Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 16

Bonjour ma cher famille et amis,

I hope the rest of your Christmas was good after I talked to you. Mine was great! We have some really nice people here in French Guyane. This week we were at our investigators Antony and Eay's house. Antony is a fisher and he was telling us all about his adventures on the Amazon. They gave us some big shrimp some Brazilian sausages and a big red snapper when we left. Our freezer is full, the red snapper almost didn't fit but luckily we got the door closed. So if you have any good recipes for red snapper feel free to send them to us. Or instructions on how to clean a fish.

We had a fun experience on Friday when we went to check up on an old investigator. We were sitting outside talking to her and her neighbor when I hear someone yell my name. I was really surprised to hear my name and I looked over to see Euseiry the boy we taught who was baptised a month ago. He came over and helped us teach our lesson. He is so excited to be a missionary when he is older.

I learned how to jump start a car this week. The battery in our truck (they call them catcats here) was being weird. All of the car places were closed on Saturday so we couldn't get it fixed until today. It was a good contacting method having to ask someone to jump our car whenever we wanted to go somewhere. We got stuck in the pouring rain last night. Luckily we have nice members like sister Baksh who will make us hot cocoa and dry us off.

We are leaving for Suriname on Saturday for zone conference. We are excited to hear from President and Sister Mehr and we are also excited to buy some American food. So next week I will not be writing you on Monday because I will still be in Suriname, but I will be writing on Wednesday.

I love you and miss you but I am so happy to be here. I know the Lord is preparing people for us to teach and help. He is always watching out for us and helping us with his great work. Have a great week and talk to you next Wednesday.

Lots of love and hugs,

Soeur Banks

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Chistmas from French Guyane! Hope you have a wonderful day!

Soeur Banks

Sister McDaniels, Sister Banks, Sister Riley

Monday, December 22, 2014

WIM Week Number 15

It's almost Christmas! We have been having fun getting ready for Christmas and passing out "He is the Gift" pass along cards here in French Guyane. We had our branch Christmas party/program Friday night, which was really fun. We (the nine missionaries) did a little skit/competition for it. We cut holes in a sheet and had one person's head and the other persons arms and we had a competition to see who could make and eat a PB&J sandwich the fastest. It was very messy and fun and the sisters won!! Sister McDaniels face was covered in peanut butter. We also did one where we had to put shaving cream and cotton balls on the persons face and "shave" it off. My face was the victim for that one. It was a really fun program, we also had a lot of music and poems. The best part was that our investigator Michelene came with her two kids and the Tavares kids came too! It was a great Christmas celebration and it made it seem a little more like Christmas here where it is still really hot.

We have found some cool people this past week. We found Claudjo who has been prepared. I started teaching the first vision and he stopped me and said he had already heard it because he read it in a book at his aunt's house. He is sincerly interested in learning and changing. We also found Richard. We were contacting and found him in Balata. We were explaining the Book of Mormon a little and he asked where he could get one because he wanted to read it. Of course we gave him one and we are excited to go back and visit him. The Lord is preparing people all around us, we just need to find them. It's is a great feeling to find someone who has been prepared and wants to learn more and come closer to Christ. I love missionary work!

Have a great week and a Merry Christmas!

Soeur Banks

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 14 in the WIM


It's Christmas time and instead of snow we get rain!! Lots of it! But it has been a good week in French Guyane. We didn't have a baptism this week because we moved it to next Saturday. Now we have more time to help them be fully prepared to make the important covenants of baptism. They (the Tavares children) have been studying.

In other exciting news we had district conference this weekend, we skyped into it because it was in Guadeloupe. We found out that as of July 2015 we will no longer be the West Indies Mission, the Mission is splitting!!! We will be in the Barbados Bridgetown Mission consisting of the islands north of Trinidad and French Guyane. the Trinidad Port of Spain Mission will consist of Trinidad, Suriname, Guyana and the ABC islands. So I will be serving in a different mission in July, the West Indies will be no more.We will also have a different mission president because the Mehrs finish their mission in July as well. 

It's almost Christmas! Wow, Time flies! I'm coming up on my 5 month mark. One of the cool things we are doing for the Christmas season is we have been handing out pass along cards for the new Christmas Mormon Message "He is the Gift." If you have not already watched it go watch it now. It is a beautiful reminder that Christ is the reason we celebrate Christmas and that he is the greatest gift that we have ever received.

I love you all and have a good week before Christmas!


Soeur Banks

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lucky Week 13

Bonjour ma famille et mes amis,

It has been a great thirteenth week in French Guyane! Members are the people who really make missionary work progress. We took Leno, a recent convert in the branch, to see the less active part-member Tavares family again this week. We had been nervous to extend baptismal dates to their kids who are not members yet, but we decided to go for it. Near the end of the lesson we extended December 27. They said they wanted their kids to be baptised, and their kids were very excited about it, but the 27th would not work because their Dad would be in Brazil. The parents and Leno started talking and figured out all the details. They decided on the 13 Dec and Leno would baptise them. They figured it all out by themselves and Leno even offered them his other car to take to church on Sunday because their car is in the shop. It was a miracle and members make all the difference. If Leno hadn't taught this family with us, none of this would have happened. It was so cool to see them all at church on Sunday. It gave the branch a new hope for less actives, because so many members had given up on the Tavares family but they are coming back, thanks to Leno. We are excited for Fransisco, Poena and Claudenir to be baptised this week.

A lot of other fun stuff happened this week too. We tried playing soccer with a whole bunch of little boys. It was really fun but they beat a lot. We ventured into the jungle to find Christmas trees. We helped the daughter of a member move. Ramona taught us how to make bread. We did splits yesterday with two young women in the branch, it was really fun and we got a lot done. Members are the best, they help missionary work happen.

We got a new elder this past week. Elder Mooux, he is from Tahiti.

