Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Give em' Heaven and baptize the Hell out of them

I am so excited to get out and teach the people of Utah! :) We had a substitute teacher this week and he told our class the phrase above. I've adopted it as one of my new mottos. haha Week 5 is almost here and I'm half way done with my stay here at the MTC. Overall at the midpoint this experience has taught me a lot about not only Spanish but how amazing the gospel of Jesus Christ is. I am really loosing myself in the work and I LOVE IT!

This week was full of changes once again. My newest companion is Elder Bockelman. He grew up in Layton Utah but is from Portsmouth Virginia. My whole district has either lived in Utah at one point or currently lives in Utah except for me. I’m starting to understand where the term "Utah Mormon" comes from. I do know one girl that doesn't fit in that category though. :)

Last Tuesday I got my hair cut and it turned out pretty good. I was worried it would look bad but I was really impressed. One of the stylists said she dated President Lenard's son and he expects a lot out of his missionaries. It was good to find out a little bit about him and his wife. One reason I love Tuesday's is because a lot of missionaries leave so they end up putting the things they cannot take with them in these boxes in the bathrooms called "the free box". I'm telling you I have found some awesome stuff in these bins. It has almost become a hobby of mine to check them every Tuesday night. I have so much Candy it doesn't all fit in one drawer! All future missionaries should take advantage of this when they come to the MTC.

Wednesday was the day I moved back into my old room and back to my same old bed. Elder Kirkham left for Spain and now our district is down to six Elders. It’s nice to finally have one companion again.

Thursday was just a really good day for some reason. I just felt like I learned a ton and my companion and I really got along well. I went to the travel office just to find out if I'm flying or driving and I found out... I'M FLYING! It's a little strange that they have me fly from Salt Lake to St. George but I'm happy to be flying. The only bummer is I leave on April 27th. All the other Elders in my district leave the 26th so I'm going to be with another district for a day.

Saturday I saw my old friend Cody Hover! I played basketball with him back in 8th grade and then he moved to Utah. Elder hover is going to Chile. I'm so excited for him. It was great to have a blast from the past.

This Sunday was fast Sunday because next week is General Conference. President Brown gave a really good talk during mission conference about the Atonement and the sacrifice Christ endured when he atoned for all our sins. I just had one of those WOW moments where I realized I need to be more thankful por este gran milagro en mi vida. We all have been given so much and we should take advantage of all the blessings we receive on this Earth. We have the ability to repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and return to live with our Father in Heaven if we live according to the Commandments.
Something funny that has happened this week is to hear each morning about the things I say in my sleep. I guess I have been talking in Spanish the past few nights and it is really fluent! haha Elder Schnieder says I speak better Spanish in my sleep than he does when he is awake. That probably means I speak better Spanish when I'm asleep too. We came to the conclusion that I should just start teaching when I'm asleep. I never realized how much I talk in my sleep. I just wish I knew what I was saying. :)

I hope everyone has a great rest of the week and can watch General Conference this Sunday. The men that speak have been called of God and their messages are inspiring. I've been looking forward to GC for weeks! I'm so thankful for what great friends and family I have. I know that as you keep the commandments you will be blessed. As it says in Alma 36:1, My son give ear to my words; for I swear inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land. I was reminded of that in a letter I received this week. The commandments are like a seatbelt. They are there to protect us and keep us safe. God is love. Vaya con Dios.

Elder Bennion

P.S. Don't get prideful with your basketball skills when you have bad knees. It only leads to pain later. That's just my word of advise this week. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yes, it is lame...but I love going to the mailbox now!!!

Nothing can put me in a happier mood than getting a letter from my son, Elder Bennion. It makes my day sunny even when there are nothing but clouds in the sky! I miss hearing him sing "Brown Eyed Girl" to me, but reading it in a letter is pretty dog gone great too! Knowing that he is happy and that he is learning so much is a wonderful feeling. I kind of liken that feeling of how Heavenly Father and Jesus must feel when we finally remember to pray! How excited and happy they feel that we have taken the time to share our thoughts and feelings with them!
I wouldn't change a thing...I know he is doing what Our Heavenly Father and Our Savior Jesus Christ would have him do. I am so proud of him and love him so much!

YES, I am proud of my missionary!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Pocket Protector, Not Just a Fashion Statement


Wow! It is snowing today! Never have I seen snow fall in late March! I hope everyone had a great week last week. A lot seemed to happen here at the MTC this week. Either that or the fact that I listed one highlight of everyday made it seem like my week was more exciting.

