Monday, February 23, 2015

The mission continues to be both a delight and a challenge.

The mission continues to be both a delight and a challenge. I know the Lord puts us in uncomfortable situations (in a good way) for our benefit and he's proved that to me a lot these past 2 weeks! My new companion and I get a chance to do a lot more finding. It's pretty self explanatory that in a Tongan ward we look for Tongans to teach, but because all Tongans know each other (especially in the high desert since there isn't a huge amount of them), a lot of our work is looking for people in other missionaries' areas and passing them off to the correct work if they do show interest in meeting with missionaries. The work in our ward has slowed down since our investigators all were baptized, so I have a handful of stories where the Lord has really given me no other option than to put faith in the Savior and do things that are hard. Each time something great has resulted though, which is so nuts to see happen. In the ward we get fed a lot and I was having the worst stomach pains but I didn't want to stop working, so I prayed to feel better so I can keep working and it was as though instantly I felt better and motivated to work. That night, all our plans went wacky and it was 8:00 and we had no idea what to do, so we prayed and told the Lord we were going to knock on 5 doors and call it good. Victorville is kinda sketchy that late, so people don't tend to answer their doors, but the 5th and last door we knocked on led us to a couple that the Lord knew we were determined to find. They were a young couple who said they were conveniently searching for a new church to go to (: It was really cool! Miracles are everywhere, you just have to show the lord your faith. And when you think about it: what does faith look like? It looks like action! so I was very excited that the Lord blessed us with that opportunity (:

We've had a lot of meetings recently that has occupied our time because our mission is struggling in finding new people to teach so we've spent a bit of time in Rancho so not too many crazy things have happened, but regardless the chance to serve is more than I could ask for. I know that there are tough moments out here, but I know that I'm closest to the Lord now than I ever will be and that's so comforting to me to know. I would say something that the mission has taught me is that through Christ, we can do hard things, because he did the hardest of them all. What an incredible man he is. We met someone at the laundromat today who left the church and right now he is so incredibly bitter toward God and he said that Christ wasn't anything more than a good man, and I can tell you right now that if Christ was an average person, never would his name have carried over from generation to generation. His name would've dissolved in a matter of years, but because he accomplished the unthinkable, the unimaginable, time itself revolves around our Redeemer. I know that Christ is the reason why we live and that the God who loves us more than anything was willing to give him to us. The most alarming thing to me is that God sent His Son to people who don't even love Him or His Son. His love is unfathomable and never beyond our reach; even to those who deny his divinity.

I love the Lord's work and I love the people in California. I'm so lucky that Tongans have an operating ward that they worship in because I am just so fortunate to know them and call them my eternal friends. I know that my patriarchal blessings refers to them when it's in that context in my blessing. It would be uncalled for and unnecessary to ask for anything more from the Lord because of so fully He has blessed me in His work. I am blessed abundantly as I press on in the work of the Lord. I know He understands the sacrifices we make in order for us to qualify for eternal life and one day, we will we be back in His embrace and His gospel and His Son are the road paved to that glorious victory. I love you all dearly and pray for your well-being and protection each and every day. Take care! (:

Friday, February 13, 2015

the Liava'a's baptism!!!!


My email won't come out the way I want it to, so I think I'll start with the news of transfers. Lucky for me, I'm staying in the Tongan ward for another transfer! It's not really news to me though because Elder Thompson was here for 5 transfers so it was expected of him to leave the area, so i'm glad that I am safe here for another 6 weeks. My new companions name is Elder Bartlik and he is from Texas! He was serving in the Samoan ward, so he gets to jump to another Polynesian ward, he's so lucky. Everyone knows in the stake the Tongan ward is better than the Samoan ward (; The Tongan ward does have more work going on though.

Let me tell you about the Liava'a's baptism!!!! It was the smoothest baptism actually. This was a really big deal for the ward and there were a lot of people to support. It was super funny, the suits we got them were a bit too small and Siaosi was so paranoid about it ha! He really reminded me of Nacho Libre for a minute ha! But we got it figured out. But the program went so great. Some of the family members did some musical numbers and oh my goodness, they have such beautiful singing voices! I was so pleased with the spirit that was felt. Bishop got to baptize them and the whole family came and there was a party afterward and it was just such a good baptism. I am so happy that this day came. I love those kids so much and am so happy for the future of their family. I really think when the time does come, they will serve a mission. They are such intelligent kids and they love the Book of Mormon. I have been missing out on not having Polynesians in my life ha! They are just so great.

As for this transfer, President Hobbs doesn't want us baptizing/teaching anyone in the ward if they aren't Tongan, so this will be a little interesting. Which is also a bummer because I have the coolest tracting story to share. We were at Tuku's house and I had this feeling unlike any other that we needed to show a bible video to their neighbors. This was at 8:15 at night and it's very rare I knock on someone's door this late, but I've never had a prompting give me so much confidence that the neighbors were going to be receptive to the gospel. Sure enough, we have a lesson with them that went about 45 minutes, and they were saying how they've been wanting to get involved in church and that we were sent from God that evening. It was so cool! I'm not sure what it was, but I absolutely knew that they were ready to hear the gospel. We have an appointment with them on Saturday and he's gonna feed us carne asada's and then we have to give them to the Apple Valley elders, but I don't mind (:

So yeah, the work is great, I'm just a bit stressed with this new transfer is all. Pray for me! It's gonna all work out though, I know it. Hooray for still being in the Tongan ward!!! (: love you!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Rudy's Baptism

I have received a lot of emails today and I wish I had time to email you all individually, but I really did enjoy hearing from all of you! Sounds like a good time in Utah (: I however think I can top the weekend you may have had because everything was just so great!

