Amar y Servir

Amar y Servir

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas, New Investigators, Baptismal Dates

So this past week it was a slower paced week due to the two days we stayed in for Christmas Eve and day.  I loved all the gifts and presents that you all sent!  We have been enjoying everything given to us and the great letters and expressions of recognition and love!  Thanks mom and dad for getting everything I asked for for Christmas.  I truly enjoyed reading the letters that everyone wrote.  They made that Christmas one of the best I have ever had.  

So I have solved the Rubix cube about 5-7 times already in my spare time. I have started more of the protein powder (I will jump higher ;).  The new case has protected my iPad-mini well (plus I get to stand out from all the black cases with one of my favorite colors, blue).  The letters warmed my heart and brought peace to my soul.  To see all of you was the best gift by far, however.  The love between all of us is so strong and I treasure every moment I get to communicate with you.  Getting to see all of you made my Christmas amazing.


Also, we have been dropping investigators lately and opening up more time to find new investigators.  Well... we got just that.  We were teaching people that are super close to being baptized, but the more we worked with them, we learned that we couldn't do more until they made the leap of faith.  So we starting looking for more people and all of the sudden we got three new families!  The husband is closed off to religion right now, but the mom is on fire!  The kids are cool as well.  Just to give you the picture of how prepared she is, our second lesson she accepted a baptismal date for January 17th! We have been working to keep lessons shorter to 30min and be better at setting expectations at the beginning of lessons.  To add, we have been focusing more on teaching simply and having members with us to fellowship and testify.  Due to this, the visits we have been having have been more packed with the Spirit, even if we haven't given as much doctrine.  

I am beginning to find that as we are sticking closer to what PMG teaches, the more success we have as missionaries.  Plus, being real people instead of weird robotic "hi we are missionaries (or members) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" repeating individuals, it is much easier to find people who are interested in talking to us!

This week is a little more laid back.  So I'll send you pictures!  

The Sepulvida Family gave us nice sweaters! I got a really nice red one!


From Grandma Hale!

Yummy enchaladas!

 I got others that I will send next week!

Monday, December 21, 2015

In this week, as you may know, we got to go as a mission to see the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights.  It was such an amazing experience to be able to walk through the brand new visitor's center.  There are new interactive video pods that talk about the Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There are a few other really cool exhibits that we actually taken some investigators to go see.  We spent about 2 hours there seeing the tools we have available to us and then we got to go in and do a session in the temple!  Super spiritual and good revelation and guidance for a better service in the work of the Lord.  Following which we went to a buffet and finished with the Christmas lights.  I got to see a good amount of mission friends and make some new ones.   (I'll send you some of my favorite pictures)

Fast forward to Friday (the next day.) where we had the ward Christmas party.  To give you an idea of how packed this gym was is that is was about the same size as our home chapel gym and we had all tables full of 350 people!!  Going to Sunday we upped assistance from a regular 220 to about 290!  That day we normally had 2 investigators, 4 was the high since I have been there, and it jumped to 8!  The Spirit of Christmas is touching everyone's hearts and they are more open to hearing about Christ and showing their love for Him.  We are putting a lot of effort to help those we are working with take the next steps. Those that have had slow progression, we have left them for a time and will wait for them to take some steps to show their sincere desire, otherwise we are going to focus on working on those keeping commitments and finding the people that are willing to do so as well.

Sunday night I have to say thank you for all the prayers in my behalf for the Christmas Conference performance.  I did a good job!!  My fingers were shaking pretty well being in front of about 125 people, but I was able to play the song well. (with a lot of praying as I was playing :)  There was a lot of compliments and I made 3 copies for people that wanted to learn the song.

To wrap up I want to say how impressed I am with all of you and for the amazing things you are doing, Brooke focusing on her friends and being so creative with her photos.  Haley shooting a beautiful buck and Dosm with the jaw dropping Bison and always bringing to light the great opportunity to be in the service of our Lord.  Mom for being such a selfless character and always supporting all of us in what we do. Finally, with Zach, for taking such a great step of faith and depending on the Lord in everything you do.  Miracles are being wrought in the lives of everyone around each and every one of you.  Even giving a sincere smile and a "hi" could be the mini miracle that the individual will need to get them through the day.  Now we know that we are doing our part to give more of ourselves than just that.  So with this knowledge we know that we are realizing multiple miracles in the lives of many to come.

