our mission is seeing miracles all over the place. We need 51 baptisms between now and the end of the year which is unreal. But we are setting tons of dates all the time and we’re still going to need some serious miracles but it’s looking more and more like we’re going to pull it off somehow. We’re looking forward to another good week!

-Elder Banks


Monday, December 2, 2013

           We had our first full week or missionary work in our area this week and it was hectic but it was great. Tuesday I went back to Fairview Heights with Elder Smith, and Elder Sims and Elder Wunderli worked in St Louis Hills. It was a really cool exchange in Fairview cause it was pretty much a perfect night.  We taught Chris who I taught when I was there before and he was doing really well. We took Ron Mitchell with us so it was just like old times. I was so excited to see Ron doing so well again. After that we had another quick stop by with a part member family and then the end of the night was the best. We went to a members house and it’s a single older woman and she had been thinking about one of her friends a lot recently so she took us over to her house and we sat down and taught her and her son. It was an awesome lesson. They were best friends and trusted each other so much that this investigator just took everything so well cause she knew it had helped her friend so much. It was a great lesson.

            Wednesday we switched back and I was in St Louis Hills with Elder Johnson and Elder Wunderli went back to Maryland Heights with Elder Anderson. Me and Elder Johnson were kind of blind caue I hadn’t really worked in our area and Elder Johson had served there a few months ago but the area has completely changed since then so we just pretty much ran around and tried to see a million people. We talked to a few but it wasn’t the most successful day. Thankfully, Elder Johnson is awesome and it was just a ton of fun to be with him.

The next morning we drove back to Maryland Heights for Thanksgiving. We started off the day with like 3 hours of basketball with a bunch of other missionaries and that was a ton of fun. Then we just went to the mission home and watched football and ate food for the rest of the day. Even though the Raiders are awful it was still a pretty fun day. I love getting to hang out with the Morgan’s.

            Friday we had MLC for the first 6 hours of the day and then we were with Elder Furlong and Elder Duke for the rest of the day on exchanges. They live a few hours away so they just met up with us in our area and all 4 of us stayed there. Saturday me and Elder Furlong went around and couldn’t find anyone at home. We knocked on like a million doors and no one was home for some reason. But we ended up catching a couple of less actives at home that the ward has been trying to get in contact with forever so that was cool. We went to a baptism that the sisters were having in our ward later that night and that was really cool too.

            Sunday was the best day of the week for us. We went to church and we had a huge list of people to talk to about potential investigators and we were able to get most of it figured out. We were especially trying to get a hold of the Mason family cause they have a couple people we want to teach. We went by their house and tried calling them and stuff but we just couldn’t get anything figured out. But at church Brother Mason got called as a ward missionary so he sat in on our ward correlation meeting after church and it was so cool. We are going over on Wednesday and we are going to start teaching his 11 year old son cause he wants him to get baptized so that in a year they can all get sealed. They also have 2 other people who are good friends with them who have shown interest in the past so we asked if he would invite them. It sounds like we should be meeting 3 awesome new investigators on Wednesday so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for that.

Troy Outlaw came to church again with his family. He is the coolest guy ever. His son is for sure getting baptized on the 14th of December and we are trying to get through all the commandments and stuff so he can get baptized with him. Everything with Troy is going super well so far though. We are going to be going over a few really crucial things this week that will let us know how solid his baptism is so hopefully everything works out with that.

            Sunday after church we had a sweet miracle happen. We had about an hour and a half before dinner so we drove over to a ladies house who we had heard a ton about. One of our friends, Elder Anderson who just went home, taught a lady named Robin in the area that were in now and he just loved her and always said she was so great and all that stuff. So we got her address and went to see her a couple times and she was never home. But we caught her at home this time and she is the nicest person ever!! We have no idea how she isn’t baptized. Her only concern was not being able to make it to church cause she rides the bus and she hates asking people for rides. But once we get that figured out she is good as gold. She loved the first lesson and wants to come to church. We’re seeing her again on Wednesday and she wants to feed us her home made mac and cheese sometime so were pretty excited for that. That just shows you what kind of person she is. We knew her for about 5 minutes and she was already trying to get us to come back for a dinner. She is a diamond in the rough. She lives in a pretty rough part of the city but she is just the sweetest lady ever. We’re really excited to teach her.

