Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Happy Birthday Colton!

Happy Birthday to Colton! 

This young man is turning seven this Friday. He is a cuddler, like his cousin Russ. Both are content to sit for awhile in the crook of their Grandpa's arm. Colton  worked extremely hard this year in school and he had success!  Love his smile, jokes, and hugs. Wish I could get one right now!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Elder and Sister Nielson

DISCLAIMER:  These are unedited notes I took, when the head of the Church's missionary department,  Elder Nielson and his wife, came and spoke to our missionaries at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitor's Center. I am not posting for anyone to read, although you are welcome to.  I am posting only so I can remember my notes and hopefully the feelings I had listening to him. It was an amazing meeting. We sat for four hours and when they were done, I thought I could sit and listen all day. What a testimony building experience it was for me.

Elder Brent Nielson June 17, 2017 Washington D.C. North Mission
Image result for elder brent nielson lds church

ELDER NIELSON: 70,000 missionaries, 20,000 – 30,000 baptisms a month, 16 million members

D&C 1:19 Lord will make weak strong

D&C 133:59, “And by the weak things of the earth the Lord shall thresh the nations by the power of his Spirit.

D&C 44:1-2, “Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants, it is expedient in me that the elders of my church should be called together, from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, by letter or some other way. And it shall come to pass, that inasmuch as they are faithful, and exercise faith in me, I will pour out my Spirit upon them in the day that they assemble themselves together.

D&C 131:7-8, “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.

When we have the spirit poured out upon us, he becomes our teacher and we learn more and faster.

D&C 44:4 – success

**Elder Nielson said he has personally seen missionaries assigned to a mission president not a mission. He said missionary, missions geographic, and mission presidents are all on the screens in the process.

SISTER NIELSON: How to be a good companion

-There is a difference in tolerating someone and embracing or loving them. When you embrace someone you grow in talents, and experience. She suggested missionaries write to their companion’s parents. You and your companion are on the same team, no criticizing.
Principle: your companion is trying to offer the same thing to the mission you are. Love and respect his efforts.

-You are not sent to change your companion. Learn everything you can from your companion.
Mission president prays about who should be companions. Your companion has something to offer you. Open your heart, find out who your companion really is and what you are supposed to learn from him.
Principle: Let your companion be who he is. Your companion is the whole package. He might be the biggest annoyance and biggest blessing to you.

-Principle: See beyond yourself and try to bless your companion.
Converts will see if you are united as a companionship. Heavenly Father loves diversity.

ELDER NIELSON: Elder Bednar’s talks: Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease & The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality

Always going to have trials, that’s why we came to earth. We are made to have trials.
Mosiah 24:15 they did submit all their will to the Lord w/patience and cheerfulness.

There are two powers of the Atonement:

Redeeming Power: accessed by prayer, baptism, repentance, remission of sins
Enabling Power: accessed by our improving righteousness. Savior did not just die for our sins, but wants to live in us. Our experience with the Savior is uniquely ours. Thru His enabling power we don’t just carry our burdens with ease, but our capacity to do more increases.

Talk by Pres. Kimball: Give Me This Mountain

When asked “Have you been saved by His grace?” Answer is yes, but need to ask back, “Have you been changed by His grace?

Elder Flandro: 2nd Corninthians? Our strength becomes perfect in Christ.

Mosiah 27:25 – we all have to change!
Alma 23:7-8 Description of what change looks like:

1 .Laid down their weapons of rebellion
2.Did not fight against God anymore

Their sons were the armies of Helaman. When we don’t bury our weapons of rebellion, God cannot use us.

How do we access His redeeming power? Repent
How do we access His enabling power? Submit our will. It’s what the Savior did for us (Mosiah 15:7)

Do the things we see Him do – become a disciple D&C 109:73-74

ELDER NIELSON: FINDING - Goal is to be teaching all the time, not just finding

Google Headquarters – they know a lot about everyone and have shown the Church how to find those who are might be most receptive to message of the gospel. Your mobile device is the fastest growing technology ever. Missionaries with tablets have an app that locates for them in an area the house with the person(s) most likely to be receptive to the message of the gospel. 2016 – 300,000 referrals from on line searches of Book of Mormon. Ex: Book of Mormon play in Melboure Australia 10’ high Book of Mormon you could walk into. 30 sec. videos of people sharing one verse of Book of Mormon.

ELDER NIELSON: Answered missionary questions

2 Nephi 2:14 -1.Things to act 2.Thing to be acted upon

Everything God created were to be acted upon, except us, His children. 
Satan desires us to become agents to be acted upon instead of agents to act.

