Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 21: 100 Degreezes Out Here In San Geezy

Hey Family! What a week it has been out here in the desert. I hope everything has been going well back home. i hope you are enjoying your new job mama. It's already late July, which is crazy. Time really does fly out one the mission.

Well where do I start? For starters San Geezy (aka St. George) is hot. I know, shocking right? It's even hotter too when you have to walk everywhere and you cover three stakes in the heart of St. George. A couple days the temperature has gotten up to 106 degrees but we just keep walking while our shoes melt into the sidewalks. Just kidding. :) The first few days my legs and feet were killing me. I swear I've sweated more than I've ever sweated in my life but I'm acclimating. I love the bigger city and feel more at home in the city but I still miss good old Ephraim at the same time. I wish I could describe all the differences in being a missionary down here in St. George and Ephraim but there are a ton. I'm starting to know the area a little better but our area is so big! We biked for two hours one day and only covered roughly half of our area. The stakes are St. George, St. George East, and the Morning Side stakes. Ideally we would be able to just use a car a few times a week for a couple hours so we could go visit our whole area and find new people to teach. This area has a ton of potential. It's shocking to me the amount of Hispanics in St. George that don't speak English or speak very little. I really like our area and the people. We live about a block from Dixie High School, Dixie State is a few blocks away, and the Temple is only a few blocks away as well. The Temple is absolutely gorgeous! In-N-Out and Del Taco are not in my zone which is a bummer but you can't have everything in life now can you?

My new companion is Elder Leguizamon. He is from Argentina but has lived in Clearfield Utah since 2001. He is a good Elder and I love having a native Spanish-speaking companion. This is Elder Leguizamon's second transfer so I'm his follow up trainer. (aka his step father) It's weird, I've only been out one transfer than him and I'm follow up training. We are by far the youngest companionship in the mission.

The big thing Elder Leguizamon and I did this week was go through all the investigators him and his last companion were teaching and weed out all the investigators that were not progressing. I will admit it was a little worrisome to see how few solid investigators we had. I told Elder Leguizamon that in dropping them we would find people... and we did!

On Saturday I had one of the best days of my mission so far. We walked and walked and walked some more. We worked your tails off and it paid in dividends. We had 9 lessons, received 3 new investigators and had two lessons with some less-active members. This week alone we found 6 new investigators in 6 days! To make Saturday even better I received a call from Mauro. He called just to tell me he had got baptized Saturday morning and we just got to talk about other little things for a bit. I called President Leonard afterwards because he was at Mauro's baptism. he said Mauro was disappointed I couldn't baptize him but that the baptism went great. President Leonard said he could tell Mauro had really bonded with me. I got a little chocked up hearing that but I held it in. President also said the other baptisms we set up before I left are set and should happen in the coming weeks.

Another miracle of serving here is the Spanish branch. The called it "La rama verdadera" and I have to agree with that. All the pews were filled and there were even people in the over flow seating! 90% of the members are actually Hispanic and it was one of the coolest things I've seen. It is a little different than what I was accustomed to back in Ephraim.

This work truly is amazing! When you are a worthy vessel and live up to your purpose God blesses you. I have a HUGE testimony of this. The Lord will use you as an instrument in His hands. As President Monson said, the greatest feeling we may experience in mortality is knowing that we were used to do the work of you Heavenly Father. I've felt that love a lot this week and I feel so privileged to have these experiences and to know I'm a loved child of God. I'm loving St. George! Vaya con Dios.

God is love,
Elder Bennion

Ps. We are living with the English elders and there is on elder named Elder Beach. If any girls want to write him I would REALLY appreciate it! Even if you only write him and not be because you don't have time I'm fine with that. He is a really nice but he doesn't get a lot of letters and he needs some love. Just mail it to the mission office address that is on the blog or on my Facebook and just address it to him. Muchas Gracias!