            This coming week should just be more awesome work. We have a few exchanges and lots of full days of missionary work ahead of us. We’re so excited for all the things that are happening in our area and we are so thankful for the blessings we have received. We were so lost for a few days and really didn’t know what to do or how to do it, but we just went out and worked hard and God put some people in our path. We’re going to just keep trying to push forward and we know everything’s going to be great!

-Elder Banks


Monday, November 25, 2013

            Tuesday this week was amazing and it started off the week in an awesome way. We went to the temple with Mary and it was incredible. It was super simple and nothing spectacular happened or anything like that but just to see her and talk to her again was a ton of fun. And just knowing that the decisions she was making are going to change her eternity is a cool thing to experience. I am so thankful that I was able to have that opportunity with her this week. After the temple we went to O’Fallon zone conference and trained. It was super normal but it was fun.

             The next 2 days were Springfield and Champaign zone conferences. They were both good but Champaign’s was awesome. It was probably the best zone conference I have ever been to. It was a blast.

               After those 2 days we had our exchanges with them. Saturday I was with Elder Norton on the University of Illinois campus and it was freezing. It was about 25 degrees which isn’t too bad really, but there was wind all day long that just felt like it was cutting you in half. Thankfully I forgot all of my winter clothes except for one jacket in St Louis so that made things awesome. I was so cold haha. We walked around and talked to college kids for about 4 hours and then after that we went to the institute building for a lesson and I had to go warm up so I could talk again cause my face was so frozen. But we had an awesome lesson right after that and talked to a ton of cool people that day so it was definitely worth it.

             Sunday was our first day in our new ward and it was great. We have the best ward of all time. It has everything you can imagine in it. We have lots of black people and tons of Bosnians. We have an apartment complex that we call little Provo cause it has like 20 your families straight from BYU in it that are all in our ward. And of course, being in the city, we have lots of crazy people too. Sunday was probably the best church block I have been to in a long time. We had an investigator there named Troy Outlaw. We talked to him on the phone throughout the week and the other elders who we replaced told us a little bit about him. He comes to church with his wife and 2 sons and the wife is a member. They have heard the first lesson and we have 2 appointments this week to teach him a couple more times so hopefully all of that works out.

  The best part of the day was right after church we sat down with Sister Fisher and Sister Lundskog the sister missionaries in our ward and they gave us a list of 7 people to go contact that have been coming to church over the last couple months but for some reason no one ever asked them if they want to take the lessons. We have a few people to go contact this week and hopefully we can have a few solid investigators by time the week is up. We are so excited to work in our area!

             This week we have a few fun things. I’ll be in Fairview Heights with Elder Smith on Tuesday and then on Wednesday me and Elder Johnson will be back in St Louis Hills. After that we have Thanksgiving and then MLC the next day. Elder Jenkins and Elder Furlong are coming to our area the day after MLC to do some work there with us. We are way excited and everything is going so well! In the mission as of today, if every person with a baptismal date got baptized we would be at exactly 450 for the year. Now some of those are obviously going to drop, but we hope that over the next 2 or 3 weeks we can set a few more dates and reach our goal for the year! It’s going to be close. Keep us in your prayers.

 -Elder Banks


Monday, November 18, 2013


            The craziest/coolest things happened this week. It all started on Tuesday when Brother Donaldson came in from the missionary department in Salt Lake and went on exchanges with me and Elder Wunderli. It was an interesting night to say the least. He made us feel about the size of an ant and like we didn’t know anything about missionary work, but we wanted to just stay with him forever. He was teaching us so much! It was such an awesome night. We were blown away when we got home and we had just gotten way too much information to remember but we tried to get some of it down. Thankfully on Thursday we had a meeting with about 50 other missionaries where he trained us all for about 7 hours. We learned a ton. He taught us new ways to teach and new things to use in our missionary work. We have been getting texts all week from missionaries who have tried the new methods and just say why didn’t we know about this at the beginning of our missions?? It has helped us out a ton.

            The Brother Donaldson visit lead into a big change for me and Elder Wunderli. Brother Donaldson stressed that the assistants should have the best area in the mission, and in our current situation we weren’t even close. We had pretty much no time to work in our area and the time we did have wasn’t very effective. We had 2 visa waiters leave this morning so we had 2 open spots in the mission we needed to fill. After a lot of thought and meetings we decided that we were going to move the elders out of St Louis Hills to fill the visa waiter spots and that me and Elder Wunderli were going to go in and be the new missionaries in that area. St. Louis Hills just barely got their boundaries redone and it used to be called the Carondelet ward which I might have mentioned before. It’s in south zone right by Oakville and it’s about 25 minutes away from the office and mission home. It is my favorite area in the mission. I loved going on exchanges there so much! I am so excited to get to work there this transfer. We share the ward with Sister Fisher and Sister Lundskog. I’ve never really shared a ward before so that will be something new.

