Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 is ending.

I feel as though you are going to receive the most uneventful email yet ha! I am glad we got to talk on Christmas though. When the ward asked how it went, the word I came up with was refreshing. It's good to hear your voices and know that everyone is doing well. I'm glad to know that there was a lot of family time spent together, that always means a lot to me even if I am absent.

Basically here's what my week was like. We had a zone activity and did a white elephant thing, that was good. Trying to explain what that and a mistletoe is to Chinese people is actually very difficult. They do not understand the purpose of a mistletoe ha! Speaking of which, one of our English students had us over for dinner and it was so nice of her! Elder Hsu says she only comes to English class cause I'm there and when I leave she won't come anymore ha! I doubt that, but I basically just sat there and had Elder Hsu translate when I wanted to say something. It was a good dinner though! 

On Tuesday we did some caroling and then on Wednesday for Elder Hsu's birthday we went to Chili's, On Christmas Eve we just did regular missionary work, Christmas was hard because people were busy, with family, etc., actually this whole week was that way for the most part. I wish I had more miracles to share, but this time of year makes the work pretty challenging. If anyone had sparked an interest in the church, it was always "You can come back after the holidays", so as a missionary, I cannot wait for the holidays to be over ha! I've actually wanted them to be over for a couple of weeks now, so we have one more and then we're done! Yikes...

Things are going well though. We have a good week planned actually. Plus I've begun reading Mosiah and man, I just love reading King Benjamin's address. His address to me is all about our dependence upon God and His Son for literally everything we do. We are creatures made from the dust of the earth who are all beggars upon the same God, who's Atonement will reconcile us to the Father and no one, no name, no other way till do that except through His Son. How relieved and ecstatic King Benjamin must've felt to hear the angel say that all people will come to know Jesus Christ. Which reminds me of how we learned about the Millennium this Sunday, and I learned A LOT. What an exciting time that will be where Satan will be bound and we eventually won't even have to exert energy to avoid temptation. That to me sounds like bliss. 

Anyway, I'll talk to you once the new year comes around, how about that? Wow! 2015 is ending. Hmm. I think I'm just in denial about a lot of things or something because it doesn't seem real. Well, I love you all very much and hope you enjoy the last holiday of the year! We are supposed to be in by 6:00 p.m. that night, so I look forward to getting a good night's rest (: I love you, have a good week!

- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion

Angel Chen

Christmas






Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas

I'm not a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, but I am carol-ed out already. I think it's because this year is the most Christmas-y I've ever celebrated before. Yesterday we had our final choir concert with St. Denis Catholic church and they did a wonderful job. It was one of two times I recall being encouraged to clap in the chapel, it was still then kind of odd, but their choir did excellent! This Christmas we will be having brunch at a member's house, skyping at 2:00 p.m., and having dinner at our Elders Quorum President's house and having Mexican food, which I am very excited about! It's going be a wonderful Christmas and no matter what form of communication I have related to you that day I will cry, so let me ponder what'll keep me focused but also let me feel like I've done Christmas its justice. I will inform you before I leave the library.

This week it's been pretty cold and it's been making our car battery act funny. We had to jump it so many times that now I feel like a professional at it. I figured I'd mention that to make dad proud. We got the battery replaced on Thursday in Rancho when we had the Christmas devotional at the mission office with the other missionaries. My brain just hasn't been thinking properly and I was literally the only elder to show up without a suit! I was embarrassed, but it's all good. I got to meet up with Elder Hancock which is always great! 

On Friday we went to the Chino Hills Boat Parade to pass out hot chocolate and Christmas cards, it was good. We tried really hard to find Chinese people, but Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese people all look so similar! And I discovered that not many people wanted to talk to missionaries during a parade anyway ha! We did our best though (:

I've got a wonderful story to share with you about those whom the Lord is so generously preparing for us to meet, I love this story, oh man. Brace yourself. 
We met a mom (Maria) and a son (Ricky) when we knocked on their door and they invited us back next week with a member of the ward who spoke Spanish for Maria. And no words will adequately describe how well the lesson went. After we taught the Restoration, he told us he really liked the message, and you should've just heard the sincerity in his voice! You could just tell he was ready to accept everything the gospel has so we invited him to be baptized and he said yes and his mom gave him permission and we are going back on Tuesday to establish a date for him to be baptized and hopefully Maria will feel inclined to do the same (:
Showing up to their door and the first and second time was so interesting because the first time she said that Ricky had seen missionaries in a nearby city and was curious about them, and then we end up knocking on their door. When we went back on Saturday for the actual lesson, Maria said they only had 20 or so minutes, but we ended up being there for an hour and a half! She definitely felt the Spirit while we were there. Ricky said the closing prayer and if there's one thing I love most in missionary work it's when investigators say a sincere prayer for the first time. In his prayer he said stuff like "thank you for the way you've made me feel, I wish every morning started out like this" and then he said something so neat. He said "Thank you for sending the missionaries... it feels like I've known them for a while." You can tell what's on a person's mind through what they mention in their prayers and you can tell when the Spirit is within them when they use a different tone than casual speaking. And then the rest of the day went really good as well and I just know wherever we are at, people are being prepared for the gospel. 

I'd say that about concludes my week. I wish every week was like this one, but it's all good, the Lord has everything under control. He'll supply us with the things that we need as well as the rest of the children. A sister reminded us in District meeting that the Lord loves His children more than we do, so of course He'll always try to do things to bring them closer to His Son. 

Lastly, I just want to say how much I love and appreciate our Savior. I understand Him best through that title because I think it defines His purpose and nature perfectly. I know His role in my life through experience and also by reading The Book of Mormon. I know that God loves us so much that He was willing to send His Son to us and I'm grateful for how patient He is and thankful that He has no resentment toward us even when we make mistakes. I know that Christ was harmed both physically and spiritually for the possibility of us regaining life again with our Father. I know Jesus Christ is indispensable, and the very thought of Him can remove any hedges of doubt or unwelcomed temptation. His name truly is Wonderful and His gift of life is enough for me this Christmas season. 

We will speak again next week and possibly on Friday. For now, be safe in the snow and despite the business of the year, keep Christ forever nestled closely to your heart. I love you, Merry Christmas! (: 

- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion
Merry Christmas in Chinese




Thursday, December 10, 2015

Brother to Brother

After Reading Shawn's email my heart was heavy. I immediately text my husband, Ben (Shawn's brother in law) and told him he needed to write a letter or email to Shawn immediately. Ben typed a beautiful letter to Shawn and got it sent out to him yesterday. I hope he finds peace and comfort in his brothers words. This is sure a hard time for Shawn, but what great lessons and patience he is learning.



December 9, 2015
Dear Elder Bennion,


I hope you don’t mind a typed letter. It is so much easier to type than it is to write. But I hope you still feel the personal touch that you would get from a written letter. I know I haven’t written you in a while. There is really no excuse but I have always felt that a missionary needs to serve “their” mission. I could have given you advice along the way, but every time I started a letter or an email, I was always told to wait. By the next week, I would read your email and you figured it out, solved the problem or overcame the trial. That is why I never wrote because the Lord needed you to figure it out.


I know you don’t want to think about it, but it will always creep into your mind that you don’t have much time left in the mission field. Guess what? There is nothing you can do to stop it. There is no way around it. Every missionary has to go through it at some point. I was just like you, afraid to come home. I was afraid of the unknown. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life because I was so focused on the Lords work.


When I was 18 months out in the mission fields, my mission president concluded his 3 year service. Before they left, Sister Gilliland spoke to us at a zone conference and said this: “Make sure that when it’s your turn to leave the mission field, you leave with no regrets.” That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. At that time, I felt I was working as hard as I could but I wanted to make sure that I left nothing on the table. When the new mission president came in, the next transfer he called me to be a Zone Leader. When I talked to my new companion I told him all I want to do is work and he agreed to it.


Some of the missionaries in my district and my zone teased me because I was getting ready to come home. But my companion and I outworked every single companionship in the district and zone. We would cut our preparation days short because scheduled lessons on those days. We did not care about sleep, or food or ourselves. We simply cared about the message of the restoration and wanted to do everything in our power to make sure everyone in Western Hills, Ohio know that great message. We were also blessed for our efforts.


When I stepped off the plane and embraced my family, I knew I had given the Lord everything I had. I had no regrets. I had no clue what I was going to do with the rest of my life, but just like in the mission field, the Lord will provide a way. There were struggles and trials but I used the principled I learned in the mission field to solve them. You will never be alone. Think of it as the next chapter of your life.


I hope you still have those three guitar picks I gave you and the I Am of the Fellowship of the Unashamed card. Remember who you are Shawn. Remember who you represent. Be Bold. If  your mind in places where it should be, work hard. If that doesn’t work, then work even harder. Ask Heavenly Father for help and work even harder. You can’t change the last 23 months but you can change these last four weeks. Go out with a bang. Give it everything you got and then some. Make sure you are tired when you go to bed and tired when you wake up. Don’t leave any stone unturned. Talk to everyone you see. Let them know of your great message. DON’T STOP!!! Leave it all out on the field. Come home with nothing left give.


I should have given you this talk sooner. I had it all typed up and ready to send to you but the file got put somewhere when I moved offices at work. Read it, think about it and ponder about your mission. Then, pull up your bootstraps and get to work. You have a work to do. Read the 31st section of the Doctrine & Covenants. Then get back to work.


Love you brother,Ben

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

To my immediate family

To my immediate family,

Reading your emails has cheered me up a bit more than how I felt prior, because I just feel like I have no sense of balance these days. I feel like there are so many things out of my control and I simply don't know how to feel. I feel like I don't have permission to think about home, yet I have so many instances where it crosses my mind or missionaries or members bring it up and ask what my future holds, etc. It's all a very trying period of my life and it certainly doesn't help when you aren't having the most success in your very last area. Oi aue, I'm gonna ask some of the elders for a blessing tomorrow at our zone meeting. 

It's not that any of you are doing anything wrong, I just feel a type of resentment toward lots of things that deal with home right now. If anything, my love has grown deeper and healthier for you all since I've been out here. It may not appear that way right now, but I can assure you that God loves families and the most important and retained lessons will be through the Spirit in a home devoted to God and every family (including our own) needs that. I long to experience that feeling with you once again.

If anything, just keep me in your prayers and keep the faith. I'll be okay, I just need to man-up by humbling myself. The Lord chastens those He loves and when all is said and done, the scars in Christ's hands and feet will never close up, therefore His grace and forgiveness will always be accessible through His sacrifice. And because of my gratitude for that, I will pass out a card to someone in the library, that will make me feel better. 

Well everyone, I ought to sign out and get back to work! Stay safe and be warm! I love you.

- Elder Bennion

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wishing you all the best from my heart.

Family,

To make sure that I don't forget, let me confirm that I did get the cards you sent me, thank you for those, they are going to be a huge blessing to me for when I put them into use. 

