July 28, 2013

Mi Familia,
August is here! C-RAZY! I feel like July just started. This week certainly has been interesting. We have had a lot of investigators and others we are working with, stop working with us and it seems as if Satan is having a pull at my heart strings. But what I did is pray to Heavenly Father to not be discouraged and to be able to keep going. And you know what? He helped me and in the times when I most needed it, He was right there giving me strength I needed. One day, Friday I think it was all just hitting me and I was telling my lovely companion ALL about it. We were talking and we remembered that our District meeting that morning had been about Christlike attributes and how i just needed to be diligent. The quote in preach my gospel came to mind, "I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the spirit; if he gets the spirit, he will teach by the spirit, and if he teaches by the spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work- there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work." (President Ezra Taft Benson) So I said a prayer asking for help and we got out of the car and knocked on some doors. We had a lovely chat with a sweet old man, and I was able to share some of my testimony. We walked back to the car and I had an overwhelming feeling that Heavenly Father was aware of me and that he truly cared about how I felt. I fully believe Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and successful and that true joy can only come when we get out there and do the work. Of course its hard and stressful but just like Elder Holland said "Salvation is not a cheap experience." It isn't going to come by us just sitting back and being lazy. If we want to return to him we have to do something about it, and I am really trying to do so. It isn't easy to do so but Heavenly Father continues to help me and guide me and that is why I keep going. 
This week we met with one of our investigators that we have been teaching for about 3 months, but she has been investigating the Church for about seven years. So we knew that she had concerns about coming to Church, so our plan was to read 3N 18 and talk about the sacrament and why we go to Church. We started reading and she freaked out and started basically yelling at us and saying that ALL we seem to focus on is Christ's sacrifice, sin and death. And as she was yelling we started to get nervous being like oh no, there she goes another investigator gone. But then I said a fervent prayer, and I pleaded that we would be able to stay calm and that we would be able to resolve her concern. After I felt peace come back into my heart and mind. My companion and I were able to testify of Jesus Christ and that we focus on the fact that he lives. That because of Him we can all be forgiven and be Resurrected and live with Him again. She calmed down and she said okay and she told us that she finally understood. At that moment I was so grateful for the spirit that brought peace back to the situation so that we could resolve her concern. As Jesus taught the people he always had love for them and he always tried to help in all ways. And that is how I tried to teach like him this week. To really listen to them and plead for the spirit to guide my steps.
Something that is so important as a missionary is to be personally accountable (and i guess throughout life) to the Lord and my leaders. Sometimes when Satan is tempting me I have thought that no one will know if I'm disobedient or if I don't work as hard as I should because the closest missionaries are an hour away and President Howes is ages away. But what I have to remember is that Heavenly Father is never far away. He is always right there. And after this life we will be held accountable for ALL of our life here on this earth. Being accountable to my leaders has taught me a lot, but I have learned much more from being accountable to my Heavenly Father. He placed me here in Grafton to serve, expecting me to serve with my ALL and that is what I am striving to do now. Another quote from PMG says "Accountability does not come only at the end of your mission. It is a principle that influences how you begin, how you think and feel about the responsibility the Lord has given you, how you approach the work and how well you endure. The attitude you have toward the mission experience is a reflection of your love toward your Heavenly Father and his son and your respect for the Priesthood." We are accountable because it teaches us to be better servants of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Another experience I had this week that really was a great testimony builder. Of course I was struggling a little bit because Satan never leaves us alone, but at the same time neither does God. We were driving to Church and I had a lot on my mind, which is a very usual thing for me. I'm always thinking about something. But we got in the car and "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" started playing. I was being fearful and afraid about something but then the words "He lives to calm my troubled heart, He lives to silence all my fears...What joy this sentence gives, I know that my redeemer lives." It was one of those times that music was an answer to my prayers. I love the power that music has and how often it does answer my prayers. I do know that my Redeemer lives, that he loves me and that he will guide me and help me to live the way that I should be living. I'm so grateful to know that this Church is true and that Heavenly Father is real and that he loves each of us. I'm grateful to have a living prophet here on the earth today. I love this Gospel and I'm so grateful that I get to share it with my brothers and sisters.
Thank you all for being such incredible examples to me. I love you all!
Have a wonderful week
Sister Benjamin


4 1/2 months already!