I am excited to tell you about Rudy's baptism; the funny thing is no matter what day it is, if you have a baptism, something is gonna go wrong ha. We got to the church and there was no paper anywhere in the library to make copies for the program so we had to drive to another building just to make copies and there was only 7 papers we could find, it was so dumb ha. Then the baptism started but the key we were given did not open the doors to the baptismal font and we were working on it for 20 minutes! Sione Vai is this chubby 8 year old and he even tried to help us but it didn't work ha. Finally I suggested we say a prayer and waited for a solution. Nobody was answering their phones from the Apple Valley stake and everyone piled into the room and we sat there really awkwardly and then about 5 minutes after each auxilary leader tried getting the door to unlock (we were on the verge of kicking the door till it opened, which the Tongans could've easily succeeded at), a high councilman just so happened to walk into the building and had a key. What a relief! THE LORD'S WORK WON'T STOP FOR ANYTHING! I wasn't very stressed because I knew that eventually Rudy would get baptized that day ha. So it all worked out and then we of course had food afterward and it was delicious. Rudy's brother Gilbert asked if we could start meeting with him too! Ahh man, the spirit was definitely there. He's awesome. Then we had dinner at Fe and Sese's and they're one of my favorites, she made bomb enchilada's!

Then Sunday came and Rudy was confirmed and I was just so excited that he got to receive the holy ghost officially and have that cleansing on the inside. I'm just grateful the Lord gave us the sacrament so we don't have to have so much sin build up after a period of time. Like Alma 34 says, without the atonement, we'd become a hardened, fallen, and lost people and that's the truth. There comes a time where sin just weighs on you so heavily, thank goodness for our Savior always being willing to heal us. I'd say that my favorite part about when people choose to get baptized isn't when the ordinance takes place, but to see them catch fire when they fall in love with the gospel and you see the fruits of their repentance. They find such joy in the simple things and you see them become so obedient and innocent and want to do anything to get them closer to the Lord. I find such comfort being right by his side in my service. I know there's no other time than this that I could be closer to Him; it's a no-brainer as to why I'm loving my mission. 

Things are just going SO well here, I can't say it enough! I know that the Lord is the reason why the work here is so fruitful, but someone in the ward said that Elder Thompson and I were a match made in Heaven when it comes to companionships ha. I got a good laugh out of that. I don't know how to go about this without sounding boastful, but the ward just really likes us, let's keep it at that ha.

We had a really good day of the super bowl too, even though it was hard to find people home. Every Sunday, Mele 'Iongi has us over for dinner and she makes such good food, good grief. I love Lasagna so much. Then we had delicious pie and played a football trivia game with church questions and it was fun. Then we went to the Liava'a's and did the same thing with them, they're such a cool family! Everytime I'm around them, I just get so eager for you to one day meet these families. I promise they are the best people you will meet. They are so generous and loving and supportive.

The weekdays were good too, nothing extra special, but we did move somebody and that was fun, this is the zone where we do the least service, but it's all good. Whether it's spiritual service or physical, it doesn't matter. 

So this is week 6 of the transfer and chances of Elder Thompson and I being companions are very slim ): It's too bad, i'm always nervous to get a new companion. Elder Thompson and I have seen so many great things happen in the ward and he's been a great companion. We've found numerous ways to serve each other and it's definitely bettered our relationship. Ben pointed out to me that it's his mission too, so it only makes sense as to why we should be serving each other. After all, we are brothers paired together by the hand of the Lord. I feel very blessed to have had him as a companion. He goes home in 3 short months, he has everything planned out for when he gets home, so he should be stress-free for quite some time (: I'll enjoy these last few days with him, I'm gonna miss him a lot!

I'm going to try to attach pictures and that takes a bit and we have a p day activity we need to get going to, but just know that this is by far the best choice I could have ever made in my entire life! I love being a missionary so much, between the schedule, the clothes I get to wear, the people I meet, etc. there's no work more satisfying than what the Lord has provided in these latter days. I know that our Savior gives us a reason to find hope in any circumstance and that our Father in Heaven is ever-mindful of the things that you stand in need of. I know that Joseph Smith restored Christ's church to the earth again and that because of what he did, we can know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ even better! I know their love knows no limits and that it will continue to touch so many hearts that allow the work to move along in His way. I extend my love and appreciation to you all for keeping up with me and allowing me to share my love and gratitude for our Father, His Son, and of course His Polynesian children with you. The gospel is true! May we live in it's constant beams of happiness and pleasure by obeying our Father's perfect will above our own.

- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion