Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Two Weeks of Emails


Of all my Christmas', this probably wins when it comes to favorites. I had a wonderful Christmas day where I felt motivated to work the second our call had ended. Last Mother's day, my emotions were weighing me down so much. To the point where during our studies, I napped instead because I didn't want to feel so homesick. I've never done that since on my mission, but man, my heart just ached. I was so nervous prior to the call that the same thing was going to happen, to the point my stomach felt sick all that morning. I was relieved to find out that I could handle it much more smoothly and optimistically. The Lord really blessed me with emotional strength and motivation to pursue the best Christmas I've had.

I apologize that I was so clueless on Skype, I was seriously at a loss for words yet I couldn't bring myself to pull away from our conversation ha. I'm satisfied with how it went, lets hope that next Mother's day I will actually be obedient and keep it under an hour ha. 

The rest of our day was great, we spent a lot of time with members, we roasted smores, and we went to the ward Christmas Party. (Below is a picture of the Liava'a's. Latu is right next to me, Nehasi is on the end, and Irie is in the middle. Latu and Nehasi are brothers and Irie is their cousin. I would've attached a picture of Siosi, but in every picture, he's making ridiculous faces haha!) 

The rest of our weekend was pretty good. We decided to take Rudy and Tita out to dinner for a wedding gift and had a lesson at the restaurant. It was fun. Then we were able to talk to Agnes on Saturday. Awesome news! Agnes really wanted to join our pizza party but she was too tired last time, so we set up another pizza party for this Wednesday. Also, for Christmas, she got us a $30 Coldstone gift card!!! She's so awesome. She said she really wants to take us to get seafood on the pier in San Pedro. She doesn't quite know our boundaries obviously ha.

Today is the beginning of a new transfer and I personally am very excited to be spending another 6 weeks here. Elder Thompson on the other hand... not so much. He's been in this ward/zone for a while, he was really hoping to get transferred and I am one to conform to other people's feelings, so if you will do me a favor and pray for him to draw upon diligence. I love the ward and the work so much, but it's not fun working with a burnt out companion. But I do know the Lord has us here for good purposes. I mean, we are supposed to have 3 baptisms this upcoming 6 weeks, so we are stoked. Plus, Rudy's brother said he wants to have a lesson with us, so things are going very smoothly. I really don't know what we're doing to deserve all this good news! 

This week is going to be good. We are seeing Rosie today to re-establish her baptism, we're running district meeting on Tuesday in Barstow, New years Eve is on Wednesday, we have a Zone leader meeting on Friday, and weekends tend to be really good for us. I'm looking forward to many great things! Have a great new year! Love you! (:

- Elder Bennion

Mom, Dad, and Koriann,

I would make this email detailed like the last one, but you've all stated the obvious, that in a few short days I will be seeing your lovely faces!!! As I type I get super shaky because I'm so anxious and excited at the same time!

I will share a couple highlights/news from this previous week.

We had a fun pizza party with the Liava'a's, we had a very good lesson on temples. Understandably, they were more excited about the pizza, but they all seemed to enjoy the lesson. It was an interesting topic to them, especially since Tongans are all about family first. If it were up to them, I know for sure they'd be doing baptisms for the dead and encourage their parents to get sealed.

On Wednesday we had our Christmas devotional with all the missionaries in the desert, and that's when I realized that a lot of my friends are in the valley! It was a slight bummer. But Lucerne Valley made all the missionaries beanies and Phelan bought us scarves, it was so nice of them! 

On Friday, we started teaching a member's friend named Nancie, but she goes by Sissy. She accepted a baptismal date of January 17th and she's really excited! I'm excited too, President Hobbs just has a slight fear of non-Polynesians getting baptized in a Tongan ward, and I understand why. The ward will eventually try to shift her over to the Adelanto ward, which will be good.

Saturday was Rudy and Tita's wedding and they wanted a very small wedding, and they did get what they wanted ha. It was in the relief society room and there was about 20 of us ha. Which is very abnormal for Tongans. Chris and Jasmine's wedding was way different than this one. But it brings them one step closer to baptism, so that's cool! 

Speaking of Chris and Jasmine, they got callings on Sunday! So rad. We taught Rudy and he's not ready to be baptized because of WOW issues, but he's working hard! and Rosie has been funny lately. We haven't seen her in a week and a half and she's out of town for the week, so her baptism is getting moved once again. It's alright though, we just gotta be patient!

We've been in a trio since Friday because a guy's companion went home and Elder Fernando and I have been in the same zone twice, so I'm cool with having him for the week. It's made things kinda stressful though trying to stay on top of 2 areas and he is from the Philippines, so the time zone for this Christmas is WAY different. It'll all work out though. 

Because Tongans aren't super into technology, we're gonna have to do the same thing we did at the Rich's. The Nau's only have facetime available for their tablet. I'm not sure how that works, but if there are any complications, I still remember your guys' phone numbers so I can receive permission to call you on a member's phone and get it figured out. I assume I can call Dad's phone on the tablet, that way you can see my face as if it were skype. I hope that made sense. We will be skyping at 12 p.m. PST, so 1:00 p.m. in Utah! I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you all. I'm sure that when I see you guys, I will be tear-filled, but I am so excited for Thursday! I love you all so much and will talk to you then!!!

- Elder Bennion

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lots of Information

Mom, Dad, & Koriann,

This works out quite well to send you all three the same email as you seem to be the most interested in how things are going. I remember Brother Moore telling me that you can never add too much detail in emails, so I will try not to be short on things (:

As I reflect on our week, I have to say that we had a GREAT week! It was so exciting. Our investigator Rudy who is dating Tita Fotu is getting married this Saturday! Then will be baptized on the 27th most likely. How exciting to have another wedding/baptism combination. Elder Thompson and I marvel at how little we feel we are doing for the Lord's prepared children. Chris & Jasmine, Rosie, and Rudy all accept the gospel without hesitation. It makes you wonder if those you encounter are ready, we just may not know it. This is why we must not be scared to share the gospel! You'll never be able to say "I regret talking about the church to this person", so make sure if you get a prompting, you somehow make a way for these people to come a little closer to their Savior (:

On Monday, we went on a really nice hike! The weather was perfect. It's crazy to me how big California feels, yet we were only in Barstow. God has great taste in the creation, the world is a very beautiful place. Don't be fooled though, every morning we wake up with the windows fogged up and frost growing on the top and the trunk. On Tuesday, we had a nice zone meeting. For every zone meeting, we give one training and assign 2 other companionships to participate in sharing something we feel the zone needs to hear. It can be very stressful. It went good though. Afterward, we went to see a lady named Clara who always feeds us. We visit her weekly because she LOVES the missionaries in her home. We are very lucky to have her as a friend. Then we do our weekly scripture study on Tuesday night and that was REALLY good. I love reading the book of Mormon out loud in groups. Wednesday was pretty darn good too. We were able to see Siosi and Latu Liava'a! Such rad kids. We're going over tomorrow for a pizza party we're putting on. I really hope that this isn't considered being a 'suck-up' to Agnes. It's really not to soften her heart, Latu just talks about pizza everytime we go over there, so we thought it'd be fun. BUT I know Latu has been talking about it all week to Agnes haha! I want those kids baptized SO bad! Agnes really likes us though, it makes us happy (: Then we had dinner at the Moala's and she made an excellent Chicken pot pie with a delicious pecan pie. Her Grandmother lives in Plain city! pretty cool.
On Thursday we went on exchanges and Elder Houston and I had a fun day even though a lot of our appointments fell through. We had dinner at the Lousiale's who is our ward mission leader/relief society president and man, they are so great! They are very funny people, I so wish that you could meet all them and just know who I'm talking about, you would love the ward so much. Then we got to see 2 less active families and that was great. On Friday, there was an Elders quorum activity that we stopped by at. We had a busy day, so got food and left. Clara had us come over again to share the Restoration with her friend. Her name is Sissy. She is palongi, but as long as the fellowship is in the Tongan ward, we are allowed to teach them. She was really excited to hear about the Book of Mormon! The rest of the day went kinda wacky, but the Lord always provides a way! We say Rose and for real, she is getting baptized on December 26th. Sheesh, the process has been hectic, but she really does have a good testimony. Saturday was good too. We had our lesson with Rudy and then we were scrambling for plans all day long. Then all the sudden we got a call from Sister Hobbs. Someone asked if we could go to the hospital to give a blessing to someone. We were very excited for the opportunity. She was in the ICU and when we got to her, she wasn't conscious. But we proceeded with the blessing and man, the crazy thing is is that lady is going to continue with her life without knowing that her life might've been drastically changed by the influence of the priesthood. It's just a cool little story I will have with me from most interesting blessings I've given/received. Sunday was so awesome! We had 5 investigators at church! Then we had to go to Barstow to give a baptismal interview and the Hobbs were there too! i'm not sure how, but word got around I can do a backflip, so Sister Hobbs asked if she could record it. ha! she's awesome. I love my president and his wife. I'm very happy that we get to see them more often now that I am a zone leader. Later that day we saw a less active family, had a great dinner and then went to the stake musical christmas fireside thing. All week, Elder Thompson and I have been practicing Silent Night in Tongan so that we could sing it in Sacrament and this stake thing and I thought my chest was going to explode! I was so nervous. It's a beautiful song though, hopefully Elder Thompson and I can sing it for you on Christmas. The ward really liked it, they said we sounded pure Tongan! Later that night we went to the Batisaresare's. We haven't been over since the funeral, so we thought it'd be a good idea to stop by. I am so glad we did too. Atama is their father and he was very excited to see us. Although he is Methodist, he is such a great person. Fijian's are SO cool. They are an awesome family. We asked if we could take a picture of their flag and instead he gives us one to hang in our apartment. Man, their family really is so special. I know God has a special eye out for them.
So yeah, that concludes our week, very informative I hope!