Also the Steve that I talked about last time who I taught in Oakville who is getting baptized is in our ward. I saw him at a baptism on Saturday and got to talk to him for a second and I’ll probably get to teach him a little bit again before he gets baptized, so that was really exciting. We have a little bit of everything in our new area. We have part of the old Webster Groves ward where Elder Wunderli served before so he knows some of them who are almost all college aged kids going to school. Then we have the biggest population of Bosnians in our area anywhere outside of Bosnia and we also cover the ghetto of south St. Louis so we have just about everything in our area.

            Getting a new area wouldn’t really do us any good if we didn’t have time to work in it, so we are making changes to our schedule too. After this week the assistants won’t go to zone conference or interviews anymore unless it’s for south zone cause that’s the zone were a part of now. All we have to worry about is doing our 8 zone leader exchanges and then helping President Morgan with anything that he needs a little extra help with. So pretty much we’re just normal missionaries with unlimited miles and instant access to the mission president. We pretty much have the best job ever. We aren’t sure what’s going to happen at the end of the transfer but I’ll at least get to enjoy this new area for 4 weeks so I am really looking forward to that.

            This coming week we are still going to go to the zone conferences to help everyone make some changes and adjustments so we will be going to Springfield, O’Fallon, and Champaign this week. Then we will do our zone leader exchanges in Champaign and Springfield. We won’t get to work in our area too much this week, but next week we pretty much have the whole time to work with.

            Also this coming week on Tuesday I get to go through the temple with Mary Crouch, who I taught in my first area. Me and Elder Anderson both get to go through with her and we are so excited! It’s going to be an amazing day.

I am so excited for all the changes that are coming for our mission. We are at 377 baptisms for the year which means we already have more than we had last year which is great. But we are still a lot short of 450. We have about 70 baptism dates between now and the end of the year and these next couple weeks are really going to be the do or die for the rest of the year. Hopefully everything goes well for the rest of the year! With all the prayers and fasting that’s going on around the mission we really hope that we can reach our goal. Keep us in your prayers!

-Elder Banks

Monday, November 11, 2013

Parker with President and Sister Morgan at the St. Louis Temple.
With transfers happening this week it was another hectic week. We did a whole new transfer schedule and it was nice but just cause it was the first time we had ever done it, it was pretty crazy. We had the departing missionaries come in on Monday evening. We all got together and went to a park behind the Morgan’s house and played football for a while. Then we came back in and did all of the normal stuff. We had a testimony meeting like normal and I always love doing that with the departing missionaries. They have all changed so much over their missions and it’s amazing to see that change. Especially with some of these missionaries that I have known and seen grow for almost 2 years now. It was cool to look around the room and see that I had been on exchanges with every single missionary in the room and had good memories with each of them. We left at 9:00 that night (instead of staying up all night) and that helped make the week a lot better.

The next morning we took all the departing missionaries to the airport and then had just a few minutes to have some down time waiting for the new missionaries to fly in. It was nice to have the new missionaries come in last cause that’s a lot more fun than sending the departing missionaries home. We had a nice normal night at the mission home with all the new missionaries and then headed home to get ready for transfer meeting the next day. Transfer meeting was normal and everything went smooth. It was a lot less hectic than normal. 

             This coming week we have a lot of stuff coming up that’s super stressful but it’s going to be good. I was just thinking the other day about how I used to get so stressed out when I had to go on exchanges with zone leaders and the assistants and other missionaries and I was so happy because I hadn’t been very stressed about an exchange for a long time. Then President Morgan decided to tell us that Brother Donaldson from the missionary department is coming to our mission to train us and he wants to go on exchanges with me and Elder Wunderli to see how we teach. So ya, I’m nice and stressed out about exchanges again. But it’s good to be stressed out sometimes, it makes you work harder.

