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