Keep you focus on the Savior always for you are always the focus for Him.

Love you so much and Merry Christmas!

Those that participated in the ugly Christmas sweater contest! Back left to right (Sister Turville, Hna Argyle, Lawrence, Flores, Navas, Morris, Cabrera, Grover, Lewis, Gonzales, Elder Thomson) Front left to right: Sister Young, Elder Elliot, Benson, Hepler)


our gingerbread house, A-frame style



We now cover only half of the ward, so the baptism was technically in the other area.  The Long story made short, her husband was baptized about 6 months ago and the sister missionaries were working with her, but there was a misunderstanding so the Elders stepped in.  Then the Elders took over the entire ward for 3 months before the hermanas were brought back in, due to the mission having enough Spanish hermana missionaries to bring them back.  Long story getting wrapped up.  The second day the hermanas just "dropped by" and Magda said that she wanted to be baptized.  So we all got a part in helping he come to this decision, but in the end, when she started reading the Book of Mormon daily, she personally decided to be baptized!  One more year and they can be sealed together in the temple for all eternity!



This is a Christmas present from President and Sister Griffin! Super good book, Highly recommend it!



Monday, December 14, 2015

Cleaning Crew and Miracle Meetings

This week was a "Spiritual high" as some may put it.  I could even go on to say that the past few weeks of refinement and requirement to better ourselves and to depend more on the Lord.  

On the previous P-day grandma had sent me a 12 days of Christmas initiative which I translated and will be starting (I'll just have to combine 2 days)  but should be a great thing to help get the ward members more focused on the spirit of Christmas.

The beginning of the week on Tuesday we had MLC.  This is a meeting where the mission leadership (zone leaders, assistants, and sister training leaders) come together and go over what the focus is for the month and what President Griffin wants to move forward.  This meeting is one of my favorites being that there are a lot of well put together presentations that provide many tools to hasten the work.  Just as a fun thing to look at is what we are doing as a mission.  

In our mission we have been talking for months about culture and vision. Right now we are working to establish a culture of service in our mission.  We have received many great documents that explain well on how to establish culture.  As the culture gets established, we can accomplish what our mission vision is.  This process has been long and methodical, but is showing a great amount of promise to having a very successful mission.  Right now our mission vision is "In the APM (Arizona Phoenix Mission) we will hasten the work of salvation by ministering the ordinances of exaltation to individuals and families through a culture of Christlike service."  

We're really making a push for this and as well as implementing this new plan that the quorum of the 12 has put out. It is a plan that Elder Perry had made about 2 years ago that was to get the ward more involved and on top of missionary work.

I'll send you some documents that you might enjoy taking a look see and maybe sharing them with the ward leaders.  This is really good stuff!


Anyways, fast forwarding to Thursday, we had the Dixon's come and inspect our apartment.  For me I was so grateful to see that our apartment was supplied with some of the top end cleaners and tools to help us clean our apartment.  After we had been supplied with Kaboom, bar keepers friend, lysol and so much more with a new mob and broom, we were given guidance on how to maintain and clean our apartment.  After this visit I was, as the scriptures would say, overjoyed that my fellow brethren were desirous to come closer to their Lord and Savior..., to clean our apartment. 

A notable Spirit has entered into our apartment and I can feel like it is more like a home than a missionary apartment.

I know that if we can keep our lives simple, not simplistic, and clean, not cluttered, we will have an abundance of the Spirit in our lives.

Going over this week we've had many spiritual lessons with investigators and are finding that the spirit of christmas is really opening people's hearts to Christ and the message that "A Savior is Born"  We've been working to plan better and also be in better contact with those we are teaching.  As we have been doing this there has been a jump in our work and we went from practically no indicators one week to booming the next!  All while focusing on the Spirit and working to have it more with us during this time of year.

There was one specific story that I would like to share. 

This investigator is named Elias.  The missionaries have been working with him on and off for quite a long time, easily over 8months, and little and slow progress would be made.  As we have begun to teach him again we were running into this similar growth.  Yet, the Spirit was prevalent every time we went over.  As we starting working closer and using the scriptures more in the lessons, in the span of about 1 month, we saw a man with little hope for the future and little faith in himself.  Now has eyes that show a greater hope and faith for a better look on life.  He is reading in the Bible frequently (complete books such as Job) and is praying more.

