Just Another Day in Paradise

Mi Familia,

Well, guess what? We are staying in Toronto for another 6 weeks. And as Sister Training Leaders. I am so excited. WOOOT!
This week, words do not even begin to express what I learned this week and how I changed. The Lord's plan is the best for us and as we heed his counsel, then the blessings come. We had 3 sets of exchanges this week and it was crazy but wonderful. To say that I'm grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ just would not seem to do it justice. This week I learned powerful lessons which have molded my character/nature even further. When we were on trade offs, the sister I was working with had set up a member present lesson that we both were a little apprehensive about. This woman who was coming had just received some pretty devastating news and she was very down. We called her to see if she still was coming, she said yes and so we went. The investigator we were visiting has had an addiction to smoking for the last 30 years and she is struggling to overcome it. This member who came with us has also had an addiction to smoking for the last 30 years. But her case is different. Just 1 month before, she had quit smoking. She shared her beautiful story with the investigator, and the spirit just filled the room. I could feel it pulsing through me. As we listened to her bear her powerful testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the investigators perspective began to change. She wanted to try again to quit and it was all because this wonderful member would come and share her powerful testimony. But as in all things, more concerns usually come out before the true concern comes. As she told us, her concern, I felt the spirit sharing with me that this was the real concern. I began to pray for the words to say. And what came to mind is that the Lord does not expect immediate perfection, just immediate progress. And we should expect the same of ourselves. We committed her to try small and simple ways now to cut back and she agreed. As we left, the member thanked us so much for asking her to come with us. That she felt so much better and stronger then she had before. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed her to come with us, that He was aware of her needs and ours as well. 

After we finished the exchange we were discussing how it went and my companion and I both were brought to tears, literal sobs. This experience was definitely my core experience with God this week. My companion was expressing to me how moved she was by the amazing sacrifices the sisters made to be here on their missions. It is awe inspiring to look and listen to these sisters and hear their powerful stories of conversion and finding the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. As we continued to discuss this I felt this overwhelming sense of ingratitude for the blessings the Lord had given me all my life. I have been blessed with so much and I just took everything for granted. To hear what these sisters had given up to become what they are now, I just couldn't help but think, What have I done with these blessings?, How have I shown the Lord how grateful I am? As I looked back I began to realize how many amazing blessings the Lord has given me. Such as my INCREDIBLE family (they are the best, but I guess I'm a little biased), having the Gospel from my infancy, living in this time with the restored Church on the earth today and so many other things. I began to feel so small and insignificant and I just couldn't believe that I could be so blessed. As all these thoughts were running through my head, I had a strong prompting to say a prayer with my companion and only a prayer of complete and utter gratitude to the Lord for my bounteous blessings. As I began to pray I thanked Heavenly Father for everything I could possibly think of. It was amazing to me that as I said each thing I felt the spirit more and more, clearly defined in my heart. I gained a witness then and there that Heavenly Father was real and a tangible being, who I could actually feel and speak with. I felt such a strong connection with my Heavenly Father at that point that we literally began to weep. The spirit filled the room and filled my heart with the love of God. I thought my heart would burst. I am so grateful and moved beyond words for the power of prayer and for the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father. As I was reminded by a fellow missionary cousin, gratitude really is the key to true happiness. And just as Amulek testifies, shall we do the same.
 Alma 34:38
 38 That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.

In my practice as Jesus Taught, I learned the art of NEVER giving up on someone you teach. We felt to go and visit an investigator, so we did. We were talking to him and he told us of the concerns he had and how he wasn't sure if he wanted to continue our visits. But through the spirit We were able to help him have the desire to continue. As we were talking I felt strongly that if he would continue to meet with us that his initial concerns would become as nothing. So we invited him to pray and we set another appointment for Saturday. We went over and he told us that he had prayed and he had received and I quote "an overwhelming feeling to keep an open mind to what you will say." Wow. I couldn't help but smile. We both testified that this answer had come from God and after we were able to have a powerful lesson about the nature of God. I am so grateful that we didn't give up. Yes, Satan tried to get in the way and he still might try, but we know God wants us to teach him. I am so grateful for the spirit as our third companion in this work. He is the best companion and guide we could ever ask for.

Another wonderful experience we had this week was meeting with an inactive family in the ward.   We've been visiting them quite a bit lately and their hearts seem to be quite open. We shared a lesson with them on Saturday night, and can you say transformational? The next morning they  were early to Church all dressed up with smiles on their faces. They stayed the whole time and loved it. They stayed the whole time. Miracles. :)

In my studies this week I learned so much about the Atonement. For the past few weeks I've been studying the Atonement and I've learned so much. There is no greater gift that we could ever receive then the Atonement. This is what allows us to be "one" with God, to repent and be forgiven, to overcome the Natural man and become a disciple of Christ. But that does not come without imperfection and weakness. We must have something to overcome. There must be opposition in all things, or as Paul states "a thorn in the flesh." (2 Cor 12:7) With these thorns comes the opportunity for us to humble ourselves and realize that we can't do anything without the Lord. As a missionary the spirit is with you so much, that it seems that every imperfection of your character is put under a magnifying glass that shows you how weak you are by yourself. But as I've learned many times God makes up for our weakness and imperfection. With the amazing gift of the Atonement we can do all things.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

The measure of God's love is amazing and I can't even begin to comprehend it. This song seems to illustrate it quite well.
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me
Confused at the Grace that so fully he profers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me, Enough to die for me
Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me.
I know this Church is true and I am so glad to be serving here in Australia.
Love you all
Sister Benjamin

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