It's so exciting to see people coming to Christ. It really is the best feeling. I am glad to be a part of this great work. Its hard, but its good. Have a nice cold week back in the states and we'll try not to sweat to death down here:)

Lots and lots of love,

Soeur Banks

Monday, December 1, 2014

End of my Second Transfer Down Here! Week 12!


It has been an exciting week for the sister missionaries in French Guyane! We had our first baptism on Saturday! Marianela and Eusiery, they are mother and 10 year old son, were baptised. They were both so excited to be baptized. They are like our family here, we love them so much. Marianela also has triplets that are about 7 months old, they are the cutest and everyone at church loves them. Euseiry is so excited to be a missionary when he is older. After his baptism he was asking when he can be a missionary and how it all works. He will be a great misionary now and a great full time missionary when his time comes.

I am staying in French Guyane with Sister Riley and Sister McDaniel! We got our transfer calls on Saturday. We are excited to be staying together.

We had some adventures this past week. Our water did get turned back on so we got to shower which was a blessing. We went to visit an investigator but we came the wrong day and they were having a prayer meeting, she invited us in. It was a  very different experience than our church meetings. They gave us the oppourtunity to share what we wanted so we all got up and bore our testimonies. I had never had someone say amen and hallelujah during my testimony before. It was an experience I will never forget. It reassured me that I have found the true gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth and that I am so grateful for that truth and direction in my life.

We are looking forward to the holiday season down here because it means more service projects for us. It doesn't seem like December because it is still so hot! Time flies--it is already December! I love it down here and I am happy to be serving the people here. Thanks for all of your prayers and thoughts. I love you all.

Until next week;

Soeur Banks

Me, Marianela, Eusiery, Sister Riley and Sister McDaniel

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 11 in French Guyane

Bonjour a tous,

It has been a crazy week down here in Guyane. Sadly we didnt have our first baptism but a lot else has happened.

We had a week of great experiences making food with less actives, investigators and members. Wednesday we made Roti and Curry with Ramona, a less active member. Attached is a picture of me with the chicken before she killed it. The Roti was awesome. It's an interesting experience seeing your food walking around the yard and then having it on your plate an hour later. Friday we were visiting one of our new investigators, Marie, from Haiti, and we made Banan Peze with her. All the missionaries talk about Banan Peze and I finally got to try it. I'll attach a photo. We also got more Banan Peze on Saturday at a member's house. We ate well this week.

This week we had a problem with our water bill so our water has been off since Thursday. It has been an adventure, haven't showered since Thursday but life is good. It's all part of the experience.

We have been working hard tring to find new people to teach. Because we are in a trio we do splits sometimes with members. Yesterday we were doing splits and I got to teach a lesson with one young woman from the branch. I was nervous about it but it went well. We taught Meredith the restoration. I was feeling very inadequate in my teaching skills and my French but it went well and I felt the spirit. We were able to extend a baptisimal date to Meredith.

It's cool to think I speak French! Not perfectly or fluently but I can get my point across and the Lord is there to help me. He is always there watching out for us and guiding us. Looking back I have seen so many times when he was guiding us to find people or visit people. He is always there and he loves us all so much because we are His children. Have a good Thanksgiving week!!


Soeur Banks

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 10 in Guyane Française


We had a pretty good week down here in South America. We are excited to be having our first baptism this coming Saturday!! Marie came to church again on Sunday and is ready to be baptized! 
We were also able to set another baptisimal date last night with Anjellica. She is 12 and originally was planning on going to Guyana to be baptized by her Dad. We had been thinking about it a lot and felt that she needed to be baptized here in the branch she will be attending. We had tried and tried to have a lesson with her so we could set a baptisimal date but she was never available. last night we went over and her Mom told us that she is no longer going to Guyana so she can be baptised here! We talked to her and set a date for November 29. I love seeing the inspiration of the spirit.
We contacted a family with a pet monkey this week. I almost got to hold it but it was scared of me and my companions. we think it was because we are white. Contacting is always an adventure here in French Guyane.
We have a really sweet couple we have been teaching that we love. Their names are Anthony and Eay. They have such big hearts and are so concerned for all of the struggling people in the world. We asked Eay to start reading the Book of Mormon last time we visited and when we came back she said she had read a little. She had read to 1 Nephi 13! We were so excited! Most people won't even read the introduction and she read 13 chapters! We are excited to see them and continue teaching them. 
I'm running out of time to write but I have been reading in Mosiah about King Benjamin and have learned so much from his teaching. I'll talk more about it next week when I have time, but go read it; its amazing! I love you all and have a great week!!

Lots of love,

Soeur Banks

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 9 in South America


It has been a good week 9 in Guyana Français. We saw some miracles. As you might remember a few weeks back I wrote about a less active family that we had been looking for for a long time that we finally found. We have been visiting them every week but they have not put any effort forward to coming back to church. Last Sunday during testimony meeting a member (he is a recent convert, he was baptized at the end of August) got up and bore his testimony and we thought how he could help the father of this less active family. We took him to our lesson with the family this week and it was amazing. It turns out the dad and the member used to work together a long time ago. They talked about their conversion stories and by the end everyone was crying. That member was exactly what this family needs. It was an amazing experience. We are going to keep bringing him with us to our lessons with this family.

Another miracle this week was our investigators Marianela and her son, Eusery, finally came to church because one of the members was able to pick them up. It's really hard for them to come because they don't have a car and she has triplets who are only six months old which is a lot of work to take them all out. They are the cutest! They came to church and loved it. They made friends with the members and another family offered to take them to church next week. Our branch here is the best, I love them with all my heart.

So much has happened this last week that I can't write it all. I'm so happy to be down here. I know that our Heavenly Father is watching over us and is guiding us as we do his work. He loves us and wants nothing more than he wants us to return to him. I love it down here and I love all you back home as well. Keep reading the Book of Mormon every day, its the best thing to do!!

Lots of love,

Soeur Banks

Monday, November 3, 2014

My 8th Week in French Guyana


We have been working hard here in French Guyana. The three of us (Sister Riley, McDaniel and I) call ourselves "a wall of righteousness" because we block the road if we walk in a row; We definitely get a lot of weird looks because we are three white girls walking around Matoury or driving around in our silver truck.

They don't really celebrate Halloween here like we do in the states but Saturday was Day of the Dead. They clean up their cemeteries the week before and then decorate the graves with flowers and candles. They do other things at the cemeteries on that day as well. The cemeteries are so colorful right now. We walked around one of the big cemeteries in Cayenne earlier today. They don't really celebrate Halloween, but the big holiday is Carnival in February. They say in French Guyana it gets really crazy, the craziest part of the mission is on Carnival because the Brazilians really get into it. Hopefully I will still be down here for it.

I sent a few pictures this week. I hope you like them and they give you a little taste of life down here in Guyana Français.
We have been teaching a lot and have found some great people. We are looking forward to some baptisims this transfer.

Love you all lots and lots,

Soeur Banks

Me Sister Riley and Sister McDaniel on her first day in the field.

Chelande (recent convert she was baptised in July) and her neighbor Nana
wearing our badges being sister missionaries! The best thing to be!

Me and Mamie Lulu, another recent convert. She is 83 and the
sweetest old lady in French Guyana. We visit her every week.

Me, Sister McDaniel and our investigator Cecil and her little siblings.

Our branch in Cayenne. It's not everyone but a good number of them, taken a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 7 in Guyana

Bonjour a tous,

I can't believe it is almost November! I'm glad to hear it's cooling off at home, it is still roasting here. Wet season is supposed to start soon so it will cool off a very little bit, but not really.

We have a new sister!! Sister McDaniel! We picked her up from the airport Thursday night. We are excited to have her.

We were so excited to see three of our investigators at church this Sunday! We have also found more less actives this week. We contacted a man a couple of weeks ago and we went back to visit him this past week and it turns out his whole family are members of the Church. We were sitting in a restaurant today and a lady came us to us and told us she is a member from Brazil and she wanted to know what time church is and where it is. So many people are members from other countries who move to French Guyana and don't know where the church is. We hope to continue finding more of these people every week.

Here in the W.I.M. we have a Book of Mormon reading schedule and we read the Book of Mormon every two transfers. We just started again. I just read the story of Lehi's dream (1 Nephi 8) and have been thinking a lot about it. After Lehi eats the fruit he is desirous that his family should partake as well (vs12). In verse 14 he sees his family but they are standing there as if they knew not what to do. He then beckons them over and calls unto them with a loud voice (vs 15). This is exactly what missionary work is. We are all family, but some of our brothers and sisters are standing there because they don't know what to do. It is our job to call unto them and invite them to come unto Christ. Some won't come like Laman and Lemuel because the great and spacious building looks like more fun, but it isn't. We are excited here in French Guyana as we see more peole come when we call them and beckon them over to partake of the gospel. We also see our investigators turn to the great and spacious building, which is sad. But everyone has their agency, which sometimes can be frustrating, but it is a blessing.
We are looking forward to a great transfer here in Guyana. Have a Happy Halloween back in the states. The Church is true and your Heavenly Father loves you more than you know. I love you all too. Until next week.


Soeur Banks

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 6, Transfer Info and More!


I have been in French Guyana for six weeks! We got our transfer call on Saturday. Transfers work a little differently here in the W.I.M. than other places because transfers usually involve planes. We don't have a transfer meeting like most missions because we are spread out over so many countries. We get transfer calls! We got our call Saturday afternoon from President Mehr telling us that we are staying in French Guyana but, we are getting a new sister missionary, Sister McDaniel! We are going to be in a trio and Sister Riley is going to be double training!! She is flying into Trinidad today and then to French Guyana on Thursday!!! We are so excited! I met her in the MTC because she got there a few days before I left. Most everything else is staying the same down here in Guyana. One Elder who has been here for about a year is being transfered to St. Martens but that is it.

This past week was great. I finally got to meet the rest of the French side sisters over skype. We (Sis Riley, me, and the zone leaders) had to take a trip to the border of Suriname and French Guyana to take care of some passport stamp issues. We spent seven hours in the car. We got stuck in a rain storm on the way back. Rain here is definitely nothing like rain in the states.

We have had some cool teaching experiences this week. After finding so many contacts last week we have some promising new investigators. We visited one woman who we found who had said he had a lot of extended family who were members. We were teaching her and her 17 year old son came out and she told us he was a member of the church! He was baptised when he was 8, but once they moved to French Guyana from Peru he couldn't find the church so he found a different church to go to. We were so excited and we hope the rest of their family will want to be baptised.

On Tuesday before district meeting we got a call that one of the Elder's investigators in Cayenne was being kicked out of their house so they needed help moving. They were living in an area of illegal shacks basically and the government was making all 150 people move out. We spent the morning helping them get everything out of their house and move it to another house in another area. I can honestly say it was something I never expected to do in my life, helping illegals move. There were news crews all over the place; one of the Elders ended up in the back of the news report on TV. He had a few members call him and tell him. As we were helping a lot of people were wondereing why a whole bunch of well dressed white people were helping people move out. Service is not something a lot of people understand down here. A lot of people are really suprised when we ask if we can help them with anything. Some people down here are very friendly and kind, others aren't.

I was so excited to hear you got to meet Sister Riley's family! I have heard all about them and they sound pretty awesome! Right after emails we are going to print out the pictures of you together so we can hang them on our wall!!

We are excited to keep working hard down here. I hope all is well back in the states; Love you all.

Soeur Banks

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 5 in French Guyana!