Last Tuesday night we had a Devotional talk and I feel bad because I was really tired and couldn't focus very much. Then towards the end of the talk an Elder from my district, Elder Call, sneezed. He tried to cover his sneeze but ended up sneezing in my face and mouth! :P It happened so fast my instant reaction was to spit and wipe my mouth on my coat because it was so nasty. In doing so people in the front row as well as people on the stand looked back at Elder Call and I. I felt really bad for making a scene but I felt worse for the Hermana I spit all over. Everyone around us was busting up but I didn't find it that funny. That night I ended up getting two new companions, Elder hunter and Elder Pope. I won't really explain much about them because we will be having companion changes AGAIN! Yesterday Elder Kirkham received his visa and will be leaving for Spain tomorrow. Is sad to loose another member of our district. We all really like him but I know he is going where he is supposed to be.

This Wednesday new Elders arrived and you see them walking around with their orange dot on their name tag (aka a dork dot) to indicate that they are new. I thought it would be funny to stick my orange dot on the back of my nametag so it looked like I was new. I walked up to a new group of Elders and asked them where they got their nametags engraved. It was the funniest thing to see their faces. One group caught on pretty fast. :)

Thursday was a sad day for me because my cousin Kyle left for the Brazil MTC. We have become good friends here and I was sad to see a familiar face leave. I know he is going to be great down in Brazil and bring people the joy and happiness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. My day got even better when my pen leaked ink everywhere! Fortunately for me... IT WAS IN MY POCKET PROTECTOR! Yes, pocket protectors do work! I swear by mine now. I may look ridiculous but it saved a shirt and that's all that is important to me! :)

Friday and Sunday were pretty uneventful. I just study, study, study, and continue to become the best missionary I can be. Monday was a really great day. I feel that all my hard work is paying off. I feel like I am becoming a better missionary and I know how true and powerful this gospel is. Even when I role-play with Elders in my district we can feel the spirit. You just have to actively seek to teach with the spirit and it will be present. I received quite a few letters Monday. Thank you so much for all the great messages, stamps, bookmark, inspirational quotes, devotional transcripts, etc. You all know who you are, so thank you. It made my Monday more special.

Since I'm in a trio I ended up using the blankets on the top bed and making a fort to sleep in. Our room has a light right outside the window so it is bright even at night. I always loved making forts when I was younger and this just brings me back to those days. :)

I love you all and just want you to know I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ. If you want to know for yourself read Moroni 10:3-5 in the Book of Mormon and sincerely pray to know that it is true. I promise you that if you do read and sincerely pray, Heavenly Father will confirm it to you. I promise you all that this is true or I would not be out here doing what I'm doing. I love you all and hope that things are going well in your lives. Just remember Heavenly Father is only a prayer away. God is love. Vaya con Dios.

Elder Bennion

Deseret News article about MTC

Mormon church's Provo MTC: Exclusive look of the largest missionary training facility in the world

