Monday, July 27, 2015

I am doing well.

This sweet sister in Shawn's area always takes pictures at the departing devotional as well as transfer days. She is wonderful! 
Elder Hancock and Elder Bennion 

With the amount of time I have available before we head to the airport to pick up the new missionaries (this is Rancho's biggest group yet; 29 missionaries!), I wanted to let everyone know that I am doing well. My new companion is named Elder Hancock and he is from Safford, Arizona! I'm grateful that we get to serve together, it'll be a good transfer. 

The only changes I can report on is that we are no longer covering a family ward anymore, we will only be serving in Cucamonga Tongan, which I did not propose to President Hobbs, I promise! But I'm excited about it because it will now be less hectic on Sunday's, Tuesday's, and Thursday's. And now our dinner calendar doesn't need to be shared, so the ward is really excited about that ha! There are some really great people in the Highland ward though, I am going to miss them. I have one story in specific that proved to me that I was supposed to serve there for 2 transfers, so I am happy to know that I did all that the Lord needed me to there. The sisters serving there will do great things there and I trust that the Lord will allow them to take over what work he had. Just another way that the Lord proves to me that He has a plan and it will never fail, He knows who is qualified to do His work, which is why He could trust our Savior, because He knew His heart and that He was only going to do His Father's will. Wouldn't it be so great if we were that same way? I wish that we had what it takes. I love Him so much for what He did.

I'll keep it at that. It's time to help these new missionaries welcome a new chapter in their life. Thank you for emailing and making me feel so consistently loved. I appreciate all that you do for me, have a great day and week. Enjoy summer while it's still around!

Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion

Monday, July 20, 2015

It was a crazy week!

It's becoming the norm to want to start out my emails with "It was a crazy week!" but in all honesty, my companion would vouch for me on that statement if he were reading this ha.
To summarize, we did a lot of mini exchanges this week with the zone leaders in our mission. That took up all of our time on Wednesday and Friday, and on Friday, there was a big fire up in the high desert which was where we were conveniently located and so the quickest roads home were all closed off so we had to drive all the way to a city called Big Bear and drive on Highway 18 to get home. It was a 2.5 hour trip ha, so at this point, basically the only place in our mission I have not yet seen is Wrightwood, which is a mountain town in the Victorville stake. Big Bear was super cool though, it doesn't look anything like Southern California and it had this huge lake and it was just beautiful up there. I was grateful to observe what God has created there.
As for teaching, it was a really good week for us! We had our first lessons in the Tongan ward, we taught a 9 year old boy named Mikey, who's mom is a member. Teaching children is always interesting because you can never really tell how much they are retaining, but he did pretty good. And then on Saturday, we taught a part-member family and I'm surprised the husband hasn't been baptized. I feel good about him though, I'm excited to see what the future has in store for their family.
On Sunday we dropped off the 2 week missionaries and surprisingly it was raining all weekend long, so it was a slow drive up to Hesperia and back. Church was really good though, I really enjoy learning about the Sacrament and realizing the impact it can have on our lives. It's meant to change us, and if we treated the Sabbath day as God has outlined, then I think we as a whole would be more thoughtful of our Savior throughout the week, receive answers to our prayers, questions, or doubts, and be able to trust in God and His plan even stronger. 
I'm grateful for our Savior and I know we are prone to mistakes, but that He is here to rescue us from the things that are unpleasant in our life. I know God sent Him to help us and that He is always watching over us. I know He can ease our burdens and give us lasting relief through His mercy. I know He loves each and everyone of us. 
Have a great week everyone, happy Pioneer day!
- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hard to collect my thoughts

And here's another happy one to share the Tongan love!
Hello everyone!
I'm not sure if you have the same problem when it comes to writing people about your week, but I have to try really hard to collect my thoughts and events that happened, which is sad because 7 days really isn't a long time! When I emailed last, I spoke of the two week missionaries, and I'm hearing that's going well for the companionships in our missions. 
We went to a zone meeting last week in Apple Valley and got to see my trainer for the last time as 'Elder Kirkham'. It's gonna be weird to start calling him Stuart. He goes home today and I cannot believe that a year and a half ago, the Lord put us in Maple ward together, time sure flies! I am very appreciative of him and the work we were able to do in that ward. It's true that you will never forget your trainer.
This week, we were really busy, so we only got to teach 2 lessons, but I am now certified to drive the mission van! Perhaps it will be a skill to benefit me for the future, I'm not sure. But I am grateful to be more reliable for when we pick up the new missionaries at the airport in that vehicle. In 2 weeks, 29 new missionaries will be entering the Rancho Cucamonga mission and that's the biggest group this mission has ever had! It's going to be interesting and very, very busy! 
Sunday was definitely the best day out of our week. On Sunday, Uepi Kaufusi opened his mission call and he will be serving in El Salvador, Belize and will head to the Guatemala MTC on October 14th! How cool is that!? The ward is so excited about the whole thing and I am as well. We're pretty new to the ward, but Uepi's sister attended the Jeraldo ward, so I've felt connected to the Kaufusi's since, it was such a great occasion. It's so great to see these young men worthy and excited to serve. It brought back fond memories. In this picture, you'll see some pretty fine gentleman, ha! Just teasing. But Isi and Uepi are studs. I'm grateful to know them and to serve in their ward. 