It's so strange to be e-mailing you right this second. I'm used to transfer day being hectic and little to no spare time. Luckily, I'll be spending my last transfer in Diamond Bar with Elder Hsu, so today will be pretty relaxed. I'm grateful for the news I received on Saturday about staying. It took me a little bit to enjoy serving in Diamond Bar, but I've noticed how much the Atonement gives us strength to adjust and grow and enjoy the things that are challenging in our lives. I've been looking in the scriptures for the word 'remember' to see what happens when people do remember the Lord. It's so interesting to see how the Nephites and Lamanites behave when they do remember Him. I think that for us, it instantly fills us with gratitude and assurance that if He's done something good for us, it's bound to happen again. No wonder we promise to remember Christ throughout the week when we partake of the Sacrament. Because of this, it's caused me to ponder how many times the Lord has presented opportunities for me to share the gospel and how he'll continue to do that forever. I have this irrational fear that I'm going to leave feeling incomplete about my service. It's so hard to push that thought aside.

Which is why I've chosen to do this thing called The 40 day fast where you write down a couple of things that you either want to remove or cultivate that will help you to have the Spirit more and when you begin, you fast and attempt to edit these things in your life for the next 40 days. I've begun today and am looking mostly for further trust in the Lord from this experience. It'll be good for me. Elder Hsu says that I'm basically punishing myself ha, he's a funny elder. But in all seriousness, I'm determined to do this. One of the things I've put down is to only email for 45 minutes, I don't want to become pre-occupied or attached to things back home quite yet. I'm really not even sure that I want to Skype on Christmas, we will see as the time gets closer. 

Can you believe that we're one day shy of entering December? The holidays are great and all, but it can make missionary work challenging with all the family around and investigators going out of town. President Hobbs says this is the time where he gets the most homesick emails ha! Makes sense. I imagine at this point you want to hear about my Thanksgiving? It went well. We ate at a family's house named the Merrill's and they made some really good food! It was very nice of them to have us in their home that day. We still had English class, but only 2 people showed up. Then Sister Kilburn made these delicious rolls from Lion House? Is that a restaurant in Salt Lake or something? either way, they don't top Maddox, but boy they were delicious. It turned out to be a good day.

Our whole week was pretty good really. Week 6 of the transfer always tends to be a good one. No complaints here, just a lot of work to do (:

Well, I'm concluding this email and wishing you all the best from my heart. I pray for your safety each night and am so grateful for what you have all done for me while I've been in California. Thank you for everything. I love you.

- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion

Monday, November 23, 2015

I love it here so much!

Family,

Do you think that the Lord has a sense of humor? I seem to think He does. I'm not sure why this makes me laugh, maybe it's just because of how it's spot-on of how He runs things in missionary work. On Friday, we were looking for people to teach and nothing special was happening, but we made our way over to see a potential investigator at 8:45 but he wasn't home. We had 15 minutes left and I thought to myself that it's okay if we went in a tiny bit early, but as we were passing the only lively house in the neighborhood, I put my pride aside and suggested we knock on it. It was a peculiar thing to do because it just sounded like a bunch of teenagers upstairs, but a very nice woman named Marie answered the door and we talked for about 15 minutes and we left her with a Book of Mormon and she initiated our return appointment. New Investigator!!! haha, so cool. It's always the last door that you don't want to do where something goes great. The Lord certainly answered our prayers with that one. It's a rare occasion we find an investigator by tracting, but it doesn't mean it doesn't work!

It was actually a pretty good week for us here. We taught 4 people this week, which is the best weekly report we've had so far. The weather is very warm here, it's been in the 80's all week (: I'm not really all that sad about there not being any snow here, to be honest. Often people ask if we'd ever move to California and it's too bad it's so expensive here, because the winters really are great here.

On Tuesday, the Hobbs and the assistants visited our zone and presented a new video the church is putting out for Christmas. It's exciting for us as missionaries because it gives us a way to connect to people easier since everyone's starting to feel the Christmas Spirit. The cashier today at Winco even told me to have a Merry Christmas, it was weird. And Pepboys was playing Christmas music. Either way, the church is so great with the audiovisual stuff. I'm never embarrassed to view or suggest a video for someone to watch.
Recently I watched a great bible video of when Christ healed a blind man, and He instructed the man to wash in a certain pool of water. What I noticed was that Christ wasn't even there to see the man regain his sight. Doesn't that just sound like Christ's character? He never acted compassionately for a reward or praise. I'm so grateful that we get to celebrate along with many others of different faiths the birth of the Savior and how He humbly entered our world. He truly has been refined through the Atonement, it goes to show that our trials results make us stronger and better than before. It's unreal what he experienced while He was on the earth. It'll be a special time of year. I started the Book of Mormon again and this time, I'm highlighting any reference I see to the Savior and from my reading, I picked out 58 times He was mentioned in the first 3 chapters. How could a wicked person write a book so inspiring? I know Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and that he helped millions find renewed faith in our Savior. Myself included.

Our English class went well this week. We had 10 people attend! It's such a fun class. It's a different form of service, but I really like it. We taught our class what kind of things to say when they go shopping. They were so relieved we taught it, they said it was very helpful to them. There's a guy that leaves our class each time in his struggling English saying: "I feel good!" haha, he's awesome. On Friday, we knocked on a guy's door and he was pretty drunk and gave us a hug, but he said if we knocked on his door any other time he wouldn't have answered, so that's kinda cool. And because Elder Hsu speaks Chinese, we got 100+ referrals for Chinese speakers in the Chino stake from missionaries in Arcadia, so we should be pretty busy till Christmas it seems like ha!

