Monday, April 29, 2013

          We had another ridiculously fast week this week, but I have a few other things to talk about first or my mom will kill me. I haven’t really talked about my companions at all so I’ll talk about them real fast. Elder Bean is my official companion. He is 20 and from Rexburg Idaho and could not be more Mormon haha. He has the picture perfect Mormon family and the reason I know that is because his blanket, pillow, and everything else is giant pictures of his family so I see them every day. He is super big into drama and singing. He is by far the best singer I have ever met and he has tons of scholarships and stuff for that. He goes home in 8 weeks and he is leaving the office in 3ish weeks so we have spent a lot of time trying to figure out who we could pick to bring in to replace him. Elder Bean is the bubbliest happiest person I have ever met and we have pretty much 0 in common but it works out great and we get along really well so everything is going great.

We also work really closely with the office elders and we see them every day so I count them as my companions. Elder Facer is from Kaysville Utah and he is just a giant goof. He broke his ankle earlier in his mission and had to get surgery and he has been the office elder even since (7.5 months). It’s great having him around because he knows exactly how to do everything with the computers and the system. He will probably be leaving at the end of this transfer too and we are really going to miss him. Elder Melton is the other office elder and he is probably the one I get along with the best. He is from North Carolina and has had an insane life. He had to overcome a lot to make it on his mission. I look up to him a lot because of it. Elder Melton goes home in 2 transfers and Elder Facer goes home in 3. So, there’s my companions. By the time President Morgan comes in they will probably all be gone so changes are coming. But for now it’s amazing to have them all here.

            This week was big time nuts (quote from Austin Chamberlain). Tuesday we drove down to Cape Girardeau and it’s about 2 and a half hours south. It was such a pretty drive. It is the most southern part of our mission and it is insanely green down there. We had interviews from 8am to 8pm so that was a crazy day. We drove home and the next day we had interviews with the ST Louis zone so that was a lot closer. They were both really full but really fun days. Thursday was the craziest day ever. We were supposed to be preparing MLC that day. Just a little background on that. It used to be called ZLC, but there is an entirely new system of sister leadership in the church so we had to make a new meeting. We had an hour long meeting at 9 on Friday to train the 4 sisters on how to do their job. They were all super excited when they walked in and super overwhelmed when they walked out haha. They have a big job. But because it was the first MLC ever we had a ton of planning to do for it. We were planning on doing it in a few hours, but no. Everyone decided to go insane that day! We had like 7 missionaries coming into the office all with problems and wanting to talk to president. In short, 3 people got transferred and one went home that day all before we could plan our meeting at all. It was pretty crazy. But in the end it all worked out and the meeting on Friday went great. The whole idea of having tons of new sisters in the mission has made things interesting. Elder Bean and I got the opportunity to completely rewrite all of the rules for interaction between Elder and Sisters and it was actually really fun. It was fun to know that the things being decided on were going to be in place in this mission for a really, really long time.

             After MLC on Friday we drove down to Cape again and we stopped by a place called Lamberts. It’s a place to eat and there are only 3 in the world. It’s a lot like a Cracker Barrel when it comes to the food, but it’s famous for its "throwed rolls." It’s so fun. You just sit there and eat and whenever you want a new roll you just stick your hand up in the air and they will chuck one to you. There were rolls flyin everywhere! It was a blast.

After that we went on our exchange with the Cape Zone leaders. Elder Williams, who I served with in Fairview Heights, was there so it was fun to get to be with him again. Then yesterday we went to Oakville and did our exchange with them. So I got to hang out with Elder Williams and Elder Anderson over the weekend and that was great. I got to go to church in Oakville again and that was super fun and I got good updates on all the investigators there.

            Steve was someone we were teaching in Oakville and last I had heard he broke up with his girlfriend and wasn’t seeing the missionaries any more. Then I got an update that he was at church on Sunday and he is still doing great. It’s kinda complicated on which ward he is going to join and things like that, but I am sure he will get baptized soon. Pam Ranzini was also at church so it was good to see her again and she is doing great. The Oakville ward had 5 people at church on Sunday so that was really exciting to see that they are still doing so well.

            We have another crazy week coming up and we will be sleeping in our beds once or maybe twice. We are headed up to Springfield for our exchange tomorrow and then on Wednesday we have the Springfield interviews which means I get to go to Jacksonville!! I am so excited. Me and Elder Anderson have plans to try to sneak away and go and see a few people before we have to leave. I am hoping to get to see some of my good friends again. We have like 2 other exchanges and 1 more set of interviews later on in the week so hopefully that goes well. I LOVE being so busy and getting to do all of these new things. Being on a mission is so great. There is nothing that could ever compare to this. I hope that you can all experience some of the same happiness that I have been able to experience on my mission. I love you all and will talk to you all again soon!

