December 16, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,
Wow. What a crazy crazy week. I can't believe that I have gone through a whole week again. It literally feels like 2 seconds. But that is missionary life and missionary time for ya. I really did love this week. I learned so much and for that I am so very grateful. I have no idea how I would handle being a missionary if it weren't for the things I learned. That's what pulls me through and I just love it so much.

My core experience with God this week was really receiving more knowledge and guidance for my life. I had great studies this week but Friday was my favorite. I had finished reading in the Book of Mormon that day, and I felt that I should study a conference talk. I was going to start in the beginning of the Ensign and go through like that but I really felt that I needed to study a specific talk. The one by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "The Moral Force of Women." Wow. Talk about an amazing talk! It really is so powerful. As I read the talk I couldn't help but think about all the amazing women in my life and the powerful moral authority they have had and still do have. But the one thing that really rings true to me is thinking about my Mum. One of the quotes that really stuck out to me that really personifies her is this, " A mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship." It then goes on to talk about the mother’s example leads her sons to "learn to respect womanhood, and incorporate discipline and high moral standards." It leads her daughters to "learn to cultivate their own virtue, and to stand up for what is right again and again however unpopular." I know my Mum led so much by example and because of that example her kids turned out right. I am so grateful for my mum, and the example and high standards she set for my family.
Another quote that really stuck out to me, which led to a lot of wonderful insights, was this "Whether you are single or married, whether you have borne children or not, whether you are old, young, or in between, your moral authority is VITAL and perhaps we have begun to take it and you for granted." As I was sitting there pondering the thought came to mind to pull out my patriarchal blessing. As I started to read it all these thoughts seemed to just flow right into my head. I had this overwhelming feeling about me and my future family. I can't express how it felt, words just wouldn't do it justice. I felt very strongly that the reason I am on my mission, among other things, is to cultivate and truly develop moral authority and to really understand the Gospel. This will help me later on in life but also my future family. I felt very strongly that I needed to be prepared for whatever happens and that is why my testimony and my faith need to be strong. I need to decide here and now never to deviate from my standards so that I can help my children and others grow stronger in their faith and dedication to Heavenly Father.

I just can't thank Heavenly Father enough for giving us the gift of the Holy Ghost to teach us what is true and keep us on the right track. And a scripture that came to my head that is one of my favorites really helped me to feel calm about the whole situation. Its Mosiah 2: 41 " And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it." I love this scripture because it is Heavenly Father showing us that as we live righteously and follow him and all the counsel he gives us, we will be blessed in all things both temporally and spiritually. What an incredible blessing and promise!

My experience this week in teaching as Jesus Taught is teaching in unity and the power that comes from it. Sister Lloyd and I have really been working on teaching in unity and as we have done so, with the help of Heavenly Father, of course, I have noticed great power and spirit in our teaching. One lesson in particular with our Recent Convert. She was talking a lot about wanting to share the Gospel with her friends and my companion and I both felt to share the same conference talk with her. We were able to teach in unity and power and I was so grateful to be able to have that opportunity. I know that Jesus taught 100% in unity with Heavenly Father and I want to be able to teach 100% in unity with the Holy Ghost. Because that is how people’s lives are changed and that is how people become converted.

Something else really wonderful happened this week as well. Heavenly Father really helped me to be humble this week and for that I am truly grateful. When we are humble we rely on Heavenly Father a whole lot more, because we realize we need him. I was really struggling this week feeling really discouraged and I didn't realize it at the time, but Heavenly Father had answered my prayer from earlier on in the week. I had prayed to understand what I needed to change and do better so that I could see more success. But after I did that I didn't feel all too great. So I talked to my companion and I got a priesthood blessing and such. But it wasn't until I heard this that it all came together. One of my companion's friends had written her this and she felt to share it with me. "When I first arrived on my mission, I had an idea of what I would do, and what I would accomplish. I think everyone sort of does. And when I came out on my mission, reality did not meet my expectations, and I really was disappointed. But only disappointed in myself. I thought, if I could only work harder, labor longer, or whatever, then maybe everything would be how I wanted it, or how I expected it to be. I have realized that this really isn't our work at all. So when reality doesn't quite match up with our dreams, that is okay. Because it’s not our work. It is the Lord's work. He stands at the head of it. We can be quite sure that if we are being obedient, and working hard and feeling the spirit, that we are doing all that is asked of us. We need to stop putting quotas and expectations on ourselves, or letting other people do the same. This is what leads to loss of hope. We can have the hope that our mission will be just what the Lord’s planned for it to be. Maybe that means no Baptisms. Maybe that means no re-activated less actives. Maybe our whole mission is one big garden of Gethsemane. There are a lot of maybes. But if we have our faith and hope centered in Jesus Christ, on his message and his Gospel, then nothing else really matters. Some people think that hope means hope in what we want. That isn't right. It's hope in Christ. It's hope in the eternities. We didn't tell the Lord we would only serve if we could actually see the fruits of our efforts. We just promised him that we would serve and work our hardest to labor in the field. No one told us that it would be easy, but everyone has said it would be worth it. If we tell ourselves that we have done nothing, and that it isn't worth it, our pride is getting in the way of the work. That may be harsh, but I know from personal experience that it is true."
So in a round about way I was taught that this isn't my mission at all. It truly is the Lord’s mission. And when He wants things to happen, He will make them happen. We should consider ourselves lucky to be able to servants in His Hands. So Helaman 15:3 comes to mind.
3 "Yea, wo unto this people who are called the people of Nephi except they shall repent, when they shall see all these signs and wonders which shall be showed unto them; for behold, they have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them." This is at the point when the Nephites the Lords chosen people are being chastened because of their wickedness and the Lord loves them enough to help them get back on track, by chastening them. Heavenly Father once again was helping me be that much better and able to represent him and for that I am grateful.

And on a more exciting note, throughout the course of my mission, as you can see from every letter I write, is how much I have come to love learning. It’s crazy to me because I never ever thought that I could love learning. I didn't really enjoy it at school. But I came to the conclusion that I didn't like it because I knew there would be a test. And the more I learned the harder and longer the test would be. And the thought of taking a test made me cringe. But now I've been able to come on a mission and have test free learning. How great it is! Ha :) I love learning which really is good because knowledge will put us so much further along in the next life. Truly the Christlike attribute of knowledge is a gift from God and I am so grateful to have gained so much on my mission. I truly have grown to love the scriptures. They bring great comfort and joy to my life.
I am so grateful that I have been able to come and serve the Lord for this time in my life. And I hope that as I continue onward I will learn to better able be a representative of Jesus Christ.
Love you
Sister Benjamin

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