Published: Sunday, March 20, 2011 10:11 p.m. MDT
Editor's note: This is the first in a three-day series offering a closer look at how the LDS Church trains missionaries before they are sent into the field.
PROVO — From MLI to LTM to MTC and from TE to TRC to TALL, this is not your father's missionary training experience anymore.
And certainly not your grandfather's.
With a current missionary force of 53,660 volunteering 18 months to two years of their lives to spread the good word worldwide, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in its ninth decade of formal missionary training and celebrating its golden anniversary of centralized language instruction.
And it is taking its missionary training across the globe and into the future, coupling a 10-year expansion project and technological advances at its flagship Provo Missionary Training Center with 14 satellite facilities in as many countries.
These missionaries "fill the Lord's mandate to go into all the world and preach the gospel," said Elder Richard G. Hinckley of the church's First Quorum of the Seventy and executive director of the church's Missionary Department.
"And they do so willingly. They don't know what they're getting into, for the most part, unless they've had siblings or close friends who have served — they do a wonderful job. They're young, they're inexperienced, and by the time they come home, they are mature and wonderful young people."
And the start of that service begins at a training center.
In 1925, the LDS Church established its Church Missionary Home and Preparatory Training School — or the Salt Lake Mission Home — where outgoing missionaries spent up to a week in training and preparation.
Fifty years ago this fall, the church created a Missionary Language Institute (MLI) on the BYU campus for Spanish-speaking missionaries. The name evolved into the Language Training Mission, with additional languages added and similar language-specific programs spread to at church colleges in Idaho and Hawaii.
In 1976, a separate LTM complex was designed and constructed near the BYU campus, while a year later, the first international missionary training center arose, in Brazil. And in 1978, the LTM became Provo's flagship Missionary Training Center, to prepare and refine all missionaries, not just those learning a language.
But don't think the "language" aspect is lessened with the change of names and focus. The Provo MTC still trains in 52 different languages, serving as the starting point for all missionaries called to serve in the church's North America missions and for many North Americans serving in foreign countries.
English-speakers train for three weeks before departing for their assigned areas. Those learning a language remain for eight weeks — 12 weeks for more difficult languages such as Russian, Finnish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese.
Provo MTC director Richard I. Heaton says the real story of the MTC is found in the missionaries themselves and in their sacrifices and struggles in what he calls "a place of growth."
"They become strong and powerful people to go on to the next level — the mission field — where they go through the same struggles again," he said.
Heaton adds that perhaps the MTC is best described for what it is not. "It's not a boot camp where you drive them, nor is it an intensive program where you break them down to build them back up. … we're not baby-sitting missionaries or trying to get them to comply or control them, to have them become robots."
Rather, the missionaries are expected to benefit from the regimen and self-discipline. "It doesn't force you as much as it allows you to develop these habits," said Elder Bryan Lozano of Long Beach, Calif., preparing to speak Spanish in the Texas San Antonio Mission.
Provo MTC President Gordon D. Brown underscores the spiritual nature of missionary training. "I call it 'the Lord's university' — I really see it that way," he said, adding, "I've never felt the (presence of God) like I've felt it here. This is a holy sanctuary of the Lord's; this is sacred ground."
Missionaries like Elder Payton Holt of Bountiful, also destined for the San Antonio mission, echo those sentiments. "The MTC has really prepared me spiritually and doctrinally," he said. "It has surprised me how quickly one can learn about the gospel."
The Provo MTC hosts an average of about 2,000 missionaries at a time — reaching nearly 2,900 in July and August as more missionaries arrive between school years.
Able to accommodate nearly 4,000 missionaries, the Provo MTC started reaching that level in the 1990s before the expansion of international MTCs. Now nearly a third of all missionaries are trained outside of the United States.
While most think of Mormon missionaries in terms of 19-year-old or 20-something young men in white shirts and ties, an increasing number of young women, older single women and retired senior couples help comprise the missionary force. The young men welcome their female counterparts and older missionary peers with the appropriate courtesies.
"They open the doors, take our luggage, return our lunch trays," said Sister Lindsay Farr of North Ogden, training for the China Hong Kong Mission.
"They treat us like princesses," agreed Sister Diondre Darcey of Tulsa, Okla., also off to Hong Kong.
Elder Jim Okeson and Sister Jeanne Okeson, senior couple missionaries from Idaho Falls, were in the MTC to start their third mission together — as military affairs specialists in the California San Diego Mission — after previous service in Fiji and the West Indies.
"We didn't have to come here this time, but we chose to come because we love what happens here," said Sister Okeson. "We love that special spirit here and how it sets you up for your mission."
Added her husband: "I walked through the front door and realized again, 'This is a special place.' "
The MTC's regimented daily schedule quickly becomes routine. Up by 6:30 a.m. — although some sister missionaries participate in a special 6 a.m. gym class. Breakfast is followed by an hour each of personal and companionship study and then more studying, planning and learning until lunch.
Class work continues until dinner and again afterward, with next-day planning at 9 p.m., a return to their dorm residences at 9:30 and lights out at 10:30.
Missionaries are afforded a 50-minute exercise/recreation period five days a week in the gymnasium/auditorium or — when it's warmer — on a large nearby field.
Other schedule amendments include worship meetings and firesides on Sundays, Tuesday evening devotionals with an LDS general authority and 75 minutes of weekly service — from cleaning to grounds work, and a weekly preparation day or "P Day."
On P Day, missionaries at the MTC do laundry, write home (30 minutes online access to email parents, with handwritten letters to other family and friends) and attend a temple session. But after dinner, it's back to class, where missionaries generally spend nine to 10 hours daily in lessons, workshops, training exercises and practice in developing language and teaching skills.
Supplementing class instruction are the Training Resource Center (TRC), TE program (Teaching Evaluation) and TALL (Technology Assisted Language Learning) computerized instruction.
The TRC provides some 30 rooms — most representing a typical living room — where missionaries are videotaped in teaching and contacting situations with volunteers role-playing as church investigators and nonmembers. The tape sessions are reviewed and evaluated on language, cultural appropriateness and teaching methodology.
The TE is a progressing teaching program with the same role-playing volunteer, as missionaries build upon augmenting lesson material from one session to the next.
The TALL instruction is for missionaries learning a new language, as they listen to words, phrases and longer readings from a native speaker and record and compare their own pronunciations.
"What really makes or breaks you in learning a language is your personal time," said Elder Russell Homer of Holladay, called to serve in the Russia Rostov Mission.
The Provo MTC continues to grow — both in number of missionaries (the LDS Church forecasts an upcoming demographic upswing in prospective missionaries) and a current 10-year expansion and renovation project.
The current construction focus is a three-story, 40,000-square-foot building to house mail services, clothing assistance, medical and clinical services, a book store, a copy center, a maintenance shop and a receiving center. It will also provide additional office space and residence rooms for 30-plus senior couples.
It is scheduled for completion and dedication in ceremonies later this year that will double as a 50th anniversary commemoration of the old MLI.
Still, the best success stories focus on the missionaries rather than the facilities.
Like Elder Gabriel Ribeiro of Brasilia, Brazil, in the Provo MTC being taught in English — his second language – to learn a third language — Japanese — for his assignment in Japan.
"I write home to my parents about the spiritual feast I have here every day," he said. "I learn so much here. I didn't think I could learn that much — about the gospel, about Japanese. I tell them how grateful I am to be here and to see the church really working."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