When we went to his house last night we were getting ready to teach a lesson on prayer and not dive into the Trinity, because we didn't want the lesson to go side tracked for an hour.  When we walked in we found ourselves showing the Christmas video about why Christ was born, then going from prayer into taking a transition into us explaining the Trinity for 30min.

This is where the miracle occurred.  As I started, I had many scriptures come to my mind that I used that transitioned well from faith (2 Corinth 5:7) and that we need to believe.  Then went to explain how they were all separate beings.  

  1. (2 Corinth 5:4-7) tabernacle is our body, just like Christ dwelled in a tabernacle of clay
  2. (John 14:9) To see Christ was to see the Father.  So Christ was such a perfect representative of His Father that seeing Christ was seeing the Father.  So logically Christ having a body must mean that God has one as well.
  3. Matthew 5:48 This was before Christ was resurrected, he was still going around and teaching the people.  He was commanding the people to be perfect like unto the Father.
  4. 3 Nephi 27:27 "...what manner of men ought ye to be? ...even as I am."  This was after Christ had been resurrected as was teaching the people in the americas.  By this time Christ being resurrected was perfect, and he had a body. (personal note: John 20:17 how could Christ tell Mary "touch me not" if had not a body? He couldn't have! So when Christ was raised from the 3 day tomb, he had a body)
  5. Then we dive into the necesity to have a testimony of Joseph Smith being called to be a prophet to restore Christ's church and that through him the Book of Mormon was translated and that he received other revelations from God in the latter days, otherwise this won't be worth anything.  D&C 130:22-23  Christ and God have bodies of flesh and bone and the Spirit does not.  That is why the Spirit can dwell within us and give us those feelings we experience, the love of God.
  6. What sealed the deal was not what had been planned to share.  It was evident that the Spirit was in complete control since the first scripture was shared. Yet, this is where the Spirit took us out of the equation.  Elias saw that I had made a footnote from over 9 months ago in my physical set in D&C. It was to Jeremiah 1:9 "the Lord touched my mouth"  This was obvious that we could say (well Christ wasn't born yet, this is actually Christ not God) however, we had the feeling to not open our mouths.  As we saw the Spirit work in him, he sat back and said "I cannot deny that they are 3 separate beings and that Christ and The Father have bodies of flesh and bone"

I sat back in amazement as I witnessed a miracle before my eyes as a man went from believing that the Trinity was one person, to being completely convinced, by the Spirit, that they were 3 separate individuals and were one in purpose.  

I know that we must study in our scripture daily and seek for the guidance of the Spirit and always follow his guidance. For if we do, one day, one day, maybe even if it is months, even years down the road, what we learned can be brought together in a way that we know that what we have strived to learn and understand, will be put into perfect clarity as we bear testimony through the Spirit to our fellow brethren.  I know this.  I experienced it first hand.  This I share in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Apparently Star Wars is getting big... so big that the action figures are nearly life sized!

      

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thanksgiving (the holiday) and Transfers (me and Elder Thurber are staying together)

So this past week was a blast, a refiner, and full of many other great memories.

So we had the two district meeting dynamic duo.  We started with Elder Hepler's district that consisted of a great deal of giggling and laughter.  Who would've guessed that putting 6 Sister missionaries together would yield such a reaction? (hint of sarcasm)  As a fun little joke, Elder Hepler put up the opening song as hymn #203 Angels we have heard on high, but I played #152 God be with you till we meet again, because Sister Fleener and Adams are going home next week. Got a good laugh.

Later in the night we met with [a sister] again.  She is opening up more with us and explaining the experience she is having.  Her mom, in short, has treated her poorly throughout her childhood and she has had a difficulty with handling the situation. (I can't blame her) But this builds my testimony that I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and that as we can overcome trials and difficulties.  The biggest and most crucial points to apply the Atonement is through keeping His commandments.  Of the many we can see, the most common would be that we must build a relationship with Him.  We must develop our love for our Lord our God and to our neighbor.  I have found the best way to do this is through daily and sincere prayer, daily scripture study, and weekly and faithful church attendance.  This past week she was given the guidance given is that she goes to the temple and prays for guidance on the temple grounds.  She has shown a lot of commitment and we pray that she can continue on the road back to conversion.