Well that's our week in a nutshell. We've got 2 Thanksgiving meal plans on Thursday, so that's good! I really hope we can find a new person to teach that day. Just because it's a holiday, doesn't mean the Lord's work ceases! Thank you all so for being wonderful people, I am truly thankful for the Lord in sending me to California. I love it here so much! I love you guys as well. Have a great Thanksgiving, talk to you next week!

- Elder Bennion

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We are Proud.


Diamond Bar

I know at this given time, it doesn't affect me much, but I am so sad that our ward has been split! I have no idea who our bishop or his counselors are unfortunately. Thank you for informing me about this, I now need to inform our mission office about this. Church at 2:00 huh? Perry must really be growing in membership then. 

I read a letter that I got from mom today and she mentioned that our family keeps having bad experiences with the Jazzy haha! You'd think our family would've learned from the first time. "and she says STOP!... That's what mommy said" ha! Brighton is too cute. That first time was actually kinda startling, but I now I look back on it and laugh about Brighton's reaction to the whole thing. Teasing aside, I am grateful that you are all going okay.

To explain the dynamic of Diamond Bar, we cover the south side of Diamond Bar which is very populated with Asians. Diamond Bar High School is 80% Asian I think and there are less than 10 LDS kids there. Needless to say, it's so nice that Elder Hsu is here to speak Chinese to those who are interested. In China, they don't really go to church there, so he says coming to church in America is kinda just a fashion thing, so I think a lot of the Asian population here are simply unfamiliar with church and unsure of what to expect. The majority of the Asians here are Buddhist, so they really don't know much about Jesus Christ, since they worship Buddha. They typically don't show much interest in the church, but they are nice people. That's why I love the English class that we are doing because it's showing them that there's no need to be afraid of the church or missionaries (: We're located about 25 minutes east of Los Angeles, so the people are pretty wealthy. There's a gated community called the Country that Snoop Dog has a house in, if that gives you an idea of that place is like. We haven't been there because the security is outrageous and not many of our members live there and they need to inform the Country of our visit in order for us to come in.

We are trying so hard to find a new investigator and often I'm a bit hard on our companionship because we've been unsuccessful with it so far, but we do try awfully hard and that's what counts. I could definitely extend a bit more gratitude for being able to serve a mission regardless of where I'm called to serve. President Hobbs advised that I set little goals each day to help me feel effective and that principle will bless me for the rest of my life. Bishop Thornock said something similar to me yesterday, so therefore I will proceed with their counsel and we will see what results come from it!

I woke up with a headache and a stuffy nose today so I'm ready to call it good for email today and get home to take a nap. Take good care back home and keep serving as the Savior would. I love you!

- Elder Bennion

Monday, November 9, 2015

Because of Him

Family,

I always look forward to emails such as this when you can share something eventful with me. It was a good report and I'm simply happy to hear that you all had a spiritual filled weekend.

I wish I had a lot myself to report on, but we reached the climax of our week last Monday and then the rest of the week, we didn't have a single lesson "/ However, last Monday we did have a lesson with someone and we shared the Because of Him video and I have seen that video so many times, but something was different this time. Watch the video and pay attention to when the drum comes in to the video. I certainly don't think it was placed there on accident (:

It sounds like you got a picture or two of me this weekend from the O'barr's. We did some quilting on Wednesday for the humanitarian stuff and then did yardwork at their house on Saturday and had crepes! It was probably the second time in my life that I ate Nutella.
This weekend, the Chino stake got a new stake presidency and that was good! Along the lines of what you have expressed to me in your emails, every single calling in the church is delivered straight from the Lord through His authorized servants. I'm not sure why people lack such faith in that. Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet of God and that's that (:

Today I got a flu shot and we had to drive to Rancho for it and we still have a lot to do, so I'm gonna call this good. Keep praying for me and that the hearts of Diamond Bar will soften! I love you all, have a good week!

- Elder Bennion

Monday, November 2, 2015

We just had a good week serving the Lord.

Family,

I'm not sure if you felt the same way, but this week flew by! Maybe it was the fact that we had to be in on Halloween by 6:00 and that we got to sleep in an extra hour on Sunday, I'm not sure. 

Slowly things are getting to be ship shape and bristle fashioned (as Elder Cook taught me what that means). I'm trying to keep track of the littlest things that make a difference to me. For instance, being in the same zone as a certain missionary, the 3 sticks of deodorant someone in the ward gave us, and the lunch that someone from the ward provided us, that kinda stuff. Because it's November, I felt inspired to show more gratitude this month. Sister Hobbs tells us it's the basis of all righteous desires, and I can attest to that and that when we feel a type of gratitude, we tend to do things more with our heart. I am hoping it makes a difference in my prayers, my Sabbath day worship, and the way I face our jam-packed days of missionary work. 
I am so thankful that things are getting more organized with our area and that though we haven't found a new investigator, that I can at least look back knowing I tried my best. I've also learned that there is a huge difference in disappointment and discouragement. We should be disappointed when we don't reach our goals or when we do something wrong or if we come home and no one accepted a Book of Mormon, but when we face discouragement, that steers us from giving a fuller effort. I am so grateful for the wise words of Gordon B. Hinckley's father "Forget yourself and go to work", it always provides me with motivation to work no matter the circumstances. 

On Wednesday we had our very first English class and we even had one person show up! I wish I could explain what the classes are like, it would definitely be best if demonstrated in person. 

This whole week we really worked hard to find people to teach and we talked to so many people, I really don't think I've been more diligent with it on my mission. I know that we have to go through the bad to get to the good. I rely a lot on chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel to keep my faith high that there are people waiting for the gospel. In my recent study, I was frustrated and then was led to D&C 64:29-34, and I've never felt as though the Lord has communicated so clearly a scripture to me until I came across this one. It was a neat experience. 

As we sang a hymn in our studies, Hymn #281 said something that struck me "Help me teach with inspiration...Help me lift a soul's ambition to a higher, nobler way". What's so interesting is how the gospel influences every part of us and inspires us to be our best self. It truly has done that for me. Someone once told me "Don't compare yourself to others; compare yourself to where you started", I'm not sure why I shared that, I just thought it was interesting.

You want to know something else I find interesting? I'm learning that people don't believe in the same things we do with the after life. Of course that's to be expected, but what I was unaware of was what others think happens to their relationships and more importantly, their families. I'm so grateful that I've come to find out God's plan for families and how the same joy we have right now being around our families will be identical afterward too. I understand better why we have bodies and why it's so important to have an identity. I am so grateful that as long as I am faithful, that I will be blessed with a blissful sight of seeing others that I loved so dearly. I am grateful that with the divine love God has for our families, we can enjoy our bonds continually with them when we pass on. God's plan surely is a plan of perfection and happiness and I'm so grateful for that.

We had a good Halloween, but most importantly, we just had a good week serving the Lord. I love being a missionary so much with all of my heart. It's hard to express that feeling, but I'll keep it at that. I'm in shock that it's November, but am going to continue laboring with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. Thanks for everything, I love you all , have a great week!

- Elder Bennion

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ni hao!

Family,

Ni hao! This week has been so interesting that I am having a very difficult time knowing where to start ha. Perhaps if I express that I know we make the most growth during our adjustments, my e-mail might make a little more sense. 

When I got to Diamond Bar on Tuesday, I met the Kilburn's (which is who we live with. Their address is 1921 Kiowa Crest, Diamond Bar, CA 91765- which I encourage you send letters to that address now instead of the mission office) and they are such a great old couple! They took us to dinner that evening and then we went to a meeting about an English class the ward is starting up this week. There was no exaggeration when I said that there were a lot of Asians around here, there's even more than I expected! It'll be neat though. I get to teach the intermediate English class twice a week. There will be very minimal Chinese spoken which will allow them to be immersed completely in English, which that is how they do it in the MTC. Elder Hsu has been teaching me a tiny tiny bit. Before I got here, Elder Hancock said that by the time you see me next, I'll know how to get by with Sign Language, Tongan, Spanish, and now Chinese ha. I'm not sure about that, but we will see. 

Diamond Bar has so many giant hills that potentially exceeds me strength to bike around this city, oh my goodness biking here would kill me. But I do want to try it one day. When we walked around the other day, there were many people who honked at us, it was great! It's been kind of frustrating being in a new area because everything is just so unfamiliar and the people are different as well, but every time without fail we are always led to someone who we blessed in one way or another. That's one thing I am so grateful for in a mission. Each time we step outside, our purpose to assist in making someone's burden lighter, but there's only so much we can do until an individual needs to act by reading The Book of Mormon. My studies have been so much more quality and enlightening when I really study the Book of Mormon. I know that it is the word of God. I've been learning such interesting things in it.

On Friday morning we got a call from President Hobbs about a new missionary that went home, so President decided to re-assign Elder Clemons to Hesperia. It was sad, but the Lord knows what He is doing. Ever since that happened, I've been able to get to know Elder Hsu better and he has been so kind to me, it is so great. I wish you could meet this Elder haha! He cracks me up. He is super Asian, I need to send you a picture. He's from Taiwan, but came on his mission from West Jordan. I want to tell you a story and I won't even hide my emotions.

On Friday, we were setting our weekly goals and I just stared at my planner and starting crying because I've got such little time, but so many things I want to improve on while I'm out and while I have the Spirit with me in such a magnified way. I know that this is where I will make the most significant progress in my lifetime because this is where I have come to know Jesus Christ best, and through that I feel more capable of finding more of what I was like when I lived in Heaven.  I struggled to vocalize what I wanted to improve on, and then Elder Hsu rushed to my side and put his arm around me and asked me what was wrong and he did it with such compassion. He did it so similar to how Brighton does it. Not that I'm saying Elder Hsu resembles anything like a child, but I could tell that he had the purest of intentions in making me feel better and then he said this to me "It's okay, the Lord has better things for you in January, like get marry." haha! so I just laughed and that made the whole thing a little better. That story basically summarizes Elder Hsu, he's a very good Elder. I'm blessed to have him. He is such a blessing to the population here too. The only lesson we taught this week was when he taught in Mandarin, not that I could understand it, but he did a great job!  

I wish I had more interesting things to say this week, but just know that progressively, things are meshing well. We have a clean room now, I'm getting more familiar with the area, and there are 3 members in particular in the ward that are really going to make serving here special, I just know it. This week has proved to me that the Lord knows what we are in need of and that if we don't take a step back to see what He has blessed us with, we won't be able to His grace that is so fully evident. I'm not sure how I failed to see it this week, but I'm grateful that He has worked with me and helped me humble myself to see the wonderful things happening in my mission. 

I love you all so much and hope you are all doing great! Have a great Halloween, I'll talk to you in November! (:

- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I loved being an assistant.

Family,

I know that Ben has had good luck at winning things over the radio as well as guessing the right things that is happening in my mission, because it is true that President Hobbs has called me to be a trainer this upcoming transfer!

