Monday, January 30, 2012

Semana 48: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Happy Monday family and friends! It was a pretty good ending to this past week. The beginning of last week was one of the harder weeks I've had for quite some time. Last week, after having baptisms almost every weekend we didn't have any and very few investigators came to church. What frustrated me the most was the fact that many people said they wanted to come to church and did not! (2Nephi9:34) ;)

On top of investigators not keeping commitments I was distracted with other things on my mind and I just felt frustrated with a lot of stuff. I knew God had a plan and was teaching me a lesson, but what for? Humility perhaps? I turned to my little black book of quotes and stories I've written and found notes from while in the MTC given by Dallan H. Oaks of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. "No good deed goes unpunished." What a common quote but it really hit me. My whole mission I've been trying to become better, become more perfect like unto the Savior, and for my efforts I've been blessed. As I've spent more time in the mission I've become a better missionary and I've seen the fruits of my labors.

This week when things started to get rough I wondered why. If I am doing good works why are bad things happening to me. A quick thumb-through the Bible clearly taught me that Jesus, His Apostles, and their followers were tried countless times and persecuted yet they were doing a marvelous work. They were doing the will of the Father. Never the less no good deed goes unpunished.

Do I have regrets for some of the choices I've made? OF COURSE I DO! Michael Jordan once said that he has missed over 9000 shots in his career and lost almost 300 games. He has taken countless game winning shots and missed several game winning shots through out his career. That is the reason though that he succeeds. I don't think anyone could say they have not a single regret EXCEPT for the Savior. One thing I do not regret though has been my choice to serve our Father in Heaven. There is a picture hanging up in our house that says, "as for me and my home we will serve the Lord." Growing up I always read that and it has stuck with me. “The greatest decision I ever made in my life was to give up something I dearly loved to the God I loved even more. He has never forgotten me for it." (President Thomas S. Monson) I echo that statement as well. We as missionaries are in foreign lands watching scholarships, birthdays, graduations, weddings, families divorcing, and even potential spouses pass us by all because of our love to serve the Savior. Dallan H. Oaks said, " The intensity of our desires to share the gospel is a great indicator of the extent of our personal conversion." Many missionaries and members alike have a testimony of the gospel but are afraid to share it!  16 Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having aauthority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for bperfect clove dcasteth out all fear.(Moroni8:16) If we love our family and friends, TRULY, we would shout and proclaim this message from the mountain tops. That is where success as a missionary comes from. It comes from your boldness to proclaim the fullness of the everlasting gospel.

Long story short after having a rough couple days I got on my knees and humbled myself enough to ask for help from my Father in Heaven. Less than 24 hours later my frustration and fruitless thoughts were gone. I was blessed with several opportunities to exercise my Priesthood and give several people priesthood blessings this week. We found new people  to teach that were nothing short of miracles, we invited five more people to be baptized and they said yes! On top of it all I was privileged enough to baptized Joseedwardo aka Pepe and then the sisters had another baptism for Isaac who is in our branch. As Martina McBride says, "I have been blessed!"

I may not be great at a lot of things. I may not always say the right thing or communicate my feelings the best when I'm speaking but one thing I know I am is a really good missionary. I take pride in this tag I wear with the engraved name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have no idea what the future will hold or what other accomplishments I might have but one thing I know I am is a great missionary. This is one task I was foreordained to do. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have achosen you, and bordained you, that ye should go and bring forth cfruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my dname, he may give it you." (John15:16) There should never be a day when we forget why we are here. God is love.

Vaya con Dios,

Elder Bennion

 One of the newest guys Elder Bennion baptized. Jose is 19 years old!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Week 45: Some Day We Will Know

Zipa dee doo dah zipa dee ayy my oh myyy what a wonderful day, plenty of sunshine heading my way zipa dee doo dah zipa dee ayy! Well It's another great day here in San Geezy. Things are going really well for us right now in the area and we finally got to go golfing yesterday to top it off! St. George is the place to be in January. This is MY kind of Utah. :)

As I said the area is doing really well for itself. Heavenly Father has truly done a marvelous work and wonder. I'm so grateful to have been here to be apart of so many miracles that have taken place over the almost six months I've been here. The greatest blessing that took place this past week was William and Gloria finally getting baptized. For the past two plus years missionaries have worked with William and Gloria. Elder Hayden and I were finally able to get them married and three months later they were baptized. For me that was a special day because their baptisms were the fruit of many hours spent teaching by many sets of missionaries. No one missionary can take credit for these two souls being added to The Book of Life, but rather, it has been a combination of our efforts and the efforts of other missionaries to show William and Gloria the truth. This is the true church.

Another favorite story from this past week was finding this woman named Areceli. I had taught Areceli when I was first in this area but because of the place she was living it was not conducive of teaching her, her phone was deactivated, and we lost contact with her. (It happens frequently in Spanish work) Long story short, we found her and she lives with another family that we are teaching. It again, reaffirms the fact that Heavenly Father is preparing His children, the elect, to hear His message.

Church was pretty good this week. We got about eight investigators to church and the chapel was packed. I think if it is the same way next week the overflow will have to be open and we will need more seats. Long story short, Elder Clarke of the first quorum of the Seventy was presiding at our sacrament meeting. Even cooler was the fact he spoke excellent Spanish. He taught gospel principals and gave a great lesson on the importance of a "Real Conversion". He taught that baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost does not always entail that we have become converted to the gospel of Jesus. More so, we are converted through our daily scripture study and weekly church attendance. It was a really great day at church and having him harass me about our investigators not knowing very much, although at first was very irritating, taught me to get past my pride and listen to his wise words of council. I have so much to learn and many things I can do better to be a more effective servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Being apart of 20 baptisms in this area in 6 months is only the beginning. If this wasn't the true church I don't know what could be. "88 And whoso areceiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go bbefore your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my cSpirit shall be in your hearts, and mine dangels round about you, to bear you up." (D&C 88:84) He is here.

It is awe inspiring to think about the privilege and trust Heavenly Father lays in the hands of us, just 19 year old boys, to go out and do His work. I personally don't know, nor will I ever fully know the roll I've played in some of these peoples lives while in this life. I've taught hundreds of people about my Savior and why He is important to me. Many have been baptized and already have begun fulfilling their roll in building up the Lord's kingdom in these latter days. Many others have yet to accept this message yet one thing I relish in is the fact that some day I will know. Some day we will know how many people we actually helped, but until that day I will continue to serve my Lord. Today, tomorrow, and forever.
"But their aminds were bblinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the creading of the old testament; which dvail is done away in Christ.
But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their aheart.
 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away."

Someday we will know. Vaya con Dios.

God is love,

Elder Bennion

What a blessing he is! I am so grateful for his willingness to serve... and how he really loves the people. Thank you for all those of you who write to him. I know he really appreciates the support and encouragement he receives from friends and family. Love Dayna

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 45: Good thing the bike thing didn't last long

Buenos Dias! It has been another action packed week here in St. George. I feel like if I was told I was going to be in one area for the rest of my mission, this is where I would want to stay. This is where all the action is at in the mission. The work is good, we wake up to the temple outside our front door every morning, and we get to talk to all the other Elders and Sisters down here. We are in the "entertainment capital" of the Utah St. George Mission.

Last preparation day I finally got to go to the driving range and golf for a bit. When I started off, I was horrible, but after a few swings I was able to "shake off the rust" as another golfer next to me said. I'm thinking the following preparation day we will have to get out and play. It has been way too long!

For the most part this week was spent preparing our investigators for baptism on Sunday. After many phone calls, visits, and me pulling my hair out we got everyone set to get their interviews done on Wednesday night. We were at the VC (visitor center) from 6-9pm doing baptism related stuff. I ended up doing several interviews for other companionships in our district and our investigators had their interviews done. Amidst the chaos of having everyone there (including President Leonard who had to do one of our interviews) one of our investigator's children decided to pick up a statue and throw it, shattering it into pieces. Let me just say it was a crazy but worthwhile evening. In total we had 7 interviews done and I'm pretty sure that is a record for the most interviews in one night. I don't think that will be broken anytime soon. :)

Because of transfers and the influx of new missionaries we were left without a car for the first half or so of the week. This meant we had to resort to biking everywhere. I have to admit at first I was excited because I wanted the exercise but after the first day I was ready for a car again... ALMOST as bad as Elder Valdez was. Elder Valdez, bless his heart, was trying hard to make it up the hills but I was focused on getting to our appointments on time and had the tendency to get a little ahead of him at times. It was by the grace of God that the mission happened to get one car in late in the week and we got the car.