-Elder Banks

Monday, April 22, 2013

      Once again this week has been super crazy. Today has been so nice though. Last P-Day we sat in a building all day and met with missionaries with problems. It was awful. Today we also met with missionaries who had some problems but it was about a million times better. President thought that they needed a fun day so we got to take them to the zoo and then to Fitz’s for lunch. It was really cool to get to see how happy they were and how much fun they were having. It’s always cool to see missionaries get happier in a good way instead of having to go through a bunch of awful meetings and things like that. And it’s a close to perfect 70 degree day today so everything has just been awesome so far today. And now I get to lay on a couch in President Clarks office so I am pretty happy with that.

      The rest of this week has been crazy as well but it’s been really fun. We had our first set of interviews. Over this 6 weeks, we will have 32 sets of interviews and we have done 8 so far. Elder Bean and I give an hour and a half training at each one. So even after just 8 sets I am already dying. It’s great to get to see all the missionaries and meet everyone, but saying the exact same thing 32 times is going to get really old really fast. We have done a lot of traveling this week too. We got a new car on Friday and last night it had 500 miles on it so we have spent a lot of time driving around. We drove up to the Columbia zone and saw almost every missionary in that zone. Life has just been hectic. I don’t really know what else to say besides that. We never sleep in the same place so that is fun but super tiring.

     This week we have a bunch of meetings coming up. We have leadership council which is the new zone leader council. We had to rearrange the entire sister leadership in the mission because the church put a new system into place so that was fun. On Friday we have a meeting at 9 to teach the sisters how to do their new jobs then we have a 6 hours meeting then we have a 2 hour drive for exchanges so that will be a pretty crazy day. I feel like I have a lot less interesting stories now because we don’t talk to crazy people as much anymore, but it’s still really fun to get to hang out with new people. Sister Erickson and Sister Wayment are the senior office sisters in our mission and they got permission to have us over for dinner and watch secondhand lions with us. It’s pretty cool to get to do fun random stuff that I have never gotten to do before. I hope this week goes as well as last week did and that everything keeps going smooth. I love you all and will let you know how next week goes.

Monday, April 15, 2013

           Well this week has been crazy. This was probably the fastest week of my mission. Tuesday we went to pick up all the new missionaries and that was a blast. It was so tiring but it was really fun. Me and Elder Facer drove the mission van and drove around 10 sister missionaries. It was so funny to hear what they all thought their missions were going to be like. They were all so excited though and it really opened up my eyes to hear about a lot of them. As we were deciding who all of their trainers were going to be at midnight that night we got to hear all about some of their lives to decide what would be best for them. A couple of them have no other members in their family and a few of them even have anti Mormon parents. It made me really thankful for the position that I have been put in.

             Wednesday wasn’t quite as fun as Tuesday because we had to send all of the departing missionaries home. On their last day in the mission they get permission to stay up as long as they want. So of course because my couch was right next to the ping pong table I was up for a while. We went to bed at almost 1 then woke up at 5 to drive them all to the airport. It was sad to say goodbye to so many of my good friends but I am happy to see them all moving on and being so happy with the next step in their lives. That night we were having a testimony meeting in the mission home and the weather was going crazy. There was a tornado in Hazelwood which is pretty close to us. It touched down and destroyed some stuff but didn’t really have any negative effects on missionaries. We went up to see the Hazelwood missionaries for another reason later that day and there was lots of broken stuff. Almost all of the street signs were knocked over or broken in half but we are all fine.

            The rest of the week was fairly uneventful. We have lots of dumb things to deal with right now but hopefully they will be over soon. It’s been really eye opening to see what goes on in the office. There are a lot of missionaries with some serious problems. Some of them are really negative about it. Probably my favorite thing in the world right now is missionaries who are really struggling but you would never guess it. There are so many people in this mission who just know that they are out here for reasons much bigger than themselves. It’s really cool to meet people who are like that.

