Monday, February 28, 2011

Buon Giorno!

This last week was pretty exciting. Due to various reasons we only had THREE members in church....and SEVEN investigators!!! hahaha. It was pretty awesome. I taught the gospel principles lesson about Fasting. My companion gave a talk in sacrament meeting. Speaking of which, I think I forgot to tell you, but I've started giving talks more regularly.

You would all be amazed how much I talk about you when I meet and teach people. I've realized that people really like when you get personal, and so I try to always be as real, sincere, and personal as possible. For example, the other day I was teaching a lesson and I used a quote from President Spencer W Kimball, and when I was explaining who he was I mentioned that he is actually the prophet from when my dad served a mission.

The other cool thing we did this week was we sent on splits with the missionaries from Agrigento. That was pretty fun. I went with Anziano Mikesell (he was companions with Anziano Rowland in Crotone). He also served with Grant Barlow (from Pine View High School). We had a good time. We had an awesome lesson with Christian and Antonella. They're both incredible. On Sunday during Gospel Principles class, we had an investigator that we hadn't really explained the Book of Mormon to yet (okay, so we had really only talked to him once and so we hadn't talked about that yet), and anyway, Antonella started responding to his questions and SHE bore testimony about the Book of Mormon! It was totally sweet.
Elisa wants to get baptized so bad, but she needs to get married first, and so we're waiting for Ishan's family to send some papers up from Egypt. Hopefully there won't be any problems with that because I've heard some crazy things about Egypt lately.

I guess that's about all the news for this week. On Saturday is when we'll receive transfer calls. I think it's about 50-50 for whether I'll stay here or go. I'm down either way. We're having tons of success here in Gela, but I think that for the rest of my mission things are going to keep going really well.

A principle I’ve been working on teaching lately is that the Gospel Blesses Families. It's also true that the family is the best place to put the gospel of Jesus Christ into practice. In our family I've seen that when we did family prayers together, we were more unified. Besides just the act of praying together, we also had a chance to talk about different things while we waited for everyone to get there. haha (even if there are only four of us). Anziano Destefanis loved to do an example like this, if you take one page of the book of mormon, how long would it take to tear in half? But if you take the whole book, how long would it take? When we're all unified in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we become a lot stronger. It's like the old commercial with the chopsticks! If you have one chopstick, it breaks right in two. If you have a fat wad of chopsticks, you can't break them!! Unity is Strength!!

Anyway, I'm really greatful that we're all members of the church and that we can help each other. We really are crazy blessed. Just look at how sweet our lives are!
I hope that I can continue to help other people have more faith and unity in their families because I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real way to have lasting happiness, and that thanks we know that families can be sealed together forever to live in a state of happiness in the presence of God for all eternity.

It's totally incredible.
Thank you for being such a great family. Have a fantastic week!

Anziano Banks

Monday, February 21, 2011

What a week!




CHINESE NEW YEARS!!! It was totally awesome. Why? I ate tons of chinese food, I talked to tons of chinese people, and a bunch of our Chinese friends gave me red pouches full of money!!


Just kidding!! None of that happened! I wish! hahaha. But what did happen is that we set a baptismal date with Christian!! (He's our 26-yr-old investigator from Gela). He'll get baptized on March 10th. I may or may not still be here. We'll see.
Besides that, his mom came to church on Sunday and she loved it!! This week we had tons of people in church. A member that was living up north moved back down, and she just loves doing missionary work. She said that up where she was at (Como) they had baptisms every week!! They also have 6 missionaries, but I guess we'll just have to learn to be more efficient. haha.

Cool story: Elisa is this lady that Anziano Destefanis and I found on the street about a week before Anziano Perez came. She's 32 and Croatian, but she was born in Italy. She has SEVEN kids!! We've been meeting with her and her family, and almost all of them came to church on Sunday! They actually all came to the activity that we had in church yesterday. It was sweet. She is a very very spiritually in-tune woman. Besides all the other times she has felt the Spirit with us, she also just had a dream about us! She's really cool, and I think that she'll probably get baptized pretty soon. She just needs to get married to Ishan first (he's from Egypt, he's cool).

Things are just going great here in Gela. On Friday we're going on splits with Anziano Acerson and Alvarado. I'm pretty stoked.




Last week we were able to have P-day in Catania. It was a total blast! Thanks to Anziano Rowland (MTC District Leader, from Florida), I've got these photos for you!!





DSCN3230haha, SNOW!!! Seriously, the snow was a blast! haha.




The mountain that you can see is Mt.Etna.We didn't actually go all the way up to it because it started snowing and there was snow on the road and stuff, and Anziano McDaniel was driving us n the big van, and we decided it would be best to turn back (good thinking!).


The Peruvian is Anziano McDaniel's greenie. The other white kid is Anziano Rowland's kid. (greenie)





This one with Anziano McDaniel and I holding Anziano Rowland is in front of the old Catania mission home. We actually saw the new owner. He drives a Jaguar.




Let's see, what else can I tell you? One thing I was thinking I should start doing is explaining the principles from the missionary lessons to you. Before for the mission I didn't even really know them (except reading through them once), but now I talk about them all the time! The first is that God is our loving Heavenly Father. We are all children of God, and He loves each of us. He loves you just like he loves me. He is happy when we choose to obey the commandments, and he is sad when we make wrong choices. He is always available to talk to us; we can communicate with Him through prayer. My personal testimony of this is that every time that I have prayed to God with sincerity, he's responded to my prayers. It's not just because I'm lucky, or because He loves me more or something, but he responds to all His children. Ask and you shall receive. It's so simple. I think the main problem is that people don't ask, or they don't ask with sincerity. Sometimes I hesitate to ask until I really do ask with sincerity. For example, if I want something to happen, am I really willing to give it my all so that it will happen? Because that's the key. One thing that I've done on my mission is I ask God how I can improve, and I promise that if you ask, He'll let you know if you're really willing to change. But then you can't really ask again until you improve the thing that you know you need to. Seriously, I know that this is true. Try it!

The other big news this week is that Sorella Gjata came to church! She's this 60-something-yr-old Albanian less-active member that is hilarious. We ate stuffed peppers from her this week and they were crazy delicious. She's so funny. The reason she usually stays up really late on Saturday nights is to crochet a quilt!! haha. She's so funny. I think mom would really like her. She's a little bit crazy, but that's why we love her so much! It's hard to describe her, but basically she gets really excited to see people and it's sweet. I guess that's a little like me too. I love to see friends, and I especially love to see big groups of friends. I guess that's why I love Zone Conferences so much.

One thing that I've started doing is asking people what is most important in their lives. I think we pretty much all have the same things actually. Family, God, Friends, (not necessarily in that order). In general, everyone likes to be happy. So I usually tell people, you know what, you can have more happiness in your life. The only thing is sometimes they choose not to, but whatever. Pazienza.

I hope that you have a great week. I'm pretty much positive I will. Actually, I'm totally positive. Why? Because I'm choosing to! At Zone Conference we talk about things that help with missionary work, but also things that help with life. ACT or REACT. I'm definitely the type that chooses to act. I guess we should all try to be. I also know that I'm going to have a great week because I bought great food this morning. haha. This week I'm going to make some great pastas. I also bought a lot of healthy food that I actually like. Guess what else! We have syrup that an investigator gave us that they got from America! It's SO good. I've been making waffles.

Anyway, goodbye! haha.
Anziano Banks


p.s. Thanks for the e-mails/letters. Especially when they have pictures. I love that. I think that's why people like facebook so much, because it has so many photos.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Zone Conference!

Things are going really great here. We just had Zone Conference yesterday and I feel like all my questions and concerns were taken care of. The night before when I was praying, I wanted to know some things, and I decided to pray that I would have my answers the next day at Zone Conference. Which I did. It was awesome.

Then today has been a total blast. We stayed here in Catania for P-day, and the Trapani and Palermo missionaries are here (read: Anziano Rowland). We wanted to climb Etna, but when we went up to the volcano, there was too much snow and we decided to turn back. We had 6 Anziani and 2 Sorelle (we took the van). We still had a total blast. Anziano Rowland is from Florida, and so he goes crazy whenever there's snow. He had his first snowball fight!! hahaha. It was so much fun.

Gela's doing well. We just keep finding tons of people who are interested in hearing about the Gospel! It's pretty cool. I think it's nice serving with someone else who has been in the mission awhile. Oh, by the way, here’s a picture of my new companion!Immagine 002I trimmed my hair the day before yesterday to get ready for the new year. I hope that we all have lots of good fortune, and that next year I'll be able to celebrate Chinese New Year the right way. This year it looks like we are just going to have lots of appointments, so that should be pretty cool.

Anyway, this internet point is crazy expensive (I'm in Catania). So I guess that's about all the news I've got for you.

Have a great week!


Anziano Banks