May 26, 2014

Wow. What a week! Miracles all around us!
First off C got BAPTIZED!!!!  It was certainly the crazy process to get her there, to work out everything with her and her family, and the ward. But it did happen and that’s all that matters. It was a beautiful baptism. Her whole family were there which is always nice to see. I love the wonderful spirit that is always there. I felt such a strong love for her and I’m so grateful that the Lord blessed me to be able to witness her baptism.
Another miracle happened in us being able to attend the temple! I haven’t been to the temple for such a long time, and it felt like home. I love that immediately when you walk in the spirit is there. I really wanted while I was in there to talk to Heavenly Father. I wanted to know what His will was for me, and what I could do more to show him my dedication and consecration. It was really amazing to me as we sat in the session how all these little things stuck out to me, things that I normally would look over. I had been thinking over the past year and a half how many different times I’ve gone to the temple, and how every time I go new things stick out to me. I have learned so much in attending the temple and I know that it is the Lord’s house.
Throughout my mission I have always tried to be obedient and to consecrate myself to the work of the Lord. I wanted to be a missionary who served with all my heart, might, mind and strength. While I’ve been in the field I have definitely seen times when that has occurred, when I had given all that I could. But it hadn’t been the whole time. And one of the things I wanted to understand better, while I was in the temple, was how I could deepen my level of consecration. And the answer that I received was that I already knew how. I’ve been taught my whole mission to be obedient to live the commandments/mission rules, to follow the spirit and to follow at my best the counsel of my mission president and I would have peace knowing I was doing the right thing. It felt such a strong spirit in that moment. I felt that for the last while on my mission I will do nothing but be consecrated, to serve the Lord with my heart, not just my head, to give my life to these people and to my Heavenly Father. I feel that before I started my mission and even into my service, I was being selfish. I was thinking about myself and what my mission had for me, but I have come to realize that a true consecrated missionary doesn’t ask what do I get from it, but what can I give!
The Lord has taught me how to be what He wants me to be, and as long as I continue to do that all will be well. But it doesn’t end there, after we are taught, we apply and then we keep going. We keep learning, we keep progressing. We never stop, nor should we ever stop. The Savior never stopped. He didn’t die on the cross until He knew it was over. He served until the end. He gave His life voluntarily and that is what true consecration is. We are consecrated when we go beyond our limits, when we serve beyond the natural capacity and give all of our heart.
 Another miracle this week was seeing the Lord helping me to develop yet another powerful attribute of Charity. I don’t know what was going on this week, but I felt so much love, from so many different sources this week. But more then that I felt myself giving more love to people, more then I ever had before. Before my mission, I was very closed off. I wasn’t willing to open my heart, because I had fear of rejection, of getting hurt, of putting myself out there. But my mission has helped me to really overcome that barrier. I was given a priesthood blessing a couple of months ago, and I was promised that I would be able to show more love then I ever had before. I didn’t realize that it meant here and now. I didn’t realize that the Lord was just preparing me to serve in this area. In Moroni 7:45-48 it says:
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

 These verses speak of charity and all the attributes of it and if you really look at it, all of those things are things you go through on your mission. And that is how you deepen your level of conversion/consecration. When you have charity you become like the Savior and you serve with your heart. Which is the most important.
When people feel loved they want to change. When they feel like you are there to help them not to teach them the Gospel, but to help them to come to Christ, then they want to change. That is when I wanted to change. I wanted to change on my mission and in life, when I learned that God really cared for me, that He was there and that He knew me.
When we treat others this way then we will see them desire to change, because that is what it is all about. Its not about us being prideful and striving to be a successful missionary to get gain for our own selves, its about loving yourself and others enough to come unto Christ and become a true disciple.
I love being here and learning all that I am. I feel my Heavenly Father all around me. I see it in those who I get to serve with and it certainly is a pleasure. I’m grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that we have this beautiful opportunity to serve.


Miracles of the Mission

This week has been incredible. I have learned so much. It feels like it's been a lifetime. One lesson that I learned quite powerfully was that of humility. As it says in PMG “Humility is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of spiritual strength.” We had a conference with Elder and Sister Haleck and I really wanted to learn what Heavenly Father wanted to teach me. And something that really stuck out to me was what Sister Haleck said. She spoke of the last supper with the apostles and when the Savior is telling them of the betrayal from one of the Apostles. She read to us Matthew 26:18-22. What really stuck out to me was what the apostles said, all of them asking “Lord is it I?” These men who had walked with the Savior, seen his miracles and learned from him, were looking at themselves, in a humble manner, asking themselves if they would be the one to betray the Savior. They weren’t pointing fingers, like a lot of us would today, but were asking themselves, Will I do it? Will I be the one who won’t live up to the things I have been taught and the lessons I have learned and applied?
I felt within myself that this is the experience that the Lord has given me as I have served a mission. He has given me so many experiences that have literally changed my life. So to speak he took me from the water, being a fisher for myself, to being a fisher of men. Now of course I’m not anywhere near perfect, but I’m trying. I feel that I have seen such a change in myself and I feel that I come even closer now then ever to knowing the Savior. And the lesson I learned from the conference was now, what will I do with all the experiences I’ve had as a missionary? Will I betray the Savior, or will I stand strong, finish the good fight and keep pressing forward? Will I embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ here on the mission and then continue on afterwards? What is my path? IN that moment I felt strongly to commit myself to always embrace the culture of the Gospel, to stand on the right hand of God and be open to His command and His will. I felt that I needed to say right then and there that no matter what happens I will do all that I can to follow the example of my Savior and serve Him with all my heart, might, mind and strength.
But as we all know we come short, we falter, we fail. We mess up and we feel burdened down, but the Lord already made the plan to change that, to make sure that no matter the mistakes we make there would be a law of mercy, and justice that would help us to get back on the right path. Ether 12:27 reads " And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
The Lord sees that we have the desire to become like him, but we have weakness, which pulls us short of the Glory of God, but He has promised us grace. He has promised us that He will make our weakness as a strength, that one day we will not come short of the Glory of God any longer, but we will be like Him.
And what we can do to help this process along is by doing all that we can to learn of the Nature of God and Jesus Christ, and learn then apply the things we learn. We won’t be perfect, but we will be that much closer to becoming like Him.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said “Let us then consider the mystery of godliness from the Lord’s standpoint, setting forth correct principles, which will enable all who are spiritually enlightened to keep themselves on the proper path. Let us do so with courage and without fear, but in reverence and with an open mind. If we are contrite and receptive, if we truly desire truth, and if we are guided by the Spirit in our search, we shall come off triumphant. We shall embrace every true principle and shunt every false doctrine back into the enveloping darkness from whence it came.”
This in and of itself is Humility. We realize that the Lord loves us enough to allow us this opportunity. And what makes it even better is to be able to see it occurring in the lives of others. To see someone else start their path to becoming more like our Heavenly Father brings nothing but joy and happiness, which is what we saw this week with our investigators.
Our purpose is to invite all to come unto Christ because that is how they will come to know God and be like Him.
We met an amazing woman  this week. She moved into the area a little over 6 months ago and the whole time she has been here, she has been praying to meet good people. Little did she know what she was praying for. :) One member family lives just up the road from her and she had seen them on multiple occasions dressed and running off to different Church functions. She was able to meet them a couple of weeks ago and she had the most amazing experience. They chatted and talked about eternal families and the Gospel and both ended up in tears because the power of the spirit. We talked to the members and they were going to introduce us to her. We had been at their house and we were leaving and she happened to just come outside to put rubbish in the bin. :) We started chatting and she invited us in. We had a amazing experience and she invited us back. We taught the Restoration and testified to her that she had been prepared by the Lord. She kept looking at us and said, It’s true! It’s true!  She then came to church and it was WONDERFUL! Sacrament meeting was perfectly geared toward her.  It was a beautiful experience. She is amazing. WE love her! I love that the Lord counted us lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to be able to meet her.
Another amazing experience was with another investigator who I’ve mentioned before. WE hadn’t been able to meet up with her since we set her baptismal date. We prayed on Friday night asking what the Lord wanted us to do. We had felt prompted to invite her to be baptized on the 31st of may and we knew that if she didn’t come to Church this Sunday then she wouldn’t be able to. So because of the guiding hand of the Lord we were able to catch her right before she ran out the door and we invited her to Church. She said yes and we got her a ride and SHE CAME! She came to church and she loved it. She kept saying, this is better then my own church. This is better then anything I’ve experienced before. She asked us for her own copy of the Book of Mormon and she is excited for her Baptism on the 31st! Yay! Miracles!
Heavenly Father loves us so much! I love the paths of conversion that I have been able to witness as a missionary and I’m so grateful that we have the Savior to look to as an example and follow in His footsteps!


What a week!

