Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

It's that time of year. Christmas is pretty awesome. I think it's the best holiday.  Then again, I said that about Thanksgiving too. haha. We had a Christmas party in our branch last night that went well. The best part about Christmas this year is that Gela isn't nearly as cold as Cosenza was last year!

Haha, okay, so that's not really the best part. The best part about Christmas is that we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I really enjoyed watching the Christmas Special that the first presidency did. Have they always done that, or is that something they've just been doing these last few years? Anyway, it was good.

I was hoping to tell you a lot of things, but I've gtg! We’re super busy today. Luckily, I’ll be calling next week! Tell everyone in America “hi” and “Merry Christmas”!

Buon Natale!

Anziano Banks

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


This week was totally awesome. Very spiritual. Very tiring. My companion doesn't speak a word of English, so I just speak Italian all day long. I know, it's horrible. hahaha. Nah, it's alright. I'm already past the point where it's uncomfortable.

We had the opportunity to hear from two seventies on Wednesday. That was awesome. Then on Thursday morning we met with Nicola. He had already had his interview, but wasn't sure about getting baptized on Saturday. We told him the same thing that Elder Caussè said which is that each of us needs to find our personal sacred grove. We need to find somewhere that we can pray aloud, kneeling, and express all our desires to the Lord. Personally, I did it Wednesday night, and then on Thursday I bore testimony to Nicola about the Spirit that I felt. I also read a little bit from Joseph Smith History. Some advice that Dad gave me has really helped. Whenever you want to have the Spirit, open Joseph Smith History and read a little bit of his experience. When we left Nicola's, we had decided that for now we wouldn't set a specific date, but that he would be baptized as soon as he feels ready.

That night we talked to him on the phone and he said that right after we left he was going to read the Book of Mormon, but it was like someone was telling him not to read it. He said no, and read anyways. He prayed and he was overcome by the Spirit. He wanted to be baptized two days later, on Saturday.


That created a real mess for us though. haha. There has been a lot ofNicolaBaptism3 work being done to the church (repainting, repairing, etc.) so the church had to be cleaned up. With the help of the members we cleaned the church, and then we set up the baptismal font. The baptismal font is ridiculous. haha. You know those swimming pools that are made up of white tubes? Well, it's kind of like that, but with rusty metal pipes instead! haha. It's crazy.

The day of the baptism we tried to do everything we could to prevent the water from being freezing cold. In the end we had four pots of water that we heated with the stove, and we made trips from our house to fill up jugs with warm water. We also underestimated the time to fill the font, and had to use water from our back-up water supply at home (that they have for when the water doesn't work in the summer).

NicolaBaptism2 After the baptism we used the same pots from earlier to drain the font! haha. It was the only way! We had a lot of difficultly taking it down because the pipes are rusty, so we had to leave it partially mounted until Monday when we used some tools to take it down.

Nicola was baptized on Saturday, and confirmed Sunday. Next week Nicola is going to get the Aaronic Priesthood. They're hoping to get him the Melchizedek Priesthood early next year because we really need it here in this Branch.
NicolaBaptism1 I love new converts. They're always happy and have the spirit. Do you remember in Bari, with Cecilia (the new convert who's 32)? Well, whenever I saw a guy around her age in Bari I would stop him and share the gospel with him because I told her that she needs to get married and that I would help her find a husband. WELL, I've finally found someone! haha. Nicola's 33. hahaha. Now I just need to figure out how to get these two to meet.

There basically haven't been any baptisms here for about five years. In January we will officially have two new active members (that started coming but live out of our area). Our Branch will now be up to 8 active members. We just got a new list of less active members to work with, so I expect that we'll start having even more.NicolaBaptism4

Well, I've gotta go! You're always in my prayers. If I could give you any advice it would be to follow the counsel to find your personal sacred grove. When I was in college I always had up the poster of the sacred grove. That's a sweet poster. I went to a member's house in Ragusa and they had it in color! It was pretty awesome.

Anziano Banks

p.s. Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


So things are good here in Gela. There's not too much news from this last week, but I realized that I haven't told you about some of the characters that are here. I'll try to start giving you them every once in a while.

One of my favorites is a guy that comes up to me and my companion and tells us how beautiful we are. A few days ago he told us that my companion was "bello" but I was "bellissimo!" He said that it was because he read Psalms 42. haha.

The next day we ran into him again. This time he told my companion, "Tu sei bellissimo!" Then I said, hey! What about about me? He says to me "Tu sei bellissimo!" Then he turned to my companion and said, "Ma oggi, to sei PIU' bellissimo!" hahaha. He's a funny dude.

There are also the two Chinese girls that we also we say hi to. They are probably around 4 years old. One time we passed them and I said "Ni hao." They both started repeating to us "NI HAO! NI HAO NI HAO!"
They said it over and over while we walked away. Now, every time we walk by one of us says ni hao to them and they start to yell NI HAO at us! haha.