It has been a good week here in French Guyana. The Lord blesses us in ways we don't expect. We were disappointed that none of our investigators with baptisimal dates came to church on Sunday, but we did have one investigator at church, Fode! We found Fode one Sunday when we were walking around on our way to see if an investigator was home. He was just chilling in his yard. He is Muslim but he is interested in our message. Hopefully he will keep coming to church and get baptized.

This week we had to drop one of our best investigators because he proposed to Sister Riley. We were really disappointed because he would have been a really cool member and he had a baptismal date for November 1. Hopefully some other missionaries will be able to start teaching him someday and he will be baptized.

We have found a lot of new people to teach in the last week because as a zone we had a goal for each companionship to contact 25 people. We did! We have found some people who have really been prepared for the gospel.

The Elders came out to shadow us as we taught on Friday.We had our zone leaders and another Elder who was in French Guyana for a day from Guadeloupe to finish some legalization stuff with us. It was a bit nerve racking having three other missionaries there watching us teach, but it went pretty well. Learned a lot from the Elder from Guadeloupe.

Today as a reward for us all getting our 25 contacts we ventured out into the jungle as a zone. We drove past a couple monkeys but that was all the wildlife we saw. Lots of bugs, we got eaten by bugs. We climbed around on a cool waterfall. Sometimes I still have moments where it really hits me that I am a missionary in South America, it blows my mind. Holy cow! French Guyana is such a cool place!

It is crazy to think that this is the last week of the transfer! I've been here for almost 6 weeks!! Time flies! I love you! You are in my prayers. Keep being awesome and share the gospel with others!!!

Lots of love from South America,

Soeur Banks

This is where I sleep
This is a typical road in French Guyana 
This is our living room with our desks and the view out our window.
You can almost see out truck outside.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Another Great Week in Guyana and General Conference!!!


I hope you got the pictures from my companion last week. Here is a quick explanation of those. The one of me by the tree and looking at the ocean were from our nature hike last p-day. The hike is about ten minutes away from where we live on the Rue de Plage. There is the picture of the boat we took to Suriname, that is Elder Pratt one of our zone leaders in the pic. The last picture is of me and Sister Riley. I thuoght you might like to see a picture of who I spend 24/7 with. We took that picture two p-days ago on the beach.

This week was a good week and it flew by. We definitely had some adventures. General conference was awesome! I loved Elder Bednar's talk about why we are a missionary church, so true. We have some really cool investigators with baptismal dates. We hadn't been able to visit our investigator in a while and were worried she wasn't that interested and committed anymore, but when we visited her she had been reading and she had gone over the baptismal interview questions and written down her answers! I am so excited for her to get baptized! the only hard thing with her is that her parents don't like us and they lie to us and tell us she isn't there when we go over. The good thing is the work of the Lord is stronger than a couple of people who don't like us.

I think I wrote a little about Christian before and how he had already drastically changed his life before we met him and he knows the Bible really well. He tells us a lot of stories about his life and Sister Riley and I were both thinking how cool it will be when he can share these stories in fast and testimony meeting with the members of the branch.

We have three investigators with baptismal dates who are siblings. Sister Riley started teaching Jean Claude a while ago then they found his sister, they didn't know they were related at first. Last week he told us his other sister was interested in hearing about the gospel. The gospel blesses families:)

Nothing can stop the work of the Lord. I'm proud to be a part of the missionary force in the world today. I know Dad got an elbow in the side every time they mentioned missionary work in conference. Every time they mentioned it there was a reverent but enthusiastic cheer coming from the clerks office in the chapel, which is where we were watching. The church is so true and conference was a testament of that to me. I love you all. have a good week!


Soeur Banks

Monday, September 29, 2014

Miracles and Suriname


We had a great week. Zone conference was awesome! We all drove three hours in a van to the river and then got in a boat, rode across and then took a taxi three hours to the church in Paramaribo. We were with the two sisters in Suriname, Sister King and Sister Johnson. We went with them to visit a member and then hung around the church building for three hours while they had a correlation meeting.

The next morning we got up, a member picked us up and we went to zone conference. We only had half a zone conference because we skyped into the zone conference with Elder Zivic the week before. We talked a lot about what he said. We talked a lot about Captain Moroni and his confidence in the Lord and his belief in their sucess in battle. We are Moronis. It is our confidence and the Lord and our belief that we will baptize and find people to bring to Christ that makes it all possible. French Guyana is a living testimony of this. French Guyana used to only get one or two baptisms a year, nobody wanted to go to French Guyana. Now the attitude has changed and we have a strong belief that we can find and baptize and French Guyana is one of the highest baptizing areas in the mission. Faith is so important.

We left right after zone conference. We only spent about twenty-four hours in Suriname. All of the missionaries bring big empty bags with them to Suriname because there is a store there that sells American food. We didn't get the oupportuity to go but the Elders did. They brought back so much food.

Before zone conference the assistants to the president challenged us to do inspired contacting and they promised us that we would find people to teach. We went out contacting last week and saw miracles. Sister Riley has been looking for a certain less active family in our area for a long time but has not been able to find them. We knew what street they lived on and that they are Brazilian but that was all the info we had, and the street happened to be one of the biggest in the area. We went out and started talking to everyone we saw; at about the fifth house we stopped at, the lady said there was a family across the street that might be them. A boy came to the gate and said he didn't know the family. We asked if we could come in and ask the other people who were their neighbors. Turns out it was the family we were looking for, the boy was a friend and just didn't know their last name! We found them! We talked to their son and he was excited about the church! We continued to contact and found a man who had been looking for us. He had gone to church in Africa but since he had moved to French Guyana he had not been able to find the church. So many miracles! The Lord loves all of his children and is looking out for them.

We also ran into some Temoins (Jehovah's Witnesses) and I held their umbrella for them as they tried to Bible bash with us, but Sister Riley kindly explained our beliefs and bore her testimony; It was an interesting experience I will never forget.

