Friday, September 28, 2012

Semana 83: It Only Happens When Serving In Zion

Semana 83: It Only Happens When Serving In Zion
I realized this week I've been mislabeling my weekly emails home. I'm actually on week 83 and not week 80. I'm not exactly sure how that was changed but I figured I should change it now at least so it is correct. Things are going well out here in Beaver. The small town lifestyle is kind of growing on me more and more every week. the Lord definitely has given me the patience to learn to love this way of life and the people. I remember how we would laugh at how everyone knew everyone in Randal and would say thing like, "Oh yeah, Johnny lives three houses down from Dave, next to the Smith's boy". Funny thing is I'm starting to see how people are related like that here in Beaver! :P
It was a really fun week getting to go to not only the Monday and then going to the Manti Temple on Thursday. I forgot to mention last week that we saw Julie B. Beck's husband in the temple (She is the former general Relief Society President). Then on Thursday at the Manti Temple the whole primary general presidency was at the temple. Several of the women were Hispanic and I wanted to speak with them but I never had the opportunity. Only in Utah can you go to two different temples in a week and see members of the general presidencies of the church and their spouses. It is such a blessing to be serving in Zion.
Tuesday went really well. We taught six lessons and we were able to meet with the Guzman’s again. We explained why the scriptures are so important and how The Bible and The Book of Mormon go together to testify of Jesus Christ. I don't know why but this family is one of my favorites here in Beaver. It was hard getting to see them the rest of the week. It seemed like we always stopped by at times when someone wasn't home or they were leaving. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out a way to explain to them why this message is so important. They really have most everything they need. They don't really have any problems and generally speaking those are the hardest people to teach. I love the scripture in Alma 32 that says, "Therefore, blessed are they who ahumble themselves without being bcompelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without cstubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe." Humility is such a hard thing to teach, especially when someone is unaware of the need to be humble. It reminds me a lot of our family and how I didn't go to church just because I didn't know I needed it. Life was good without going to church. Now, the bigger picture is clear and I know that it is a commandment from God to go to church. When we humblest ourselves to the will of the Lord he only opens up the windows of Heaven to bless us more.
Thursday we had the temple trip to Manti. I cannot find words to describe the joy of entering into The House of The Lord. The purpose of these houses of the Lord is so that we can make covenants with our Father in Heaven so that we may return to live with him someday as an eternal family. So many people believe we as Latter Day Saints are force to keep "too many rules". What they fail to realize is that man did not create these terms by which salvation comes but the Lord, is the dictator of these terms. He has given us these commandments so that we may have everlasting joy, unspotted from the filth of this world.
Friday we had ANOTHER meeting, this time up in Richfield with President Leonard. He recently went to a mission Presidents seminar in Salt Lake City and so he came to share what he learned. My respect for President Leonard grew tenfold from this visit. I've always felt President lacked emotion for this work and showing genuine sincerity. I guess that stems from never seeing him get emotional and this time he did. It just made me want to stand by him and support him more.
Saturday was busy in the afternoon but the evening was pretty slow. It seemed like the whole town was either doing something for Homecoming, a Hispanic party for two ninos that were baptized in Cedar City or a wedding reception for a prominent family here in Beaver. The one thing about small towns is that if something is going on, we know about it.
Sunday was the temple dedication of the Brigham City Temple. It was broadcast to all of Utah and parts of Southern Idaho. This is the 139th temple dedicated and the 14th temple in Utah. It is staggering for me to think that in just approximately 1.5 years 5 temples have been dedicated to the Lord. Temple ordinances and work for the dead have always been signs of the full gospel on the earth (1 Cor. 15:29, D&C 109:8-9). It is amazing to see how many beacons are dotting the globe today.
I was reading this week and I loved Psalms 27:1,14: "The Lord is my alight and my bsalvation; whom shall I cfear? the Lord is the dstrength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? aWait on the Lord: be of good bcourage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: cwait, I say, on the Lord." I just fell in love with those verses. Just as the Lord is a light, HIS holy house is a beacon unto all who have desires to serve the master. He is my life and my salvation. It is a divine blessing to have the fullness of the gospel once again restored to the earth in this, the final dispensation before the second coming of the Messiah. There is nothing better than serving a mission. I'm livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios.
Dios es amor,
Elder Bennion

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Semana 79: If It Was All Over Today, I Can Say I've Seen The Best Thing A Mission Has To Offer

Semana 79: If It Was All Over Today, I Can Say I've Seen The Best Thing A Mission Has To Offer

It's been another week in paradise here in the Utah St. George Mission. Overall, it has been a crazy week. We have had a lot of good things happen this past week here in Beaver. First of all though, how is Bug? It was weird not emailing back and forth last week when you were on the road. I hope you got my email with the pictures attached. It was fun going out to Snow Canyon before leaving St. George. I love serving in St. George but I'm glad to go wherever the Lord needs me. I got test results from my A1C, it was 6.3 so I thought that was pretty good. I haven't had it that good in awhile. 