Our district is doing great. Last transfer I sealed the anointing of a blessing for a man named Angelo. Right after the blessing I felt like he really needed to be baptized. I actually regretted on the way home that I didn't invite him to be baptized myself (he's one of the sister's investigators). Anyway, in a couple weeks he's getting baptized and I'll get to do the interview!

Speaking of baptisms, Nicola passed his interview and just needs to do the baptism now! Oh! Tomorrow we have a conference in Catania so I'll get to see some of my friends from my MTC district!

Anziano Banks

p.s. Buon Natale!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gela 2010

It looks like I'm going to finishing the year here in Gela. We got the transfer calls the other day, and the only thing that is changing is that I'm a district leader. That should be cool.

I feel like I'm going to end up in Rome at some point. But if not it may be better because we can always visit Rome after the mission. Instead it seems like I keep serving in the cities that aren't worth visiting! haha.

This place has so much mafia. The other day we saw a random Ferrari. haha. There's also a street with multiple cars that have been destroyed. There are also some people that we see all the time that we're pretty sure are with the mafia. Gela and Palermo are supposed to be the two cities where it's the biggest, but they always keep quiet about it all.

Things are going pretty well here. We've doubled the attendance in church!! haha. Which means that last week in church we had more than 8 people. haha. The work's going well. There is a less active brother that hadn't been to church in a long time, but he talked to one of his coworkers about the church. We went with him to teach her, and she said that she would come to church, but that he would have to come too! haha. They both came to church, and I'm pretty sure they'll both continue coming.

Nicola is doing great. He needs to have a stronger testimony, but if everything goes well he should be baptized in a couple weeks. One thing that I've been really enjoying is proselyting here. I pretty much enjoy it anywhere, but what makes me really like it is the specific people that I meet. For example, I met a couple of atheists that were all dressed in black, and we explained to them a little bit about God and invited them to pray. The guy didn't really accept it, but the girl listened and was really interested and said she would do it. It's really great to see people who are sincere because they'll really come to know the truth.

Speaking of which, I also met a couple people this week that were a little more difficult. For example, we met a guy who was 18 and he talked like a 70-yr-old that has lost the faith. He told us about how he's been praying for 18 years without getting a response and that he doesn't believe in God. We tried to help him and invite him to make changes, but he wouldn't accept anything. In the end he more or less asked if it's possible that God exists with all the evil things that happen. Yes! We tried to explain to him free agency and God's plan for us, but in the end he pretty much thinks that if someone does something wicked, they should be punished immediately. . .oh well.

One thing I was thinking about lately is the amount of time and effort that people put into something. For example, if I was to be good at tennis, I have to go and play for hours every day, and slowly I'll start understanding how to play the game and how to do the strokes and how to play well. If I want to become a mathematician, I have to study for hours and study and study and practice and practice and practice. If someone wants to understand the things of God, they can't just think about it a little on Sunday, or figure it out with just a few minutes of study. When I think about how complex and difficult some concepts are in math, and how much time it takes to understand them, it's obvious that the mysteries of God take some time to understand. On top of that, we can't understand spiritual things with just study, and so we have to pray and receive help through the Holy Ghost.

Which brings me to another thing I've been thinking about which is the concept of giving milk before meat. We need to teach the basic principles of the Gospel before teaching the more complex ones. In the end, even though it's interesting to learn the complex things, a lot of times it's not even that important. There are things that we don't even really need to worry about for now. I'm sure that the prophet and apostles know all kinds of doctrine that we don't know, but they generally teach the basic things because that's what we need to strengthen our faith and our testimonies.

There's a person here that is from another religion that has studied a book written about a book that Brigham Young wrote (or something like that). In the end, official church doctrine comes from the scriptures. Here we have some who doesn't even understand English that well who is studying a book about a book about doctrine that comes from the scriptures. He doesn't even really know what the Book of Mormon is! It didn't take long to realize that he was actually an anti-mormon, but it was silly because he was bringing up things that we don't even believe in! haha.

Anyway I hope that every thing went well for thanksgiving. We didn't do a whole lot here. We did a fast a thanks and that was about it.
I guess the Christmas season is starting. Merry Christmas!

The weather here is starting to get a little chilly. brr. It's not too bad though. I definitely prefer warm weather for doing missionary work, but now I'll have more motivation to get appointments because I want to be inside! haha.

Anziano Banks

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Palermo Stake Conference

This last week I attended the first stake conference of the new Palermo Stake (which includes all of Sicily). It was awesome. I got to meet one of the Chinese members in Palermo! I can't remember what part of China she's from, but anyway, she's married to the brother of a member I knew in Bari.

