Monday, January 7, 2013

            Yesterday (Sunday) we drove around to talk to about 7 or 8 part member families we had on a list. Unfortunately like is so normal we only got in to talk to one. When we got in there the lady who is a member said "I know you’re here to talk about religion but right now I just don’t want to talk about it. But you are welcome to come over and watch football with my husband any time." So that kinda stunk but because her husband isn’t a member and he was a captive audience watching football. We decided to make the huge sacrifice and watch 10 minutes of football with him. It was the Ravens-Colts game and it was the very ending of it. I heard all about Ray Lewis retiring after this season and how it was his last home game and all that. So getting to see him play his last game at the Ravens stadium was pretty sweet. I want the Ravens to win the Super Bowl (or at least just beat the Broncos next week) so I’ll be cheering for them. Sometimes God gives us little things like 10 minutes of football with a potential investigators to just make us smile and I’m thankful for that.

             Something I totally forgot to talk about last week was the mission baptismal goal. So the year before I got to this mission the goal was 400. They weren’t even close. They lowered it to 340 and then didn’t even get that. Then last year they set the goal at 365. We were pretty close the entire time I have been on my mission until November then we fell way behind. President Clark told us that he was even starting to think of excuses of what he could tell people why we didn’t reach our goal. Then all the missionaries in the mission were challenged to invite their investigators to have a baptismal date. Every single person we are teaching. We needed about 5 dates to be set to have a chance at coming back. At the end of the week we had set 105. Of course most of those fell through but we ended last year with 372 baptisms. We had a mission wide miracle and we are all so thankful for the chance we had to see it.

Then in ZLC we all had to decide what the next goal is going to be. When we had talked about it and prayed we decided that with all the new missionaries coming in our new goals should be 450 just like at the waters of Mormon. It’s a big goal but we are excited to work towards it. It’s interesting because I was the only person in the ZLC meeting who is going to be here at the end of next year to see the result of the goal. So it’s means a lot to me and I am really excited to see how it goes.

              Something I have been thinking a lot about recently is how blessed I have been on my mission. My mom wrote me today and told me a couple things about some missionaries who have been struggling. Part of being a zone leader that I don’t love so much is that I hear about most of the missionaries that are having a tough time. It breaks my heart to hear about people who can barely make it through parts of their missions. It made me sooo thankful to have the amazing companions that I have been blessed with so far. I am not even close to being the perfect person or perfect missionary. But thankfully I have been blessed with insanely humble and patient companions who have helped me so much. I have been thinking a ton about Elder Jensen this week too. He goes home in about 2 months and I am going to miss him so much. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to the missionary I am now without him. He helped me learn so much and taught me a ton. I don’t know why I have been so blessed with so much help and love on my mission but I am definitely thankful. One thing I have been trying to work on with myself is pride. Something I have learned on my mission is that no matter what if you are unhappy or contentious in any way it is because of pride. The more that we can all humble ourselves the happier we are going to be.

             Another sweet thing that happened this week was in gospel principles class. Not so much what we were talking about or what was said but just something that I noticed. I looked around the room and saw a class room full of people. We have up to 8 people in that class sometimes. When I first got to Fairview it was consistently just the missionaries and the ward mission leader with maybe one other person, so getting to see 8 new people join that class is amazing. I got to look around and see how much people’s lives have changed over the last 6 months. Seeing those people at church is a great blessing I am so thankful that I get to see. I have been studying the Book of Mormon with the student manual that you can get at the distribution center and it has been awesome. Something that I came across recently was in an Isaiah chapter in 2 Nephi. I don’t remember the verse or what it says exactly but it talks about the king of Assyria and how he thinks that he is so powerful. It compares him to an axe in someone’s hand. While the axe is splitting wood it probably feels really powerful and knows that it’s doing good work. But the second that the person puts the axe down in lays there worthless. Without God we are all nothing. I am so thankful for the chance that I have to be a tool in Gods hand and help accomplish his work. I know that without God I would be nothing. I am so blessed to be able to do His work no matter where or what he wants me to do. If he wants me to go to East St Louis and tract the ghetto that’s what we are going to do. If he wants us to give up a day to drive and help another missionary then that’s what we are going to do. I am so thankful for the blessings that I have received and the lessons I have learned on my mission. I love being a missionary, and not because I have been trained my whole life to think that I’m supposed to love my mission, but because I can be happy every morning waking up and getting to serve God. I love doing this work.

-Elder Banks

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