We also got a new ward mission leader, Brother Harker,  and he is so awesome! He has a great sense of humor and sells solar, so he's already been a great missionary to strangers as the gospel is able to come up fairly often with his clients. The Lord picked the right person for the job (: We're excited to work with him and I know he'll be a great support for the Highland ward. 
I've been intrigued at the fact that this last general conference, a large portion of the talks were about family and marriage, and then we hear this big announcement amongst our country. I know more and more with occasions like this that apostles and prophets are such inspired men of God that can aid us and steer us to a haven of security and we can feel a sense of peace in the fact that God knows what He is doing and that we needn't ever wake up with a heavy heart. The immediate goodness of God allowed those under the reign of King Benjamin to have great views of that which was to come and I know that people such as Thomas S. Monson have the privilege and duty of delivering the Lord's will to us. In We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet, the last line reads "while they who reject this glad message, shall never such happiness know", I believe I've shared that before, but we are so blessed and fortunate to have men of great faith on the earth once again to carry out the Lord's plan. I am grateful for the Lord reaching out to Joseph Smith because He knew it was time. I'm grateful to have the gospel in my life and know it's here to bless each and everyone of us. I hope you all have a wonderful week at Lake Powell and that everyone remains safe and enjoys time with the family. I love you!
- Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion


This is my district leader, Elder Fausett!
And this is Isi Fonua

And this is a very large fish.

And this is me at Bass Pro Shops. Scheels is a little bit better, but it was free entertainment.

I'm not sure if I sent this one, but this is Sister Naitoko and her companion who went home last month. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

"The Lord never takes a vacation!"

Preparation day again?! And now it's July?! The summer is flying by, which I can't decide if that's a good thing or bad thing for missionary work. We've been busy, but other wards have seemed to have a bit of difficulty. I know the summer was always a crazy time and as I see families out here fall out of good habits, I keep reflecting on how each summer dad would always tell us "The Lord never takes a vacation!" ha, I'm sure that phrase is still used back home, I make sure to use it out here as well to remind others that summer ought to be a time for growth in the church as well. As a matter of fact, today we just sent off 23 teenagers on their "2 week missions" and I am amazed at their willingness to take time out of their summer to live the life of a missionary. Especially Bishop Latu's son. John's birthday was today and he will be missing a family reunion in Utah for the 2 week mission as well, but he is very excited to do it, so I give him kudos.

This week we had our monthly meeting with the zone leaders and sister training leaders, and then the next day we had a meeting with the office staff. The first of the month tends to be pretty busy around here. As for our proselyting, things went pretty well this week. We're trying so hard to get a family named the Crandall's to come to church. I would normally become grumpy at the thought of them not coming after them agreeing to it, but I realize that it requires change, and I know that that natural man is not fond of it. I'm amazed at the patience the Lord has for each one of us and how we can keep making the same mistake over and over again, but His hand is still continually extended toward us at our convenience. Wouldn't it be nice to give the Lord a break for once by stepping up our obedience? I know He's happy to bless us. As a matter of fact, that's what He lives for, but I'm sure He's relieved when He doesn't have to withdraw His Spirit from us. It'll always be a mystery as to why we'd be willing to give it up in the first place, but we keep trying so that we can hopefully get it right one day.

We've had a hard time meeting up with people in the Tongan ward at a time that works for them, but we finally were able to see a family when we went on splits with the Elders Quorum. We saw the 'Itaehau's and they used to attend Jeraldo in Victorville along with their daughter, Sister Koloamatangi, so it was cool to see them (: My Tongan is getting pretty sharp! Just teasing, it's still pretty weak. I've learned through Preach My Gospel though that it says people will learn to love and trust you better as a missionary if you embrace their culture, so I keep trying to learn useful phrases. We're getting much more acquainted with this ward as the time proceeds, and that is such a blessing because I was a bit stressed out at first. Yesterday, Isi Fonua opened his mission call yesterday and will be serving in the Albuquerque, New Mexico mission! I was excited to tell him Kaylee just returned from that same mission in November. You'll have to inform her, I'm sure she'll be excited. The calls being assigned now are giving these new missionaries such a brief time to prepare! He leaves on August 5th! It's definitely a good thing though. Once you open your letter, you want to leave the next day, so he is very excited! I am excited for him as well. Next week, Uepi Kaufusi should be opening his call, serving the Lord is the best decision for our lives, it's absolutely amazing. The Lord really is hastening His work everywhere we go.

I hope everyone had a good 4th of July! Southern California 4th's aren't the same as Utah's, but we still had a pretty good day! Rancho is really family-oriented actually. It used to be rated in the top 10 of best places to raise a family. We got up early to help prepare breakfast for those running the annual 5k, and that was good. It felt nice to serve others on a holiday. I was kind of sad to admit that I couldn't remember the last time I recited the Pledge of Allegiance, so it was a good reminder to me as to how God is indeed in control of all things and how our country operates well when religion and God are involved. The rest of our day involved food, proselyting, and not really hearing a peep of fireworks. Rancho bans all fireworks (except the big ones the city supplies), so it was pretty quiet around our apartment that evening.

I think that's about it for this week, but I would like to include my testimony of our Savior, especially since one of President Packer's last talks was a great witness to His name.
I am so grateful that there is someone who loves us enough to come to earth, even though Christ knew the price he was going to pay, the pain He was going to feel, and the persecution He was going to bear. I am grateful for His example in His service, but what I found most intriguing is just how much He loved His Father. Every single thing that He did was to honor His Father. Christ came to earth to give us the closest glimpse of what our Father in Heaven is like and how delicate each one of us is to Him. I rejoice in His accomplishment and give gratitude for the plan Heavenly Father has given to us to return to Him. I know that we are weak and that we have grown attached to certain things that make us contemplate whether obedience is worth it or not, but I know Christ would never rebel against His Father, and I am desperately trying to get to that point that I'd never want to do anything to Him to disappoint Him either. Hymn 141 reads " Jesus, the very thought of thee. With sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far thy face to see. And in thy presence rest"The offer of living with our Father in Heaven in our Heavenly home is never going to be taken away, but can never be entered until we use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be embraced once again by our Father. I know He lives and loves us infinitely.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

- Elder Bennion