The entire trip was crazy. We rode over to Palermo with a bus that came from the Ragusa ward. We were the only ones from our branch that went to the conference. haha. At the conference I also got to see Anziano Rowland! I also had a pretty scary experience. I've picked up the habit from mom of always carrying around a little water bottle. I've also picked up the habit of using the restroom whenever I get the chance. So, right after the conference I decided to use the restroom before we had to leave. I went into a stall, and closed and locked the door. Then I tried to get out, but the door wouldn't unlock!! I was pressing down on the handle, moving the lock around, and instead of being a normal stall, it was more like a closet in the sense that I was in a closed room. I kept trying to get out, but after a little bit I decided it would be best to call for help. I started yelling, "AIUTO!! AIUTO!!"
I could faint voices of people talking. I even heard people saying that the third stall was occupied. "AIUTO!!" I screamed. I faintly heard my companion chatting with someone. "ANZIANO DESTEFANIS!!! AIUTAMI! NON POSSO APRIRE LA PORTA!"
Finally, my companion heard me, and tried to help me. After a few seconds he was able to get the door open using his lucky coin to open the door . It was crazy. My companion told me that he couldn't hear me because of the hand dryers. Anyway, it sure was a stressful experience.

Afterwards we got a ride from the Zone Leaders to Agrigento. Anziano Acerson was too tired to give us a ride home, so we stayed the night there! That was pretty fun. I love our Zone Leaders. Anziano Acerson and Anziano Reyes (he's originally from Peru, but he's from northern Italy). They had hardly any food at their house! We ate a couple little frozen pizzas and the last of their pasta for dinner, and then in the morning Anziano Acerson and I made pancakes.

So then it was Monday, and we took the train home. We talked to a lot of people on our way home from Agrigento. We taught a couple people about the restoration, and one of them worked for the train station. I asked him about his tie, and I think he's going to give me one! It's a sweet tie.

Then we had to go to Ragusa to give the Sorelle the baptismal clothes that Agrigento had borrowed (that's why we stayed over there), and we gave a blessing to one of their investigators. My first Italian companion, we've given two blessings together, and both times I've been the one who does the sealing. haha. It went well though, and I really like the man we gave the blessing too.

Speaking of blessings, things are going great with Nicola! We taught him the word of wisdom, and he was good with it except that he drinks two or three cups of coffee every day. He was having a hard time overcoming, and then his doctor told him the he had to quit drinking coffee!!! How awesome is that? Unfortunately, at this point we had already promised him that I would make him a cheesecake if he quits drinking coffee, and now he quit. haha. Today I gave him his cheesecake, and we also went to see some things around Gela with him for his birthday (he just turned 33).

Nicola is going to get baptized on the 11th (we decided it would be best to go a week later instead of earlier because we wouldn't have had enough time to teach him everything well).

So anyway, as far as everyone else goes, we just found a new family!! We were finishing up the end of our housing zone (where we had chosen) and we found a family of four! They're pretty awesome. We went by them again yesterday, but their son (young) was extremely sick and went to the hospital. We also found another family in that zone. I think it's part of the whole enduring to the end. haha. We didn't really have much success at all in that zone until we reached the end.

By the way, Thanksgiving tomorrow!! Happy Thanksgiving!! We were going to have a party in church, until we realized that we don't have any money, and no one can come! haha. So instead we decided we're going to do a special fast. haha. I think this will be the only Thanksgiving that I do something like that. haa.

I hope you're all doing well. I pray for you. I pray that you remember to read the scriptures and go to church! haha. This week I was thinking about something. In our last Zone Conference our President mentioned something about how we demonstrate our own faith and testimony by how much we want to share it. That made me feel pretty good about mine because I understand that in the end every person will be happier if the accept the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. What does that mean? That means that when I talk to someone that says that they're happy, I tell them that they can be even more happy! That's the truth.

Anziano Banks



Be thankful for all the great things you have, like internet at home instead of in a smoky internet cafe where everyone plays online poker and they play the same song over and over and over and over again.
But I'm grateful that I at least have that!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tis a Gift

So lately I've had the opportunity to drive a lot, which has given me some time to reflect, and to listen to the mormon tabernacle choir. On one of their CDs there is a song that is probably called "Tis a gift."
It's pretty good. I really like a line from it that says: "Tis a simple gift to be.”

I'm so grateful that we all chose to come here on this earth to learn and be happy. Do you remember my farewell talk? (I know, probably not, haha) Anyway, I mentioned the promise in it that more happiness imageawaited me on my mission than I had had before. I can honestly say that I have had tons of happiness. It's been awesome. Plus, I discovered a way to send you a picture! The webcam on this computer! haha.

One thing I've realized is that there are lots of missionaries that do a little too much enduring through their missions. I'm into enjoying it! People focus too much on the how happy they'll be in the future. I'm happy about that, but I'm also happy about now. Lots of missionaries sleep away half their missions too. haha. I figure, I have two years to learn as much as possible, and there's always something to do.

One really great thing is that we set a baptismal date with Nicola!!! He's such a stud. We met him on October 28th. I stopped him and started talking to him a little bit about prayer. In the end we got his phone number, and then the other day we set a baptismal date. It was sweet. I looked him straight in the eyes and asked him if he would be baptized by someone who holds the the authority to do it on December 4th. He said "Sì.” haha. It was sweet. Unfortunately we're going to have to change the date because the branch president can't be there for when we give the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday. We're still not sure if we'll do it a week before, or a week after. I think he can be ready for a week before.

