Monday, August 31, 2015

I love you all.


I ponder upon what my mission has been like and I don't really think I ever anticipated it to be this way. I think that unless you serve one of your own, you can't prepare someone for how great it is going to be. I remember talking with Taylor and Ben and Bishop Ellis and each one of them sharing with me their experiences, but each missionary's service is so different and so special that it gives me such a strong motive to keep serving the Lord. A mission honestly is so fit for each individual to experience all different aspects of life and I'm thankful that the Lord has supported me in each phase of my mission.

Currently, I feel as though I am in a phase of testifying more boldly, and I owe so much of it to the Spirit of course, but also President Hobbs. He has shown me such a helpful way to improve in my proselyting and it has been such a great experience for me. I know that our testimonies grow as we share them and I can definitely feel such a vigorous difference in my knowledge of the Godhead, The Book of Mormon, and modern-day prophets, compared to what it used to be like. As I draw upon the Spirit, I feel as though I can engage and put forth my testimony of our Father in Heaven bringing back His gospel to eventually bring us home again. It's interesting to see His motive behind all of this and I know it's the unbearable thought of our Father's children receiving less than eternal life that makes Him so anxious to hasten His work.

Recently, I've felt quite a bit overwhelmed with all that needs to be done in our mission. It's stressful thinking how many people do not have the restored gospel in their life or have shown any progression or desire to receiving it further down the road. If I feel this way about just our mission, I couldn't imagine how our Father feels with the whole world!!! I'm coming to find out that I need to trust that it is the Lord's work. The second that we try to do this work ourselves is when we will find that our efforts are much less effective and fruitful and may even hinder us from trying at all. I know the Lord appreciates the service we render to His children, for by so doing, we are serving Him. President Hobbs said something really neat. He said that if we want to baptize more people, then we need to be around more non-members! That's just a thought to process.

I have a story for you, specifically for the Anderson's. We do a lot of tracting in Rancho since there are only so many Tongans in the area. We were driving to find the right street and we found a street named Cherokee and it was appealing to me so we knocked on a couple doors and the last one we did, a lady named Tina answered and she's this really nice 7th day Adventist woman who has a backyard with a lot of upkeep that they have neglected this summer. It's not too often that people are open to our free service, but Tina agreed to let us come over. We took a member from the ward over that week and were able to take care of a small portion of her yard and will be returning this week again. I LOVE spontaneous acts of service so much and we have had a lack of service projects recently and it was such a blessing to find this opportunity through tracting. I find it so interesting that our backgrounds and our personalities have a tendency to place us in the path of those who need our help. Thank you for naming your first child Cherokee!

As for the work, we had a lesson with a family named the Bloomfield's and we had a really good message about the Sabbath day. I was amazed to see the difference the Spirit makes in our lessons. We kept it short and I felt as though we covered all that the Lord needed us to. I could definitely tell the connection their family had made through the Spirit of the importance of that day. There's a hymn called "Our Savior's Love" and the 2nd verse says "The Spirit, voice of goodness, whispers to our hearts a better choice than evil's anguished cries", I know the Spirit helps us think more Christlike and much more thoroughly. I love being able to learn under the influence of the Spirit and to spread that initial feeling of warmth from it's connection to the Lord.

This week, the ward had their back to school night (which was where our dinner was at) and we got to learn about the genealogy of some of the ward members and took some pictures of things that I thought I'd share. They have such a fascinating culture, I just can't help but be so influenced by their way of life. It seems like each member in the ward is so rooted in the church. For a lot of the families in this ward, the church is everything to them. It's so neat to see their appreciation for the church and how attached they are to it. If there's anyone that understands the principle that Families are forever it is definitely the Polynesians. They are always so happy when they are at church and they show the highest respect for the Lord and for the Savior. When we sing in sacrament meeting, I can feel the Spirit so strong as each word seems to burst with praise to Heavenly Father. There is seriously so much good that we can learn from them. It is just so great to be around them.

I'm grateful for the gospel and I'm grateful for the way it can help us cope with everyday issues. I love how God relates to us in each situation and provides a way out of the things that trouble us. There's so much beauty in the gospel and how universal it is and how it teaches us to love God more than any one or any thing. I know He cares deeply about each of us and if we always remember His Son like we covenant to do each Sunday, we will never cease to be in good standing before God. I love Him and thank Him constantly for the life He has blessed me with.

