Monday, April 30, 2012

Semana 61: The Mission Is A Highway And I'm Going Drive It All Night Long

Semana 61: The Mission Is A Highway And I'm Going Drive It All Night Long

Que onda familia? It's just another day in paradise out here. This week has been a roller coaster for Elder Ayala and I. We have had some really great things happen and we have also had some disappointing things happen. That is just how life is though. I'm stoked for Mother's Day! Two more weeks! That's it! I have a ton to tell you but as in the past, I'm sure I will forget a lot of it.

Overall it felt like a very productive week. We taught over 30 lessons and found 7 new people to teach! I haven't been that blessed since my time in St. George. A big part of the reason we found so many new people is because we went out to a little mining town called East Carbon. The town is about 25 miles from Price and it is supposedly 60% Hispanic which is great. The only problem is that church starts at 9am and it would be a long drive for everyone to drive into Price with their ninos. Everyone needs a chance to accept the true gospel of Jesus Christ and if we do not invite we are not living our purpose as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Along with the good, we saw Satan working with all his might on some of our best investigators. The week started out and it looked like Carlos would be getting baptized. He understands everything and has received a testimony that the church is true. Unfortunately, the day of his baptismal interview he canceled. His parents are okay with him getting baptized but, they are not supportive and he wants to receive a confirmation from them that it is good. I can't help but remember my experiences and how that was a big reason I didn't get baptized sooner. I want to show him that he is making the right decision but, that is only something he can do for himself. I feel helpless in these situations because there is nothing I can say or do as a missionary to help him. This is where our free agency comes into play.

On Friday we went to Carlos' final soccer game against Spanish Fork to support him. They ended up losing but they played well. After the game half the Spanish Fork team came over to us and offered us pizza and Doritos. I'm pretty sure most of the team is LDS. It reminded me of St. George when we had the whole girls basketball team high-five us as we were walking down the street by the high school. I can't imagine how it would be serving in Utah Valley with so many members.

We did some more service which was great! More than anything, I'm going to take with me the great memories that I've had with great people I've come to love out here. There are some excellent members out here that were struggling when I came into this area and now they come to church! There are people that are Catholic. I haven't been able to really teach them but I've broken down walls that were stronger than the Iron Curtain. They are getting to know missionaries and know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Plants don't grow without starting out as tiny seeds.

We went to the house of a family that is from Guatemala last night. The mom has been studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses ever since I've been in the area. My companions and I have gone by occasionally and never really had much of an opportunity to speak with them. Elder Ayala and I finally decided we needed to have sister Oveson come with us because she served her mission in Guatemala. That visit was AMAZING! Last night we ended up having the whole Oveson family come with us. I was a little apprehensive to have all the little ones running around but it was the best thing that could have happened. More than anything friendships were made. The De Leon's made new friends and got to know us as people more than anything. They invited us to stay for an asada (which is a Hispanic bbq) and it was just a fun atmosphere. The De Leon's are going to come over to the Oveson's next Sunday for dinner and then we are going to teach them more about the gospel. Brother De Leon even asked us more about the Book of Mormon without us bringing it up. You can just see how they have questions but need a friend to confide in first. I've learned that people need a friend or at least someone they can trust before they will open up to you about their religious views. So many missionaries miss the ball on that. Either they are too awkward and just want to talk about the gospel or they are just there to be friends with people and are not inviting people to come unto Christ.

Inviting others to come unto Christ is done by means of helping people develop faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Praying, reading the scriptures, and attending weekly church meetings are all a part of this process. This is why I'm a missionary. The catch is though, it is not always harvesting season. There are times where we  plant seeds and then have to be patient. "And ahe shall plant in the hearts of the children the bpromises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers." So, I'm planting like Johnny Apple Seed and hoping one day the fruits of my labors will be harvested. I know this is the true and living church of Jesus Christ. It has been restored to the Earth by Heavenly messengers to the boy Prophet Joseph Smith. If I did not have a testimony of that I could not continue to serve. I'm truly livin' the dream. Vaya con Dios.

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion

P.S. I'm trying to respond to all the letters as quick as I can. P-days just fly by and I think I have 14 or so letters to still respond to. Be patient with me POR FAS! Whoever said missionaries stopped getting mail after their one year mark was mistaken. :P Love y'all!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Semana 60

En El Mundo He Hecho Bien?

Hey family! It's just another day in Paradise out here! It has been a pretty good week. Finding new people who want to listen to us has been a struggle. I remember how stressed out and frustrated I was when I first came into this area because of the lack of people to teach. The Lord has really helped me to not focus on  things that are out of my control.

