Monday, September 30, 2013

           This week was another crazy one. Tuesday we picked up the new missionaries and did the normal thing with them. It was super fun like always. Elder Wunderli got here Tuesday morning and we were in a tri with Elder Facer until he went home on Thursday.


Transfer meeting was normal and really good. By time we get to Wednesday we are always so tired cause we haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in a few days. But Wednesday is the day that’s always the most fun. The temple was closed so we went to a Cards game and that was great like always. The playoffs are about to start so St. Louis is about to get even crazier. 


President did interviews until like 1:00 in the morning and then the rest of us just stayed up. I tried to sleep for a little while and ended up sleeping for like 15 minutes max. Thursday we took everyone to the airport and then we came home and just tried to recover. We had MLC on Friday so we spent most of the day Thursday trying to plan that out and get everything figured out. It was exhausting but we knew we had to live with the decision we made to stay up all night.


            On Friday we had MLC. That meeting is always a headache but it’s always well worth it. Usually there is some discussion and sometimes some fight back on some of the new policy’s but a couple weeks after the meeting, once everything has been instated, it’s always for the best.


Saturday was a really weird day for me cause it was the first time I have gotten to do missionary work in my own area in 6 months. We went around and saw a bunch of members and tried to get some referrals. It didn’t work but hopefully soon something comes out of it. I am so excited to teach someone again!


Sunday was another weird day. We went to the Maryland Heights ward, so we went to our home ward that we will be going to from now on most Sundays and they had a do a part in the 3rd hour combined class. We did a role play in front of everyone and taught some members the first lesson. It was weird but it was cool to get to see the ward get into the missionary mindset of things.


            This morning we went golfing with President Morgan. I had never been real golfing before so it was cool to get to try that.


Things have been great with Elder Wunderli as a companion so far. This transfer has gone amazingly. The mission is ahead on the baptismal goal and we are just hoping that we don’t fall behind at the end of the year. I am so thankful that I get to experience so many of these crazy new things that are happening in missionary work. It’s exciting to get to see all the changes this work is going through and all the changes that this work is bringing into other people’s lives. I know that this is the place that God wants me to be and I am so thankful for it.


-Elder Banks

Elders at a statue of Lewis and Clark
Office Elders

Monday, September 23, 2013

            Well today has been nuts. Here’s the very, very brief version of why this email is going to be super short. We are going to a Cards game tonight and so we are supposed to do 3 hours of work in the morning instead of the night. Here’s what our 3 hours of work turned into. 2 hours of trying to return a hubcap. 30 minutes of picking up broken cabinets that fell out of the back of the trailer that we forgot to lock while driving down the street. That was almost really bad... And then about an hour of trying to get the trailer back on the hitch of the van because it fell off on the freeway 5 minutes after all the cabinets fell off. Yup it’s been a long day... But I have been with elder Norton and he is probably the best possible person for me to have been with today cause Its impossible for us to be angry when were together so it’s been a lot of laughing at these insane things that have happened. But hey tonight should be cool! Go Cards.


            This week has been pretty boring but very important. I spent pretty much the whole week doing transfers with eElder Facer and President Morgan. It’s been the hardest one by far. To briefly explain why it’s been hard here’s some numbers. 30 missionaries came in the last 2 transfers and again on Tuesday. we have about 10 visa waiters that are still here as well. That’s about 100 missionaries. All of them put together have an average mission age of 6 weeks. That’s not very much experience as a missionary. That makes things really interesting. Also, elder facer goes home in a couple days so we had to figure out who we were going to bring into the office. Elder Wunderli is going to be my new companion. He’s from Alpine Utah and goes to UVU so we have that in common at least. He has been a zone leader for 1 transfer and has been on his mission for like 16 months or so. I have loved being with him on exchanges so I’m really excited for him to come in. 


            The best part of this week by far was Sunday. We got to go to the O’Fallon stake conference. We walked in and there were missionaries everywhere which was great. It was a ton of fun to get to see them all and so many of their investigators. While I was walking around talking to missionaries Darwin ran up and started talking to me. Darwin is Brenda Wilson’s grandson from Fairview heights. I love that kid and was so happy to see him. The whole stake conference was about temple work and missionary work. President and Sister Morgan gave great talks about missionary work. But by far my favorite part was getting to hear the talk by Sister Vicki Kremer. She gave a 10 minute talk about her conversion and her experience going through the temple a couple weeks ago. That was definitely one of those moments as a missionary where you just feel like everything you have ever gone through on your mission was worth it just for that 10 minutes. I was so thankful that I got to sit in on that experience. 


            This coming week we have transfers on Wednesday, new missionaries on Tuesday, and departing missionaries on Thursday, just like normal. The temple is closed on Wednesday though so we are going to a cardinal’s game on Wednesday instead. Hopefully everything goes smoothly this week. I love all of you and thank you for your prayers. Talk to you all again soon!


-Elder Banks  
Elder Banks sitting in one BIG chair!
Below is the office staff.




