Sunday, October 30, 2011

Alright? Inhob Malta


I had the most amazing weekend.

Yeah. At this point I'm sure Lia is going crazy because she must have figured out where I went: MALTA.

It was incredible. I flew over on Saturday. As soon as we were flying in you could tell it was a whole other world. On our way up to the house I felt like I had arrived in Jerusalem, or somewhere in the middle east.


I spent Saturday afternoon and evening with Anziano McMullen (he's from England). We had a great time. We taught a lesson to Raffaele (new convert) and his girlfriend about the restoration and the law of chastity (they had just moved in together). You could tell that Raffaele wasn't anxious to talk about it because the missionaries had brought it up already the time before.

It started out a little rough. Raffaele had the attitude “if we're in love then it doesn't really matter”.

“Raffaele, I see that you have a lot of faith. Do you love Jesus Christ?”

“Yes, of course!”

“He taught, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’”.

It pretty much went something like that. Raffaele knew the right thing to do, and it turns out that he was just holding back because he thought he didn't have enough money to pay for the wedding. We told him, it doesn't cost anything to get married in the church! In the end they were excited to set a date, and there was a strong spirit there.

Then we went over to Brother Borg's house and had some rabbit ... yum!

DSCN3247[1]That was pretty much it for that night. On Sunday I was with Anziano Wester. Church in Malta was really great. It was cool because Anziano McMullen and Anziano Garvin actually both gave talks. Anziano McMullen spoke of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He quoted the book "Jesus the Christ" quite a bit, and it was really graphic for me. It's painful to imagine what he went through. Not just the physical pain, or even psychological pain, but even pain that goes to the soul. It's strong motivation to live a better life.  Anziano Garvin gave a great talk. He shared some of the experiences that we've had together here in Rome, and he also expressed his love for the maltese people. He really loves that branch. 
Heck, I really love that branch, they're great!

I went to the Maltese Sunday School class. I don't speak much Maltese, hahaha. But I was able to follow a couple things in the lesson because there are quite a few words that are similar to either Italian or English. In fact, when they asked who gave the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph Smith I proudly responded, John the Baptist! : )

I'll admit, I didn't learn a lot of Maltese in the few days I was there, but I did get a chance to use the stuff I did learn.

K finti?


Ina ta membru tal kinisia ta gesu cristu


hahaha. That was the extent of a conversation I had with a Maltese guy who didn't speak any English.


How are you?


I'm a member of the church of Jesus Christ


hahaha. I gave him a pamphlet in Maltese with the address of the church, and then I tried to get his phone number, but I didn't have any luck.

With Anziano Wester we passed by a Chinese family that they had found. It was really cool because the dad actually only spoke Mandarin, so it was great that I was able to teach him. One cool thing is that as soon as they answered the door and I started talking they asked me if I was from Taiwan!!! He said he could tell because of the accent.  : )

We also talked to a lot of people on buses, and on the streets there in Malta. They really are great people. They are very open and friendly. After spending just a few days there, I didn't want to leave. The branch isn't huge. I would say an average week probably has over 30 members, but I know that they've had over 50 on church attendance.

One weird thing about serving out there for a few days was speaking so much English. 95% of the people there speak English. I've pretty much forgotten how to pray efficiently in English, and I also had to get used to teaching in English. One thing that still came naturally was talking to people on the bus and on the street. I remember in the MTC I always said that it would be so much easier if I went out English speaking. It's totally true. Haha. Although I think I'm at the point with Italian that it comes just about as naturally (not to say that I'm not always looking to improve).

On Monday we had correlation, District Meeting, and Family Home Evening. They were all three really great. They have an amazing Branch Mission Leader - Brother Foster. He's a stud. He really knows what he's doing and he's got a lot of fire. I heard that he's like 70, but he's full of energy. The four missionaries out there are outstanding. They are all very obedient and they are doing great things. There was a good spirit in their home.

Tuesday I came back home to Italy. I wish I could've spent more time on Malta, but there are many things that we need to take care of here, so it's good to be back. Transfer calls are this Saturday. I have a feeling I'm staying. Hahaha

Well, I love you a lot. I'm really grateful for everything that you're doing for me. I hope that some good missionary work is going on in our ward at home.

I look forward to seeing you...but it's going to be really really hard to leave Italy. I mean really hard. I'm just loving everything that is going on. We are finding and teaching a lot of people lately, and the work is just going to continue to grow. I really wish I could stay here for it. I just figure that if that right now I'm blessed to be able to do so much good that it just makes sense to do as much as possible. But, I know that my life will continue to be blessed like this after the mission too, so I'm thankful for that.


Anziano Banks!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Well, it's pretty hard for me to remember what happened this last week. hahaha. So I'm going to start with yesterday.



Yesterday a new senior couple arrived: The Kruegers. They're going to be here to help with GANS (Giovani Adulti Non Sposati), and I think they're going to do a great job. Anziano Krueger served here in Italy when he was younger, and he somehow managed to keep up with the language. We also gave the Kruegers our car, so now we're only driving the furgone (van). It's pretty sweet. It's a lot more powerful than the meriva (our old car), and people just move out of your way more. haha. it's great.

Let's see... if we continue going back through the week. .  .On Sunday we had Ward Conference...and then on Saturday we had...Calcetto!! That was awesome. As a ward we went and played calcetto (it's like soccer but on a smaller field that has a big net that surrounds it all, and you play 5 on 5. There were about...60 people there! haha. We played on the fields that are just below the temple site.

We played on a couple different fields. It worked out perfectly for our team because right now there are five of us Anziani serving here in Roma 2 so we made a perfect team! I was pretty concerned seeing as we're five Americans, but we played against the High Priests, and we worked ‘em. Haha. We may not have that great of calcio skills (except Anziano Garvin), but I think just being young made it so we could come out ahead. Bishop Celestini actually played semi-professionally when he was younger, and he was on the opposing team. He didn't stay in too long though because I think he got injured (not very bad though).

Let's see, on Friday we ... had just gotten back from the big trip we went on, so we were pretty tired and had to catch up on a lot of things around here.

Another thing we did is we had to go pick up the Ostia sisters, so we took a quick photo with them.


That's about it. Things are going well. We're super busy. Tomorrow we have Zone Conference here in Rome.

I think that a couple of the biggest things that make a difference on the mission are your thoughts, and planning. I feel like I have to think things through and think about what I want to do, and then I have to plan out how to do them. After that it's like: Just do it. It becomes so simple. I'm a big fan of planning now.

Anyway, I better go play some ping pong or something before the day's over.



Anziano Banks


Monday, October 17, 2011



So the obvious thing that I would write you about is the baptism that was last Thursday. It was incredible. It was spectacular! It was AMAZING! It is definitely one of the most beautiful baptisms I’ve ever seen.


One of the big highlights was Anziano Packer played "O Divine Redeemer" on his cello. We had that right before the baptisms. Then Anziano Garvin baptized Fiammetta, and I had the privilege of baptizing Fabio. Both went very smoothly. It was a beautiful night. Those two are amazing. They can't wait to go get sealed in the temple a year from now, and I totally think they'll end up being temple workers one day because they live pretty close to where the temple is being built. They truly are an amazing couple. There kids are really lucky too, because now it's going to be almost as if they grew up in the church. They've been able to make lots of friends in Primary, and they have really opened up a lot. I remember when Demetra wouldn't even give me a high five!! Haha. (She's really shy at first, but now she and Wolfgang are both crazy around us).

One really cool thing about the baptism is that we got matching ties for us and Fabio, and then we signed it and gave it to him. We chose the color based on his and Fiammetta's favorites. Another great thing about the baptism is that Fabio's mom came. She's pretty stuck in her ways, but she is willing to listen to us. She's pretty curious.


Since the baptism we've been all over the place. We had Zone Conference in Napoli on Tuesday, and then we had Zone Conference in Bari on Thursday.

Which means we spent our Wednesday…in Napoli!!

I think we should definitely go there after the mission. It’s worth it just for the pizza. It’s about a 2 hr train ride, and I think it costs something like 13 euro.  Obviously, we went to Da Michele's and ate pizza. I loved it.

We also got suits. We got really lucky because instead of going to this place called "Chewing Gum" where lots of missionaries like to go, we went to another place. We actually went by Chewing Gum first to check it out, and they were actually kind of rude it seemed like. They kind of rushed us, and it's almost like they were pressuring us to buy a suit. Then we didn't feel too good about them, and told them we would think about it during lunch. After lunch we decided we wouldn't get suits after all (the ones we found there cost 85, 75, and 60).



So then we were walking through this market, and at the end of the market we found this other suit shop. There was an old friendly Italian man who let us look at his suits. He didn't bother us, and let us take our time. He was really friendly, and his suits only cost 35 euro!!! The exact same suit that cost 60 at Chewing Gum!!! He was really awesome. So I decided to get a suit, and Anziano Packer and Garvin each got two! Haha. He was great, and before we left he bought us some cold water, and we gave him a pamphlet about the restoration. He really admires that we go around talking to people about Jesus Christ. It was a great experience.



At the Zone Conferences we've been teaching about finding families, and how to find families. In the end, that's what we're all about. Heavenly Father's plan is centered on the family. We told them about what we did, what worked for us, and we had a some good discussion and a practice. It was great.

Anyway, I've got a lot of things to do. I just want you to know that I love you, that things are going great here, and I hope that things keep going well for you too.


P1020870  Anziano Banks!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Things are going incredibly well. I feel like I'm serving in South America or something! Hahaha. We have six people who are preparing to be baptized, and two are going to get baptized tomorrow!! So we're super busy making sure everything is going to be ready and will go well. 

