Monday, June 27, 2011

Week 18: I Look Up To The Sky And Know The World Is Mine... I've Made It

Well folks it's Monday again. Time to recap the week here in the St. Geezy mission. For starters I just love this work! There is so much to really do out here and we have so little time during the day to accomplish our goals. I think I say this every week, but it is the truth. There are people to be found all over the world that are ready to be taught. I have learned how important fellow shipping from members is and how it really is the responsibility of the ward members to find them and the responsibility of the missionaries to get out there and teach.

The coolest miracle I saw this week was with this woman named Mari. The way we found her was a miracle in itself. Anyway I have been teaching Mari for about a month and a half now. Her whole family is Catholic, and so is her husband. She is only 24 but has a lot of life experience. Lately, she has been getting a lot of harassment from her family for wanting to be baptized but she has never denied the feelings she has felt during our lessons. One time we were watching the Joseph Smith Restoration DVD and the Spirit was amazingly strong. She knows the church is true. We finally got to teach her this week and I invited her to be baptized and she said yes! We have a date set now and I am really hoping her family doesn’t persuade her. In missionary work, families can be the biggest strength or the biggest burden. I came out of that lesson so full of the spirit and love. I just can't explain to y'all how elated I am for her to be baptized. Mom, I will have to write more about Mauro in my letter home.

This week we had a two-day zone training for seven hours each day. It was a lot of fun to meet some of the other Elders I've never met before. There is a sister missionary named sister Bowman that came into the MTC the same time as me and now she is in my zone so it was nice to talk to her and see how things are going. The one thing about the training is that so many missionaries are kiss ups. It's the most annoying thing! Who cares if you are a zone leader or assistant to the president? Really I could care less about getting a leadership position. It isn't like that is something you will put on a resume. Too many Elders forget this is about the people and the gospel of Jesus Christ. They forget this work is not about them. It's nothing more, it's nothing less. People. Jesus Christ. That is IT. I just love the people and I love my Savior. I wish I could be like Alma sometimes like where in Alma 29:1 he says, " O THAT I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth and cry repentance unto every people!"

My personal miracle I experienced this week happened on Saturday at the Pageant. I had a young man who is going to be reporting to the MTC this Wednesday, and is going to Guatemala go around with me asking people for referrals before the pageant started. He wanted to learn Spanish so I told him I'm not that good but he was more than welcome to go around with me and talk and listen to the Hispanics with me. As we went around talking he kept saying how impressed he was with my Spanish. It finally hit me after the fourth Hispanic person saying that I speak really well when I finally realized I'VE MADE IT! I realized really can speak Spanish when I really need and want to. I know I have a lot more to learn but I have confidence now in this gift of speaking Spanish God gave me. I haven't had that belief in myself until now and it feels good to know that if I was with a companion that only spoke English I could teach all on my own. I know I'm where the Lord wants me to be and I know I'm teaching truth and joy to my brothers and sisters. What more could I ask for?! I'm truly livin' the dream. As a good friend of mine would say, replace fear with faith. I know more than ever this is the true church of Jesus Christ. I know my Redeemer lives. He loves each and every one of us. Make it a great week and vaya con Dios.

God is love,
Elder Bennion

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week 17: The Mormon Miracle

Another week has passed by and another chance I've had to see my Father in Heaven's hand in my life. Every week seems to hold some new surprise or blessing for me. I just have a stronger testimony every week of the truthfulness of this church. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ taught when he was here on the earth. This week we had the start of the Mormon Miracle Pageant and what a great experience that was. The turnout was great! On Friday there was 12,000 people and around 10,000 people Saturday. Friday night, before the show, Elder David A. Bednar spoke to the cast and he was maybe 8 feet in front of me. Just being in the presence of a special witness of Jesus Christ is amazing. Apostles have this spirit about them that is unlike anything else. Saturday night Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the seventy and Sister Wixom who is the Primary President spoke. My new companion Elder Cram and I had to give a training to the cast about how to obtain referrals in front of Elder Rasband and Sister Wizom. We were not told we would be doing that so I was a little nervous to do it, especially with Elder Rasband sitting right behind me. It went really well though. I even got to talk with the Rasband’s for several minutes after the devotional. I really like them.

