Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Semana: Noventa y uno

Semana: Noventa y uno

Peru Is the Land of the Eternal P-day 

Why is it that these weeks keep flying by so fast?! The understatement of my mission has been- days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. I think I'm just getting tired of the dreaded yet all too frequent question, "how long have you been out for?" It is not just the question but the conversation that ensues that kills me. I've spoken in sacraments for the past three weeks as well so I always have to include that kind of personal information in my talks.

There are a couple of things I need to take care of. First things first, I printed off the short essay questions brother Hatch emailed me and I will try to write my responses asap. I about died when he called and then extremely relieved when he said President Leonard gave him permission to call. Second I never mailed my package home. IT was just too expensive and so I waited. It isn't a big box but because it is mostly books it weighs about 19 lbs. Third, will you see if Elder Holland has a biography written about him. I've listened to countless hours of his talks and he is one of the neatest men ever. Fourth, did you read Elder Callister's talk on the Godhead? It just makes things so clear to me!

This week was pretty good overall. We taught over 25 lessons in total which is really well for this area. Most of our lessons were with members which was also a plus and not all too common. Having a fellowshipper really is crucial though I think back to how little I helped the missionaries out after Elder Prawitt left and I regret it. They need our help to be successful. The work seems to be getting better since I came in four weeks ago which is promising.

Monday we had dinner and a lesson with Rodney and his family. We had a lesson at 7:30 in Manti with Mauricio so we didn't have a whole lot of time to teach. We went off on peripheral doctrines again and so I to focus more on the Book of Mormon tonight. I'm actually going on exchanges with the zone leaders tonight so I hope that lesson goes well while I'm away. The lesson will have to be short though because we have two kids that want to get baptized and a mother that is getting divorced that is getting active again. WHOO HOO! :) We are teaching the family in a members home which on a scale of 1-10, this is a 12! I'm excited! As it says in Alma 32:16, "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." Member support has been key to success and having communication skills has been key on our part as missionaries gaining members trust. Elder Hererra and I have had some major personality conflicts but thank goodness it has not effected the work.

Tuesday was a blast because Elder Larsen and I went on exchanges to the snow college campus. He is from Washington too and he just seems like a brother to me. We had no car so we rode bikes and I don't know what it is about bikes but it makes me feel like an authentic missionary. :P As fun as college work is I love Spanish work more. It is much harder but it just feels weird to teach girls my age and they all seem so worldly. I swear the world has gotten worse since I left. Christ said, “No man, having put his hand to the aplough, and blooking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." and I'm not looking back. ;)

 Wednesday we had zone conference with Elder Halack and Elder Leavett of the seventy. It is such a neat thing to have so many general authorities here and I think we take it for granted in this mission at times. Our mission has 118 missionaries at the moment but we should be receiving a complement of 180 missionaries with the influx of new missionaries. This will open the work to more reactivation efforts. It is great news and I'm excited for the future generation but President Leonard has taught me so much about being goal oriented and focusing on our purpose as missionaries. I'm thankful for that because I know he has helped me prepare better for life and college. Who would have thought that listening to an older, wiser, inspired man of God who presides over this mission with all the priesthood keys of God could teach a recent convert like me a thing or two? ;) On Wednesday we invited 84 year old Alva to be baptized on the 15th of December. She said she would if she knows it is true. I hope I'm privileged enough to see her get baptized. I think sister Chamberlain just needs to have more faith it is possible. She was baptized as a teenager and her mom has never joined the church. I'm sure she is apprehensive but I feel like this is Alva's time.

Friday we had a really good lesson with Chano and he is looking good for his baptism December 1st. He is going to be one of the coolest baptisms of my mission just because of the changes I've seen from my first week in the mission till now. We also saw Stephanie for the first time. Bishop Shelly has been working closely with her so I'm excited to teach her more. It is going to take time and she has a lot to do before she will be ready to be baptized but I can already see her in white and entering into the fold of the good shepherd.