It's funny that you mentioned mosquitoes, Mom, because they are all over here. A lot of people here have chikungunya, but don't worry I wear lots of bug spray. They don't seem to bother me as much, but when I first got here I looked like I had chicken pox on my legs because I had so many bites. You don't know mosquitoes until you have been down here, they are huge.

I love it here and I love the people we are teaching. The church is true and we have a Heavenly Father who knows each one of us and he has a plan for us. I know this is the work of the Lord and it is so important, bringing people to the light of Christ. I love you all. Until next week.

Lots and lots of love,

Sœur Banks

Me and Sister Riley

Boat to Suriname



Monday, September 22, 2014

Guyana, Another Awesome Hot Sweaty Week


I'm glad I get to email you today. Originally the plan was to be on the way to Suriname for zone conference right now, but because of the AirFrance strike President Mehr couldn't fly out so it was moved to Friday. I am really excited for zone conference! We drive to the border of Guyana and then get in a canoe and go across the river to Suriname! We will get to work with the sisters in Suriname and have zone conference with President and Sister Mehr!!! There is also a store over there that sells American food that everyone is excited about.

On Wednesday we got to skype in to the zone conference on Guadeloupe for the other French side islands and some of the English side because Elder Zivic of the Seventy spoke to us. All eight of us were packed into the clerks office in our little church building for four hours skyping into the meeting. Keep in mind there is no air conditioning only 2 fans. It was a good meeting, learned a lot. We are going to spend a lot of time in that clerks office because that is also where we watch General Conference and skype home on Christmas.

I spoke in church yesterday. Every week in the branch they have a missionary get up and give a short talk. You don't find out if it is your turn until right before church or right before you have to get up, so it was a good thing I already had something prepared. It went pretty well. My French is still pretty rough, but I have made a goal to speak in every lesson and contact we make.

Most people here speak multiple languages. We have taught some English lessons because there are a lot of people from English-speaking Guyana here. There are also a lot of people who speak Portuguese. We placed a Portuguese Book of Mormon with a really sweet Brazilian family yesterday. It is nice once in a while to teach in English, but it is not helping my French.

I tried really hard to get pictures in this email, but it won't work, sorry maybe next week.

We taught some really cool people this week. Christian is awesome, he knows the Bible really well and he has completely changed his life, he stopped drinking and smoking and hanging around his old friends and he knows a lot about religion. We are hoping that he wants to change his life more and accept the gospel. He has a rough exterior, but he is really nice. We met a really nice lady with two daughters while contacting who invited us right in, which was surprising and awesome. We have another lesson with her and her daughters next week.

A few cool things about French Guyana, they have these things called Floups that are like a gogurt but they are ice cream. They are so good. I have only had the chocolate one and it reminds me of frozen hot chocolate. They are great when we are all sweaty and hot after contacting. We were at the beach this morning and we saw a lot of jelly fish washed up on the shore, Sister Riley saved a fish. There are so many stray dogs here. Lots of people drive scooters and they drive like maniacs. There are a lot of Jehovahs Witness missionaries and members here or as they are known in french, Temoins. A lot of people think we are Temoins, but we are definitely not.

I am loving it here, working hard. I know Heavenly Father loves every single person here even if they don't realize his love. I love the people we are teaching and am so excited for them. I know this is the Lord's work and he is helping us every step of the way. I Love you all. Until next week.

Sœur Banks

Monday, September 15, 2014



I'm in French Guyana!!! I was super surprised to be assigned here! On Wednesday I took a flight with all of the other new French missionaries to Martenique. I got to spend a day there with Soeur Tenny and Gernsey teaching and doing missionary things. The only flights to French Guyana are on French Airlines so that is why I spent a day in Martenique. Met some cool people. Next morning Elder Sackley and I flew to French Guyana. I am pretty sure I was the only white girl on the entire flight, just foreshadowing what it is like here. Everyone was telling me I would be out here with all of the crocodiles and snakes and Elder Sackley and I had a mini heart attack when we flew in and all we could see was trees, but it is not as uncivilized as they made it sound. I have not seen a crocodile or snake yet. We have a car, we go shopping at a grocery store, it's not as different as you would think. Yes, a lot of people live in shacks, but yes the majority of them have nice cell phones. Got here and ate, unpacked a bit and started visiting people. I can understand most everything they say I just can't respond very well. It will come.

We have five investigators with baptismal dates. We found a new investigator on Thursday, a refferal from a member family who are so awesome that I love already. His name is Mike, he is 18, he is eager to learn and change his life. He has had some problems in the past and is still going through some hard things but we hope he will stick with the gospel and change his life. We are so excited to teach him!

My companion Soeur Riley is great. She is from St. George and has been out for about seven months. She was called English speaking but President Mehr switched her to the French side once she got here. Elle etes le meilleure. There are eight missionaries in French Guyana and we are the only sisters. I am the fifth sister to ever serve here.

Yesterday was fun, I got to do a lot of cooking. We went to the branch president's house for lunch and a meeting. He is a butcher so I was excited to eat some good meat, but all that really means is that they use every part of the animal. It was good and interesting. After the meal his wife handed me a little piece of this white stuff that she said they put on top of cakes. It was like fondant, it was sweet and really good? Turns out it was the layer between the skull and skin of a pig. It was good so I ate some more, you just can't think about it too much while you eat it.

Later we were at the Baksh family's house because it was their son's birthday. I helped sister Baksh make roti, a Guyanese dish. It is kind of like a tortilla that has a layer of this pea mixture in the middle of it that you eat with this chicken stew type stuff. Look it up, it's cool. She said I must be part Guyanese because I was so good at rolling them out. I love Sister Baksh so much, she is an angel, one of the kindest people I have ever met in my life.

