Thursday, October 28, 2010


Unfortunately I'm having some problems with my computer. In funny little cities like this, internet points are somewhat limited.

Things this week went pretty well.

It's almost as if I was in Castrovillari again on Sunday! We had one member there for Sunday School, and then we had two there for Sacrament meeting. I gave a talk about the Book of Mormon and gaining a testimony. One thing I’ve realized is that analyzing our testimony and pondering about the spiritual experiences we've had in our life helps us have a stronger testimony. When we review our spiritual experiences, I think it helps us understand more what they are like, and then when we feel the spirit again it is easier to recognize. One thing that I realized is how strong my testimony is. That was really cool. I know that the Joseph Smith was a Prophet, I know that the Plan of Salvation is the true plan that God has for us, and I know that the Book of Mormon is true.

Anyway, I guess the two newest things about being in Gela are having a car, and having an Italian Companion. Both of these have resulted in extremes. My companion doesn't speak any English, and my companion doesn't have a license.

DSCN2347 Driving is actually going really well. I think that I'm becoming a better driver, and using a stick up and down hills all the time is helping me improve with my shifting. My car is pretty sweet.

Speaking Italian all the time is good too I think. Sometimes I'm not sure if my Italian is getting better or worse because my companion's grammar is all over the place. I guess it doesn't matter though, everyone here in Gela speaks the same way. In Bari most people spoke very well, but here they kind of say things however they want. I guess the good thing is that I'm getting Italian sunk more into my mind. I'm at the point in my mission where switching to Italian all the time wasn't that hard because I've already been in Italy so long that speaking is natural for all the things that missionaries do. Hopefully now I can gain more vocabulary on other topics.

One crazy thing about Gela is that there are tons of funerals. I would say at least daily, if not multiple times a day. The city is full of old people, so it kind of makes sense. There was also one day when we saw three ambulances drive by.

Sorry, I'm not feeling very talkative because this computer is giving me problems.

Anziano Banks

P.S. Here are some pictures from my trip over.

DSCN2332 DSCN2358

Friday, October 22, 2010


So I've been transferred. It was crazy. I really loved the trip down here. I wish I could say that I loved the city though! hahaha.

(Gela is on the bottom/middle on the coast)

On Wednesday night it was pouring rain, and I went down to Taranto. I rode with two sister missionaries on the bus ride down (i know, it was weird). In Taranto I stayed the night, and Anziano Garcia was there!That was awesome. He had had lunch appointments and dinner appointments every day since he got his transfer call, so he still hadn't packed!! I wasn't very tired, so I decided to keep him company and help him pack. Needless to say, I only had a couple hours of sleep that night. It was a blast! Anziano Garcia is totally hilarious.

The big joke is that Anziano Garvin got transferred to MALTA. They say he'll only be there for a few transfers, but before they were planning to send missionaries over there to stay more than a year. Anziano Garcia thought it was pretty funny.

President calls, "Hello, Anziano Garvin?
"You've been transferred to...Alcatraz."
"What? Where's that? There's no Alcatraz in our!!!!!!"
hahaha. And other things like that. I'm sure Anziano Garvin will completely love it there though.

The next day I rode the bus to Catania. It was a beautiful ride. It was also a very long (9 hour) ride. I slept a bit, and then arrived in Catania. There I ran into:
Anziano Rowland!!
We rode the same bus to Agrigento. That was probably the best bus ride I've had in my life. I love Anziano Rowland. He's been in Crotone, and now he's in Trapani. We had a great time sharing different experiences. We stayed the night in Agrigento. That house is pretty famous in the mission. It's well-known for being one of the worst houses. hahaha. It didn't seem too bad...but I hear that they frequently have water problems. There was a pump that seemed to always be working there.
After spending the night there, it was finally time to go to Gela. We have a car, so we started loading it up. . . My companion locked the keys in the trunk . . . so we got a ride from the Zone Leaders over to Gela to get the spare, and then came back to get the car.

I had to drive. Why did I have to drive? Because my companion doesn't even have a license!! So I'm always going to have to drive. I told him I think we should start riding the bus. haha. Driving in Italy...what an experience. I think it's something like Taiwan. They say that it's just Sicily that's like this, but there are pretty much no rules. The good news is that it is also like Taiwan in the sense that I think there are few serious accidents. I wish I could ride a scooter instead of a car. Way less stressful. (Seriously though, I've been avoiding using the car as much as possible).

