November 24, 2013

Her beautiful new area.

Well this week has been absolutely crazy, but certainly in the best way possible. I love it. I love being a missionary and the wonderful blessings that come from serving the Lord. I had a lot of great experiences this week, and Heavenly Father has been so good to me. First off, He blessed me with a WONDERFUL companion. She is AMAZING.  I love her so much. We have gotten along so well and we just hit it off, and I knew that we would be a power companionship from the beginning. I knew that she was going to help me so much, and I hope to be able to help her. She was a visa waiter for 5 1/2 months so she already knows so much, so we could just start working. I just love her so much and I am so grateful for the wonderful person that she is.
The next is that Heavenly Father blessed me with a WONDERFUL area. I have only been in Toronto for 3 full days but I already love it. The people here are wonderful. They have welcomed us into their homes and have just been so loving and kind to us. It is all I could ask for in a new area. I love that the members are so willing to meet with us and help us out. We met with Bishop and the Ward Mission Leader, and they are both willing and ready to work.
Another wonderful blessing is the people. Seriously. One lady just got baptized last weekend, and we were able to meet with her and she is wonderful. She has such a powerful testimony, and she just wants to be able to do what’s right. She has set a great example for me. There is another lady  who is getting baptized in 2 weeks’ time, and she is really excited and it will be wonderful. I'm really glad I got to come here at this time. This lady is amazing and she is really excited to have this culture for her family. She is wonderful. Coming here has really helped me to see  that Heavenly Father really does prepare the hearts of his children to receive the Gospel when they are ready. Heavenly Father really is a God of miracles and I have really seen that just being here for a couple of days.
In my practice this week of becoming more like the Savior in my teaching I really tried to listen to the Spirit, because I had never met these people before and I just needed Heavenly Fathers help. Another miracle. We visited this man that was investigating the Church a while ago. We went there yesterday with the Ward Mission Leader and we had a great lesson with him. We talked a lot about the Book of Mormon, and that with faith, God will provide a way for all things. And the whole time I just kept feeling like we needed to invite him to be baptized, so after my companion gave very powerful testimony of faith in Jesus Christ and trust in him, I invited him to be baptized. And he said YES. When, we don't know at the moment because we couldn't set a date with him, but he is really wonderful, and we felt that he would be baptized soon, so we are really excited about that.
There is a lot of work to do here, and I am really excited to be a part of it. I am loving it. I have felt the spirit so much and really have been learning so much. This week I have been reading in the Book of Mormon in Helaman and it is just amazing to me how quickly people are in forgetting Heavenly Father in their lives. And it really struck me, that I can be forgetting him without even noticing it. Something my companion and I have discussed a lot is our prayers, and how when things are all well and fine that we don't stop praying but we sometimes get lazy in our prayers. So we both made the commitment to really have meaningful prayers no matter what is going on in our lives. We have both felt such a greater spirit come to us, even though we have only been working together for a couple of days. I feel Heavenly Father’s presence more and I feel a greater love from Heavenly Father.

Love you Heaps
Sister Benjamin


The Week of Miracles!

Well another week has come and gone and it has been a great week. I loved it, especially because it has been raining cats and dogs all week long. I love the rain. It makes everything smell so great and it completely put out all the fires. That is a relief for everyone. And it made things a whole lot colder just like it is at home this time of year. Still not nearly as cold but closer. It just feels weird for it to be hot and there are Christmas decorations everywhere. This week was completely amazing. I really learned so much. It all started from the Sisters conference last week. We talked a lot about obedience so my companion and I went through and found the ways we could be more obedient. So we have been trying to do that this week, and let me tell ya miracles have been happening all over the place. Heavenly Father truly does bless his children when they are obedient. Just like it says in D&C the blessings you receive are predicated on the obedience to the law. So I'm grateful that my companion and I could experience that blessing.