Monday, September 16, 2013

             Tons of stuff has happened since I wrote last and we have had the craziest 2 weeks ever. I’ll start with last week cause I didn’t get a chance to write an email. We started off the week with the last 3 zone conferences. The last one was in Columbia and we stayed up there to do our zone leader exchange. It was cool to get to be in Columbia when school was back in because Mizzou was packed. During the summer it’s just not quite the same. Me and Elder Wunderli went tracting out apartments and it was great. Then we finished up the week heading back to St Louis to go on exchanges in North zone. We played soccer with some non-members and less actives on a turf field in 100 degree weather. It was super fun and super not worth it. Especially cause lunch was McDonalds. We felt awful after but it was a blast.


             The reason we didn’t have a pday last week is because Elder Godoy came to our mission. He was here for 2 days and did two mission conferences. One on the Missouri side and one on the Illinois side. Last time we had a general authority visit he stayed for almost a week so trying to fit about a week’s worth of stuff into 2 days was an adventure. We didn’t get much sleep but it was worth it to get to hear his trainings. One thing he talked about a couple times was attributes vs techniques. Both are good but some people focus more on Christ like attributes and some people focus more on preach my gospel techniques. It’s ok to lean towards one side but we have to stay balanced. That was a really good training for me to hear so I can help myself and hopefully others too. 


            After the mission conferences we had 4 zone leader exchanges. We started in Fairview Heights and it was cool to go back there. We went to Cahokia and I miss that place so much. Everything there is pretty much trashed and the people are crazy but they are so nice and it’s so much fun getting to talk to all of them.


            After that we spent the day in the St Louis zone. That is one of the zones that isn’t tracting anymore, they’re just working with members. I went with a brand new missionary Elder Prescott for about 30 minutes and we just drove up to a members house who was outside asked him if he would come with us to one of his neighbors houses and he took us over there, introduced us, and we set up an appointment. It was super easy and resulted in a way solid new investigator. My mind was blown at how easy and productive it was. It didn’t even phase Elder Prescott because that happens to him and his companion all the time. Missionary work is definitely changing.


Our next day was down in Cape Girardeau and me and Elder Furlong went and drew the plan of salvation out in chalk on SEMO campus. One of the professors is a member and he came out and saw us and started telling students to listen to us. So when we finished drawing we had a line of college kids waiting to hear about the plan of salvation from us. It was super cool and it was fun to get to spend some time drawing even with thousands of students being super confused why 2 guys in suits were drawing on the sidewalk.


We finished out our week in South zone and it was fun to get to go back to Oakville. We went to a district meeting and heard a training from a southern Baptist pastor who has been investigating for like 30 years. It was cool to get to hear his point of view on things. 


             This week is hopefully going to be a lot calmer. We have transfer planning all week and it takes fooooorever. But we get to sleep in our own beds for a week so that will be super nice.


I’ll close up with a random cool story about member missionary work. There are elder and sisters working up at the University of Illinois and a girl came to church out of nowhere and was talking to the elders. She wanted to take the lessons but there weren’t any guys there so the elders couldn’t be alone with her so they passed her off to the sisters. After the elders talked to her for a little bit they asked her why she came to the church. She said her friend in Chicago told her to go. They asked who her friend was and she just said Jabari. After asking a few more questions the elders got it confirmed that they were handing over a member referral from Jabari Parker to the sisters. So if the most famous high school athlete in America can find time to do missionary work, then so can everyone else! The miracles and changes that we are seeing in our mission are incredible. I’m so thankful to be here and experience all of these changes. I love my mission!


-Elder Banks



Monday, September 2, 2013

          This week was crazy. Really fun. But crazy. Tuesday and Wednesday we had zone conference and I was so thankful for those to be over. I love going to them and I learn a ton but I just can’t handle sitting in the same room for 6 hours anymore! We have 3 more this week but I got a little bit of a break so I’m ready to start them up again.


Wednesday night and Thursday we spent some time in a brand new area called Steeleville. The elders there are doing great and probably my favorite part was that they live in a town named Sparta. I pretty much just ran around yelling this is Sparta and kicking stuff all day.


Then Thursday we planned out MLC which was the next day. MLC was long. But we accomplished a lot so it was a good meeting. Saturday was the best day of the week cause we drove up to Champaign and got to go on our exchange there. We just walked around in the ridiculous heat and talked to college kids all day on the U of I campus. It was just a few days after school got back in so there was just a bunch of crazy kids everywhere. It was super fun but insane. 


            That pretty much sums up our whole week. Lots of meetings but lots of cool stuff happened. We have a few cool things coming up over the next few weeks. We have a seventy coming named Elder Godoy and he’ll be here on the 9th and 10th. It will be cool to get to spend 2 days with him and learn from him. We have a couple more zone conferences coming up this week and they’re the last 3 of the transfer. Once those are over we get to go on a lot of exchanges! I’m pretty much just counting down the seconds until those come around. This isn’t the most interesting email, but we have tons of stuff to do today so I’ve got to run. I’ll talk to you all again soon! 


Elder Banks