Monday, December 30, 2013

Well it was a good week for the mission but as for the work in our area it was pretty awful. We had a really busy week just getting everything done that we needed to. Monday and Tuesday we played Santa and just drove everyone packages around to their zone leaders so people could have their presents for Christmas. It made a lot of missionaries happy so that was fun. Christmas Eve we went to the Morgan’s and hung out there. Their son Danny was there and of course Anna was there so me and Elder Wunderli had a fun day with them. Elder Jones and Elder Rausch were there with us too so it was a fun night. Christmas day we spent the whole day at the Morgan’s again and pretty much just watched basketball. It was a great day until the Heat won but even after that it was still fun. 
Thursday we had a 5 hour meeting with President Morgan just planning out MLC which was the next day. Then Friday we had a 6 hour meeting turn into a 7 1/2 hour meeting so we sat around a lot this week. We accomplished a ton and got a lot of really important things decided so it was a good couple days. Saturday we had a few lessons planned out and all of them bailed so we pretty much just drove around and tried to see a million people. Unfortunately none of them were home and when we tracted around their houses no one was home either so pretty much we spent endless hours just knocking on empty doors. It should have been an awful day but we just kept working and every time an appointment canceled we just kept going and thankfully Elder Wunderli stayed happy the whole time and by time it was 9:00 we felt like we had had a really good day. It was a lot of hard work but we felt really good for doing it. 
Sunday went a lot better than the rest of the week thankfully. One really cool thing happened when we went to go see a lady in the ward named Sister Huston. She is the funniest African lady and she is amazing. We talked a little bit about her neighbors that she has been working with and she told us we should just go over and try talking to them. We walked up to their front door and they all pulled up and asked who we were and about 5 seconds later let us in. They were so nice and it took us a little by surprise. We weren’t sure exactly what to say so we just asked them if they would take the lessons and the mom said they would love to. She called her husband and set up a time for us to come over with her and her husband and their 3 kids so hopefully we can have a good meeting with them on Saturday
This weekend we had 21 baptisms with 2 more coming up on Tuesday so it was a really, really good weekend. With all the baptisms that happened this weekend it puts our year-end total at 443. So we fell a little bit short of our goal. But we still know that it was the perfect goal cause if we had set it at anything else we probably wouldn’t have pushed as hard as we did and there would have been a few people that didn’t get baptized. And we had 7 extra baptisms last year so it all totals out to perfect haha. It was a great week and a great year. We have our goal set up for next year and I’m so excited for it! The mission is going to be so excited. It hasn’t been announced yet so I’ll tell you next week. But hopefully 2014 is just as great as 2013 has been!
-Elder Banks

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jasmina and Husein Todorovic Baptism


As normal, transfer week was crazy. Monday we got a call at 2:00 that we had a missionary who was going home sitting by himself at the mission home and no one was there. Of course it was Elder Williams haha. We went over and spent a couple hours with him and all the other departing missionaries started to trickle in throughout the night. We got to spend a good last night with all of them and it was a really good night. Elder Williams was one of my really good friends out here so it was sad to see him go but I’m excited to see him again sometime.


Tuesday we took the departing missionaries to the airport and sent them all off then stopped by to get some lunch in the airport waiting for the next set of new missionaries to come in. While we were sitting there waiting a guy wearing a Utah Utes jacket came over and started talking to us and it turned out to be Elder Petersen’s dad. Elder Petersen is one of our really good friends who we spent a ton of time with this last transfer so it was fun to get to meet his dad and take pictures with him. It was even more fun to get to show Elder Petersen after. We spent the rest of the day with the new missionaries and it was a normal fun day with them.

Wednesday we had transfer meeting and it was the most exhausting one ever. Something we didn’t realize is that with the way the office elders were set up this transfer neither one of them had ever prepared for a transfer meeting before. So pretty much nothing was ready with phones and cars and new areas. The meeting ended and we just ran around like crazy trying to figure out how to do a bunch of stuff that none of us had ever done before. It was crazy but it worked out. It made me extra thankful that I never have to go to one of those again. After transfer meeting we helped the sisters in our ward move cause their apartment pretty much exploded with water damage and that took forever moving an apartment with only a minivan. That was pretty much the rest of our day.

Thursday and Friday were really normal days of missionary work with nothing too spectacular happening. We had a few good lessons and everything is going really well.

Jasmina and Husein Todorovic were by far the highlight of the week for us. At the beginning of the week we weren’t sure if they were going to get baptized or not and we met with them and asked them if we could move their baptism date back a week or so and they said absolutely not. They were so excited to get baptized and had been studying so hard they wanted it this weekend. It took a lot of work and meeting every day but we were able to get everything done in time and they were both baptized on Saturday. One cool thing about it was that neither me or Elder Wunderli had ever actually been the person down in the water to baptize someone before and we both got to do that this weekend. Elder Wunderli baptized Jasmina and I got to baptize Husein. It was a lot of work getting that baptism ready for the few days before and the few hours before. We spent about 3 hours boiling water on the stove and bringing it over to the font to fill it up. Our little building doesn’t have the greatest water heater in the world. But with all the work and stress that came with the baptism it was so worth it. It was one of the coolest days of my mission. Jasmina has 2 more sons that we are teaching now who will hopefully getting baptized soon. It’s been amazing to see over the last 2 weeks two families get baptized and completely change their lives and their family’s lives. Husein always talks about going on a mission and how excited he is. They’re just going to have an amazing future. 

Jasmina got to bear her testimony at the baptism and it was amazing. She isn’t much of a talker in front of groups of people so I didn’t think she was going to get up given the option. But she stood up and started by her best friend who introduced her to the gospel. She continued on through all her tears to explain how crazy her life had been recently and how she used to make fun of her friend all the time for becoming a Mormon. But when things got really tough she asked if she could come to church with her. She couldn’t even control her emotions when she parked at the church for the first time because she knew she was home. She knew before she even got into the building that this was the right place for her to be. Three weeks later she and her son got baptized. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had to be a part of that process and hopefully the rest of her family will be joining her soon. I couldn’t ask for more my last transfer as a missionary. I love this time of year and I love the people that I get to serve. Merry Christmas!

-Elder Banks



Monday, December 16, 2013

Troy and Bryson Outlaw at their baptism on December 14, 2013

Troy and Bryson Outlaw Baptism

           Transfer planning this transfer was quite a bit different than it has been over the last few. Things were a lot crazier this week than normal. We usually have time set apart to plan things out from about 10-4 on Tuesday through Saturday. With all the meetings that President Morgan had and all the appointments that we had set up, we missed out on a lot of that time. When we rolled around to Friday we still had half a board of empty places to fill up with missionaries. But thankfully we were able to make it through and get everything worked out. It’s looking like it’s going to be a good transfer. And of course because its transfer planning week I had to get sick. Me and Elder Wunderli both had a rough couple days in there but everything worked out alright and we’re feeling better now so that’s a blessing with the craziness of transfers coming up. 

            Saturday this week was by far the best day. It started with us coming into the office and finishing up everything with transfers and that went really well. Then, right when that all got done, we headed back to St. Louis Hills for Troy’s baptism. It was so cool! Troy was baptized and so was his son Bryson. A bunch of cool stuff happened that day at the baptism. We knew that Sister Outlaws dad was the one who was going to baptize Troy and Bryson. She had told us his name a couple times but it never really registered who this guy was until I saw him. He came to the baptism and I recognized him from Oakville because we went and visited him when I was there and his son was living with him. We taught his sons girlfriend and started to reactivate the dad. I know there was a lot of other factors involved but it was cool to see someone that I helped teach almost a year ago be able to baptize his son in law and grandson into the church. 

            Right after that baptism we headed up to Edwardsville Illinois for another baptism. Elder Wunderli found this girl a few months ago and she was getting baptized now and had requested that he come back and give a talk. I had met her once before and she’s super cool. It was amazing to see how many people were at her baptism. She had the support of the entire ward behind her. There were like 8 or 10 missionaries there who had all had a part in her conversion and it was just a really cool experience to see all the hard work finally pay off. I got to talk to her for a few minutes after her baptism and she told me something that was really cool for me. The time before when I had met her it was right after general conference. She was kind of thinking about baptism but had a lot of things in her way still. It was a really relaxed conversation not a lesson or anything but we started talking about President Uchtdorf’s talk and his quote "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" and almost as a joke I just looked at her and said "So ya. You should probably just do that." We left and I didn’t think much of it after that, but at the baptism she came over and talked to me about that experience and thanked me for saying what I said and the way that I had said it. She said that was something that had helped her out for the next few days to get her through some of the trials that came up. I love learning about the little things that missionaries and members of the church do or say and it turns out to be just what someone needed to hear.

            Saturday night we called out all the transfer news and then headed home. We got home at about 11:00 just totally exhausted and still sick with our colds. I hit the bed and about 30 seconds later had to go to the bathroom and got hit with some great food poisoning. I finally got out of the bathroom and got back to bed at 5:00 am and tried to get a couple hours of sleep before church. Both of us were feeling pretty awful but we were able to make it to sacrament meeting to see Troy get confirmed so we were glad we were able to make it to that. We spent the rest of the day sleeping in the Morgan’s basement haha. But we feel a lot better today than we have for a while. We’re really thankful we got sick a few days ago and were getting over it now cause we have tons of stuff coming up this week. The departing missionaries are all coming in today so we have to get them on the road and then new missionaries come in tomorrow. We have 3 baptisms scheduled for this Saturday but because we missed quite a few lessons due to sickness we’re not sure if we’re going to be able to get them ready by this Saturday so it’ll probably have to get pushed to next week.

Overall everything is going amazing here. I love the opportunities I have been given and am thankful that we have been able to take advantage of the blessings that have been put in our path recently. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Matt!! Hope everyone enjoys their holiday season. 

-Elder Banks 


Monday, December 9, 2013

The weather has been freezing but I went out and bought a scarf and gloves and stuff so I’m nice and warm. Yesterday we were driving and it was raining/25 degrees outside. So when we got to where we were going our car had a solid layer of ice over our entire car. It was pretty cool.
I’m staying in the office for my last transfer with Elder Wunderli. With all the changes that are happening right now president wants me to stay. I’m so excited because we have 2 dates right now and a possible 3 or 4 more baptisms before I go home so I’m really thankful to stay. Things are good.

            I love the St Louis Hills ward so much. We had so much good stuff happen this week. Monday was a pretty normal pday but Tuesday is when things started looking so great. I was on exchanges with Elder Jenkins in Dardeene Creek and it was pretty normal, but we got a call later that night from Elder Wunderli and Elder Terrazas who were in our area and they had the coolest experience happen. They went over to the Biberovic family’s house to visit them and see if their daughter was interested in taking the lessons. They got there and of course, because their Bosnian, they sat them down and started feeding them dinner. One of their friends came out and she started talking to the missionaries and started to talk about how she was at church on Sunday and just loved it. She bought a Book of Mormon like 3 years ago at a yard sale and never really knew what it was but she loved it and kept it the whole time. To make a long story short she has a baptismal date for the 21st of December and we’re teaching her and her 3 kids. They love having us over and have been feeding us a couple times a week and it has just been awesome. They’re a Bosnian family and we have a few more meetings with them this week so hopefully things keep going well.

              We picked up a few more investigators over the next few days and they were all member referrals. One of them is the Masons son whose 11 years old. He is a really good kid and ready to be baptized and then his family is working towards being sealed in a year. It seems like every single day we are getting calls from members and the sisters in our ward and everyone with referrals for us. We went to church on Sunday and there were nonmembers everywhere. We were running around like crazy trying to meet them all and get appointments with some of them. One of my favorite things about our ward is the diversity. Our 2nd hour class that had all the nonmembers in it was a couple white people and then the rest of the room was full of all kinds of different everything. We had Bosnian families everywhere just like normal but we had tons of black people and it was so funny. We had guys with dreads down to their butts talking about praying to God and we probably had 5 people straight from South Africa in class. It was so cool to just sit there and be surrounded by all of that.

            This week we have transfer planning all week from 10 to 4. The thing that we’re excited for is all the evenings that we have this week. After transfer planning we have tons of appointments with different people and we have a baptism with Troy Outlaw this weekend on Saturday. We have a couple more things to teach him but he should be good to go. In our area over the next 6 weeks we are hoping to get a couple more baptisms. I am so thankful that I get to spend the rest of my mission in this great area with a great companion. Our mission is seeing miracles all over the place. We need 51 baptisms between now and the end of the year which is unreal. But we are setting tons of dates all the time and we’re still going to need some serious miracles but it’s looking more and more like we’re going to pull it off somehow. We’re looking forward to another good week!

