Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 68

Boujour a tous,

I hope the rest of Christmas was great for all of you. I loved talking to you. Our Christmas evening finished off nicely watching Inside Out, a great choice for the one movie we get to watch a year as missionaries. It is a fabulous movie, very well done; many tears were shed by most of us while watching it. Soeur Hoover and I, afterwards, had a great time relating it to the gospel. As missionaries we are helping people make core memories as we introduce them to the gospel, give them the Book of Mormon and ask them to pray about it. Some of the most important core memories ever! The rest of our week was great, we saw some great Christmas miracles:

It all started Wednesday evening, all of our branch was invited to the home of Frére et Soeur Cesarin for a Christmas party, to sing and eat food. They asked us to invite our investigators. We stopped by Nadege's a couple of hours before to invite her and her family. As we were explaining where it was I mentioned the name of the family and her boyfriend knew their son! Random miracle! They said they might come and we left with a prayer in our heart that they would.  We showed up at the party and the other missionaries were the only people there with a couple of members. Typical, everything starts late here. The party started and guess who showed up...Nadege, her boyfriend, Alain, and her two kids, Diana and Stephen! We were so excited! When we had to leave, the members took such great care of them, they had a great time.

Saturday we had a lesson set up with Nadege. Almost every lesson we have had we have invited Alain to join, but he has never accepted our invitations. Saturday we sat down and Alain was already there, ready for the lesson! We asked him if he was going to stay and he said yes! Miracle! We planned to talk about the Law of Chastity, how perfect for both of them to be there! Yes, we were a little nervous at first to talk about it with the both of them, but it is exactly what they needed and it was a beautiful lesson! We also had some fun playing hangman all together afterwards.

But the miracles don't stop there! Nadege had not yet been to church because Alain was not willing to take her and the kids, but they all came on Sunday!!! It was such a happy day! The lessons were perfect for them and what they need right now!

Soeur Hoover and I were talking about how the gospel changes us. We have already seen such a big change in Nadege since she has started learning about the gospel. The change is starting in Alain as well. The joy and hope the gospel brings is contagious! It is the joy of following the plan God so lovingly has given us. It is the peace and assurance that come in keeping His comandments and trusting in His words. Nadege has more hope and a desire to learn more and follow God!

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest Joy. As missionaries we find more of that joy everyday scattered through the work. The gospel is great, what more can I say.

I love you and have a great New Year!!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, December 21, 2015

Semaine 67 Joyeux Noel

Salut,

Joyeux Noel tout la monde! It's almost Christmas! Time is flying! We had a great Christmasy week here on Gwada. We have been sharing the Savior is Born video with everyone we can here. We had a great district Christmas program Saturday. We are excited for the activities of Christmas this week.
Here Christmas involves a lot of singing. They do this thing called Chante Nwel, which is Creole for Sing Christmas. Basically you get together with family and friends, eat and sing Creole Christmas songs, then eat a bit more budan and then keep singing some more. Most of our branch is getting together at a member's house on the 23 to Chante Nwel together, it is going to be awesome. We were also invited to a Christmas party chez le famille Eclar ,who are some of the coolest greatest members of all time, Christmas Eve. It won't quite be the Mulvey family Christmas party, but it will be amazing.

We had a great lesson in Relief Society (le Societe de Secours) yesterday about missionary work. It was a great lesson and discussion about our duty to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as members of His church. We have all taken upon us His name by entering into the waters of baptism and have made the covenant to be witnesses of Him at all times in all things and in all places.

We were talking to a sister after a lesson she accompanied us to. She told us how she will be spending Christmas with her parents and nieces and nephews. They usually dance and have a great party in the evening, but she made a great plan. She decided she wants to teach her nieces and nephews what Christmas really is, why we have all these parties and festivities. She has really caught the spirit of Christmas which is truly the missionary spirit. This time of year is known as a time of sharing, so sharing the joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ should be our first priority. Sharing the gospel brings the greatest joy.

We have seen miracles while teaching Nadege and Diana this week. It is so great to teach them because the spirit is always there and they are so willing to learn and accept the gospel. It is an environment where the spirit can edify and comfort. She is going through some hard things, but she is starting to see the light of the gospel.

Have a great Christmas! I hope yours is white and beautiful. Ours here will be beautiful in a different hotter kind of way! I keep expecting it to get cold because it's Christmas but I'm still sweating my brains out. I love you!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, December 14, 2015

Semaine 66

Che famille mwen,

Sounds like it is getting nice and cold and snowy back home. This week on Gwada it has been extremely hot! Hotter than usual, I think my tan got a little darker too! It's Christmas time, but doesn't completely feel like it.

We have been sharing the new Christmas video with everyone. When we ask people if they like Christmas, the response is usually the same, something about how they like it but Christmas is for kids. That is where they have it wrong. Christmas is for every single person on earth, because Christ was born and lived and died for every single one of us. Christmas is great, and one of the best times of year to preach the gospel.

In exciting news, Bethina was baptized on Saturday! It was wonderful. I will tell you a little of her story. She is the sister of two members. Her sister, Wina, lives in Baie-Mahault and her brother lives in Guyane. They have been members for a few years. Bethina encountered the church in France a few years back while studying there. She immediately loved it, but because of some circumstances in her life she could not be baptized then. She kept coming to church and her siblings have been praying that she would make the decision to be baptized and make the necessary changes in her life. And she did! She came to us a couple weeks back and told us she was getting baptized on the 12 of December!  We have worked hard with her these last couple of weeks to review all of the lessons with her and prepare her for baptism. It was amazing. She was so happy and told us that she could not believe it was finally happening! Her cousin baptized her. It was a very happy day for her family who are members of the church! They have waited a long time for that day.

Transfer news...Soeur Hoover and I are staying in Baie-Mahault together!! And I couldn't be happier!  I love Baie-Mahault and Sister Hoover; it will be a good place to finish. We have some awesome people who should be getting baptized this next transfer.

As a companionship we are hoping to make these next six weeks the best six weeks . It is crazy how time flies.

I love you and have a great week!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, December 7, 2015

Semaine 65

Ma chere famille,

It has been a busy week in a few different countries, and we are very tired of airports. We had some great exchanges with the sisters of Martinique and Guyane. We got to meet a lot of people and learned a lot as well.

We started off in Martinique with Soeur Driggs and Soeur Jacobsen. They are a companionship of great faith. They have an awesome investigator who read through Ether in the Book of Mormon! She owns a bakery. They had a lesson on the Sabbath day and asked her to close her bakery on Sunday. Without hesitation she said yes! She understands that God will bless her when she keeps His comandments. Mosiah 2:22-24.

I spent my very first day in the mission field in Martinique, as I was waiting to go down to Guyane. We ended up visiting a member that I visited that day. This sister had just been baptized the week that I visited her the first time  It was a moment of reflection for me as we talked with this member, I saw how much her faith had grown since her baptism almost a year and a half ago, and I also reflected on how much my faith has grown since the last time I was there. It was a great time in Martinique, with lots of walking and some fantastic lessons.

Then we headed down to Guyane. Back to my mission birthplace. The sisters there are preparing for a baptism this Saturday! They have been working hard with Enock to help him prepare. He recently moved to Guyane, and came to the realization that he moved there to find the gospel. We were able to visit him twice while we were there. He has a strong testimony and desire to learn. As we were teaching him about the temple and we showed him a picture, he could not wait to go. He felt the sacred spirit of the temple, even though it was just a photo. He has been truly prepared by the Lord. Also, we had the opportunity to see our recent convert, Marianela, again. She is moving to France this week so I was lucky I got to see her again.

I learned so much from the sisters this week and feel blessed to have the opportunity to visit and work with them. I am always touched by the love and kindness of the people we are around.

We are excited for a baptism this week. Battina will be getting baptized this Saturday if all goes as planned. We are excited for her and we had a great lesson with her this morning.

This week will be another exciting week with zone conference, baptism and transfer calls. Time flies. Next week is the start of my last transfer. I never thought that day would come. I still feel like I just got out in to the mission field.

I hope you have a great week. I love you.

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

P.S. We did watch the First Presidency Devotional last night and it was amazing! I loved Elder Bednar's talk and I was thinking of Nick as Elder Whitney was talking.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 64

Bonjour a tous,

It has been a great week! I have to say that Thanksgiving did not seem like Thanksgiving at all, but it was great. Not everyone can say they ate sloppy joes with a member of the Seventy on Thanksgiving, but now I can. MLC was amazing! It was a day packed full of spiritual edification and learning. Elder Hugo E. Martinez of the Seventy who is in the Caribbean Area Presidency was there with his wife, she is so cool and has so much spiritual knowledge, he does too.

