Love you all! :)

Wow. Week of miracles! We are so so blessed! 

My core experience with God this week would have to be the baptism of the four most beautiful children in the whole world. Their baptism was incredible. The spirit was so strong. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. They literally were glowing. I spoke about Baptism and I couldn’t help but feel the spirit and look in their smiling faces and just feel the immense love their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for them.
It made me think about the example of the Savior when he comes and visits the Americas, and blesses the little children.  In 3 Nephi 17:20-24
 20 And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And anow behold, my joy is full.
 21 And when he had said these words, he awept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and bblessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
 22 And when he had done this he wept again;
 23 And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.
 24 And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and aencircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.
I love that these children were able to grow and learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think they know more then I do. It has been amazing to be able to teach them. They have incredible faith and they are just amazing. I remember frequently sitting with them and them being able to understand fully everything we would teach. They would have incredible questions and they would just be full of the desire to learn all that they could. They read from the Book of Mormon everyday. They are so much more dedicated then I was at their age. They are all under the age of 12 and they are so ready to continue to build up the Church here. 
 Well this week I continued to learn the lesson of Self control. This week I was studying a few conference talks and so many things stuck out to me. I’ve tried my best to apply them and I have noticed a real change within myself. I had so many moments this week when my control was being tested, but I would just sit back and think of the Savior and it would be so much easier. I felt stronger than I was last week, I felt stronger because the Savior was the one helping me. One experience I had was when I was studying. I read a particular talk and I began to feel a weight in my chest. I felt that I wasn’t completely repentant of something I thought I had repented of. I kept reading but the thought would not go away.
I got down on my knees and began to pray fervently to my Heavenly Father. I was ‘real’ with Him. I told Him exactly how I felt. I let it all out. I prayed so hard, and I didn’t even realize how long I had been on my knees. But as I sat there listening to Heavenly Father, the sweetest peace came into my heart. I felt this literal weight being lifted from my shoulders. I felt completely clean, I felt loved and I felt that I was ready to conquer the world. I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I felt like a new person and I was so grateful that Heavenly Father would answer my prayer so quickly and so readily. 
In a talk that I read, a quote by President David O. McKay really stuck out to me. He said “Spirituality is the consciousness of victory over self, and of communion with the infinite. Spirituality impels one to conquer difficulties and acquire more and more strength. To feel one’s faculties unfolding and truth expanding the soul is one of life’s sublimest experiences.”
Having self control is spirituality. It is amazing. The spirit is more powerful and closer when you are in control not anyone else.
I’m glad I learned this because it seemed that day there was no end to the test of faith that occurred. People we met that day, seemed all to want to try and battle me to lessen my degree of faith. But little did they know that Heavenly Father had prepared me. Heavenly Father knew this would happen so He allowed me to have this powerful experience so that I could stand up for what I believed in all day long. It felt so good to be able to testify of the truth. To tell people that I know that God lives and that He does forgive us, that He loves and us and He wants us to return to live with Him again.
One experience I really loved was on an exchange with Sister L. We saw two women sitting on benches waiting for the bus. We walked up to them and we separated and I had never done that before. I had never ever taught someone all by myself. But thank goodness for the spirit. We were able to talk about so much and especially Family History. She told me that she knew this Church was true and that the Book of Mormon was the word of God. I really didn’t even have to say much. I invited her to church and she seemed so excited to come. I love when you meet people so prepared by the Lord.
This week has been incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better week. There was still a couple of rough patches, but Heavenly Father has been watching out for us. I love this area and I love this ward. I’m grateful to have witnessed such a change in them since the time I’ve been here.

I've learned so much this week about what it means to really be a sanctified messenger of the Lord. I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father blessed me with this opportunity to serve.
Love you all
Sister Alexis Benjamin


