Saturday, April 30, 2011

Buona Pasqua!







I had an awesome Easter. Well, even better than my Easter was my “little easter”. It’s a special holiday that they have here in Italy. It’s on the Monday after Easter and basically everyone just goes to the mountains or the beach and has a barbeque. In Italian it’s called “Pasquetta”.

I had decided to go on exchanges that day, so we had to go to Crotone so I could serve with Anziano Cox there for a day. Well, Pasquetta is definitely the wrong day to travel, because everything is closed! Haha. There were hardly any buses or trains, and we ended up taking a train to Sibari and we had a 3-hours to chill there.

We decided to walk around and see Sibari….it’s pretty small. We didn’t find anything that was open (literally nothing was open), and the only people we saw was a family that was outside eating next to their house (in a little garden-type area). I figured…we can go back to the station and be bored there for the next few hours, or we can try and talk to this family. So I said to them “Excuse me! Is there anything open around here?!”

Response “What are you looking for?”

“Something to eat!”

“Come here and eat some of this fruit we’re eating!”

“No, that’s alright, thanks”

“C’mon! I’ll give you some”

“Alright, awesome.”


So we started eating some fruit, then they gave us some frittata (egg and asparagus thing) and some dry, cut-up spicy sausage. Then Hans (the father) pulls out a huge bowl full of meat, and asks if we eat meat.




He ended up grilling a bunch of meat for us, and we couldn’t finish what he gave us because it was so much (although we were totally starving because we showed up at like two-something), and then he kept grilling more and more and came out with a big tray of meat. We were pretty scared, but it turned out it wasn’t just for us, it was for everyone.

Haha. It was awesome.

Then we of course talked to them about the church, we taught them about the restoration, gave them a Book of Mormon and we each wrote thank you notes and testimonies in the cover page. Hans is the guy in the blue standing next to me.


I don’t remember what I did for Pasquetta last year, but whatever it was, this year was better. It was sweet because Hans (he was born in Switzerland, but he’s Italian) had just bought a new grill, and so he was really stoked on it.



Then we went to Crotone and met up with the other Elders to go on splits. It was raining quite a bit, but we still talked to people on the street. We actually had quite a bit of success too. We were looking for a 26-yr-old girl because we thought that would be good so that the new convert there can have a girlfriend. Hahaha. Anyway, we ended up finding a 36-yr-old girl instead, and she was really awesome. It’s funny because a lot of people just don’t really understand the restoration, especially when we teach it on the street, but she got everything right away. So we got her phone number and the missionaries there will start meeting with her.


On the way back from Crotone we actually took the bus, and my companion met a 26-yr-old girl from Crotone there! Haha. Who knows.

Now I have to tell you about something that happened a little bit earlier this last week. Last Friday. That’s when I met Pietro Paolo Audia. He’s a total stud. He had ordered a Book of Mormon and the Finding Faith in Christ DVD from the church website, and so we called him so we could go out and talk to him. Well, he lives about an hour from Cosenza, he’s only 18, and he wants to know more about the church. By the end he understood the restoration pretty well, and he was already asking us what needs to be done to open a branch where he lives!! Hahaha. We told him that we think you have to have two families, and then he goes “We’re two families!”

When we met with him he was there with a friend, his dad, another friend, and I think his little brother or something. It was pretty cool.




We also met this guy who is pretty sure that President Kelly taught him.




Anziano Banks

Saturday, April 23, 2011

No time!

My life is so busy, and wonderful.

This week we had a seventy here. His name was Elder Olsson. He is from Switzerland. I really enjoyed his talks. During all the meetings I translated from Italian to English for him, and then when he spoke there was an Italian RM that translated for him. Then we had a meeting for all the new converts, and I translated from English to Italian for him. I think I actually prefer doing that. It was really cool because I realized that I'm actually pretty good at translating.

Other news this week is that we are teaching the daughter of Giuseppe Belsito. If you remember he was basically the first investigator I ever had, and he got baptized last year. Now he is the Branch secretary and he has the Melchizedek Preisthood. He's a stud. I really hope that his daughter joins the church. She should in about a month.