-Elder Banks


Monday, December 2, 2013

           We had our first full week or missionary work in our area this week and it was hectic but it was great. Tuesday I went back to Fairview Heights with Elder Smith, and Elder Sims and Elder Wunderli worked in St Louis Hills. It was a really cool exchange in Fairview cause it was pretty much a perfect night.  We taught Chris who I taught when I was there before and he was doing really well. We took Ron Mitchell with us so it was just like old times. I was so excited to see Ron doing so well again. After that we had another quick stop by with a part member family and then the end of the night was the best. We went to a members house and it’s a single older woman and she had been thinking about one of her friends a lot recently so she took us over to her house and we sat down and taught her and her son. It was an awesome lesson. They were best friends and trusted each other so much that this investigator just took everything so well cause she knew it had helped her friend so much. It was a great lesson.

            Wednesday we switched back and I was in St Louis Hills with Elder Johnson and Elder Wunderli went back to Maryland Heights with Elder Anderson. Me and Elder Johnson were kind of blind caue I hadn’t really worked in our area and Elder Johson had served there a few months ago but the area has completely changed since then so we just pretty much ran around and tried to see a million people. We talked to a few but it wasn’t the most successful day. Thankfully, Elder Johnson is awesome and it was just a ton of fun to be with him.

The next morning we drove back to Maryland Heights for Thanksgiving. We started off the day with like 3 hours of basketball with a bunch of other missionaries and that was a ton of fun. Then we just went to the mission home and watched football and ate food for the rest of the day. Even though the Raiders are awful it was still a pretty fun day. I love getting to hang out with the Morgan’s.

            Friday we had MLC for the first 6 hours of the day and then we were with Elder Furlong and Elder Duke for the rest of the day on exchanges. They live a few hours away so they just met up with us in our area and all 4 of us stayed there. Saturday me and Elder Furlong went around and couldn’t find anyone at home. We knocked on like a million doors and no one was home for some reason. But we ended up catching a couple of less actives at home that the ward has been trying to get in contact with forever so that was cool. We went to a baptism that the sisters were having in our ward later that night and that was really cool too.

            Sunday was the best day of the week for us. We went to church and we had a huge list of people to talk to about potential investigators and we were able to get most of it figured out. We were especially trying to get a hold of the Mason family cause they have a couple people we want to teach. We went by their house and tried calling them and stuff but we just couldn’t get anything figured out. But at church Brother Mason got called as a ward missionary so he sat in on our ward correlation meeting after church and it was so cool. We are going over on Wednesday and we are going to start teaching his 11 year old son cause he wants him to get baptized so that in a year they can all get sealed. They also have 2 other people who are good friends with them who have shown interest in the past so we asked if he would invite them. It sounds like we should be meeting 3 awesome new investigators on Wednesday so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for that.

Troy Outlaw came to church again with his family. He is the coolest guy ever. His son is for sure getting baptized on the 14th of December and we are trying to get through all the commandments and stuff so he can get baptized with him. Everything with Troy is going super well so far though. We are going to be going over a few really crucial things this week that will let us know how solid his baptism is so hopefully everything works out with that.

            Sunday after church we had a sweet miracle happen. We had about an hour and a half before dinner so we drove over to a ladies house who we had heard a ton about. One of our friends, Elder Anderson who just went home, taught a lady named Robin in the area that were in now and he just loved her and always said she was so great and all that stuff. So we got her address and went to see her a couple times and she was never home. But we caught her at home this time and she is the nicest person ever!! We have no idea how she isn’t baptized. Her only concern was not being able to make it to church cause she rides the bus and she hates asking people for rides. But once we get that figured out she is good as gold. She loved the first lesson and wants to come to church. We’re seeing her again on Wednesday and she wants to feed us her home made mac and cheese sometime so were pretty excited for that. That just shows you what kind of person she is. We knew her for about 5 minutes and she was already trying to get us to come back for a dinner. She is a diamond in the rough. She lives in a pretty rough part of the city but she is just the sweetest lady ever. We’re really excited to teach her.

            This coming week should just be more awesome work. We have a few exchanges and lots of full days of missionary work ahead of us. We’re so excited for all the things that are happening in our area and we are so thankful for the blessings we have received. We were so lost for a few days and really didn’t know what to do or how to do it, but we just went out and worked hard and God put some people in our path. We’re going to just keep trying to push forward and we know everything’s going to be great!

-Elder Banks