So I Bought a Pocket protector This Week...

I know how dorky that sounds but yes, I'm that Elder. I had a pen that was leaking ink this week and thankfully it was not in my shirt pocket but it got me thinking, what would happen if I stained a shirt? I know I would be very unhappy. Let me paint you a little picture of what i wear. Most days I wear short sleeved dress shirts because our class room is blazing hot. It feels like an inferno in there. The ventilation is horrible. on top of the short sleeved shirt I now have a pocket protector full of pens and highlighters. (Yes Kodi I'm sure you are laughing at me.) I have yet to part my hair on the side and slick it back (that is something that will never happen) and i also need a pair of glasses with plastic lenses to complete the ensemble. When I bought my pocket protector in the bookstore i asked the clerk if they had any fake glasses. The clerk actually wore glasses and looked at me like I was dumb. He just said, "Umm... I need my glasses" and after he said that I just took that as a no and didn't say another word. haha
This week has went by pretty fast for me. I wish i could remember all that has happened this week but it all seems like a blur. Spanish has been going better for me this week. I made a good study plan on how to use my time more efficiently when I'm independently studying. Lets hope it pays off. I thought that I was organized before my mission but while being here at the MTC I've become even better about having a game plan.
I've had a couple meetings this week with our branch President, President Craig. I know every missionary thinks that their President is the best but the more I get to know President Craig the more I grow to love him. I might even go as far as to say I'm one of his favorites. (I hope) I've ate dinner with him a couple of time and we just have great conversations. We are very similar is many ways. He is a very bright individual and was a lawyer for his career. he is like no other lawyer I know though. He just is so loving and kind I could never see him being your "classic lawyer".
By the time you will be reading this I will have ANOTHER new companion! Elder LaPray (my companion) and Elder White (one of my roommates) will have left for the Guatemala MTC. I'm really excited for the both of them! The are going to do great things but I'm sad to see them leave because we have grown close and I will yet again have to get to know a new companion. I have a small idea who my new companion(s) will be but nevertheless, I'm sure who ever I get they will be the right companion for me.
this morning we woke up and were talking about dreams. Last night Elder Bockleman said he had a dream he was in south America and he was speaking Spanish. Then he says... you know your Spanish sucks when even in your dream you suck at speaking Spanish. I laughed pretty good at that. Elder White then told me that he woke up last night and in my sleep I was singing Be Still My Soul. haha I think this goes to show how much I miss music! It is killing me that we cannot listen to music till we are in the mission field. At first I was a little bit embarrassed but he told me I have a good singing voice even while I'm sleeping. :)
I hope every one's week was good. Your day really is only as good as you make it. I hope the Lord's hand was apparent in all your lives. I can attest that if you pray for help and guidance, and actively seek the help of the Lord he will be there. If you live worthily he will bless you. God is love.
Side note: I hope the funeral for Avalon was good. Keep the Ligman's in your prayers. they definitely are in mine. Life is a precious gift we must not take for granted.
Elder Bennion
P.S. Glow in the dark silly string brings joy to the world! :) haha

