Monday, January 28, 2013

Hello St. Louis

          This week was my first week in Oakville and it was great. The last couple days in Fairview were good and I just went around and said goodbye to a few people and taught some good lessons. Probably the most memorable thing that I got to do was my very last lesson at 8 at night on Tuesday. We went to a preacher’s house and had bible study with him and his family and a couple people from his congregation. Every time I have met with preachers on my mission it has been a disaster, but this time it was awesome. The Spirit was there super strong for us and it helped me realize even more that just because people don’t have 100 percent of the truth doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their best. I hope Elder Anderson and Elder Hoggan can have success teaching him.

            My new companions name is Elder Bullock and he is really cool. It has been a huge change going from Elder Anderson to Elder Bullock. Elder Anderson and I had a ton of fun and we worked really hard but the time flew by. We were constantly laughing and having fun so it was super disappointing to find out we weren’t companions anymore. Elder Bullock is the hardest working missionary I have ever served around and he is super, super obedient too. He is very serious so we don’t laugh and joke as much but we still have fun in a different way. He is from about an hour away from Calgary in Canada, so he is a little bit more used to the crazy ice weather we have been getting recently. But thankfully today its 60 so we don’t have to worry about that too much. He loves basketball so we are really excited to get to go to the church building and play today.
By the way the church building is an exact copy of the church building I went to back home and the first time I walked into the building it was quite the deja vu experience. It’s been a really good time serving with Elder Bullock so far.

Oakville is a super cool area. We live with a member right now named Brother Mills. He is a dentist and he is super cool. It’s really humbling to think that I have friends and people who are living in little tin huts in the middle of nowhere and I am living in a house bigger than my one back home. It is a huge blessing and I am super thankful for it every day. I have been here for almost a week now but it stills blows my mind when I open up a pantry and have tons of food or get to go sit down and play his really nice piano for a few minutes. We are going to live in this house for about 2 more weeks then we are going to move in with the Bankheads. I have met them a few times and they are super nice. Brother Bankhead is the temple president out here. I don’t know too much about the move but I have heard that the house we are moving into is even nicer than the one we live in now. I’m so thankful for all the members in this ward who are so helpful.

            The ward here in Oakville is awesome too. There were 16 baptisms last year which is a ton for our mission. The ward is crazy helpful and they are always wanting to help the missionaries in any way possible. We haven’t had any problems getting members to come with us to lessons at all so far. There are 2 families that were just baptized and one that is being taught right now. The missionaries who were here before me did a super good job finding those big groups of people who need the gospel. We have 5 baptisms set up for February 9th so I’m really excited for that. One is with a guy named John who they tracted into a little while back and he is way solid. He came to church yesterday and just couldn’t stop talking about how at home he felt and how much he loved it. The other 4 are a family named the Medinas. They speak mostly Spanish and me and Elder Bullock speak none. We had a lesson the first night I got here and it was an interesting experience to say the least. But the Elder who I replaced speaks Spanish and he is an assistant now with another Spanish speaking missionary. So the Medinas will be coming to our ward but the assistants are going to do all of the teaching for us because it’s much easier for them. So we will see how that goes and hopefully they are ready by their date.

             I got to go back to the Fairview Heights building yesterday to have a meeting with Elder Anderson and Elder Hoggan because we have to plan out a zone conference that is coming up. It was fun cause on my way into the parking lot Brenda and her family drove past and I got to talk to them for a little bit. It was really cool to get to see them at church again and so happy together. Also earlier this week we got to do a few baptismal interviews throughout the zone. They were both in the heart of St Louis so it was cool to get to drive around in there a little bit. One of them was in Lindell 1's area and that the area with the arch in it so it is really the center of the city. It was fun to get to work there a little bit and tract before the interview.

Tracting... that’s something I have done a lot of recently. Me and Elder Anderson rarely tracted because we had lots of other things to go do that were a lot more effective. Me and Elder Bullock have tracted more in the last few days than I did in my whole transfer with Elder Anderson. The city is a sweet place but people are not the nicest here. With all our tracting we have gotten about one potential investigator out of it. Hopefully as I start to get a little more familiar with the area and families around here we can get some other things to do. Overall I love my new area. The ward is awesome and church was a ton of fun. The missionaries in this zone are way cool and I get to hang out with Elder Loveless today and I am way excited for that. I haven’t seen him in a few months and I can’t wait. It’s been a super solid few days and I am excited to keep working and to learn and grow even more.

            I hit my year mark in just a few days and I haven’t thought about it too much but I’m pretty excited. It’s fun to look back and realize how much I have learned. I think I have done a pretty good job of not letting myself think that I am almost done because another year is still a long time. I know it’s going to fly by just like everything else has, but I am super excited to keep pushing along and learning new things every day. The more I study humility and learn about that the more I can learn from every experience I get to have out here. I am so thankful for the amazing blessings I have seen on the first half of my mission and I can’t wait for the second half to start out strong.

-Elder Banks

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