Address for Cameron...This one won't change for 18.5 more months

Elder Cameron Bennion
107 S. 1470 E. Ste 304
St. George, Utah 84790

I will post this weeks letter later this evening!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 20: Better Later than Never

Goodness glaciers! Two transfers in the field are over and I've been on my mission 5 months already! I sometimes stop and wonder where the time has gone. It doesn't seem possible to almost be 1/4 of the way done with my mission. If you look at it in that perspective it doesn't seem real. A return missionary that is now home and living in Cedar called me on my birthday wanting to get lunch and go out teaching with us sometime. (shout out to ex-elder "Caleb" Duncan) He said he has been home 13 months already! It freaked me out because he was the Elder that gave me my baptismal interview! Mission time fly’s!

Instead of waiting till the end I will start with the big news first. Transfer calls. Transfer calls came last night and... I'm headed to the oven of Utah... St. George speaking Spanish! WOOT WOOOOOOT! I'm going to be follow up training an Elder Leguizmon. I'm excited to be out with someone that is fresh and will have that drive to work. I'm also really excited to be going back to the city. I really was enjoying the small town life and I hope to come back to Ephraim but I'm ready for "the big city" again. What they did was they closed Ephraim Spanish and made Mt. Pleasant bi-lingual. Maybe in a year I will be ready to come back out here and they will be ready to reopen this area to Spanish work. That is my goal anyway. The one bummer is (and don't freak out mom!) is that I'm going to be in one of the only walking areas in the mission… In St. George of all places. We will see how that goes, but I have faith that it will all work out. This is the Lord's work after all.

This week was actually full of exciting news. The best news by far this week was Mauro is getting baptized this Saturday! I started jumping up and down when I heard the news! Mauro was a big reason I was sent to this area and even though I won't be here to witness his baptism, the knowledge that it is happening fills me with overwhelming joy. He has a really great boss, friends that are members, and a desire to be a disciple of Christ. I couldn't be more proud of him.

This week a lot happened in the form of baptismal dates for others as well. This transfer has been a rough one for me as far as putting people on date to be baptized. We had only one person on date but she was not progressing and that is one of the most frustrating things to see as a missionary. Faith is a verb. We must have action with our belief in order to show faith and a desire to be baptized and that was not happening. This was really frustrating/ saddening to me but as the old saying goes, better late than never. Here in the last week of the transfer we found a total of 4 people who are ready and wanting to be baptized. One of them is a young man named Ronie. He is from Peru and is 20 years old. He also works for the same man as Mauro. It is ironic how for the coming 3 weeks we have a baptismal service set up and now it won't be Elder Cram and I holding the baptismal service. Sometimes life is full of tricks and I wish I could be here to see the baptisms. Although, knowing that I have done my part in the Lord's work is a reward in itself.

This transfer there was a picture on my planner that is of David slaying Goliath. I put that picture on there as a reminder for myself that we are all going to be faced with challenges that seem insurmountable in life. I had a felling this transfer would be a trying time for me but I didn't know what it would exactly be like and what I would be faced with. I'm sure most everyone knows the story of David and Goliath. David was this small sheep herder who went and fought the giant Philistine Goliath. In 1Samuel 17:33 it says, "And Saul said unto David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he is a man of war from his youth." Then in 1Samuel 17:37 it says, "David said moreover, The Lord will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee." There are a lot of people, especially the adversary, that are going to tell us to quit, to give up, we will never make it. There will be times the climb to our goal may seem impossible but I know that if our goal is righteous and of pure intent, the Lord will provide a way. I am just like David, and only a youth, while Lucifer is a man of war from his youth. The battle for righteousness is continually getting harder. Heaven WILL prevail. This gospel is true. I love it with all my heart. Vaya con Dios.

God is love,

Elder Bennion

P.S. Thank you for all the birthday cards, packages, and wishes everyone! I really appreciate it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blessings that come from having a son serve a mission....