One miracle that we saw was trying President’s new survey approach. Holy cow that thing really works. When you go to the door you do more then just say "Hey we are the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."  In fact we don't even introduce the Church right off the bat. We come in and introduce ourselves and then ask them if they would have a few minutes that we could ask them a few questions. All the questions are about the lessons. It is just a clever way to open them up. Because we know that people are more inclined to answer your questions, because you are including them. Not just telling them that you have this big bag of Gospel that you want to throw at their face. My companion and I tried this on Tuesday. It was pouring rain and we knocked on this door that my companion had felt prompted to go to. So we knock and this girl answers. She is about 17, and we introduced ourselves and asked her name as we are standing there in the rain. So she invites us in. (And this is why rain is always good weather, because when the weather is not ideal more people are willing to let you in :) ) She asked, which I thought was quite funny, "you aren't here to kill me right?" I said no of course, but then my first thought was, but if I was I wouldn't tell you would I? I really tried hard to keep a straight face after that one. But then we moved on and she let us in. We sat down and she called her roommate to come out. So we started asking them some questions. Like "Do you have a belief in God, or What do you think the purpose of life is?" Just things like that and the way they answered the questions just allowed me to jump right into teaching the Restoration. I introduced the Church at that point and asked them more about their beliefs. One of the girls said she had been searching out a lot of different churches to try and find the truth. I told her that she had come to the right place. She laughed and so did I, so it broke the ice. But we continued and we related the Joseph Smith Story to her and said it was kind of like her situation. The spirit was just pouring into us, and I'm sure the girls felt it to because they kept saying things like "wow, I had never thought of that before, and wow that makes a lot of sense." Only thoughts the spirit would bring. So we get to the end of the lesson and we give them a Book of Mormon and ask them to pray about the things we had taught them. And we got their number and we are going to call them back sometime this week. We walked out and the Sun was shining and it was great. We got in the car and I was dumb founded. I admit I was a little skeptical of this approach but it worked right off the bat. :) Holy cow. Being a missionary is great. I just love being able to do this because it fulfills our purpose as missionaries to teach. And who knows what the girls are thinking and if they will investigate, but I know that Heavenly Father wanted us to teach them at that moment.

And it didn't happen once but twice. One of the traveling sisters came up and went on a trade off with me.  We tried the approach and we knocked on the door and this man totally didn't want to talk to us. You could see it on his face. So we asked him if we could ask him some questions and his demeanor totally changed. He let us in invited us to sit down and then called his wife and said "some really nice LDS girls are here to ask us some questions." So we asked and were again able to teach the whole first lesson. Holy cow. It was amazing. I loved it so much. It completely lifted my spirits knowing that Heavenly Father really is preparing people to hear the message of the Gospel.

In my practice this week as teaching as Jesus taught I really decided, after the sisters conference to teach powerfully, and not just go to lessons to be someone’s friend. We had many opportunities this week where we could have just sat and had a nice chat, but I was really trying to teach because that is my purpose as a missionary. And when you work hard enough it really works. We were doing service with a new member and we were just chatting and I felt like asking her about the Plan of Salvation. She is a new member so we went through the whole thing again and helped her to understand it even more. It amazed me that even when we are doing service we can still teach and help build and fortify other’s testimonies. We were able to teach a lot of lessons this week, and there definitely was a greater spirit about us.

Something that has really impacted my mission is learning to open my mouth and declare the truths of the Gospel to everyone. OF course I'm not perfect at it yet, but it is something that I will continue to learn on my mission and for the rest of my life. I have learned so much. Our great purpose as it says in D&C is to declare repentance unto this generation and if we spend all of our days doing that,  then it will be counted worthy before the Lord. I know that as we open our mouths and share what we know to be true, the spirit of the Lord will be even more abundant in our lives, and we will see the great immeasurable love Heavenly Father has for all of his children.

Oh and just to let you all know, I'm being transferred from Emu Plains and going to Toronto. When the Assistant called me to tell me that I was like "Toronto, Canada. That is really far away." Ha but no Toronto in Newcastle. It’s about 1 1/2 hours from the mission home. And get this! I'm training again. Opening a new area for sisters and training just like I did in Emu Plains. Crazy but all good. :) To be honest, when President called me to train I was nervous, and I for some reason just felt weird about it. Not like in a bad way but I was just really nervous, and thinking that it just wouldn't be good. I had all these doubts come to my mind that I hadn't trained my companion well, and that this next Sister would just have a huge trial because I wasn't going to be a good trainer. So I got down on my knees and prayed to Heavenly Father and asked for some comfort and guidance, because I just didn't know what to do. And then I had the thought to get a Priesthood blessing. So I called some of the elders and they were able to give a blessing yesterday. And it literally was one of the most powerful blessings I have ever had. Heavenly Father was able to tell me literally everything I needed to hear. And I just felt so much comfort. Heavenly Father told me of his love for me and that I was ready to train again. That I need not be worried about the future because he was taking care of it. He told me that there are people prepared and waiting for me in Toronto, and that miracles are waiting to happen. He told me he was proud of me and that I need not fear. I was really just so grateful. I felt this great warmth and comfort come to my body and I was so grateful that I was able to train again. I know that with Heavenly Father’s help that I can do anything.
Love you Heaps
Sister Benjamin


