Monday, October 24, 2011

Elder Bennion, his Aunt Dawn and cousin Christy! Ya never know who you'll see at Walmart!!!

Week 34: This Is What I Expected My Mission To Be Like

Hey hey hey it's me again. It's been another really great week again out here in the desert. I hope everything is going well back home. Hopefully you got my letter early last week. I know I haven't been really good about writing lately and I don't think this transfer will be any better. I have something like 10 letters I have yet to respond to. Every P-day when I think I will try to write I just don't have time.

I'm probably busier than I've ever been on the mission. There are days where we have 8-9 set appointments and we don't have time to eat! :) Don't worry, I'm taking care of myself though. Just to give you an idea, the mission standards of excellence is 20 lessons per week. Elder Hayden and I had 38 lessons this week, 12 people on date for baptism, we found 9 new investigators, and 11 investigators came to church this week! It really is amazing to see all the people wanting to learn more about Jesus Christ and His gospel. There is literally so much work to be done in a day we can't accomplish everything we want to but I love it! As grandma would say, sleep when you are dead! :)Up until this point of my mission I thought that I had always had overly high expectations of the mission. After this week I realized nothing is impossible if you have a desire to serve the Lord whole heartedly and are willing to head his council.

We had an interesting night on Wednesday this past week. We were at the Dixie institute building on campus dropping off our fellow shipper for the night. Matt got out of the car and a car full of girls was just pulling out of a parking spot. They must've realized we were missionaries because the lights were on in the car because they smiled and waived enthusiastically. Then we started leaving and they flipped a U-turn and followed us. We drove through parking lots and all over the place and they were following REALLY close. We thought they were going to follow us back to our house but luckily they didn't. Another interesting thing happened this week when we were asked to go give a less active woman a blessing and bless her house because she didn't feel safe in her house. Let's just say sister missionaries gave them some false information about what to do. Sometimes I really think sisters missionaries think they have mujerdocio... they are sweet spirits but at times are kind of interesting. :P

Overall I just really can't ask for more right now. We have a schedule that rivals the President of the United States, I'm seeing miracles every day in the lives of these people I serve, and I'm serving with a companion that is so much like my brother it's scary. :) Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people... (Alma 26:36) The Lord is really blessing me right now with the ability to be an instrument in His work and I'm so thankful for that. My gratitude for the things that I have been a witness of is enormous. I know that as we ride out the storm and hold out for the brightness of the blessings we receive from the gospel, we will be blessed. Life is good. God is great! And through faith we will be blessed. I'm livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios.

God is love,

Elder Bennion

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 33: En La Rama Verdadera Una Otra Vez

Hey family! Well it's that time of the week again. This week just flew by. I'm just really happy to be back here in the 28th branch, also known as la rama verdadera. The branch President and the members are amazing here. On top of that Elder Hayden and I just have a blast serving together. We have only served together for a week now but I'd say he is my favorite companion so far. It's sad he will be going home at the end of the transfer. he is from Redmond Oregon but will be at Utah Valley University in the winter. I just couldn't have asked for a better companion.

This week was really exciting because we have a lot going on right now. Two Spanish branches combined this week. Now we cover basically from Dixie rock down to the Arizona boarder and the branch is so big they will probably make it a ward in the near future. We started teaching this family of 5 this week that the sisters were teaching and they are all set to be baptized! Elder Hayden and I thought the sisters were going to cry in district training meeting because they had to give us this family. Sometimes that just happens though. :) Currently we have 13 people with a baptismal date and we just found another family of 6 that has a lot of potential. Just yesterday we had a baptism for Ernesto. It was great to see him get baptized. It just seems like I'm living the dream right now. When things are good, they are really good! The area is on fire with people preparing to be baptized, I love the members of this branch, and it feels like I'm serving with one of my best friends.

Like all things, there is still some things that are hard. Spanish right now is really frustrating me. I think it's because Elder Hayden may be white but he talks like he is straight from Mexico. His accent is really good. Hispanics complement him everyday on how good he speaks the language and how it is rare for a gringo to speak Spanish like he does. I thought my Spanish was getting better, and it is, but sometimes I get frustrated that I don't sound like Elder Hayden! haha I just hope when I'm at 23 months I can be like Elder Hayden. He is my role model. :P

This week I was thumbing through the Book of Mormon and stopped in the Book of Mosiah and I read Mosiah 2:22 which says, "And behold all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye would prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that what he hath said; therefore if ye keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you." I know that if we do keep the commandments and do as our Father in Heaven asks of us we are promised blessings. "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." D&C 82:10 Trials make us stronger and if we endure well Heavenly Father promises us to bless us. He is bound! Make this a great week and replace fear with faith. Fear and FAITH cannot coexist in the hearts of men. Estoy viviendo el sueno real! Vaya con Dios!

God is love,
Elder Bennion

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week 32: Going Back to San Geezy

Hey family and friends,
This week is going to be a short letter. I don’t really have much time to write a full letter. Overall though the week was good. I wish I could remember all that happened.