We talked a lot about the apostle Peter and his conversion. How he turned from being a fearful, unsure, and sometimes overconfident-in-himself apostle to a solid, powerful witness of the living Christ. His change came as he received a personal witness of Christ. After he went forth preaching with the power of God, healing and performing miracles with no fear because he knew the Christ and what he was doing in his name. He is like all of us missionaries when we get out into the field. We are fearful, unsure and sometimes overconfident in our own abilities, but we can become witnesses of Christ and we learn of him and put our trust in him. It was a great MLC, that was just a small part of what we talked about. We are excited to share it with the other missionaries tomorrow as we teach zone meeting.

A lot of other great things have happened this week too. After prayerful consideration we handed one of our most progressing investigators, Yves, over to the Elders. It was a little sad, but it will be the best for him in the long run.

We are teaching the cutest most prepared mother and daughter, Nadege and Diana. We were able to teach them twice this week and both lessons were so full of the spirit. I have never before seen someone as prepared for the gospel as Nadege. As we taught them about the Plan of Salvation they set their sights on the celestial kingdom, and as we talked about eternal families she gave Diana the biggest hug. She told us yesterday that she hasn't felt this close to God in a long time. She feels that there is someone or something in the way of her coming closer to God, but we promised her that as she reads the Book of Mormon and prays and follows the doctrine within, she will be able to overcome whatever challenges come her way. It is the word of God, it has the power to do that. She knows how the spirit speaks to her and she points it out in every lesson. We walk out of every lesson so happy and so excited for them! They said they will come to church on Sunday! I love them so much!

This week is going to be another busy week. Soeur Hoover and I are going to Martenique and Guyane for exchanges. It is going to be crazy, but fun and edifying and full of the spirit.

I hope your week will be as great as ours is going to be! Love you!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 63

Bonjour a tous,

What a week it has been and what a week it is going to be! This week I will be in Barbados for three days for Mission Leadership Council (MLC) with the Herringtons and Elder Martinez of the Seventy and his wife. I am excited! Soeur Hoover will be keeping our area going with a temp. It is going to be a crazy but awesome week!

This week we were able to serve our members a lot. Saturday we went and helped a sister do some gardening at a house she is watching. Gardening is really fun here because it always involves machetes. I got to hack through some overgrown vines.

We also got brand new bikes this week after having some technical difficulties with the other ones. They are beautiful bikes, we are so excited. In the words of Elder Richmond (senior couple) "Christmas came early".

While I was on an exchange this week with Soeur Covey we saw a really cool miracle. We had made an appointment to come back and see a family at 6, but when we came back they were not there. Soeur Covey said she felt like we were going to find a family that evening, so we said a prayer and started contacting. We found a family who were a little interested, we talked for a few minutes and set up another rendez-vous. We rode a little further and decided to contact a house whose gate was open and we to-to-toed. We noticed there was a man standing on the deck, he came down and we started talking. Turns out he was waiting for his three daughters, who showed up while we were talking. His three daughters were interested too, and he asked them when they wanted us to come back. We have an appointment Tuesday. It is cool to see how we were led there in exactly the right moment. If we had been there 5 minutes later the gate would have been closed and he would not have wanted to talk because his daughters would have been there. If we had been there 5 minutes earlier he would not have been waiting with the gate open and his daughters would not have shown up at the right moment during our conversation. This is truly the Lord's work.

With Thanksgiving this week we have so many things to be grateful for, but especialy the atonement of Christ and families. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. I love you and know I am grateful for you too!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 62

Bonjour ma belle famille,

It has been a great week full of service and teaching! We are teaching a really cute older couple, the couple I wrote about last week who already had a BOM. It is a fun tricky experience because they are very involved in their current religion, so we are trying to help build their faith in the restoration, then when their questions come out about the doctrine that we know they don't agree with, they will already have a strong foundation of faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. They are so cute and sweet. I loved the look of happiness on the husband's face when Sister Hoover gave him his own Book of Mormon in Creole. He was so happy and touched.

We were able to serve a bit this week. We go over sometimes and help one sister in the branch feed all of her chickens and other birds. They have a nice big turkey that they have been fattening up for Christmas. We also got to help our ami, Norine. Norine is a really sweet lady from Dominica. All of her family is in Dominica or other islands so she is all alone. She works all the time selling peanuts to earn money to fix her house in Dominica. She is always working so she never has time to clean or do anything around the house. We told her we were coming over to help her. When we got there she was really surprised because she thought we were joking when we said we would help her do her dishes and clean.

We have some amazing investigators right now, who have great questions and are starting to really study to find out more. Our ami, Tatiana, came to church yesterday saying she had been thinking a lot about what we had talked about the night before. She is following Moroni's promise to read, meditate and pray!
I love the scripture we have been ponderizing this week 1Nephi 7:12. Look it up, sorry I cant write it in, I only have it in French with me right now. It talks about faith and how the Lord can do all things according to His will for us if we have faith in Him. So let us be faithful. Faith is the first principle of the gospel and our foundation in all things. When we have faith in Christ and his atonement all things are possible.

I hope you have a fabulous week. I love you.

Bisous,

Soeur Banks


Soeur Hoover and I in front of our house
 

Last Monday at Point des Chateaux with the pineapple we found

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 61

Bonjour,

It has been a crazy transfer week dropping off at the airport, picking up people at the airport, fixing bikes etc... but it was great. Saturday was a great day because an investigator in Abymes was baptized. Anny finally got baptized! I have talked a little about her before. She has been taught for a long time and her boyfriend, now husband, is a member. They finally were able to get married on the 31 and she was baptized on Saturday! It was a happy day, and the results of much faith, patience and also the diligent love and teaching of many, many missionaries.

We saw a really cool miracle the other night. We had the goal to get one last solid contact before going home. We started on a little side street. The first lady was not having it, for here the gospel was not important at that hour of the evening. We walked a little farther down to a house with a light on. We toto toed (knocking/yelling 'is anyone there?' Creole style), and no one came out, but Soeur Hoover could see someone so we tried again. An older man came to the gate and his wife. We walked up and started talking. A moment later the lady went off to the side and came back with a Book of Mormon in her hand. We opened it and our names and number were written inside the front cover in my handwriting, weird. She then went on to explain we had talked to her daughter around the corner the other day and we gave her the Book of Mormon, but she left it at her parents house. Her daughter had left it, and she had picked it up and started reading it, in her words she said, "I started reading it to know if it was true"! Wow, already following the invitation of Moroni and we had not even talked to her yet! We went in and talked for a few minutes about the Book of Mormon. The spirit was there as we testified of the book and its importance for them and for us. We are excited to go visit them tomorrow with an awesome member who has a similar background as them. The Lord is always preparing people for the gospel.

Life is good on the butterfly-shaped island. This morning we had the opportunity to go to Point Des Chateaux, which is a beautiful cliff on the edge of Gwada, look it up its beautiful. We went at sunrise this morning to set some zone goals. It is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, sorry I don't have time to send pics.

I love you, and hope your week goes well! A la prochaine.

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week 60

Ma chere famille,

Transfers were this weekend.....I'm staying in Baie Mahault with Soeur Hoover!! I am so excited because we have just got the work really up and running in Baie Mahault and we have some awesome progressing investigators. This past transfer my testimony of member referrals has grown so much. Our progressing investigators are all referrals from members, who we teach each time with members present. Just as President Hinckley said, there is a better way to do missionary work than just going from door to door, it is working with the members.

We started teaching a referral from a member who is preparing for a mission, her friend's name is Yves Andre and he is very interested in the gospel. He came to church last Sunday with her and we had our first lesson with him later in the week. He had a list of questions for us when we started and he came to church again on Sunday. He has a real desire to know more.

We had a crazy evening Thursday, my bike got a really bad flat tire, unfixable and we were about 7km away from our house and it was about 8:30 pm. A nice guy, who I had actually contacted in Abymes a couple of months ago, stopped to help us, but there was not much he could do. We ended up locking our bikes to a lamp post in a field of scratchy plants and started walking home. A couple of kilometers in, we decided we were not going to make it home any time soon. Good thing we have awesome members who are willing to come get us. The famille Kasango rescued us and took us home.

We had the awesome experience of teaching a huge family on Sunday. It was the biggest group of people I have ever taught. They had a lot of their children and grandchildren there. In total, it was a group of about 15. It was a cool experience, we are going back on Sunday to see them all again. It makes me reflect on how much the Lord blesses us and helps us grow. Before my mission or at the beginning if you had told me to teach a group of 15 people the restoration I would have been terrified, but the Lord blesses those he calls.