I love being back in Cosenza.

I guess that's about it, because I have to go do some other things. I just want to bear you my testimony that I know that God loves each one of us. He wants to bless us, but He can't do it unless we obey the commandments. Just like any good father that gives good advice to his son, He knows what is best, but in the end we can choose what we do.
It's pretty awesome.

Thanks for all your support. I really appreciate it. I know that I have been really blessed to have a good family and good friends in my life. I hope that I can be a good help for you too.


Anziano Banks

P.S. My companion is awesome. He is from Argentina and he is in his third transfer. He laughs like crazy. haha. We're having a lot of fun together, and we're having a lot of success finding people to teach.

P.P.S. I’m finally able to start sending photos again! Here are some old ones from Gela.




Anziano Garvin is still on Malta. Poor guy.

At least they have a sweet candy bar there! hahaha.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elder Banks

Dear Brother and Sister Banks,

We are pleased to inform you that your son has been called to serve as a Zone Leader in the Italy Rome Mission.  He will have the responsibility to preside over two or more districts in one of our zones here in the mission.  He will be responsible for his zone both spiritually and temporally.  He will teach them once a month in a combined district meeting and will help with the planning and training at Zone Conference.  He will go on exchanges with all of the missionaries in his zone to help them with teaching or language skills.  He will also serve as a member of the Zone Leader Council which helps direct and plan initiatives for the entire mission.

We love your son and are excited for the opportunity to work closely with him.  He is an outstanding missionary.

With best regards,

Thomas E. Kelly


Italy Rome Mission

Friday, April 15, 2011

Going back home . . .

Wow, I've got some crazy news! I'm being sent to Cosenza!!! (Where I started my mission). President Kelly said that normally he wouldn't think to do that, but he felt really strongly from the spirit to send me there. This time is going to be even more fun than last time because I'll be Zone Leader for the Taranto Zone. That's going to be a blast!

This week has flown by, it's been really incredible. I can't believe that I've been living the last 6 months in Sicily! I can't believe I'm going to back to Calabria where I'm going to eat spicy salami every day! haha. I seriously love the mission.
The other really cool thing is that in ten days I'm going to Rome for Zone Leader Council! That's going to be incredible.
Unfortunately I'm going to be missing Cristian's baptism by just a few days, and he's being baptized in the sea!!! My companion promised he'll take lots of photos, that way after the mission I can photoshop myself in. hahaha.

I'm really excited for this next transfer. My new companion is from Argentina. He's only been on the mission for a few months. One thing that I really love about being transferred is that it gives more motivation to improve. It gives you a fresh start. I feel really happy about what I've done in Gela, and I'm satisfied with the work I did in Cosenza a year ago, but this time it's going to be totally different. Now I'm comfortable with the language, I have a lot more experience, and I really think that things are going to go well there. I probably will only stay for a couple of transfers (3 months) because I already served there once before, but we'll see.

What did you think of General Conference? I thought that it was totally amazing! In the end I managed to see all of the sessions, but unfortunately I had to watch them in Italian (except Priesthood). It's definitely not the same: I much prefer hearing their real voices.

One thing that I thought was that I'm sure glad that I'm going home in 6 months and that I'm not home now or else I sure would feel pressured to get married! haha.

It's incredible how inspired General Conference is. It's just like the talk that Elder Holland gave; we really find the responses to all our questions there (if we look) and there is always some talk that is specifically for us. While I watched conference I also thought about how some of those talks were specifically for our investigators, or specifically for Nicola. Speaking of him, he's doing a lot better now. He's been really happy these last few days. I think that conference really lifted his spirits.
Then there was the talk that President Uchtdorf gave that was amazing, and Cristian and Antonella showed up to that session of conference right after his talk! I couldn't believe it!! I told them that they need to go on the internet and look it up because it is perfect for them (the one from the Sunday Morning Session).

Anyway, I just want to say that I am really grateful for you and your faith and your support for my mission. I know that going back to Cosenza is going to be amazing, and that with your faith and prayers I'll also be able to learn a lot as a Zone Leader there. I don't know who the other Zone Leader is going to be, but I think that it's going to be someone that you know, so I'll let you know next week.