Before I get into that, I just want to mention how much I loved being an assistant. Even though there were mornings that I felt sleep deprived, I really enjoyed serving here for 6 months. It was such a great experience to see how hard of a worker President Hobbs is. It's amazing to see what the Lord helps His servants accomplish even when they are mortals and are dealing with the same homesick emotions and fatigue, yet they give even more from a source that I'm not even sure they knew existed. He is truly an inspired President and I am really going to miss being able to see them and be closely associated. I learned a lot from him and consider him to be of the finest of mission presidents. He's shown me the importance of family, the need of conversion to our Savior (which comes through the Book of Mormon), and how much our Heavenly Father loves us. And I can tell by the way he treats his wife that he is gentle and loving toward all of our Father's children. I really admire him, as I know a lot of us do.

Explaining my week would be so much easier if I could upload pictures, but it's not working for some reason. So I will give it a shot without them. This week we've had Elder Findlay with us and he's an awesome missionary, he'll be serving as President's assistant probably until he goes home. For what President Hobbs wants to accomplish in our mission, Elder Findlay is so fit for this. Elder Hancock and I have had a good week with him (especially since they've been companions before).

We had dinner with a family on Wednesday who encouraged us to sing in sacrament on Sunday and when I found out earlier this week that I was going to be transferred, we thought it'd be a good idea, so all week we were preparing a hymn to sing in Tongan, so we chose one of my favorites "Lord, I Would Follow Thee" ('Eiki te U Muimui Atu) and it worked out very well considering Elder Hancock sang the tenor part, I sang the melody, and Elder Findlay sang the bass, and honestly, it turned out pretty good! The ward was so thrilled. I'm not sure what it is, but when palangi's embrace their culture, they get so excited, so singing in Tongan was just so amusing to them. It was so great to sing in their ward. Most importantly, to serve in it. I discovered that every Tongan ward is different, but man, I loved serving in this one so much! The members down here have very busy schedules, so any teaching appointment was special and being able to teach the Meleisea's was probably the best thing to happen while we were in that ward. Jonathan said the prayer for the first time yesterday when they had us over for dinner and that is one of my favorite things when investigators pray for the first time around us if they're shy to do it. Within the 3 months of knowing them, it was so great to be at their home each Sunday. The gospel will continue to do wonderful things for John and I hope to hear about a baptism of his in the future. The members there are so great, I love them so much! I'm grateful that they continued to open their home to us even after the mission. They've played a big part of my mission, but I am aware that the remainder of my mission will be now be spent around a different ward. 

Starting tomorrow, I will be serving in the Diamond Bar ward which is the closest you can get to Los Angeles from the Rancho Cucamonga mission and it is apparently very populated by Asians. It's in the Chino stake which is the only stake in our mission that covers LA county. I will be training a missionary named Elder Hsu who has been out for 6 weeks and will be training another new missionary that is arriving tonight. It is going to be something very new and will take a lot of pondering on how to make it work ha. I'm very excited though. I've wanted to serve in Chino since I got here and when I found out about Diamond Bar, it just felt right. Our neighbors in Rancho are pretty cool and when I told them I was being transferred, our neighbor mentioned his Brother in law that lives one street over from where I'll be living and told me to go visit him. I took that as a sign the Lord needs me there. I am so excited for this new part of my mission. I am eager to serve in the ward and so excited that I get to have full proselyting days, it is going to be so great to use that time in proclaiming the gospel more frequently. I've been anticipating it all week and know it's going to be great.

I am sure going to miss Elder Hancock though! He's been such a great companion. I thought I was going to be in Rancho for another 6 weeks honestly. It doesn't exactly feel all that real though that he won't be my companion for long. He's such a good missionary though. He's very diligent and does the right things for the right reason and is so goal-oriented. I really hope that being with him for that long will help me to apply that everywhere I go. He's very kind and is the best at serving companions, he always looks for a way to do it and it's so awesome. I've been very blessed by his example and friendship. Him being from Arizona made me feel such a desire to visit the Walker's because that state sounds awesome! Plus it's been a while since we've since them, I haven't seen them since Grandma's funeral I think. Either way, I'm really gonna miss him. His actions definitely speak louder than his words and I am appreciative of all the ways he served me and lent a hand to let me know he cares.

I think that's about all, and there was a lot of it too! Lots of new changes, I am going to try my hardest to embrace each one of them. President Hobbs made many remarks today that caught my attention about how it's the Lord's work. He shares that a lot, but I think it's because we can forget that pretty easily in missionary work. I do know that there is a lot of improvement in myself that needs to happen within these next 3 months and so I think I'm going to mark in The Book of Mormon every time there is a reference to Christ. I know that many others have done that and said it is an effective way to truly see how much the Book of Mormon is about the Savior. I know that's who it all encompasses because that's who our ending revolves around. I'm grateful that I have His promise of eternal life with our Father again through making and keeping sacred covenants. It's been cemented in my gospel knowledge that the Lord will always keep His promises to us and I have complete faith that that will never change. I'm grateful to be heirs of the Eternal King and am grateful to call Him my Father. I'm also ecstatic to have a Savior who once died for me because He knew what I was going to struggle with. I know I have His support and with Him being the center of our lives, we shall granted into His rest where we won't even need to try not to be tempted and we too will have the disposition to never do evil again. I know just like the famous primary song, if the Savior stood physically and spiritually beside us, we would follow His example and live more righteously. 

I love you all and hope you have a great week and that you put on a jacket, I bet it's getting cold up there in Utah!

- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion   
Elder Hancock and I!


The Moala's!

The purple tie trio!

The Fonua's!

Monday, October 12, 2015

The mission is great, I couldn't be happier!