Yesterday we went around and we are trying to figure out a way to fill our Tuesday evening with appointments to teach with this guy when we don’t have any investigators and we don’t know anyone in the ward very well. We went around and met with as many people as we possibly could and set up a few return appointments so it should be a pretty good night. On Thursday, after we go on exchanges on Tuesday, we are bringing in about 55 missionaries to sit down and have a meeting with Brother Donaldson. He’s going to be training the missionaries on something that we really don’t know. All we know is that he said that when he leaves the missionaries will probably be thinking what in the world just happened. We’re hoping that that’s what happens cause everyone can always use a change. It adds just enough stress to make people perform at their best. 

            We’re pretty far behind on our mission goal of 450 for the year. We are almost 100 baptisms away from reaching our goal. As a mission we are shooting to have a baptism in every area between now and the end of the year. It’s been really cool because we have been fasting and praying to reach our goal and we have seen the amount of baptismal dates just skyrocket recently. We really are going to need some miracles but they are already starting to come in, so we’ll see how it goes between now and the end of the year. 

            Earlier this week we went to the St Louis Hills district meeting. They are right next to the Oakville ward that I used to serve in. The St Louis Hills sisters were talking about one of their investigators and how he was waiting for first presidency approval on baptism and all these different things and we thought it sounded kind of funny so we did a little more research on it and found out that he was good to get baptized as soon as they could get a service set up for him. It was cool to see how excited they were cause that will be the first ever baptism for that area because it’s pretty new. It got really cool for me though as we learned a little bit more about this guy and I finally got his name and realized that they were teaching Steve Millheim who I taught in Oakville. When I taught him he had a baptismal date but then broke up with his girlfriend and things kind of fell apart and we never saw him again. The Sisters still don’t know how but someone sent him as a referral through and they found him and started teaching him again. And now he is getting baptized in a week or so. It’s fun to see someone that I taught in Oakville getting baptized cause I worked my brains out in that area and we never saw anything come from it. That was a really cool thing for me to get to see. 

               It’s going to be a crazy end of the year and all the missionaries are going to be working as hard as we can to reach our goal and more importantly help as many people as we possibly can to come to know that this church is true and can bless their lives. I love being a missionary and this is a super exciting time to get to be one. I love this gospel and am so thankful that I get to share it.

-Elder Banks


Monday, November 4, 2013

         Transfer planning pretty much took all week this week. But a couple other cool things happened. I’ll start with the not so spiritual side of the week. Monday night I was feeling really sick and we had a dinner appointment with some other missionaries and a member family in our ward, so Elder Wunderli dropped me off at the mission home and he went with some other missionaries to dinner. After a little while of me laying in the Morgan’s basement sleeping on the couch, President come down and whispered to me "Hey if you don’t feel too awful the Cardinals game starts in 30 minutes. I won’t tell anyone if you want to watch a little bit of it" So a few minutes later I got to go upstairs and watch the Cardinals game with president Morgan. It was a super cool experience to get to just sit there and realize how much i just felt at home. It felt like I was just watching sports with my dad and my little sister and mom were just poking their heads in every once in a while to say hi. I love the Morgan’s so much and I’m so thankful for everything that they do for me and for the chance that I have to work with them.

            After a couple more days of transfer planning, Halloween rolled around and we got to go to the mission home again and eat some dinner. We had a night of about 3 trick or treaters and mostly we just had meeting’s all night long. It wasn’t the most entertaining holiday ever, but we accomplished a lot so that was good.

One cool thing about the transfer planning that we did for this coming transfer is that we can definitely see an upward trend with our missionaries. We have been stretched so thin on good missionaries recently we just didn’t have enough to do all the training and different things that we needed, and now we are seeing the effects of that with some of our worst numbers we have ever had. But now, after all these young missionaries are done being trained, we have a ton of good missionaries just waiting to help us out. Of course you can never have too many good missionaries and we are using every single one of them as much as we can. Hopefully over the next few months we see all of the results of these hard working missionaries start to show.

            Another cool thing that happened this week was a phone call that I got from Sister Leavitt who is serving up in Jacksonville. She called to tell me that Mary Crouch is going through the temple on November 19th! I was so excited to hear that she finally got all of her temple classes and everything done. We have a zone conference in O’Fallon that day and I asked if I could skip part of it to make it over to the temple and President Morgan said that was fine. It’s still a few weeks away but I am so excited to get to go through with her! It’s going to be such an awesome experience.

            The new transfer schedule starts today with all the departing missionaries coming in around 4. We pick up the new missionaries tomorrow and then have transfer meeting on Wednesday. Lots of things have been changing throughout the mission with transfers so hopefully it’s a lot easier this time than it has been in the past. It’s going to be another crazy week but we’re excited. Talk to you again soon.