Baptism is a really big event in people's lives. I think that it's up there with marriage. We're going to have a great baptismal service; I'm really excited. Do you remember how for Floriana's baptism we decided to get yellow ties because that's her favorite color? Well, we're going to get ties for Fabio and Fiammetta, but we're actually going to buy one for Fabio too, that way he can wear it to church on Sunday! It's going to be great.

Yesterday was Zone Leader Council. It went really well. The mission is going to just keep on breaking its own records. I think we're going to have the most baptisms in a month since President and Sorella Kelly got here.

I think that's what life is all about, doing more good, becoming better, and progressing. It reminds me of that saying that it's better to be a foot from hell and going towards heaven than a inch from heaven and going towards hell (or something like that). Haha. I like that because it shows that no matter where we are, the most important thing is where we're headed. I know that we can all resolve to do better, and that ce la possiamo fare!

I remember not a long time ago (maybe a few weeks ago) I was feeling off my groove. It's like, when I was a Zone Leader it was easy to do great work and feel on top of my game, but then as an Assistant it has been a lot harder (we have a schedule that varies a lot more, and lots of different responsibilities). So what I figured out is, I need to make sure that I'm doing all the things that make me feel on top of my game. Including waking up at 6:30 and getting good exercise, having a language study plan, and also having spiritually uplifting personal study.

I immediately started planning how I could do it. I started with things that aren't too difficult, but planned out everything I would do to make myself feel on top of my game. It worked! Just by following the plans and goals that I set in detail for myself, I was able to bring myself to the level I wanted to be at. I think it's important that we all do that quite often. Just the other day (actually, I think it was yesterday), I thought to myself that I need to look back over my language study plan because it has become less effective. I think it's great that we have new year's resolutions, but I think we should more frequently make resolutions so we can always make great improvements in our quality of life.

Anyway, this last week I went on a series of exchanges. It was great. I really believe that miracles happen on exchanges. I believe that at least part of that is because when we are with missionaries other than our normal companion, we tend to push ourselves more. It's great.

One thing I noticed while doing exchanges is the huge difference between native speakers, and non-native speakers, as far as missionaries go. Native speakers have a huge advantage. I think that they become more effective much more quickly than non-native speakers. I think that's why it's so important that missionaries study the language and really master it (myself included).

Well, I've got a lot of things to do, and if I don't do them I don't think anyone's going to do them for me!

Oh! I just remembered, what did you think of General Conference?? Pretty awesome, right? I really enjoyed it. There were some great speakers. I can't wait to get the Liahona and study the talks.

I love you!!!



Friday, October 7, 2011

Expect a Miracle

Missionary work is incredible. Check this out: I'm on splits with Anziano Shipton and Anziano Decker. We get on the bus, and of course I don't sit by them, because I sat by someone else so I could talk to him. Just by the way he was sitting I could tell he didn't want to talk to me, and I looked over to my left and I saw a couple guys that looked over. So, I got up and talked to them. 

It turns out that one of them had been living in England, he was about to get baptized there and then he moved to Italy and couldn't find the church!! His son actually got baptized a month ago or something. To make a long story short, he and his brother are both getting baptized at the end of this month, and there are four of them that we haven't met yet that will also be coming to General Conference this weekend!


We've been doing a lot of splits lately and that's been a real blast. I just barely did them in Rome 3. That's a pretty interesting part of Rome. It's pretty much considered the ghetto, and there are tons of foreigners that live in that area. I met a lot of Chinese people. One in particular was pretty funny. To start a conversation I asked her (also because I was really really curious) if there were any Chinese food stores nearby. She looked at me like I was a little crazy, and said, yes, there are lots of them. Then she started pointing them out (we were on the train) as we went by, and within 30 seconds she had already pointed out 4 of them. Hahaha.

I love splits because miracles always happen on splits. We met a lot of really great people in Rome 3, and I think that they're going to have success with them. When I was on splits with Anziano Shipton and Anziano Decker we also met some really awesome people.

Picture this: It's 8:30 at night, there's hardly anyone on the street, and we're walking near our house. A man with a blue/white striped dress shirt, slacks, a briefcase, and an earpiece briskly walks towards us. Anziano Decker stopped him and it seemed that he was about to say "Ho fretta" (I'm in a hurry), and instead he stopped and started talking to us. He said, “You know what I like about you guys? When you walk by you say hi to everybody. Some people don't give you the time of day, but when you say hi to me, that makes me happy.” We talked to him a little more, and then he goes, “Hey, do you want my number? Do you want my number? Should I give you my number?” Hahaha. It was awesome. He also gave us his address, and told us that he's free on Thursday and Monday afternoons.

At that point we were feeling pretty good, and we continued walking. After a couple minutes we saw a lady walking towards us and I asked Anziano Shipton, “What do you think we should talk to her about?” he replied, “Baptism”. So he asked her, what does baptism mean? She explained what she believed we talked a little more, and then we got her number so we could go teach her. It was great.

Okay, that's about all I have for you this week. Sorry I'm getting to you so late, but if it makes you feel better, you're going to have a couple more weeks to get e-mails from me now!! Hahaha.


Anziano Banks