Family, 

We're making our way into week 6 of the transfer, I don't get how it always comes so quickly. This means I've been in Rancho Cucamonga for 6 months now! I've really enjoyed serving in the heart of our mission, I was always hoping to serve here. The people are so nice here. We've been out on the bikes a lot more and it's always fun when people honk at you. 

I wish that I had more exciting things to share, but perhaps that gives me more time to speak more spiritual and mention some things I've learned from my mission.

I did want to mention that on Friday morning, I looked at my planner and had a feeling that October 9th was something special, but I just couldn't think why. After eating dinner though, it clicked that 2 years ago that day I had opened my mission call!!! I could hardly believe it. As you're reading this, can you wrap your brain around that? My choice to serve a mission has brought me the most satisfaction that I personally could fathom. It's been such a delight to share with others how I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God. You'll run into this everywhere in the world I'm sure, but California especially has such a variety of religions and philosophies that distract from the underlying fact there is only One who was capable of making a sacrifice so profound to redeem us from our sins and our follies. I think about how foolish some of my decisions have been, but that Christ will never be one to hold it against me. I'm so thankful for never having the feeling that He is going to withhold His forgiveness from me. Not that it's anything to take advantage of, but I do know it's always there. Thankfully because of that, I was able to put aside my pride and choose to embark in the service of the Lord and I'm blessed to carry that message everywhere I go. 

To be honest, I'm drawing a blank on what else to mention. I just know that the gospel is true. It's so black and white and I'm grateful to have The Book of Mormon to make everything I believe in to be valid. I trust so thoroughly in Moroni's promise about The Book of Mormon and I'm grateful that my testimony is not good enough for others to make the decision to join our church. I know that is the Spirit's job and in order to receive that witness, we need to be showing the Lord that we desire His knowledge by praying, reading, going to church, etc. God won't let us take the easy way out and eliminate any chance to exercise our faith first. He is so wise, isn't He? I'm grateful that our relationship with Him is so similar to how our relationship with our earthly father is like. It makes understanding His love and reaction to our choices much easier. 'Oku ou i'lo'i 'oku ofa a e Tamai Hevani 'iate kitautolu. (I know that Heavenly Father loves us).

The mission is great, I couldn't be happier! I love you, have a good week.

- Elder Bennion
This is the Australian flag, right? There was a Becoming a Missionary conference and they had these on some of the cupcakes.


Elder Kaufusi! 
He is leaving to the El Salvador/Belize mission on Tuesday. I'm super proud of this guy, I'm excited for him and know he'll do amazing things for those people.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Conference Weekend

What a busy week! I'm not sure that it was the same for you, but we spent a lot of time indoors. However, all the time indoors that we spent listening to conference was so great!!! I love conference so much, I'm always amazed at the sincerity of the brethren of their testimony of the Savior. They are all so dedicated to Him. 

Elder Hancock and I had a goal to follow any spiritual promptings we receive, so that is always neat to see what results. We saw a less active that we don't normally see and that went well. Here was a cool miracle. Elder Falabella taught us a neat principle (that Elder Bednar said very well) "If you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you have always gotten", so I've been really taking that to heart because we keep hitting a roadblock in our work with one of our investigators. He is only 10 and he wants to get baptized, we just have to get the mom on board with it. So instead of seeing him after school, we went by on Tuesday evening to see if we can meet his mom and we pulled up and basically, we had a great talk with her and she said she needs to get her kids baptized, start coming back to church, and basically start living the gospel again. It was pretty cool! Perhaps you might want to evaluate something in your life to change and see the difference it makes. It's a great feeling (: I also owe the miracle to the mission fast that we had at the beginning of September. It took 3 months of trying to meet Sister Toki and it finally happened once we fasted. I always see great things result from fasting.

We gave a training on Thursday with all of our zone leaders/sister training leaders and the Hobbs' said that we really followed the Spirit on it. I was really happy and it enlightened myself honestly. It was about how we need to increase our commitment as missionaries so that the Lord will bless us with committed investigators. It makes so much sense that if we are going to teach others that the Lord will bless us for our sacrifices, that we must show our investigators that we're experiencing the exact same thing. It's so hard to give up our will for the Lord sometimes, and that's exactly how others feel about making changes in their life. I have chosen to make a deeper commitment to the Sabbath day by being on time to all of our meetings that take place that day. I'm excited to see the difference.

On Friday, I had a really great interview with President Hobbs. I expressed feelings of being overwhelmed with the work that has yet to be accomplished here in our mission and he advised me to set small goals every single day so that I can feel that I'm making a difference. I've just been able to see so much good in that man and I am so so grateful to have him here with us. He's so qualified in the Lord's work simply because he loves Him more than any one or any thing. I've seen him take his calling from the Lord 100% seriously and I love his stories, his humor, his passion for golf, and his deep love for his family. He's a phenomenal person. On Sunday, we had a meeting with him and he invited us over to have dinner as well and Sister Hobbs made a wonderful, traditional roast beef/potatoes Sunday dinner and it was delicious. 

As for the weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed conference. I love that each talk emphasizes a lot of the same principles, yet with a unique way for us to learn. Like the story from Elder Maynes of the Potter, the Elders Quorum President that shared the gospel when people were humble, and my most favorite was Elder D. Todd Christofferson's and the explanation he gave us for why God established a church to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, I thought it was perfect because you'd be surprised how many times a week we hear "I don't need to go to church to be a good person" or "I don't need to go to church to show God I love Him". I was so sad about President Monson as I know a lot of us were. He was doing so well, but I think Elder Bednar's talk really complimented President Monson, especially with Elder Hales' comment of "When you can't do what you've always done, do what matters most" and I certainly know our prophet will keeping serving the Lord to the best of his capabilites. I also found comfort in King Benjamin's words in his address when he said that he was a mortal and was subject to all the same things we are. I know that sometimes we have a tendency to think that we're exempt from problems just because we have a testimony of the restored gospel, but that's where the real testing comes in!