I mentioned I got another new companion. Elder Lopez was transferred and now my new companion is Elder Cram. He is from Kauai Hawaii and has been out for 13 months. He is a pretty good guy and served with Elder Brown in Ephraim Before I came here. He also went to BYUH in the winter of 2010 so he knows a few people I know out there. Talking about Hawaii has made me miss it a lot more. He likes playing his ukulele everyday and sometimes I have to leave the room because it is too distracting to see pictures of a good friend in Hawaii on my wall and hear Hawaiian music.

I still feel like I'm carrying a lot of the work load this transfer and definitely am not being treated like this is my second transfer in the field. Being exactly obedient is important to me out here even when it is not so important to everyone else. The work is really going well though. We had 37 lessons this past week which was even better than last week! I never thought that would be possible. I just refuse to let road blocks slow me down or the work of our Heavenly Father. This work is not about me, it is not about any other missionary. God could do this work without my help. In reality, I am but privileged enough to be expanding the kingdom of God. To the extent we are worthy vessels we have the privilege to be instruments in this miraculous work of God. Because of this I am working harder than ever. The circumstances of things should play no factor in how effectively I'm able to share the gospel. I've learned thus far you do not need a formal setting to teach people about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every time someone answers the door I want to bare my testimony and share a scripture because that is how you plant seeds which expose people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. THAT is how you invite the spirit into the hearts of the people you talk to. I love these people so much it is crazy. They are my brothers and sisters and to help them come to know our Father in Heaven is no better feeling.

Being that it was Father's Day yesterday I read Enos 1:1 and it said, "behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father’s that he was a just man- for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord- and blessed be the name of my God for it-". Fathers are so important in our lives. Sometimes they lead by example and show us what to do. Sometimes it is never saying a swear word like my dad that really sets a great example for us. Other times it is from their mistakes that we learn what we do not want our lives to be like. Whatever the case, dads are important men. I'm so thankful to have a mother and a father who are endowed members of the church. You two make me so proud. I love you guys. Vaya con Dios.

God is love,

Elder Bennion

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 16: Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest

Where did the time go?! Week one with my new companion is over and what a week it was. I guess I will start with Tuesday. Tuesday was the day of transfers. It was really strange to see Elder Brown go this week. He really was like an older brother to me. I learned so much from him and it was like working with my brother through out the day. People always told us it was apparent we got along and it was true, we really did. that being said, Elder Lopez is a stud of a companion as well. Tuesday, right after transfers, we went to work and it was the most amazing thing, people actually just invited us into their homes! Hispanics (Mexicans especially) treat us so much differently when one of us is Hispanic. We ended up having a total of 8 lessons that day! My old record with Elder Brown was 5 lessons in a day and now Elder Lopez and I average 5-7 lessons per day! We ended up finishing the week with 33 total lessons! That being said, I have to say I have had some hard times this week. Before, Elder Brown basically planned our day out and I was able to really learn as the junior companion. My role is drastically different this transfer. This transfer I plan most of our lessons, plan our lunches and figure who we are eating with for dinner. It has really been stressful for me because these people and this area mean so much to me. I feel like a large load has been placed on me and I'm afraid of failure. What if I miss someone who is in need of the gospel in their lives? That is my biggest concern but it has helped me be better about having a constant prayer in my heart that Heavenly Father will always be there at my side to lead and guide me to the people that are ready.  I love this work!
Church can be depressing sometimes. The branch is so small and it makes me wish I could do more to fill the pews. Elder Lopez was in shock at what our branch looks like. We had 37 total people there last Sunday, 22 Hispanics, and 10 of those Hispanics were children. I guess I had forgot what a "normal ward" was like. it really hit me how desperately we need to grow this branch.
I forgot to mention Elder Lopez is from Tijuana Mexico. He learned English at SLC community college and now his family lives in Kayesville Utah.
On Friday night Elder Lopez and I didn't have a dinner appointment so we went and got Sandwiches at Candie's on Main in Manti. If you are ever in Manti I'm telling you that is the place to stop for candy. The shop is every little kids dream and the sandwiches they make taste just as good as when my mom made them! :) Anyway we got our sandwiches and went up to the hill behind the temple and had dinner. Elder Lopez said it was really "odd" that we were going to do that because it was like a date. I'm not going to lie, if I wasn't a missionary and had my tag on I would think it looked a little odd seeing two guys go for a picnic on the temple lawn haha but I really enjoyed it. The hill reminded me of the hill behind the Laie temple and how you could just look out over the city. If anyone ever is in Manti, sandwiches at the temple is a GREAT idea.
With all the changes and responsibility this week I really found comfort in Matthew 11:28-30. To me this is one of the most beautiful scriptures in the bible and it says, " Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." What comfort we can find in the scriptures and the words from the mouth of Jesus Christ. Wherever it may be, at home or work, if we find ourselves faced with an amount of work that seems insurmountable we always have God and Jesus Christ. Christ endured every burden, pain, and struggle we have facing right now. The Atonement was fulfilled for every single one of us. Take advantage of the blessing which come from that.
Enjoy your week and the good weather. (I hope) I will be working at the Pageant the 16th, 18th, and 26th! It should be a BLAST! The 16th we will have David A. Bedar there! I love apostles. VAYA CON DIOS.
God is love,
Elder Bennion