We finished off the week with three baptisms and two set for the following weekend. It was a great baptismal service and I can't really describe how rewarding it was to step in the font and baptize all three people one right after the other. Nothing can describe the feeling you have after coming out of the baptismal font feeling a little cold but having that radiating warmth from within which is the feeling of the Spirit. I love it!

As I was sitting in my chair during personal studies one day during this week I was thinking of all the good that are happening right now. I thought back to the Book Of Mormon and the story of Ammon. In Alma 26 Ammon was having a lot of success on his mission and this is what he said, "
1 But Ammon said unto him: I do not aboast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my bjoy is full, yea, my heart is brim with cjoy, and I will rejoice in my God.

12 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.

13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of ahell; and they are brought to bsing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?

14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the achains of hell." Right now it is easy to get puffed up in the pride of our hearts because of the miracles we are seeing just as Ammon saw. God has given Elder Valdez and I much to rejoice in, but I don't share these stories to show the success we have. Rather, I share these stories as a testament that this work is true and just. This church is true. No other church is growing faster than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This church is the Lord's kingdom here on the earth today. I bare my testimony of this. I know I am fulfilling promises I made to my brothers and sisters in the pre-earth life that I would find them and share this message with them. This is the dream. Vaya con Dios.

God is love,

Elder Bennion

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Week 44: TGTHAO Thank Goodness The Holidays Are Over

Happy New Year everyone! 2012 is finally here and I'm so happy we can start to get back into a normal routine again. These past couple weeks of holidays have brought many blessings. Many people have followed Jesus Christ and were baptized. Talking on the phone was the best gift I received by far this year. With that said I'm ready to not have interferences in missionary work. I love this time of year but as a missionary it makes things more difficult. People leave and go out of town, family comes into town and thus they cannot meet with us which throws off our progress.

For New Years we went to the Zamacona's as a district (4 elders and 6 sisters) to watch the movie, “Up”, had some REALLY good food, and played ping-pong. I felt weird not being in a dress shirt and tie or being out teaching. I feel empty if I'm not teaching is the best way to describe it. I used to think return missionaries were CRAZY for feeling "weird" when they got home. I can only imagine how strange it will be for me when I have to take off the tag. I love this work and know more than ever, that it's true.

Being able to find new people has been difficult these past couple weeks. Many people don't have time or the desire to learn when their lives are as busy as they are. In the Utah St. George Mission we are taught to have an escalader approach to teaching where as we find when we teach, and teach when we find. It helps us so that we are continually having baptisms and can continue to teach effectively without feeling overloaded with baptisms one week and stressed the next because there is no one to teach.

This coming Sunday should be a fun one though. We have six people on date for baptism. There is a lot to do to prepare all these people at once but hopefully it will all hold up and everyone will be prepared for their baptism date. There are a lot of lessons and baptismal interviews between now and Sunday though so please keep us in your prayers.

One of the neatest baptisms I've ever seen was on Saturday for a man named Dean. Dean is 87 years old and made the decision to be baptized. I had the privilege to interview Dean and his story was so amazing. What a miracle it was to see such an elderly man not have his heart locked from hearing the truth. I thought to myself, if only more of us were as open as Dean, how much better would the world be? I'm happy to say Dean was baptized without complication and will make a fabulous member to the Morningside Stake.

42 Behold, he who has arepented of his bsins, the same is cforgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will aconfess them and bforsake them.

What a promise we have from the Lord. He that repents and is baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God will not only receive forgiveness but Heavenly Father will no longer remember them.

It was a great holiday season here in St. George and hopefully it was a great one back home as well. One Christmas down, one more to go, and nine transfers left! Hard to believe my one year mark is around the corner. I just love this place and these people! I'm livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios.

God is love,

Elder Bennion