How Sweet It Is...

My Dear Wonderful Family and Friends,
What a week! A very great week! I really learned a lot this week, and it has changed my mission for the better. I am loving being in Toronto. The area is absolutely gorgeous. The Lake just ahh. It makes me feel so happy . :) I love the water. Just looking at it makes me so grateful for God's beautiful creations. I think we take the Earth for granted. We really should appreciate it more. The beautiful blue sky, or the wonderful thunderstorms, the mountains, the valleys, green trees, flowers, the SNOW, the sunshine, and so much more. Everything Heavenly Father made just for us. So we could truly be grateful for it.

I have really loved being here and getting to know the members. Our Ward Mission Leader is fantastic. We go over there every Friday night for Dinner and Missionary Coordination Meeting. He and His wife are such sweethearts. They found a little store that sells all sorts of American candy and cereal and every time we have gone there they have gotten something from home for us. They are so sweet. They had us try a Tim Tam Slam. But a legitimate one with Milo and Tim Tams. Oh it was so good Ha. :) They are just fantastic people, as are all the other people here. I have been exposed to many different cultures in this area. Samoan, Tongan, Filipino, American, Australian, Swedish, South African, Mandarin-Chinese, Indonesian-Chinese and so on. So many different kinds of people but they are all wonderful, and I love them all. :) It was great too, in the spirit of thanksgiving, we were going and teaching people about gratitude. One Family invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner, and she went online and found all these American recipes. It tasted so good. Just like the big Thanksgiving meal we have at home.

A great experience I have had this week is trying to develop charity on a more personal and powerful level. Charity has been something that I have been trying to develop throughout the course of my mission, and I'm sure it will be an attribute that I strive to develop for the rest of my life. My companion and I really are trying to help the people here have more charity, and then help ourselves have more charity. So we made it a goal for this transfer to study and develop charity. So far it has been a really wonderful experience. So this week in my study of the Book of Mormon, I've been reading about Samuel the Lamanite and the time right before the Savior visits the Nephites. As I did so I just sat back and pondered on what I was reading and the spirit just started to flood through me. It was one of the most powerful times I have felt the spirit on my mission. I learned that I need to study the entire Book of Mormon through a lens. And the lens is a lens of God's love for his children. The pattern and power of love that God has for his children is truly miraculous and I am just beginning to scratch the surface. As I have been doing this, this week the words on the pages just seem to come straight to life. Heavenly Father truly does love all of his children. And I know that as I do this I will better be able to testify to his children of the love He has for them. And it has already started to affect everything else that I do. One evening we were driving home to go and start planning and she was saying something to me and I just had this overwhelming feeling of God's love for her. It was such a strong feeling, my chest was burning and it literally moved me to tears. I couldn't hold them back and I was trying to tell her this and then we both just cried. It was a really powerful experience. I know that Heavenly Father knows me so well. He gave me an incredible companion. I love her. We have learned so much from each other, in the short time that we have been together. I have had some of the most powerful companionship studies sessions with her this week. We just both love studies so much and it makes me happy to have a companion who enjoys it just as much as me. :)

Another powerful testimony to me of God's love for his children is when we were trying to follow up with an investigator the Elders previous to us had been teaching. We called him and made an appointment and everything. We got there, knock knock. And no one answers. Now this is the 3rd time that week that we had tried to catch up with him but he just never seemed to be home. We looked at our planners and realized that a lady in the ward lives right next door to this guy. So we both felt strongly to go and knock on her door. As we did, she answered and she just got this huge smile on her face. She invited us in and we chatted had the usual get to know you game. Then we watched a Mormon Message with her. The new one about Christmas. And we talked about in the spirit of Christ and Christmas, something that she could give up or be better at as her gift to the Savior. And as we just sat listening and letting her think about it, the spirit was just so strong. I felt this intense feeling of God's love for her. And I knew she was feeling it too, and all 3 of us just couldn't help but be teary eyed. She said she had been feeling a little bit down this week and that our visit was exactly what she needed. It was an answer to my prayers for sure, and it was just amazing to me that Heavenly Father would lead us directly too her, because he knew she needed the visit. Ahh. I just love being a missionary.

In my practice this week to become more like the Savior, I really tried to listen to the people and listen to the spirit. And let me tell ya, it isn't always the easiest experience to have. We went over to our investigators house and we were sitting on the porch, and it’s hot and I'm sweating in places that I haven't probably sweat before. Just all over my whole body. It felt really gross. But hey just the joys of summer right? But I knew I needed to pay attention to this man because I knew that if I did something amazing would happen. So we started to talk about the Book of Mormon and he immediately had all these questions. I did my best to stay calm and listen to him and answer his questions through the spirit. And this amazing thing happened. The Holy Ghost just began to fill my whole body. It was such a strong feeling, and I just knew exactly what to say to this man. He had had a lot of concerns previously and I knew that all the questions were just him trying to give us something else so we wouldn't address his concern. But the spirit was able to tell me his concern. I was able to testify to him, as a representative of Jesus Christ that the Atonement would help him overcome his fears and that it would give him the enabling power that he needed. Holy Cow. I couldn't help but get a little teary eyed again. The spirit certainly touched my heart and I know it touched his. Even if that was the only powerful experience I had on my mission it would change my life for the better. I'm truly grateful that I get to experience the wonder and amazement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these the latter days.

Something I think that has been the most influential part of my mission is me learning about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Before my mission I could tell you what it was but I could never tell you how it felt. I mean I've had occasions in my life where the Atonement has worked really powerfully in my life, but not the enabling side of it. I knew the Atonement helped me to be forgiven of my sins, but I don't think I really understood how it was the enabling power to everything in my life. The Atonement truly is amazing. It is so AMAZING that our mortal minds cannot comprehend the magnitude of it. The Atonement is something that I have truly come to love and cherish on my 
mission. It makes everything that happens possible. It allows me to overcome weaknesses into strengths, to overcome the natural man. That is something that has and still is happening on the mission, and I'm sure it will continue through out the rest of my life. But an experience that has really helped me grow is the time I spent in Grafton, but particularly the first couple weeks. I was really struggling with a lot of homesickness and struggling with feeling all alone and not being good enough and all the crazy things that go through my mind. I just felt useless. Satan had really grasped a strong hold upon my heart. It felt just like in the end of Helaman and the beginning of 3 Nephi. Satan was trying really hard to prevent me from being a missionary. I just got to a point that I really couldn't seem to keep going. I felt so weak and I didn't know what to do. But I got down on my knees and I prayed. I prayed for such a long time and probably harder than ever before and I told Heavenly Father everything that was on my mind. All the feelings I had been experiencing and all the problems that I was facing. And after I stopped praying and I just sat there. And this overwhelming feeling of love and strength came into my body. I felt this strength propelling me forward. I knew in that moment more then I ever have before that my Savior Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father knew who I was. That Jesus Christ really had gone through, and overcome all the mistakes and problems and sorrows and hardships that I had and will experience. My testimony of the Atonement at the moment became unshakable. Just like Jacob says in the Book of Mormon, when Sherem is trying to shake him from his faith, but he tells him that his faith was unshakable. And that’s how I felt. That Satan didn't have hold upon me anymore and that I could keep going. The Atonement literally enabled me to move forward. It was an incredibly liberating experience. So as I learned this I've studied a lot about the Atonement as well, and still I'm only scratching the surface. But the Atonement literally means "At one" with God. Our purpose in this life is to prepare to meet God, but to "meet" him at the same level He is at when we go back to him. The Atonement makes this possible. Because the Savior overcame physical death through the Resurrection and spiritual death through his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, we too through his Grace and Mercy can overcome anything that we are faced with. Throughout the course of my mission I have come to realize the REAL POWER OF THE ATONEMENT OF JESUS CHRIST. It enables me and allows me to perfect, or in other words fulfill my potential to become like God. I know the Atonement is real. That Atonement helps me every day. It is incredible. Use the Atonement, humble yourselves and allow the power of his Grace to change you. I promise you that you will fulfill the potential that Heavenly Father has for you, and you will see the change in your life.
 I know that this truly is God's work and I'm grateful everyday that I get to be an instrument in His hands.
Love you
Sister Benjamin

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