One other person that I want to mention is another investigator we have, his name is [E].  He has been taught for many months and has had a running theme of a lack of faith and no hope.  Many missionaries have had many spiritual lessons with him and have done much to help him, but little progress was made.  We felt a few weeks ago to visit the less active member that lives with him.  That night we had a really spiritual lesson with the member and set a return appointment.  The next visit we had another lesson that was great with [E].  Fast forward through them going to church and the temple visitors center.  We showed up to teach [E] and the man that showed little hope and was with shaggy hair and a grown out beard, had cleaned himself up and had a glimmer in his eye of greater light and that hope had filled in some of his emptiness.  We're still working with him and good things are in his future.

I am finding that the spirit of Christmas is so important.  When I got the Christmas tree, it was put together and decorated in no time.  When the lights turned on... something special touched me.  I remember the wonderful feeling that comes as the Spirit touches our hearts during this Christmas season.  It feels like part of my soul that yearned to serve, has bloused into greater bloom.  I am going to take advantage to invite a greater Spirit into this year.  Nothing better than helping others find the love of Christ directly centered on them.  That is the goal, help as many as possible feel the love of Christ.


The Martinez family, who we ate dinner with (we had dinner with two families) it was super delicious!


Elder Nathan Benson

Monday, November 30, 2015

This Week at the Visitor's Center

So this week has been really fun!  Out of the many things that happened this week the two major events were the ward Thanksgiving party that we had Friday night and the following Saturday in the morning/afternoon where we went to the Mesa Temple Visitors Center.

Building up to this week we have been inviting a lot of our investigators and recent converts along with some of the less active members to come to both of the activities, especially to the visitors center.  We were getting really excited because we are starting to get a lot of progress with some of the investigators are having.  The only thing that is holding some of them back is either getting married or coming to church on Sunday.  So we've been sitting in a good position and the progress, even thought it is slow sometimes, is moving in the right direction.

To be at the ward party was quite a blast.  We had over 150 people show up (most being members, but there had been some members that had brought some friends that were non members)  The investigators that I had mentioned earlier (marriage and Church with a testimony of the Book of Mormon) both came!!  Not only that, Sergio, the one who we have on date for December, went around and said hi to all the people he knew!  Even though it was a bit, it was comforting to see that he would be welcomed in well once he is baptized. (Even the bishop gave him an amazing welcome.)  So with our focus people, and one or two not mentioned, coming, we were getting really excited for the Visitors Center.

The following day we had a fun set up to meet at the church building at 10:45 and leave to get there by 12pm.  However, we had some plan changes that really surprised me.  As we got there, only one of the investigators had shown up.  So we were a few families short of what we had planned for.  Not getting to worried we made a few calls and some weren't answering and others had a car problem.  So we offered help, left addresses to get to the Center, and gave a few prayers in our heart.  As we were getting ready to go, a less active that Elder Thurber and I had ran into not even 36hrs ago, said she was on her way! This was exciting because she hasn't gone to church in almost a calendar year.  So when she got there we left and began on our trek to the temple.  

When we arrived we began the presentation with the Cristus statue and began moving through the other latest features that had been just opened to the public not even 4 days ago.  The Spirit was super strong.  As we made our way into the back section we were going through some of the new interactive booths.  As we waited for a movie we were going to see on eternal families, all the sudden another less active and his investigator friend came in!  Turns out they had made the decision to go, but missed us on meeting at the church, so they went anyways!! Now we had double of what we started with for people we want to come to church.  We went through and had a great spiritual time and went to the chapel, that is found on the other side, for some sandwiches.  They were so good! (I even enjoyed the mayo and tomatoes! I must be an adult now or something)

Going to Sunday we had an even greater surprise.  The group that showed up late to the center, ended up being the group that came to a three hours of church!  For them it had been a great deal of time and also a first for the investigator.  After talking to him his once hopeless mindset had been replaced to seem one more of hope and peace.  no doubt that it had been the Spirit that he has felt the past two days.