I also have seen how much obedience brings blessings. My companion right now hasn't had any real success here in Gela his first two transfers here because he had two companions that were "dead" but now we're finding tons of people and things are going well.

image Here is a picture from our last zone conference. Someone forwarded it to me so I can actually send it to you guys! I’m in the middle in the very back. One cool thing is that our district is doing really well. It's only us and the sisters, but we're having the most success in the zone! haha. I have to admit though...the sisters baptize like crazy. We basically haven't had a baptism in Gela for five years. Nicola is solid though. We just need to find more people like that.

I'm starting to feel really good about this branch. Nicola will be a solid member, and we also have two more members that we got last week. One sister was reactivated, and one brother lives between us and Ragusa, so he got permission to switch to our Branch!! Then we have another sister that should be reactivated soon. This branch is going to double easily while I'm here. It was at five active members when I came, right now I would say it's at seven, but we'll reach ten for sure!

The only problem with all the success that everyone is having is that it means we have to do lots of driving. I already drive to Ragusa and back once a week, but this week three times! One extra to get baptismal clothes for Agrigento, and another to do a baptismal interview! It's crazy.
I think I'm becoming a better driver though...or maybe worse! haha. I'm getting good at driving in Italy. haha. Anziano Acerson is the driver in Agrigento and he's already had to do three repairs to the car! One was the mirror, another was he popped a tire on a curb, and then he also dented in some siding on a curb!!! haha. So far the only repair I've had was replacing the headlights and changing the oil. I really don't like Ford. It's just not a very good car in comparison to a Toyota.

Anyway, the highlight of this week was definitely Nicola. Right now we're looking to find someone else like him because we want to have more strong members.

Let me know if there's anything I can do for you from here.

Anziano Banks


P.S. I'm sorry that I'm not able to get more photos to you all, but if you get the chance to send me some that would be much appreciated. Even just things that are normal. One thing I've realized is that we should all take more photos of everyday life because 30 years from now it will be interesting. Mom studying, Dad doing yard work, Lia sleeping, you know all the normal things you all do. ha ha ha.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Super Short Email!

This week was awesome. We had Zone Conference in Catania, and I got to see Anziano Garvin, Marzolla, and Rowland. Did I tell you that Anziano Garvin got transferred to MALTA?? hahaha.

Anyway, it was awesome to see some of my best friends. We laughed so hard. Anziano Marzolla was literally crying. I'll admit, we were definitely the loudest missionaries when we were eating lunch at the conference.

The other good one this week is that I figured out why all the Italians drive tiny cars!! We got a ride from the husband of a less active member to his house to help him with something, and we went on roads where there were literally inches between the car and the walls on both sides! haha. One time he actually had to pull in his mirror to get buy a road because in the old city parts of Italian cities the roads are TINY.

I've also been doing well with my driving, and getting a lot better at dealing with tiny roads and crazy drivers.Apparently northern Italy is different, but here in Sicily there are no rules! My companion always complains that no one wears a helmet.

Okay, I'm sorry but I have to go because this internet point costs more than a euro every fifteen minutes!!


Our other place is closed.

Have a great week,


Anziano Banks!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


You remember that song from Kanye West called "Amazing"?? It's the one that pretty much just says the word amazing over and over again. About 17 times in a row. haha. Anyway, that's how I would describe this last week.

One of the amazing experiences I had was splits with Anziano Reyes. He's one of the Zone Leaders and he is an amazing missionary. He's Peruvian, but he's lived in Milan for the last 20 years. What makes him really great is his firm testimony, and that he puts it all into practice. What I learned from the splits is that I need to study and apply more. When he talks to people he says lots of things that are straight from the scriptures, and modern day prophets. He's very sincere and direct, and that's what makes him so effective. I've taken a new route with my language study because of him. My problem is that I don't study the doctrine enough in Italian, and so I can't always quote things in Italian because I don't know the exact translation. Lately I've begun reading all the general conference issues of the Liahona so I can quote apostles and prophets easily when I teach. I also loved how much he expressed his love for the people and willingness to help them. We were at a members house and he said, I love you, the Lord says to love your neighbor, and I do it. I've never enjoyed splits as much as that time because he is a really great example of a Christ-like missionary.

Another amazing thing that happened this week is we have a new investigator that used to be a frate. I believe in English it's a friar, or a Catholic monk or something. Anyway, he showed us photos, and it's those Catholics that have the whole brown tunic. He's amazing. Obviously, he knows the Bible really well. He was with them for 6 years. He came to church on Sunday, and then we had another appointment with him yesterday. We spent the entire time answering all his questions because he's really interested in the church. He went online and studied about the church a ton, but he didn't go looking for anti-sites, he actually found a lot of good information. He's exactly what this branch needs. We only have one worthy priesthood holder, and that's the Branch President. I really feel good about this guy. He's only 32.

