Monday, October 26, 2015

Ni hao!


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.


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!


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



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


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