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