Monday, February 4, 2013

Semana ciento dos: I Couldn't Have Dreamed Up A Better Mission

Semana ciento dos:
I Couldn't Have Dreamed Up A Better Mission

Well this is it! This will be my last email home. I don't think I ever imagined this day would come but it has. It still hasn't fully hit me that I've served for two years, I've had moments where I've felt it but for the most part I feel like Wednesday is going to come and I'm going to put on my white shirt, tie, and tag and just do what I've always done. This has been a really good week even with more people slamming the door in our faces. Haha. The Oliva’s family came to church which made me happy! We tracted a lot and found some new people to teach (all the tracting explains why more people were rude), and to top it all off the branch threw a surprise party for me on Sunday night.

Last Monday after emails we went and got to play basketball with four other companionships of elders. We haven't exercised in awhile so my lungs were on fire but it was a lot of fun. We went over to the suit shop because the Carpenters were there. They are just the nicest people! They wanted to buy me a suit because I'm going home but I insisted my suits are just fine. Elder Ayala ended up getting suits instead which made me happier than anything. He needed new suits more than Elder Wright and I. That night we spent WAY too much time teaching a "pastor" who, come to find out is a member. It wasn't till I committed him to read and pray about The Book of Mormon that he told us he was baptized and that we might consider him to be an apostate. I really felt sorry for him more than anything after he said that though. I could see that he has had things happen in his life that have been difficult and yet there still is a part of him that knows The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church. It just reaffirmed to me the power and divine authenticity of The Book of Mormon. It is after all the keystone of our religion.

Tuesday was tracting day. Elder Wright went on exchanges and crazy Elder Banta came to our area. By the end of the day Elder Banta was pretty frustrated because he didn't know what was going on. It reminded me of how hard my first few days in the mission field were when I didn't understand Spanish. Now I'm working on reading the Book of Mormon in German but that is a WHOLE other story. :) We had a good lesson with Natanael and Ana on the word of wisdom. They drink a lot of coffee so the next time we teach them I told them we are going to take their coffee. Nathanael is a good guy. The will probably be getting baptized in two weeks!

Wednesday wasn't too exciting. We had a few good lessons but I felt really sick all day. I must have ate something bad because I had no energy at all and could not eat.

Thursday we helped Natanael and Ana move. It was fun getting to help them and not just be a missionary but be their friend as well. I think it is small acts of kindness that help people to know we really do love them. I love them so much and I know they need what we have. There is no other church with the fullness of the gospel. I saw this quote that says, " A mission is not a casual thing, it is not an alternative program of the church. Neither is a mission a matter of a choice anymore than tithing is a choice, anymore than sacrament is a choice. Of course we have our free agency, but the Lord has given us choices." - President Spencer W. Kimball. I love that quote because serving a mission brings more blessings than any mind can comprehend unless they had dawned the tag, which carries the name of the Savior for 18 or 24 months.

Saturday was a really good day. We had dinner at the Gonzalez's house over in Sunset and the Alvarado’s also came over as well. Both of the families are two of my favorites that I've met here. Sister Gonzalez made us a great dinner and the company was great. What more could I ask for? After dinner we had a GREAT lesson at the visitor center with the Oliva’s family. There is just something special about that place that helps investigators realize that this is not just a good church, this is His church. This church does not just teach good things, it teaches the only full gospel of the Father and of the Son.

Sunday came and the Oliva’s family came to church and so did Serafin. There were a couple of other families I expected to be there but I was happy to see those that did come. I got up and bore my testimony. It was a weird feeling to know that was my last time I would ever do that as a missionary. Later on in the day we had dinner with Indira and her two sisters. We have only been teaching Indria and her family for a couple of weeks now so I thought it was nice of them to feed us. Jose Chavez (President Chavez's son) came with us. We had ceviche and it was really good! It is the perfect meal, especially in the summer when it is hot. We went and taught a couple people. One of them was an older lady that insisted on covering her head to pray and changing into a skirt because she said pants are for men... even though she was wearing pants... it was interesting. We left because we supposedly had a meeting with President Chavez and brother Lopez about missionary work. We got to the primary room and there were about 75 people there all from the different Spanish branches that I have served in here in St. George. Elder Ayala recorded me walking into the room. I was completely in shock. I had no idea about any of it and just to see all these people that have been apart of my life for the past two years was humbling. Even some of our investigators came. Several people got up and spoke and thanked me for what I've done. They also had a dinner and everything afterwards. I couldn't believe it.