My companion is Anziano Destefanis. He's from a city named "Bra." It's somewhere in northern Italy. He kind of reminds me of my cousin Mark.
Speaking of Mark, is he going on a mission yet? Also, my companion doesn't speak a word of English! I'm trying to help him learn, but he doesn't really want to.

Anyway, the city of Gela is crazy. I don't like it. Don't misunderstand me though, it's not the people, it's the actual city. The layout is horrible. When I was in St. George we had very well organized streets. A nice grid system. Bari was more or less like that. I could find my way anywhere. Gela is basically the opposite. The map of Gela just looks silly because it's so random. On top of that, we have a car because there are lots of nearby cities that we visit. To make it worse, all the cities are on different hills in the area. The car is a stick, and all I do is drive up and down hills all the's crazy. I like walking.

My last district had ten people. When I found out I was coming here, I quickly discovered that our district is only four people, us and the sisters. Then I realized that Sorella Miller (from my MTC district) was in our district!! She was in Ragusa!! I was totally stoked to be in the same district because we would see each other every week at district meeting and it would awesome! (I also haven't seen her since the beginning of this year). Well. Sorella Miller got transferred. TO BARI.
haha. So she's not in my district. Our district is still pretty cool though. We have Sorella Jenkins who was actually in my district in Bari, and then there's Sorella Foote. She's pretty funny. She's from Reno. A really happy person.

Anyway, I guess it's pretty cool that I get to experience Sicily at last. I have to admit, it was really hard to leave Bari. One thing that helped was the last talk given by Elder Wirthlin. It was given in one of the conferences of 2008. I read it in Italian, but I think in English it's called "Come what may, and love it."I'm not 100% sure about the name. But it's an awesome talk. I love it.

Another thing about Gela is they have a funny accent here. When they ask questions they dramatically raise their voices. It's not a Sicilian thing, just something they do in Gela. I hope I don't pick it up.
Example: Are you from GelA?
It's funny. The house here is alright. It's a total mess though. The Bari house was a lot cleaner. I think that within a week I'll have this house looking really clean. I can't stand how messy it is. I know...doesn't sound like me, haha.

Anyway, I hope that you're all doing well. I keep you in my prayers.

Anziano Banks

P.S. Unfortunately I don't have time today to send more. Sorry. No pictures...

Monday, October 18, 2010


This evening I'll be going to Taranto, and then tomorrow I'll make the long trip to Gela. I only got to stay in Bari for 2 1/2 months!

I'm pretty excited to go down to Sicily, but I really love Bari. I haven't decided if it's my favorite city, but it might be. This place is totally awesome. When I first got the call I was a little sad, but I think I'm really going to love Gela as well. Most everyone was really surprised that I didn't stay longer, but it seems like the new mission president just likes to transfer people more.

In Gela I'll have a car!! I'm also going to have an Italian companion, so I guess I'll have a good opportunity to improve a lot with the language. I have to admit, as cool as having a car sounds, I'm not sure what it's going to be like doing missionary work with one. I also talk to people on the street when we're going between appointments! I guess I'll just have to make more phone calls.

I'm also not sure how I feel about driving in Italy. .. It'll be pretty crazy.
My last week in Bari has gone well. It's been crazy busy. I feel like I've been running from appointment to appointment trying to see everyone. Last night I taught my last English course. Sometimes it's crazy how attached people can get to each other in such little time. I guess it's kind of the feeling that you have when you go to a summer camp. You just bond with people really quickly and then it's over. I shared my favorite scripture with my English Course and then bore testimony of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was awesome. There was another student that thanked me for everything, and basically bore testimony as well. They all really like the fact that even though we're of different religions we all love Jesus Christ and each other.

We also did something before English Course that was really cool. We taught a half-hour message about how the Church of Jesus Christ was restored. We have 3 people that want Book of Mormons that we're going to give to them next week after we write something in the front. I feel like things in Bari went well. I've met some awesome people that I definitely will stay in contact with in the future. I also think that I would've enjoyed more time here, but I think what I've done here is good. I hope to come back and visit sometime.

