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