Monday, November 25, 2013

            Tuesday this week was amazing and it started off the week in an awesome way. We went to the temple with Mary and it was incredible. It was super simple and nothing spectacular happened or anything like that but just to see her and talk to her again was a ton of fun. And just knowing that the decisions she was making are going to change her eternity is a cool thing to experience. I am so thankful that I was able to have that opportunity with her this week. After the temple we went to O’Fallon zone conference and trained. It was super normal but it was fun.

             The next 2 days were Springfield and Champaign zone conferences. They were both good but Champaign’s was awesome. It was probably the best zone conference I have ever been to. It was a blast.

               After those 2 days we had our exchanges with them. Saturday I was with Elder Norton on the University of Illinois campus and it was freezing. It was about 25 degrees which isn’t too bad really, but there was wind all day long that just felt like it was cutting you in half. Thankfully I forgot all of my winter clothes except for one jacket in St Louis so that made things awesome. I was so cold haha. We walked around and talked to college kids for about 4 hours and then after that we went to the institute building for a lesson and I had to go warm up so I could talk again cause my face was so frozen. But we had an awesome lesson right after that and talked to a ton of cool people that day so it was definitely worth it.

             Sunday was our first day in our new ward and it was great. We have the best ward of all time. It has everything you can imagine in it. We have lots of black people and tons of Bosnians. We have an apartment complex that we call little Provo cause it has like 20 your families straight from BYU in it that are all in our ward. And of course, being in the city, we have lots of crazy people too. Sunday was probably the best church block I have been to in a long time. We had an investigator there named Troy Outlaw. We talked to him on the phone throughout the week and the other elders who we replaced told us a little bit about him. He comes to church with his wife and 2 sons and the wife is a member. They have heard the first lesson and we have 2 appointments this week to teach him a couple more times so hopefully all of that works out.

  The best part of the day was right after church we sat down with Sister Fisher and Sister Lundskog the sister missionaries in our ward and they gave us a list of 7 people to go contact that have been coming to church over the last couple months but for some reason no one ever asked them if they want to take the lessons. We have a few people to go contact this week and hopefully we can have a few solid investigators by time the week is up. We are so excited to work in our area!

             This week we have a few fun things. I’ll be in Fairview Heights with Elder Smith on Tuesday and then on Wednesday me and Elder Johnson will be back in St Louis Hills. After that we have Thanksgiving and then MLC the next day. Elder Jenkins and Elder Furlong are coming to our area the day after MLC to do some work there with us. We are way excited and everything is going so well! In the mission as of today, if every person with a baptismal date got baptized we would be at exactly 450 for the year. Now some of those are obviously going to drop, but we hope that over the next 2 or 3 weeks we can set a few more dates and reach our goal for the year! It’s going to be close. Keep us in your prayers.

 -Elder Banks


Monday, November 18, 2013


            The craziest/coolest things happened this week. It all started on Tuesday when Brother Donaldson came in from the missionary department in Salt Lake and went on exchanges with me and Elder Wunderli. It was an interesting night to say the least. He made us feel about the size of an ant and like we didn’t know anything about missionary work, but we wanted to just stay with him forever. He was teaching us so much! It was such an awesome night. We were blown away when we got home and we had just gotten way too much information to remember but we tried to get some of it down. Thankfully on Thursday we had a meeting with about 50 other missionaries where he trained us all for about 7 hours. We learned a ton. He taught us new ways to teach and new things to use in our missionary work. We have been getting texts all week from missionaries who have tried the new methods and just say why didn’t we know about this at the beginning of our missions?? It has helped us out a ton.

            The Brother Donaldson visit lead into a big change for me and Elder Wunderli. Brother Donaldson stressed that the assistants should have the best area in the mission, and in our current situation we weren’t even close. We had pretty much no time to work in our area and the time we did have wasn’t very effective. We had 2 visa waiters leave this morning so we had 2 open spots in the mission we needed to fill. After a lot of thought and meetings we decided that we were going to move the elders out of St Louis Hills to fill the visa waiter spots and that me and Elder Wunderli were going to go in and be the new missionaries in that area. St. Louis Hills just barely got their boundaries redone and it used to be called the Carondelet ward which I might have mentioned before. It’s in south zone right by Oakville and it’s about 25 minutes away from the office and mission home. It is my favorite area in the mission. I loved going on exchanges there so much! I am so excited to get to work there this transfer. We share the ward with Sister Fisher and Sister Lundskog. I’ve never really shared a ward before so that will be something new.

Also the Steve that I talked about last time who I taught in Oakville who is getting baptized is in our ward. I saw him at a baptism on Saturday and got to talk to him for a second and I’ll probably get to teach him a little bit again before he gets baptized, so that was really exciting. We have a little bit of everything in our new area. We have part of the old Webster Groves ward where Elder Wunderli served before so he knows some of them who are almost all college aged kids going to school. Then we have the biggest population of Bosnians in our area anywhere outside of Bosnia and we also cover the ghetto of south St. Louis so we have just about everything in our area.

            Getting a new area wouldn’t really do us any good if we didn’t have time to work in it, so we are making changes to our schedule too. After this week the assistants won’t go to zone conference or interviews anymore unless it’s for south zone cause that’s the zone were a part of now. All we have to worry about is doing our 8 zone leader exchanges and then helping President Morgan with anything that he needs a little extra help with. So pretty much we’re just normal missionaries with unlimited miles and instant access to the mission president. We pretty much have the best job ever. We aren’t sure what’s going to happen at the end of the transfer but I’ll at least get to enjoy this new area for 4 weeks so I am really looking forward to that.

            This coming week we are still going to go to the zone conferences to help everyone make some changes and adjustments so we will be going to Springfield, O’Fallon, and Champaign this week. Then we will do our zone leader exchanges in Champaign and Springfield. We won’t get to work in our area too much this week, but next week we pretty much have the whole time to work with.

            Also this coming week on Tuesday I get to go through the temple with Mary Crouch, who I taught in my first area. Me and Elder Anderson both get to go through with her and we are so excited! It’s going to be an amazing day.

I am so excited for all the changes that are coming for our mission. We are at 377 baptisms for the year which means we already have more than we had last year which is great. But we are still a lot short of 450. We have about 70 baptism dates between now and the end of the year and these next couple weeks are really going to be the do or die for the rest of the year. Hopefully everything goes well for the rest of the year! With all the prayers and fasting that’s going on around the mission we really hope that we can reach our goal. Keep us in your prayers!

-Elder Banks

Monday, November 11, 2013

Parker with President and Sister Morgan at the St. Louis Temple.
With transfers happening this week it was another hectic week. We did a whole new transfer schedule and it was nice but just cause it was the first time we had ever done it, it was pretty crazy. We had the departing missionaries come in on Monday evening. We all got together and went to a park behind the Morgan’s house and played football for a while. Then we came back in and did all of the normal stuff. We had a testimony meeting like normal and I always love doing that with the departing missionaries. They have all changed so much over their missions and it’s amazing to see that change. Especially with some of these missionaries that I have known and seen grow for almost 2 years now. It was cool to look around the room and see that I had been on exchanges with every single missionary in the room and had good memories with each of them. We left at 9:00 that night (instead of staying up all night) and that helped make the week a lot better.

The next morning we took all the departing missionaries to the airport and then had just a few minutes to have some down time waiting for the new missionaries to fly in. It was nice to have the new missionaries come in last cause that’s a lot more fun than sending the departing missionaries home. We had a nice normal night at the mission home with all the new missionaries and then headed home to get ready for transfer meeting the next day. Transfer meeting was normal and everything went smooth. It was a lot less hectic than normal. 

             This coming week we have a lot of stuff coming up that’s super stressful but it’s going to be good. I was just thinking the other day about how I used to get so stressed out when I had to go on exchanges with zone leaders and the assistants and other missionaries and I was so happy because I hadn’t been very stressed about an exchange for a long time. Then President Morgan decided to tell us that Brother Donaldson from the missionary department is coming to our mission to train us and he wants to go on exchanges with me and Elder Wunderli to see how we teach. So ya, I’m nice and stressed out about exchanges again. But it’s good to be stressed out sometimes, it makes you work harder.

Yesterday we went around and we are trying to figure out a way to fill our Tuesday evening with appointments to teach with this guy when we don’t have any investigators and we don’t know anyone in the ward very well. We went around and met with as many people as we possibly could and set up a few return appointments so it should be a pretty good night. On Thursday, after we go on exchanges on Tuesday, we are bringing in about 55 missionaries to sit down and have a meeting with Brother Donaldson. He’s going to be training the missionaries on something that we really don’t know. All we know is that he said that when he leaves the missionaries will probably be thinking what in the world just happened. We’re hoping that that’s what happens cause everyone can always use a change. It adds just enough stress to make people perform at their best. 

            We’re pretty far behind on our mission goal of 450 for the year. We are almost 100 baptisms away from reaching our goal. As a mission we are shooting to have a baptism in every area between now and the end of the year. It’s been really cool because we have been fasting and praying to reach our goal and we have seen the amount of baptismal dates just skyrocket recently. We really are going to need some miracles but they are already starting to come in, so we’ll see how it goes between now and the end of the year. 

            Earlier this week we went to the St Louis Hills district meeting. They are right next to the Oakville ward that I used to serve in. The St Louis Hills sisters were talking about one of their investigators and how he was waiting for first presidency approval on baptism and all these different things and we thought it sounded kind of funny so we did a little more research on it and found out that he was good to get baptized as soon as they could get a service set up for him. It was cool to see how excited they were cause that will be the first ever baptism for that area because it’s pretty new. It got really cool for me though as we learned a little bit more about this guy and I finally got his name and realized that they were teaching Steve Millheim who I taught in Oakville. When I taught him he had a baptismal date but then broke up with his girlfriend and things kind of fell apart and we never saw him again. The Sisters still don’t know how but someone sent him as a referral through and they found him and started teaching him again. And now he is getting baptized in a week or so. It’s fun to see someone that I taught in Oakville getting baptized cause I worked my brains out in that area and we never saw anything come from it. That was a really cool thing for me to get to see. 

               It’s going to be a crazy end of the year and all the missionaries are going to be working as hard as we can to reach our goal and more importantly help as many people as we possibly can to come to know that this church is true and can bless their lives. I love being a missionary and this is a super exciting time to get to be one. I love this gospel and am so thankful that I get to share it.

-Elder Banks


Monday, November 4, 2013

         Transfer planning pretty much took all week this week. But a couple other cool things happened. I’ll start with the not so spiritual side of the week. Monday night I was feeling really sick and we had a dinner appointment with some other missionaries and a member family in our ward, so Elder Wunderli dropped me off at the mission home and he went with some other missionaries to dinner. After a little while of me laying in the Morgan’s basement sleeping on the couch, President come down and whispered to me "Hey if you don’t feel too awful the Cardinals game starts in 30 minutes. I won’t tell anyone if you want to watch a little bit of it" So a few minutes later I got to go upstairs and watch the Cardinals game with president Morgan. It was a super cool experience to get to just sit there and realize how much i just felt at home. It felt like I was just watching sports with my dad and my little sister and mom were just poking their heads in every once in a while to say hi. I love the Morgan’s so much and I’m so thankful for everything that they do for me and for the chance that I have to work with them.

            After a couple more days of transfer planning, Halloween rolled around and we got to go to the mission home again and eat some dinner. We had a night of about 3 trick or treaters and mostly we just had meeting’s all night long. It wasn’t the most entertaining holiday ever, but we accomplished a lot so that was good.

One cool thing about the transfer planning that we did for this coming transfer is that we can definitely see an upward trend with our missionaries. We have been stretched so thin on good missionaries recently we just didn’t have enough to do all the training and different things that we needed, and now we are seeing the effects of that with some of our worst numbers we have ever had. But now, after all these young missionaries are done being trained, we have a ton of good missionaries just waiting to help us out. Of course you can never have too many good missionaries and we are using every single one of them as much as we can. Hopefully over the next few months we see all of the results of these hard working missionaries start to show.

            Another cool thing that happened this week was a phone call that I got from Sister Leavitt who is serving up in Jacksonville. She called to tell me that Mary Crouch is going through the temple on November 19th! I was so excited to hear that she finally got all of her temple classes and everything done. We have a zone conference in O’Fallon that day and I asked if I could skip part of it to make it over to the temple and President Morgan said that was fine. It’s still a few weeks away but I am so excited to get to go through with her! It’s going to be such an awesome experience.

            The new transfer schedule starts today with all the departing missionaries coming in around 4. We pick up the new missionaries tomorrow and then have transfer meeting on Wednesday. Lots of things have been changing throughout the mission with transfers so hopefully it’s a lot easier this time than it has been in the past. It’s going to be another crazy week but we’re excited. Talk to you again soon.


-Elder Banks