There were lots of people who told me that having a son or daughter out serving a mission brings great blessings. I guess I didn't completely believe them until recently...I know that not only is the missionary blessed by their diligence and willingness to serve, but so is the family.
I had this preconceived notion that having Cameron gone would be extremely tough...and it was in the beginning. However, I can honestly say that having him gone is just simply..... a blessing. It warms my heart to think of the peoples lives he is touching in Ephraim/Manti and I want nothing more for him that exactly what he is doing at this moment..."Livin' the DREAM!" He loves the work and has grown so close to Our Savior. How could I as a mom want anything else for him, then for him to strengthen and nurture his relationship with Our Father in Heaven? I don't...I don't want him anywhere else than exactly where he is at right now. He is doing Our Fathers will. That brings me peace! That brings me happiness!!!  There is nothing of greater importance than having a close relationship with The Lord.
Cameron....someday when you read this, we want you to know how very much you are loved and how very proud we as a family all are of you. Your immediate family, your grandparents,  your Aunt's and Uncles, your Cousin's. We all are very proud of you and think of you often. We  pray for your safety and continued good health. Stay strong and stay close to Heavenly Father! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to you my son....

The first time ever to be apart from Cameron on his birthday. It is tough....but messages like this make it all worth it! He is doing what he is supposed to be right now in his life.
Cameron, someday when you read this...know that I love you to the Moon and Back. We pray for you and your safety and the ability to find those seeking to know more of our Savior. I hope you have a Happy Happy Birthday. 
WE all love and support you...(there are lots of people who read your blog that may never know) but you inspire us each week. For that we thank you!!! Love, Your Momma
PS Thank you to our special delivery girl...Thank you for making his birthday special! I can't believe we happened to meet you just days before you were headed there. Thank you so MUCH!!!!!

Mamma, mamma, mamma. I just want to tell you how much I love you. Birthdays are always about the person that is born and we celebrate them but we seldom recognize the woman that brought us into this world and all the amazing things she has done to help us get to where we are at. I just want you to know I'm so thankful for having a mom like you that has been so good to me. I got a few pictures from you. Thank you soooo much. I love seeing you all. Also thank you for the birthday cake! WHAT A SMALL WORLD. It was a Strawberry Boston cream cake... I ate it all by myself. lol I also got an email from Darrell. That was such a great letter. I doubt you read it but it really was touching that he wrote me and some of the things he said in it really made me feel good. Anyway, I'm going to get to work on my weekly email. I love you lots.

Elder Bennion

Week 19: Predicando El Evangelio Como Es Mi Cupleanos!

Hey family,
I hope your 4th of July was a good one. It was a good 4th out here. I was thinking back to last fourth and I was boating with Tyler and his family all week so I didn't really get to see any fireworks. The firework show in little Manti doesn't compare to the Fort Vancouver show but then again in Vancouver you don't get to watch fireworks from the hill at the Manti Temple! We went to a few parades during the day as well. It's funny how much attention you get at events like that because you are a missionary. People scream "MISSIONARIES!" and girls blow kisses at you. I'm sure Kodi would go on a mission just for that reason right bug? ;) I think some of the missionaries I was with got a little too excited about the attention but it just made for a funnier fourth. I even got some teaching in during the parade in Mt. Pleasant so I didn't feel like we had wasted a full day just having fun. I just love teaching these people about something that I know is true and can eternally bless their lives.

We had more success this week teaching some solid lessons which really made me happy. We had more lessons where I felt like Elder Cram and I worked well together and in turn  I was know we were teaching with the spirit.

This week two drunk guys got in a fight in the trailer court in Moroni. One of them is our investigator and the other one is related to a member of our branch. They both were in the wrong and without going into a lot of details, they both were drinking and it lead to them being stupid and doing things I hope they wouldn't do when they were sober. You would think that after a fight in the trailer park and having white cops there the Hispanics wouldn't want to talk to us but it was the complete opposite! Maybe it was the fight, maybe it was our companion unity, or maybe it was a combination of both but Thursday was soooo good. I was shocked to smell people smoking grass one day after the cops were all in there but again, that's another story.

There was a couple nights like Thursday and Saturday where I just knew I was doing and saying what the spirit was directing me to say. I just had that confirmation in my soul that it was right. Every once and awhile I have these nights where I feel Mexican. I deep down can relate to the Hispanics and I am amazed with how easy it is for me to speak Spanish. I feel like I've been speaking it for years and those are the nights where I come home, find a quiet room, and sincerely thank my father in Heaven for blessing me so heavenly with the gift of tongues. Elder Cram says I'm constantly teaching in Spanish while I sleep which is funny. I love these people so much that even in my dreams I'm teaching them. It's funny, I never knew I could have a passion and desire for people that I knew so little about.