I love you all. Have a great week!
p.s. next week is transfers so don't expect a very long email from me next week!

- Elder Bennion

Monday, August 24, 2015

Life is awesome

We are approaching the end of August, how odd. This week was a pretty good one though! Last week we played soccer and I shouldn't have let myself get so into it because I certainly regretted how sore I was all of last week ha! I definitely shouldn't take my health for granted. 

This week we had a meeting to follow up with the new missionaries and their trainers and we have got a lot of new missionaries coming in again in 2 weeks, so it's gonna be interesting who the Lord calls to train. I would love to train again, it was such a good experience for me. I get to see Elder Boltz a lot more too now that he is a zone leader. 

We did 2 exchanges this week so that allowed us a lot of proselyting time. Earlier this week, I made it a goal that I would boldly follow all promptings. I was nervous to try it, but I was excited at the same time to see where the Lord wanted us to be. We were talking to these guys in their garage who were clearly not interested, but they accepted a card anyway. Right as we were walking away, I hear someone from that same garage say "Today marks the day that my mom passed away 4 years ago" and right then, I knew we had to go back. I was so nervous, but I knew a prompting promoted us to go back. They were surprised to see us back on their driveway and we basically bore a brief testimony of The Plan of Salvation and his tone changed from the time prior and he said "Thank you, I really appreciate that" whether that did anything, I'm not sure. But I'm realizing so much more now than ever that if we want others to feel the Spirit of our message, then we need to testify so that it'll create an environment for the Spirit to touch these people's hearts. Nevermind that we believe that the church is true, we need to proclaim that we KNOW it to be true! Being bold shows that you have faith and confidence that the church really is the restored church on earth again. Try taking that to heart and I promise you will be amazed as to what your testimony is like along with what it can do for others. 

On Friday, we moved in the new senior couple, the Hess'. I believe they are the ones from Layton that have grandkids in Brigham? We met them today, so we'll progressively get more acquainted. And then we just did more planning the rest of that day and we also got to see a guy named Seni Toki, he's awesome. The Toki family is huge in this area, so it's really cool to meet them all and see how they're related to others in the ward. The Tongans certainly have connections to everyone in their culture. It's pretty cool to think that there are enough Tongans in one area to have their own ward, I feel very lucky to be serving in one too (:

On Saturday, I was on exchanges with a spanish missionary named Elder Millano and we ran into some people who were deaf, I love those opportunities to try and speak with them, those are little tender mercies. But either way, he was telling me about Utah and how his school is only 20% LDS. I was shocked! Apparently Salt Lake is being more and more populated, which means that there is a lot of missionary work to be done there! How exciting! Here's a name you'll never forget. We finally got to meet someone in the ward named the Fahamokioa's and they're awesome! The father used to be in a band called Sons of Manasseh, which is pretty big in the Polynesian culture. 

The work is going really good for us though! The Tongan wards aren't known for having a lot of work to do with investigators, but our lessons with Jonathan have been going great and we're trying really hard with a guy named Michael, and though I don't see what the Lord sees, I still have a very good feeling about those two and the church. We'll be fasting for them sometime this week because they have such great families and great potential and are great to be around. I'm very blessed and very happy with the things in my life. I was reminded about the love my family has for me because I got a card from the Luker's this past week and it brought a big smile to my face. Tell them I say Malo aupito! (thank you very much). 

Life is awesome, have a good week everyone!

- Elder Bennion

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Boy did this week go by fast


Boy did this week go by fast! It sounds like you are aware that we had a very busy week with all the zone conferences. We had them on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and by this time, I still have not caught up on the sleep that I desire from those busy, busy days. They all went well, I would say the last one went best, but that's to be expected since we had 2 days prior to perfect what we wanted to be changed. Someone from Salt Lake installed a black box called Tiwi where it monitors our driving and what not. It's a really good idea for our mission, especially because when you drive in California, you adapt to their lifestyle and we're always in a rush, so it'll do really good things for us and keep us safer on the roads.

I must tell you of a great experience we had on Wednesday evening that I will never ever forget. As we were going to the mission office, someone right in front of us had run out of gas, and the woman was just a couple of feet from being out of traffic's way, but where she was stuck at was on an incline. I get nervous to stop for people because I'm so ignorant towards cars and I convince myself there's nothing I can do, but we asked the lady how we could help and we decided to attempt to push the car. First we asked to say a prayer (because Elder Hancock and I sure are not big like the Tongans) and we pushed with all our might and then, nothing. ha, we got it moving a tiny bit, but I'm not sure what changed, because we tried it again and with all the strength I can provide, Elder Hancock and I were able to get the car out of the way and on to the side. We pushed it even further to the nearest park and wait there for AAA. It didn't end up working out though, so we call someone for help and a man named Andrew shows up to jump this woman's car. Andrew works super early in the morning and he is not even a member. It was so inspiring how good his heart is. He'll join the church one day (: We gave the woman a Book of Mormon and her response was "Oh, you're the Mormons! When I was 7, I ordered a DVD from your church because I wanted my family to spend more time together" (: How great is that!? She was on her way to Santa Monica, so I doubt we'll ever hear from her again, but it was awesome.
And the day before that, we were driving down Haven and saw an older man fall on his bike, so we went to help him to and he got cut up and what not, but he turned out okay. I'm just grateful for those experiences that the Lord put us on the right path for at just the right time. That seems to be a mission in a nutshell, right? the Lord is too good to us.

I'm not sure how we managed with the meetings, but this was the busiest week we had in the Tongan ward, we had 7 lessons and it was so awesome! 2 really spontaneous miracle lessons with our investigators, member missionary work, and a whole lot of talk about Joseph Smith. It's just so easy to tie back to him. If we aren't reading The Book of Mormon, it's crazy how easily our testimonies can plummet. A lot quicker than we'd like to admit, may I add. We're just very blessed to serve around people who have such a deep and abiding faith in the Lord. They live with such gratitude for the gospel. Where they're from, they don't have the best medical attention, so faith is what they rely on to get through illness and anything unfortunate really. There are so many great people in our ward, I love 'em. Yesterday, the Fonua's cooked Tongan food for us because they say they want to give us the Tongan experience without having to go to Tonga, which means we Kai peke Lu'a (eat till I throw up). I found a scale that said I only have 6.4% body fat, so I think the ward is really trying to beef me up ha. On Friday, I got to meet up with Elder Va'enuku! He's from Vava'u, he's so awesome. They're just such special people, I really don't know anyone like them. We are so lucky to know them and to be serving in their ward, I don't know what I would do without them at this point.

I've been in Rancho for 4 months now and it's so weird to think what's happened since I've been here. It feel like just last week I was made an assistant, there's so many great things to do for the Lord. Sometimes I get very overwhelmed because of the amount of work that needs to be done among the world, but I read in Alma 4 about how the Spirit of the Lord will never fail us, so that was encouraging. Elder Hancock and I can't stop singing Come Unto Jesus and Let Us All Press On, the former is so special and the latter is so invigorating. We cannot do this work without Him and the second we try to do it alone, that's when we get frustrated. We can't forget to let Him be apart of our everyday lives, even in the smallest things. I'm grateful to be able to call Him my friend and my Savior. His life helps me realize anything that the Lord asks of me isn't unrealistic. I know that we are victorious through Him that redeemed us.

Elder Shawn Lyle Bennion
Elder Hancock and I took a bite straight out of these mango's! That's probably not how they are supposed to be eaten, but oh well!

Elder Va'enuku!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This week was productive.

It's a good thing that numbers don't reflect our efforts that we put into the work, because we didn't have a single lesson until last night at 6:00 p.m.! However, I would say that this week was productive and that as we serve our fellow men, we are also serving the Lord. I think about that concept and I think when we do kind things for others, it's a blessing to the Lord because He relies so much upon us to be His hands. As we serve others, I think we're doing the Lord a favor because it causes Him less worry for His children. To know that they're in good hands has got to be such a relief to Him and allows Him to focus more on those who appear farther beyond reach. I hope what I said make sense, it does to me at least!

This week, 3 of our days revolved around a meeting we had with all the zone/district leaders so that took up a lot of our proselyting, but this Tuesday was Elder Hancock's 20th birthday! We went to Wendy's and then got taken to Ono Hawaiian barbecue for dinner and it was awesome! I love Elder Hancock, he is a well-rounded person that is sympathetic and very caring. He's also a very fun and easy-going companion. 

It's so nice that we are only having to serve in one ward, doing two at a time was stressful and it has allowed us to get to know the ward better, which is so helpful in a Tongan ward. They must like us because they assigned us to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday and I'd say it went very well! On Saturday, there was a party for the Meleisea's son Francis. He turned one, which is a big deal to their culture, and there was awesome food and it was just so nice of them to invite us. The ward says that the missionaries are always special guests anywhere we arrive at, it's just nice to know they feel and enjoy the Spirit in which we carry with us. The power of the priesthood is real! I actually had this awful dream this week that a house we were staying at was haunted and that we used the priesthood to banish the evil in it, ha, it was kinda weird, but cool!

I want to write about another dream that I had this week. I had a dream that Shelby and I we're with Grandpa Walker. We had our hands on his shoulders as if we were trying to comfort him because something was bothering him. He pleaded that we could say a prayer together and in the dream, all I remember was Grandpa started crying and in the prayer, he uttered "I just want it to be Sunday so I can be happy". I'm not sure why I remember that line so vividly, but I thought it was so interesting that I woke up on Sunday morning with that comment in my head. I'm not sure if the dream has any connection to things going on back home, but I just think that every Sunday needs to be treated with the utmost reverence and with those whom God intended for us to be with eternally. I know that Grandpa made Sunday his priority to go to church, it didn't even matter if he knew he was going to fall asleep or that he couldn't find his hearing aid, I think what mattered to him was that he could feel the sacrament keep him alive and empowered. I know he had a deep appreciation for the gospel and that he always retained a remembrance of how the Lord was so merciful to him. Grandpa was always so grateful for the simplest of things, which is why I feel as though my dream was so realistic and matched his character completely. What a great man he was, I'm thankful to call him my grandfather.

As for the teaching, this week will be great, we have 3 zone conferences to attend, it'll be great! Jonathan Meleisea has been praying all week, sometimes even before his wife gets to it! I love when people take small steps, such as praying (:

I love the gospel so much! I wish that my mind would unplug from any distraction or tie I have because I know that what we do is so important! I'm trying really hard to be more genuine when I testify and quickly respond with my testimony of Joseph Smith. I know he restored this gospel which gives us access to our Savior's atonement and that we're bound to Him when we make covenants, participate in the sacrament regularly, and study The Book of Mormon. I know the church is true and it always will be. I know God lives, simple truths as this fills my life with joy and abounding hope. I love my mission and my life as a whole. I love you, have a great week everyone!

- Elder Bennion

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I love serving a mission, that's all there is to it!

I love serving a mission, that's all there is to it! I don't necessarily have much news,  but that doesn't matter!

This week was super great. All the new missionaries are now to their new areas and doing well. It was really busy around here, but things have settled a bit. 

We get to teach more and more each week in the Tongan ward and that makes me happy. We continue to see progress with the part member family we're working with as well as making good relationships with the ward members and there's another part member family that we're really hoping the Lord will work a way for us to start teaching. The work we do at the office is a good combination with the ward. Elder Fonua leaves on his mission today and yesterday he had a big eat and I met Kalani Fitisemanu! Pretty cool. I like meeting new people. 

Let me tell you about Elder Hancock:
Elder Hancock loves soccer and music and Wendy's, those all seem to be good components to me! He's a very ambitious person that's always anxious to improve, I enjoy that about him. On Monday, we locked an important key in a cupboard and with his skills, we were able to retrieve the key and though that may seems uneventful, it was awesome once the task was complete. He's a thinker alright!

Sorry this is not very informative and probably kind of boring, just know that things are going really well for us, it's just that we spent the majority of our time in the office Monday-Friday! The Lord is splendid though and helped us have some great proselyting opportunities in the meanwhile. The wonderful thing about the Restoration of the gospel is that from here on, the Lord is always preparing His children to hear the gospel in all parts of the world. I'm grateful that there's no need to scramble around looking frantically through the bible of how to obtain what He intends for us and hitting a dead end. I'm thankful for prophets and how clear their prophecies and counsel are for us in the latter-days. There are so many struggling on the wayside and abandoning their faith, but I know that unless we have a faith in our Savior, He will deliver us into the promised land. 

I love you, happy to hear from you all as well. Take care!

- Elder Bennion