Transfer to Emu Plains

Hello my wonderful family,
So here’s spreading the news. I'm leaving Grafton, and going to a new area called Emu Plains. It is in the Penrith Zone really close to Sydney, and I get to go to the Temple. WOOT! :) I couldn't be more excited about that. I have missed going to the temple. I haven't been for about 4 months and I really miss it. I can't believe that the time has gone by so fast though. But another wonderful blessing...drum roll please....I'M TRAINING A NEW ONE!! Holy cow. I can't even believe it. The Zone Leaders called me and told me Saturday that I'm leaving Grafton and going to a new area. Then President called that night and told my companion that she would be staying in Grafton and Training, then he asked if I was listening. I said hello and then he asked me to train! Holy Cow? What? I of course said yes, but inside I just got really nervous. I felt so under qualified. I have only been out for a little over 5 months. How on earth am I supposed to train somebody new? I kept thinking about it and I just was stressing myself out. But then I thought, just say a prayer. So I did. I prayed for quite a while expressing all my feelings. Then this incredible wave of peace just came over me. I felt so comfortable and so ready to train. I then remembered the blessing I got last week that said I would have full confidence in Heavenly Father and his plan for me. I know that this is his plan for me, and that I will be able to do this with his help. It is a very humbling experience to get to train a new missionary but I'm really excited now. President said that everything that happened this transfer is completely inspired, and that we should have no problem but to trust Heavenly Father and that this is his will for us. :) I'm grateful to have such a wonderful Mission President who has so much trust and reliance on Heavenly Father. 

This last week in Grafton was really sweet. I spent a lot of time with the members saying good bye and all that. On Sunday I bore my testimony and of course I cried and everyone else was too, even the men. It was so sweet. I really felt loved and appreciated by them. I was so grateful to spend the time with them and to get to know them. Hopefully I will be able to see them all again someday.

Well on another exciting note, the new missionaries don't get here until Wednesday so guess where I'm spending my time...? In the CITY :) Only for a couple of days, but I love it. And I'm with Sister McKinnon. I absolutely adore her. She is one of the sisters that went with me to Mississippi. She and I have gotten so close. I absolutely adore her. :) I'm grateful that I have spent some time here. The people here are incredible, and there are people everywhere. Compared to Grafton especially. I hope that one day I will get the opportunity to serve here in the city.

This week I really learned the power of setting worthy goals. I have set myself some goals on a weekly basis and I find that I just set too many and then I never accomplish them because I put too much on my plate at that time. So this week I felt inspired to just set a goal to "just do it", to be a 10 missionary and to just do the work to the best of my abilities. And it really worked out well. I felt so much better then I have in a while. I felt that before I was failing and things were falling through the cracks. But this week I could just work on the work and put all my effort into it and because of that I was strengthened and able to give my heart. And Heavenly Father really helped me. I felt more peace and a stronger spirit and I'm so grateful for that. I'm grateful to know that Heavenly Father truly is so aware of all of us that he helps us to do his work the way he wants it done. He helps us in every aspect. I'm grateful to know that this Church is true, that I have a wonderful family and great examples to look up to. I know that the BOM is the word of God and it can literally change peoples hearts. I know that Heavenly Father is real and that he does answer my prayers.
I love you all and I hope you have the most wonderful week. 
Good luck with school.
Love  you Heaps
Sister Benjamin