-Elder Banks


Monday, October 28, 2013

           Soo the World Series is probably the coolest thing ever. I wish so bad that I could watch it! But hey if it goes game 7 it might be on Halloween and we have that night off so maybe president would let us watch it :)

            Today has already been a long day but something pretty cool happened this morning. So I woke up at like 4:00 in the morning and my whole body just ached like crazy and I felt awful for the rest of the morning. Then we all got up and went to the gym and I just laid on the ground cause I felt like I was going to die. Then Elder Johnson and Elder Anderson came over to do a few things and I asked them and the elders that I live with to give me a blessing cause I really didn’t want to spend the rest of the day throwing up and that was definitely the way I felt it was headed. The second that Elder Wunderli finished giving me a blessing I felt a thousand times better. I definitely don’t have any plans to do anything too crazy today, but it was amazing to me to see the power of the priesthood help me out so much so quickly.

            This has nothing to do with anything, but we just got a call from some awesome missionaries in our mission and they were freaking out cause one of their brothers bought them tickets to the World Series game that’s tonight. I didn’t think they would get to go but president said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and their good to go. I am so dang jealous!! How many people can say they got to go to a World Series game on their missions? Lucky dogs. We told them they better take some sweet pictures to send us. That’s going to be the coolest thing ever for them.

            We had a really busy week this week just like normal and it was a ton of fun. We finished interviews with the last couple zones and were glad to have those done with. Then we had MLC on Friday. It was a good and bad meeting at the same time. We gathered up all of our total numbers for October and they were awful. We got 20 baptisms this month. The worst month that we have had this year up until this point was 31. So we really fell behind. To reach our goal of 450 we need about 47 per month for the rest of the year. It’s going to be a stretch but since that meeting we have already seen miracles start to happen to get us towards our goal. We are fasting every Sunday in November so hopefully that gives us a head start as well.

            Saturday we went up to Springfield and had our exchange up there. Then Sunday we came back down for Stake conference. Stake conference was great and I have had the opportunity to go to a few this year and they have all had the same themes. Everyone talks about temple work and missionary work. The push for these two subjects is amazing. The temple president spoke on Sunday and it was so cool to get to see how much he loves the temple and how much it means to him.

I love this gospel and how much it blesses our lives. I am so thankful for all of the things that I know that make us happier and bring more peace into our lives. I love teaching other people about it! We’re transfer planning all week and hopefully we have some time at night to do some tracting in our area. We want to find someone to teach so bad!! But ya, it’s going to be another good, busy week. Happy Halloween and I’ll talk to you again soon.

-Elder Banks

Go Cards 


Monday, October 21, 2013

 This week was definitely different than past weeks and it was so much fun. We went on 5 different zone leader exchanges this week, so needless to say we have been driving around a ton and were super busy, but it has been so much fun! I love exchanges so much. We get to do a full day of missionary work and we get to go out with some of our best friends and be companions with them for a day. A bunch of cool things happened.

On Thursday I got to go with Elder Anderson who is one of the St Louis zone leaders who lives super close to us and we hang out all the time. I loved spending the day with him and the coolest thing that happened. Me and Elder Wunderli went to visit a less active family a few weeks ago and just stopped by to say hi. They set up a return appointment with the zone leaders and I was there when we went back. When we got there the member just said hey let me go grab my neighbor real fast. His neighbor came over and met us and shook our hand and then sat down and listened to the first lesson and we set up a return appointment. It was so easy!!! This guy just brought over his next door neighbor. I wish more people had that kind of faith. 

            The changes that are taking place in the mission are so cool. President Morgan told us about a meeting that he had yesterday. It was his coordination meeting with our local area seventy and the 8 stake presidents in our area. They told him that Elder Perry was going to be broadcast in and he assumed that a bunch of different coordination meetings would be watching Elder Perry give a training. That wasn’t what happened at all. Elder Perry, Elder Ballard, Elder Scott, and one of the presidents of the seventy were skyped into their meeting personally. I think it meant a lot to have a 15 person meeting with 3 apostles in it. The stake presidents are really getting hit hard to do missionary work. It all starts with them and its starting to trickle its way down. It’s really cool to see. I know I say this every week but I am so thankful to be a missionary right now and get to see all of these amazing changes.