When we were wrapping up our day at church I got talking with one of the other recent converts that said he was going, but we ended up not seeing him there with us.  Turns out, he had gone too!  Not only that, but just as we had gone to the back to eat at the church, is when they went through the center as well!!  So we started with only one investigator and a recent convert.  But ended with two less actives, two investigators, and 2 recent converts.  What can be noted as a small miracle in the gravity of the success yielded.  All thanks to the will of God.


πŸŒ… Elder Nathan Benson πŸŒ…

Mesa Temple Visit

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hola!

So this week I have found that a lot of the work we put into
missionary work doesn't get immediate results. Neither do we find that
much of the success that comes is a direct result from our efforts.
As I have thought about that, it has been humbling to see the
perspective it brings as greater understanding comes.

Going through my mission I have seen priorities change and desires
become more god-like.  Things such as having the desire to go and have
fun and be the coolest kid around slowly is converted to the desire to
love others for who they are and strive to be the best asset I can in
the Lord's hand.  Selfish has become selfless.  Lonliness and sadness
is converted to kindness and peace.  Pocrastination is fought and
judgments are lessened.  What used to be important for my pleasure,
has been slowly exchanged for the importance of the happiness of those
around me.

Hard work is developed, Patience is excercised, and faith in the
Lord's great plan grows.  The great work of God, carried out through
the guidance of the Spirit, becomes the source that provides the
strength necessary to carry on and do what he wants done.

I can honestly say that being outside the comfort zone has brought a
greater joy that I never knew had existed before.

Thanks for helping me out.


πŸŒ… Elder Nathan Benson πŸŒ…

Monday, November 16, 2015

Discursar, Viajar, Planear, Giving a Talk, Traveling, Planning

This week was quite the fun ride.  Elder Thuber and I have been growing well together and really figuring out a lot of things in many different phases of the work.  This Elder is different than me, but I have learned so much from him and have had many great experiences.  Elder Thurber is an Elder that is very intelligent and is what some may call a "history buff" I can basically bring up any point of church history or background information on a figurehead of the church, and he will know most of what there is to know.  He is a lover of classical music and will comment on the great composers that he had listened to before his mission occasionally, and I am finding that there are much more that just Mozart and Beethoven.  He has an amazing testimony of the gospel and together we have had powerful lessons and have enjoyed working hard in a ward that used to be covered by 6.  Hopefully that other companionship comes in next transfer, there is much work to be had.

This past week we have been traveling around looking for new investigators and less active members in the prospect to find more opportunities to bring souls once again unto Christ.  We have been having success in finding many members and there are many prospects for possible investigators.  The work continues on.  The two main families we are working on to get baptized are Karina y Manuel Aguero and Sergio Alvarez.  Sergio has a date for the 13 of December and he, along with about 3-5 other families ranging from investigators to part member families to recent converts, will be going to the Mesa Temple Visitors center this Saturday.  Pray that they will all be able to go.  The ones that will really benefit are the Aguero familiy, Sergio and Magda Lopez. 

Magda has a husband that was baptized about 6 months ago, and she is absolutely in love with most of the things about the church.  She watches general conference talks and last week was getting excited about the prospect of talking to some new neighbors they got and inviting them to church with her husband.  The only thing that has kept her from making the decision to be baptized is due to the fact that she feels like she is being pressured into it.  So we've been patient and with keeping the Spirit in the home, hopefully she decides soon to be baptized.

This past Sunday I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. (which was kinda cool because now I have given a talk in every ward I've served in and a missionary hasn't "discursado" in a good while in this ward, so it was a fun experience.) I was speaking in on the topic of fasting and fast offerings. I had found out Wednesday and had to speak that following Sunday.  When I was preparing for the talk, it caught me off guard how shallow my knowledge of this commandment was.  However, after giving it about 2 hours a day I was able to find some really cool things about fasting that I never really had given much thought to before. As I continued to pray and receive revelation, all the way up to as I was walking up onto the stand, I found that I was only two-thirds of the way through what I was considering to share when my 15 minutes were up.  I found it a neat experience to see how preparation, meditation, and careful consideration, revelation is by no means lacking in respect to what God can give to us.

I want to leave a little invitation that might just revamp your studies.  This is just a fun idea to try occasionally.  Come up with one or two questions you have on a gospel principle, question someone has had, or something you just want to dive into.  After you have your topic, spend that whole week trying to find as many things as you can on that topic.  At the end of the week, maybe last two days, compile everything and place it all together as you would a talk.  Then you get to see how everything starts to slide into place and you get much more out of what you studied. (and now you have a ready to go talk and a great set of notes to refer to in the future.)

I love being a missionary.  There is no other place I would rather be. 

Elder Benson

So this is what they call riΓ±Γ³n from a pig (basically a kidney) that is what I suspected, but I didn't look it up for the fear of not finishing it after knowing what it is. But it was darn good! (Always tortillas)


Eleazar Carrillo, a member from my first area, had made a whole bunch of really good sweet empanadas with a filling that is similar to pumpkin pie, but so much more delicious.  As he made a bunch of these, he remembered that I loved them, so he called my last area and figured out where I was and he gave me and Elder Sperry about 20 each! We will be eating like kings!!




Monday, November 9, 2015

Health nut, meetings galore, and so much more!

So this week was the week of the meetings.  We had MLC Tuesday, MLC follow-up (to get the District Leaders up to date) Wednesday, weekly planning (practically an equivalent of a meeting in how much it takes out of you) Thursday, Zone Meeting Friday, Interviews/District meeting Saturday, and a Conference that covered the SouthWest area of the U.S. (Nevada, AZ, TX, NM, etc) on Sunday. So coming out of this week, it was a spiritual, mental, and almost physical blast.  It is amazing how many meetings can take place in the course of the week.

The biggest take aways from the meetings has been to simplify our lives.  Anything from decluttering our schedule from activities, things we own, applications on our phones, or anything about things that are good and better, but may not be the best.  

I found that as I have been taking a closer look at my desk, there were a lot of things that I was trying to do to improve.  However, these things were to the point that they were counter productive and working against each other.  Thus limiting my growth and connection with the Spirit.  So what I have been doing is throwing anything away that I don't need or just moving it away in my luggage to where I won't worry about it.  As I have simplified and have focused on just studying from the Book of Mormon and making it the source of my studies, I have found that I have been much more in tune with the Spirit.  A new goal that I have set is what I feel is going to bring about success in my personal life as well as other aspects.  What I want to do is learn how to prioritize and balance my life.  So that as I go into studies, go about doing missionary work, or planning for the day, I am going to be looking for simplicity and focus.  That way when I get involved in something, it will be very powerful and focused.  

For example, instead of trying to chop on different parts of the tree, only hitting once in one spot, I am going to focus on hitting that one spot over and over until success is achieved. As Elder Lynn G. Robbins said "simplification is the best means to achieving success" and "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo Divinci

We have been working with our ward to get them motivated to do missionary work (this is best ward I have been in with regards to doing missionary work and helping the missionaries) and we are seeing that as we have been working closer with the leaders, results are coming.  This past week we set a goal as a ward to get some families together and take them all to the visitors center in Mesa the 21st of November. We have one part member family who has committed through our personal efforts. We're going to be following up with our leaders to keep them on their toes. They'll have a Thanksgiving party to plan for (including 12 turkeys). But that will not be a problem :) .

Right now keep . . . in your prayers.  These are families that are looking for a day job so they can actually sleep at night, putting together a marriage, and two seeking sincerely for the true church. We have a goal in our ward for a lofty goal of 10 baptisms, which our bishop set as a ward in PEC, and we are going to work hard to accomplish this. To give a bit of backround, our zone as a whole baptizes around 4-6 people a month, we are looking for 10 in our ward for the month of December.  President Griffin has issued a challenge to our zone that if each unit can have 1 baptism/month for the next three months (27 baptisms) he would treat us to his famous steak dinner. (Hands down the best steak I have ever had in my life. He does own a few ranches in Montana after all)

Elder Benson

Left:  So this week has been good.  I have been enjoying my time as a missionary.  There has been no other greater blessing.

Right:  President whipped out a $100 bill and bought the Zone Subs during interviews. My reputation as a healthy person is becoming known. Thus "health nut."



Left:  Found this on the wall of a members home.

Right:  Whipping out our sweaters because we finally saw something like this! But it warmed up again :/ .

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Priesthood Blessings in a Trailer Park

We recently had dinner with a part member family. The husband had just been baptized, but the rest are not members.  It was cool to meet them for the first time. As we had dinner and got to enjoy some time with them we shared a video about Jesus Christ ("Because of Him"). After showing the video we were able to find out that the son, who is just visiting for the weekend from Mexico, didn't have much of a belief in Christ or God. It was hard to hear that for me. We didn't go too deep for it looked like a subject that he didn't want to go into.  Instead, we continued to talk about the many blessings that come as we draw closer to Christ in thought, word, deed and action. As we came to a close of the lesson, the father asked for a priesthood blessing for a cold or something he had. We gave him the blessing and I was the mouthpiece. I could just say that every time I have had the opportunity to do so, I cannot help but feel the purpose that God has and His ultimate desire to help each and every one of us in any way he possibly can. 

As we finished the blessing, the little girl, who is about 9 years old, hopped right on the chair and asked for one too. We obviously couldn't say no to such a sweet desire. The blessing was just as sweet and loving with great council as well.

What really caught my attention was the grandma. She has participated a little and was starting to show desire. It was super cool because even though the father was the only one who was a member, the mom and daughter were the ones they taught the grandma how to pray correctly. (Super cool thing to see, even humbling) With the Spirit guiding her, she asked for a blessing as well of healing.  When we finished the blessing, it would be easy to say that she felt the Spirit, but I know for certain they I did.

Throughout this experience we were outside in a trailer-home park. The surrounding neighbors and traffic were a little noisy and impeded the Spirit. But as soon as the first blessing began, everything around us became still and silent to where the Spirit was around all of us. It was a sacred moment to behold and be apart of.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Flat Tires, Historic Transfers, Sickness, Service and Sleeping

So for this week we had transfers, as we all know, and this definitely was different from the very get go. Apart from the fact that we will be having split up the zone leaders in placing them in different companionships.

To start out, as we were leaving the transfer building, there was a sister companionship being doubled into our zone.  So the vehicle coordinator decided to be kind in giving them a car.  However, as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot, we found after driving for only about 2-5min, they were no longer behind us...  We called them on the phone right before we were getting ready to go on the freeway and found out that they got a flat tire.  President must've known that was going to happen when he said "Zone leaders, make sure you take care of my sisters and that they get situated and taken care of"  sometimes it works out a little to well with simplicity of comments such as those and the complexity required to fulfill them.

After we were able to change out the tire for a spare, we took it to the mission office and shoved everything into the other car we had and went on our way back to the zone.  The day was not over.  

Coming back to the zone we had to move that double in into a an apartment with two other sisters, (they only have only one bathroom, I have not idea how they are going to figure that out, it may require a lot of "setting goals and making plans" PMG ch8, weekly planning) and we had about 2 sets of bunkbeds and 3-4 single beds to move around to accommodate other changes in the zone. So we saved that for the next day.  Turns out, the first apartment we had brought the bed to, already 2 extra beds for the other companionship moving in with them! (I bonked myself on the head for that one, I knew they had 4 missionaries in that apartment before, but it had completely left my mind on the possibility of the beds not being moved anywhere. der!)  In the end we only had to move 2 sets of bunkbeds. Much less than expected.

Just as this was happening,  I picked up a friend in the process.  

About a week and a half ago we got our flu shots, some elders had gotten sick, and they were so kind and full of the wish to give, that they just had to give me it as well.  Lets just say the next few days weren't the best.

First night my nose was stuffed and running, my retainer that night gave me a headache, so I didn't really fall asleep.  So around 12:30am, I woke up, took out my retainer, popped in 3 Ibuprofen, a zyrtec and a pseudophedrine, and then put on a jacket and pj pants. I was asleep in about 10 min after that.  The next few days were under control, but we didn't do much. Except for a giant service project that almost the whole mission in the valley is involved in, which only happens once a year, and me and Elder Sperry were kinda the ones helping organize the missionaries for the event.  So we went and painted, which was super fun, and I was able to strategize it to where I stayed in the shade for most of the time, but my voice was like a motorcycle by the end. (I did exaggerate a little, but it was fun)  All in all it was super fun and being here in the Estrella ward now I am super excited for the potential that this ward has.  It is what we would call a very solid Phase 2 ward and it is not to far from being in Phase 3.