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week 15: I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go Dear Lord

I love this work! This past week Elder Brown and I really were groovin'. We always have worked well together but it seems like the past few weeks we have really figured out how to work so efficiently together. It's funny how that happens right before transfers. Last night we got the call we had been anxiously awaiting for, for the past few days. Elder Brown will be going to Snow Canyon down by St. George to be the district leader! I'm so excited for him. It was about time his leadership skills were utilized. He will be serving as a district leader down there. I do feel bad that he has been in Sanpete County for the past 8 months and now when it is going to be blazing hot he is headed down there. I will be staying here in Ephraim. My new companion's name is Elder Lopez who is from Mexico. I'm glad I will get to stay and help out with the Pageant at the Manti Temple! I have been looking forward to that for so long! 

This week Elder Brown and I recorded a commercial at the radio station in Manti for the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Spanish. It was a lot of fun! It should be playing on the Spanish stations around here and up to the West Jordan/ Draper area. Brother Barton had an interview set up for someone to talk about the Pageant to a Spanish TV station in Salt Lake City. He wanted us to do it but President Leonard said we are not able to leave the mission boundaries for something like that which is completely understandable. All this talk of cameras and radio made me think back to the good old days of acting. haha On June 18th we are having a branch BBQ at a members house in Manti. Then after the BBQ we will be going to the pageant so I'm hoping we get to watch the whole thing. I'm not sure what President Leonard has in store for us missionaries during the pageant.

This Saturday we have two baptisms scheduled. If I had to guess though, I think we will only actually have one person get baptized. One of the two men just doesn't seem ready and that is okay. It is interesting how everyone we have helped become converted is a male though. Elder Brown was telling me how a lot of missionaries just focus on women and children first because they are more accepting of the gospel. These elders get the title of being a Titanic Missionary. haha

We had dinner this week with the President of the Ephraim stake and his family, the Averett's. Since they are tearing down our house to build a stake center he has been looking for a place for us to stay. His idea is for us to live in the trailer park on the north end of town. Elder Brown though that was the greatest idea in the world. If that does happen I will be the only white person in that trailer court! Seriously though I love these people! Some of them have the craziest boarder crossing stories ever. I'm learning a lot abut the different methods of immigrating to the U.S. :D 

This week gaining a testimony has been a frequent topic throughout our lessons and it got me thinking about our testimonies as members. It has been hard for me to see so many members of the church who are inactive out here for what ever reason. Once you gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith was a prophet you must continually nourish it. In Alma 32:38-39 it says, "But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out. Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof will not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof." Satan is going to constantly try to persuade us off the course of righteousness and not want us to believe we need to come to church, partake of the sacrament, and pray to our Heavenly Father. Continually seek for a better understanding of this beautiful gospel that we have been blessed with. I know this is the true gospel with all my heart. Vaya con Dios.

God is love,
Elder Bennion