I also met a less-active that came by English Course last night. He has a powerful testimony, but he is in Palermo on the weekend, and so he can't come to church here. I was wondering, what is the maximum age to go on a mission? He is 26, and I think he would be awesome. On Monday they had a special day for the dead. In other words, everyone went to the cemetery. We had to go to District Meeting in Ragusa, and got stuck in traffic for more than an hour. I'm getting used to driving here, but I'm going crazy because we don't have any music!! I have a couple CDs that I've already heard too many times, and my companion doesn't have anything! Fortunately, I was able to get another Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD from the Zone Leaders, and also one EFY CD that's pretty good.

The other night we went downtown (if you can call it that...the city is only 80,000 people), and we walked around talking to people about the Gospel. Well, me and my companion both like talking to everyone, and so we meet tons of people. This time when we went, we just kept running into people that we already knew that wanted to talk to us! A few of them were pretty was anti-mormon, and another was someone that asked us to pray for him and he introduced us to a couple of his friends. One of his friends started bagging on the Catholic church, and we told him that we shouldn't judge and that we don't want to talk about it, then he started going off on the Jehovah's Witnesses, and we told him that we had to leave. I'm pretty sure if we had stayed a few minutes he would've gotten to us! haha.

It's crazy how many different religions there are in the world. Some people get really into theirs, and some people don't care. One that has stood out to me lately are the people who believe in God, but don't believe in religion because they see all the corruption. I think that what's important is that they realize that when Jesus Christ was on the earth he created a church, he called twelve apostles, there were other leaders of the church called as well (like Bishops). For many it is obvious that there was an apostasy and that things from the Bible and the original church of Jesus Christ were changed, but they think that the time of apostasy is right now! Instead, we are here to let them know that the apostasy is over and if they pray than they will know that the true church is here on the earth. Just because you don't know about something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. People give up the search too soon. The good news is that not everyone does, and we've been blessed to meet a lot of people that want to learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pray to know that His church is here again.

One thing that they advise us to do is to keep a study journal. I...haven't been the best about it, but now I've finally started one! It's awesome. When we study the scriptures, we receive revelation...when we don't write it down, then we forget it! I also generally have a pen and paper near my bed for thoughts that come to me while I'm lying down, or inspiration that comes to me during my nightly prayer. I also recommend writing notes in the margin of the scriptures. That's what I do, and it's really helpful. Maybe it can help you too.

No photos this week. I've been taking them, but I don't really have a way to get them to you because the USB on these computers doesn't really work. Last week I was able to because I unplugged the mouse, plugged in my camera instead, used the keyboard to copy the images onto the computer and then e-mail them to you, but in the end I think I may have messed up the mouse. haha. . . . so unfortunately I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to do as far as sending you photos while I'm here in Gela. I'll always try and see what I can do. SORRY! Well, there's someone who keeps yelling in the internet cafè so I’m going to go. Yeah...we don't have the best place to use internet.

Have a great week!
Anziano Banks

P.S. What you were saying about me not being weird after my mission, hahaha, oh man. I actually had a conversation about this with my companion the other day. He's very focused on the world (girls, soccer, etc), and he says that he doesn't want to go home from his mission and be weird and totally into the gospel. He said he doesn't want to follow the missionary handbook when he goes home. Obviously. The missionary handbook only applies when you're a MISSIONARY. What I've come to realize lately is that people go to extremes in the gospel, while not actually following it. The reason why return missionaries are like that when they go home is that they don't understand the difference between mission life and life in the world, and how to help others whole all have their own free agency. I think that we should all try and shape our lives after Jesus Christ, and we can look to the Apostles and Prophets as examples of people who do a good job at it. For example, the apostles have non-member friends that they aren't friends with just to share the gospel with (some RMs end up like that), the Apostles have a great education. Elder Eyring has an iPhone. I say we should follow them. I may not get an iPhone after the mission, but I'll for sure get an iPod touch. hahaha.

Also, I heard a story that may or may not be true, but I liked it. Anziano Shaw's Bishop was at a Beach Boys Concert and saw President Monson. He was surprised to see him there, and started to talking to him. He explained that he was surprised to see him there, and President Monson said that we are to be "in the world, but not of the world" haha. I'm not sure if it's true, but I think it demonstrates a good point.

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


Monday, September 13, 2010

No Photos!

Sorry! This week I haven't had the chance to take any photos.

Anyway, it was a pretty enjoyable week that passed by very quickly. We've mostly been doing a lot of proselyting, and trying to keep track of all the new contacts that we have.

Yesterday I had a pretty cool experience. Our Zone Leaders challenged us to pray about a goal to have three new contacts every day, so me and my companion decided to do it. Yesterday I was dead tired and it was pretty crazy trying to do proselyting. Recently we taught one of our new investigators about diligence, and so I remembered what we taught her. haha. That's when I decided that even though I was crazy tired (about as tired as when Clark and I stayed up for 26 hours so we could avoid jetlag going into China), I would still do all I can to talk to people on the street.

The first new contact I got was really crazy. I stopped a guy and told him we were missionaries and we were in the area explaining how God has called a prophet in these days. He told me he had to go to work, and then I asked him if I could have his number so we could talk about it some other time, and then he actually gave it to me! hahaha.