The first few days in Beaver were different for me. Beaver is a little town approximately 45 minutes north of Cedar City with about 3,000 people. The Beaver stake (which we cover) consists of about 2,500 people and 2,000+ are members. The best way to describe Beaver is like a Mormon version of Packwood, WA. It has two grocery stores like Blanton's Market and a few motels but it is TINY. It has been different working in a bilingual area with white people as well. I've spent 19 months only looking for Hispanic people to teach and now I can teach everyone. It has thrown me for a loop. The skills I have worked so hard to hone have now become practically useless. It is funny to me how I feel like a new missionary all over again. It has been good for me though to have this change to see another aspect of missionary work. In Ether 12 it says, "my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that afaith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all brighteousness."

The Lord has many challenges for me to overcome this coming transfer that is for sure but I'm excited to see where they lead me.

Thursday morning was fun because we had DTM. This is the first district I've been in that doesn't have sisters. We also have a lot of Spanish-speaking Elders in the district. My companion, Elder Earle (who is from Wisconsin), is the only one that doesn't speak Spanish but as you fully know, I love speaking Spanish more than any other missionary in this mission and I'm working on helping Elder Earle speak Spanish. :) One thing I've been doing lately is praying in English but with a thick Spanish accent. :D I've always loved doing accents. ;) Elder Ayala is in the district, as well as Elder Valdez, the first elder I trained. Thursday night we met with the stake President, President Robinson. That was another first for me in my mission. In Spanish, we don't go to stake coordination’s and we mostly do everything internally with the branch.

After a week of getting accustomed to the small town life and trying to get the work going we had a fun and successful Saturday. We had a really good first lesson with this family called the Guzmon’s. We met them on Wednesday and came back and they were sitting in chairs in their garage waiting for us. We met with the mom, a son that is 18, a daughter that is 13, and a younger boy. The husband wasn't there and neither was the 17 year old girl. We had a great lesson and they seem excited to learn more. I just can't wait to share the gospel, ESPECIALLY with mi gente! I feel like this is one of the families I was sent here for. I already love them! I just know this church and gospel is true! 

The last lesson of the night was with a family that lives by President Robinson. They have spoken to missionaries many times and a previous missionary offended this family like many other families here in Beaver by being pushy. :/ I was apprehensive to knock this door at 8:30 pm but we did it and it paid off. Rachelle came out and was just hilarious. She is from So. Cal. and just says whatever she is thinking. That is something else that is so weird to me. Hispanics have such a different demeanor. They are a lot calmer. I can't explain it but white people are just different. I'm still not completely used to it but I'm coping. My body is starting to get used to white people food again. For the firsts three or four days my stomach was really upset from eating white people food. Every time we knock on Hispanic people's doors and I smell Mexican food I miss it! 

Sunday I went to three sacrament meetings. It was also the first time in 19 months I've been to a sacrament meeting in English. There were several really great talks. I enjoyed it but I missed translating in the Spanish branch to English. I've been so blessed to have spent 19 months in full Spanish areas. Even though times have not always been easy, I have grown to love Spanish culture. In the coming months and years in this mission, there will be less and less opportunities to be a full time Spanish speaking missionary.

The greatest thing of that happened this week and quite possibly the best thing of my mission happened today. This morning we got the opportunity to go down to St. George to witness the sealing of Martin and Carmen Gonzalez for time and all eternity with their two children. It was last August that Elder Leguizamon and I baptized them and they have just continued onward and upward during this past year. I can't even begin to describe the happiness I felt being in the St. George Temple and witnessing their sealing. I have baptized a lot of people but none have been as strong as Martin and Carmen. It felt like coming home, driving down to little old Dixie and then getting to be in the Temple with many people from my favorite branch in the mission. The love that was there in the temple was indescribable and the spirit that was present was tangible. There is nothing neater than to see the crowning ordinance performed for a couple that a year ago knew almost nothing about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was also told a family I taught the new member lessons is to be getting sealed on October 4th!!! It is such a surreal feeling to know that all this is taking place. I've just felt so at peace today. There is nothing that can replace the joy missionary service has brought me.

 The mission has taught me so much about service. As King Benjamin taught, "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."
Service is all about love and I love these people. I love being a missionary in general! Life is all about service and sometimes we cannot choose where we serve. Grow where you are planted, serve without hesitation and the Lord will do the rest. I'm livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios!

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion

Monday, September 17, 2012

Semana 78: At The End Of The Day The Only Thing That Matters Is Serving Him

Semana 78: At The End Of The Day The Only Thing That Matters Is Serving Him

Oiga familia!

Hey I hope getting Bug off to school went well. I'm sure by the time you get this you will already be up at CWU. Hopefully you can read it there on your phone or just wait to use the Mac. I attached a few pics in the one email where I responded to you and I attached a few pictures from today when we went out to Snow Canyon National Park (Don't quote me on it being a national park). It was a lot of fun to do something fun before having to get all our chores done today, like PACKING!

We received transfer calls last night and President had said there were going to be a lot of changes in the mission and he fulfilled his word. So Elder Eggen is going to Moab bilingual. I'm excited for him. His companion is a native Spanish speaker from Chile so he will have lots of opportunities to practice speaking even though the area is bilingual. President called me at about 8:50 pm and gave me the assignment to go to Beaver bilingual. I have the great responsibility to be the "Grandfather" of the district and share my wisdom. From what I hear our area has one stop light and it doesn't even have a Walmart. Umm... what else, well I guess that's it for transfers. We had interviews with President last week as well; he promised me I will be able to finish my mission in the 28th branch. That just about made my week so I'm hoping that he doesn't forget that in a few months.

The week overall was much better than last week. We taught some good lessons and got into a few houses. We were able to contact some less active members and one of them even came to church! That always makes me happy to see them tell us they want to come to church and then they demonstrate their faith by coming to church. We met this one man named Louis on Friday. We had knocked his door for two weeks and no one ever answered. We knew a Hispanic person lived there but no one ever answered. We had Angel out with us and he was giving us a ride so we could visit more people. We knocked Louis' door and right away with out hesitation he welcomed us in. It was such a strange thing for me when we have not had anyone do that is so long. We began talking and he told us he had talked to missionaries 18 years ago. He is always busy with work and works three jobs. I asked him if he had ever read the Book of Mormon and he said he had, ALL OF IT! He asked me to share a scripture and I decided to share Alma34:32-34. When I told him the scripture was in the book of Alma he asked if it was Alma the younger or Alma talking. I was shocked! He told us he loved the story of Coriantumr, Moroni and his father Mormon. I was in disbelief that he wasn't a member yet knew so much about the Book of Mormon. I asked him if he believed the Book of Mormon is the word of God and he said, "well out of the mouth of two or three witnesses comes the truth right?" and I just had to smile and agree. He is probably the most golden investigator I've ever found. Now The Halls will just have to help him understand the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy. "For behold, this alife is the time for men to bprepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of cthis life is the day for men to perform their dlabors. And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many awitnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not bprocrastinate the day of your crepentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the dnight of edarkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful acrisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth bpossess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world." (Alma 34:32-34)

Thursday afternoon I had to do an interview for the sisters' investigator over at the visitor's center. We got a partial ride over there. It is about 4 or 5 miles from our house but we made it in pretty good time. I enjoyed getting to walk in downtown St. George again though. It reminded me of the good times in that area. We were out walking and we walked past the house of a couple that we baptized last August. Martin is now the Sunday school president and doing great things as is his wife. It just so happens they are going to be going to the temple next Monday to be sealed as a family with their two kids for time and all eternity. I will be able to go to the temple for that and I cannot wait! These people are just so special and to be able to see them be sealed, I'm just ecstatic for that day to come!

On Sunday night Elder Jeffery R. Holland spoke at Dixie State College. We had great seats and we were able to listen to his inspiring words. There is nothing quite like seeing an Apostle of the Lord in person. It just reconfirms to me that this is the true church of Jesus Christ every time I see an Apostle.

Well I think that is about everything. I have really met some great people in this area. Some have been members and others are future members that just needed us to plant a seed. I just love the Hispanic people more than anything. I feel like I've adopted the language and culture as my own and I never want to lose that. In 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 it says, "And unto the [Hispanics] I became as a [Hispanic], that I might gain the [Hispanics]; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as aweak, that I might gain the weak: I am made ball things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."
The mission is full of change and sometimes there is change you don't want but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is that we are serving Heavenly Father by bringing them unto Christ through sacred ordinances and covenants, which is baptism. I'm livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios!

Dios es amor,

Elder (hispano) Bennion ;)