Thank you for all your support. If you need me to do anything for you here, just let me know.

Anziano Banks

p.s. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I am totally beat. Missionary work is really tiring! haha. Especially when you have to run to and from appointments.

Yesterday I went on splits with Anziano Acerson. It was fantastic. In the morning we went to the beach to teach Cristian. Even though it's warm out, it's still too cold for Sicilians to go swimming, so the beach is fairly empty. We went on top of a hill of sand that looks over the sea, and we read a talk from the last General Conference. Nature is a great place to feel the Spirit. Sitting on the sand, listening to the crash of the waves while reading the words of an Apostle is incredible. I felt very edified from the lesson we had, and that same Spirit stayed with us the entire day. One thing that we did at the end of the lesson (Anziano Acerson's idea) is we each made a list of what we can do to serve God this week. It was great. I hope that I can put into practice all the things I wrote because that will help me stay a lot closer to the Lord. I recommend that you do the same activity.

In the afternoon we went to teach Nicola. We taught him about the Holy Ghost. Once again, we had a great lesson. Right after we sat down Nicola got up to go grab something in his room, and I noticed a hymnbook on his bookshelf. I thought to myself, what better way is there to invite the Holy Ghost than sing a hymn! I grabbed the hymnbook and flipped open to "Let the Holy Spirit Guide" I hummed the tune to him, and then we all sang the hymn together. It was great. We used the new Gospel Principles manual (which I love) and there we read a great quote from President Joseph Fielding Smith about the Holy Ghost. Basically it says that if someone has a visitation from an Angel, or even sees God, over time that experience will fade away from his mind, but if he feels the Holy Ghost that pierces his soul, it's very hard to forget. I love remembering all the times that I've really felt the Holy Ghost because reflecting on your testimony makes it stronger.
That night we had English Course which was also a blast. I taught advanced course. It's so chill. This time I had them practice translating questions because Italians get really confused when they ask questions in English (rearranging words like "you will" and "will you" and also using "do"). Then we just did some conversation.

The reason my day was so tiring is besides the fact that Anziano Acerson is a fast walker, we also had to run around a little bit. Right before English Course we decided to go by a lady we had met in the past, and even though she wasn't home, her family was and they invited us in. We taught them about the restoration, and then we had to run to English Course because it was already time to start.

Anziano Acerson and Anziano Alvarado (from Peru) slept over, and then the next day (today) we were able to do P day together. That was really a blast. We took lots of awesome photos. We also played some soccer, and that was a lot of fun. After the mission I definitely need to play more soccer. It was really great playing for the couple months that I did right before. I love sports. I really like playing almost all sports.

This week is going to be crazy. This Saturday we are going to be cleaning the beach again and there are going to be tons of people. Saturday night is when we get our first session of General Conference here at 6 pm. On Sunday we have priesthood session at 11am, then at 2pm we have a session, and at 6 pm we have another!

I know what you're probably thinking, isn't there another session of conference?

The answer is yes. There is another session of General Conference, the Sunday Afternoon Session. Here in Italy the wards and branches are supposed to record it and then show it at another time, but almost nobody does it. In other words: We're not going to see the Sunday Afternoon Session (which is usually the best).

The good news is that it makes reading the Liahona afterwards a lot more interesting.

We've been inviting everyone to come to conference. We tell people, guess what, there's a living prophet called of God on the earth today. Everyone goes, who is it? Thomas S. Monson. Then they usually say, I've never heard of him. Well surprise! If you come this weekend you can here what he has to say! He receives revelation from God that we need to help us nowadays.
I'm incredibly excited for conference this weekend. I loved the last conference. I think I'm more excited for this conference than any conference before. This is going to be my last conference on my mission! The next one hopefully I can be there in the conference center!

To get pumped for conference we've been reading a lot of talks from past conferences and like I said, talking to everyone about it. I'm also trying to think of a good question I can go to conference with. I definitely recommend that you do the same. Go there looking to get an answer about something. Pray that you'll receive it, and you will.

Have a great week! (How could you not? It's conference weekend!)

Anziano Banks