I look forward to hearing from you all in 10 short days. We do in fact get a P day next week, so I will be able to email you next week as well. I do hate to admit it, but it is true that when I did talk to you all on Mothers day, it took me pretty much a couple weeks to adjust to missionary life again. It was painful to end the call, but I'm really hoping things will be different this time. Then again, I was still homesick, Grandpa had just passed away, and my birthday was in the next couple weeks, so it was emotionally draining. But I look forward to Christmas so much. Tongans don't really have a ton of technology, so we will probably be borrowing members laptops and skyping at the church. I'd love for you to meet someone from the ward, but I'm not sure that will be happening. No worries though. I appreciate any time I get to see your lovely faces. Christmas will be here before you know it! I love you all and am looking forward to our skype date. Send Kaylee my love!

- Elder Bennion

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

An Email to All of Us

Mom, Dad, & Koriann,

I'm writing you an email all together because we are going hiking later and this will make life easier. Also, Mason emailed me telling me how much progress he is making and how he's excited for his mission, so I need to tell him how proud I am of him. I was worried about him recently. What's neat is that he says his testimony has grown since he picked up the Book of Mormon! Same with me. I love that book. We actually just gave out a copy of it to someone at the library (: But anyway, it's interesting Mason says that because in Alma, it says that as soon as we wrest the scriptures, it bring on destruction! That doesn't sound very fun. I'm currently in Alma myself at the war chapters. I have a hard time reading them for some reason. Blood and carnage just isn't my favorite topic I guess. But I know that with each sentence of the BOM, there is something the Lord wants us to know. We had a REALLY interesting lesson this week with a girl named Shontell. She is afraid to eat pork and do her shopping on a Saturday. We showed her where Christ fulfilled the law of Moses and how the Sabbath day is now on Sunday and man, my stomach was just burning with the spirit! I was so excited to show her how the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel and she accepted it so easily! She's very excited to eat pepperoni pizza (: She's awesome.

It was rainy earlier this week, which got to me a bit. Rain typically makes me a bit gloomy. I felt off all day, but by Thursday things started getting better. Thank heavens I am in California. Do you know how many times it has rained since I've been on my mission? Less than 10 times! It's always sunny here. I love it. But we had such an awesome miracle happen with a guy named Rudy. He used to live outside the mission boundaries, but recently moved to Hesperia. He's met with the missionaries before and been to church a handful of times. He is dating Tita Fotu who is a member and we had a lesson on Friday and showed him the restoration dvd and he said he'd pray more specifically about Joseph Smith being a prophet. When the lesson was almost over, the spirit must've hit him hard, because he all the sudden said he's tired of waiting to be baptized and he doesn't want to go through another set of missionaries. Him and Tita are now getting married and he will be baptized sometime before 2014 is over (: AHH! So cool. The Lord is blessing us immensely! The cool thing is there are so many miracles I see. And they certainly are not mini miracles!

