Monday, July 29, 2013

        We had a really good week this week. We got to do a lot of different things and it was a lot of fun. Last Monday we played basketball for like 5 hours and it was so much fun! I am always really tired after but it is so worth it to just get to unwind for that time. We are going to a driving range today to hit a bunch of golf balls so that should be fun too.

 Tuesday and Wednesday we had interviews. We had south zone interviews and Springfield interviews. I got to go back to Jacksonville again and that was really fun to get to back there again. There is a really good missionary who just got up to Jacksonville and he is there reactivating some of the people

Thursday we had our exchange with the Springfield elders and I got to go with Elder Christensen for the last time. I have been on exchanges with him like 15 times because he was an assistant before and now he is a zone leader. He is part of a huge group going home that is going to be really, really hard to say goodbye to. I appreciate all the things that he taught me. One of the missionaries we were on exchanges with got dear johned so we also made some super good horchata milkshakes to make him feel better haha. It was way fun. Then we went and caught frogs the next morning at their private lake. It was a really fun day. 

             Friday was MLC and it was a really interesting meeting. It was one of the most powerful MLCs I have ever been to because President Morgan took it so seriously. He had fun and laughed with us but he understood the importance of that meeting and it was great. During stewardships we have everyone report on any missionaries that are having problems and holy cow we got a huge load dumped on us. All the smooth sailing that came in with President Morgan is finally dying away and we are getting back to the craziness that we have gotten so used to over the last few months. 

             A few really cool things happened this weekend. We went up to Champaign for some exchanges and we went to church in the Mahomet ward. There is a kid there who was baptized in Wyoming a few months ago at college and then he came back home and is introducing his family to the church. They have been taking the lessons and they are getting baptized on Friday the 9th. We are going to have the chance to get to go to that baptism and see this 19 year old kid baptize his mom and dad and sister. It’s one of the best stories that I have seen on my mission and I am so excited to get to see the end result.

I am so thankful for hard working missionaries who create miracles wherever they go. Our mission had 16 baptisms this week which was a huge number. We were falling way behind on our goal and we are hoping to use this huge week to get the mission excited and back to work. I am so thankful for all of the hard working missionaries that I get to see and work with every day. This gospel changes lives and changes people every day and I am blessed enough to get to see it in action all the time. I love all of you and will talk to you again soon! Thanks for your prayers and support.


-Elder Banks


Monday, July 22, 2013

            That activity at the McClellan’s sounds awesome! They are such a good family. Sounds like Grandpas birthday was a really good experience. I love that guy. Sister Morgan quilts a little bit so you should send me pictures of your quilts when you’re done so i can show her them.

            The Christianson’s homecoming sounds like it was awesome. I don’t know if he even knows who I am but I am way excited to get to talk to President Christianson again when I get home. He was a really good guy.

             We had a really good week but it was really normal and uneventful. Monday was really fun because we went and picked up some goals from some members and played soccer under the arch for a while. I was pretty dang sunburned already from the Saturday service day and I was completely fried after being out in the sun for that many more hours. It was really fun though. 

             The next 3 days after that we had interviews all day. Last time we had interviews it was like the hardest month of my mission. It was just so exhausting and boring and it was just rough. And this time it still isn’t my favorite thing in the world, but we changed one thing and we are having the district leaders and someone else in the district give a training. It has been really fun to get to listen to other people teach instead of just us talking the whole time. Each training has been left with a commitment so by time we are done I’ll have about 60 commitments left to me to work on so I’ll have a lot of goals of things to get better at by the end of the transfer.

            Friday and Saturday we went on exchanges with some zone leaders. We went down to Cape Girardeau on Friday and we had a pretty cool experience. I was with Elder Bassett and that morning they had gotten a call from a member in one of the wards down there. He said that he had the missionaries coming over to teach at his house that night and he wanted us to come help them because they were really struggling with teaching. We headed down and talked to them about it and helped teach them and it was cool to see the missionary’s reactions. One of them was really nice and happy but you could tell everything we were saying was just going right over his head and none of it was really soaking in. The other missionary is really young, really good, and really humble. He took everything we had to say and started taking notes and working on it. He was a better teacher by the end of the night. It was cool to see 2 missionaries with the same ability level receiving the exact same training and one of them got nothing from it and the other one got a ton from it. It just goes to show that really it doesn’t matter what we are taught or how good our teachers are. If we are looking for something to improve on and change in ourselves we are going to find something to work on. 

            This coming week is going to be one full of a lot of different things. We have a couple days of interviews and day of MLC and a couple days of zone leader exchanges. MLC is going to be interesting because its President Morganas first one so we will see how he likes sitting in a big room full of 20 year olds for 6 hours trying to make decisions haha. It can be pretty interesting sometimes. 

            This week has been full of a lot of trials for a lot of missionaries. We have seen everything from emergency surgery to deaths of parents this week. It has been a real growing experience for everyone involved and it’s been cool to see the different reactions. Some people just keep on going and learn a lot from it and are better people because of it. And then of course you have a few who just completely shut down and let it ruin them. It has built my testimony that hard things happen to everyone and it can ruin us, or if we put our faith in Christ, then we will be able to make it through and be better people because of it.

I am so thankful for all of the different things that have happened to me on my mission and the wide variety of experiences I have had the opportunity to have. I’m thankful for the chance that I still have to grow out here and hope that the rest of my mission can be just as good, or better, than what it has been so far.


-Elder Banks



Monday, July 15, 2013

It was so cool to hear about the Clarks homecoming. I emailed Elder Bean and told him to look for you and I had very low hopes haha. But that kid is something special so it doesn’t surprise me at all that he found you. I love that guy.


Happy anniversary!! I didn’t realize you and dad had been married for 30 years. That’s super sweet.  A few days ago we walked into a fight between and investigator and his wife and it was awful. It got really ugly really fast and we just stood there and it stunk. Thank goodness for the gospel and good couples like you and dad. I never really appreciated how great our family is and how awesome of parents you and dad are. There are so many missionaries from broken families and it makes their lives so much harder. I know I was put into this family for a reason and I know that I wouldn’t be even close to the person I am now without your and dad so thank you. I love you and I’ll talk to you again soon :) 


             We did so many cool things this week! We got to go on a ton of exchanges and it was a really good week. Tuesday we drove down to Sullivan and we spent the day there. We did some tracting and it was just a good day overall.


Wednesday we went to the other side of the mission and spent the day in Decatur. There are 4 missionaries up there so we got to go on exchanges with a few people that day and it was a really good day again.


Thursday we went to Edwardsville and that one was really fun. We have spent a lot of time with those Elders and Sisters this transfer and we have become really good friends with them so getting to spend a whole day with them was fun. Pretty much all of these exchanges were just hours and hours of tracting which I have really learned to like a lot so that was fun. 


             Friday was fun because we went on our first zone leader exchange of the transfer. We went with the St Louis zone leader and they live about 5 apartments away from us so it’s really easy to go on exchanges with them. It was fun to get to be companions with Elder Wickham. We were in the MTC together and got along really well there but we haven’t been anywhere near each other for our entire missions. So getting to finally be around each other was fun. One cool thing that happened that day was when there were 4 of us together. It was me and Elder Wickham a visa waiter Elder Ford and a priest in their ward named Collin. Because there were 4 of us we split up and I got to go with Collin, We went tracting for about 30 minutes or so and it was really fun because he had never been before. We always love to get the members involved in tracting. 


               Saturday was probably the coolest day of the week. We went on our zone leader exchange with the Fairview Heights elders and it was their zones service day. This transfer every zone in the mission is having a zone wide service day. I don’t have any pictures yet because my camera is broken but I am having Elder Loveless send me some. We did all kinds of different things. The coolest thing we did was build a house. When we got there, there was just a foundation but then by time we left the entire frame of the house and all the inside walls were up. It was so much fun. Then we went to a part member family’s house and painted the entire inside and then drove around the city and painted fire hydrants (I’m still scrubbing green paint off my arms). It was a really fun day. That night was a blast because a member invited the entire zone over for a bon fire and dinner. So we spent most of the rest of the night in their backyard with the Morgan’s and a whole zone of missionaries playing games and just having a ton of fun. 


            This week at least a couple times a day I have just stopped doing whatever I was doing and thought about how happy I am. I just sit and think about the amazing friends that I get to be with every day and the different things I get to do as a missionary. My life is just so good right now! Elder Facer is an awesome companion, I love the missionaries in the office, the new mission president is so much fun to be around, and I get to see so many missionaries every week and get to know them better. We have interviews over the next 3 weeks so I’ll get to see every missionary in the mission again. I love my calling so much! Today we are going to play soccer under the arch with a couple zones worth of missionaries and I couldn’t be more excited. This gospel has changed my life and I am so thankful that I get to see it change other peoples as well. I couldn’t ask for a better life right now and I know that we can all feel the same way no matter what we are going through. This gospel is amazing and I’m so thankful for the change it has brought into my life.


-Elder Banks 



Monday, July 8, 2013


            This week was different than any other week I have ever had on my mission. We drove about 1000 miles last week and we thought that was a ton, but we put that to shame this week. We had all of the “meet the president” meetings so we drove to all 8 stakes in the mission in 4 days. It was really cool because we got to spend who knows how many hours with the Morgan’s and we feel like we really got to know them a lot better. Something that I learned while we were on all of those trips was some sad news from Jacksonville. Georgia Mast who is Shelly Masts mom and Kody Saurby’s grandma, and Booker Griffins friend passed away. I spent countless hours at her house teaching lessons and getting to know her and her family. But when I texted Elder Anderson who I served there with to let him know I really liked his response when he said "Well at least she can finally go to church again." I am thankful to know that now she isn’t suffering with any of the physical pain that she had here on earth. I will always be thankful to her and all the different things that she taught me.


            Besides that news, the “meet the presidents” were great. We got to briefly see every missionary in the mission and get to know the Morgan’s really well. They were so happy with the state the mission is in right now. We have so many good missionaries and they are walking into a great situation. At the final meet the president they put me and Elder Facer on the spot and asked us to introduce them to everyone and you can definitely tell we had heard what they said 7 times because we got it pretty much word for word haha. It was really fun though.


            A little bit about them, President Morgan grew up in Layton Ut and he owns an asphalt company like I think I have mentioned before. He is a really, really hard worker and he doesn’t put up with stupid stuff from anyone which I love about him. I think more missionaries need a kick in the pants and President Morgan isn’t afraid to give it to them if that’s what they need. He is very emotional and loving to the missionaries he has met so far. Instantly people have respect for him when they find out that he loves doing anything that gets your adrenaline pumping. He skis and sky dives and scuba dives and everything else you can imagine. He is going to be a great leader for our mission. 


             The 4th of July was this week. The Elder who had eye surgery recently wasn’t able to leave the apartment for the beginning of the night so I stayed with him and starred at the ceiling for a few hours. But then we drove to downtown and watched the fireworks at the arch so that was really fun to do. I think the missionaries really appreciated a few hours off to relax and have fun. 

             Of all the things that happened this week the one that sticks out to me to most is the opportunity that we had to give so many blessings. I was thinking about a week or 2 ago that it had been weeks, if not months, since I had given a blessing. We don’t have sick investigators or members of a ward to help so we don’t usually get to do that. But this week I got the opportunity to be part of a blessing every single day. It was a really powerful experience, especially one in particular. It was me President Morgan and Elder Facer standing in the circle and I had the opportunity to give a blessing to a missionary who has been struggling for the first 6 months of their mission. Struggling probably more than anyone else right now. We gave them a blessing and then left and it was no huge deal. The coolest thing was a few days later when we got a text from that missionary that explained the rest of the story. They said they were writing in their journal about the blessing and it was the first one they had received since they came on their mission. They could count on 1 hand all the blessings they had received in their entire life because they didnt have the faith that it would do anything. They then continued on and told us about how the last few days since they got the blessing had been completely different. It didn’t fix everything and make it perfect, but they could feel a huge difference. It was really cool to see the blessings come from the priesthood to that missionary’s life. 


            We are really excited for this week because we don’t have very many meetings so we are going to be spending a lot of time in the field working instead of sitting in a car or in a meeting. We start up interviews in a week or two which are the hardest thing I have had to do as an assistant by far. Giving the same training 30+ times and driving everywhere sounds like it’s not that hard but it is exhausting. So we will really enjoy this week before that comes up. I am so thankful for the strength that God gives me and all the rest of the missionaries to make it through the hard times we go through. It’s so much fun out here and the good times far outweigh the bad. I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve and I am going to work as hard as I can for the time that I have left. I love you all and hope you have a great week. I’ll talk to you soon.


-Elder Banks

Monday, July 1, 2013

Goodbye Pres. Clark, Hello Pres. Morgan

This has been a week full of big change and lots going on. Me and Elder Facer just finished driving 1000 miles in about 4 days to go around and see missionaries and we are about to start on a week of trips that are going to put more miles on our car than that.


The first few days of the week were really normal with a lot of driving. It was so good to go around the mission and get to see missionaries. There are a lot of people that are right on the line of being good missionaries or being a huge pain, and going around we have seen tons of changes that have pushed people over to the side of being a great missionary. It has been really exciting.


Saturday is when all of the big changes happened and President and Sister Morgan came in with their daughter Anna. It was really good to meet them and finally get to see the people who are going to be running our mission for the next 3 years. 


            Saying goodbye to the Clarks was definitely hard but it’s easy to feel the Spirit telling you that this change is going to be a good one. President Clark hammered into our heads for a long time that change is a good thing and it brings blessings. The Morgan’s are very different from the Clarks and are going to bring a whole new view into the mission and we are going to love that. We are going on the meet the president tour this week. We are all driving together in a big 12 passenger van which will give us over 20 hours of driving time to get to talk so we should be pretty good friends by time this week is over. Something that is very easy to tell is that President Morgan loves people. He loved the people back home and it was hard for him to leave. And he loves the people that he has met out here on his mission so far and he treats us like the greatest people in the world. 


             We are excited for a lot of things that are coming up this week. Today we get to go to a zone pday in Fairview Heights and play basketball. That has nothing to do with missionary work, I just haven’t played in forever and I’m way excited for that. Then we will go around and talk to everyone at the meet the presidents. The 4th of July is this week so that will be fun. We get from 4:00 until 10 30 to do whatever and we will probably head over to the arch to watch some fireworks. That’s pretty much what we have going on this week.


We are excited for all of the changes that are coming up and hope things keep going well. We had the best numbers I have ever seen as an assistant in the mission this week so that’s exciting. Things are definitely on the upswing and we just hope and pray that they keep getting better. We love this work and are excited to get to keep it going through these changes. Keep our mission in your prayers and hopefully things keep going well!

-Elder Banks