December 9, 2015Dear Elder Bennion,
I hope you don’t mind a typed letter. It is so much easier to type than it is to write. But I hope you still feel the personal touch that you would get from a written letter. I know I haven’t written you in a while. There is really no excuse but I have always felt that a missionary needs to serve “their” mission. I could have given you advice along the way, but every time I started a letter or an email, I was always told to wait. By the next week, I would read your email and you figured it out, solved the problem or overcame the trial. That is why I never wrote because the Lord needed you to figure it out.
I know you don’t want to think about it, but it will always creep into your mind that you don’t have much time left in the mission field. Guess what? There is nothing you can do to stop it. There is no way around it. Every missionary has to go through it at some point. I was just like you, afraid to come home. I was afraid of the unknown. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life because I was so focused on the Lords work.
When I was 18 months out in the mission fields, my mission president concluded his 3 year service. Before they left, Sister Gilliland spoke to us at a zone conference and said this: “Make sure that when it’s your turn to leave the mission field, you leave with no regrets.” That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. At that time, I felt I was working as hard as I could but I wanted to make sure that I left nothing on the table. When the new mission president came in, the next transfer he called me to be a Zone Leader. When I talked to my new companion I told him all I want to do is work and he agreed to it.
Some of the missionaries in my district and my zone teased me because I was getting ready to come home. But my companion and I outworked every single companionship in the district and zone. We would cut our preparation days short because scheduled lessons on those days. We did not care about sleep, or food or ourselves. We simply cared about the message of the restoration and wanted to do everything in our power to make sure everyone in Western Hills, Ohio know that great message. We were also blessed for our efforts.
When I stepped off the plane and embraced my family, I knew I had given the Lord everything I had. I had no regrets. I had no clue what I was going to do with the rest of my life, but just like in the mission field, the Lord will provide a way. There were struggles and trials but I used the principled I learned in the mission field to solve them. You will never be alone. Think of it as the next chapter of your life.
I hope you still have those three guitar picks I gave you and the I Am of the Fellowship of the Unashamed card. Remember who you are Shawn. Remember who you represent. Be Bold. If your mind in places where it should be, work hard. If that doesn’t work, then work even harder. Ask Heavenly Father for help and work even harder. You can’t change the last 23 months but you can change these last four weeks. Go out with a bang. Give it everything you got and then some. Make sure you are tired when you go to bed and tired when you wake up. Don’t leave any stone unturned. Talk to everyone you see. Let them know of your great message. DON’T STOP!!! Leave it all out on the field. Come home with nothing left give.
I should have given you this talk sooner. I had it all typed up and ready to send to you but the file got put somewhere when I moved offices at work. Read it, think about it and ponder about your mission. Then, pull up your bootstraps and get to work. You have a work to do. Read the 31st section of the Doctrine & Covenants. Then get back to work.
Love you brother,Ben