I guess I better get out of here. I'm trying to get all packed and stuff.

Anziano Banks

Friday, October 15, 2010

La Conferenza Generale!!

So how about General Conference? haha. That was so awesome. I really loved President Uchtdorf's talk. That was hilarious, and helpful.  Another one of my favorite talks was the one by Elder Andersen. I think that it is a really important talk because it shows what we need to do to not become less active. This time I actually got to watch it in English, which was 100 times better. If they spoke in Italian, I would watch it in Italian, but since the speakers speak English, it makes sense to me that it is better in English.

We also went to a Special Zone Meeting in Taranto this week. I really enjoyed seeing Anziano Garcia and Anziano Rowland. On the way to the meeting I met a girl that lives in the Basilicata. Unfortunately, the church isn't there and she lives hours away from any missionaries.

Bari has been great since I've been here. One thing that I noticed is that crazy people seem to be drawn to me because I always meet lots of them. At first it seemed a little weird, but I actually really enjoyed it. The weird thing now is that they are all becoming a lot more calm and normal. For example, the How do do do do?! guy has been really sad lately because he lost his job, and so the last time I talked to him he wasn't even excited to see me. He didn't even say anything in English to me! I miss the more hyper somewhat crazy version of him.

English Course is going pretty great. We have a lot of people interested in the Gospel, and next time we're going to teach a bunch of students 1/2 an hour before English Course. After we do this a couple times we're hoping we can start meeting with more people individually.

Saverio, one student we started teaching, came to the baptism on Saturday and then we taught him last night. He asked us what would happen if he got baptized. We're hoping to set a baptismal date with him tomorrow. He's pretty awesome. His wife came with him to the baptism, and we're hoping to start teaching her as well.

The conference got me thinking a lot about consecrating your life. Hopefully you know which talk I'm referring to. Basically what it comes down to is we need to put enough faith in the Lord to obey the commandments. For example, Elder Ballard came here to Italy, and although I didn't see him I saw a recording of his talk. He told us to start doing something. He told us that each day we should talk to ten people in situations other than planned proselyting. In other words, talking to people going to and from appointments and such. We already did some of that, but since we've started going out of our way to do it, we've started seeing blessings.

I think that some people need to understand and know more of the commandments. I think that once you do know them, you just need to have the trust in the Lord that He will bless you for following them. It's hard sometimes because it means looking at everything in more of an eternal perspective. It's already hard enough to look at things in the long run sometimes, so moving to an eternal perspective can be especially difficult. if you missed some of the talks.

Have you all heard of the new facebook-type thing? I was thinking maybe you guys could look into it for me. It sounds interesting.

Anyway, have a great week! If you need anything let me know. I'm praying for you.


Anziano Banks

P.S. This week we went with some of the sisters to Matera, and as you can see it was sweet!

 DSCN2254 DSCN2253Matera1 Matera2  Matera3

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hey Hey

Things are great in Bari!


This last week we've started doing the mostra fairly often, and it's going great! On Wednesday night after P-day we did it and I got six phone numbers myself! We've found the perfect place to do it where it is calm, but there are a lot of people that pass through, and people like to talk to us there.

The best thing that happened this week is I heard news from Cosenza! Giuseppe Belsito is getting baptized on Saturday! How awesome is that? I made a deal with him that if he got baptized I would come visit them in four years. haha. So I guess I need to have that trip planned. His wife still needs to get baptized though! They told me that when I come back I'll probably be with my wife! I said no way! I'll only be 23!

I'm really stoked about that baptism. We're also having a baptism here on Saturday. There's an 83 year old getting baptized by an 80 year old! hahaha. They're actually from the other ward in Bari, but they're doing it at our church because we have hot water. On October 23rd Maria Pia is getting baptized! When I first showed up here she dropped us because she couldn't get over the Word of Wisdom (coffee in the morning), but then we started meeting with her again and she's doing great. She's 73 years old!

Anyway, lately things have just been awesome here. We have great members that want to help us, and we have some awesome investigators. I also saw a special edition lambourghini the other day, and so we have a really cool background on our cell phone (I got a photo).

English Course is started back up and things are going really well. I'm teaching advanced course, which basically means I get to chat with people in English for an hour! haha. I'm actually doing a combined course with Intermediate, so I teach them grammar as well. I have...roughly 15 students (they don't all come both days though). The really cool thing is that they are interested in the Gospel, or at least a couple of them. Last night I did a spiritual thought about prayer. First I used Matthew 7:7-8 and told them that if we need help we need to ask for it from God. Then I showed them how the Book of Mormon helps us understand the scripture more clearly. We read from 3 Nephi 18:20-21. It's really cool because it explains how we need to ask the Father with faith that we will receive, it has to be just, and we need to ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Then it gives an example of what to pray for. I like it a lot because it makes it really clear how the Book of Mormon and the Bible work together, and it's helpful. After class a girl asked me if she could have a copy of the Book of Mormon.

Lately I'm trying to get back into the Book of Mormon more because I went through a Bible phase. It's funny because I studied the Bible more so I can show people how it all works in harmony, but now we have a bunch of investigators that don't even have the Bible! haha. So they like to be taught only from the Book of Mormon, so I try to use the Book of Mormon more.

We've also been writing dedicas in Book of Mormons for specific people. It's just a little note in the front of the book that you write to someone. One of my favorite scriptures to mention is Mosiah 2:41 because the gospel is there to make us happy. My favorite scripture in the Bible is in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. I prefer it in Italian. It says: Siate sempre allegri

I'm really excited for this weekend because we're going to have lots of investigators at that baptism, and then we have general conference!! I'm also pretty sure that I'll get to watch it in English this time, which is way better because the translators aren't that great (you see Elder Holland pounding his fist on the stand, but the translator is still talking in monotone...)

Food Highlight! This last week I learned how to make a ridiculously delicious sauce. I don't want to give away the secret, but I'll just say that we made the most delicious pasta that I've ever had cooked by a missionary. It was awesome. Remember to have plant a basilico plant. You can just put it in a pot and have it as an indoor plant. I didn't think I would want to eat a bunch of pasta after my mission, but after making this one, I think I could eat pasta every day!

DSCN2186 Okay, last thing. I sent a photo that has me and a kind of weird looking dude. He is hilarious! He always comes out of nowhere and says: HOW DO DO  DO DO DO DOO? How do do do do do doo?


He tries to say: How do you do?But he doesn't really get it..I told him he should just say how are you. I have a few favorite people in Bari. He's one of them.


Anziano Banks!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This week was totally awesome. I don't really know where to start, so I'll just hit you up with my Sunday.

During sacrament meeting the Patriarch gave a talk about going through trials, and how we are able to get through them. Towards the end of his talk he said something about us being able to get through them, and all of a sudden an old lady raised up both her arms in the air and yelled: PERCHE' NOI SIAMO FORTI!!
haha. It pretty much means: BECAUSE WE'RE STRONG!!
Me and Anziano Tingey had to hold ourselves back from laughter, but everyone else didn't seem to react at all! haha. She kept rambling about something, and then she calmed down and he just kept giving the talk. It was sweet.

That night we decided to visit some less actives that a member said could use a visit. It turns out that this sister was 90 years old! Her husband (not a member) is 93!! It was pretty hilarious. I'm afraid it may be a little bit of you had to be there, and a little bit of I have to tell you about it in person. It's also a shame you don't speak Italian. Basically,
Siamo andati e all'inizio lui non voleva farci entrare. Abbiamo detto che soltanto volevamo condividere un piccolo pensiero spirituale, e quindi siamo entrati. Lui diceva molto: noi dobbiamo morire! Anche ci ha detto che lei deve morire prima, perchè lui possa trovare un'altra moglie piu' giovane. Abbiamo spiegato un po' del piano di salvezza, e lui ha detto, io non devo morire. lei deve morire, ecc. Sorella Milella invece rideva molto perchè lei non ha la testa. Oh! Lui anche ci ha detto che la moglie del Diavolo (che si chiama Caterina), viene di sera, e nasconde le cose. Per esempio, dove sono le chiavi? Sicuramente sono nascoste da Caterina! haha. Perchè lei fa così. It was totally hilarious the way Sorella Milella kept laughing, I'll try to explain it to you after the mission. Trust me though, it was way funny.

On Saturday we did mostra and that went pretty well. A guy came up to me and asked who all of us were (we do it with all the other missionaries in Bari), and so I explained that we're missionaries, and then he was really curious about our church so I explained the restoration. It went well. That's how mostra is supposed to be. (mostra is when we set up a big display downtown and talk to people as they look at it).

Yesterday we started English Course! That was pretty crazy. We got into a really tight situation because we had an Anziano with us from Bitonto, and he had to go to his English course there. We found a member to go on splits with him, but the way things worked out, we were late to our first day! When we showed up at the church (maybe...five minutes late) and there were about thirty people outside the church. We weren't too prepared...but it went great! Our English course totally loves us. I'm also really excited because I'm teaching the Intermediate/Advanced course, and they basically just want to do conversation. We didn't contact any of the old students, and some people may think that's a bad thing, but I think it's awesome. Almost everyone there is new. We have a number of people that said they're interested in hearing our message about the restoration, and we had three people that asked if they could take restoration pamphlets that we had sitting on a table. I'm really excited.

This week I've been thinking about a principle of faith. It's about demonstrating our faith. One thing that I've always found interesting is how the Lord blesses in ways that we don't expect. I think that even if we don't have faith in a particular proseltying technique (for example, knocking doors), we should still put everything into it, and we'll be blessed for our efforts in other ways. I've seen this work with tons of other things. You just need to put forth the effort. I'm not saying that you can't get blessed directly for what you do as well, but I've just found that things will work out one way or another.

Yesterday was Sorella Tinoco's birthday! We had a couple other missionaries over so we called in the morning (at 6.30 to sing her happy birhtday. Before we finished, we accidentally hung up! haha. It was pretty funny.)

One more thing! We went and visited Bishop's parents this week and his mom read from the Book of Mormon! We watched the restoration video with her and she was crying at the end. That's a pretty awesome video. Bishop bore his testimony of how he knows the Book of Mormon is true (most people think he converted because of his wife, and that really bugs him, haha, but it's because he finally had the desire to know, and he prayed). Moroni's promise is really interesting. We always tell people that if they read and pray they can know the Book of Mormon is true. That's true, but they should also understand that they won't receive an answer from God if they do it without the conditions that are laid out. They have to pray to God, with faith, and with real intent, in the name of Jesus Christ. If they aren't really interested in following Jesus Christ, or don't really have faith, they won't receive an answer.

I really like the testimony of Sorella Ziccarelli in Cosenza. She met with the missionaries for a couple months before she finally decided to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon is true. As soon as she really asked, she decided to get baptized! haha. Up until that point she was just meeting with them, but not praying about the message. Spiritual things can't be understood only intellectually.

Reasoning things out is important and good, but then to know the truth we have to ask the one that knows everything.I saw some of the mormon messages on another missionaries iPod today. Some of those are really powerful.

Double check this for me, but I think it's
I love those. While you're on, you might as well go haha.

Have a great week. I know that the church is true, and that a couple of the most important things we can do every day is read the scriptures, and pray.

Anziano Banks!
(Vi Voglio Tanto Bene)


Wednesday, October 6, 2010


DSCN2117 This last week we did transfers, and that was pretty awesome. I went down to Taranto and did splits with Anziano Garcia!! I always love doing splits, and especially because I got to go with one of my favorite missionaries.

We visited one of their potential investigators who owns an awesome hip hop store. It's called "lifestyle." Unfortunately I didn't get a picture, but the inside of the store feels like you're in an iPod. Everything in it is white, and clean. He also has a huge iMac. Above the counter where they have the cash register there is a little balcony with turntables. It's hard to describe, but it's basically the coolest store I have ever been to. They sell things like various types of spray paint, clothes, shoes, and some skateboards. We visited with him a few minutes and then went to McDonalds to catch lunch with a member.

At Taranto if you have a used bus ticket you can turn it in at McDonalds when you buy a meal and they give you a free Big Mac!! (or any other burger)

It was awesome. After splits I met my new companion Anziano Tingey. I think he's from Pleasant Grove. He went to Utah State. He just came from Catanzaro, which is one of my favorite cities in Calabria. A lot of people think it's a pretty silly city because it's spread between different hills and you have to take a little train to get anywhere. I think it's like Disneyland! It's a fun city.


Yesterday we went on quite the adventure. We had a referral that came from San Diego. A man that lives in Gioia del Colle wanted a Book of Mormon. We had already had someone google map his house, but they couldn't find decided to just go there and ask around.

It turns out that he lives on the very edge of Gioia del Colle. Fortunately, it's a really small city, so it wasn't too far.

We got to his house (after passing a mansion that looks like a castle...i really wish he would've lived there), and found out that he is in France! He'll be there until December! We taught his sister about the restoration, and we might go visit her again next week.

Anyway, so everything is going great here in Bari. I'm off to enjoy my P-day. We're going to go check out the castle that I believe is closed...oh well!


Anziano Banks!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Transfer week. Still in Bari (meno male!)

DSCN2017 Transfers came this week. Unfortunately, Anziano Gilbert is leaving. He's going to a little city near Naples. Transfers used to be somewhat predictable, but with the new mission president you never know. For example, he transferred both the missionaries in Bari-Poggio Franco out (actually, one finished his mission), and there are two new missionaries coming in!

Tomorrow morning I go to get my new companion. So far all I know is that his name is Anziano Tingey. I also have discovered that it's a very difficult name for Italians to pronounce, and I've seen some pretty funny reactions as I've told members the name of who's coming.hahaha. I've heard good things about him.

DSCN2037This week was totally awesome. We had stake conference! I got to see some friends from Foggia, some members that I met when I went on splits in Bitonto, and also tons of missionaries! Stake Conference was held in the Sheraton. 

Splits in Bitonto were amazing. I went with Anziano Gurney, and we had a blast. We had panzerotti for dinner, panzerotti for breakfast, and we were going to get some more before we left, but we were running late to the train station to come back to Bari. It was a nice opportunity to experience a small city again. I like it. We walked around in a park and talked to people on benches. I had practically forgotten what it's like to proselyte in a place like that. It kind of reminded me of Castrovillari...except that Bitonto has about 30 members! haha. (castrovillari had one or two)

DSCN2019 Splits with Anziano Gurney and the Papagallo Family.

I think my favorite thing about Bitonto is the panzerotti. If you don't know what they are, they are kind of like a calzone that is full of only mozzarella and tomato sauce, and then fried. You can get big ones for a euro each in Bitonto, or three little ones for one euro. They're totally incredible. Anziano Rowland started his mission in Bitonto and he got one every night before he went home (it's right below the apartment there). They also have an awesome apartment with two bathrooms, and two people can shower at the same time!! We actually have two bathrooms in Bari as well, but you can only shower in one. If you're wondering why all our apartments in the mission are so sweet, it's because most of them used to have four missionaries, and then they went down to two (for cities I've served in this is true for Cosenza, Foggia, and Bari).

DSCN2069 Today we played soccer and Anziano Garcia came up from Taranto. That was sweet. He's a pretty good soccer player, and his team beat ours 10-8. We were up until the last three goals. It was crazy hot outside, so we were all pretty worn out towards the end.


We're still doing a lot of finding work. We've gotten a few new investigators, and some are good, some aren't so good. haha. We have one guy that is pretty sweet that we taught the other day. We just have to find him a Book of Mormon in Persian or something. He also speaks Italian quite well, and a little English.

I was thinking about the parable of the Talents the other day, and how some people get more and less. Well anyway, I was thinking, I've sort of been given English and Chinese (from growing up). Now I'm getting Italian, so I think after my mission I need to learn another language to make it so I double what I started with. haha. I also need to review my Chinese, but I have been talking to a lot of Chinese lately.
In fact, the other day I had a guy that was really stuck on the word "jing." As in the book of mormon. Basically, he says that it's the bible of mormon. I tried to explain to him, but he was really stubborn. It's my understanding that the same word is used just to mean scripture. But then I was thinking, why didn't they just call it the "shu" of mormon? Anyway, this guy was being totally ridiculous.

Well, have a great week. I'm sure mine will be exciting with a new companion and everything. Thank you for all the stuff you gave me for my birthday!

Anziano Banks