Mi Familia!
My goodness! What an incredible week. I feel like it’s been ages because so many things have happened but the time seems to go so fast. I can’t believe it's already Monday again!
My core experience with God this week was realizing how aware Heavenly Father is of me. I had a lot of ups and downs this week, (way more ups then downs though) but through it all Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed and He made it possible for me to get through it all. I felt so strongly this week that I was here for many different reasons. As I only have a little while left, the Lord wants to teach me so many different things. I can feel it already. And I have to be willing to follow him in faith every step of the way. But opening up a new area is not easy. I have to continue to relearn even more how to rely on Heavenly Father. In DTM this week we talked about faith and we read a scripture in Hebrews 11:6.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
It really stuck out to me that I can’t please Heavenly Father if I don’t have faith in him. I can’t do any of this work without faith in Him. If I’m working just going from task to task not believing that I’m doing the Lord’s will and that He called me here specifically then it is all in vain. I realized that I needed this different perspective. In the mission field we talk about all the time how we need to have faith, that only through faith can miracles occur. But what we don’t realize that if we don’t show enough faith we aren’t pleasing Heavenly Father either. If we don’t have enough faith then nothing will change within us. Of course nothing in the field will be prohibited because of us. Disobedient missionaries still have Baptisms, but if we want to see the miracle of our own conversion we must put our faith and trust in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And I know just as the scripture says as I diligently seek the Lord and His guidance in every way, then even more blessings and miracles will occur. Sanctification will come on an even deeper level and my commitment to follow Jesus Christ will be so strong that I have no where else to turn, but to Him.
In my experience as teaching as the Savior did, was being able to walk into miracles this week, all of them perfectly orchestrated by Heavenly Father.
The first was with an investigator. We met her on Sunday morning last week. We went back for our apt. on Tuesday and she said she was busy, but she was out on the porch so we decided to chat with her anyways. We talked a lot about the message that we share and we found one of her concerns, being that of living eternally with her family. Because of our trusty companion, the Holy Ghost, we felt prompted to talk about baptism. Baptism of course being the first step to living with our families after this life, because we cant unless we are clean. When we said that she looked at us, and I just felt the strongest impression to invite her to be baptized. And lo and behold, she said YES! My goodness. What a miracle. As we called around to share our miracle with the mission it was only 10:30 and everyone was like how do you have a miracle and its only 10:30. And our only response was, just Heavenly Father blessing us to be in the right place at the right time.
Another miracle that we saw was with a LA/PM family. We had received her name from the Bishop and we decided to go follow up with her. But when we knocked she wasn’t home. But there was a little play group session happening in the field by her house, and we both felt the prompting to go and talk to them. I had no idea why, but we followed anyway. We started talking to the people running it and this Less Active Sister walks up to us and says where are you sisters from? So we told her and she said you are in our ward? Great well my house is right here come on over! Little did we know that this was  the LA we had been trying to contact. As we sat with her in her home she told us that her son is turning 9 and needs to be baptized. My goodness. Can you believe it! The Lord worked that one out perfectly as well!
Another fantastic miracle was learning that 2 people from my previous area are getting baptized! Both of which have been waiting for ages for everything to be alright and it is finally happening now. I couldn’t even believe it.  Music to my ears. And that is what this work is all about. When I shared the miracle with everyone I couldn’t help but cry. When you work so hard with people to help them to make these covenants and then when they actually can you just feel so at peace.
And a last miracle to share was with another family that Bishop had asked us to contact. S. T has been a member of the Church since last September, but her daughters have been members for about 6 years. They live with their aunties and cousins who are all non members. After our dinner apt last night the spirit prompted us very powerfully to go over to their house. Not knowing the reason, we went anyway, just thinking they would need some help. But as we knocked this sister answered the door and she's like I can’t believe you are here right now. This is a miracle! WE go and sit down and she begins to tell us that her cousin had just been asking her what he needs to do to be baptized! Oh my goodnight! Ha  So she invited him to sit in on the lesson with us and we taught about the Savior and his role in our lives and we were able to set up another time to meet with their family and cousin.
 So many miracles have happened this week that I feel so incredibly blessed to be here. I don’t know why the Lord counted me so lucky to be able to witness these miracles but I’m so grateful that I got/get to be a part of it. It is amazing to see and feel the Lord hastening his work and having us be the instruments in his hands.
Something that I have learned from my companion this week, is her great ability to love others and to love others quickly. I am amazed at how friendly she is directly and how quickly she gets to know people. I realized that this is something that I still need to work on. I need to be able to love more quickly and give my heart more easily to people. But being that vulnerable is not an easy thing to do. It’s hard to put yourself out there when sometimes you know that people will reject you, but I’ve come to learn that great power comes when we are vulnerable. Then the spirit is even more powerfully felt by us and by others and then we change even faster.
I know that this church is true. I know that God lives and that he Loves each and everyone of us. I’m so grateful to be serving in Hassall Grove! 