Story of Peace Corp: 7,000 volunteers
Why do we have so many missionaries? 
-gift of tongues

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Southern Maryland - Part 2

After the lighthouse, we went to St. Mary's City, Maryland's first colonial settlement and capitol. It is the fourth oldest permanent English settlement in the United States and  now a large, state-run historic area, reconstruction of the original colonial settlement, living history area and museum complex. St. Mary's City is also considered the birthplace of religious freedom in America, being the first North American colonial settlement ever established with the specific mandate of being a haven for both Catholic and Protestant Christian faiths. It is also an internationally recognized archeological  research area and training center for archaeologists. There have been over 200 archeological digs in St. Mary's city over the last 30 years.  Archaeological research continues in the city.  We went on a day when it was closed, so no tours, or living history, which for us was a bonus, but the pictures look a little lonely.

Southern Maryland - Part 1

We spent a day in Southern Maryland after our sailing trip. Piney Point was a fun place to visit. We climbed the lighthouse, toured the keeper's home, which was coast guard quarters later, and toured an old boat museum that had four huge original boats made for work in the Chesapeake Bay.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sailing on the Patuxant River

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A generous member,  and his two neighbors, take the senior missionaries sailing every year. Three sailboats, hot sun, no wind, but a beautiful two hour ride. The Patuxent River is one of more than 150 rivers that empty into the Chesapeake watershed. The Chesapeake is the largest estuary on the continent, the third largest in the world, and covers 64,000 square miles.  We came back to lunch of fresh crab, grilled chicken, and all the trimmings at the member's beautiful home on the water. The crabs were puny compared to the Dungeness we ate in Washington, which made them more work, but they were still delicious!

President Johnson, Sister Lassiter and Sister Gines, who are going home and I will miss them.
They are so funny and wonderful women.

Crabs were small compared to west coast Dungeness.

But they were delicious!

Huler Grandkids!

Thanks to these super grandkids for their support of Grandpa and Grandma Banks on their mission!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Janet Kuffour June 4, 2017

Janet's Story

We met Janet at the ward we are assigned to attend, the Quince Orchard Ward.  Her father was killed by an off duty drunk policeman when she was nine. Her mother died of an aneurism when she was twenty-one. She has had a very challenging life.  She has a daughter, and two grandsons, and a son, Mecca, who lives with her.  Last year Janet and Mecca went through a home invasion. Mecca was critically stabbed,  and would have died except for the exceptional care by the medical staff at the trauma hospital he was taken to.  During that horrifying night Janet prayed to Heavenly Father that  if he would spare Mecca's life, she would change her life.  Months later, at a bus stop, some missionaries walked by Janet and Mecca, turned around and walked back to them and asked them, how they were doing. Janet told them okay, but they could be better. That is when her journey to baptism started. When we moved into the ward  it was instant mutual love, and friendship. She calls us her mom and dad. I wish she could meet her "siblings", they would love her.

A side note, she is so funny.  She calls the GPS on our phones, Ms. Know It All, and we were in the car with her once and she told Elder Banks not to listen to Ms. Know It All, and to go different way.

She already had a strong testimony of her Savior, the gospel of Jesus Christ just put it all together for her. Then missionaries changed, and they recognized her readiness to be baptized. Greg and I were blessed to be a part of  teaching her the discussions.  We were able to be with her when the elders taught her at the Washington DC Temple Visitor's Center, where there is access to some wonderful films and the presence of the temple so close is strongly felt. We were able to take her to a Why I Believe fireside with Eric Weddle, who plays for the Baltimore Ravens. She brought her grandson, Teddy. They loved it.
Teddy and Eric Weddle of the Baltimore Ravens
Elders Chang and Hawkins challenged her to baptism the first time they taught her and she said yes, she was ready. She was baptized,  Friday, June 2nd.  She brought her godmother, Mecca, his girlfriend, and Teddy to her baptism. It was wonderful. When she came up out of the water, she put her face in her hands and cried. When Bishop Wonnacott spoke to her and her family, he challenged her family to help her stay on the path and invited them to join her. He is a wise bishop.

Janet and Mecca

Elder Hawkins, Bishop Wonnacott, Janet, Elder Guymon, Elder Chang

Sunday, June 4, Janet was confirmed a member of the church and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost by Greg.  Teddy, Mecca, and his girlfriend came, which was just wonderful.  She was so happy they came.  Greg said when they went up to the stand and the men were trying to figure out where to put their hands, the bishop took both of Greg's hands and firmly laid them on Janet's head.  Later while in Relief Society, Janet was telling us about a relative who was baptized and fainted when she received the Holy Ghost (different church).  Then Janet, said, when she went up to receive the Holy Ghost herself the hands were firmly placed on her head and she knew she wasn't going anywhere, fainting or otherwise.

One other miracle:  One of the nurses in the trauma hospital Mecca was taken to when he was attacked was is in the ward today. She recognized Mecca, and they were able to talk. She said Mecca was one of their success stories and they talk about him and his story a lot at work. Amazing!