Our teaching pool is fairly big for the Tongan ward. President Hobbs expressed his concern to our stake president about keeping missionaries in Polynesian wards busy, but luckily we are not having that problem. There are 3 Polynesian wards in the mission, and by far, I am in the best one. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be serving in this ward. I've never wanted to better myself so much than when I realized how much I've been blessed with by serving in this ward. I've been inspired so much by their charity and thoughtfulness. This weekend was Meme Batisaresare's funeral. She's actually Fijian, but loves the Tongan ward. The Tongans are so cool, there were 3 days prior to the funeral where we spent time with the family and the ward brought them the most beautiful quilts and piled food in their home and we sang a couple of hymns and a prayer for their loss. I'm not sure what it is about being a missionary in both cultures, but Atama Batisaresare isn't a member, but thanked us so many times during his speeches for showing our support. Please remind me during skype to bring up the funeral and all the things I got to experience in their cultural.
But Anyway, we are busy and it makes me happy. We only have 3 Tongan investigators though. We got to see Latu Liava'a this week and he's such an awesome kid. He wants to be baptized so bad! We taught him the principle of fasting and he said he'd fast for the Lord to prepare a way for it to happen. For a 13 year old, he is so smart and wants to be a member so bad. He's so awesome.

I'm sure I'll have so much to say during skype, but I just want to let you know how much I love serving in this ward. I've only been here for 2 months, but this is by far my most favorite area I have served in. I have found so much joy and pleasure in missionary work in this ward, as there's never a dull day here. The Tongans are such delightful people, to the point if I stayed here for the rest of my mission, I would be happy. I know that won't happen, but I've just been living in such a different world in the best way possible. I have an enhanced desire for missionary work and been able to expand my heart because of these people and the way that they care for me personally. I often feel as though I have to pray for more charity in order to attempt to have the capabilities of loving them the way they do for the missionaries. I love them so much. Sometimes it still leaves me in awe that I am serving in a Tongan ward, but I couldn't be happier. I love you all so so much and am so excited to share stories and catch up with you in 3 short weeks. It'll be here before you know it (: I love you!!!

- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Yan Yan,

I probably will never have a Thanksgiving like this one again, which is a sad, but happy statement at the same time. Overall, every day whether it's a holiday or not is pretty much feels the same. It didn't feel like Thanksgiving (especially with the wonderful 70 degree weather), but I sure ate like it! Each dinner I made sure to control the portions, so after 3 I was honestly at a good amount. The tastiest thing I ate all day was probably eggrolls ha! Maybe that's a strange comment, but it's not very often I get ground beef here, so I was excited. The duck that we had for the first time was pretty good too. It's a bit more greasy than turkey and it's all dark meat, but I enjoyed it! We had a really good thanksgiving, to tamales though. One holiday down, one more to go. Which will be the best one yet! Wowza I cannot believe it is December already. Elder Thompson and I definitely need to do some decorating around the house. I would love to play Christmas music and watch my favorite Christmas movies, but that's alright, the spirit I feel is enough (:

Glad to hear you had a good weekend. Something important to know about the temple is found in Moses where Adam was giving burnt offerings (I think) He says "I know not, save the Lord commanded me", that should be a good enough reason that we go. I remember I didn't love the temple for a while, to be honest. Sister Hobbs told me the same thing though. We talked about how we just need to go back and observe things generally. Interesting point!

So, as for the work, the party at the Liava'a's was tight! they had a bounce house and a ton of food. Wow, Tongans throw good parties. We got to see Rose yesterday. She didn't come to church AGAIN. It's the hardest commitment, good grief ha. Her date is now moved to December 20th. It's alright, I have complete faith in her. Chris and Jasmine are great as always. We had a good thanksgiving with them. We do a lot of less active work, which is no problem, I was pretty much told that's what we'll be doing majority of the time. They just said to love the members (as if that's hard to do ha), which my heart goes all out to those people, oh man. This is definitely my favorite ward i've served in.

I'm pretty well when it comes to packages. The only thing I request (which you can coordinate with mom) is stuff to listen to in the car. I would like as much as I can get that has mo tab, book of mormon on cd, etc. along with a cd booklet to keep good care of them. I don't want much money spent on me though, so if Shelby could download it all, that would be fantastic. I would also enjoy 2 new short sleeved white shirts from CTR. My other ones are not white anymore ha. I am a 16 tall for those church shirts. Lastly, I would like a workout dvd called T-25. Or Insanity, whichever is easier to get ahold of. I would ask for P90x but the guy is so annoying and cusses occasionally, which I don't like.

I really could not ask for anything more, the ward is going so well and I love serving here so much. The Lord has been above and beyond to me. I'm very grateful for all that He has let me be apart of. I love you and look forward to hearing from you next week. See you reeeeeal soon (:

- Elder Bennion