Sunday, June 27, 2010


Things are still going well here in Foggia. We had six investigators come to church on Sunday!! Plus a few more people that aren't investigators and just randomly showed up! haha. One of the best was Favour. He's from Nigeria and he was supposed to be baptized, but then he disappeared! He showed up in church and said that his cell phone has been having problems and he had to go out of town for something this last month, but now he's back and we're meeting with him again. I was way stoked to see him. He's a really good guy. He wants to follow Jesus Christ, but he just needs to be taught all the commandments.

It was a very interesting sacrament meeting. First, there were all the people there that don't know the church very well, then there was the fact that my companion had to translate for Favour (he only speaks English), and it was also a testimony meeting. Well, one member went up and said the Lord's Prayer and then sat down!! haha. It was crazy. I think that's what it's called in English, it's the prayer that Jesus Christ showed as an example for us in the New Testament. I was pretty shocked. But I guess no one else really was. It was just a little weird.

We also went in search of old investigators this week. I've found most old investigators love the missionaries. We went and visited a guy about our age, who happens to be a magician. When we first went into his living room there was an entire wall of dead butterflies, beetles, and scorpions! It was crazy. haha. Anyway, then he showed us some magic tricks that were pretty crazy (making cards appear out of nowhere, things disappear), and then he showed us his Guiness World record plaques! haha. He holds the world record for fastest escape from handcuffs (around 2 seconds), and fastest escape from a regular straight jacket (about 10 seconds). I was impressed. Unfortunately it looks like his level of interest in the gospel is pretty low, but he was a cool dude to meet.

You meet lots of interesting people in the mission field.

We talked to a guy on the street the other guy that told me he used to be Catholic, and now he's Aethiest. A couple minutes later he told me that he believes in God, but not in Jesus Christ. Then later he said he's waiting for Armageddon. Anyway, he wouldn't listen to us, and he's obviously very confused even about his own beliefs. While we were talking to him a bird pooped on my arm!! I told my companion that it's good luck, but he doesn't believe me. haha.

102_1154We also learned how to make Chocolate salami this week from the Bishop's wife. It's pretty good, but the way she showed us uses uncooked egg...but it's frozen. So I was wondering if that's okay to eat? It's actually pretty easy to make and it tastes really good. We brought one with us to Family Home Evening on monday, and everyone loved it. We had a great turn-out for FHE. We talked about honesty, and then we played BS. It's a card game. You pretty much have to cheat to play it,  it was really fun. haha. We just started having FHE here in Foggia for all the people who don't have families in the church, and it's a nice get together. I love when everyone gets together. I'm hoping none of our relatives get married until I get home so I can go to all the weddings.

Last night we had English course and I asked everyone what they would do for their dream date if they have unlimited money. One guy said he'd go to a muse concert, another said he'd go to Luna Park, another the Eiffel Tower. I also asked each of them what they would eat on their date. One guy said he would buy the girl a hundred roses, and then fly to the moon. I asked him what he would eat for dinner and he said: McDonalds!!! hahaha. He said "I would eat a Big Mac." haha. What a romantic.

Thank you for your support, your letters, and your love.


Anziano Banks!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Yesterday was crazy. It was the Italian Independence Day! We went to a member's home for lunch.  It's been awhile since I've had a lunch appointment, so I forgot how much they feed you. I've come to the realization that all Italian women are excellent cooks, and they all cook enough so that double the amount of guests could eat well. I ate so much that I had to lie down for an hour. I can't believe how much food I ate. They also always say that you must not like the food because you didn't eat very much!! It's nuts.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll all interested to hear about the surprise visit from Michelle. Well, it was sure a surprise!!! I was totally shocked. She came over at 8 in the morning and rang the intercom. My companion answered, and I guess he thought it was really weird because some girl asked for "Ray Banks" in English. hahaha. As we took the elevator down we were both very confused. I got thinking about it, and I figured the only people that would randomly come visit me would be the Iversons. But then I thought to myself that someone would have told me something. As it turns out it was Michelle!! I'm not sure if this is the correct use of the term, but I was flabbergasted. I didn't even know how to react. The only thing I did right is I said we need to get a picture, and so she has one she took on her camera. The next thing I knew, she was gone and I was in the elevator going back up to the apartment!! I actually feel really bad because I didn't even offer her something to eat, or to show her someplace in Foggia, or anything. I think I only talked for just a minute because I was just so in shock. hahaha. It was pretty crazy. I wish she had come on another day, like P-day or something, because that day we had to go on a trip to San Severo.

Speaking of which, it's almost like I have two cities again! San Severo is a little city about an hour or so away from Foggia. There used to be a big branch there, but something happened (I'm not really sure exactly what) and the whole place got shut down. Now there are tons of less actives there, and we go once a week with Bishop to visit with lots of them. He wants to get the branch reopened there, and if we can get enough less actives going then it will be reopened!!

I'm getting a fair amount of traveling in nowadays. My district is now in Bari (2 hour train ride) and we go there every <onday for district meeting. It's pretty crazy. This last week I was really tired and used it as an opportunity to catch up on some sleep, but next week I'm going to use it more as an opportunity to do one of my favorite types of proselyting - train!

Somehow most of my English Course found immediatechinese! haha. They love it. They came to class telling me things like "Wo Wang Gee Luh" haha. They're so funny.

One interesting thing this last week is that people kept calling us their angels. In fact, three different people did. My MTC teacher had told me that people would, but it hadn't really ever happened until now. That was really cool.

Everything's going great here. On Sunday I taught the Gospel Principles class. It was about Talents. I love the new gospel principles manual. It's so easy to teach from!! Basically what I decided from the lesson is that I have lots of talents that I want to develop after my mission.

Next week is a very full week. We have Zone Conference, a baptism, and stake conference.

Be safe! Have a great week! I'll keep you in my prayers, if you'll keep me in yours! haha.


Anziano Banks!


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Livin’ the high life . . .



What they say is that the mission is what you make it. I've taken the attitude that I might as well make it awesome, so I do what I can to talk to everyone about the gospel, and help people come closer to Christ. This week we tried something called power street. It's amazing. Basically you split up and each missionary takes one side of the street and you both walk down talking to people. I love it! My companion hates it though...haha. Oh well, I still want to do it whenever we can.

The city has gone down to two missionaries now. Just me and Anziano Halverson. It's alright. I liked having four missionaries, but now we have all of their work on top of ours, so there is tons to do!! With all this work we decided it would be in our best interest to get bikes! They're awesome. We already had one that was from missionaries in the past, and then we went in on buying another one. There was already a great lock for us, a bike pump, and even an extra inner tube!! My mission is becoming a lot more like I expected it (because in Taiwan the missionaries always ride bikes).

I also did a way fun activity in my English Course this week. Me and Anziano Cox taught advanced course (now he's in Siracusa), and we decided to teach our students how to make no-bake cookies!! I thought I was just going to do it, but then Anziano Cox asked Lorenza (one of our students) to be the helper. So we started to put in the ingredients, and I started having my doubts about her cooking skills. First I asked her to put in a cup of sugar, and she filled up the measuring cup part-way and asked me if it was good. I of course told her that it needed to be filled to the top! Then we continued putting in all the ingredients and she started stirring.


Then we got to most stressful part of no-bake cookies, at the end when you have to put in the peanut butter and then the oatmeal. The peanut butter went fine, but then we put in too much oatmeal!!! I'm sure you remember that if you put too much oatmeal they're ruined. Or at least I thought they were!! Then Lorenza came through with her natural Italian cooking skills and added some random things (like butter and milk) and saved the cookies!! It was totally amazing, and the cookies were pretty good. : )

It was fun, and I enjoy my English Class. I've started trying to get through to them about gospel principles, but we'll see. Last night I told them about prayer, and I used a lot of scriptures from the Bible about how to pray. I don't really understand how someone could not pray. If God exists, then prayer is the way to get blessings, and so it just makes sense! Plus, if someone doesn't believe in God, prayer is the way they can find out that God does exist. It's such an awesome resource that we have.

Speaking of awesome resources, I'm not sure if all the Book of Mormons in English have this, but the Book of Mormon in Italian has this "Guida alle scritture" in the back that basically has tons of gospel words that it defines and then gives scripture references. It's a really handy resource.

I guess that's about all the news for this week. I also traveled to some little town about an hour and a half from Foggia on Monday and I saw some of the most beautiful scenes I've seen in Italy, but I didn't get any pictures!! I know, that sounds ridiculous, but we were up there with the Bishop visiting some people, and it just worked out so we only passed the ruins and views in the car, so I wasn't able to take photos!! Next time we go there I'm going to ask if we can stop to take a photo or something because it really is awesome.