The next one was pretty normal. I just stopped a couple guys, explained the restoration, and then we exchanged contact information so they can learn more.

Then the third one was a Chinese couple that I taught about the restoration. I've been going out of my way to teach Chinese lately because I asked the church to send me 10 restoration pamphlets, and instead they sent me 25! So I figure I should start giving them out. They also accidentally gave us a Japanese Joseph Smith pamphlet, so I've been looking for someone Japanese as well.

I felt like the church decided to give me a birthday present this week. When we went to district meeting on Monday there were new pass-a-long cards!!! I love pass-a-long cards.

The work is growing now. I think I told you already that we got Stanley back. Well, we ended up losing contact with him, but then this week he called us and told us he was in Venice!! He was visiting his brother up there (a member), and then on Sunday they went to church together! We're going to meet with him tonight. Maria Pia (another old investigator), came back to church and wanted to meet with us. We have an appointment with her tomorrow. Andy Connell (my first companion) is still in town, and the other day he gave us a couple referrals. haha. That guy's a stud.

I tried cooking a pasta with SPAM today! haha. I had leftovers from when I made fried rice. It turns out that spam isn't the best meat to use in pasta, but it still turned out pretty good. I used about 150 grams of SPAM, a little onion, a can of peeled tomatoes, basil, and panna (i think it's cream). And I threw in some pepper. Pretty good.

As a mission we're reading the Book of Mormon. I had already been reading it through. . .I was in Ether. . It's going pretty well though. If you aren't reading the Book of Mormon through right now, maybe you could do it too. We're focusing on our missionary purpose, but you could read it through and just focus on Jesus Christ because it's pretty amazing to see how much He is mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

Well, I hope that you all have a good week. I'm doing splits this week with Bitonto. We should get transfer calls before next Wednesday. I'll be staying here for sure. My companion has already been here four he's probably gone. Too bad. Things are going really well.

Anziano Banks

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Beautiful Week

Buon giorno!

3 guys This week was pretty incredible, hahaha. For one, yesterday we had Zone Conference (which was sweet) and I received some crazy packages!! hahaha. Grazie Mille! Now, I've got a pretty good story for you.

While I was in Foggia we had an investigator named "Michela" or "Michele" we actually weren't really sure. Anyway, I wanted to call her to set up an appointment, but I wasn't sure which one she was in the phone, and my companion was being too lazy to look it up in his planner (I didn't have her number in mine). We also had three or four Michela/Micheles, but I decided to just go ahead and try calling them. I called all of them. I set up an appointment with one, and I was told to call the other after about a month to set up an appointment with him.

Then I was transferred.

Now, one of the Michela's that I called (the one that I set an appointment with) is now meeting multiple times a week to be taught by the missionaries with help from the members and is going to be baptized in a couple weeks!!! How amazing is that?! I had just randomly called her.

This week we had an appointment with the Diciolla family. They're awesome. They're also pretty funny too, because they LOVE America. They're actually hoping to move there. Talking with them makes me realize how much we're really blessed. They went on a trip to northern Utah and they were totally amazed. They said there were churches and temples everywhere, people just leave their doors unlocked at night, they have yards, and they have more than one bathroom!! They're planning on moving there. I have to admit, I'm not really too into the whole living in an apartment and sharing a bathroom between four people (like we had in Foggia).

Zone Conference was totally sweet. We hosted it. We had all the missionaries from Puglia (Apulia) and half the ones from Calabria. I got to see Anziano Rowland, Garvin, and Garcia!! Then Anziano Garcia stayed over last night and stayed here for P-day. I seriously love my MTC district. I

Today we went to Santa Clause's church (Saint Nicholas). It was pretty cool. What was more cool is that we had some Burger King afterwards. I know, I know, I'm in Italy, but after three transfers with Anziano Halverson I can hardly handle any more pizza (he has a reputation for eating pizza on an average of four to five times a week).

I love how everything is going. We've been meeting some incredibly interesting people and the work should be taking a huge boost as we hit September. We've been having quite a few flaky investigators, but we also have lots of very promising potentials. The really cool thing about sacrifice and exercising your faith is that you know you will be blessed for your righteous desires. The more energy and enthusiasm I can put into the work, even when we're not having a lot of success, the more I know the Lord will bless us. Just look at Foggia for example. I worked hard in Cosenza, and as soon as I left, they had a baptism, and Foggia had a couple right away when I showed up. Cosenza is now up to four missionaries and I hear the work there is going awesome. Foggia has that baptism coming up with Michela, and I'm looking forward to finding all kinds of sweet investigators here in Bari.

I think as I've been working hard and spending time with other missionaries, I've been growing my testimony and my Unity. I'm really happy that we've been able to pass off so many referrals to other missionaries to help lighten their load, and it's just really sweet. The mission is sweet. I love the Book of Mormon because if someone is actually willing to follow Moroni's promise, God will answer.
I've been thinking about that lately. Some people have hesitations about things like baptism, or changing because they don't think they're ready. That's just a lack of faith. If you call upon the powers of heaven and ask God, you can be ready for anything. I think it doesn't take more than one prayer to gain a testimony. The same goes for reinforcing one. We had a member in Cosenza that told us that it took her two months before she accepted to be baptized because it took two months before she specifically asked God to reveal to her the true. What is there to fear? Will God not respond? The fact is that sincere prayer brings results. Sincere prayer is powerful. God is powerful.

I know that the church is true. Thank you for your support and all the supplies that you sent to keep me going! haha. If I had to pick a favorite thing it probably wouldn't be possible because there were too many things in there that I love. I guess though that I really appreciate the letters and words of encouragement you send, and also the seaweed. hahaha. I love seaweed. There's something about it that I crave.

Have a great week. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Anziano Banks

Sunday, September 5, 2010



This week went really well. We've continued to do a lot of finding work, and have had tons of success in finding investigators that are totally awesome!!! The only problem is that we've been finding them for other missionaries!!! haha. Check this out:

We were on our way to an appointment when we ran into an African man that stopped us and told us that he's a member! He said that he was visiting from up north. We told him that we didn't have much time, but I still asked him if he knew anyone in Bari that would be interested in learning about the church. He told me that his brother would. We met his brother, got his number, and went to our appointment. The next day I called his brother (Stanley) and we met with him. We taught him all about the restoration, he agreed to read and pray, and he said that usually he doesn't go to the churches here, but he feels good about our church because his brother is a part of it. He also accepted the invitation to meet with us three times a week so we could help him understand our message, and said he would be willing to be baptized if he feels it's true!!! Then I found out where he lives, that it's out of our area, and we passed him off to the missionaries in Bitonto. He waited an hour for the buses to go there for church, but they weren't running on Sunday because of Ferragosto. He's now meeting with the missionaries there. I was a little sad at first when we lost such an amazing investigator, but I got over it.

Yesterday we had an appointment with that guy who stopped us from Venezuela. He actually called us to meet with us! (His name is Massimo) Of course, it turns out he lives in the other missionaries zone, plus his wife doesn't speak much Italian, so we passed him off to the missionaries of his area. He has another appointment with them in two days, and he's going to go to church with them on Sunday.
We have been going through our potential investigators and we had a lady that wanted to meet with us. She was a single lady that we passed off to the sisters.

We had an appointment with another man that when we found out his address, it is in the other missionaries area, so we're going to pass him off to the other missionaries.

Basically, lately we have been doing great missionary work that I feel really good about, but it's all going to the other missionaries!!! hahaha. Don't worry though, we've also been finding some totally awesome potential investigators, and a couple of new investigators. The only problem is that one of them has an EXTREMELY bad smoking problem, and the other one doesn't really believe in God. In fact, when we first started teaching her she just told us that she didn't believe in anything, but by the end she was willing to pray!! It's amazing to see how people's hearts soften.

We also met a man the other day that played at the church TWENTY FIVE years ago! He didn't really remember much about the church, but we explained to him the restoration, and he told us that he wants to learn more. It's really pretty cool how the Lord prepares people and puts them in your path. He also blesses you for your efforts. We have been studying the chapter of Preach My Gospel about finding people a lot this last week, and we've pretty much figured out that when we follow everything that it says, it really works! I'm not sure if it works because we're changing some things, or if it just works because the Lord blesses us for our efforts. I have also gotten really into the Bible lately. It's pretty awesome. It's getting pretty colorful, haha. It's good though because Italians are way worse than me when it comes to marking the scriptures. They always just mark about everything. It's like when I was little, and me and Lia started reading the Book of Mormon together for the first time. I had a scripture marking pencil, and I would just color in everything! I think Lia told me that it was pretty ridiculous, but it seems like everyone here likes to mark their scriptures like that!!

Anyway, things are going great here in Bari. I love this city. It's definitely my favorite city that I've served in. What's not to love!?!

Remember how we have those new converts that I've been trying to find husbands for? well, every week I've started giving Cecilia a different article from random Liahonas about marriage. It's way funny. I always right a little note too. Usually it says something like this °Go to the Single Adults activity! ++The missionaries
or... get married!

I'd type more, but this keyboard is driving me crazy! I think that someone from a random country used it because I'm able to type symbols like this ç L é*ç:_Lç°L

Have a great week.
Se trovate un po' di tempo, imparate Italiano.
Va bene?
ciao ciao
-Anziano Banks!

Monday, August 30, 2010


So this week was pretty sweet. Well, in the sense that I enjoyed it and we met a lot of great people. As far as missionary's a little bit dead. haha. They have something here called ferragosto. Basically everyone goes on vacation for a couple weeks. haha. We've gotten a lot of great contacts, but everyone says that they are busy until September!! So I'm pretty sure that the work is going to go crazy in September!! It'll be like a birthday present. For now, we're just going to keep doing a lot of proselyting, and finding people. They'll probably all tell us that they're going to leave until September, but that's alright.