Full Confidence in Heavenly Father

Dorrigo National Park

To My Wonderful Family,
This week went by so fast. Crazy. But it was really good. I learned HEAPS! I've really grown to appreciate the Gospel on my  mission. I want to study and learn as much as possible, but there just isn't enough hours in the day. I learned a lot about myself this week, and one of the big reasons I am on my mission. Satan certainly had his hand on me this week, but I really learned a lot about myself when I turn to Heavenly Father to help pull me back out. One of the best/worst things on my  mission has been my emotions. They are just so high strung ALL the time. I think that is because of how emotionally shut off I used to be. But I've learned so much better about how to deal with it. Something that really helped was receiving a Priesthood blessing. I asked our Branch President to give me one. I love Priesthood blessings. It really helped to comfort me, and to truly let me know how fully aware my Father in Heaven is of me. I was blessed that I would have FULL CONFIDENCE in my Father in Heaven. Not half, or with a little bit of doubt, but with FULL CONFIDENCE. That is a huge blessing. Because it helps me know that whatever happens is for my good. I feel like a lot of times we want what we want, we want our trial to end NOW, or we want this thing to happen but what we don't know is what the consequence could be because of that. But our Heavenly Father does. He sees the whole picture of our lives, and he will send us and place us where we need to be. So there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON why we can't have full confidence in Him. He loves us all so much and he never wants to hurt us or give us something to make us turn away from him. Something I learned from Elder Holland this week, he said: "Our challenges will help us grow. If we wish our trials away we will wish away our greatest strength and greatest growth. Our challenges will help us and bless us. Don't you quit, you keep walking, you keep going there is help to come. Some blessings come now, some come late and some don't come until heaven. But to those who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. Trust in God, and good things to come." I love that. I was listening to a talk on the Mormon channel for the youth about enduring our challenges cheerfully, and my favourite line from the talk was "Adversity provides the resistance necessary for Exaltation." That is so true. We are shaped through our adversity, we learn through the trials that come, and we become much better people because of it. And something Sister Cook said in the Young Women’s meeting in April, “Our trials can either be a roadblock or a springboard for growth.” I will make my trials a springboard for growth. It's my choice and I choose to make the right one. I know that as we do keep walking, Heavenly Father will bless us. I love that we refer to him as Heavenly Father, it just portrays so much more of his deep and abiding love for ALL of us.

I really tried to become more like the Savior in trying to develop Charity. I truly felt a great portion of love for God's children. I love that he lets me in enough to feel a portion of that love. It really makes you want to help the people more when you see how much God loves them. I just wish they could feel that more. I think if everyone knew Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ more, the world would be much different. But that is why Missionaries are called, why members visit and home teach, so that people can learn that. I really felt a lot of love for those we interact with here. Since this is the last week of transfer we told them we could potentially leave and they were so sad. In a small Branch like this, you truly get to develop such great relationships with people, but I have full confidence in Heavenly Father and that whatever happens is supposed to happen. When we have the pure love of Christ, it really influences your whole life. The Savior’s pure love made it possible for him to sacrifice for ALL of us. Heavenly Father’s pure love made it possible for him to watch that happen. I can't even imagine what they both went through. But they both had the Eternal Perspective we all need to see that it would be the only way. 

Pres. and Sis. Howes went with Lexie and her companion to the Dorrigo Rainforest
Dangar Falls
I love seeing the Gospel change lives. I love that one scripture can change someones perspective on a huge problem they were having. One lady we have been teaching was really struggling to understand the Resurrection and all sorts of things, so we have just been encouraging her to read the BOM. Just read it, we kept asking her and she really hadn't. But these past two weeks she has been reading quite faithfully, and she now believes the Resurrection, she believes that the Book of Mormon is true. I love the convincing power of the Gospel. I love that we are encouraged to find out for ourselves, that we don't just have to accept the truth because someone said so. We can learn from God that it is true. I love that! I love the convincing power of the Book Of Mormon, and I love the knowledge that I gain from reading it everyday. The Gospel truly is a miracle and I hope I can become even better capable to find people to teach. It can be scary, but something that does help, is looking at it with an eternal perspective. Try looking at the person as a child of God, one who needs the Gospel. We all need the Gospel and when we know that it makes it a lot easier to overcome our fears to be able to talk to them. I'm so grateful to have the Gospel. I know that this Church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that we have a living Prophet Thomas S. Monson who leads and guides this Church under the direction of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful to know all these things. I'm grateful for the personal relationship I have with my Heavenly Father. It is what gets me through everything. 
I love you Heaps. I pray for you often, and I hope that you have a wonderful week
Love Sister Benjamin


August 12, 2013

Mi Familia
This week was quite the emotional rollercoaster, but it was exactly what needed to happen. Heavenly Father was so aware of me this week. Not that he isn't other times, but I guess I just noticed it a lot more this week. Something I've learned my whole life, but especially on my mission, is that trials and adversities are necessary for our aided spiritual growth. Heavenly Father sent us here to become like him to literally learn to meet him at the level he is at, when we get back to him. I love the story of Michelangelo with the statue of David. He talks about how he could see David and what he could become even when he just had the huge block of marble. He talks about how he just carved away all the marble to release David to his full potential. I think Heavenly Father is the same way. Like it says in the scriptures, we are all just lumps of clay, here to perform our labors. And just as Michelangelo chipped away the chunks of marble to release David, Heavenly Father does the same for us. And this week a HUGE chunk of marble was chipped away from me this week. Through out the whole process, I learned A TON that has helped me so much. There was so many things placed in my path this week, that all combined, taught me how much Heavenly Father really does care about us.

-The first is that I finished the Book of Mormon this week. I believe it was no coincidence that I finished it this week. I acted on Moroni's promise at the end of the BOM and I asked God if the BOM was true, and once again I received a witness that it is true.

-The second is we had a Preach My Gospel Study with the Zone Leaders on Friday. We talked about the BOM and scriptures from the BOM that really helped us on our missions and our testimonies of the BOM. The spirit was so strong. I really needed that time to share my testimony. If we don't share our testimonies we lose them and I certainly did not want that. But what we talked about next was what I needed. We talked about 3 stages of missionary work. 
1. Plough
2. Sow
3. Harvest
We have to get out and find people to teach and weed out the ones who aren't interested at this time. We have to plant the seeds of faith in good soil. Then we get to harvest them into the waters of Baptism. Each stage is just as important as the other. And no matter what stage the work I am doing is in, it is important to my Heavenly Father. I need to be finding the joy in the small everyday miracles that occur instead of the big things that don't happen without lots of small steps of faith.

-The Third was Church yesterday. Never in all my life have I grown so much from going to Church then I have on my mission. It’s probably because I changed my attitude and learned that Church is vital to my Salvation. It’s where we go to renew our covenants with Heavenly Father and with out that we cannot be fully clean. District Speakers came, President and Sister Owen, and they talked a lot about trials and overcoming them. She told the story about Pres. Eyring’s Dad who weeded for a job. But his hips were in such bad shape that he was pulling himself along on his elbows. At the end of the day he went up, and they told him he had been picking the wrong weeds. That they had sprayed those and they would die soon anyway. And Brother Eyring just started laughing. Pres. Eyring asked him why are you laughing? You just spent a hard days work for nothing. And he said "we didn't come for the weeds, we came for the Savior." She then talked about that no matter what happens we cannot give up. We have to continue striving. What if we just needed that one more prayer, or that one more step of faith to receive the help that we needed. I then taught the Gospel Doctrine lesson and we talked about Joseph Smith’s experience in Liberty Jail and how he gained the help and strength he needed. I then bore testimony of the Savior, the spirit was so strong. I felt like my heart was going to burst. I'm so grateful for the Savior, for his willingness to choose the path He trod. One of my favorite quotes is from Pres Eyring: "It will comfort us when we must wait in distress for the Savior's promised relief that he knows, from experience, how to heal and help us...And faith in that power will give us patience as we pray and work and wait for help. He could have known how to succour us simply by revelation, but he chose to learn by his own personal experience."

So throughout this whole process I learned that I didn't come for the weeds, I came for the Savior. I didn't come on my mission or even to the earth to suffer trials and the "weeds" of life. I came to experience trials so that I could learn about my Savior’s great and eternal sacrifice. I came to develop God-like qualities that will help me become like God. And the best way to learn that is through adversity. It certainly isn't easy, but we wouldn't learn any other way. I now know that My Savior lives, that he does know me perfectly and he can heal my broken heart. My setting apart blessing talks about me being able to know that Jesus is the Christ and I can tell you that I definitely know that now, more then I ever have before. So a new theme I chose to have for the Rest of My Mission is the words to Savior Redeemer of My Soul
1. Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.
2. Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.
3. O’errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.

Through out the process of the mission we try our best to become like the Savior and be transformational teachers. And my best practice this week was seeking for the spirit above all else. We met with a Less Active and we were teaching about the BOM and committing him to read and pray to know it’s true. I really wanted to give a promised blessing that would really help him. I was sitting there and the thought came to my mind, promise him added peace and comfort every time he reads the BOM. So I did and I certainly Felt the spirit testify to me and then I testified of the BOM. I love when the spirit directs the very words that come out of my mouth.