Looking back on my mission I just feel so blessed. Through the good times and the trying times I look back and realize I never would have envisioned my mission to be what it has been- I wouldn't change any of it either. I really couldn't have dreamed a better mission experience and for that I know the Lord has single handily directed all of my affairs. I love you all. I will see you at 12:14 pm. Remember to replace fear with faith. Vaya con Dios.

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Semana ciento: Free And Easy Down The Road I Go

Semana ciento:

Free And Easy Down The Road I Go

Quierdia familia,

It has been a really good week out here. We have been really busy and having to run all over the place! I hope Bug got my package. I didn't get an email from him. Mom, I will be sending home a box with lots of stuff soon. I figure it is just less of a hassle to send it all and that way I don't have to worry about it at the air port. Just be careful lifting it. It is REALLY heavy.

Tuesday was a strange day. At 1:30 pm I went to the temple with President and Sister Leonard, Elder Lessie, and Sister Houle. It was a great experience to go through and feel the spirit after a rough few days. After going to the temple we went to President Leonard's and had dinner. I ate probably the biggest steak I've ever eaten in my life! We had steaks that were 16 oz and other good food. It was fun to look through picture books and see pictures of when I came into the mission and see other missionaries that are already home. It has been neat to be apart of the fabric of this mission since almost the beginning. Elder Lessie's parents drove up from San Diego and he went home with them that night. It was strange to see that because that will be me in a few weeks. The best part of the night though was getting to go to the visitor center and meet up with Elder Wright and Elder Ayala. Just after six hours of not working I was ready to get back out and hit the streets. I love being a missionary!

After the departing missionary activities I was ready to tear it up. We tracted a lot in the afternoon Wednesday and in the night we had several good appointments.  We had seven lessons on Wednesday and four on Thursday. On top of that we found seven new investigators this week (five on Friday), which we really needed. Being in a threesome has been a blast! (That’s where there are 3 Elders who work together instead of just 2 Elders) I didn't think it would work very well teaching but somehow the fluidity is there and we are teaching well together. It has taken some getting used to not talking so much but I always am willing to change if it means we can become more effective teachers. Elder Ayala just makes Elder Wright and I die laughing all the time. Elder Ayala and I have now been companions for three transfers and it is great. On Monday he got his haircut and the barber lost the guard and chopped a big chunk out of Elder Ayala's hair. We felt so bad for him but I was crying in the barbershop because I was laughing so hard. This week has been full of good times AND the work is going well. I think part of the reason for the success we are having is because we are having fun. It has been a perfect balance and the days just fly by!

President Chavez's son just got home on Thursday from the Provo Mission. Hopefully he will be able to come out with us to teach. We visited them ten minutes after they got home and he looked like he felt out of place. I can't imagine how he felt.

Sunday was pretty frustrating. We planned to have eight people at church and only one investigator came. I work so hard and they seem so excited to come and then they just don't. It just doesn't make sense at times but I just have to stay confident in the fact I'm doing all I can.

Well I love you all. I hope you are feeling better mom. You never mention how you are doing. Remember to replace fear with faith and pray daily! Vaya con Dios.

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion

Monday, January 14, 2013

Semana Noventa y nueve: How Can You Respect Deception?

Semana Noventa y nueve: How Can You Respect Deception?

Hola familia,

It has been an interesting week. It has been full of mount of olive highs and gull of misery lows. It is funny how I thought that after a while I would be able to see the curve balls coming but from day one till the end I've learned you have to roll with the punches. I hope all is well back home. I got my travel itinerary this week. It is an odd feeling to have those papers.

The trip to the temple was really good last preparation day. It really does change your week and mindset when you take time to go to The House of The Lord. As it says in Habakkuk, "But the LORD is in his holy temple..." Where else could you possibly want to go than to The House of The Lord to start your week? We had a couple good lessons that night as well. The best was with the Oliva’s family and Angel was able to really help us out. I just enjoy teaching!

Wednesday was pretty miraculous. It started off like any other normal to slowish day. After lunch were trying to contact various people but no one answered. We were sitting in the van and not ten seconds after I said, "What are we going to do?" we got a text from the Sister missionaries in the visitor center saying a Hispanic woman needed a blessing. We headed over to the visitor center and on our way over the Buena Vista sisters called and said they had tried everyone but no one could give their investigator a blessing. Both blessings went really well and were definitely not coming from my thoughts. It was a humbling experience to see Him use us and the priesthood as instruments in His hands. What a special privilege it is to have Heavenly Father's authority as a result of the restored gospel. Who says that if God wants something done he won't just text or call?! :)

The rest of the week was okay until Saturday night at Texas Roadhouse. Elder Wright, Elder Cacia, and Elder Earle got their transfer calls and I had to wait till Sunday night to get mine. Elder Ayala is coming down here to Pineview Spanish to be with Elder Wright and he will be the district leader. Elder Cacia is going up to Nephi to be a district leader, and Elder Earle is staying in Washington English to train. After a long drawn out discussion. I am staying in Pineview Spanish. I was supposed to go to the Red Cliffs Stake to be with the zone leaders but it makes no sense to move with such little time. The branch is really happy that I'm staying and so are the Carpenters.

Make it a great week and remember to replace fear with faith. Vaya con Dios.

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion

Monday, January 7, 2013

Semana Noventa y Ocho: Kings Of St. George

Semana Noventa y Ocho:

Kings Of St. George

Dear Family,
Well another week has flown by. I got the Jesus post card you sent mom. It took till Friday to get here though and you sent it before New Years. Kinda strange. I'm excited the holidays are over and we can get back to a normal teaching schedule. It was hard to make appointments because everyone was busy but things should get back to normal. We had a lesson at the temple visitor center yesterday in the afternoon and I saw The Morgan’s. Sister Morgan said she talked to you. My biggest question though is how did you get her number?

As difficult as New Years was to teach, it was also a lot of fun. On New Years Eve we went to this beautiful new house in the Southgate community of Bloomington Hills. It had gigantic 14-foot glass windows everywhere that looked out over downtown St. George. In one room the light fixture is all hand blown glass just like they have in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It was impressive! The family made us dinner; brought us ice cream, and we got to watch the Lion King 2 in their theater. I feel so out of place in places like that because I'm used to trailer parks and modest houses but that's what makes the mission fun. After that we had Elder Cacia and Elder Earle with us. Elder Cacia wanted to visit a family up in stone cliffs so on our way home we dropped by. Just to get into the neighborhood you have to talk to a guard at the guardhouse. My voice recordings will explain more but that was a fun night!

New Years day was fun as well. As a district we had an activity at the Stewart's again in Washington Fields. We decided to do "missionary Olympics" but it turned out pretty to be less of a test of who was the fastest or the strongest- it was more of a test to see who could eat the grossest thing. The first game the sisters made up was called fear factor. My name was picked and so was Elder Hawkins so our companions had to join us and see which companionship could drink the most liquid the fastest. It makes me wonder how none of the sisters names were picked? Especially, considering they knew it was made of some sick combination of salsa, applesauce, skittles, hot sauce, and other nasty stuff. I drank the most and got a lot down before my gag reflex kicked in. Unfortunately, I think there is a video of that floating around. Afterwards we some other games but for the sake of time, saving face, and this being public; the recordings will explain it all. We finished Tuesday night though with two new investigators making that a total of eight solid new investigators over the past two weeks! I'm doing what President Leonard asked of me and getting the branch off of life support one step at a time.

Wednesday during the day I felt sicker than a dog. I've been semi sick for a while but it finally hit me on Wednesday morning. Sister Carpenter has been really sick as well and she wanted me to take it easy but it just doesn't work that way out here. We went out and taught in the evening and I'm glad we did it because we invited Nathanel and Ana to be baptized and they said yes! Another blessing is that the Oliva’s family is so prepared to learn. Sister Olivas took her Book of Mormon to Las Vegas over the New Year and read. It has just been so neat to see people start taking baby steps back to return back to the presence of Our Father in Heaven.

Friday was just unreal how good it was. Dinner with Elder Cacia and Elder Earle at Texas Roadhouse was a blast, people were extremely generous to us, our lessons were perfect, and the spirit taught me a lot of things during studies. What more could I ask for in a day? After Friday night I just felt like the king of St. George. To everyone who laughs at missionaries called to Utah...I can just laugh inside. I wouldn't want to be called to any other mission in the world!

Sunday was stake conference and we had investigators come. I think that was a first for me on my mission. I had to basically baby sit for two hours but whatever it takes for our investigators to feel the spirit I will do! I've felt really worn out and fatigued lately from lots of stuff I think. I think having a young companion keeps me on my toes but it also has meant more work. We are going to the temple today, which will recharge my spiritual batteries and keep me sprinting to the end. I've learned so much out here. I love the temple. You don't have to go Israel to walk where Jesus walked, just go to the temple. I love you all. Remember to replace fear with faith. I'm truly livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios.

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion