Last Letter! She'll be home by this time next week!
What a week. I can’t believe it’s been another week. I feel just like Sister Tanner and I just keep saying, I can’t believe it’s Saturday, and now I can’t believe It’s Tuesday. One more week! AHH! I don’t know how to handle it. It feels surreal. I feel so weird. But it’s worse having to think you will go home! I love being a missionary! I love everything about it. I love sharing the Gospel with everyone. It is such a privilege and blessing. I love being able to be a representative of Jesus Christ. I love learning and I loving changing and becoming. I love everything! AHH! 
Well this morning we got to go to the temple. What a sweet experience. I love the temple. I love being able to go just one more time in Sydney. I know the temple is the same wherever I go, but I love being in a different country and being able to have the same Gospel, the same Church of Jesus Christ no matter where I am. I felt such a beautiful Spirit there this morning. I felt at peace. I felt God’s love for me. I feel like I’ve done all I could. I feel to say that I’ve been successful. Not to the measure of man’s success, but to the measure of God’s success. It wasn’t perfect at all. I made mistakes, but the Lord picked up. He helped me to keep going and because of that it can be counted as a success and victory.
As we sat in the Celestial Room I felt the love of our Heavenly Father. I felt His love for all his servants. I felt God’s love for the missionaries who serve so faithfully. I looked at them and saw them for who they really were, as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is amazing to me to be able to feel God’s love so strongly. It changes me every time, and it changes the way that I look at others. I’ve seen that as I’ve served. When you feel love for someone, you want/will do all you can to help them. You want to give them what you have, because they mean that much to you. I love that no matter who a person is, I can pray and receive love from our Savior Jesus Christ and I can feel the desire to share the Gospel with them. I can look at them as God sees them just as God tells Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7
“But the Lord‍ said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth‍ not as man‍ seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord‍ looketh on the heart.”
I’ve been able to reflect on my missionary service quite a lot in this past week, as I’ve been going through letters, books, journals and so on. My core experience with God has been able to see how much I’ve changed. It has been a gift from God that I have been able to come and serve, learn, grow, and change. I couldn’t have asked for a better 18 months. It was a hard 18 months, most definitely. But that was the way it needed to be. I needed to grow, God needed me to see the potential that I had. He always saw it, but I needed to have my eyes opened to what was in store.
Something that I learned as we had a zone conference this week was about handling stress and the relationship that I have with the Savior. I learned more about yoking myself with the savior and building my relationship with him. I reflected back on a lot of the experiences that we’ve had, and how imperfect the outcomes have been. But something that Dr. Taylor said stuck out to me. He said that “If it was necessary for me to do a better job, or do something different the Savior would have helped me to do it.” If my mission was supposed to be different then it was, then the Savior would have helped me to do it. I’ve learned so well how to trust in God. I’ve learned that it’s His plan, or no plan. I’ve learned that I’m nothing, but to Him I’m everything and I can be everything.
We had an activity last week and one of the YSA sisters came up to me and asked me what the best advice/ thing I had learned since being a missionary. What came to mind was being aligned with God. I’ve learned the importance of losing myself completely.
Matthew 10:39
 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
I’ve learned that I needed to lose who I was before. I needed to lose my Natural Woman, and lose my worldly self. I needed to find my God like self. I needed to find my potential to become like God. But I couldn’t find that until I let go, until I put all my trust in God’s hands and came and served a mission.
My experience as teaching as the Savior taught was with a member referral named. She is so amazing. We visited her on Wednesday evening and she was so ready and prepared. Her dad is a member of the Church but he hasn’t gone in years. They are a Church going family and she has a strong belief in God. We stood out on the porch for about 1 hour talking, and discussing her beliefs. We spoke a lot about why God allows suffering to occur. She told us about her Grandparents dying and how much of an impact it had on her brother. He moved away from home and didn’t want to come back because of the toll it had taken on him. We were able to testify to her that God allows us to suffer, because it charges growth. It allows us to change. It allows us to be open, and humble to His counsel, and His plan. It was a powerful experience.
My level of obedience on the mission has changed my life completely. I’ve learned the difference between Natural Man’s Obedience, or Selective Obedience, and Savior-like obedience. I’ve learned to put my heart into it and actually desire to be obedient. I’ve learned to want to get out of bed each day and make the choice, because it means something to me. I’m not where I should be, I still have a long way to go, but I’ve seen the difference and know what to strive for.