             We have a mixture of stuff coming up this week. It will be nice to get some different things in. We have some interviews and a couple of exchanges and MLC. This will be somewhere around my 15th MLC and by far our most important one cause we are on a downhill slope right now that seriously needs to get fixed if we’re going to get our goal of 450 for the year. We need some miracles to start happening right away. But I know that if everyone will step up and work their hardest that we can reach our goal no problem. I love this work and know that what we are doing is blessing the lives of people all over the world. 


-Elder Banks


Monday, October 14, 2013

           Today has been nuts. We have been driving missionaries around to new areas and to have interviews with president and to the airport all morning and it has been nuts. We have had sooo many missionaries recently who have had to go home because of physical injury, it’s been so sad. A missionary tore his MCL and had to go home for surgery today. His companion had to find a new place to serve and it’s been a headache. 

            It’s been a really good week over all. Lots of cool things have happened and we have been super busy. We had 3 days worth of interviews. That filled up a lot of time. We changed it up a lot though. We had a couple other trainings from sister training leaders and stuff like that. We played a lot of games that made it fun. Then we stayed in Champaign and spent a day with them on exchanges. We got to drive up to Danville which is about 10 minutes away from the Indiana border and went to a baptism, then I got to go on exchange with Elder Brooks for a few hours. He has been out for just over 3 months and his companion is brand new. They have had a ton of success in their area recently and it’s been amazing. They have no idea what they’re doing haha. But they are soooo happy and they have the Spirit with them so strong. We went tracting and we had so much success because everyone wanted to talk to him. He is just so happy and he knows that this is going to bless other people so he just wants to share it. 

            One other cool thing that happened in Champaign was Thursday night we went to Wal-Mart to buy some food because the zone leaders didn’t have any food for us and we needed to pick up a few things. We went to the checkout with like 10 bucks worth of food and after we scanned it all at the self-checkout, a lady came up to us and said "mind if I butt in real quick?" Mostly confused but trying to be nice we said ya ok and she swiped her card and said have a nice day and walked off. At first it was just a really nice gesture that made us feel good but after I thought about it a little bit I realized what she had done for us. Definitely more than once on my mission I have had to make an emergency run to a

Wal-Mart or something like that and had members call me out about it not being pday and anything else you can imagine that we were "doing wrong” and this lady came up and bought our food for us at 9:20 at night on a Thursday. Not a judgmental thought went through her head, she just knew that we looked exhausted and we needed some food. I’ll never see her again but I really appreciate what she did for us.

            On Saturday we started out the day by going to Barack Obama elementary school and helping them build a playground. We all got free shirts and got to work with a couple hundred other people to put this thing together and it was a super cool experience.

Sunday we went to church in Maryland Heights for sacrament meeting then went to one of Elder Wunderli's former wards in St Peters Missouri and stayed there for the full 3 hours. We got to see a new elder quorum presidency called and talk to the stake president for a while and it was a really good day.

I’m so thankful for all of the blessings that I have seen this transfer. I love being with Elder Wunderli and we have so many friends that live right around us. Even when things go terrible all day, we just have so much fun and love the work that we get to do. I have met so many amazing people recently and I have been really blessed to be in this mission right now. I love this work and will talk to you all again soon. 

-Elder Banks

Go Cards



Monday, October 7, 2013

Well this week like many other weeks was full of lots of ups and downs but thankfully just like normal the ups were much better than the downs were. We did 3 zones worth of interviews so that was fun. People are always really excited to get to sit down and meet with President Morgan and we love getting to train all of them and have so much fun with that. So that’s what we did Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday.


Friday we were planning on having a full day to work in our area but, of course that could never happen, so we ended up having to drive up to Springfield IL and back. On the way back we took a road that took us over a ferry across the Mississippi river so that was a cool experience. That night we got to visit a few members and work with them so we were thankful to still get some work in. It’s been cool recently because we don’t have too much time to teach lessons so we can really focus on putting every ounce of spiritual strength into each lesson that we do have. We even got to have a lesson with the Morgan’s this weekend but I’ll talk about that in a second. 


            Definitely the highlight of this week was this weekend with conference. I love getting to listen to the prophet and apostles speak. There are always so many good topics. The range of topics this time was huge and I felt like so many of them applied to me. There are so many missionaries that struggle with depression so Elder Holland’s talk was amazing for that. The day before he gave that talk we took a missionary to the airport because he was struggling with mental health and it killed him that he had to go home because he wanted to stay out and try to fix it so badly but I hope that he heard Elder Holland’s talk and is able to move on with his life and stay strong in the gospel. 


             Another topic that really hit home for us was all the talks about the priesthood and the role of it in a woman’s life. One of our really close friends out here has some family back in Utah that is really heavily involved in the women and the priesthood thing that’s going on and so he was looking for some answers there and there were some very blunt talks that talked about how women don’t need the priesthood to enjoy the full blessings of the power of God. It’s far more important to live worthily of a temple recommend.


Of course we also loved the topic of missionary work. Elder Ballard made a promise that we could touch millions of people’s lives if we will simply reach out to someone between now and Christmas. We have been working with the zone leaders and the ward council since Sunday to try to get it as a goal in our ward to have every person invite someone (nonmember, less active, or part member) to take the missionary discussions. If everyone will do that our planners will be full of teaching appointments for the rest of the year. And we all need to remember that promise applies to all of us. Living in Utah or "not having any nonmember friends" doesn’t make us an exception to the commandment to hasten the work. 


            We got to watch all the sessions of conference at the mission home with the Morgan’s and some other missionaries and it was so much fun! We got good home cooked meals, got to go in the backyard and play games in between, and then the best part for me was to get to teach the Morgan’s a lesson after. We had never done that before and we figured that we are teaching member lessons and they’re members so we might as well teach them. The spirit was super strong as we taught the lesson and my favorite part was when we were asking them what they have already done with missionary work and what they were going to do now. Anna said that she had given out a couple pass along cards at school and without any hesitation she said that she was going to invite someone to take the missionary discussions. It was incredible to see the faith of an 18 year old girl. Most members pick very small and simple goals which for some people is great. But for Anna she was ready to share the gospel and she is determined to do it. I am so thankful for her faith and the faith of the Morgan family. They are an incredible example to me and all the other missionaries. 


            I am so thankful for conference and for great friends that I have out here. There are so many examples in my life of how to be a good person and get closer to God and I just pray that I can keep these examples in my life. I love this work and am humbled to be a part of the amazing missionary work movement that is happening right now. Thank you all for your prayers and help with hastening the work. I love you all and will talk to you again soon!


-Elder Banks   


Monday, September 30, 2013

           This week was another crazy one. Tuesday we picked up the new missionaries and did the normal thing with them. It was super fun like always. Elder Wunderli got here Tuesday morning and we were in a tri with Elder Facer until he went home on Thursday.


Transfer meeting was normal and really good. By time we get to Wednesday we are always so tired cause we haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in a few days. But Wednesday is the day that’s always the most fun. The temple was closed so we went to a Cards game and that was great like always. The playoffs are about to start so St. Louis is about to get even crazier. 


President did interviews until like 1:00 in the morning and then the rest of us just stayed up. I tried to sleep for a little while and ended up sleeping for like 15 minutes max. Thursday we took everyone to the airport and then we came home and just tried to recover. We had MLC on Friday so we spent most of the day Thursday trying to plan that out and get everything figured out. It was exhausting but we knew we had to live with the decision we made to stay up all night.


            On Friday we had MLC. That meeting is always a headache but it’s always well worth it. Usually there is some discussion and sometimes some fight back on some of the new policy’s but a couple weeks after the meeting, once everything has been instated, it’s always for the best.


Saturday was a really weird day for me cause it was the first time I have gotten to do missionary work in my own area in 6 months. We went around and saw a bunch of members and tried to get some referrals. It didn’t work but hopefully soon something comes out of it. I am so excited to teach someone again!


Sunday was another weird day. We went to the Maryland Heights ward, so we went to our home ward that we will be going to from now on most Sundays and they had a do a part in the 3rd hour combined class. We did a role play in front of everyone and taught some members the first lesson. It was weird but it was cool to get to see the ward get into the missionary mindset of things.


            This morning we went golfing with President Morgan. I had never been real golfing before so it was cool to get to try that.


Things have been great with Elder Wunderli as a companion so far. This transfer has gone amazingly. The mission is ahead on the baptismal goal and we are just hoping that we don’t fall behind at the end of the year. I am so thankful that I get to experience so many of these crazy new things that are happening in missionary work. It’s exciting to get to see all the changes this work is going through and all the changes that this work is bringing into other people’s lives. I know that this is the place that God wants me to be and I am so thankful for it.


-Elder Banks

Elders at a statue of Lewis and Clark
Office Elders