November 11, 2013

Dear Wonderful Family of Mine,
Ah this week was absolutely FANTASTIC! I loved every second of it. My core experience with God was Him answering my prayers. It seemed like we talked about prayer like all week. And I think it is something that we need to be thinking about and discussing, evaluating and improving because it is and should be something that we do every single day. We need to improve our relationship with our Heavenly Father, at least we need to on our end. And so we need to be taught and retaught and then apply the things we learn. In Sacrament meeting we talked about prayer. The 2nd counselor in the bishopric spoke about prayer and how it cannot just be some rote presentation. WE need to actually be speaking to him. It was a great reminder. He also talked about how when our prayers are answered it’s because we expect them to be. We know that Heavenly Father always answers prayers and so every single time we pray they will be answered. It’s just like the Story of Joseph Smith. He needed his question answered, so he prayed expecting an answer and look what happened. The Gospel was restored. How incredible is that? We can have just as powerful experiences through our prayers. Heavenly Father will speak to us and we just have to be willing to listen.

In my practice as teaching as Jesus taught we had a lesson with a lady.  We were trying to help her resolve her concerns and let her know that Church can be a revelatory experience if we let it be. But the lesson was pretty incredible all at the same time. The spirit literally guided my words, it was incredibly powerful.  We had a lesson about Humility in Relief Society and the teacher felt prompted to have my companion and I share our testimonies about selfless service and humility. When I got up to do so, the Spirit was so powerful. I had no idea what to say, but the words just came to mind. I thanked Heavenly Father and all of them for letting me be the instrument in His hands to serve all of them.  I was so grateful at that moment for the amazing gift of the Holy Ghost. Without him I would be completely lost.

Each and every one of us needs to live worthily of the spirit. No matter what stage of life we are at. We can't just expect to do whatever all week long and then go to Church expecting the Spirit to be with us all the time. IF we want the spirit we have to live and breathe for it. I've come to learn on my mission, that life is impossible without the spirit. I can't think of how many times the Spirit has literally stopped me from doing things. And If I wouldn't have listened who knows what would have happened. All of you, please live worthy of the Spirit. Please! Just do it!  Your life will have so much more direction and you will be happier. You will be able to do all that Heavenly Father asks because you will know through the spirit. We can't waste the time we have here. Just as Moroni 10:32 says we must Come unto Christ, and rid ourselves of all ungodliness.

I talked a little bit about Fast and Testimony meeting last week, but I just want to reiterate a couple of things. IT really impacted my whole week and Heavenly Father really helped me to see the truths that were testified of in sacrament meeting to me this week.
First off happened on Monday. I had really felt the power of Eternal Families, and then one of my Very Best Friends who just got married this year and had a baby, testified to me of eternal families and I could just feel the power of her testimony and it made me really grateful to have an eternal family of my own. The next was on Tuesday. WE got to attend the Temple. Oh how I love the temple. But I just felt like I needed it more this week then before. So I prayed before the Session started to really be able to learn what Heavenly Father wanted me to learn. And because of that I was able to pick up on so much more from the Temple then I had before. It was such a powerful experience. I received the knowledge and revelation from Heavenly Father that I needed and I was so grateful for it. It truly is so amazing how Heavenly Father really is in every detail of our lives. The next was on Wednesday in our District Meeting. One of the elders in the District did a training on the Atonement. Man the spirit was so thick. And once again it was reiterated to me the power of the Atonement. I had felt that on Sunday and this was just another witness of the truth of the Atonement. The next was on Thursday and Friday. OH those days were just beautiful. We had a Sisters Conference with all the Sisters in the Mission. All 34 of us. We were trained on basically everything there is to be trained on in the mission field. And it was exactly what I needed. I felt the spirit, I was able to learn new things, and testify. It is amazing to have the spirit work in our lives. Ahh I just loved being with all the Sisters too. And in the next 3 months we are doubling numbers and having 30 more sisters come into the mission. So we all need to be prepared to Train, and be Sister Training Leaders. Which is just really exciting. I feel way more prepared and ready to do so now because of the Conference. I love meetings though. I just learn so much. Something though that really struck was something that Sister Howes said. "If you are almost obedient, you almost get the blessings, but if you are always obedient you always get the blessings." Obedience really is key. It lays the foundation for everything. I'm so grateful that I was able to come to an obedient mission, and be able to do this work for Heavenly Father. IT is exactly what I needed and I"m so grateful that I get to be a part of it.
Love you Heaps
Sister Benjamin


What's Love Got To Do With It?

"What’s Love Got to Do With it?"  Love has EVERYTHING to do with missionary work. If I don't love the work enough, I don't work as hard.  If I don't love my comp enough, the spirit can't be there as abundantly as we need. If I don't love myself enough, I'm way too hard on myself.  If I don't love the Savior enough, I don't trust him enough. If I don't love the Gospel enough, my testimony won't grow and I won't want to share it. If I don't love the members enough the missionary work can't go forward, or at least not through me.

This week has been absolutely incredible. The Spirit has been so powerful this week, and I have loved every second of it. I'm just amazed by Heavenly Father and how much he continues to love me and to bless me. I am a very imperfect servant, but he continues to bless me and propel me forward. Seriously I don't know where I would be without him.

Tuesday we had interviews and they were great. I just love President Howes and Sister Howes to pieces. They have both blessed my experience as a missionary so much, and I wouldn't be who I am today without them. Something Sister Howes and I discussed is pride. But pride in a different way than I had ever thought about before. When we are so hard on ourselves and saying "Oh I don't need others help, I can overcome my weakness on my own." We are being prideful. By not letting other people help us, we are being prideful. By not confiding in those who are specifically sent to us to help us and to bless us. I certainly used to be that way with everything, but my mission certainly has changed that about me. Now, I let others around me help me. And you know what- it helps build relationships. So for that I am grateful. And I'm not sure that everyone around me wants/needs to know my problems, but on a mission things are certainly different then back home.

My core experience with God this week was Him really showing me His love for me. During personal study this week I just felt a bit weird, so I had the thought to pray. I literally poured out my whole soul to Heavenly Father. I got everything off my chest that I had been feeling. And he comforted me in a way that I haven't really felt before. Warmth just seemed to enter my whole body. Then I felt embraced by his love. It was literally an AMAZING experience. Every concern I seemed to have was swept from my mind. It was wonderful. :) I love Heavenly Father and I am glad he is watching out for me.

Wednesday we had Zone meeting and one of my zone leaders goes home in 2 weeks time. But I love that even until the very end he is serving the Lord. We have gotten to become quite good friends and it certainly will be an interesting experience without him in the zone anymore. But he gave a training on personal prayer and it was exactly what I needed to hear. He talked about the 3 elements that our prayers need to have. 1: Humility. WE should be humble. We are speaking to Almighty God. He has all power and can do anything and we, as the scriptures say "unworthy creatures",  need to acknowledge that. We don't lead our lives, Heavenly Father does. He gave us the opportunity to come to the earth and gain a body and learn and grow. But He is still in control. So humility is key. When we are humble we receive answers to our prayers. 2. Virtue-Clean, Pure, Chaste, Undefiled and Modest. Clean and pure hearts, minds, words and actions are all part of this. Heavenly Father wants us to be clean and be the masters of ourselves, not Satan and the bad thoughts he puts in our minds. He asked us if someone were to walk into our brain, what would they find? Would they find clean and virtuous thoughts? Would they find negative thoughts about ourselves and others? Would they find anything vulgar, unclean or anything of that sort? Or would they find the Savior and his teachings, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our families and so on? 3. Charity. Without charity we are nothing. When we have charity we are like Christ. When we develop Charity we will know the Savior, and be able to stand before him with confidence because we did our best to become like him. So in our prayers are we asking for Charity, Virtue, and Humility? Or are we still thinking that we can dictate what goes on? I know this is something I need to work on. I need to let Heavenly Father be the one who leads and guides my life, not the other way around. "When we really understand the true nature of our relationship with God, then prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part." (Bible Dictionary Prayer) When we really understand that he is our Father and we are his children, it makes it so much easier to pray to him and have a conversation with him, tell him we love him, and so on. Not to just make him the repairman. Yes he does that as well, but He loves us, and he wants to know us!

This fast day I had a pretty powerful experience. I fasted for missionary work and the things that I could do to be a better missionary, and how I could propel the work forward. And literally all day, the idea of working with members kept coming back to my mind. And I know that that is something that is preached to us all the time, but I guess I just have to be whacked on the head to really understand. In sacrament meeting, all the moms who have children out on missions got up and bore their testimonies, and I had the thought there to work with them. Show you love them, help them do their missionary work as well. The Lord really is hastening his work and as President Monson said, "Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together." It really is the time. And something we have been doing to get them excited for it, is giving them a BofM Shoe. We got old missionary shoes from our flat and we wrote scriptures and quotes about missionary work all over them. Then we gave it to 6 families in the ward and asked them to prayerfully invite someone to participate in some sort of Gospel related activity or anything like that and once they have done that they can then pass the shoe onto someone else in the ward, all the while sharing their miracles with the person they pass it to. It has gotten quite a few of the members excited and it makes us excited too. I love when people get excited about missionary work! :)
Thank you for all that you do for me. Love you Heaps
Sister Benjamin