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