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8, 2011

! Mi espanol es mejora!  
!Hola mis amigos y amigas! Week two at the MTC is almost over. It has been fast for the most part. It doesn't feel like it has been two weeks when I look back on the time I've spent here but if you were to sit in a class room for 4 hours at a time, like I do, you would think the day was never going to end as well. My Spanish is improving since I’ve been here as well as my knowledge of the gospel. It’s hard to measure how much my Spanish has improved but I have noticed my listening comprehension has gotten better. If anyone has suggestions on how to study more effectively leave me a comment on the blog. I’m sure it will get to me somehow. (AKA my mamma)
I'm still not feeling so hot. I have been blowing my nose constantly since I entered the MTC so on Monday I finally decided to make a trip to the doctors. He told me I have a sinus infection and gave me some antibiotics that should help. A lot of guys from our zone (a zone consists of 6-8 classes) left Monday and Tuesday morning. It was sad to see them go because you come to love and bond with them. A lot of those guys made things fun when we would come back to the residence hall after a long day of studying. Speaking of leaving, my companion, Elder LaPray, as well as Elder White will be leaving for the Guatemala MTC next Tuesday. Elder Kirkham is supposed to leave for the Spain MTC but his visa is not here so it doesn't look too promising. Right now we have 9 guys in our district (aka class) and next week will have a grand total of 7 people. (Most likely)
The Fireside and Devotional talks have been really good so far. Hopefully you all can read a story/ post (hopefully it will be up a few days after this is posted) about the Laie temple. My recollection of the story isn't as eloquent as Temple President Daimes story was but when I heard it I felt the spirit so strongly. I have a lot of those experiences here. I cannot wait to see what will happen once I am in my mission. I know that God does protect his temples and the story I heard affirmed that to me. I feel so blessed to have the confirmations I have had while at the MTC that this is the true restored Church of Jesus Christ.
There is so much to say and sooooo little time! Just remember to put your faith in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. If you pray with a sincere heart and a noble desire you WILL be heard. One of my new favorite scriptures is in Alma 5:48-49. It is so true! I love you all. Be safe. God is love.
Los amo todos,
Elder Cameron Bennion

Sunday, March 6, 2011

This was the morning we took Cameron to the MTC. I will upload more later.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Companions are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get

1st Email from Elder Bennion
Hey ya´ll!
Man almost one week at the MTC! For the most part it goes by slower than molasses in provo in the winter. haha It seems like each second is a minute while you are studying and your brain goes on overload from time to time. Real quick, mom and dad, I will write you actual letters later on in the week. 30 minutes for an email is not enough time. I can´t up load pictures till I´m in the mission field so pictures of the temple and MTC won´t be on here for awhile. I wish you could see my companion and district as well.
Week one in the MTC was pretty good for the most part. Based on all the advise and things I have been told, I expected to be dog tired butb this is wayyyy on another level. You literally have your day full from 6.30-10.30. Some nights I even struggle to write in my journal before it´s time to go to bed. On top of that there is a giant elder, Elder White, who is 6´9 and snores like a freight train. 

I don´t have much time to give you a play by play of my week but I will outline some important people and events. For starters, I´m in the intermediate spanish class which surprised me. I´m in the class with my 3 semesters and a trimester of Spanish freshmen year while all the other Elders have between 4 and 7 years of Spanish. Talk about feeling like I´m at a slight disadvantage. I do feel blessed though. I am able to speak spanish better than several other guys in my district by their own admission. As a side note, a district is like your class. In my ¨district¨ I have 9 other elders. My new companion is Elder LePray. He is from Idaho Falls, Idaho. He went to BYU and is going to Guatamala. He is the best Spanish speaker in the class. I ended up becoming his companion on Sunday because his companion went home. It was sad when Elder Call went home... I sympathize with him though because this is a difficult job. I was in a trio before I became companions with Elder call. Their names were Elder Pope, from Orem and Elder Kirkham, from Sacramento. They were great Elders. The just were not into sports and we have very different interests. It´s all good though, that´s apart of the mission.
Overall the MTC has been good. Sunday´s fireside was AMAZING! I wish I could share more but again, I have no time. I love ya´ll and remember to have faith in Christ. Faith, faith, faith! I know it can be hard in times of despair but as Nike says, ¨just do it!¨ 
P.S. Mamma I love you soooooo much. I will write you tonight or tomorrow. Please proof read this. I´m just a typing machine. I LOVE YOU BEAUTIFUL MAMMA!  Give Kodi lots of hugs for me. I miss that brother. I have been thinking about him. The gospel is true. I know it! love ya!