            These next few weeks we have coming up are going to be crazy busy but it’s going to be really fun. We are going around to every missionary in the mission with President Clark to do interviews. I am really excited about that because I only know like half of the missionaries in the mission so getting to meet them is going to be really fun. We are going on a ton of exchanges. I am probably never actually going to get to sleep. We are going to end up sleeping in our own beds pretty much never. Overall things are just crazy busy and way more up and down than normal but I am loving it. We live in an apartment with the office elders too and that’s a ton of fun. Our room is really tiny so we just pushed all the beds together so we pretty much all share one giant bed. I am excited for this coming week and hopefully I can keep my eyes open for the rest of the day. I love all of you and hope you’re all doing well. I’ll talk to you again soon.

-Elder Banks

Monday, April 8, 2013

New address

This will be Parker's new address:

Elder Parker Banks
Missouri St. Louis Mission
1850 Craigshire, Rd, Ste 205
St. Louis, MO 63151

Goodbye Oakville, Hello Mission Office

             This week was possibly the best week I have ever had. I’ll start with the coolest thing that happened all week. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned a Pam before but here is her story. Elder Anderson and the other Elder Banks tracted into her a little while ago on exchanges and she let them in. She was kinda just old and crazy but said we could come back. Me and Elder Anderson went back a few days later and it was awful. She hadn’t had anything to eat or drink except iced tea and she had smoked like 3 packs a day for the last 3 days. She obviously felt awful and just cried and moped about how bad she was doing for like an hour and a half. We got her some water and went and bought her an awful 3 dollar gas station sandwich and then left. We pretty much never planned on going back to see her. But on Monday we were playing basketball and we got a call from her. She was so happy and told us that the sandwich we bought her was the best thing she had ever eaten and she had been eating and drinking water for a couple days now and she had read the Book of Mormon for a few hours each day and she loved it. She wanted us to come back and talk with her. We went back and had a few lessons this week and then she came to the Saturday morning session of conference and loved it. She now has a baptism date for May 18th. She is so excited and invited all of her friends already and one of them really wants to sit down and meet with us so we are planning on doing that this week. It’s just one of those situations where you sit back and smile because you know that God had to do all of that. It helps you realize that we are truly nothing. My new planner for the transfer is a picture of stars and has a quote from President Uchtdorf that says something like "We are nothing compared to God, but to God we are everything." I am so thankful that He loves each one of us enough to put miracles into our lives and bring us those awesome experiences that we won’t ever forget.

             Brother Michaelis took us to go and get Pam for conference and while we were on our way up to get her he said something that he had read in a book that I thought was awesome. He said that love the feeling comes after love the verb. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. We have to show our love for someone and truly care for them before we can feel love for them. It doesn’t really come with eye contact from across the room or anything else that movies show us. Love really is an action word and we have to act on it.

Some other reasons this week has been going so well is because Steve is doing great. He has a couple weird situations that are holding him back right now from being baptized but hopefully they will work themselves out. Also another cool thing that happened is that we met a guy named Mike. We knocked on his door a few days ago and he said he would talk but he was kinda busy and he showed us inside his house and it was completely destroyed. He is renovating it by himself and is super busy. We made a joke about bringing him doughnuts and then he told us how much he loves them. So a few days later we brought him some doughnuts and he thought that was the coolest thing ever. He wanted to sit down right then but he was eating dinner with his wife and kids so he said to come back. We went back yesterday and we talked for like 2 hours while he worked on his house. He is so ready to be a member of our church! He wants everything that we have for him. He is reading “7 habits of highly effective people” by Steven Covey and he thinks it’s great and that book has so many gospel principles in it. We are going back tonight to talk with him again and hopefully things go well. He has had a pretty interesting life and has been a marine for a while. He is covered in skull tattoos and doesn’t look like a nice person at all haha. But he is the nicest guy ever. We are so excited to go back and see him.

            Transfer calls were this week and as always they come with mixed emotions. I really wanted to stay in Oakville with Elder Anderson because this last transfer has been possibly the best 6 weeks of my life, but on Friday night we got a call that I had an appointment to meet with President Clark Saturday between the afternoon session and priesthood session. So we drove down to the office and President Clark sat me down and asked me if I would be his new assistant. I said yes and I am really excited but really nervous. My new companion will be Elder Bean and I know him pretty well already so I’m really excited for that. President Clark and Elder Bean both go home within the next 2 transfers so they told me that I am going to have to be a big part of the new mission president coming in. I’ll spend the majority of the rest of my mission working with President Morgan and doing everything that I can to help him be comfortable in his new calling. I really, really hope that I can make it back to Oakville for the baptisms that are coming up.

