Thursday, May 30, 2013

            Holy cow this week was insane. This is always the craziest week ever with transfers coming up but it is always really fun. Tuesday is when all the fun starts with the new missionaries coming in. We sat at the airport forever! There was 9 sister visa waiters that were supposed to come in then like 30 minutes later the 4 staying in St Louis were coming in. After sitting there for about 30 minutes we realized that we were in the wrong gate. So we walked across the airport and found 9 super lost and confused sisters who were supposed to be in Denmark but instead were lost in St Louis haha. They handled it great though. Then while Elder Melton and Elder Bean waited for the rest of the missionaries me and elder Facer took the sisters to "A Taste of Denmark" to get some food and they talked to a guy in Danish while they were there so they were pretty excited. The rest of the day was pretty much just hanging out with them and getting them ready to go into the field the next day. 


            The next day we went to transfer meeting and it was the best one ever. The ones in the past have been super funny but super loud and not reverent at all. We stressed to the mission this transfer to be quiet in the chapel and it was great. We had a guy share his conversion story and it was amazing. Probably the coolest part for me was the departing testimony of a missionary named Elder Jacobs. Elder Jacobs is from our mission and has been here for 3 months doing a trial mission. He is fantastic and at the end of last transfer he got his "real" mission call to Reno Nevada. He bore his testimony about how much he has loved serving here and most importantly how much he loved his trainer Elder Sims. They were an amazing companionship that we got to spend the night with a few weeks ago and it was so cool. I am so glad that he is out serving where he is supposed to be now. 


On Saturday we got to do something that was really cool. A couple weeks ago I talked about going up to Columbia and being with Elder Barney and Elder Weight and we found a guy named Corey. He was friends with Burton and it was a huge miracle. Elder Weight and Elder Barney both got transferred a couple days ago and Corey’s baptism was this weekend. Corey really loved Elder Weight especially but he got transferred about 3 hours away from his old area. We felt that it was really important for him to go though so we ended up driving up there with him and I got to see Corey get baptized. I wasn’t there for much of the teaching but it was super cool to get to see the beginning and the end of the missionary process with this guy. I was really thankful for the opportunity. 


            This week is going to be busy and exciting. We leave tonight to go to Springfield and Champaign for exchanges then we have MLC on Friday and then another exchange with Cape on Saturday. These next few weeks are going to be insanely busy but they are going to be really fun.  We have about 4 weeks of work to do in 2 weeks and the time is going to fly. Happy Memorial Day. I love you all.


-Elder Banks
Elder Banks and Elder Bullock
Parker being Parker
Book of Mormon Musical
The two Elder Banks'
Cool missionary shot


Monday, May 20, 2013

           This week started out super fun because on Monday night we got to go to the Cardinals-Mets game and it was super fun. It’s always fun to get to go to games.


Tuesday is when the real craziness started. We started making all of the plans for what is going to happen with transfers coming up. We got a surprise the first day we sat down with president and he told us that we are getting 9 sister visa waiters. Instead of getting 4 missionaries we are now getting 13 so that will make tomorrow a lot more interesting. The rest of this week was pretty much us sitting on a couch looking at a giant board full of pictures of missionaries moving them around and deciding what would be best for them. It was super interesting to get to see the other side of what happens during transfers. It was insane because we had the board completely finished one day then we would go back over it the next day and it would be almost completely changed. It was really fun/amazing to get to see how such an insane process could result in such a feeling of peace knowing that where they are getting put to work is right for them. 


            Earlier this week on Saturday me and Elder Bean got to go to the temple and it was one of the coolest things I have gotten to do on my mission. We went to the temple and the session was full and they had to bring in extra chairs so that was cool. Another cool thing is that there was a bride and groom there and 2 future missionaries going through for the first time. The celestial room was full of people hugging and just a bunch of super happy people. The stake president from Oakville was there and he invited us to come get some cookies after so we got to stick around the temple for a little while and see some people and get free cookies. It was a really, really cool experience for us. 


            This coming week is going to be super crazy but it’s going to be so exciting. Tomorrow we are going to go get all of the new missionaries from the airport and do all of the normal things with them. Wednesday we have crazy transfer day trying to get everyone sent off to their right areas. Thursday we get to wake up bright and early and send the departing missionaries home. Then from that point on we are spending every spare second of the day with other missionaries. We only have 4 weeks this transfer to accomplish everything we need to do so it’s going to be crazy. 


            Recently I have been so thankful for all of the growth and changes that I have been able to see on my mission. I have had a ton of changes myself and I have learned so much. I have seen so many other people have changes in their lives as well. We went to 6 hours of church yesterday and the thing that stood out to me the most were some talks given in the O’Fallon MO ward. Elder Jones, and Sister McCoy were missionaries who just barely came out 6 weeks ago and they both gave amazing talks and I couldn’t believe that they were the same shy little missionaries that we picked up from the airport. I didn’t think that Sister McCoy would ever say a word but she gave an amazing talk about the restoration. And there was a 3rd talk that was by a recent convert in that ward and she just bore simple testimony about how the gospel has completely changed her life.


Elder Bean goes home at the end of this transfer and he is focusing a lot on all the things he has learned on his mission. It has really opened my eyes to how much we really do learn out here and how it has been such an amazing opportunity. I am so thankful for my mission and all of you who have helped me to change and become a better person. I love you all and will talk to you all soon. 