Last preparation day was such a blast. Probably one of the best P-days of my mission!!!! We ended up going out to a place called the wedge or the little Grand Canyon. We went out there with Elder Weyant, Elder Davis, and one of their ward mission leaders. We had lunch out there on the rim of the canyon and then we went for a drive. We saw fossilized dinosaur tracks, fossilized dinosaurs, and Indian cave drawings. It was an experience I will never forget.

Tuesday was a little doloroso. I finally had my appointment con la doctor and she ended up removing two moles from my back. It is healing nicely but I was pretty sore that first day. I was looking at the stitches on my back in the mirror and I was feeling like 50 Cent with bullet holes in my back. :P I was pretty beat that day. There is no rest for the weary. It is not like home where you can rest and mom takes care of you. Mom, I just want you to know you are the best! I cannot even count all the time you took such good care of me. I really appreciate you.

That morning was interesting as well. When we went out to the car Elder Ayala noticed a yellow ticket on our windshield. The reason for the ticket was because our tags were expired. We had just got the sticker in the mail the night before so luckily it was taken care of quickly. It sure was embarrassing to walk into the courthouse with a ticket as a missionary. It wasn't a big deal.

Thursday was a really good day. We were out in Helper trying to find former investigators when we passed two guys unloading branches from a trailer. One guy was white and the other one was Hispanic. I figured it wouldn't be worth it to stop and talk to them because Manuel probably spoke English. Going against my less intelligent decision I rolled down the window and asked Manuel and David if they could use some help. They seemed surprised and said they were almost done but that they could use the help. We ended up helping them move several more loads of branches from David's house to his friend’s home. It was the best feeling to just serve my brothers. David asked us several times why we were helping them. Surprisingly enough that was a really hard question to answer. We all became good friend in the hour and a half we were with them. By the time we were finished they both invited us to come to their house and share our message about Jesus Christ with them. I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my afternoon. The greatest question we can ask ourselves before we go to bed at night is, "have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?” We visited Manuel in the evening Saturday and had the best talk with him and his wife. I felt like I was at home with Grandma and Grandpa Candy. They are just great people.

We saw another miracle after zone conference on Friday. That was a LONG day. Zone conference was all the way in Richfield but that is another story. It was a two hour drive one way and we sat for a total of 12 hours that day. We finally got home and we had a lesson with Guadalupe. Guadalupe LOVES to talk. We have met with him eight times and have only shared the message of the Restoration with him. It was amazing though, he had promised me he would quit smoking after he finished the pack of cigarettes he had and bought another. it really touched me to know us talking to him is making him a better man.

Sunday was another good day. I translated for sacrament meeting from Spanish to English. That is a hard job. Other people are listening to you and you have to think fast or you wil make a lot of mistakes. I think I like it so much because it is a rush. It makes me think really hard really fast! :) Elder Ayala's sister and her family came down from Springville because she was asked to speak in the branch. It was great because 13 extra people were in the branch. The relief society room was full! I don't think it has ever been that full. In fact I know the branch has never been that full. His family is really nice. It is going to be such a blast to visit Utah after my mission. I know some of the best people Utah has to offer.

It is amazing what a mission does for us as missionaries. It takes us from boys who are 9 out of 10 times only focused on ourselves and we are given two years to worry about nothing but others. "Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might aboast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear bconscience before God this day. Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn awisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the bservice of your cfellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:15-17) This work is hard, especially in this area, but I do not feel alone in this work as i did before. I love the flecks of gold, the little miracles we see every day laboring in the Lord's vineyard. I love my Latinos and laboring with them! They are MY people! The Lord knows I'm a lucky man; He's given me a pretty fair hand. Estoy viviendo el sueno real! Vaya con Dios.

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion

Monday, April 16, 2012

Semana 59: My Life Be Like... Ohh Ahh

Hola familia! I hope everything is good and chido back home. When is spring break for all the chamacos? (that means kids:) We had spring break last week here in carbon county. It was really strange. We have had such  good weather in the low 70's and all of a sudden the tempature dropped and we had snow flurries and major wind storms.
Missionary work has been about as bipolar as the weather this past week. It seems like we would have one really great day where missionary work was going well and the very next day I was like Nephi in 2nefi33:3-4.
Last week there was not much to report on. We had some really good lessons with less active members. The funniest thing that happened last week was our trip out to schoefeild. We went "Boregero hunting" aka; looking for Hispanic sheep herders out there. We did not have much success in finding any boregeros but I did succeed in making Elder Ayala really trunky although that was not my intention. Elder Ayala's jaw about dropped when we passed a road sign that said 50 miles to Provo. We heard there might be Latinos up at solider summit working but when we got up there it was apparent we were misinformed. When we got to solider summit, through the canyon it appeared as if we could see Mt. Timpanogus off in the distance! Crazzzzy.
Tuesday was probably one of the biggest faith building days of my mission. The day started off rough like most days here in Price. There was no one to teach and I was sad and frustrated. At times I feel like I'm teaching the Zoramites here in Price. Everywhere we went, NOTHING! As a missionary I have come to expect most people will not be ready to accept our message. What begins to break you down are the days, weeks, and months of people rejecting not only me but Jesus Christ. Sometimes I am shocked how people call themselves Christians and how they then act completely opposite. Finally, we were out in this little town called Helper. We saw a car with a Hispanic last name on it and a so we knocked the door. A man opened the door. Before I could even ask how he was doing he told me to get the heck out of there  and not to come back. I don't know why but that last door slammed in my face was the clincher. I got in the car turned the stereo as loud as it would go, put my sunglasses on, and silently started to cry. I've never cried on my mission until this point. We went home to grab a paper and I told sister Oveson (the family we live with) about the day. I asked if we could do some sort of service so I could feel some what useful. We dug a hole out for a sand box and went to dinner at the Clavero's. After dinner we went to visit the Ramirez family who is less active/ a part member family. When we got there they were cooking and Elder Ayala said we should just go back later. With that said I told him all they can say is it is not a good time but I'm determined to talk with them. It turned out being one of the best nights I've had in Price. Brother Ramirez shared some questions he has had about God forgiving him for some of his past transgressions. We taught David who is preparing to get baptized this month and we ended up having a second dinner with them. I just felt at home with the Ramirez family.It ended up taking a lot longer than I though it would be it was completely worth it. When we are in the service of others we are only in the service of our God.
I wish I had time to explain the rest of the week. It was a roller coaster of highs and lows. Times where I felt like a sailboat in a hurricane and other moments where I felt like I was walking on sunshine. Carlos Estrudillo is the man. He is such an awesome kid. He plays soccer for Carbon High. He reminds me of myself when I was learning about the church. He is not even a member yet but we are planning to take him out teaching with us. That is how solid he is. Yesterday I translated from Spanish to English and then we had a couple who only spoke English for their talks so I translated to Spanish as well. Last week in church I gave a talk on the resurrection of Jesus Christ for Easter. That was followed up by teaching the young adults and priesthood.
The greatest lesson I was reminded of this week were the words I read in Isaiah 55:8-9. "For my athoughts are not byour thoughts, neither are your cways my dways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my aways bhigher than your ways, and my cthoughts than your thoughts." Time and time again I ask why things happen the way they do and time and time again I am reminded by the words of the Savior, "because your ways are not my ways". Oh how hard it is to humble myself and remember my ways are not always the way of the lord. He is the only way to transform myself from a boy into the man I want to be. 
I'm so proud of all the missionaries we have serving in our ward! Is the total now something like 5?! We are giving the wards in Utah a run for their money. I love you all. You are in my prayers daily. Vaya con Dios. 
Dios es amor,
Elder Bennion
P.S. Did you have a chance to call and talk with the academic advisers at BYU and BYUH to square everything away?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sacrifice....can be blessing!

In reading through the conference talks from this past weekend I couldn't help but think of how grateful I am to have a missionary out serving. It truly is a privilege to be the mom of a young man who has chosen to leave college where the palm trees blow.  To pack up his life in a few boxes and leave for 2 years with a couple of suitcases in his hands and giving up things/people that meant so much to him....All because he loves the Lord and chooses to keep the commandments. I am inspired weekly by the stories shared by not only Cameron, but so many of the other young men and women that are out serving right now. Cameron, someday when you are back and have an opportunity to read this blog, please know how much you are loved and how supported you are in your choice to serve. There is no other place you should be right now, than exactly where you are. 
I have copied part of the talk that was given this past General Conference by Dallin H. Oaks. I love the message and Cameron, and  I LOVE YOU!  Mom

