Written by Jennifer Banks
Elder Matthew Banks is serving in the Stockholm Sweden Mission. He entered the MTC on 28 Oct 2015 and arrived in Stockholm on 8 Dec 2015.
Just nine short months ago Matthew was a Woodbridge SHS Viking rowing at Nationals. Now he is in the ancient land of the Vikings working to bring their descendants to a greater knowledge of God and Jesus Christ. On the surface, these seem to be very different occupations, but dig a little deeper and there are some striking similarities. Both crew and a mission require self-discipline, sacrifice, and the willingness to work very hard. Neither of them tend to provide rewards until after a great deal of effort has been invested. A recent quote from one of Matthew’s emails helps to illustrate this:
“Sunday was a pretty crazy day. We were supposed to have an investigator named Mohammed come to church, but he never showed. Then after church an old investigator named Reza, whom we had lost contact with quite some time ago, showed up right before Vendelsö’s ward started. It was totally unexpected, and we sat in the first half of Sacrament meeting with him before we had to go, and then the Vendelsö Elders took care of him for the rest of church. But then as we were making lunch, we got a call from the Vendelsö Elders saying a woman named Monica was at the church and wanted to talk to us. Monica is another old investigator who seemed pretty golden, and her face just lit up when we gave her a Book of Mormon. But then one day she told us that she was no longer interested in taking the lessons and didn’t want contact anymore. That was pretty disappointing, but here she was, several weeks later, wanting to start meeting again. It was a pretty crazy day, with people from our past popping up all over the place. We had been talking about how we didn’t know what else to do here in Västerhaninge, and how nothing was working, and how we weren’t getting any new investigators. It just goes to show if you just keep working hard every day, stuff will start to happen.”
As parents, we want our children to grow and develop attributes that will help them to have a successful and fulfilling life. Matthew’s mission will be a life-changing experience for him. He is having the opportunity to stretch himself and learn what he is truly capable of doing. He is also having the opportunity to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ as he learns to rely ever more upon Him and to follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Our family is also blessed as he shares his mission through his emails providing an example of righteous living and the blessings of the gospel.