The weather is getting really warm here, and I'm starting to get a weird tanline from my white collared shirt. It looks pretty ridiculous. haha.

Have a great week! Let me know if there's anything that you need. Like if you know anyone who lives in Italy that you would like to hear the Gospel, because I could always use more referrals! haha.

I guess they would have to live in Foggia for me to visit them that keeps the odds pretty low. haha.


Anziano Banks

p.s. Anziano Garvin (my companion from the MTC) got transferred into my zone, which means I'll see him in a few weeks!! : )

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hello Famiglia

Not too much news since the maxi-conference. Here’s our group picture; I’m in the front row.

Maxi Conference

The other day we decided to do what we call an "excellent activity." Basically it means that we do something that's really fun, while doing missionary work at the same time. For this activity we decided to do a spiritual thought with Salvatore, and then play soccer with him and also a member so that they could become better friends. He is our investigator that is getting baptized on the 5th of June that is making great progress. He's been smoking since he was 16, (he's 21) and he's trying to quit. The spiritual thought went great. Then we started playing soccer and that was a blast. We have a soccer field to the side of church, and we played with a bunch of local kids (who are all crazy good). But Salvatore didn't want to play! We were shocked, and then asked him if he played basketball, and he said yes. So we played a little bit of soccer with this member and all the local kids, and then we decided to play a little basketball to get Salvatore involved--he played for about two minutes and then went inside the church!! It was crazy. haha. So we told him next time we're just going to watch a film with him, and I think we're going to watch the restoration. So far in Italy this is only the third time I've played soccer!! I thought I would play every week! But it's okay, I still played alright.

We do weekly service at the soup kitchen here. They actually have really good food there! Yesterday we went and did service and the food we served was a lot better than the food I ended up cooking for lunch. As usual I made a pasta with red sauce. We had leftover meatballs from a member lunch appointment, so I put those in. I used one bottle of red sauce, and a can of peeled tomatoes. I cheated a little and used this pre-mixed spice that I found in the cupboard. I also grated some carrots, and I put in a little garlic. I tried something weird this time. I decided to put some Basil in the water while I cooked the pasta. I'm not sure if it did anything or not, but the pasta ended up tasting pretty good. The only problem is the meatballs didn't have enough flavor.  I also learned an awesome recipe the other day. It's really weird, but it tastes really good. I'll have to make it for you when I get home. It takes 2 boxes of "panna". I'm not sure exactly what that is, but you always use it when you want a pink sauce. Two boxes is a ton, but this sauce ends up tasting awesome. I've found that most sauces that I like would taste better with hamburger meat with them as well...but that's mostly just because I love hamburger meat so much. I also learned a pesto recipe the other day that I'm going to try sometime soon. It just takes a lot of basilico and pine nuts. It's just the classic pesto - genovese. I've tried it and it was tasty.

Institute here is pretty funny. I've had to help teach a couple times. They just meet once every week on Sunday evening and go through a few chapters in the Book of Mormon. There are usually only three or four people there. One girl in our ward just sent in her mission papers! I should probably be here when she gets her call.

Speaking of calls, transfer calls come tomorrow!! This is my first transfer, so I'm sure I'll be staying, but what we don't know is what will be happening to the city. Right now there are four of us here, but odds are that the city is going to go down to two missionaries because there are something like 10 missionaries leaving and none coming in, so everywhere is getting downsized every time we have a transfer. What will probably happen is I'll just stay with my companion and the city will go down to two...which is not that exciting. haha.

Which reminds me of something that is exciting! I met a Chinese guy this week in a store that may be coming to church one of these weeks. It will be hard to do translating for him, but it'll be really cool as well. He's from near Shanghai. He's buddhist and I taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I think anyone who will serve a mission in the future should learn another language, because even if you don't go to a country that speaks it, you'll probably meet someone who does. I've met people who speak Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Bulgarian, French, Russian, English, Farsi, and all kinds of other languages. Basically, Chinese has helped me a ton, but if I had studied Spanish more it would have helped me as well, or any other language. It's starting to seem crazy to me that anyone doesn't speak at least two languages!

Okay, so my advice for this week would be to serve others, and plant things. haha. I think those are two great ways that everyone can better the world. More plants, more kindness.

Have a great week! I'll let you know of any changes to our city next week! For sure something has to change because Anziano Shaw is going home.


Anziano Banks