Elder Anderson is getting Elder Duke as his new companion and neither of us really know anything about him. I have heard he is a good missionary though so hopefully that all works out and things keep going well here. The next few days are going to be crazy ones. I have to pack up all my stuff today and then Tuesday morning I am going with Elder Bean to pick up the 24 new missionaries that are coming into the mission. We will spend the day with them and then Wednesday is transfer day. After that meeting we will get to hang out with the departing missionaries for the rest of that day. I am pretty excited for that because 3 of my best friends from the mission are going home so I am really excited to get to see them one last time before they go home. Elder Anderson (who I served with in Fairview), Elder Hunter, and the other Elder Banks are all going home and I am going to miss them a lot.

I don’t really know what to think about this next transfer but I’m excited. I have no idea what it’s going to be like but I know I will learn a lot. We have interviews this transfer so I am going to get to meet every missionary in the mission and see most of the areas. I get to go back to Jacksonville for a day! I am so excited to be back in Jacksonville with Elder Anderson because he is still serving there. It’s going to be great.
             I was slightly distracted during conference because of all the stuff that was going through my head but I still got a lot out of it. One thing that I thought was really interesting was all of the repeated stories that were told. I heard about 4 or 5 stories that I had heard almost word for word in previous conference talks. At first I thought that was kinda weird that they couldn’t come up with new stories, but then I realized that if they were important enough to be repeated then we could all probably learn something from them. Another major theme that I noticed was how everything starts in the home. All good values and Christ like attributes need to be practiced in the home and in marriage then they will be applied in other places as well. And of course I noticed the million times they told every member to do missionary work! Especially in priesthood session it was talked about a lot.

Well this week was great and hopefully the next ones are just as good. Big changes are coming for me and hopefully everything continues to go well. I love you all and will talk to you again soon.

-Elder Banks

Monday, April 1, 2013

            This week was so much fun and there was so much stuff going on it was crazy. We had a couple of exchanges and some meetings and tons of stuff that was really fun. This morning we drove to the mission home to drop off Elder Redmond and send him on his way to Brazil. He is way excited but obviously a little nervous. Hopefully I’ll hear from him when he gets to his mission. Today is also opening day for baseball season and people are so excited around here. The Cardinals are people’s lives. At Busch Stadium they are having some big opening day thing that Elder Williams told us about so we will probably head over to that today.

            Things have been going so awesome recently and it’s just been so much fun. Everything seems to be going better than we ever could have planned. Church this Sunday was awesome because it was Easter and everyone brought their non member family and friends. Steve was there this week in a new suit and Belinda who I will tell a story about later was also there. But backing up to talk about the rest of the week real fast. It was a really normal week that was just a ton of fun and really productive. We had ZLC and a couple other meetings so we spent tons of hours in those, but we were still able to do a ton of missionary work. We met with Steve a couple times and he is getting more and more excited about getting baptized. He wanted to get baptized before Elder Redmond left which unfortunately couldn’t happen but he is still good for April 20th.

            Something cool that happened recently was that we got a call from the Carondelet elders and they told us they had talked to a lady in their ward and she told them to go see her less active brother and dad. It turned out they were in our ward so we went to see them. We weren’t expecting much to be honest but we got there and they were both awesome. David Goodman sr. was in the bishopric before and is way solid he has just had a ton of stuff going on recently with divorce and stuff like that. David Goodman Jr. is kinda crazy and a little fried from a crazy past but he is a return missionary and wants to help us out as much as he can. We went over and were talking and about half way through the conversation Jr. just randomly yelled out I know what you guys should do!! You should baptize my wife! And we couldn’t really argue with that so things started rolling from there. We ended up having dinner with all of them on Saturday and they came to church on Sunday. Everything is going really smoothly and we are meeting with them again on Thursday. Hopefully things just keep going as well as they have been so far.

            We also moved into the Bankhead’s this week and it has been awesome. They are such a cool family. They have 18 year old twins who have their mission calls that we hang out with all the time and on Sunday we spend like an hour before church trying to find the Easter baskets brother Bankhead had hidden around the house. With Elder Anderson as a companion and living in a ward like Oakville everything is going pretty much as well as it could possibly could. Transfers are coming up in a little less than a week and a half and hopefully nothing changes, but who knows. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have been given so far to enjoy this transfer and see so many people come closer to Christ. I love this gospel and am so thankful for the Atonement of Christ that makes it possible to have th happiness that I get to experience every day. I love you all and hope that you can experience that happiness too.

-Go Cards