April 21,2014

Wow. What an incredible week. I can't believe its already the beginning of another week.
I learned so much this week that I don't even know where to begin.
My core experience with God this week was certainly learning the lesson of self-control. As I mentioned this last week one major theme that I learned from General Conference was that of self-control. So this week I made it my goal to really focus on controlling myself more so that the spirit could be more powerfully with me. But I learned so much this week that I cannot do it alone. As I started to try to gain more control, of my thoughts, emotions, and the things I'm trying to work on, it seemed that it just became so much harder. I was having more trouble then I had had before and it was really worrying me. So at this point I was praying to Heavenly Father and asking Him what I should do. And I didn't really get an answer until I was sitting with you and Sister Lloyd. I felt that I needed a blessing. I needed the extra strength to help me to keep going. As you know I was promised in the blessing to have the spirit with me much more powerfully, that I would be able to feel it in the very fibre of my being. And let me tell you that certainly has come true.
Just even the next day the spirit was just filling my whole body and I felt incredible. Heavenly Father guided me and it felt amazing. But if nothing else I learned the lesson of patience in all of this. I learned that if I want to change, I have to want it. I have to want to develop these things, such as self-control, and I have to patiently wait for it. I had to be willing to put my faith and trust in the Lords hands and allow him to help me and change me when I was ready, and when He was ready as well.
On Saturday we had a PMG study with the Zone Leaders and we talked about Patience and one of the scriptures that ELDER M shared really stuck out to me.
It was the story in Alma 17:9-11. This is at the time when they are praying and asking to have even just a portion of the spirit so that they might be able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.

9 And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct.

10 And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted.

11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

And I love that as they prayed for it they received the spirit. The Lord blessed them to feel comforted. But at the same time He told them that they would need to be patient and long suffering, all the while being a good example, and then the Lord would bless them to become as they desired. As EM read this to us I felt the spirit witness to me that this is exactly what Heavenly Father is expecting of me. He is telling me that He will make me an even more effective instrument in His hands but that it will not be easy. That I will have to work at it, but that I do not have to feel weak, or feel that I have to do it alone. He has promised me and all of us the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We can be comforted and have the strength to combat the natural man and overcome the things that we face.

In my experience as teaching as Jesus Taught we had an amazing lesson on exchanges with a wonderful woman from Fiji. She is incredible. She had just met with the sisters one time before and this time they were planning to teach the restoration. So we met up with her and sat in a very busy square and opened with a prayer. Immediately the spirit rushed in. She is from a Hindu background and she doesn't really even understand who God is. As we testified to her of her relationship with her Heavenly Father and that the Church is once again on the earth today, she began to weep. We told her of her Savior Jesus Christ, and how anything that she is struggling with can be overcome in and through the Atonement. As we said this light began to come into her eyes. I felt the spirit burning in my chest and I felt once again witnessed to me that this Church is true and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are real and that they do love us personally and perfectly.

Another great miracle this week was on another exchange with SISTER S. Wow. Talk about incredible spirit. We went to a lesson with a less active and her partner. And initially he wasn't going to sit in with us, but we invited him to and together we read from the Book of Mormon. We talked about the story in Mosiah 24:13-14 and how the Lord eases our burdens, that he doesn't always take them from us, but he does prepare away for us to overcome them and get through them. As we did they both opened up to us and told us of how they had been struggling lately because their real estate was kicking them out of their house. And they said this is exactly what they needed to hear. She said she had been praying the day before for what to do, telling the Lord that she would give up anything for them to be able to find a place to live. She said as soon as she hung up the phone the agent called back and told her that she would extend their time until next week for them to find a place to live. As she shared this experience with us the spirit was powerful, and it witnessed to all of us the truth of the things we had read. We invited both of them to attend Church with us on Sunday and they both said yes. Her partner had never been to Church before nor taken the lessons. But after the closing prayer I felt strongly to invite him to take the lessons with the missionaries and he said yes. And apparently they came to Church on Sunday and the both really enjoyed themselves. :) Ahh Miracles. Incredible. :)

Another experience we had this week, really testified to me that people will make themselves known to you. On another exchange with SISTER T, we were out street contacting and a security guard from one of the stores made eye contact with me quite a few times, but we were down the road talking to others. But as we were walking back up the road to go home for dinner, he walked up to us and started asking us all of these questions, asking us what Church we belonged to and many other things. We told him who we were and what we were doing. He then asked, I'll go tell my manager that I'm taking my break now and we can have a chat. And so we obviously are like "great! Let's do it!" So we went and sat down with him and he was asking us so many questions, but as I listened to all of them, I kept feeling like the real only thing he needed to understand at that point was the doctrine of the Apostasy and Restoration of the Gospel. So as we sat on a crowded busy street we testified to him of the Prophet Joseph Smith and shared the restoration with him. It was incredible to me that even though there were people everywhere we were still able to feel the spirit that strongly. He had to end his break after that but we set up another time to meet with him.
I love experiences like that. I love that when we show our faith, when we are out there doing the Lord's work he will blesses with people to teach. As we talked with everyone, many of them didn't want to listen, but He did and he made himself known to us.

I was also so grateful this week that we had the chance and opportunity to celebrate Easter. My goodness. That was powerful. I love that we have that special day to think of Him and celebrate His life, and that He lives again. :) It saddened me though to see all the people who seemed to walk around and not have any clue who the Savior was. We talked to so many people who didn't even know why we had Easter. They just thought it was another public holiday. But it certainly helped strengthen my testimony as we were able to share with them about Jesus Christ and why we really do celebrate Easter.
I am so grateful to have this knowledge, to be able to know for my self that Jesus is the Christ. It is incredible.
I love you all
Thank you for your prayers and continued support
Sister Alexis Benjamin


April 14, 2014

To the greatest family and friends eva! :)

This week, ah I just learned so much. It was wonderful! I feel so indebted to the Lord and so deeply grateful for the infinite power of His grace. In District meeting this week I had a really eye opening experience as we discussed forgetting ourselves and going to work. One of the sisters spoke of the song "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." It really helped me to understand what it means to forget myself and serve the Lord. The verses she quoted really touched my heart. This man speaks of seeing the struggles of men, helping them and then seeing his own problems solved because of it, and then blessings being granted unto him 100 fold. Verse 6 & 7 struck a chord with me.
In pris'n I saw him next, condemned
To meet the traitors doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues i stemmed
And honored him mid shame and scorn.
My friendships utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
"of me thou has not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
fear not, thou didst them unto me."
As I read this my mind began to ponder upon what this truly meant and my thoughts were turned toward the Savior, and his final days here as a mortal being. How he literally bled from every pore and his blood ran chill, meaning he had not more to give. He fell into the hands of His enemies, who whipped and beat Him nigh unto death. He had a crown of thorns placed on His head. And as He made His long walk to His death, His cross placed upon His back, He fell to the earth exclaiming His exhaustion, but because He understood the work for Him to do, He continued on. He finished the fight. He was nailed to the cross, and crucified for our sins and transgressions. But then three days later, he broke the bonds of death and was resurrected. His flesh was weak, his blood ran chill, but His free spirit cried "I will." In every way for us, this is the example that we should follow. The Savior forgot himself completely. He moved from one life saved to the next. He never stopped turning hearts to the Father and he helped us all see and understand who God really is. And this is what it means for us to forget ourselves and go to work.
In 2 Nephi 9:18  But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.
As we endure our own crosses of the world, and give more and more of ourselves we will be able to inherit the Kingdom of God. But as in all things our flesh is weak. We are natural men and women, but just as the Savior did, we can choose to overcome it. We can choose to let our free spirit cry out and we can be as the Savior, giving all we have until the end.