He loves all of his children and wants us to come unto Him. He blesses us each individually as we act on our faith and desire to become more like Him. I am so happy to be teaching this gospel and I am amazed at how fast time flies. I love you and hope your week is great. A bientôt.

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 59

Ma chere famille,

Bonjour, j’espère que votre weekend c’était bien passe. We had a great week and a crazy weekend. Had the oppourtunity to go on an exchange with my old companion Sister Driggs this week! It was fun, just like old times; On our exchange we found a really cool, prepared man named Henri. He is an older guy, but he is still as lively as ever. He was very accepting and he understood the scriptures very well. He invited us back. Soeur Hoover and I went back to teach him later on in the week. He shared with us how his wife died a couple of years back and we talked more about the Book of Mormon. It felt like our lesson was a bit all over the place, and we were not sure he was understanding what we were teaching him. There was a moment when the spirit came and caught his attention. We were testifying and we simply said the line" I know you can live with your wife again for eternity". He heard that and we could tell it touched him because of the look in his eyes, that was something he truly wants. It's cool to see the simpleness of the gospel. God has made his plan and doctrine so simple that a child can understand so we all can return to live with him again. We have to be brilliant in the basics.

We are seeing this with one of the recent converts in our area. As we started reteaching him the lessons after baptism he asked us why we were reteaching him this because he already knew it, he asked us only to teach him new things. We kindly explained that we continue to learn the basic truths all throughout our lives because those are the things that are important. Just like President Uchtdorf said in conference "Are we making our discipleship too complicated? Simplify!" I love how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is 5 things; faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Simply, it is to follow the example of Christ. It is the greatest blessing to be able to follow his perfect example on earth today because of restored priesthood authority.

We have an awesome branch. Our members just love and embrace our investigators. A member invited our investigator, Lionel, over to their house for crepes last night. They are so welcoming and willing to share the gospel with their friends. Our most progressing investigators right now are referrals from members. The best way to do missionary work is through members, I have a testimony of that.

It is avacado season here and it is wonderful; At least twice a week people give us avacados. They are not wimpy bumpy American avacados they are huge and wonderful! The West Indies are wonderful!

Have a wonderful week, I love you!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 58

Ma chère famille,

It has been an adventurous week! Soeur Hoover and I ventured down to French Guyana (Guyane) to work with the sisters. It was a little strange to be in my old area again, but it was loads of fun as well!

We had an awesome experience on the plane on the way down to Guyane. We started talking to a lady in the airport in Gwada. The conversation started out about Guyane; She started telling us more about the culture, how it is really a melting pot of different cultures but there are some real natives. It turned into the perfect opportunity to introduce the Book of Mormon, which is the history of the ancestors of the native people of Guyane. She was very interested as we told her more and she expressed to us her faith in Jesus Christ and how it has become more important to her in recent years. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she started to read. She was sitting by us on the plane and we were able to talk more. She read for almost the entire flight. We stopped in Martenique for a short layover, and she leaned over to us and said "It is not by coincidence that we met today, I need this book in my life right now". It is cool how the Lord leads us to those who need his gospel.  We gave her contact information to the Elders in Guyane and they have an appointment with her next week. The Lord leads us to these people and he leads these prepared people to us.

Another miracle along these same lines happened once we got to Guyane. I was showing one of the sisters where some less actives live while the other sisters taught a lesson. I went to show her the house of an older sister who was baptized a couple of years back who had gone to France for health reasons. We decided to stop in and see if she was back. Turns out she is still in France, happy and healthy, but her son was there. We had tried teaching him while I was in Guyane but he was never interested. We started talking to him and he told us that that morning he had prayed with his niece that God would send him someone good to help him in his life, and then we showed up. He was so happy that God had answered his prayer, he gave us his number and told us to call him. It was so cool to see how we were led there to help him. Nothing is by coincidence.

We had a great time in French Guyane, the sisters are great down there. I was blessed to have the opportunity to teach with all of them while I was down there. I also had the opportunity to see Marianela! It was a very happy reunion! Euseiry was not there because he stayed with his Dad in the Dominican Republic. It was great to see her again and hear her bear her testimony of the Book of Mormon to her sister.

We saw miracles and the hand of the Lord in the work in Guyane and Gwada this week. I have learned a lot and have been very edified by the events of this week. We are excited to keep working with the other sisters this week in an exchange with the sisters of Abymes and next week as the sisters of Martenique come here to work with us. I hope you have a great week filled with the spirit!

Bisous,

Sœur Banks

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 57

Ma chère famille,

This week has been crazy, good and crazy. Started out rough; everything was falling through and we ended up contacting a lot, and people were not receptive. We had some really beautiful families and other investigators who turned us down. The good thing is it got better. We saw some miracles.

I had the opportunity to do my first exchange as Sister Training Leader. Soeur Hannigan came to be with me in Baie-Mahault for a day. It was awesome And we saw some really cool miracles. We were able to set a baptismal date with this lady named Tatiana that we met the other day. We had some great lessons.

In the evening we were doing some contacting, we did not have a lot of time and we wanted to teach at least one more lesson. We prayed to find someone to teach. As we were praying we both opened our eyes and saw a young guy on the corner. After we ended our prayer we contacted a guy who was walking by who turned out not to be that interested. We looked over and the guy on the corner was gone. We both felt like we would have talked to him. We looked around and he was just a little farther up the street, walking. We jumped on our bikes and went to talk to him. His name is Jeremie. When we asked him how he was, he said he was really sad. His friend had just been really mean to him and basically ended their friendship. We started talking to him about the Book of Mormon, and gave him one. By the end of our conversation he said that he felt so much better! He said he was going to start reading the book. It is so cool to see how the gospel has the power to help us find joy, even in such a short moment like we had with Jeremie. The word of God has the power to heal a wounded soul, in the words of Jacob.

Our week turned around for the better and we saw even more of the hand of God in His work. There are so many cool experiences that if I had more time I would tell you about. He is always watching out for us, he loves us and his grace is sufficient for all men. I know that is true.

I am excited for the adventures this week will bring as we visit the other French sisters in Guyane! It is going to be awesome, but a little weird to go back to where I started. We are both really excited! Have a great week, I love you!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

P.S. This morning we hiked a waterfall called Les Chutes des Carbets. Here is a pic of Soeur Hoover and I since I have not yet sent you a pic of us. It was a fun and beautiful hike with my fun and beautiful companion!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 56

Bonjour a tous,

It has been an amazing spiritually full week! Especially this weekend with General Conference!

I loved so many of the talks, but one of my favorites was Saturday morning by Larry Lawrence about the Holy Ghost and personal revelation. He said the Holy Ghost is an ideal traveling companion. The Holy Ghost talks to us so personally and so honestly. That is so true and my testimony of that has grown so much since being in the West Indies. He guides us personally according to our desire to follow His will.

Conference is my favorite weekends of the year. I Learned so much and have a new outlook and motivation to preach the gospel.

We had the miracle of our investigator, Tatiana, coming to conference. And one of our members brought his friend, Frank. Frank is Evangelist but was touched by our focus on the family and the message of families in conference. He told us he is coming to church next week and he has some friends he wants us to talk to! The family is so important. I loved when Elder Bednar quoted Elder Perry and said "Family is the center of life". It is not by coincidence that God put us in families, and specifically in the famlies we have. Families are how we can progress together towards exaltation having eternal joy, here and after this life. I love you my family; but I am so grateful I have this short time to help others to have joy with their families forever.

This is God's true and restored church on the earth, I know that is true. He has called prophets and apostles to lead and guide us so we can have joy no matter what our circumstances through Christ. I love this gospel and the Savior. Have a great week, love you.

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

P.S. on a funny note. We came home from conference to find our bananas had been eaten by some kind of animal. We were slightly disturbed that something was living in our house. We cleaned it up and were trying to figure out what it was that devoured our bananas. Make note that it was only the bananas, not the cereal or the chips or a number of other things it could have gotten into. We thought maybe it was a fruit bat. When I walked into our bedroom I found a nice splatter of bird poop on my bed. Looks like a bird flew in the partially opened window in our bathroom, ate our bananas, got stuck in our bedroom perched on the top bunk and then proceeded to poop out his banana feast on my bed. Good thing we had extra sheets. Adventures in Baie-Mahault! A little bird pooped on my bed ;)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 55

Bonjour a tous et a tout,

It has been a crazy and eventful week, now we are in Baie-Mahault! I'm with my cute new companion, Soeur Hoover. She is from Midway, Utah. We moved to Baie-Mahault Tuesday night. We live in a peach colored hallway with a turquoise kitchen and a pink bathroom. We have iguanas in our back yard and a nice view of the Gwada countryside.