Saturday we had some really good stuff happen in Moroni and then I met my role model, Bishop Rick Wheeler. We went to visit Bishop Wheeler to set up dinners with the young married ward. Turns out Bishop Wheeler is a recently released area seventy, two time stake president, and is one of the most knowledgeable men I've met on my mission or in my life for that matter. He lives in a modest home but it is very tastefully decorated. The most impressive part is his collection of over 5,000 books! As a matter of privacy I will have to tell you later some of the neat things he has. I was in religious memorabilia heaven. It was amazing to me how he had detailed explanations to all my questions yet never came across as a know-it-all or or that he was irritated by my questions. He is just someone I can only aspire to one day become.

Anyway, I've written a lot today and I could go on but suffice it to say it was a good week in which I learned a ton. I feel that I'm still learning just as much as I did when I started my mission. After a period of time I feel I slowed down learning new things, I love this feeling of obtaining so much knowledge as I should for, "Whatever principle of aintelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the bresurrection. And if a person gains more aknowledge and intelligence in this life through his bdiligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the cadvantage in the world to come." I'm so thankful for the strict rules of this mission. I ask, at least rhetorically, if it is impossible to live up to mission rules for two years what would keep a return missionary faithful to gospel principles for the rest of his life? In a letter Elder Hererra got this week one of his friends serving in Peru said that Peru is the land of the eternal P-day. How sad that some missionaries are not forced or chose not to live outside of their comfort zone and obey rules that stretch them to new heights. My mission has most definitely NOT been an eternal P-day and I am thankful for the struggles that have completely and utterly changed me. There is nothing better than what I'm doing. I'm livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios!

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion 

Semana: Noventa

Semana: Noventa

Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet, They Shall Be As White As Snow

It is starting to look and feel like winter here in Ephraim. We got a cold front that moved in on Friday and blanketed everything with a dusting of snow. Saturday night the same thing happened. The world just seems different when covered in snow. Things seem brighter and cleaner. It always makes me thing of how clean and bright Heaven will be. The roads haven't been bad so that is a plus. The snow always seems to melt during the day, which is good. I hope you are recovering quickly mama. You have been in my prayers as well as countless others I'm sure. I should be sending a package home soon. I need to start sending some things home like letters and other little things that I probably won't need since the weather won't get warm for the remainder of my mission. Zach Collier wrote me the other day and asked me if girls still write me- I laughed pretty good and need to write him and tell him that mail has never really stopped flowing through out my mission knock on wood. lol :) I feel so blessed to have good friends.

Overall the week has been a bit of a struggle. Investigators are not progressing like I would have hoped, the cold weather makes it difficult to go out and tract, and on top of that, companion struggles take away the shelter and protection of our house from contention and the adversary. My patience has definitely been tested this transfer and I have three more weeks of this life lesson. Thankfully I am going on exchanges with the zone leaders and we get along really well. One of them, Elder Isabell, is from Pendleton Oregon and the other is Elder Niumatalolo from the DC area but went to BYU. Exchanges should be good.

Monday night we had another lesson with Rodney. It went on and on but I feel like we are making progress. Today we are going to teach him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. These lessons with Rodney have really been good for me as a missionary. This week I've read The Message of the Restoration by Elder Charles Dider, The Book of Mormon- A Book From God by Elder Tad R. Callister, Our Identity and Our Destiny by Tad. R. Callister, The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, My Words... Never Cease by Elder Holland, and one of my all time favorites: Safety For The Soul by Elder Holland. Through reading these talks and marking them for Rodney my thirst for knowledge has just skyrocketed. My testimony of this gospel has as well been strengthened through these teachings of men called of God. As Elder Holland put it, " As one of a thousand elements of my own testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I submit this as yet one more evidence of its truthfulness. In this their greatest—and last—hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth?
Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be “houseless, friendless and homeless” and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor. 9 Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon." Not only by my faith have I come to know this is Christ's restored church but I've had that testimony fortified and clad in the undeniable teaching of the scriptures and historical records. It gives me great pleasure to think of the fullness of the gospel and the Restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith.

Well I have to run like usual but if nothing else I am so thankful for the Holy Ghost and his sweet whisperings that teach me that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. This church, its leaders, and the rock, which it is founded upon, are so amazing. With all the struggles I'm loving my mission! This is the definition of livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios!

Elder Bennion

Semana 88: Everyday is Like My Homecoming in Ephraim

Semana 88: Every Day Is Like My Homecoming In Ephraim

Hey family,

Well I've been in Ephraim for a week now and time has flown by. I will send you my address in another email mama. We live with an elderly couple named the Christiansens. Right after I left Ephraim last time the missionaries moved into this house and I was jealous I never got to live here before and now I'm here! It is definitely the nicest place I've lived on my mission and the Christiansens are great people. We have a little gym to work out in, we have the whole basement to ourselves, we watch the Preach my Gospel DVD's on a big projector, I don't freeze at night because it is central air, and I can take a shower that is longer than three minutes without getting a cold shower. It is really a nice house. 

It has been funny being back in Ephraim for several reasons. The first day I came back we taught a man named Mauricio in Manti. Elder Brown and I were teaching him over one and a half years ago! It is neat to see how time and life can make people realize the need for the gospel. He still needs to get married but he acts a lot different than before. It has shocked me how many people remember me from before when I was here. I thought I just went unnoticed as the quite greenie but I guess not. It has been a week of laughs and talks of "old times" this whole week. The big difference this time in Ephraim is that we are now covering the English wards here. I feel like I'm becoming a true Utah St. George English Missionary because we are mostly teaching children. This coming week a girl named Sadie is getting baptized, the week after a boy named Nick, and then a boy named CJ will be getting baptized so we should stay pretty busy.

Jumping back to Monday, it was a bittersweet day for Elder Earle and I. It was good in the sense we were leaving Beaver for areas that had more work but we really like several families such as President Robinson and his family, the Marshalls, Guzman’s, and the list just goes on.

Thursday was a good day. We had DTM and I really like all the elders in our district. We all seem to get along really well. I found out almost every area is teaching someone Hispanic so we are going to have to work all that out. :) The Mt. Pleasant elders are even teaching a man I taught when I first got here so I think we will begin teaching him again. Other than teaching our investigators everything is good. haha We taught Mauricio again and it went great I hope he really does have the desire this time to do what he knows is right and true. He came to church so that is a good sign. 

Friday was a really good day, we invited two people to be baptized and they accepted. We went to the institute to use the bathroom at night and there was a group of high school students there for debate. I recognized a few of them from Beaver so I went over and said “hi.” I started talking to a guy named Steven who I knew from when he took a Bishop's daughter to Homecoming while we were at the Bishop's house. I asked him if he was a member and he said no (but I later found out he was baptized when he was younger). When he told me his last name is Wayman I remembered Elder Wayman from Spanish Fork area that served in our ward. I remembered a pic Elder Wayman showed me from when he was in high school and he had long hair. Steven also has long hair and so long story short, Elder Wayman is Steven's Uncle. It is such a small world! Then we had dinner with a family called the Alders. They lived in Kaiser about 8 years ago. Turns out Uncle Brent was their stake president. The Mormon bubble is so small! :)

Saturday was a really busy teaching day. We went to Moroni and Fountain Green and spoke with a lot of former investigators. The hardest thing about Hispanics is that the Catholic church is deeply rooted in family tradition and their culture. Most of the time people will not listen just because being Catholic is a tradition and not because they have studied the scriptures and prayed to know if it is true. The highlight of my week was going to the Allred farm and out there, shoveling lamb droppings was MAURO! I can't explain it but he looked different from the last time I saw him. He smiled so much more, he talks more and it was just amazing to see what receiving a remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost did to him. 

Sunday we went to 4 wards including the Spanish branch. Even though there are very few people in the branch and it has shrunk since I was here, last my heart definitely lies in the Spanish Branch. It felt like coming home after a long vacation and everything just felt familiar. Everything just came full circle. I think the best part is that I now can communicate with everyone as where before I struggled a lot. Well I think that's about my week in a nutshell. Hopefully we can keep doing well. I have a feeling I'm going to be knocking a lot of familiar doors this week to see if we can find more people who are ready to hear the good news! I love missionary work so much! I'm livin' the dream! Vaya con Dios!

Dios es amor,

Elder Bennion