In Mosiah 2:21  21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
I read this scripture from King Benjamin earlier this week and I thought it went along with this quite well. We literally are moving from one moment to the next only because of the help our Heavenly Father gives us each and every day. We are so helpless on our own. The Savior gave everything He had and He still continues to give it to us, so no matter what else we do, we are still unprofitable servants before Him. We are always indebted to Him. But to him all that He asks is that we keep the commandments. And then we are doing all we can. We serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength and then we can return to live with Him again.
As I continued to ponder this and understand more of this General Conference came along. All the wonderful inspired messages, really helped me to understand even more of what I can do to become more like the Savior each and every day, and give more of myself, and help those who stand in need.  I of course loved all the talks and it seemed that every single one had something for me. It’s incredible that the spirit can touch all of our hearts, so readily and powerfully. I noticed many themes in conference this round, such as, self control, service, the power of prayer, the power of faith, obedience!, and using the Atonement in our Lives.
Here are some highlights.
-President Monson- my mission is a joyous occasion, and something that I will relive through my future children and family.
- Elder Holland - That it is so worth it to be a missionary and to be given this load to bear. When it's hard, picture the Savior on the Mount of Olives weeping over me. I want the Heavenly Father that I have come to know and love. He who supports me and strengthens me, but also chastises me, rebukes me and allows me to change.
-Elder Rasband- To take up my joyful burden of disciple ship. But this joy is not easily accessible. I have to be willing to serve and feel the joy from within my soul. Only comes through prayerful Service.
-Elder Amado- Developing the power of self-control. "The only control we have in this life is self-control." Elder Holland.
-Sister Reeves- Once again self control. We are sent here to learn to control the appetites of the flesh. We are not to react with negativity to others situations, but to show love and kindness. Also to remember that my choices not only affect me, but the others around me. If I am disobedient and lose the spirit then they lose out as well.
-Elder Anderson- I was reminded of another talk He gave entitled "Beware the Evil behind smiling eyes." The world is in commotion and we have to be careful where we put our faith and trust. But if we put our trust in the Savior then we will be protected from the whirlwinds of life. And that we all need to understand how individually the spirit speaks to us.
-President Eyring- We have the choice every hour to make or break our covenants. We must learn that blessings come later to exercise our faith and repentance must come quickly to learn humility, so that we aren't compelled to be humble.
-Elder Nelson- We cannot separate our life into parts. It's all one and as we pray with faith we will be able to make right choices with courage.
-Elder Scott- Trust those around me to be able to make righteous choices once they have been taught. Righteousness cannot be forced, it must be chosen.
-= Elder Hales- Loved this one! If Disobedience occurs, its because I love Satan more then the Savior. Savior like love=Savior like obedience.
Elder Zwick- Once again, self control. Controlling what comes out of my mouth. Don't turn an already hazardous situation into a fatal one.
-Elder Cook- Family History. Keep a vision of the Celestial Kingdom and all those waiting to enter in.
- President Uchtdorf- Gratitude=Happiness. Not just being grateful in the good but in the bad as well. Like for instance when someone smears something really nasty and smelly on your mission car, you are just grateful it wasn't on your clothes or through your hair. The same transformation given to the Apostles, is required of us as well. And there is no ending to discipleship, just short pauses, or interruptions.
-Elder Ballard- Haha! Follow up and persistence is key! :) It really is amazing the change that occurs in others when we follow up with faith.
Sister Stevens- "Prayer doesn't change God, but it changes me." The Gospel, missions, marriage and so on is our way of life, n ot something that we just check off our list of things to do. We must take serious consideration to the path that we choose.
-Bishop Stevenson- "only got 4 minutes to save the world!" :) My time has started and I can't think that I've ruined it before. The Savior Decides when my times up and even if that means starting today. I will give it my all. I loved to about Tora Bright and how she wanted to compete well, but she wanted all her competitors to as well. I love that example and that I can do my part, but I should be as the good Samaritan and help those struggling.
-Elder Bednar- I love his as well! His talk really made me want a nice big royal blue F-150 :) But I loved that with the load we carry that is what gives us spiritual traction. But we must make sure the load we carry is with only what we need not with old rotten fire wood that just drags us down. And how covenant keeping makes us grounded and endows us with power. And how the Atonement is for the faithful and obedient and we can access its power through being so. I must also allow Heavenly Father to help me, not to rely on my own strength.
-President Monson- Loving God allows our hearts to grow to love our fellow men. There are opportunities all round us to love.
President Packer- Our heartfelt pleadings and tearful words are heard and will touch the hearts of the Father and the Son. He is our Father, his love never ends. Choose to follow them.
-Elder Perry- Obedience! :) :) I love that we all have spiritual "bits" in our mouths but the spirit will only tug so gently that if we aren't focused we won't be able to recognize it.
-Elder Corbridge- I LOVED THIS ONE! :) :) I didn't want him to stop talking. I love direct and to the point, bluntly delivered messages. The spirit just oozed out of his words. That the dust encircles us as the truth comes, but trust in the Lord's ordained servants and you will overcome the cloud.
-Elder Aidukiatis- Ha :) I loved how he talked, and read scriptures with enthusiasm! "One should not roam through garbage."
-Pres. Monson- Heavenly Father is willing to come so close to us. We just need to give Him the chance.
Conference was absolutely amazing. I am so grateful to have living prophets on the earth to lead us and to guide us. I am so grateful that even though I can be so far away from them, I can still feel their love and the unity of the members of the Church. I am so grateful that we have a God we know and love, not a comfortable being, who pats us on the head and sends us to pick marigolds. I'm grateful that He challenges us and proves us, enough to show that He loves unconditionally and He desires our return back to Him. I am grateful for the loving grace of My Savior, Jesus Christ and that no matter what happens He is there beside me.

Love you heaps and heaps
Sister Alexis Benjamin


April 7, 2014

Mi Familia,
Samuel Johnson once said “Hell is paved with good intentions.” How many of us have good intentions each and every day? Do we intend to read our scriptures, say our prayers, serve our family, love our neighbor, forgive our friends and so on. But how many of us actually do it? How many of us actually put forth the effort to fulfill our good intentions? As a missionary every day I intend to do a lot of good things. I intend to study effectively, to exercise, to serve and love my companion, to fulfill all my leadership responsibilities, to find new investigators, and to invite all to come unto Christ. But it’s not everyday that I actually get to achieve all those things. This week I learned the difference between intent vs. action.

