The Visa is Here!!

Hey Ya'll!
This week has been awesome, but also super crazy!
So last week me and my companions were at the Church and my companion had been talking to President, so she comes running in to give me the phone. President told me that I had gotten my visa. I literally started bawling. I basically couldn't breathe. President was so sweet and he told me he would wait until I could contain myself and keep talking to him. So then he told me that I would be leaving that Monday. After he hung up I just kept crying. I realized that that exchange was exactly what needed to happen. (Because they went on an exchange with a sister from the next area over, they ended up meeting a lady that is friends with a family we know that has a daughter that is completely inactive right now.  Alexis and the lady talked about this girl, and Alexis felt prompted to write her a letter.  There were a lot of things that led to Alexis being in a place to meet her, and for the lady to be with the missionaries to know that Alexis was there.) So many things had been pushed in the way to make it not happen. We had to jump through so many hoops, but it is because it is so necessary. And when Satan sees that something needs to happen he will work so hard to make sure it doesn't, but we are stronger then he is.

So yeah I'm going to Australia! And I couldn't be more excited. I have loved serving here but it has definitely been so hard. I really struggled being here and the people here were not accepting at all of the Gospel. So I was just not trying very hard I guess. But I talked to my companions and we said that the moment you become fully here and happy, is when Heavenly Father will pull you out. So literally that is what happened. I started to really love being here and so many good things were happening, and then I got the call that I was leaving. It definitely was a bitter sweet thing and it still is but I am really excited to go! :) We met a lot of good people this week but not many are wanting to accept the Gospel, but hopefully we are planting seeds. One lady we talked to really wanted to understand more about the BOM, so we taught her the restoration. She asked me why I joined the Church and why I believed what I did. I told her that I had been a member all my life but I did have to become converted to the Gospel. I told her how I gained my testimony of Joseph Smith, and because I knew that he was prophet, I knew that the BOM is true, and because of that I know that the Church is true. She seemed really intrigued when I said that so hopefully she will want to learn more and pray about it herself. We taught another guy this Saturday and he is quite the interesting guy. He talks for forever though. We got there at like 12 and then we talked to him about the BOM for about a half-hour and then he told us the most random things but he knows the BOM is the word of God and this is only his second lesson. He really wants to try out our church so he is going to come on the 12th. Obviously I won't be there but I really hope he does because he needs the Gospel in his life. As do all of us.

When I found out I was leaving I felt very strongly that I needed to sing in  Sacrament meeting. But nobody here plays the piano except one, but she was leaving town and I had never played and sang before in Sacrament meeting. I was feeling really nervous and i just didn't want to do it. But I decided that I still should. It was really fun. I have missed singing a lot and as I did that my testimony grew stronger of the Gospel. One of the hardest things here on my mission is following the promptings of the Spirit, but when I do it literally is the coolest thing. I know that Heavenly Father is watching out for me and that he will never leave me alone. He knows all and he will will make sure that the work gets done no matter what. I know this Church is true. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that he was called of God.
I love you all! I hope you all have a wonderful week and that you strive to strengthen your testimony each day.
Sister Benjamin

Alexis will be leaving May 6th for Australia!!


Louisiana Week 2

Well this week was good. We started biking this week. Let me tell ya it isn't the most fun I've had. We probably have biked close to 50 miles. And my legs are truly feeling it. We tracted a lot this week and not a lot of people like to hear our message. Most of them already know Jesus Christ and they don't want to know anymore. But there are moments and glimmers of hope. We have tracted into this guy that is an older man, he's black and he doesn't have that many teeth. But he wanted to talk to us. So we set up an appt. and we taught him the Restoration. That lesson was so powerful. The spirit was so strong, you really could have cut it with a knife. We asked him at the end if he believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and he said that he couldn't deny it. That to do something that great you would have to have the power of God on your side. Holy Cow! That lesson was amazing. I was able to testify of the truths we had taught him and that if he would read the BOM and pray sincerely the blessings of heaven would pour out on him. We are meeting with him next Saturday and hopefully setting him with a Baptismal date! :) We also tracted into this other girl.  She let us in and she had a lot of questions about Mormons and if we are able to cut our hair and if we wear skirts all the time but we were able to answer every question. We then testified of the BOM and prayed with her and she really seems interested and wants us to come back. I hope we can set her with a Baptismal date as well. Here in the south we don't have a ton of success. Or I guess other missionaries do here but in the area we are in not that many people want to change their ways or beliefs. But I know this work is the Lord's work and every day I try harder to do what he would have me do.