-Elder Banks



Monday, May 13, 2013

           This week was great! Super busy and tiring but it was great. I talked to my family yesterday and I don’t have a ton of time today so I’ll just give a quick recap of what happened this week. 


            Tuesday last week we did the south interviews and I had a sinus infection for that day so it was super long and rough. We gave the same training for a few hours and it was great to get to go home and get some sleep that night.


Wednesday was a long day but a good one. We woke up at the normal time and I got to go down to Cape with Elder Wright and President Clark and that was pretty fun. We had a ton of meetings that day and we didn’t get to sleep that night until about midnight.


Then we woke up Thursday morning at 5 and took the 3 hour trip up to Champaign. It was a really fun day up there on exchanges with Elder loveless and Elder Bellnap. Elder Loveless and I got to walk around the University of Illinois and talk to people all day and that was fun. It was interesting because it was the very last day of school so everyone was getting ready to move out and no one was super eager to talk to us but we found a few people that wanted to talk.


After that we headed down to Springfield and had our exchange with those zone leaders. I was with another Elder Anderson and we walked a ton! It was fun though and we ended up tracting for a little bit and we only knocked on 1 door and a really nice guy in the ghetto named Kareem let us in and we got to teach him and have a solid lesson with him. It was a really fun experience. 


            Sunday I got the opportunity to go to church in Fairview Heights and it was pretty cool to get to go see those people again. That is such a strange ward and its doesn’t run like any other ward that I have been to but the spirit there is still strong and its always a good experience to get to go back and see some of the people that you have learned to love on your mission.


            Overall it was a great week and this week is looking like its going to be awesome too. We are going to a Cardinals game tonight so that will be a good way to start it off. I love all of you and hope that you’re all doing well! 


-Elder Banks


Monday, May 6, 2013

This was probably the craziest week I have had on my mission and it went by super fast. Monday was a super nice day outside and we got to go and play tennis and that was pretty fun, but it made it even cooler because we played on the tennis courts right next to the temple. That made it a lot cooler.


The next day on Tuesday we were supposed to drive up to Springfield and have our zone leader exchange up there but a bunch of crazy stuff happened. We had a lot of changes with missionaries getting moved around and the thing that made me the most thankful was that we had to take some sisters out of companionships and move them to new areas with new companions. In the "old generation" of sisters that would have been awful, but all these new 19 year old sisters are champs and they are willing to do whatever they need to do and they all made the move with no complaints. It was really nice to get to work with some missionaries who were so willing to help. 


            Tuesday night we drove up to Jacksonville and slept over there so we were ready for interviews the next day. We got there at 8 30 so I grabbed Elder Anderson and we had 30 minutes to go see some people. We drove over to see Terry and TJ and it was so good to see them again! Driving around Jacksonville again was so much fun. It was great to get to go back. There are a lot of people there that I am looking forward to seeing again sometime. Hopefully some of them will be going through the temple soon and I will get to do that with them. 


             Wednesday we had interviews in the Springfield zone and then that night we got to take the 4 hour trip to the Columbia zone for their interviews the next day. Those 2 days were really, really long. But thankfully we only have 2 more sets of interviews left.


The day after that I got to go on exchanges in Columbia with Elder Barney. I don’t know if you remember me talking about Elder Barney before, but he was my first district leader and one of my good friends out here so being with him was really fun. We started the day by going to Mizzou and contacting people on campus. The first person we talked to ended up being fairly interested and became a new investigator. I started making jokes about how easy it was to contact on campus. But apparently that was the first time that had ever happened to him. I was really thankful to get to be there for that.


           Later that night we were going to a returning less active guys house to teach his friend. We were really hoping that they would show up and we got there and he was sitting there waiting. He is a return missionary returning from being less active and he is just the coolest guy ever. His friend came over and we were planning on teaching the first lesson. We started asking his friend questions and found out that they had been reading the Book of Mormon together for the last week and he had already prayed and found out it was true. Instead of a regular first lesson we walked out with a super solid new investigator with a baptismal date. He was really nervous to get baptized because he had already seen that there must be opposition in all things, but he knew that it would be worth it. It was probably the coolest lesson I have been in on my mission. I was so thankful for that day and all the amazing things that we got to see in Columbia.


            Saturday we went on an exchange with the north zone leaders and had just a normal solid day. Then on Sunday we went on exchanges with the St Louis zone leaders and me and Elder Sutherland went to the Washington ward for church. It was a really good ward and Elder Bullock is serving there right now and it was great to get to see him and spend some time with him again. The St Louis zone leaders are in Maryland Heights and the part that they have has been really tough for a long time. We went around and visited people all day and none of them wanted to make time to sit down with us for a couple minutes. It was a pretty long day of talking to uninterested people and it sounded like that pretty much summed up the transfer so far for them. But then at the end of the day at

8: 30 we went to go see one last person who was a referral. They had tried to see him a couple times before but he had never been home. We finally got in contact with him and he came out and told us that he had been taking the lessons in California but then he moved here and lost contact with the missionaries. We set up a time to come talk to him and he wants to come to church. He was a great kid and is going to progress really fast from what I saw. 


             It was a great week even though we slept in other people apartments for 6 days straight. We are doing almost the same thing this week but hopefully it goes pretty quickly just like this week. Mother’s day is coming up so happy Mother’s day to all of you moms! I hope you all have an amazing week.


-Elder Banks