Blanking an area is an adventure! We have been visiting our members, getting to know them and going through our area book to find people to teach. We have some awesome members in our area. This branch is so excited to have sister missionaries again.

On Friday we were venturing out to the far reaches of our area to visit a member. While we were looking through our area book we noticed there was an old investigator, Winnifred, who lives in the same area. We wrote down her number so we could call her if we had time. As we were biking along later that day we stopped to talk to a lady who was walking around the road. We started talking and we introduced ourselves and asked her what her name was, she replied that her name is Winnifred! Miracle! Out of all of the people who live in Baie-Mahault we were led to find Winnifred, the old investigator we found in our area book this morning! And it was definitely her, because let's be honest how many people do you meet with the name Winnifred and she said she used to talk with the Elders and she really wants us to come over and talk to her again  What a miracle, she must be very prepared for the gospel because we were definitely led to meet her.

As we have been exploring our area finding our members we have definitely been led by the spirit, we have not gotten lost yet! We are excited to see what this new transfer in Baie-Mahault brings! Have a great week!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 54

Bonjour a tous,

So as you know transfers are this week...and as you know I will not be staying in Abymes for a 7th transfer...I'm going to Baie-Mahault with Sister Hoover! Baie-Mahault was an elders area that was closed last transfer. It is not too far from Abymes, but over across the bridge onto Basse-Terre. It is part of the Lamentin Branch (there are three branches on Gwada: Abymes, Lamentin and Basse -Terre). We will still be on bikes, which I am very happy for because it is the most effective way to do missionary work. I will finish training Sister Hoover. She came out last transfer and Sister Guernsey started her training in Goyave, but Sister Guernsey is finishing her mission tomorrow. Other exciting news, Sister Driggs is training! She will be training Sister Hannigan in Abymes! Along with this transfer call, President has also called me to be the Sister Training Leader for all of the French-side sisters. Its going to be a busy transfer blanking and area training and traveling around being Sister Training Leader, it's going to be awesome! I'm looking forward to it.

I am sad to leave Abymes, it has been a great 9 months here. It still doesn't feel real that I'm leaving. We were able to visit the less active sister from the DR (Dominican Republic) with our investigator Anny who is also from the DR! We had no idea what was going on during the lesson because it was all in Spanish, but we got to teach a little bit. It was great to get them together. We were talking to Anny yesterday and she explained to us some of the problems and trials Lucia is going through. She said that Lucia does not believe that the Book of Mormon can help her right now. Anny's response was we have to pray and fast for her. Anny has such great faith and love and desire to share the gospel! She is going to be a solid member. She also shared with us more of her life story. The gospel has transformed her life, it is amazing! We are going to keep working with them both. Lucia said she feels good when we are there. That is a start with the spirit. We are going to keep visiting her and praying and fasting. It is not by coincidence that we met Lucia at this time in her life.

We had the coolest experience. So many things fell through Saturday. We decided to contact a little. We had no idea where we needed to go. We said a prayer and started riding. We rode into a apartment complex. As we were going around the parking lot none of the stairwell doors were open, but one, so we locked up our bikes and went in. We always start on the top floor and work our way down. Hiked up to the top and as we worked our way down nobody wanted to receive us or our message. We kept going down. On the second floor a lady answered and immediately let us in, I was surprised. We talked for a few minutes and shared the Book of Mormon with her. As we prayed at the end she said she felt something there with us. We explained the Holy Ghost to her. She loved it! For the rest of the time we were there with her she would point it out when she felt it. She also told us that she had been praying because she has been having a hard time; She prayed that God would send her someone to help her, and then we showed up. I was amazed. I have always heard missionary stories like that, but never thought it would happen to me. It is amazing that we were exactly where the Lord needed us in that moment to answer our sister's prayer. He loves us.

This week was a great end to my time in Abymes. I will miss this area and the people and Sister Driggs, but the future holds great things. I love you and hope you have a great week!

Bisous,

Sour Banks

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 53

Bonjour tout le monde!

It has been a busy fun week here on Gwada. We had Zone Conference, which was amazing! Learned a lot; it was a smaller conference, just the Guadeloupe missionaries, nobody else flew in from Martenique or St. Marten. I had a great interview with President Herrington Thursday. Found some stuff out about next transfer, but I'll let you know all the details next week. All I will tell you is that my time in Abymes is coming to an end. I am sad to see it end, but the future holds some exciting things.

Today we took an adventure as a zone. We went to Les Saintes which is a group of islands off the coast of Guadeloupe. It was beautiful, sorry I forgot my card reader and I cant send pics. It was like all of the pictures you see of the caribbean on postcards. We got to explore Napolean's fort there and hang out on the beach. It was super cool and I only got a little sun burnt:)

After Zone Conference on Wednesday our lesson with our member fell through so we went to check up on some people. We felt that we should stop by to see Lucia, the less active we found a couple of weeks back. We knocked and nobody answered at first but after a couple of minutes she came to the door in tears. She has been having a hard time being in Gwada with none of her family here, not having anyone and not speaking the language. We were able to give her the Book of Mormon in Spanish and talk with her for a little while. It is cool to see how God puts us where we need to be in the moment someone needs Him. He never leaves us alone, He is always there for us in our moment of need. He makes all the difference. It was a great contrast to see Lucia and her faith to accept the help of her Savior in her hardship compared to one of our other friends. We talked with him for a while on the street in front of his house the other night. Faith is so important, the faith and humility to accept God's will and accept the help of His Son to continue. He has given us all the tools we need to be happy in any circumstance. Just like we learn in Mosiah 24 as the Lord made the people's burdens light, He did not take them away, but He lightened their burdens and made them strong so they could bear them because of their faith. There is a reason faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel, it gives a strong foundation for all other things.

I hope you have a great week. I am looking forward to a great last week here in Abymes. Love you!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 52

Bonjour a tous,

It has been a good hot week here in Gwada. Lots of biking and a little bit of car driving this week. We had the fun oppourtunity to have Sister Hoover with us for a couple days while her companion was in Barbados for MLC (Mission Leadership Council). Crazy to think that this week marks one year of me being in the mission field! Friday marks one year ago that I flew to French Guyane as a terrified little new missionary to meet my trainer. Time flies. It has been a great year! I have learned so much since that day. I have learned a lot this week too.

The Spirit is really a language we all can understand if we are open to listen to it. We are teaching a really cool father and son who come from Haiti. The son speaks both Creole and French but the father only speaks Creole. For the most part I can understand him but speaking Creole is still a work in progress for me. We had the blessing of having an awesome sister from the branch who is also from Haiti with us during the lesson. It is cool to see how even though we cannot always communicate the best, the spirit can always communicate clearly. It is never us who really teach, it is the Spirit. If we don't have the Spirit there is no way we can teach. We gave this man a Book of Mormon in Creole, that will really be the key to his conversion, as it is with everyone, to read and pray to know the truthfulness of these things through the Holy Ghost.

Speaking of reading the Book of Mormon we are teaching an awesome couple Marc and Ketlee, and they have really taken reading the Book of Mormon to heart. Every time we go by and follow up on their reading they always share with us the passages they have found. All we did was ask them to read and they have taken it to heart. They have found some awesome pasages in the Book of Mormon and have been sharing them with each other. Ketlee was able to come to church yesterday but Marc has been sick so he was not able to come. We stopped by that evening to have a lesson and they shared with us what they had been reading and Ketlee had shared with Marc some things from church as well. I love to see how the gospel is becoming more a part of their daily lives!

Sister Driggs and I have been thinking and talking a lot about the temple this week. Especially as we have been teaching some families. We followed up on a family we contacted last week. We had a small lesson with them at their gate. As we were reading Moroni 10:3-5 the Spirit was there. When we were talking afterwards we were both thinking the same thing as we were talking with them, " This family will look so beautiful in the temple". We are excited to see their journey to that point. After that lesson we went to visit a recent convert family who recently moved into our area. We talked about the importance of making covenants and the people of Ammon. We talked more about the temple with them and were able to answer some of their questions. Their excitement is growing to go to the temple!

The temple brings a kind of joy that is more powerful than anything else; We were talking about it as we were biking home. We can't explain the joy, but we want everyone to have it! Go to the temple! Here they can only go once a year because the closest temple is in a different country. Take advantage of this great blessing to have a temple so close!

The gospel is amazing and brings more hope and joy than anything else. God knows his children and loves them and takes care of them in His way and in his time. Keep living the gospel joyfully. Have a great week!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 51 in the field

Bounjour mes chere freres et soeurs,

Storm update:  Yes, the storm did pass here, it just rained a lot on Thursday and we were not able to go out and work. It did not devastate us like it devastated Dominica. Dominica has 366 rivers on the island so when they get large amounts of rain it floods like crazy! We have a lot of Dominicans here on Gwada so we have been hearing a lot about it. Here we just stayed inside for a day and we were fine.