The week of all weeks!:)

Wow. What a crazy week.  So many things have happened and I can’t believe its only been 7 days. But like I always say missions are the fast track of Salvation. Something that I really have loved about my mission is the way the Lord prepares me for specific things. This week I found out I was being released as a Sister Training Leader and transferring/opening a new area for sisters. Wowza! Crazy changes happening. One of the ways the Lord prepared me for this was in MLC this week. The Assistants gave a training about the children of Israel. Moses at the time received revelation from Heavenly Father to call some of the children in and see if this next place they had arrived at was to be the land of promise. Moses tells them to go in and be of good courage and find the good grapes of the land, or to find the good things about the land.
 20 And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes. Numbers 13:20
They go in and they find the good things. They see that there are a lot of good grapes and things to use. But then they get scared. They see that there are the big strong sons of Anak. As they come back to report all they can look at are the bad things about the land, not the good.
But there was one, Caleb, who possessed a different light. He spoke to the people and addressed the concern but acknowledged that they would be able to overcome it.
 30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. Numbers 13:30
 As the story continues the people still don’t want to go in so the Lord tells them they can’t but that Caleb can go and possess it because he had the right attitude he could go in because he trusted in the Lord.
24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Numbers 14:24)
I felt so strongly in MLC, then not knowing that I was going to be transferred, that I needed to break down barriers. That I needed to be the one who had the different spirit about me. I was just thinking that it would apply to my area in Toronto, but obviously the Lord had bigger and better things in store for me.
 After I found out I was being transferred I continued reading in Numbers in Chapter 16 and this verse really stuck out to me.
 Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?
Heavenly Father separated me from my old area, my old calling and is now calling me to do more service in another place to help his children come unto him. I feel so privileged to have this new opportunity with the short time I have left, to give it all that I have. To show the Lord that I am ready and willing to go wherever he desires to send me. This is how I will become like him, this is how I will show him that I am worthy of the blessings that He desires to place upon me.
My area is Hassall Grove, in Hebershem zone. It certainly is a complete change from anything I have ever done on my mission. The area is full of Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders, New Zealanders, and it is great and I am excited. I know the Lord is trying to help me to grow and gain more love and appreciation for all of his children. It certainly isn’t in my comfort zone, but just like Caleb said, I am well able to overcome it with the help of the Lord. And that is my core experience with God this week. Even before I got to the new area, the Lord was breaking down barriers that would prevent me from working so that I could have full faith and trust in Him.
In teaching as Jesus taught in my new area, it has been amazing that the Lord is just guiding us directly to those who are prepared. In the last couple of days we have felt strongly that we needed to follow up with a couple of less actives and both times they weren’t home. But guess who was? The people down the road from them. One was a man just outside washing his car. We just started chatting with him and initially he said no, he didn’t want to meet with us. But we just took that as opportunity to teach him more. We both felt strongly that we should share with him the unique message of the restoration. After we shared that he opened up and invited us back this week. What a miracle.
At another less actives home, we had just hopped out of the car and a woman came riding her bike up the road. She just stopped in front of us and started chatting with us. We talked to her and told her about the restoration as well. We talked about God and his love for all of us and she looked on the verge of tears. I guess she had some struggles in her life at the time and we were there just at the right time in the right place. It really was such a blessing. She invited us back over as well. Truly Heavenly Father is blessing us beyond what we even deserve. We have been here for 3 days now and it is wonderful.
I honestly was a little nervous about the whole thing. But it has been amazing. The members are incredible and they are so willing to help us out and it is just going to be wonderful. But the only reason I know that it is okay and how I can even go from day to day is because the Lord has blessed me to have the Spirit with me. In part of my setting apart blessing it talks about how I will be blessed to be confident so long as the spirit is present. And I have seen that so much since being here. I have been able to be confident and a powerful servant of the Lord, but only because of the gift of the Holy Ghost, him as my constant companion. And obviously I’m not perfect. I don’t always have the best record but Heavenly Father is quick to forgive, to look beyond my weaknesses and realize that we are here to do His work in His way.
Honestly, I am so happy and excited to be here. I wouldn’t want it any other way. The Lord truly is blessing me incredibly. And I think a huge theme for this transfer is going to be love. I’m going to have to show more love then I ever have before, to change the way I do things. It is going to stretch me and help me to grow. And each day my weakness, of the flesh, coming short of the Glory of God, will only allow me to put more faith and trust in the Lord. I know that He guides this work. That it isn’t me at all. I don’t know what I would do if I had to make all the decisions and do all the work without His help. But the best part about all of this, is that I don’t have to. The Lord has promised us that He will be there for us every step of the way.
I know that God lives! He loves us, he is very aware of us. I know that no matter what happens I will do all that I can to serve Him and be the best that I can be, because these people deserve it and I wouldn’t want to be any where else.
Love you all
Sister Benjamin