I’ve learned to let the Savior imprint this on my heart. As I’ve studied the love that He had for all of us to be able to perform the Atonement, I’ve had my mind and heart opened to want to serve Him more effectively and to be obedient. I’m just on the beginning stages of understanding, but I’m grateful for what I’ve been able to learn and understand because it has changed who I am and has helped me to continue and desire to be better and more consecrated.
Well. My last letter….what else to say. I’ve been serving the Lord full time for 18 months. I’ve been working everyday from 6:30am to 10:30 pm and sometimes longer. I’ve been studying for at least 2 hours every day. I’ve prayed more then ever before. I’ve spoken with my priesthood leaders more then ever before. I’ve watched peoples lives change, and I’ve been able to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands. I’ve lived with someone 24/7 for 18 months. I’ve never had a moment alone. I’ve been impacted by the spirit daily. I’ve been changed as I’ve read and listened to conference talks daily. I’ve seen people make covenants with God, and I’ve seen the real joy and peace the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen sorrow, heartache, and pain. I’ve seen grief and deep Godly sorrow. I’ve seen regret, and I’ve seen mistakes. I’ve seen judgement and I’ve seen repentance. I’ve seen humility and pride. I’ve seen God’s hand in my life.
I’m no where near what I was or, who I was before. I’m completely different, and yet still much the same. I’m still Sister Benjamin, but I’m a converted Sister Benjamin. I’m a fighter, and a peace maker. I’m changed, and I love the Lord.
I know God lives. I know He loves me! I know he Loves all of us. His love is not like the love we can give. His love is a love that changes us, it makes us like him. I know that Jesus is the Christ. HE is my Savior. He is my Redeemer. He did perform the Atonement, and He enables me and forgives me because of it. I know that I’m not perfect. I know I have a long way to go. But I know that God is not finished with me yet. I know that I am still able to change, I can still become more like Him. I know I still have time until God says there is no more time. I know it. I know God speaks, and answers prayers. I know that I am changed forever. But I also know this is just the beginning.
I love you all
Thank you so much for being a part of my service. Thank you for your prayers and loving words of encouragement. Thank you for being there every step of the way.
I love you,
Sister Benjamin
P.S. I can't believe it's finally here. I will see you next week! AHH! LOVE YOU ALL! CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACES!


God is so good!

Wow. What a fantastic week full of many mighty miracles.:)
My core experience with God this week was definitely witnessing the baptism. Originally just the two boys were supposed to be baptized but because of lots of faith and prayers, their mom was able to be baptized as well. Wednesday night we were with their family teaching them about the temple and how families can be sealed for time and all eternity. As we were speaking the spirit was really strong. We looked at her and she had tears in her eyes.
We weren’t sure why but we felt to just wait until she was ready to speak. She just looked at us with the deepest look of longing in her eyes and said she wanted so badly to be baptized. She said she had been thinking about all the things we had discussed and taught and how she had felt. She said she believed it whole heartedly, that it was true and she wanted to be baptized. We wanted so badly to say yes. So we talked to our priesthood leaders and made sure it would all be alright and they cleared it and said yes.
She had her interview the next night and she was over the moon!  She just kept saying “I can’t believe I’m getting baptized! I can’t believe it! I’m so lucky!”
Then their baptismal service was absolutely beautiful. The spirit was so strong. I really learned the power in doing what our mission president says about having someone speak after they get baptized waiting for them to get changed. It captures the spirit and invites everyone there to change. There was even a less active lady there who had been contemplating coming back to church and because of the powerful spirit she decided to recommit herself to follow Jesus Christ.
One of my favourite parts of the baptism though was the mom. After she got baptized she looked at us with the biggest smile on her face, her eyes wet with tears. She was so happy! It was powerful to watch. She definitely increased my testimony of the amazing opportunity the Lord gives us to be able to be baptized and become clean, and commit ourselves to follow him. Sister L also sang at the Baptism and it was powerful. We really could feel our Savior’s love as she sang. And I love that our Bishop got up afterwards and bore powerful testimony, with a few tears in his own eyes of the love the Savior had for their family and for all of us.
Witnessing their baptisms makes all the hard times in the field worth it. You just have to work through all those times to be able to witness the miracles.