I have started studying Jesus the Christ and it literally blows my mind every single time I read it. Jesus Christ is amazing. I can't believe all the things he has done for me. Something else I studied is hope. I have been struggling a lot with being happy here and trying to find peace with being in Mississippi, but one day I was studying and I was just flipping through the pages in PMG and I stopped on Christlike Attributes on Hope. I read it and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Heavenly Father has not forgotten me out here in Louisiana. I'm here to work and no matter where I am preaching the Gospel is the same. All of God's Children need the gospel. So I'm trying to find those chosen elect who will accept the Gospel. Just like President Uchtdorf said we all spoke the Universal language in heaven, the pure love of Christ. And when you use that language talking to others they will recognize it and listen and be edified. The Gospel is true. Everyday I learn that. I have had so many doubts on my mission, and I full heartedly believe that Satan works harder on me here then ever before. But along with the doubts my faith grows so much more then ever before. My testimony is so much stronger because I have to push Satan off every day. Heavenly Father is real, Jesus is the Christ and the BOM is the word of God. It can't be disputed and it can't be changed. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We are in the last dispensation and the Gospel will touch every corner of the Earth. I truly love being a missionary and I can't wait to see what lies ahead.
My life will be forever changed because of my mission. 
Well i love you all.
Have a great week
Sister Benjamin


First week in Louisiana

Three cousins before they left the MTC

On their way to Jackson, Mississippi
  I absolutely loved Conference. It was so amazing. I loved watching it as a missionary and being able to be in tune with the spirit. I didn't have all the feelings of the things that I need to work on. It was more a message of peace and comfort and even though there are trials it will be okay. We watched the YW's broadcast as well and one of them talked about that trials can either be a springboard for growth or a roadblock and I am really trying to make my trials a springboard for growth. I have some pretty rough moments this week but because of my wonderful companions and wonderful Heavenly Father I have been able to make it through them and been able to learn and move forward because of it. We are a car share area. So we have the car one week and then the elders have the car the next week. So when we don't have the car we bike. I borrowed a bike from one of the other sisters in the zone because I can't afford to buy a bike here and then in Australia. But they are taking good care of me so there really is nothing to worry about. We get fed every single day and sometimes twice a day. The only meal I have eaten at the apartment all week is breakfast.. And if we don't exercise more I definitely am going to get fat! :) haha 

We have visited a couple of people this week and my companions say that I am a miracle worker because all of the other times they have tried to visit someone they aren't home so I guess Heavenly Father knows I'm here :) We committed one lady to come to church with us and read the BOM but she didn't come. So hopefully when we see her this week we will be able to get her to come. We met a lady while we were out tracting. On a completely random street that just popped into my companions head. But we knocked on the door and we sat down and we were able to teach her the Restoration. As we did she was talking to us and she said normally she doesn't let people in but she had a weird feeling that she just needed to let us in. So hopefully we will be able to go back and see her. She really is a nice lady. When I meet these people I feel a love for them that I didn't know I had in me. It really has been a cool experience. I love that I can just meet someone off the street and instantly love them. I have been struggling this week though with staying awake. One of my companions and I were at a members house visiting with them and we both just slept. It was really bad but also really funny. They made fun of us for that one for quite sometime :). 

At the Catfish Festival
One of the members that is taking good care of her

Her companions
 We went to the Catfish Festival on Saturday. Which is this huge festival where everyone just comes and sets up booths and just shares their talents. The Stake president here set up the a booth for us and there was like 15 missionaries there and we handed out pamphlets and BOM and who knows if anyone kept them or what but hopefully we planted at least one seed. I got completely fried because the Louisiana sun and I are not friends. :) But we woke up at like 4:30 Saturday and went to the festival until 6 pm that evening. It was a rough day and when we got back we went to bed at like 8. Then we basically slept through Church. Okay well my comps did. I didn't. I actually played the piano in primary at Church. So that was fun :) They don't have anyone really who plays so I guess that job just automatically falls to me. :) But I did certainly have my ups and downs, but as I was studying my scriptures I read so many that said pray always and so that's what I did. One of my teachers in the MTC writes his prayers down and I just wanted to try that. I wrote down what I asked for and then I really truly listened. As I did that I definitely got an answer to my prayers. I definitely feel like my Visa is coming soon. I feel like possibly this week but if not I just felt that I needed to have faith. One of my comps is on her last transfer and she said she feels like I will be gone before she is done. All of us feel like my visa will come sooner then later. But My comp said she had a dream last night that my visa came and we were all freaking out, so maybe that was a vision of the future. :) I hope so :) But as long as I'm still here I will keep pressing forward the best that I can. Well I love you all! Sorry this email is really scattered but it really is all I have time for.  I love you all. Have a great week


6 minutes from Duck Dynasty

As we learned that Lexie is serving in the area of Duck Dynasty fame, we watched some episodes last night.  She is a mere 6 minutes from the Duck Commander warehouse.