Other than being a little wet, it was a good week! We went to a wedding on Thursday after the storm passed. It was the wedding of a member and her now husband who was one of the investigators of the Elders in our branch. It was so beautiful. What makes it even more beautiful was he was finally baptized on Saturday! It was so exciting and they have already picked what temple they are being sealed in next year! Getting married in France is quite a process, it is not easy and fast like in the states. Here it takes months to do the papers and you have to go to the town hall to get married and sign the papers with witnesses and all of that. We have an investigator who has been working on her marriage papers for months, she finally has a set solid marriage date for the October 31! She is super sweet. Her name is Anny. She is from the Dominican Republic and has been taught by the missionaries for a while. Her future husband is a member who has recently come back to church. They have the cutest family. She actually asked us to be her bridesmaids, but sadly we had to decline because we can't do that as missionaries. We are so excited for her to finally be getting married.

That is something we run into a lot here in the West Indies, couples that are not yet married. When we find a couple who is married we get super excited, its like they are just asking to be taught and baptized. This week we found the cutest couple, who are married! It was the evening and we found ourselves contacting in the Raizet again. Not many people were out and it was kind of dead. We were rolling down the street and there was someone parked with their hood up. We went over to see if we could help; even though we have no mechanic skills, but it is true that the Gospel of Jesus Christ helps us in all situations of life. It was this super sweet couple. As we talked to them we found out that they are married and already have a strong faith in Christ. They told us to come by whenever, because they would like to talk with us. We were super excited. Future eternal familes make us super excited!

I also had the opportunity to go to Goyave on an exchange with Sister Hoover this week. It was super fun, I had never been in Goyave before. Goyave literally translates to the fruit guava. And funny enough I tried a guava for the first time this week while in the town named after the fruit. It was a great exchange and Sister Hoover is awesome! She has been in the field for three weeks and is doing great things!

Thanks for the Happy Birthday wishes! Today for Pday we hiked the volcano on Basse-Terre in the rain, it was so foggy but super cool! Not many people can say they hiked a volcano on their 21st birthday! Our sweet Sister Training Leader made me a cake. It has been a good day so far.

We are looking forward to a great week filled with lots of member lessons here in Abymes. I love you and I hope you have a great week too!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 50

Bonjour a tous,

We have had a good, kind of stormy, but not really, week here in Gwada.

We saw the miracle of finding two less active members this week. The first one was completely out of the blue last Monday night. Our appointment fell through and our backup so we were wandering around le Raizet. We were trying to figure out where we could knock on some doors. As we were riding around we saw a car that had its lights on still. We decides to knock on the door of a house nearby to ask if it was their car. A lady answered the door who only spoke Spanish, and a tiny bit of French. Through our broken conversation we figured out that her name is Lucia, she is from the Dominican Republic, she has been in Guadeloupe for a year and she is a member of the church. We had the opportunity to talk with her more yesterday. She was baptized when she was 9. It has been a long time since she has been to church. She is so sweet and we are excited to get to know her better and help her come back and be a part of the branch!

A couple of weeks ago we met a guy on the road who said he had talked with the missionaries in France and had been to church before here in Guadeloupe. We took his number and visited with him last week. As we visited with him we invited him to be baptized and we extended to him a baptismal date. This past week we were working with a member and we had planned to pass by and see this guy. As we were standing outside his house talking about the lesson and what we were going to teach, our member commented that there is a member with the same exact name as our investigator. He was not there so we visited someone else. That night we checked our branch list and sure enough he was on it. He is already a member! He did not tell us. Those were two of the miracles we have seen this week; It is cool that we found these people this week just as our Branch President has asked us to start focusing more on reactivating less active members.

It is a testimony to me that our Heavenly Father loves all of us and he is watching out for all of us no matter where we are.

Another fun story that goes along with that. We get new minutes every month on our phone on the 23 of the month. This month we ran out a day before so we couldn't call anyone to confirm our plans for the day. We went out with a prayer in our hearts and it was a great day! Only one lesson fell through and we found a new investigator's house without calling him! Heavenly Father is definitely watching out for us.

Have a marvelous week and know that I love you!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 49

Bounjour a tous,

It has been a good, busy, little bit crazy, week here in Gwada. We have spent a lot of time walking around Point a Pitre and waiting for buses this week. We had an awesome district activity on Saturday. It was a big Olympiad sporting event. It was super fun and I am only a little sore and a little sunburned :)

This week has not been quite as successful as we had hoped it would be. We saw some really cool investigators kind of drop off. We were a little discouraged, but the Lord is always watching over his work and putting new people in our path. Yesterday night we had a very interesting lesson. We contacted Patrice last week at her house as we were looking for an old investigator from our area book. We had a nice lesson last week, she expressed that she was very Catholic, but wouldn't mind if we came back again the next week. We went by again yesterday and the lesson didn't start out that great. She was going off about her neighbor who wants to kill her dog, but the lesson took a turn. It ended up being one of the most spiritual lessons I have been in. The spirit was so strong and we know she could feel it testifying to her. It was so cool to see how the spirit changed her heart. She went from listening just because we were there, to having a real desire to know more through the spirit.
We saw another miracle talking to a less active. He has more recently gone less active because he has been involved in some stuff he was not supposed to be in. Our lessons with him have usually been frustrating and unspiritual. It is amazing to see the change as he has started overcoming his problems. He told us he has an appointment with a counselor. It is amazing to see the change in him, he is happier, he is not angry and always trying to argue with us like before. It is a testimony to me of how the path to Christ is the only path that will really make us happy. Wickedness never was happiness.

We also had the exciting event of getting a new sister on Guadeloupe this week! Sister Hoover is new and is being trained in Goyave! We are excited to get to know her better and eventually get to know the other two new sisters who are in Martenique and Guyane as well.  The Lord is hastening his work.

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, August 10, 2015

Week 48

Bonjour,

Transfer calls were Saturday....drum roll please..... Dranks is staying together in Abymes!! And we couldn't be happier! Yes, Soeur Driggs and I have been nicknamed Dranks. It has been a good week for Dranks in Abymes.

I did start off the week in Petit Bourg on an exchange with my old companion, Soeur Dorsan. It was super fun and I learned a lot. We helped a really sweet sister in the branch clean her windows and organize her food storage and we taught some awesome lessons. With transfer calls we found out that they are putting Elders back it Petit Bourg. We are short on Sisters right now on the French side. We are down to four sisters on Gwada! President Herrington did tell us that next transfer 9 missionaries leave the mission but there are 23 coming in!  Get ready for some major changes in six weeks.

I think I have written you a little about Stevens before. He is the one with a unique sense of style. We had an awesome lesson with him this past week. He is very commited to God and to his word. He has a strong testimony of prayer and how the spirit communicates with him. We talked about the Word of Wisdom in our last lesson. Sometimes it can be a challenging topic for people here in the Caribbean. Stevens has definitely been prepared for the gospel. He admitted that it would not be easy, but he is going to work towards living it. All things are possible through Christ.

Yesterday we saw a great miracle at church. Sister Driggs had called everyone yesterday morning reminding them of church, and it was looking like no one was going to be there. We had called one couple, Marc and Ketlee Saturday night and they said they couldn't come. We were sitting in the chapel waiting for the meeting to start trying not to feel discouraged that none of our investigators were there. The biggest miracle happened. Marc and Ketlee walked in! The even bigger miracle was that the members were all over them welcoming them! We didn't even get very much time to talk with them after church because the members were so excited to see them . They even got invited to an FHE! It was one of the greatest Sundays. It strengthened my testimony of fasting. A while back we fasted for member work, for the members and us to be able to work better together to help our investigators. We saw it happen! The Lord responds in his own manner and in his own time. In total, yesterday we had 5 investigators at church, which is amazing for this branch!

The gospel is true! It is the only way to find true eternal joy! Soeur Driggs and I are excited for this transfer and have a good feeling about the things to come. Six more weeks of Dranks! Thank you for your prayers and your love. Have a great week!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

P.S. It has been a while since I have sent photos, sorry for that. Now I have a new camera so you should be getting photos from me more often. First is a photo of me and Soeur Driggs taken by Naomi, one of my favorite little girls in the branch. Second is a throw back to the 23 July, my year mark. Decided to take a classic Banks family photo outside the house like the first day of school, this was as close as I could get. Third is of the ocean in St Anne. We went visiting teaching with a member and got to see some more of the island.
That is it for this week. Bon semaine;


 

 




Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 47

Bonjour a tous,

We can tell it is summer here because everyone asks us if we are on vacation, and they look surprised when we tell them we live here. They look surprised when we tell them that and also when we say things in Créole. It's not everyday you see two little white girls speaking Créole.