For starters this week was the end of the transfer and on Sunday night we got transfer calls. I found out I'm headed back to my last area in the heart of St. George! I'm pretty excited to be going back there. We will be living in a different house, the area has grown to now cover Bloomington, the branch is now big enough that it is becoming a ward, and we get a car part of the time now since the area is larger. To make things even better my new companion's name is Elder Hayden and he is from Bend Oregon. He is going home at the end of the transfer so he is really experienced and was an assistant to the President so he knows how the mission functions. I've had the chance to be companions for the day and we had a blast. I'm looking forward to what is in store for these next six weeks. What is cool is there are a few investigators I found while I was in that area last time that now have a baptismal date! It just seems like there is a lot of potential to have fun teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The funniest experience this week was on Tuesday when Elder Lopez and I went to an appointment with this family in the trailer park. We went over and as we get to the porch we see a couple sitting with this family on the couch. Right away we knew they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. We stayed and talked for a while and then left to go see if we could set up an appointment with these two teenage girls named Brenda and Jessica. We couldn't meet with them and we didn't have another appointment so Elder Lopez says he really wanted to hear what they were saying to this family. We ended up going back to the house and sitting in on the lesson the Jehovah’s Witnesses were giving. It was REALLY awkward but you could tell the Witnesses were a bit uncomfortable with us there as well. They kept the message really neutral and about families. It was really a testament to me though that the wife would always look to us after she answered a question from the Witnesses, as to receive confirmation that what she said was correct. It was as if she knew who held the authority and really knew the truth. That was really cool to see. 

Well I'm going to go. We have a ton of stuff to do this p-day and not enough time to accomplish it all. I'm sure next week I will have more time and more to write. Have a great week and remember to replace fear with faith. I have been learning that lesson through trial after trial this transfer but I know that the Lord always has a plan for us. Yea, I know that I am anothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will bnot boast of myself, but I will cboast of my God, for in his dstrength I can do all ethings; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. (Alma26:12) Make it a great week.
Vaya con Dios.

God is love,
Elder Bennion

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 31: Where Would I Be Without The Guidance Of A Living Prophet Of God

It's a really good thing I didn't write a blog entry last week. If I would have, I probably would have regretted what I would have written. The truth is a mission is hard…. Harder than anyone that has not served a mission will ever know. Every missionary, in every mission around the globe faces different trials and tribulations from different things. The past couple of weeks have been difficult for a laundry list of reasons, of which are irrelevant at the moment. Never the less it has been hard and left me many a night awake in my bed wondering how to fix my problems.

The answer to my sleepless nights and constant prayer didn't come right away. It didn't come to me in a pillar of light but over the course of the past week I received my answer.

The change was gradual. It all started last Wednesday morning, at the Temple of course. We had a mission wide Temple trip, which takes place every six months. The Temple is by far my favorite place on earth, even more than our own homes. It is the Lord's home and the most spiritually safe place in all the Earth. After a phenomenal time at the temple, I went on exchanges with the zone leaders and went to work covering Dixie College. I had a lot of fun that day even though I was appalled to see what real college girls wear. (Dixie sure isn't up to BYUH's dress code.) Elder Goodman is going home in a couple months so I was able to learn a lot in talking with him. More than that, I received revelation as to what I've been lacking as of late. I have been lacking the charity I so desperately need to have. The pure love of doing this work. Like Michael Jordan said, you need to have a love of the game to become great. As well as in the game of basketball missionaries need to have a love of THIS game. I realized I have become so caught up in the numbers and statistics of being a missionary I have forgotten to just teach. Numbers are important. President Leonard makes that CRYSTAL CLEAR. Even Jesus Christ taught, "...behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered." 3Nephi18:31 Numbers are important but loves is even more important. As I relearned this concept and remembered why I loved my mission so much in the beginning, a switch was flipped from within. When your attitude ceases to be negative so does the area in which you serve. I've learned that maybe I won't have 1-2 baptisms every transfer but I still can be changing peoples lives, preparing them for the next set of missionaries they meet, and of course I can still be living the dream! :)

Sometimes I forget this work is about the long term and love is found in teaching. Not in baptisms, although they are important.

As I watched General Conference this past weekend everything I was being taught by the spirit during the previous week was solidified and confirmed. I learned new skills from this General Conference. I learned doctrine in a more simplistic form so that I may become a better teacher. Who better to learn from that an Apostle or Prophet of the Lord?! I hate ranking things such as General Conference but this was one of the best ones I've ever watched. I was inspired and touched by the spirit from the talks that were given. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our beloved and humorous Prophet Thomas S. Monson is the ONLY true and living Prophet on the Earth today. His Apostles hold the authority of God, are special witnesses of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, and I know that they testify of the truthfulness of this church. I learn so much from these men!

I'm just so thankful for the opportunities I have been given to learn and grow as I preach the gospel. There is soooooo much more that happened this past week that will never reach the computer screen of all you that read this blog. I want you all to know I know my Savior lives and that I KNOW this is his church. This is HIS gospel. Life is a dream! A great dream at that! May we all live it well so that in the last day we may awake to the glory of our Father and abide in the full light of His eternal love.

Vaya Con Dios.

God is Love,
Elder Bennion