Basically it is broken up like this,
  1. This phase is where the missionaries do all of the finding, teaching, and baptizing.  This is with no help from the ward.  Mission-wide, this would yield about 30 baptisms/mo.
  2. This is where the members help the missionaries.  The members are typically more involved in the teaching and feeding the missionaries really yummy dinners, but not as much of doing their own missionary work.  They basically are the chauffeurs, and sit in on lessons.  Mission wide this would yeild about 120 baptisms, not bad, but not the best.
  3. Can you guess what the last one is?  This is by far the most effective and the longest lasting, which is because of the nature of this phase.  As Elder Foster of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who spoke in the most recent October 2015 General Conference, put it, phase 3 is where the missionaries help the members in their missionary work (the flip flop of phase 2, in other words the change in roles).  If the full time missionaries and members became experts in this focus, the Mission-wide average baptisms per month would be about 400.  Yes, you read that correctly 400 baptisms.  FOUR HUNDRED, CUARTO CIENTOS, what other languages would you like for this to be clear....??!!  

It basically comes down to the idea that the members are the full-time finders and the ones that prepare people to receive the gospel, and the missionaries are the full time teachers.  In that the members still being involved in the entire process till even beyond being baptized and going through the temple, being their lifelong support.  The members are the greatest key in missionary work for every phase of the work.

After the paint (West Maricopa Zone for this house)



Elder Elliot (left) and Elder Hepler (right)



Before the paint (West Maricopa Zone for this house with Estrella members)



We had about 100 missionaries at this project!!


πŸŒ… Elder Nathan Benson πŸŒ…

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ward's excitement growing for missionary work.

Hola!!

This past week has been fun to see the ward pick up.  To start, the area had been without a baptism for more than 8 months and the member support was pretty good.  However, it had been only support from a few strong members and the rest was slowly going downhill.  

We worked hard.  We put in a lot of effort to plan well, to work well with our members, and find investigators.  We had some success in working with investigators every now and then, but none really progressed beyond the first 2-3 lessons.  As we worked with the members and strengthened relationships while also working closely with the less actives, we found that members were getting more animated and excited to go out and work with us.  When Elder Sperry and Tamayo came into the ward, along with Hermana Arygle and Zelaya, the bishop started being much more friendly with us as missionaries.

Over time we saw growth little by little and the relationships developed well. The ward mission plan was created to get the ward motivated to do missionary work beyond just going out with the missionaries.  The points of the ward mission plan were inspired including: 1) Pray for missionary opportunities daily and 2) Read the Book of Mormon at least 10 min every day.  This idea came from one of my uncles that served in Spain.  Long story short, a growing ward had to move to another location to attend in another building which was about an hour drive.  Very little were attending.  So after discussing with the bishop, they invited every member to pray to have the Spirit and to read from the Book of Mormon daily.  Shortly after, the attendance in sacrament meeting easily doubled or tripled within a month.

We presented this plan to our bishop and he gobbled it up.  The next sacrament meeting he announced it to the whole ward without telling us that he would do it.  Since then he has been on fire.  He has begun to make more visits with members of the ward and asking us to perform at a higher level and he is willing to take on new things, (projects, activities, etc) to improve the work.

Now the ward has a super cool card/poster that is going to excite everyone.  


I now am on my way to my next ward. It's funny because I have only moved to neighboring wards.  In about 10 min I could go from this next area through my current one, to the one I first served in.  I am only serving neighborhoods.  Not an entire mission ;)

Elder Benson




Monday, September 28, 2015

Love others because you love them and the Lord.

I have come to realize that God is the one that values my efforts and diligence, and in
return He blesses me with results. . . in the way that He wants to.  So any good work or success we have in the area is not the direct results from our efforts . . . He just wants to give us the opportunity to grow through these experiences and value greater our relationship with Him and our brother and sisters.  

I am far from perfect and have come to understand that I have a long way to go, but as I have prayed daily for my Father to help me have unconditional and unbiased love for everyone, I have found that I have been serving others more and have been more happy.  I can testify that when we lose ourselves in the service of others, we find the true desires within ourselves, that is to serve and love one another.  As we fulfill those righteous desires, not seeking our own, we find the greatest happiness and growth that we could ever imagine.

Love others not because you love yourself.  Love others because you love them and the Lord.

Elder Benson