Well I'm with my new companions now.  They are both absolutely wonderful. I have felt quite overwhelmed though. I mean I wasn't prepared to come to Mississippi, but it has been a pretty good day. When I got to West Monroe, I met my comps and we drove over to the apt, got my suitcases out and then we went shopping at Walmart. I got good old food and some other necessities but as we were going over to buy some shampoo, we saw this lady and one of my comps just commented on her purple shirt. I said I loved purple too and we just got into this huge long conversation with her about her house, and family, and how she lives and all this stuff. She really is so nice. She was telling us about how her Granddaughter absolutely loves to read the Bible and how she takes it to school and reads it to all of her friends. We were having such a good talk. She talked about how she loves going to other churches and finding out what they believe in. We asked if she had ever heard of our church, and she said she had a brother in law who had, but he's dead now. She has heard some about the BOM and things. And as we were talking I felt that we should introduce her to the BOM again and ask if she would read it. One of my comps pulled a BOM out of her bag and we asked her if she would read it and she said she would. We wrote our names and number in the front and asked here about going to Church. She said she would go, but who knows if she really will. But this whole time we were talking to her, I kept feeling that this is why I am out here serving a mission. To be able to meet people and talk to them and ask them about their lives and introduce them to the Gospel. The spirit was there and she was saying how she thanked God that he placed her in Walmart at the same time so that she could just meet us. I know that this is why I'm here. Today definitely was a rough day. A lot of ups and downs and Satan was really working on me and telling me why are you even in the South. You know nothing about the South you can't do this. But because of that I was able to pray to Heavenly Father, just pleading with him to let me know that I can do this. That this mission is what is the right thing for me. That no matter where I am the work is the same. God's children need the Gospel and I can give it to them with Heavenly Fathers help. I felt so reassured after that meeting in Walmart and I know that that was not a coincidence. God puts people in our lives for a reason and I can do this with his help. It doesn't matter how hard it is or how many people I do meet because all of God's children need the Gospel. 

After we left Walmart we went back home and unpacked the groceries and then we went straight over to a dinner appt. with a lady in the area. She is such a nice lady. She made us fried chicken and potato salad. Super tasty :) And then after we practiced teaching the first lesson with her. She really was so helpful and she talked a lot about her family and how she wished that her kids would find the Gospel just as she had done. I was able to testify that God has a plan for us and he will give everyone of his children an opportunity to have the chance to join the church. No one will be left behind. God loves his children and so even if they don't get the chance to have the Gospel here they will be able to have it in the next life. All things will be made right in the eternities. We talked about how this life is learning how to have a stronger more intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. I am so grateful that I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father because without it I would not be sitting here in Louisiana right now. I probably would have gone home as soon as I found out I was coming here. But I truly do know that God has placed me here for a reason, whether it be because of the companions that I will have or someone that I need to touch and bless their life. But whatever it is I will find out, and I will take advantage of every opportunity. This is God's work. I really am learning to rely fully on him. As I did that today he blessed me and I was able to be helped to have an experience that would make me love being here. Even though I have only been here for one day, I already love the South. All the people we have met today are really nice. They love to talk to you and I can't wait to see what kind of experiences I will have.

I talked to the Mission President today and he said that as soon as he hears about my visa he will let me know and then he will come pick me up. Then I will probably sleep in the mission home that night and then go straight off to Australia the next day. So that really could be tomorrow or next week or a month. But as long as I am here I am going to take advantage of the time that has been given me. I really can't believe I am here but I really do love being here. I love the people that I have met and I am grateful that I have a testimony of my Savior and this Gospel. Life just wouldn't be the same without it.

Well I love you all. I really hope you are having a great time with everyone. Make sure you keep living the Gospel and work each day to become more like a disciple of Christ. Not just a Mormon. We have a lot of those but we follow Jesus Christ. He set the example and we need to follow him.
Love you all
Sister Benjamin. or "Benji" as everyone is calling me here :)