It reminds me of the scripture in Mosiah 5:7
7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children‍ of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed‍ through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born‍ of him and have become his sons‍ and his daughters.
Now when miracles occur also, the hard times come. This week in my practice as teaching as the Savior taught I learned how important it is to always have constant spiritual nourishment.
We called up a recent convert Saturday night to see if she would be coming to Church with us the next day. She hadn’t been for a while, because of work and we knew that she really needed to come. And the phone call we had was pretty rough. She has had a really good friend who was very instrumental in her conversion, who has now left the Church. She has been telling her all these things about the Church, that she knows are wrong, but because she is such a good friend it has been hurting her testimony. WE spent about an hour on the phone speaking with her and trying to reassure her, bearing testimony and telling her how much we loved her, and how much Heavenly Father loved her, and even her less active friend. When we hung up my heart felt heavy and I really wanted to help her, but I knew I couldn’t do much else.
Sister L and I knelt down and prayed for quite sometime asking Heavenly Father to watch over her and bless her, and of course for His will to be accomplished. We asked what we should do and the path that we should take. I felt the strongest prompting that “this too shall pass.” I was reminded of all the trials she went through and the times she went cold before her baptism, but she was able to overcome it and she will be able to overcome this as well.
We sent a text to all the ward members and tried to unify all our efforts in support of her. And unfortunately she didn’t come to Church the next day. But the miracle happened when our wonderful Ward Mission Leader went over with the Elders and was so bold and loving with her. She was very cold as they entered but after the power of the spirit she came back to her old self again. She shared all her concerns and they were able to testify of the truth and help her to understand why these things were happening. I felt peace in my heart, knowing that the ward loves her, and will support her. That it doesn’t have to just be the missionaries but the members will sustain our beautiful sister and friend.
I found this experience interesting because all week I had been studying from the war chapters in the Book of Mormon and contemplating a lot of various things that really had stood out to me. And I found it very comparable to this situation.
In Alma 50:23-25
23 But behold there never was a happier‍ time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni, yea, even at this time, in the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges
 24 And it came to pass that the twenty and second year of the reign of the judges also ended in peace; yea, and also the twenty and third year.
 25 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the twenty and fourth year of the reign of the judges, there would also have been peace among the people of Nephi had it not been for a contention‍ which took place among them concerning the land of Lehi, and the land of Morianton, which joined upon the borders of Lehi; both of which were on the borders by the seashore.
This is after a battle they had had with the Lamanites and it was finished and they had peace. The Nephites were all working together. And as it says in verse 23 that there were never a happier people.
But then in verse 25, Satan opens the door just a tiny bit, and brings contention in. And it goes on in the scriptures to talk about how this destroys one very powerful leader of the Nephites, because he lets Satan in.
I learned that even the most righteous can be taken out if we aren’t careful. We have to be constant, like Moroni, and be working to build, and rebuild, our spiritual protections, so that we are never unaware when Satan comes in and tempts us.
Because she had not been coming to Church for a little while  she has been weak, but because of our powerful Ward Mission Leader,  who I compare to an honourable Moroni, she was able to come back around. She wasn’t lost, but helped back onto the right course.
And just as it speaks of later when the 2000 stripling warriors come to the rescue, so did our ward in her time of need. The war chapters are a great example to how we should be always ready and prepared for whatever comes our way.
Alma 53:20-21
20 And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.
 21 Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.
 What is the best thing I’ve learned from my companion? My goodness, where could I even begin…Sister L is amazing. She has been such a blessing in my life. I have learned so much from her. She has so many powerful Christ like attributes, that I strive to emulate as well.
One thing I have learned from her is to be quick to accept others and love others for who they are and the potential they have to become like our Heavenly Father. She also is so quick to forgive. I can’t even begin to count all the crazy things that have happened to us and to her, and she just gives her heart and forgives, she loves them and that’s what changes people. We teach together and she never forgets to mention how much we love them. It always is a good reminder to me of how much the Savior and our Heavenly Father love us.  If she can love so deeply it can and must only be coming in and through our Savior Jesus Christ.
 I know that God is aware of all of us. He is mindful of our situations and he desires to help us and bless us. I know that with His help miracles occur everywhere. I am so grateful to be serving the Lord full time and to be able to have come to know and understand His plan for my life, even if just a little bit more. I love this work. I love serving the Lord. I love being a missionary!
Love you all
Sister Benjamin


Conversion and Consecration

Alexis will be home in 2 1/2 weeks!  She is speaking in our ward on Sept. 14th at 1:00pm. Can't believe it is almost here!
 My core experience with God this week was studying, pondering and witnessing the miracle of conversion. As my mission winds down and comes to a close, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on the time I’ve spent in the Lord’s service. I was praying one morning before my studies that the Lord would lead me to what he wanted me to know.
I began studying for a lesson that day and I was reading the Bible Dictionary on conversion. What stood out to me was that conversion is a step we choose to take to consciously accept the Lord’s will. But true conversion only comes after much trial and testing, and that it is  NOBLE task to labor for your own and others conversion.
This then led me to think about all the amazing conversions I’ve been able to witness throughout my mission and how that has completely changed and helped bring about my own conversion. Because all the conversions I’ve witnessed have not come easily and it has been an absolute fight, but it has all been worth it.
I had the opportunity to speak in Sacrament meeting and I felt to speak about conversion, and how our conversion only comes as we strive to help others deepen their conversion. It was then and there that I had one of the sweetest experiences to count up to this point. As I looked out over the beautiful people in Hassall Grove ward I felt such immense love from our Heavenly Father for them, and the best part of it all was that I felt His love and acceptance of me and that he had accepted my service as a missionary. It was a very powerful experience, one that I am so grateful for. As this was happening tears started to just flow freely from my eyes and I could tell it touched others too, because many faces were wet with tears.
Later I found this scripture that really touched my heart.
1 John 2:8
 8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which‍ thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness‍ is past, and the true light‍ now shineth.
 I felt the Lord confirming to me that the choices and things I’d done before were in the past, the darkness was gone, and now the true light of the Savior could shine through my countenance.
 In my experience as teaching as Jesus Taught, we were following up with a referral we had received a couple of weeks ago. WE had tried to contact her on various occasions but it never seemed to work. But it’s because God had other plans and he wanted us to meet her at just the right time. We were following up with a couple of our investigators before our appointment that evening and the strongest prompting came to us to call our referral. We acted immediately and called her up. She answered the phone! Which is the first time she has in how many weeks now? We spoke for a little while and asked when she would be home so that we could drop off the DVD. She said she was home the rest of the day.
So we quickly changed our plans and raced over there. She let us in and began to tell us this whole story of how she came to find the pass along card and request the DVD. She said she had been waiting for a call all day from an old friend but they had never gotten to her, but that we were the next best thing. The spirit was definitely on a high at multiple points in our visit. She fully accepted to take the lessons and we are seeing her again next week. She said she had felt down and that she really needed some light and peace in her life. We were able to testify to her and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was exactly what she needed.
I was also studying this week about the war chapters in Alma. Can I just say how much I love them. They are rich with doctrine and principle and so many wonderful blessings and promises. I just love it!  I was really trying as did President Eyring, to drink deeply from the Book of Mormon and I was reading about Amalikiah and his wicked ways.
One verse in particular stuck out to me.
Alma 47:4
4 Now behold, this was the desire of Amalickiah; for he being a very subtle‍ man to do evil therefore he laid the plan in his heart to dethrone‍ the king of the Lamanites.
I began to ponder upon the phrase plan of his heart, and really trying to understand how it could be the desire of your heart, a truly deep desire to do evil and to choose wickedness over happiness.
It led me to think about my own heart and if I really had a heart like unto God’s own heart, or some other way.  When I finish my mission will I be one to say “my heart had a great experience,” (Eccl 1:16) or that my heart was weighed down with much sorrow and grief.
I feel that for our heart to have great experiences we must be connected with the Lord, on His side completely, and not some other way. It takes a different level of consecration to be able to have great heart felt experiences. And I think that is what a mission is all about. We can have those great experiences as we go through our perfectly set 18 months-2years of service, to shape us into the people God wants us to be. But only if we choose so.
We can have the plan in our hearts to be to follow God or to follow Satan, and following God is what will get us sprinting to the finish line and beyond.
I read another verse in Alma that really stood out to me.
Alma 43:44-45
44 And they were inspired by the Zoramites‍ and the Amalekites, who were their chief captains and leaders, and by Zerahemnah, who was their chief captain, or their chief leader and commander; yea, they did fight like dragons, and many of the Nephites were slain by their hands, yea, for they did smite in two many of their head-plates, and they did pierce many of their breastplates, and they did smite off many of their arms; and thus the Lamanites did smite in their fierce anger.
 45 Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better‍ cause, for they were not fighting‍ for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
Was I fighting for this great cause like the Lamanites or the Nephites? I felt to say for a better cause! I know why I am here, to serve the Lord and to invite others to come unto Christ. I’m not perfect, nor has my service been that of perfection, or anywhere near it, but it has been what God wanted it to be for me.
I have felt his loving and inspired guidance on many occasions and I know it is only because of His help that I have been able to do any of this.
I’m so grateful for this beautiful opportunity and I know that as I continue to serve the Lord now and later, that the plan and desire of my heart, will be to consecrate my life and my all to His will and His way.


Aug. 11, 2014

What a wonderful week full of miracles. 
My first miracle to share is also my core experience with God. It’s just wonderful. Heavenly Father really did bless us this week. He really is so good to us.
A family that I mentioned last week, who were so ready and prepared to receive the Gospel just kept being amazing this week.
On Monday night after p-day we went over to their house to have family home evening. We taught about the Godhead. This family has Hindi background so they don’t understand much so we decided to start from the basics. Ahh they are wonderful. They picked it up so fast and they really were loving all the things we talked about. We spoke of the Savior and how the greatest invitation he gives us is to follow him. WE felt then and there to invite them to be baptized for the 23rd of this month. The 2 boys readily accepted the invitation and they were super excited.
In another lesson we had with them this week, the mother asked us about the Holy Ghost. We spoke just briefly about the spirit and she began to tell us that she had been feeling the spirit especially in her prayers. Ahh!  She and both her boys believe the Church is true and they love it.
Another wonderful miracle with them is that they all came to Church on Sunday. The younger of the 2 boys, came running up to us after Sunday school and said they had just learned about Baptisms for the Dead, and he loved it. He said he wants to come every week now!
I love this family. They truly are heaven sent. We sat down, Sister L and I setting goals for the transfer and we prayed readily for the Lord to bless us with someone to teach and lead to baptism, preferably a family. And he blessed us! This family is wonderful and I know that it is only because of the love and grace of Heavenly Father that they are so ready and prepared to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think for me this week the greatest barrier for me to become more of the missionary that God wants me to be, was thinking that we could make a choice on our own, without the Lord's input. We had some things this week that we needed to work out with the area, and we were trying to make decisions and it just wasn’t going very well. We had reached a point where we thought we could go no further, and then the thought came to our minds to pray and ask the Lord for his guidance. I think sometimes when we get so far we just think we can do something on our own. We’ve been taught and given the knowledge we need, but it was a great lesson for me this week to remember that no matter what is going on, I should be ‘counseling with the Lord in all my doings.”
As we continued the Lord blessed us and everything worked out perfectly, for what seemed to be a big problem to us was easily fixed by Heavenly Father and it just made things so much easier.
It really helped to change my perspective on our relationship with God and I found a couple of quotes this week that I absolutely loved.
“God exists in the world. He exists wherever men let him in. Perhaps it is only humble men, men in search of him, men with great need of him, who really let him in. And God comes to such men not only because of their great need for him, but also because of his great need for them as his allies in the divine task of creating a better world, a better human society, a real kingdom of God.”  -P.A. Christensen
“ You know always in your heart that you need God more than anything else. But do you know too that God needs you…in the fullness of eternity he needs you?” –Martin Buber.
This week I felt so humbled to really see that I was needed in this great work, not only to build the Lord’s kingdom, but so the Lord could build me. This is his divine plan and without us it isn’t possible. We are imperfect and we need to change and grow with his help and it is a blessing to think that someone as powerful as God, would actually desire to help us, to be with us and to strengthen us in our time of need.
In Deuteronomy 4:29-31 it reads
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek‍ the Lord‍ thy God, thou shalt find him,‍ if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
 30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even‍ in the latter days, if thou turn‍ to the Lord‍ thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
 31 (For the Lord‍ thy God is‍ a merciful‍ God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant‍ of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
 I have been so blessed this week to remember that it is only really this service as a missionary that I have been able to come to know how to seek the Lord with all my heart and soul. I am so grateful for the wonderful opportunity the Lord blessed me with to serve and help to bring others unto Christ.

Love you All
Sister Benjamin