I had many confirmations that this is the Lord's work this weekend. I had such an appeal to President Eyring this session and thought that there was no way men and women like him would continue being so faithful to a church if it were not the Lord's true church on the earth again. I love the reasoning Joseph Smith was so committed to the gospel and it wasn't to become famous or build his ego, but he wanted to be in the best possible standing before God and he loved the Lord so much that he was obedient to every one of his commands. I know that Joseph was instructed to build this Church according to revelation he received from the Lord. I know that nothing in His Church is out of place and I know that 'the Kingdom is ours'. Hopefully it's still wonderful enough to you to rejoice in the glorious gospel and that you delight in these magnificent truths that the Lord has revealed through His chosen servants. I know that they are men of God and that it is our job to sustain them in these latter days. 

A year ago today was my very first day in the Tongan ward up the hill and so much has changed in my life since then and I'm just so grateful to be a missionary. I know that it my duty and my commission to Christ to declare that He is truly the Son of God. I know He'll steer you away from danger and will help you evolve to become the person you desire. I know He has a heart of gold and has pure intentions to deliver us from bondage. He has been a very dear friend of mine since I discovered how much He truly loves us. 

I love you all very much and pray for you each and every night. Have a good rest of your week!

- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion

9/28/15

Family,

There's really not much I can inform you of since I just emailed a couple of days ago, but I thought I'd just mention how much I have learned from President Hobbs since being an assistant. He told us the neatest story about his grandson that wanted to call his mom and his phone. Unfortunately, his grandson didn't know his mom's area code and he was so upset and President Hobbs requested over and over again to let him help him to type it in but he just sobbed and refused. Finally, after some humbling minutes, he asked for President's help, which then allowed his grandson to cheerfully speak with his mom. He then told us how we act the exact same way to the Lord where we fight His assistance, when our lives could be so much easier if we simply let go of our pride. That has stuck with me for the past couple of days and I am appreciative of his life lessons that he's willing to share with us. He's such an inspired man with his heart exactly in the right place. I really love President Hobbs.

We did 2 exchanges this week and on both of them, we spent a lot of time on bikes and it was so great! I've missed it. 

We had a really good Sunday. Church is always good and we had dinner at a family named the Fonua's and they are so awesome! Brother Fonua goes "For being 2 palangi's in the ward, they really like you!" it was nice to hear that. They let us leave with ice cream and we took it to the Meleisea's, which was perfect because it turns out it was their 2nd anniversary yesterday! It was nice of them to have us over. I love teaching Jonathan, his lessons are going so well. Hopefully we'll be able to watch conference with them this weekend. I love the hymn We Thank Thee, O God, For A Prophet so much because I know the last line is so true "While they who reject this glad message, will never such happiness know". Use your ears and your brain this upcoming weekend and you are going to receive the best counsel for your future, I know Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet of God. All of God's callings are inspired, and I am so grateful that he has the faith to receive revelation for the world and even in his old age, he is willing to serve Him with all his capacity. I know that as members of Christ's church, it is our responsibility to help the prophet maintain a good name because we sustained him and told him we'd support him and never would we ever disregard or mock his message. I know he speaks directly for God and it makes his words even more special. I can't wait to see what is next for our dispensation. I love you!

- Elder Bennion

09/24/15

09/24/15
It's been a bit since we spoke last, hasn't it? It's actually been a blessing to me, I'd probably do even better out here had I not been given an option to email. Sometimes one simple letter home sounds like it would suffice, but I'm not sure who would end up writing me after all because the art of technology is so much more simple. 

Today we got to go to the temple so we skipped Monday p day and spent all day in the office doing work here and what not. I LOVE the Redlands temple so much. I've spent so much time pondering what I can do in order to be more converted to the gospel and I love the unique things that stick out each time we visit. I understand why our temple attendance right now is semi annual, but I would love to go many more times! 

I feel like so much has happened since I last emailed, but all that's coming to mind is that we taught this Argentinean couple and the wife brought her mom who is a pastor from Vegas, so that lesson was a nightmare. It's too bad because her daughter was so persuaded by her mom and I can understand that, but I feel even more bad because the husband who is less educated about religion didn't get to hear one good thing about the church, only us trying to convince one another that our religion was true. I wish I had been smarter to just testify. Something I learned through President Nelson is that when we sustain a prophet, we promise to defend his good name, so it only makes sense why I got a little upset when this woman kept telling me Joseph Smith was dead and Jesus Christ lives. Oi aue. 

I cannot tell you how relieved I feel that Connor is not going to Russia. I'm not sure why, but the thought made me nervous, but Australia sounds SO PERFECT, and I am so thrilled to hear this great news! I was really hoping someone in our family would serve a foreign mission, so I'm glad that Connor will be heading overseas. Maybe sometime in his mission he'll be able to serve in a Tongan ward, there's a lot of them there! I hear there's so many different cultures in the country, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. As for his choice to open his call before everybody got there, I can lend my respect and hope that if anyone gave him a hard time, that they will be understanding of why he did it. It's such a special experience to find out where you are going to be called and I'm glad that he can start preparing for Australia (:

My desire to email fades each week for some reason, so I'm going to call this good for now. I'm just happy to hear about my little brother and to be apart of this great work! There's so much to do and such little time! Pray for me and I will continue doing the same for you all. Love you!

- Elder Bennion