There are a lot of times in the mission and in life really, where you question your effectiveness and you evaluate the kind of progress you are making. There will be areas in the mission and times in your life where you will question if you are living up to your full potential and worth. It's important to remember just like the primary song says, "I'm small I know but wherever I go the grass grows greener still." Make that grass grow greener wherever you go. Have charity and love. If we have those two things we will be making a difference. As President Gordon B. Hinckley is quoted numerous times saying, "It will all work out."  Life always does when we put our Lord and Savior first. I know that he lives. Vaya con Dios.

God is love,
Elder Bennion

Monday, July 4, 2011

Week 19: Hawaiians And Their Work Ethic

Week 19: Hawaiians And Their Work Ethic

Happy 4th of July! What a blessing it is to live in the United States and have the freedoms we have. I was thinking about a few elders from my MTC district and how they won't be able to celebrate the 4th of July like we do. There is a reason they call this the land of opportunity.

This week has been a real... interesting week for me. The end of last week was difficult and it was even worse this week. I guess if there is one thing you can always rely on from me is I'm going to tell ya if it sucks. We had issues getting into peoples houses to teach, coupled with companion "difficulties" which made this week probably the hardest week of the mission.

The beginning part of the week was pretty melancholy. There isn't much to say about Monday through Thursday. Although last Monday for P-day we went to this sports shop here in Ephraim and they had batting cages so we ended up doing that for a while. I forgot how fun that is. I think we found a new P-day activity.

This week we ended up walking a lot in 90-degree weather because we ran out of miles on the car. Toward the end of the month you either have a lot of miles left over and you can go visit the people who are far out of the way or you have none and you end up walking in Ephraim. This was one of those months.

Thursday was a really nice change. The day started out nice by getting lots of mail and two packages! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE UKULELE MAMA! Elder Cram and I talked about it and we decided that half the fun of getting mail is just knowing people still know you are alive and that you are being thought of. haha I thought that was a funny way to put it but it is true. I can only imagine what it is like when you are at 13 months. Everyone tells me that once I hit my year mark I won't get mail anymore either. haha Thursday was also a great day because we also had a member drive us around on Thursday, take us to lessons and take us out to eat. Having members go out with you makes a world of difference!

Saturday was a craaaazy, fun day. We went out to Manti for lunch and got sandwiches at Candie's on Main and took them to the Temple. It was a sunny summer Saturday so we should have known there would be a ton of weddings. There was this couple that just got married and the photographer was over by us taking pictures. If that wasn't distracting enough they ended up asking me if I would hold the sun reflector so their faces were lit up. They proceeded to make out, dip, and twirl in front of me for five minutes. You think they could have chosen someone OTHER than a missionary. I guess we are called to serve but not in that way. Elder Cram loved harassing me about that all day.

A couple investigators really impacted me this week. This week Mauro left for the mountains.  I was so sad to see him go. He told me that once everything is set for his baptism date he wants me to come back and baptize him. I'm really hoping I will be semi close to this area this fall when he can be baptized so I will be able to come up here. Hopefully President Leonard will make a deal with me. Mauro is one of those people I know I was sent here for. We had another investigator who we will just call Bill and he has an alcohol addiction. His wife and daughter left him, he lost his job because he was drunk, he just got out of jail for a DUI, and he sold his trailer while he was drunk and soon he will have no place to live. He doesn't even want to live anymore and is trying to get alcohol poisoning. It really tears me up inside to see a man in his late 20's just give up on life. It is heart wrenching to see some of the things I've seen. That's about as much as I will say about that.

After Thursday night I came home and looked up a hymn to just boost my spirit and I came across, “Be Still My Soul” and it was the perfect song. It said, "Be still my soul: The Lord is on thy side; with patience bear thy cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; in every change he faithful will remain..." I know if we are faithful and endure the Lord will provide. It is promised over and over again in the scriptures countless times. It is promised yet we forget that when life is hard. What a perfect love the Lord has fore each and every one of us. I know we can have eternal happiness. trust in the Lord and serve Him. Vaya con Dios.
God is love,
Elder Bennion