It's really interesting how true the things are that are written in Preach My Gospel. Lately we've been studying a lot about finding people, and we've been following everything that we learn. One thing that is says is that sometimes when you talk to people, they won't recognize at first that you are messengers of the Lord. So anyway, the other day I stopped a lady and I told her that we're in the area explaining to people how families can be eternal and we can live with our families after this life. She then told me that for her families aren't forever. hahaha. Anyway, I can't remember everything that we said, but by the end of it all we had talked for about 1/2 an hour about the church, and given her a Book of Mormon! It was pretty awesome.

I also decided that Venezuela is the place to serve a mission. We were doing houses the other day, and a lady from Venezuela was biking and stopped us. She said that her husband wants to learn from us. Then her husband came over with his two kids and told us that he wants us to teach him more about Jesus Christ!! haha, it was totally crazy. Unfortunately they don't speak Italian really well, so we put them in contact with a missionary in our city that speaks Spanish. Since then me and my companion have been joking with each other about what it would be like proselyting in Venezuela -- people stopping you on the street as soon as you walk outside your apartment, setting baptismal dates on the place ride over, churches with two baptismal fonts so they can do more baptisms at once, etc.

Anyway, so things are going really well. Our new members are all doing fantastic, the ward is doing well, and once September comes our investigators should be around. This city is great. Every week we get fed by members at least twice. Once on Saturday by Sorella Panza, and then on Sunday by other members. Sorella Panza is a pretty interesting lady. She loves the missionaries. No one really knows how long she's been feeding the missionaries for, but I know it's at least for a few years. She has four pet cats! They usually end up on the table a few times every time we eat there, haha. It's pretty crazy. Last time we went she showed me all the photos of her family from the last 100 years. It was pretty nuts. I had heard various weird things, but I actually enjoy going over to eat there. She's a pretty good cook.

Have a great week. I hope everything's going great for you.

Anziano Banks

P.S. Today we went to Alberobello. It was pretty sweet. They have some pretty funky houses there.
We went with me, my companion Anziano Gilbert, Anziano Fernandez-Ruiz and his companion(from Italy), Sorella Jenkins, Hirsh and Tonoko (Peruvian but lives in Genova, Italy).

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Friday, August 27, 2010

I love BARI!


This place it TOTALLY AWESOME! It's my first city that actually has the sea.

We also have a pretty good sized ward - and four new converts!! They're amazing.

First is Fabrizia. She's 39. She used to study a lot of languages including...CHINESE!! She took four years of Chinese (15 years ago). She doesn't remember that much, but I say a few phrases to her every time I see her. She also speaks English really well. She drives a FIAT punto that's way sweet.Next there's...Cecilia! She's 32. I think she's a babysitter. She's way funny and she loves to study the scriptures! We've already taught her a couple of lessons and she always asks us to leave her something to read from D&C, and from the Bible. She's way amazing.Then there's...Loredana! I still haven't met with her for a lesson, but she was just barely baptized a couple months ago, but she's really busy. She also speaks some English.Oh, and then there's Rita. We meet her at lungo mare (the walkway along the sea) to teach her. It's pretty sweet. She's not that good at remembering church doctrine, but we're working with her.

As far as investigators we pretty much just have one...but she has a baptismal date! Besides that we're going to have to find some more people. We'd have more good investigators, but all the good ones got baptized! hahaha.

The story on how Fabrizia, Cecilia, and Loredana joined the church is really cool. They're all friends with each other, and first Fabrizia got baptized. Then Cecilia noticed that she was way happier, and asked her what made her become so happy. The she joined the church too! Then Loredana did too.

The only problem is that now they all need to find husbands in the church!! They have a single adults activity in Rome in a couple months that I hope they will all go to. Cecilia doesn't want to go, Fabrizia might not be able to because of her dog, and Loredana can't because of work!By the way, all three have pet dogs. Actually, Rita has a dog too. Rita's like...45 years old. She's also not married!!So, I've taken it upon myself to help them find husbands by stopping every male I see that could be in the right age range.

I'm really just loving Bari. The people here are great, I get a lot of time to do proselyting, and we have a sea here. It's great to walk around the streets stopping random people. I really just like anything that we do that gives me the chance to meet lots of people, and so I really like it. I also like giving out pass-a-long cards. You should try it sometime.

I've been able to use my Chinese here just about every day. There are tons of Chinese in Bari and I run into them on the street all the time.I also have been running into lots of crazy people. I think crazy people are attracted to me, because I seem to meet quite a few in every city. I like that though too, because it keeps things really interesting.

The apartment here is incredible!! We have a dishwasher! We also have quite a bit of space, and we have a BENCH and we have some decent weights. It's also very naturally well-lighted.

I think that if I had to move to any of the cities that I've served in, I would move to Bari because it's the best. I love the people, I love the city, and everything here is just really awesome. We even have Saint Nicholas here (santa claus), I'm going to go visit his church sometime. haha.


Anziano Banks.

p.s. Life is way good.