Mi Familia,
What a week! I feel like it just started yesterday and now its over. One of the things I love about this mission is how focused we are on miracles. Miracles happen all day long, everyday and we just have to realize what is happening. Nothing super crazy happened this week, our numbers didn't seem to reflect much success, but what did measure our success was by how much I felt the spirit this week. The spirit drove me and I felt strength come to me. When you just get out there and do the work, the spirit will attend you. But that doesn't mean that its going to be all sunshine and daisies. You may encounter hard things, it may be raining but you still go out. You may have tracted a street with no success, but you still knock on more doors. You continue to be happy and do the work with a 24 hour smile on your face. You continue to keep going because that is what a consecrated missionary does. They work until they cannot work any more and then God takes over.

My core experience with God this week was striving to become a consecrated missionary and give my ALL to the Lord. Of course I still faltered, there were times when I was lazy and times when I was doing what I wanted instead of following Heavenly Fathers will. But I really am trying. And something I learned from Sister Tanner, a quote by Sister Holland in her Talk "Be Patient in Your Pursuit of Perfection." She said "1. Remember that any failure with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is only Temporary. 2. No Self Pity. None. 3. Eliminate all could haves, would haves, should haves, and if onlys." Just like other missionaries I am trying to become like the Savior and that is not easy, but through the Saviors grace we can do all things. I truly love how much stronger my relationship is with my Heavenly Father. When I don't feel like I have any energy left, or any desire to go out, I turn to him and he helps me to do this work. And a wonderful quote by Elder Callister in his talk "becoming a consecrated missionary." He says, "He will not let us be content with our weaknesses. Whatever the weakness may be that holds us back from becoming a consecrated missionary, the Lord has promised that if we have faith in him, and humble ourselves before him, that he will make weak things become strong unto us. I believe that. I do not believe there is one missionary whose weaknesses are greater then the potential strengths within him. Why? - because each of us is a son and daughter of God, with his divine nature and divine potential woven into the very fabric of our souls." I'm so grateful to know that I do have a divine nature, that I know that my  Heavenly Father is real and he loves me and all of his children.

This week we really tried to talk to more people, to share the Gospel with more. And sometimes I didn't want to or I would get scared, but thank goodness for my lovely companion. She tries to talk to everyone and she really does. When the Savior was here he taught everyone. There is a story in Mark, and it talks about Jesus leaving with the disciples to go and have some peace and quiet. But he turns around and sees a lot of people. It says that "he was moved with compassion" and he taught them.  I am really trying to do that. All of the people we meet are God’s children and they need the Gospel just as much as I do. Another quote from Elder Callister, "Sometimes in life we just have to square our shoulders and do it. There is no magic pill that makes us courageous, no passage of time that strengthens us, no memorized approach that emboldens us. We are left only with the compelling counsel of King Benjamin: "And now, if ye believe all these things, see that you do them."" As I put my faith and trust in Heavenly Father I know I will be able to do all that he asks of me.

Last but not least, I just want to say how grateful I am for my companion. I have learned so much from her. Heavenly Father knew that I needed her, at this time. I have really tried to see her as God sees her, she is his daughter and she is striving, just like me, to be a better missionary. She does what Elder Callister said to just do it and I am grateful that we were placed together. And I have really been trying to have a good relationship with her because I think it certainly does reflect my love for the Lord, by the way I treat my companion. We certainly have our differences, but we truly have come a long way. I love her and I'm glad she was placed in my path.

I'm so grateful for this Gospel and for the Testimony that I have of this Gospel. I'm grateful that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and all of his children. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that through him all things are possible. I love you and I hope that you have an incredible week.
Love Sister Benjamin


Another 6 weeks in Grafton

Well another week is over, transfers are over and I'm in Grafton for another transfer. I'm really excited to have another transfer in Grafton, even though that isn't how I originally felt. I wanted to leave Grafton but I'm not exactly sure why, okay I guess I know why, but it could have been many different reasons. I found that I was trying to change the will of Heavenly Father instead of accepting it. But after I realized that Heavenly Father knew I needed to stay here, my attitude started to change. I realized that Heavenly Father had it laid out for me long ago that I would serve a mission, that I would serve in the Sydney Australia North Mission, with President and Sister Howes. He knew that I would serve in Grafton and companion I would serve with. He knows my whole life and he knows exactly what needs to happen so that I can be placed on the right path at the right time and in the right place. Heavenly Father has something for me to do here in Grafton at this time and what that is I'm not sure, but what I do know is that I am going to try my best to accomplish it. I know that I'm not perfect and that I make mistakes, but I know that I am supposed to here at this time to serve my Heavenly Father. When we place our trust in Heavenly Father everything goes better. Trust in Him and he will guide you. 

This week I was really tried in my patience and love for the people. I tell people when we teach them that these changes that they are making might be really difficult. They take time and sometimes mistakes will be made. And the problem is, they heard that but apparently I didn't. I wanted to give up on them. But then I had the thought, would Jesus give up on these people? I then thought well if he did we wouldn't have the Atonement and we wouldn't be able to repent and be forgiven, over and over again. So I am really trying to be patient, loving and supportive as I can with these people that we teach. One of them in particular had been doing so well, he had quit smoking and he was starting to feel the spirit and he was really growing and progressing. This was about 3-4 weeks that he hadn't been smoking, then we go over to his house and we smelled smoke again. I was really discouraged and I was like, why isn't he changing and why isn't he feeling it? But then I remember Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and how frustrated they get with me. I'm not perfect, but they have perfect love for me. So that is what I am trying to have for other people. When we really think about how much Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father loves us, it really changes you and makes you think differently about how you love others. Being a missionary is not an easy task and sometimes people let you down but I know that as I strive to do everything I can, people will be blessed and they as well as I will grow.

One thing I really loved seeing was how much God really prepares people for our visit. We met with one former investigator.  He hasn't seen missionaries for about 6 years. We taught him about prayer on the doorstep and then we made another appointment. We went back on Tuesday night and we knocked and no one answered. We could hear him showering so we decided to wait, then he came out and we had a GREAT lesson. The spirit was so STRONG. It was one of those times when the spirit just tells you exactly what to say. It was incredible. He asked all the right questions and I know he felt the spirit. We haven't been able to see him again but I know that Heavenly Father is taking care of him. We also had a very powerful lesson with an investigator yesterday. That certainly started the week off with a bang. He was really so prepared. He even got a little teary eyed wondering why everyone couldn't just believe in God and follow him. I felt prompted to pull out a BOM and he was like "can I look at that?" I told him sure, and then we said that we wanted him to have it and read it. He looked like I had just given him pure gold. I loved that. I'm so grateful to have experiences like this to see people get so excited about the Gospel, it makes me love it even more. I know that not all of these people accept the Gospel at this time, but I'm grateful that I can be the tool in God's hands to prepare them, when they are ready.

My main goal is to help others come unto Christ. I really am trying hard after every lesson to ask myself if they came closer to Christ in that lesson. If they did then it was successful, if not, what can we work on to help them to feel closer to Christ? I really want to help people increase their faith in Jesus Christ. I am striving to do the same in my life so we can help each other. The quote in preach my Gospel says "You cannot convert someone above your own level of conversion..." or something along those lines. If I want others to increase their faith then I have to do the same. I really want others to build their foundation in Jesus Christ to help them withstand the temptations from Satan. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church on the earth today. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that my Heavenly Father loves me and all of his children. I'm so grateful to serve the Lord to help build up his kingdom. And just like Elder Packer said, "If someone is looking for a Church that requires very little, this is not the one. It is not easy to be a Latter-Day Saint, but in the long run it is the only true course." I want to find the Children of God who are ready and willing to commit their lives to the Savior, and I know that is possible through Heavenly Father. I hope you have a wonderful week full of miracles, you are in my prayers.
Love you all,
Sister Alexis Benjamin

This was a gift from one of the families they are teaching.


The Power of a Good Attitude

Grafton Sunset

A good attitude really does influence every aspect of your life. This week I have really been striving to have a good attitude in everything I do. I have been struggling thinking that some parts of the mission are just too hard or that I just don't want to do it, but something I learned from my cousin serving in Melbourne, if I want Heavenly Father to bless me I need to be exactly obedient, but more than that freely obedient. When the rules of a mission just become who I am, that goes hand in hand with a positive attitude. And of course because I was trying to have a better attitude Satan really worked a number on me. I was feeling blah about everything. So I turned to my Heavenly Father and just really asked to be positive. Because of that I was happy. I felt like myself. I was laughing and making other people laugh. I know I talk about this a lot, but it seems like my attitude is always something I am working on. And I am always AMAZED by how much Heavenly Father does bless me. Heavenly Father truly does care about me and I am so grateful to be in his hands. It make me think of a quote from Harry Potter "Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light."(See Ash, I won't think Harry Potter is evil, I'm quoting it on the mish :) ) But I related that to the mission and to life. No matter the hard things that come, persecutions and temptations there is always happiness to be found. Like when I get a door slammed in my face, at least I got to share my testimony, or at least I got to see another of God's children today. I think that is how Jesus Christ taught others as well. He always showed how this message and the things he taught could truly bless someones life and make them truly happy. Just like Mosiah 2:41 "in a state of never ending happiness" when we keep the commandments. This week I really tried to keep happiness in the Gospel Message. We met with an investigator and we watched a video about families. I shared how my family is what makes me truly happy and knowing that I can live with them forever.

This week was the start of the New Mission as well. My companion and I really worked hard. Something we have been working on is having faith that Heavenly Father will place miracles in our path. A good attitude only helps that, and we smashed it. We had more member presents then we have ever had, more lessons then ever and more new investigators. :) This week I didn't try to say, oh I hope they will be home, or I hope they will accept our message but that, oh they will be home and they will accept our message. And let me tell ya faith really works! We saw heaps of success. One of our investigators who hadn't been home every time we went, but I just felt prompted to go and stop by, and she was home and we had a wonderful lesson and the spirit was so strong. I have learned on my mission that just as Pres. Packer said in conference, "Faith is a REAL power not just an expression of belief." Our faith truly can move mountains. Heavenly Father blessed us with so much success this week and it is because we did our part. He is always waiting to bless us, but if we don't do ALL we can we are going to miss out on heaps of blessings. The creation of the new mission truly put new drive in our hearts to go out in this time to bring God's children back to him. This week we met with one of our investigators and we were just chatting and she just spits out that she had been reading the Book of Mormon. We gave it to her 2 weeks ago and she has already read through half of Mosiah. She pulled it out and she read us a passage that she really liked and some that she didn't understand. She was teaching me about the Book of Mormon. :) She also told us that she has noticed such a change in her life since we have been meeting with her. Usually she is really cranky and doesn't want to talk to people and all things like that, but she says that she has been a lot happier and that the lessons and the friendship we have with her really is blessing her life. It truly was such a blessing. She hasn't come to Church yet but she is working on it, and Heavenly Father is opening her heart. :)

I'm so grateful for my mission. I love it. Of course I make mistakes, but something I learned is that I did what I thought was best at the time. No regrets. When I am doing all I can there are no regrets. This time I have is consecrated for me to serve my Heavenly Father, no sacrifice, just a blessing. I know this is Christ's true Church on the earth and that it is true. I know that the BOM is the word of God. Study it, Love it, Cherish it. Its the Word of God! Jesus Christ is my Elder Brother, Savior and Friend.
I love you all. I'm so grateful for you and your examples to me. Have an amazing week!
Love you heaps 
Sister Benjamin

The mission was divided the first of July.  Alexis is now serving the the Australia Sydney North Mission.