We live in Montjoly just down the road from the beach. We don't live in our area we are about 15 minutes away. All of the missionaries are right around Cayenne. The people are really nice. We have one branch out here and a small chapel. The members are awesome, we went to a releif society activity the other day and the sisters are the greatest. They were sewing bibs for elderly people. Sister Riley let it slip that I sew. One of the sisters asked me if I could teach her so now about once a week we will be going over to visit her. I'm excited. Whenever this sister sees me she says hello my favorite seamstress. She is the sweetest.

I am so excited to be here. There are so many people who are ready to hear the gospel. I have met some awesome people and am meeting more people everyday. One thing I have learned this week is that everyone has their own trials that we may not be able to see from the outside, and sometimes they are much much bigger than we would have ever expected. Be kind and loving to everyone you meet because you never know were they are coming from of how your kindness can help. I love you all and I hope everything is going well back in the states.

Lots of love,

Soeur Banks

My letter mailing address is:
Résidance "Pont Maggi"
Bat. e Apt. #2
Rout de Badnel 97300
Cayenne, French Guiana

Write early in the six week transfer period or I might not get it. I don't know how long it takes. Post this: I WANT MAIL!
Packages go to the mission office address. Expensive on both sides but if you want to go for it. I'll explain later more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Elizabeth arrived safely in Trinidad & Tobago on 08 Sep 2014.
Here she is the next day with 13 other new missionaries along with President and Sister Mehr

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

MTC Week 6


Thanks for the birthday wishes! I had a great birthday. Attached is a picture of me with one of the cupcakes. They got a bit squished and melty, but they were delicious. I can't believe I am almost done with my time at the MTC! Our district is shrinking again, Elder Argyle left for Halifax, Canada this morning. The West Indies Elders and I are the next to leave on Monday. Elder Lund and Easton are having trouble with their visas to New Caledonia. Elder Easton is going to be reassigned stateside until he can get his and Elder Lund has not heard anything yet. Wow, crazy to think that pretty soon my district will be on all different sides of the world.

We got our travel plans on Friday. I don't remember the exact times but I will take a picture of the paper and send it to you later today. We fly from SLC to Houston leaving at about 8 have about an hour in Houston and then fly to Trinidad. I will probably call you in the morning from SLC because my layover is so short. That is what will probably happen, I'm not 100% sure though.

On Saturday we moved classrooms because there is a new district coming in on Wednesday. There are two sister going to New Caledonia and one sister and one elder going to the West Indies. It will be a small district with a solo elder. Just the opposite of my district.

I met one of the new teachers in our zone who is a sister who served in the West Indies! The first sister I have never met who went there. I did not have much time to talk to her but she told me she is pretty sure she knows what my first area will be and who my companion will be! She must have recently gotten back. I am going to try to find her this week and ask her some questions.

One of the teachers who would come into our class to help sometimes is from AF. He was in Madame's class. What a small world. I have run into the elders from our ward a lot this week. I've talked to Elder Winter a few times and I ran into Elder Getter in the cafeteria yesterday. Elder Olpin just came in this last week and I saw him for a second in the hall on Sunday. It is always fun to see people I know.

On Thursday we went to infield orientation. I ended up spending the day with two sisters going to the Chesapeake Virginia mission. It was a long day but we learned a lot about talking to people and using members in our teaching.

We have had some great lessons this week as our teachers, Frere Israel and Soeur Echols, have told us more about their missions and the "investigators" we have been teaching. I love seeing how much they love their missions and how excited they get when they share their stories with us. I'm excited and nervous to get out into the field next week. It is weird to think that in a week I will be in Trinidad. I have loved the MTC. I have learned and grown so much. I don't feel like I am prepared to go out and teach, because I am just one little sister missionary who is just getting a hold on the French language, but I know the Lord will bless me. Just like the scripture on my missionary plaque says, I wish I were an angel so I could speak with the power of God and call repentance to all nations, but I am human. I know the Lord will bless me to go and teach with his power. I know I cannot do it without him. I love you all. I will write again on Saturday, because I have a little part day P-day to pack, do laundry etc.  Have a good week.


Sœur Banks

Me with my birthday cupcake

My district with our teacher Soeur Echols

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MTC Week 5

Bonjour ma famille,

It has been another great but challenging week at the MTC. We got about 30 new missionaries in our zone last week, three new French districts and one new Creole district. I was excited to find out that one of the elders going to Paris is from Guatemala! There is also an Elder going to Lyon who was in my BYU ward, his brother went to the West Indies.
Next Monday our district gets a little smaller because Elder Argyle flies out to Halifax, Canada. Because he is leaving a week earlier than his companion and the rest of us, we are all going to infield orientation this week, a week early. It is weird to think that in two weeks I'll be in the West Indies!

This week Frere Sybrowsky has been teaching us because our teacher, Soeur Echoles, has been in Alaska. We have been teaching him as if he were a less active member. We have had some of our best teaching experiences this week. We are really learning how to teach with unity. 

I love P-days because we get to go to the temple! I love the temple and I only have one more opportunity to go before I leave the MTC. These last two weeks going to the temple have been awesome. I have been getting answers to my questions and I have felt the spirit so strongly. Doing family names with my Soeurs has also been a great experience. 

Not much else has happened this week. We teach a lot and learn a lot. Know that I love you and I love this gospel. I'm excited to go out and teach but I feel like I still have so much more to learn before I get out there. I love my Savior and I am so grateful for everything he has done for me. I know I could not do any of this without him. Thanks for your support and love. Have a great week

Lots of love,

Sœur Banks

Soeur Brimhall,Soeur Gardner, Me, Soeur Shmuhl and Soeur Olivo

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Week 4 and it's Many Changes

Bonjour ma famille et mes amis,

So much has changed in the last few days! Mes Soeurs flew out for Lyon yesterday, but I have new Soeurs!! I am now companions with Soeur Brimhall and Olivio (they are in that picture I sent you last week) they are both going to Montreal French-speaking. The other two sisters in the room are Soeur Schmuhl and Soeur Gardner, also going to Montreal. Soeur Brimhall is from Orem and Soeur Olivio is from Queens, New York.