During summer vacation it is a little harder to get set appointments with people. But, nevertheless we have had some great lessons this week. 
We found a really awesome new investigator this week. His name is Mardel. We decided to ride around a bit in an area we had not explored much and Sister Driggs suggested that we talk to these two guys that were talking in their front yard. We found Mardel and his neighbor Victor. We talked to them and shared the Book of Mormon and set up an appointment for later in the week. We had an awesome lesson with him. He has lots of questions, but as we shared scriptures with him he found answers to questions he has had for a long time. When we invited him to read the Book of Mormon he told us of course he would, because God gave him all the time he has, so he can take at least an hour for God if not more. Those were some of the most wonderful words I have ever heard come out of an investigators mouth! Such a contrast to the excuses that so many other people give us. Soeur Driggs was truly guided by the spirit to find him.

Yesterday a member, Soeur Monlouis, invited us over for Munch to break our fast. It was great, we tried a lot of different fruits and ate lion fish. There where two eyeballs so the Elders made us eat them, it was an interesting experience. We have some awesome members here.

The Herringtons were here in Gwada this weekend. I was talking to Sister Herrington about how great this branch is. As we were leaving after church, waving to people, pulling out of the parking lot, I had a moment of realization of how much I love the people in the Abymes Branch. They have a special place in my heart and I have learned so much from them and with them. They have definitely changed me for the better.

Missionary work is hard, sometimes heartbreaking but the greatest work on the face of the earth. It brings the greatest joy. When Christ is the center of our lives everything else really does fall into place.

I love you and have a great Christ-centered week.

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 46

Bonjour a tous,

We had a great Sunday, I hope yours was as good as ours was. As we were walking to church Soeur Batiste drove past with our investigators Emilio and Evens in her car. During sacrament meeting our investigator Stevens showed up. We were so excited! He is a man of his word, when he says he is going to do something he does it. He is awesome and he has a sense of style like no other, than maybe Snoop Dog. We gave him a plan of salvation brochure at the end of our lesson the other day. At the next lesson he had read the brochure in depth and prayed to know if what he had read is true and he told us he wants to get baptized, not right away, but he wants to be baptized.

We had the fun experience of painting the house of a friend of one of our investigators. He told us to stop by the house where he was working painting and we helped out. It was super fun and the lady whose house it was was very interested in our message. She told us that her sister is a member in France and she has seen the change the gospel has made in her life. She had lived a crazy life before but now she has a happy family and life. I could tell this is what she wanted for herself, because her life has not been easy. It was a great reminder to me that we never know who we are influencing as we live the gospel. It is important to stand as witnesses of Christ at all times and in all things and in all places, because we never know who we can help or touch. In the words of President Uchtdorf," live the gospel joyfully."

A funny story I forgot to tell you last week: Every weekend we play basketball with the branch. We always pass by Emilio and Evens house to walk with them to basketball. This past week it was a a different basketball court which was a little farther away. We only had two bikes, so we got creative. Sister Driggs and I both hopped on her bike and lent the other to Emilio and Evens. We somehow both fit on the bike seat and must have looked really funny riding down the street. Evens was on the handlebars of the other bike as Emilio pedaled, he might have broken my bell in the process, but it was really fun. I wish I had a photo to send you. I really love the people here in Abymes.

Missionary work is great! It is hard to believe I've been doing it for a year. It is not easy in any way shape or form, but it is great. He is guiding this work so staying close to the spirit is key. His plan for all of us is perfect. All He asks is our obedience to Him. He loves us so much and has given us all the tools we need to find true joy here on earth, we just need to take hold of them and use them.

I love you, thank you for your thoughts and prayers; Until next week.

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 45 in the field

Bonjour a tous!

It is crazy how time flies! Yesterday, funny enough, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting. How appropriate since it was exacly one year ago I was giving my farewell talk. It went pretty well, it was on the law of the fast.

We have had a lot of lessons fall through this week. Although none of our plans really went as planned we had some cool experiences. We have some really awesome members in our area. There is one particular family I have never been able to go over and see during my whole time in Abymes because they are never there or busy. Our lesson fell through and we were in the neighborhood so we stopped by. They were there and we were able to have a great little lesson with them. It was wonderful to get to know this sister better and hear her testimony. We were talking about prayer and the conversation changed to the temple. I really liked something she said. . .She said that she knew the gospel before she went to the temple but after she went it all made sense. I loved that! I was strengthened by her testimony of the temple and her faith.

We have seen some cool miracles this week. There was a contact the Elders had given us a while back, but every time we made an appointment it had fallen through. We were riding around in Caraque the other day on the way to an investigators house when we got a call. It was the contact, Francisca, the one the Elders had given to us. She had waved at us as we rode by, but we had never met her so we didn't know it was her. We got a call when we were farther down the street and we were able to turn around and go to her house and have a little lesson with her and give her a Book of Mormon. The Lord puts us where we need to be.

We also had this really cool guy show up at church yesterday. He talked to the missionaires about ten years ago and decided to come to church yesterday. One of the members gave him a Book of Mormon and we were able to explain it a bit. He loved church and is coming again next week. We were kind of bummed that he lives in the Elders' area, but all that matters is he is getting the gospel. It is proof that you never know what impact one contact or lesson will have on someone. They may not accept it then, but they might come around ten years later. No effort is wasted.

I love you and am grateful for your prayers and love. Have a fabulous week and I'll talk to you next Monday!

Bisous,

Sœur Banks

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week 44

Ma chère famille,

We had the wonderful opportunity to meet President and Sister Herrington; They are awesome and are going to do great things for this mission. We had a great meet-and-greet with them Friday where we got to know them a little better and were able to ask them questions.

We have taught some awesome new contacts this week! Last weekend we were waiting for Brenden, and his neighbors were walking in. They had a lot of groceries so we helped them carry some bags in. They are a beautiful family, they have a cute little girl who is 8 months old. We had our first lesson with them yesterday and talked about the restoration and eternal families. The spirit was so strong in the lesson, especially as sister Driggs shared the first vision.

Sister Driggs and I joke sometimes that we are like the dog from the movie Up, but instead of getting excited when seeing a squirrel it is when we see a family.

Guadeloupe is beautiful. We had the oppourtunity to see more of the island Saturday as we went visiting teaching with a sister in the branch. I feel blessed to be here.

We have been talking a lot about real intent lately. In Moroni 10 it talks about praying with real intent. We can read the Book of Mormon just to read and get absolutely nothing out of it, we can do the same in our prayers. It reminds me of the talk that you sent me, Mom, and how Brother Ridd talked about how he read in seminary, but all he got out of it was stars to put on a chart, because that was all he was looking for. I know that God loves us and rewards us according to the desires of our hearts. As we read with the desire to know the truth and come closer to Him, we will. He loves us and wants to help us all He can, but we must align our will with His. I know that He loves each one of us and we can better understand His love through the Book of Mormon.

Have a fabulous week. I love you,

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 43 - The Start of Barbade (Barbados)

Bonjour a tous et a toute,

The West Indies Mission is no more and we are now officially the Barbados Bridgetown Mission! We are excited to meet President and Sister Herrington this Friday! I have only heard great things about them. I was excited to hear about the changes in the Manila 9th Ward too.

We had a cool experience with our investigator Brenden. We talked to him about the temple briefly a while back, and yesterday he told us he had been thinking alot about it and really wants to go. He has a friend who lives in the same neighborhood as the temple in Santo Domingo and he is already making plans to go next spring. We were so excited! He said he could tell by the way we talked about it that is was an important special place. He also expressed his desire to be baptized; It is true he has some trials to overcome before, but he has the right vision and desires. We are so excited! 

The temple is so important. We have been talking lately about teaching with the end in mind, because baptism is only the gate by which we enter. Since coming on my mission the temple is one of the things I miss the most. I know that the covenants we make with God are the most important things we can do in this life to show our faith in Christ and be ready to meet God. In the eternities these are the things that will matter.

As I restarted the Book of Mormon this week I came across a scripture that I love: 1 Nephi 11:22-23. The love of God is the most desirable of all things and it it is the most joyous to the soul. We have felt this this week as we have taught our investigators, and especially seeing Brenden's desire to follow Christ. It is the greatest joy, there is nothing better than seeing someone come unto Christ. I love the Lord and his work.

I hope you all have a great week. Keep living the gospel joyfully!

Gros bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 42 - the last moments of the WIM

Bonjour a tous,

July is sneaking up on us and the end of the West Indies Mission. The Mehrs are officially released on the first of July. I don't know when their homecoming is,sorry.

Things have already changed a little this transfer; Right now there are only four missionaries on Grand Terre! It will probably only be for this transfer, until more missionaries come in next transfer; our zone has been combined with the Basse Terre zone.  Time really does fly by, I have been in Abymes for almost six months! I don't want to leave but I have a feeling I might get transfered this next transfer. On verra, we will see.

This week has been a busy one. We had a big miracle teaching Loic and Casia for the first time. At the beginning of my time with Soeur Eyre a really cool family gave us a ride home one day. They said they usually don't stop for anyone, but they did for us; They were talking about how they feel something is missing in their lives; We set up an appointment with them, but it ended up falling through and we could never get a hold of them. This past Sunday we were by a member's house when we ran into them again! We set up an appointment and it was an amazing lesson; They live out in the far reaches of our area, it was quite the bike ride, and it was worth it! Teaching families brings so much joy! The gospel blesses families!

I feel that we have been surrounded by some of  the kindest people this week. I feel truly blessed to be here. I love the Caribbean and the people and this branch. It will be a sad day when I have to leave the people of Abymes; I hope it is not for a long time. I love you all and I love the Lord more. Have a great week!

Much love,

Soeur Banks

Monday, June 22, 2015

Week 41

Ma cher famille,

Time flies, this coming week is the last week of the West Indies Mission! We had some cool experiences this week; One of our investigators decided to start giving up cigarettes this week; We had given him a Word of Wisdom brochure the week before and he called us the next day, very angry, saying he did not want to see us anymore; We decided to stop by this week and he told us he wants to follow the word of wisdom and he is going to start by giving up cigarettes. He made a goal to cut down this week and gave us his cigarettes. It was a miracle that he decided on his own to quit. That is the power of the word of God!

Our investigator, Brenden, finally came to church yesterday! We were so excited. Brenden is an artist. Between Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School he was standing in the hall looking at the print of the first vision on the wall. He stood there for a couple minutes and then told us that he wanted to paint that same image. We were so excited he was inspired by the story of Jospeph Smith and the gospel is inspiring his art!

There have been a lot of moments this week where I have seen the hand of the Lord as we have worked. I love this work and never want to stop doing it. There does not seem to be enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done; This work is great and I am happy to be a small part of it. Keep living the gospel joyfully! Until next week.

Love,

Soeur Banks





Monday, June 15, 2015

Week 40 in the field

Bonjour a tous,

It has been a miraculous week! We have seen the fruits of the angels working to prepare the hearts of the people in our area - Alma 13:24. There is a part of our area that has not been touched in about 2 years because we did not know it was part of our area. We ventured in this week because as we looked through the branch list we found a few less active members who lived in this area. We found where one of them lives but they were not home. We knew the Lord had sent us there for a reason, so we said a prayer that He would guide us or put the people in our path that we needed to talk to that day. We said this fervent prayer and then hopped on our bikes. We rode around and stopped to talk to this lady. We talked for a few minutes and set up another appointment. We rode around the corner and a guy pulled up next to us on his scooter and asked us if we share the word of God to which we replied yes, and we would like to share it with you. He said yes and we followed him around the corner to a little park where we sat down and taught him the restoration. We invited him to come to the baptism at the church the next day and to church on Sunday. He came to both! On Sunday we were in the neighborhood again and we ran into him again on his scooter and we pulled over and had another lesson with him. We asked him why he stopped us the other day to ask us about the word of God. He said he saw us talking to the lady around the corner and he was curious. He saw that we were so happy and that the people at church were happy and had a certain light in their eyes unlike the other Christians he knows. He said he had lost hope but when he met us he found that hope again and wants to follow Christ and will do anything it takes to do it. He accepted a baptisimal date without hesitation and is preparing.

I know that our Heavenly Father guides us to the people we need to teach. I know that Joel has been prepared for the gospel and that there is no such thing as coincedences. I am always amazed at how perfect God's plan is and how he watches over us. His timing is perfect. It all fell into place so we would meet Joel there at that time. It is a testimony to me that he loves every one of us and wants us to return to live with him again. He is watching over us and is doing everything he can to help us. It is our job to exercise our agency and faith to follow his path.

We have seen so many other miracles this week as well. We set another baptisimal date with our ami, Sonia. She is wonderful. She has had some hard things in her life and she wants a change, and now she has found it. We are looking forward to this next week and this next transfer and and all the good things they are going to bring. I love you and have a lovely week!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, June 8, 2015

Week 39

Bonjour,

It has been a good week down here in Gwada. We started our week out with an awesome district meeting with President and Sister Mehr. They left later that day to go back to Trinidad. It was sad to say goodbye for the last time, knowing we wouldn't see them again until after the mission. They will be missed. We are living in the last couple weeks of the WIM. Changes are coming.

We have seen miracles this week and we have been talking to so many people; We found two really awesome families this week. They are not just famlily with parent and children, but extended families with aunts and uncles and cousins and brothers and sisters! We are so excited! Families can be together forever! We are going to be teaching one of the families this week and the other once they all get back from a funeral on another island next week.

We saw a miracle in following the spirit when finding one of these families. We had something fall through and we were deciding where to go. Soeur Driggs suggested that we go check up on a guy named Mike that we met the other day. We went over to his apartment, he said he couldn't talk to us right then but we could come in and talk to his family. We went in and his wife and three of her sisters and their kids were all there! We shared a short message about Christ and the Book of Mormon. One of the sisters really wanted to read the Book of Mormon, she found it to be very interesting. The rest of the family was excited too! It was a miracle of following the spirit. We had planned to go somewhere else but Soeur Driggs followed the spirit and we were led to a wonderful family.

We have seen a lot of other miracles as well, like running into people we have contacted again, we had a great lesson with a less active and she was able to bring Emilio and Evens to church on Sunday, members helping our investigators get to church, fasting, and the list goes on.

Missionary work really is the best! It is true that it is not easy, but it is so rewarding and so much joy comes from it. All I can say is that this Gospel is true and there is nothing better.
I love you and have a great week!

Love,

Sister Banks

P.S. We went on a hike on the other side of the island today as a zone and I got to drive a car for the first time in almost a year! It was fun and the hike was beautiful, sorry I don't have time to send pics.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Week 38

Bonjour a tous,

This weekend has been one of the best weekends! We had Zone Conference on Friday. The sisters from Martenique and St. Maarten flew in and stayed with us, as well as the other four soeurs from Guadeloupe. So many soeurs at our house! I got to see Sister Riley again! It was cool to have so many of my past companions in one place. It was an adventurous weekend including our sink getting broken and us not having any water all weekend.

Zone Conference was amazing; it was our last one with President and Sister Mehr. It was so spiritual and I learned so much. We talked a lot about the doctrine of the atonement.

Saturday we saw so many miracles. We were visiting our friend, Christian, and we invitied him to be baptized in July. Before he said anything he pulled out his phone and wrote it in his calender! It was a cool experience. That night there was a fireside at the church. Earlier we had passed by to see our friend Brenden. He was not there but we met his friend. His friend was super excitied and told us they would both come to the fireside. Brenden had been a little hesitant to come to church. It turns out the fireside and his friend were what he needed. He came and he felt the spirit and loved it! The Lord knows exactly what each of us need, and he knows how to help us.

This week I have really realized the importance of the gospel. Nothing else in this world matters, but the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we follow him, everything else falls into place. I know that is true. It gives me an urgence to spread this to everyone, because it is the only way we can find true happiness here and in the life to come. Follow him.

I love you. have a great week!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Week 37

Bonjour ma chere famille,

What a week! So many changes! Soeur Eyre is now back in the states with her family and Soeur Driggs is here in Abymes!! We haven't even been together a week, and we have seen so many miracles already!

About 2 transfers ago Soeur Dorsan and I met this lady named Sonia who really wanted to know more about the Book of Mormon. We gave her a copy and she told us to come by a couple weeks later so she could have some time to read. We went by but she still wanted more time. This last week she called us and wanted to come to church. We found her a ride and she came! She loved it and she was asking questions and participating in Sunday School. We stopped by her house that evening and talked to her more about the plan of salvation. She had a lot of good questions and is very eager to learn more.

We met a really awesome guy this past weekend through service. We were riding our bikes and we saw a family sitting together shelling beans. We pulled over and offered to help. They offered us their chairs and we sat, shelled beans, and taught the restoration to this guy named Tiga. We are excited to teach him again this week.

As I was studying this week I was reading in Alma 19 about king Lamoni. In this story after Lamoni is overcome by the spirit and falls to the earth, there are two of my favorite women in the Book of Mormon in the chapter, Lamoni's wife and Abish. Lamoni's wife is a great example of faith, she believed the words of Ammon without a doubt in her mind when she says her husband will wake up the next day. She has some of the greatest faith among all of the Nephites; I love the story of Abish, she is a great missionary. She saw an opportunity to bring people unto Christ and she took it and ran from house to house to invite as many people as she could. These two women are such examples to me. They knew the power of God and trusted Him so much. The Book of Mormon is so great; I find myself learning so much everyday, and it gives me motivation everyday to improve and be better. I can see why it is the keystone of our religion and it is the most important book on the earth.

I love you and I love this work. I am so happy to be serving the Lord and the people here. Have a great week and read the Book of Mormon!

Love,

Soeur Banks

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 36

Bonjour a tous,

So, we got transfer calls on Saturday and...I'm training a brand new missionary, Soeur Driggs!! She comes in on Thursday. This all has been making me think back to my first few days in the mission and how crazy and different they were. I am really excited for the next 2 transfers! It is also the beginning of the last transfer of the West Indies Mission!

We had an awesome last week of the transfer here in Abymes. We saw the miracle of one of our less actives being reactivated, Frere Amador. We had fasted and prayed a lot for him and it was a miracle. We had an awesome lesson with them and his girlfriend's son now has a baptisimal date! Fasting brings miracles!

We had a funny experience this week. We were outside an apartment building where one of our investigators lives when we contacted two guys that drove up in a car. They were not very interested, but we still invited them to church and asked if they had any friends who were interested. They told us they had a friend who lived in a building around the corner, they gave us his address. The address was for an apartment on the very top floor of one the tallest apartment buildings in our area. A couple days later we had some time so we decided to hike up the 14 flights of stairs to find this guy. He wasn't there but yesterday we found ourselves in the neighborhood again so we hiked back up. A woman answered the door. Turns out there was nobody by the name they had given us who lives there, but we taught the couple that lived there and they are awesome! Looking back we realize that the guys in the car were probably just trying to give us a hard time by giving us an address on the top floor of the tallest building where they didn't really know anyone. But it turned out to be a miracle. It was a testimony to us of how perfect God's plan is. He is going to guide us to where we need to be despite the influence of the adversary. He is always stronger and His plan is perfect.

This week is going to be a crazy one with all of the changes, but it is going to be a good one. I'll probably have some good stories to tell you next week. I love you all!

Soeur Banks

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 35

Bonjour,

It was great to talk to you yesterday! Since we talked yesterday, today's email will mostly be pictures. Yesterday, after our skype we rode into Abymes and everything was shut down and there were police and Gendarmes everywhere because the President of France was in Abymes. We taught a couple lessons then headed back to the church for Sister Eyre's skype with her family.

Today for P-day we went to one of the most popular beaches in Guadeloupe, Dahaie, with all of the missionaries. We have a fun FHE planned for tonight with the family Felicte. We are looking forward to a great last week of the transfer and our last week together.

Now for a little explanation of the photos: us with a less active part member family, Frere Amador is the member, he came to church yesterday!; Sister Eyre and I with our madras head scarfs at the beach this morning; our investigator, Christian, who lives out in the middle of nowhere, but he rode his bike with us to show us the way. He is an artist and he is really cool. Last Tuesday before district meeting the Elders caught an iguana outside the church and we all took pictures with it.

That's it for Abymes for this past week. There will be a lot of new exciting news in the week to come with baptisms and transfers! Have a great week!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

 


 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week 34

Bonjour a tous,

It's been a good week in Gwada. We saw miracles yesterday at church. A while back, one of the young men in the branch (Jospeh, he is working on his mission papers right now) gave us the contact of his girlfriend Kharleen. We started teaching her at the church with Jospeh a couple times a week. Before he introduced us to his girlfriend he had taught her a lot about the gospel. He had given her a Book of Mormon and she had been reading (she was in Mosiah when we met her) and she has a notebook where she writes all of her questions and verses she likes, basically a study journal. she prayed and received a strong testimony that the gospel is true. Her big challenge was her family. Her aunt, who she lives with, is very Catholic and was not ok with her leaving the Catholic church. We fasted with her a few weeks ago so she would be able to talk to her aunt and come to church. Yesterday she was able to come! She loved it! I have never seen anyone love church as much as she did yesterday! Fasting brings miracles! She is so excited to be baptized and she wants to be a missionary too.

Soeur Eyre and I have compiled a list of all of the less active members in our area and it is our quest to find them all. It is really fun and it is kind of like detective work.  A member helped us find a less active couple weeks ago who we have started visiting. He has had a rough past, and he had an accident and he does not remember much from his life before it, including his baptism. We are starting with him from the beginning to help him back to the path of Christ.

This transfer is flying by! Soeur Eyre only has two more weeks on her mission! Time flies. It is going to be a great two weeks. Have a great week! Je vais parler avec vous bientôt!

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Monday, April 27, 2015

Week 33

Bonjour a tous,

This past Saturday Soeur Eyre and I went on an adventure to Basse Terrre (way on the other side of the island) to go to a baptism. Fedler got baptized! Attached is a picture of Soeur Dorsan and I with Fedler and the Basse Terre Elders (Elder Roberts and Elder Stewart-Johnson) who taught him after he moved. It was an awesome baptism, the spirit was so strong and he was so happy to finally be baptized. It was a great day!

We had an awesome experience yesterday with a family we have been trying to teach. The missionaries before had taught them, but we had not been able to teach their whole family yet. The Dad is a less-active member and the Mom used to study with the missionaries but for some reason stopped, her three kids used to meet with the missionaries too. We passed by earlier in the week and taught the 13 and 11 year-old boys and helped them with their English homework. Yesterday we decided to pass by to see them. The adventure started when I fell off my bike right in front of their house. I didnt get hurt, just scratched up my hands a bit, but it was kind of a miracle because she let us in and fixed up my hands. We talked to her and her kids and showed them the "Because He Lives" video from Easter. The spirit was so strong and it testified to them that they need to start back on the path of Christ. It was powerful. The best part was her son Eric's prayer at the end. He was grateful for the lesson and asked Heavenly Father to bless them so the missionaries could come over more often so they could all be baptized. It was a sweet experience.

We have this really awesome old lady who is a member in our area, her name is Mamie Pauline. She was one of the first members in Guadeloupe and she used to walk to church, quite a ways, when the church was new here. She is awesome and we know her testimony could really help our investigators. Last night we came up with a great plan. We have an investigator who lives by Mamie, so we are going to bring her over to Mamie's house so we can teach her together. I am really excited for it. Our first lesson is on Wednesday. We have some awesome members here.

Speaking of awesome members our branch President, President Bargo, is awesome and so excited about missionary work and our branch mission plan. And he gave us Marcudjas yesterday (in English it is a passion fruit, also there is a pic attached) , so good. 

That's all for this week. Have a fabulous week and know that I love you.

Bisous,

Soeur Banks

Elder Roberts, Soeur Banks, Fedler, Soeur Dorsan, and Elder Stewart-Johnson


Marcudjas

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 32

Bonjour a tous et a tout,

Do you know what is crazy?! I hit the halfway mark of my mission this week! Time flies and I don't really like that it is going so fast! It has been a great week here in Abymes. We have been working hard and I think we biked the Tour de France twice this week! We have biked alot and seen a lot of great things.

We were biking out to Perrin this week which is one of the farther places in our area. We had some time before our appointment so we decided to find the house of a member who lives out there. We knew the name of the road so we started biking around looking for it. After a few minutes we found it and a few minutes after that we found her sister-in-law's house, who then guided us to the member's house. We stopped by and she let us in. We started talking to her about the branch mission plan and she told us she had been thinking about it and she gave us a list of 8 people she wants us to teach! It was truly a miracle! We showed up at her door out of the blue and she was prepared for us. We are excited to teach her family and friends this week.

We also had the oppourtunity to find some less active members this week; our district president was working with us and introduced us to a less active who then showed us another less active and his family (who are not baptized yet)! There are so many exciting things going on in Abymes! We have had some amazing spirit-filled lessons this week and we have 6 investigators who are preparing for baptism.

Today for P-day we went on a hike with all the missionaries on Guadeloupe and the Assistants to the President who are here for a few days. We hiked to a waterfall on Basse Terre. It was beautiful and a very muddy hike, it was fun.

There are so many things I want to tell you, but I can't fit them all in this email. This week I have felt so grateful to be a missionary and so grateful for the Lord. This work is truly amazing and I am so glad to be a small part of it. This gospel holds so many blessing for those who are willing to follow the example of Christ. I love this work and I love these people. We are looking forward to another great week. I love you and have a great week!

Bisous,

Sœur Banks

Soeur Eyre and I at waterfall