Pageant Week

Last week I had someone tell me “Wow, you just went in and won your state title and the international title like it was nothing. You make it look easy!”

Although the comment was flattering, it could not have been further from the truth! There were many times during my years in pageantry when the crown was placed on another contestant's head and not mine, but that taught me great life lessons. You see, when the crown was placed on my head on August 1st, that moment captured 12 years of hard work, persistence and prayers. It really was a dream that came true!

So you may wonder, what it was like to finally fulfill a dream. Well, let’s rewind for a minute….

The beginning of pageant week started on a high note, as I came in early to watch the Mrs. International pageant. Although I was excited to see all the women compete, I was a little biased since my sister queen was competing! By the end of the night, my sister queen, Farabe’ Algor was now the international queen! My teen sister queen and I could not have been more thrilled for her! But I will admit, the pressure was now on!

I am really glad that I came early as I was able to take that Sunday before pageant week started to be able to rest. I slept in, went to brunch with my family, worked on my personal website and then spent time in prayer as I prepared to enter what would be a mentally and physically tough week. For those of you who compete next year, I highly recommend coming in a day or two early so that you have time to collect yourself before beginning the week of competition!

I was so excited about orientation, as I would finally get to meet all of the other contestants that I only knew through Facebook and Instagram! I feel a special connection with the pageant system in that faith is a huge part of the Richardson’s mission. So I loved the fact that we started orientation with a prayer, and I also loved having Bible study after orientation with some of the contestants! It really helped calm my nerves and allowed me the opportunity to share my faith with others!

The day around Jacksonville was so much fun, and I want to thank the city for treating us like royalty! I loved learning how to make candy at Sweet Pete’s, and although I did not buy any while we were on the tour, I did make a hard dash to the store after the pageant was over! Being the sports fan that I am, I had such a great time touring Jaguars stadium! I may or may not have been trying to get some tips that I could send to my Houston Texans! Just kidding…maybe! 

Since this system has a mission to give back to the community, I am really glad that we were able to add this to our week. Making blankets to send to the children’s hospital was incredibly special. I was so excited to go to the PACE Center as I really like working with teenagers and young adults. There was one girl who really touched me, as our goal was to speak into the lives of these girls who have gone through so much. However, this young lady spoke with such peace and positivity. Although she had a rough past, she continued to smile, and I could really see the joy and gratitude that she had in her heart. I will never forget her.

One of my favorite parts of competing is the interview phase. My interview time was at 12:30, so I was able to rest and do my devotional before meeting the judges. I remember walking in with so much peace and feeling as though I was just having friendly conversations…at no point did I feel like I was being “judged”! But I think that speaks to how amazing our judges were.

From rehearsals to prelims and then making final preparations, it was now the morning of the final show. I remember waking up and telling God, “You know the plans that are for my life. If that includes this crown, then I thank you in advance. If it does not, then I will continue to be grateful with the title of Miss Texas International.” I do not remember much of the final show as it all seems like a blur now…so I can not wait to get the DVD! I do remember standing with the other ladies thinking that any of them would make an amazing Miss International, as I could not be more impressed with how beautiful, smart and passionate all of the contestants were. I do remember them calling my name as the winner and tears streaming down my face. In just that instant, I felt God say “It’s yours…I trust you to do the work I’ve called you to do.”

Just like my pageant week started with a prayer from Mrs. Richardson, the week ended with a prayer too! Miss Alaska, asked if she could pray over me before I left Jacksonville. I really do appreciate the prayer that she prayed over me for so many reasons, but mostly because it showed how strong our sisterhood really is. 

So I end this blog stating that I am very committed to the honor and responsibility that comes with being Miss International 2015. I also want to thank those who have supported me to, through and since the pageant! The prayers and encouragement mean the world to me. I also encourage my fellow pageant sisters to come back next year, if you feel that God has called you to do so. We all know that only one person can win the crown, maybe next year it will be you!

His faithful servant,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015


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