As well as getting new companions, me and my new companions are the new Sister Training Leaders for our zone! We will have a lot of work to do because we get 30 new missionaries in our zone tomorrow and we get to interview the 10 new sisters. I'm excited! We also get to do orientation for the new missionaries with the Zone Leaders on Wednesday night.

On Sunday we got a new counselor in our Branch Presidency, Brother Newell. He was recently released as the Mission President of the Sweden Stockholm Mission. Because of the new counselor, President and Sister Nally (MTC President and wife) were in our sacrament meeting. It's not everyday that you get to sit next to the MTC President's wife in sacrament meeting! She is so sweet and nice. I got to say the closing prayer in French for sacrament meeting, I didn't say anything crazy in French and it went well.

We have been teaching a lot. Last week for TRC we taught a family from Lyon who were here to pick a family member up from the Provo Mission. That was a fun experience! They were so helpful and loving. They gave us a great scripture about the spirit in Galations 5:22, I think that is what it is, I don't have my French scriptures with me to check the reference. We are teaching our other "investigators" almost every day. It is exciting to see them come closer to Christ and commit to baptism.

I love my district, but they can be a bit distracted sometimes. Almost everyday they have some conversation about Batman or Lord of the Rings. They are a funny group but I love them. I don't think I ever told you about the elders I teach with. I teach with Elder Lund and Elder Easton. Elder Lund is originally from Illinois but has lived in Centerville for the past few months, he just graduated from high school. he speaks Spanish, he took it through high school and doesn't love the French language yet. He often speaks "Fransish" (mix of French and Spanish) because he knows Spanish and didn't know any French before the MTC, but it has been becoming more and more French every time we teach. Elder Easton is from Illinois too. He went to the University of Wyoming for the past two years where he was converted to the church. Earlier this year he baptised his Dad. Both elders are going to be serving in new Caledonia ( if you don't know where that is it is between Australia and Fiji). It can be hard to teach in a trio but we are doing pretty well.

I have learned so much about teaching by the spirit and with unity since we have started teaching here.  I have realized that now is the time to make all the mistakes I can and say the crazy things in French on accident because we are all learning.
This week I ran into Elder Getter and Elder Winter. It's always fun to see people I know. I also figured out that the brother who teaches my companion's district is Bishop Sybrowsky's brother.

Things are going well here, my French is improving. I know this is where I am supposed to be and I am growing closer to the Lord and am coming to love this gospel even more. This gospel is here to make us happy and come to Christ. Our Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us because he loves us and wants us to return to him. Life is not easy, but that is because we need to learn and grow to gain experience to become more like him. I love you all and hope everything is well with you.

Until next week,

Sœur Banks

Ran into Elder Getter and his companion

Soeur Olivo drew this on the Board and I loved it and thought you might as well:)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Week 3

Bonjour ma famille et mes amis,

It has been a crazy, fun and exciting week here at the MTC. My Soeurs got their flight plans to fly to France on Monday. About 90% of our zone flies out on Monday so it will just be my district and the new district that came in last week for a couple days until we get about 30 new missionaries in our zone.

The new district is awesome. There are four new sisters, (I will probably end up being companions with them) and my friend Elder Shumway from AF! All of them are going to Montreal French-speaking.

Last Wednesday I had an adventure when my district went to TRC. TRC is when you go teach a member in the language you are learning. We got called in earlier than expected so I wasn't very prepared. When we got there they realized there weren't as many of us as they had thought, so they split me up from the Elders I teach with and I had to teach solo. I was terrified, I hadn't fully prepared and I had to teach a French-speaking member. I taught two different sisters about prayer.  Yes, I was praying during those lessons a lot. They went OK, but it definitely taught me the importance of preparation and why we have companions, to have two witnesses to testify of Christ and to help you when you can't find the words to say. When we were talking to our teacher the next day she was surprised that they made me teach by myself and she said she would talk to them and make sure it would never happen again, because that is not how missionaries teach.

I met a sister from Trinidad this week, Sister Rampasad. She was so excited that I'm going to the West Indies. She told me some food I need to try and that I need to say hello to Sister Mehr for her. She said it is a beautiful place and that I'll love the people.

The second counselor in our Branch Presidency is awesome! He used to be a makeup artist in Hollywood and he tells us bedtime stories every Tuesday after devotionals about his experiences. He worked on a lot of big films back in the 60s and 70s. He told us about a time when he was dying Robert Redford's eyelashes and he locked him in the hall as a joke because he couldn't open his eyes. He has a lot of cool stories. His wife was telling me that he did the makeup for the first temple film.

One thing I love at the MTC is being in the choir for Tuesday devotionals. The choir director Brother Eggat is amazing! He teaches us the music but he also teaches us the stories behind the songs so we can better understand the message we are portraying. This week we are singing Nearer My God to Thee. The song is about Jacob after he gets the birthright from Esaw and the blessing from his father. Esaw was planning to kill Jacob so he left. He wandered through the wilderness and that night he slept on a rock. While he was sleeping, angels came to him and taught him and gave him his endowment. There are more details to the story but I dont have time to tell it all, that was the basic outline of it. Go find the story and read the lyrics of Nearer My God to Thee and it will have so much more meaning the next time you sing it. MTC choir is the best! I will miss it so much once I'm gone.

Our teaching has been getting better and better. We are teaching with more unity and our language skills are getting better. We teach almost every day and have started practicing contacting. The elders I teach with are awesome.

I love the people I have met in the MTC. Knowing how much I love the people here just after 3 weeks, I cant imagine how much I'm going to love the people in the West Indies. I love you all, I appreciate you emails and letters. I'm so happy I'm in the MTC. I'm learning and growing and coming closer to my Savior. I know this is where I'm supposed to be and I'm grateful for your support and love for me. I love you lots and lots!

Soeur Banks

Me and the Elders I teach with, Elder Lund on the left and Elder Easton on the right.

Soeur Baggs, Brimhall (new district), Olivio(new district), me, Holmes and Wallace

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Week 2!!!

Family and Friends,

I've been here for two weeks, wow! This past week went by so fast! I've been really busy learning a lot. We got a second teacher on Saturday, his name is Brother Israel, he is from Haiti and served his mission in San Francisco. He teaches us every afternoon. Soeur Echoles is our other teacher who teaches us in the morning, she served in the France Lyon Mission. Sister Echoles is awesome, she often tells us stories about her mission, the investigators she taught and her experiences in the MTC. We have had a little break from teaching an "investigator" because we get two new "investigators" on Wednesday. Teaching is frustrating sometimes because of the language barrier but we are slowly breaking the barrier down. It's hard when you know exactly what you would say in English but have no idea how to say it in French. It's coming along, it's encouraging to see the French missionaries leaving the MTC speaking French really well.

It's exciting to hear Sister Hixon is home. Last week a district in my branch going to New Caledonia had their visas rejected so they were sent to Atlanta Georgia until they can get their visas. They probably just missed Sister Hixon.

In the French hymn book there is a song that is called Souvien-toi. It is a beautiful song only found in French that is a lullaby. Some day I'll send you the translation. We sang it on one of our first days. The elders in my district love it and always want to sing it. Mostly because on their first night in the MTC the other elders in the branch came into their rooms, sang souvien-toui to them and tucked them into bed. The elders are looking forward to doing it to the new elder coming in tomorrow. We didn't get any new French missionaries last week so my district is still the newest, until tomorrow.

I was mistaken when I wrote last week saying the rumor was L. Tom Perry was speaking to us, it was actually Elder Groberg, Kolipoki! He gave a great message about how we can bear our testimonies in many different ways; by what we say and do, through song, through prayer, through written word, and by who we are. He showed some clips from The Other Side of Heaven that went along with these points. On Sunday, BYU President Kevin J Worthen came to speak to us. My district ushered for the devotional so we were sitting right up front. He spoke about teaching with power and authority. My companion Soeur Baggs said the closing prayer.

Somehow I got pulled into singing in Sacrament meeting next Sunday with my companions, the other Sister and the Elders in their district. I'm singing the alto part with sister Wallace. I usually sing soprano so its a bit challenging, but fun.

Fast Sunday was great! We had mission conference and the MTC presidency spoke. Testimony meeting was great, and all in French but I understood almost all of it. After sacrament meeting/testimony meeting our Branch President, President Merrill gave us an awesome lesson about the Book of Mormon. He teaches in the Department of Ancient Scripture at BYU and he knows a lot. It was awesome and I learned a lot.

Elder Rollins from my district flew out to Washington DC this morning. We were all sad to see him go but were excited for him. Last P-day I met the MTC President, President Nally. We were sitting waiting for sister Holmes and he walked in and introduced himself. He is really friendly and nice.

We went to the temple this morning and it was great! It's sad to think I don't have that many more times to go.

I love you all and hope everything is going well at home. Everything is going well here and I love the MTC and missionary work more and more every day! Until next week.

Lot of love,

Soeur Banks

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My First Crazy Week

Hello Family and Friends!

I'm at the MTC and I love it. The first few days were crazy but it is true that if you make it to Sunday it all gets better. I'm glad you got my letter. As I said I'm a solo sister. It's a bit weird but fun. I'm the only sister in my district so it gets a little crazy sometimes. My district consists of 7 elders. Elder Okano, Sackley and Roberts are going to the West Indies like me, Elder Easton and Lund are going to New Caledonia, Elder Rollins is going to Washington DC but is only here for 2 weeks because he basically already speaks fluent french, and Elder Argyle is going to Halifax Canada.

On the third day here we started teaching an investigator in French. I teach with Elder Easton and Elder Lund. Our first lesson was really rough, but each lesson we get better. Most of us in the district have had a little bit of French before the MTC. Teaching in a different language is a humbling experience. I realize how much I have to rely on the Lord and follow the spirit.

I have two sister companions who are in my zone, they study in the classroom right next to my district. They are both going to Lyon France and will leave about 2 weeks before I do. It was a little weird coming into a group of sisters who have already been here for 2 weeks, but it has worked out well. the other companionship that we room with is Sister Wallace and Sister James, who are also going to Lyon. I went to high school with Sister James at AF, it was fun to see a familiar face. She was the validictorian of my graduating class.

Today is Tuesday so we have a devotional tonight. I am singing in the choir for it and the rumor is L. Tom Perry is speaking. Sunday we had a great devotional by the guy who is the head of the missionary department. Sunday night we watched the talk Elder Bednar gave at the MTC a few years ago on Christmas titled The Character of Christ. It was amazing and will make you want to live your life in a different way. Read It! I think you can find it with the BYU Speeches online. It's long, but amazing.

I have seen a few people I know from high school and college which has been fun. My first day I saw Mrs. Crowther. I saw Sydney Robertson from Meridian, she is gong to Solvenia.

They say the first couple days in the MTC are like drinking out of a fire hose and it is so true. Now it's more like drinking out of a regular hose and I'm loving it. My district is fun and easily distracted but I love them. I know I will think of a billion other things I should have told you once my email time is up, but know I love you and I'm doing well. I'm learning so much and I love this gospel and the Lord.

Lots and lots of love,

Soeur Banks

Sister James, Holmes, Baggs, me, Wallace

This is my district from left to right Elder Lund, Rollins,
Sackley(sitting), Easton, Argyle, Okano and Roberts.