Something else I've really been trying to work on is having a positive attitude and that for me has not been an easy task. I think I just want the big miracles, that I completely by pass all the small miracles that happen every day. I need to focus on the small miracles, because if my joy only comes because of the big things, then I'm not going to be very happy all the time. The true joy comes from serving the Lord, so I'm trying to improve my attitude and make sure that I show Heavenly Father that I do love the sacred trust that he has placed with in me. 
I love you Heaps! Thank you for your incredible example to me.
Love you Heaps
Sister Alexis Benjamin


August 4, 2013

Woot! Half way into the transfer with heaps of miracles placed in our path. It’s moments like these that make everything worth it. My wonderful core experience with God was being blessed with an incredible investigator, Daniel. We met him at the beginning of July and we had a great lesson and I was really excited and grateful that we had found him. But then we really didn't see him much after that. So I thought oh well I guess he's not ready, but we will try back later. So this week the traveling sisters were here and my companion and another sister saw him, and made an appt for Sunday (yesterday). We went back on Sunday and we taught him the Plan of Salvation. Towards the end of the lesson I really felt the presence of the Holy Ghost. It was so strong and my heart was pounding, and the thought came to my mind, over and over again, to invite him to be baptized. So you know what I did? :) I invited him to be baptized on the 24th of August. And guess what!! He said Yes! I was ecstatic. You could see this huge grin on my face. The first time on my mission when someone has said yes to baptism and actually meant it. After we left, my companion immediately said a prayer of thanks and gratitude for Heavenly Fathers help in that lesson. I'm still amazed. I'm so grateful that I am striving to be obedient and worthy, so that when those opportunities come I am ready. I'm not saying I'm perfect, not even close. Sometimes I wish I was because this whole life process would be a lot easier, but I am really trying.
Coffs Harbor
In my process to become a transformational teacher I really have been striving to use the scriptures in every lesson. Because I mean, who can say it better then the prophets and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The scriptures truly are so powerful and they give witness and truth to everything we teach as Missionaries. Or I guess more like we witness to the truth of the Book of Mormon. One lesson with a Less Active, we read the conversion story of Alma the Younger and how he acted on his core experience with God and he became the better man because of it. Another wonderful chapter in Romans 8 (thanks to my wonderful mom for sending that to me) talks about all the things being possible with our Heavenly Father. I love the comforting words of the scriptures. They are way better teachers then I will ever be. 

This week we really tried to be better about going out and finding people to teach. Because nothing happens on the mission until you find someone to teach. And I can't say that I always loved finding, and I think the biggest thing that holds me back is my fear. Whether it’s of what the people will say or if I'm afraid that I won't be able to say the right thing. I don't know. But we just decided to go finding and that feeling of fear crept in. You know just like in the scary movie when the scary music starts playing? That’s how I felt. And of course it wasn't that extreme. So I said a quick prayer that I wouldn't be afraid, and it totally worked. I was basically running from house to house being like who can I talk to next? And something else we have really tried to do is teach and testify from the very second you meet them. It really helps to give them no time to wonder what we truly believe. One lady we talked to said "well if your interested, I have a true copy of the Bible you can have." We told her that we had a Bible that we know to be the word of God,  and she said, "Oh that Mormon book?" And we said we know that's the word of God as well, but we read the Bible as well. They work together. She looked surprised, told us thanks but no thanks. But we were supposed to meet her, and we planted a seed so that maybe one day someone will harvest it.
 I truly am stunned at how much my Heavenly Father is truly in this work. He leads us to people, and we teach them and miracle after miracle continue to happen. I'm so grateful to be a missionary. We had Zone Training Meeting on Saturday and the Zone Leaders did an excellent job. One thing that I loved is what one of the Zone Leaders said. He said "If we truly understood how much a person truly needs the Atonement, we would shake HELL to get there." It made me think of the saying "Be the kind of person that when you wake up the in the morning Satan trembles and says oh no she's up again." The truth of the Gospel will go forth across all the earth, no matter what Satan does, and I want to be on the Lord's side. I'm so grateful that I was called to serve a mission here in Australia. I know this Church is true! I know that God lives and that he is in every second of this work. I know that there are people all around us prepared for this Gospel, we just have to get out there and find them. 

Love you heaps!
Have an INCREDIBLE week! 
I'll see you soon! 13 months left. I can't believe I have already been on the mish for 5 months. It feels like 2 seconds!
Love Sister Benjamin