We had ZTM this week and one of our Zone Leaders’ trained us on fear. We talked about the various things we fear as missionaries and why we fear those things. He then had us read into the story of Adam and Eve. One of the first effects of the fall was fear. That is the first reaction they had when they were in the presence of God and they realized their own nakedness. We realize our own nothingness/nakedness before the glory of God. And if we put ourselves in their shoes, imagine not knowing how you could overcome that. It certainly would instill fear into our hearts, which is exactly what Satan wants. In 2 Timothy 1:7  we read.
 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of afear; but of bpower, and of clove, and of a sound mind.
God did not give us the spirit of fear and He didn’t give it to Adam and Eve either. The Lord paved the way for us to overcome our fear and that is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
  9 And in that day the aHoly Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the bOnly Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast cfallen thou mayest be dredeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
 10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was afilled, and began to bprophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my ctransgression my deyes are opened, and in this life I shall have ejoy, and again in the fflesh I shall see God.
 11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had aseed, and never should have bknown good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
They learned that they could be forgiven of their transgression. They learned that through the Lord’s help they could become exactly as He is. In our lives we have many good intentions, but our fears get in the way because we don’t believe that we will receive the help from Heavenly Father and we rely on ourselves. And that of course instills fear because we think we have to do it all on our own. Then is where the real power of faith comes in. Every morning we must humbly ask the Lord to help us to fulfill all our good intentions, and then turn it over to him, whilst still doing all in our power to accomplish the things we intended to do. 
My Core experience with God this week was realizing how much more faith I need to have. I needed to realize that through him, I am who I am. That I can become as He is, as I follow Him in all that I do. Then my good intentions are bridged to good actions which eventuate to a true disciple of Christ. But of course everyday is not perfect and it isn’t everyday that we can do all the things we intend to do. That is part of the test of life, but there in lies why we need the faith in the Savior and the Atonement to carry us through each and every day.  We must be patient with ourselves and do all that we can and the Lord will make up the rest.
In that meeting we also discussed keeping the Atonement at the center of our lives. It has been said that men get what they focus on.  When we focus on the Savior and His atonement, we then grow closer to him. We are enabled by His grace. We then arrive at the point where we can only speak of Him with sacred reverence.  We had a lesson with a wonderful group of people, some active, less-active, and in-active.  We shared the Mormon message None were with Him, by Elder Holland. As we spoke of the Savior, the spirit was undeniable. The spirit bore witness not only to my heart, but to theirs as well. The sacrifice that Jesus Christ performed for all of us, is not one that can be spoken of lightly, and I felt very strongly the powerful gift that He gave to me. I felt any fear or problem, lifted from my shoulders. I truly felt the gift of the Savior. I know that He lives, that He died for me and suffered beyond all belief so that I could be healed of any weakness that I possess. I am so grateful to have a living Savior that I can look to as an Example.
Something else that really stuck out to me this week, was in fast and testimony meeting yesterday. One family in the ward has a daughter who suffers from epilepsy. She had surgery on her brain about three weeks ago and she has made a full and grand recovery. Her family was very nervous about the surgery because she had had the surgery before but she didn’t recovery quickly or very well at all. She struggled a lot, having to re learn how to speak and even think for herself. But this time it was different. This time through the power of their faith, their fast, their prayers, and the power of the priesthood, she was able to make a full recovery. It was empowering to me, because her Dad, who doesn’t say much at all, got up and bore his testimony about the Love that Heavenly Father had for His daughter. He was crying and you couldn’t help but cry with him. He said that the first thing she said when she woke up is that she is grateful to be a member of this Church, that no matter what happens she knows she will be able to be with her family again. I am so grateful to know of the doctrine of eternal families, that I can live with my family forever.
Something I learned in my personal study this week really has struck me this week. I was reading in the Book of Mormon and I came across a scripture in 2 Nephi 10:20.
 20 And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been adriven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a bbetter land, for the Lord has made the sea our cpath, and we are upon an disle of the sea.
But as I read this I wasn’t thinking about the literal meaning I was thinking of the application to missionaries, and missionary work. As I read it again I felt the great mercy of my Heavenly Father who has given me much knowledge on my mission and through out my life. He wants me to lay aside all problems and be of good cheer. He has literally taken me out of the world and led me to a better place, a place of refuge where I can learn the Gospel in a Spirit filled environment. I can’t thank Heavenly Father enough for allowing me to come and to serve a mission. I am so grateful for this gift He gave to me. I don’t know where I would have ended up without it. I know that through my Savior Jesus Christ all things can and are overcome. I know without of a shadow of a doubt that this Church is true, I know that my Savior lives and loves me. I know that Joseph Smith is  prophet of God and I am grateful to be a witness of this at this time.

Love you Heaps and Heaps
Sister Benjamin