Dallin H. Oaks Conference Talk April 2012

The best-known examples of unique LDS service and sacrifice are the work of our missionaries. Currently they number more than 50,000 young men and young women and over 5,000 adult men and women. They devote from six months to two years of their lives to teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and providing humanitarian service in more than 160 countries in the world. Their work always involves sacrifice, including the years they give to the work of the Lord and also the sacrifices made in providing funds for their support.
Those who remain at home—parents and other family members—also sacrifice by forgoing the companionship and service of the missionaries they send forth. For example, a young Brazilian received a missionary call while he was working to support his brothers and sisters after his father and mother died. A General Authority described these children’s meeting in council and remembering that their deceased parents had taught them that they should always be prepared to serve the Lord. The young man accepted his missionary call, and a 16-year-old brother took over the responsibility of working to support the family.6 Most of us know of many other examples of sacrifice to serve a mission or to support a missionary. We know of no other voluntary service and sacrifice like this in any other organization in the world.
We are frequently asked, “How do you persuade your young people and your older members to leave their schooling or their retirement to sacrifice in this way?” I have heard many give this explanation: “Knowing what my Savior did for me—His grace in suffering for my sins and in overcoming death so I can live again—I feel privileged to make the small sacrifice I am asked to make in His service. I want to share the understanding He has given me.” How do we persuade such followers of Christ to serve? As a prophet explained, “We [just] ask them.”7
Other sacrifices resulting from missionary service are the sacrifices of those who act on the teachings of the missionaries and become members of the Church. For many converts, these sacrifices are very significant, including the loss of friends and family associations.
Many years ago this conference heard of a young man who found the restored gospel while he was studying in the United States. As this man was about to return to his native land, President Gordon B. Hinckley asked him what would happen to him when he returned home as a Christian. “My family will be disappointed,” the young man answered. “They may cast me out and regard me as dead. As for my future and my career, all opportunity may be foreclosed against me.”
“Are you willing to pay so great a price for the gospel?” President Hinckley asked.
Tearfully the young man answered, “It’s true, isn’t it?” When that was affirmed, he replied, “Then what else matters?”8 That is the spirit of sacrifice among many of our new members.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Semana 57: On The Lord's Errand

Semana 57: On The Lord's Errand

Well it is Monday again and time to fill ya'll in on everything. It has been good. My new companion Elder Ayala is a really good missionary. His humility is what I admire most. He and his sister are the only two members in his family of six siblings. He is a convert of two years just as I am too! Elder Ayala is 25 and decided to serve a mission. I think that says a lot about him! It has been fun speaking more Spanish with him. He understands English pretty well but he still has a thick accent. He has not had many opportunities to study or receive a formal education but what he lacks in education he makes up for it in his love for the Savior. President Leonard calls him my "living Liahona" If I need to know where to go, let Elder Ayala lead the way.

The work is still slow out here in good 'ol Price so not much has changed in that aspect. I'm really trying my hardest so that Heavenly Father can bless us. We need all the blessings we can receive here. "I, the Lord, am abound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no bpromise." (D&C 82:10) I continue to learn humbling lessons day in and day out in this town. It makes me very humbled to look back at how much I've learned this past year and see how much more I have to learn. I laugh at how I thought I knew so much when my understanding was so small. I'm sure Heavenly Father laughs with me. :) The mission teaches you all about your short comings and weaknesses. That is one of the blessings of this precious time. 

We got a call this week from some missionaries that said a Hispanic man stopped them in the church parking lot and told them he likes our church and wants to get baptized. We ended up going over to a set of apartments in between General Conference sessions on Saturday and began knocking doors. What happens next is a miracle. We knock a door and then the door behind us is opened. It turned out to be Guadalupe and that he was visiting his sister’s apartment. I've talked to her before and she was not interested at all in speaking with us but Guadalupe came outside. We invited him to the priesthood session and he ended up coming! We then had an appointment with him on Sunday and it went great. He said he is excited to come to church on Saturday and that was just music to my ears.

I hope you all had a chance to watch General Conference. The Priesthood session would have been perfect for Darrell. Words cannot describe my love for General Conference. The first time President Monson got up to the podium during the Saturday morning session I had goose bumps. It just reaffirms my knowledge that he is a prophet of God. I know President Monson is a prophet of God just as I know the sun will rise tomorrow. He is the perfect example of living life on the Lord's errand.

If you get a minute, watch Henry B. Eyring's talk from the Saturday morning session. It was just what I needed. M. Russell Ballard's talk during the Sunday afternoon session was really good too, among other great talks.

That's about it for this week. I hope things are going well at home. Tell Kodi to not give up on his homework. This is the hardest time of the school year. The sun starts to come out and homework seems much more difficult. This is when champions are made though. Let me know when he gets his acceptance letters. I love you all and do not forget to always be on the Lord's errand. Vaya con Dios.

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion