Monday, December 30, 2013

Second to last day of 2013!

Can you believe 2013 is almost over? And then it will be two thousand FOURTEEN. Sick. That is just not allowed.

We had a good week this week, the highlight of which was SEEING MY FAMILY ON CHRISTMAS! That was just the best. The next time I see you will be Mother's Day and the one after that I'll be home! How crazy is that? I came out at the perfect time. Six months, Christmas, six months, Mother's Day, six months, home! 
I don't know if I mentioned this before, but we had been really struggling to find new investigators for a few weeks, so we did a complete overhaul of our area book. We separated all of the former and potential investigators (like 3 years worth) into groups based on which part of town they live and then we've been trying to contact every single one of them. So far it has been very fruitful.
A couple weeks ago we met a woman named Norma that had met the missionaries in the past, but was always working and didn't have time to actually sit down with them. Now she's not working, though, so she has time! On Monday we went over and talked to her a little bit about what we do as missionaries, Heavenly Father's love for us, and how His Gospel blesses families. Her two daughters were in the room and her husband in the back, but no one but her really listened. I think that her husband was listening from the other room, though, because on Saturday we went back with one of our members to explain to her what our Sunday services are like and invite her to church, and this time he was out in the living room participating and interested. We invited them to church, and ALL FOUR OF THEM CAME! Wife, husband, and the two kids. It was a miracle.
Last night we ate dinner with a couple from the ward that we don't know super well. It was amazing. The wife talked to us for a bit and then expressed some difficulties that she's been going through. She raised her kids in the church, taught them the Gospel, and did her best to teach them about the Savior, but now they are all grown and have all chosen to take different paths. Tears came to her eyes as she expressed her love for her children and her anguish over the choices that they were making. I felt prompted to tell her that as a representative of Jesus Christ, I know that Heavenly Father is pleased with her efforts and that He sees her heart and knows that it is good. Everyone else sees what we do and the fruits of our labors, which don't always accurately reflect our desires, but Heavenly Father knows what's inside. He knows who we truly are. The Spirit was strong as I testified of God's love for her and comforted her.

I love opportunities like that to make a little difference in someone's day. As a missionary they come all the time because people trust us with things they don't tell other people, and I always appreciate the chance to bear my testimony and console someone else.

Being a missionary is the best.
Other than that, nothing too outstanding has happened. We're working hard!
Keep on keepin' on!

I LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Bennett

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas in pictures!!

hello everyone!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

sorry this is short, but I wanted to send you some pictures since it's been forever!









is this not drop dead gorgeous? i know. i want to retire in north carolina.

Wingapo.

Well, another week has gone by. Yeehaw.


We had some fun things this week, and I took lots of pictures, but............ still no SD card converter. So sorry. Hermana Johnson got food poisoning last Monday so she couldn't get it for me. She's going to try today, though, and then we have a mission Christmas program on Friday so hopefully I can get it there. Someday you will see pictures again!

On Tuesday Anthony Perkins from the Quorum of the Seventy came to our mission. Monday he met with the three most southern zones, and then Tuesday with the six northern ones. It was really good and I learned a lot. He talked to us about what we're doing well as a mission and what we need to improve. Plus I got to see my old district from Newport News, which was fun. Missionary functions are the best.

On Saturday we had the annual Elizabeth City Ward Christmas Social, which was fun. It was a potluck dinner and then we did a little live nativity program. It was super cute. And I was drafted as the angel! So that was fun. Luckily they had Brother Umphlett from the ward narrate the whole thing and all the "actors" just walked around, so I didn't have to do anything except stand there and look angelic.

After the activity we taught Adan, our only progressing investigator, the Word of Wisdom, and it went so well! He told us that he hasn't touched alcohol since we met him, and that was without us even saying anything. The Spirit just gave him a little nudge and he did it all on his own. He is great.

Other than that, things are going well. I've been pretty frustrated the past few weeks because it feels like we've been really ineffective in our efforts to find and teach new investigators. Everything is just so spread out and I can't find the Hispanics! But we're doing our best and letting God do the rest :)

That's pretty much it... not much to tell.

Have a great week! I love you!

Hermana Bennett

Funny funny Courtney :D

This wasn't really meant to be posted.. but I thought it was too funny not to post. We got this e-mail from Courtney about a week ago.



Hello family! I have a favor to ask. It's been a while since I've heard from Sam Laub, and she just got back from Ecuador. This lack of communication is simply not acceptable. Could you all text her and say,

"Your best buddy wants to hear from you. Please write her."

Thanks! Her number is 208-***-**** (I think). Amazing that I still remember that, wouldn't you agree?

If that doesn't work, then facebook would suffice.

You're great!

And please tell me if she's dead. Her silence is slightly concerning to me.

dddeeeccceeemmmbbbeeerrr 999ttthhh

I believe I wrote in my journal every single night this past week. It's a miracle. 

Let's see...

Oh, nope. I missed one day. December 6. My bad.

Anyway...

We have a really great investigator right now, Adan. He's the one that came to church last week. 

Well, I think we still have him. He didn't come to church yesterday even though we talked to him like an hour before. Then he sent us this super long message that we couldn't read because our phone is dumb and then we tried to call him a bunch of times and went to his house and he didn't answer, so I was pretty sure he dropped us. But then just now he texted us asking how we're doing! So we'll see.

Anyway, on Monday we had a great lesson with him about the Restoration of the Gospel, and on Saturday we taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation. He is amazing. When we ask him to read a scripture he will read it, stop, read it again, think for a minute, and then give this perfect explanation of what it says. I can literally see the Spirit working within him and teaching him. It is a tender mercy from the Lord to have such a great investigator right now while we're struggling to open this area.

The zone leaders' car was in this shop this week, so they had to take our car to a leadership conference in Portsmouth, which left us on foot for two days. That was fun. Hermana Brugman, being from Arizona, thinks it's freezing when it gets below like 50 degrees, while I'm chilling in a short sleeve shirt. It's pretty funny.

The stake choir also did an interpretation of The Forgotten Carols, which we got to go to on Saturday night. This was also a tender mercy because it's a borrowed tradition from Whitney and Brian to watch it every year... I didn't have to miss it for my one Christmas away!

The Christmas devotional last night was also good. Minus how orange they all looked. Bad lighting. But great spirit!

On the way home from the devotional last night Hermana Brugman commented on how much stronger she feels the Spirit now than she did before her mission, and it's so true. Before the mission I would feel the Spirit occasionally, but it was more of a general good feeling and didn't come that often. Now, though, I feel the Spirit so strong and so often. It's a difficult-to-describe feeling of pins and needles that hits me with a physical force. It usually starts in my chest and spreads, but only lasts for a few seconds. For me, I feel that this feeling testifies of truth. It comes when I read the scriptures, when I hear the prophet speak, when I hear hymns, etc. I love it! The Spirit is amazing.

Oh, also... I'VE BEEN OUT FOR SIX MONTHS!!!

How did that happen? I'm already a third done with my mission! And by the time I finish training Hermana Brugman I'll be almost half done!

I wish it would slow down. It's going too fast.

Well, you know what's next...

I LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Bennett

PS. I should be getting my camera card converter back tomorrow so that I can finally send pictures next week.

Fat.

Fat.

Is what I am.

We eat so much here it is gross.

I guess before we came here the missionaries were only getting fed once or twice a week, so they called a missionary meal calendar coordinator, and now we get dinner every single night. Which is great, but also a little bit rough on my insides. When we come people make a big feast because it's a rare occasion for them, but what is that we're missionaries every day, which means that we eat those feasts EVERY DAY. We eat ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pie probably three to four times a week here. And if not that then chicken salad and more pie. Always pie. 

I feel like I have a continuous flow of food churning through my insides. 

It's kind of yucky.

But, I am truly grateful for the kindness of the members and the sacrifice that they make to feed us. I just wish that they would turn that kindness into salad instead of pie.

Anyway, we had a good week over here in North Carolina. Lots of things happened. Let me recap.

Tuesday we had exchanges with the sister training leaders. That went well, as always.

Wednesday we taught THREE lessons in one day! That is a ton for us. We also found a super golden investigator, Adan. We found him knocking doors and he is very nice. Hermana Brugman was so funny about it, though. She comes from a pretty well-off family and being in this low income area totally freaks her out. Adan lives in a trailer, and as we were heading to his house for an appointment later that night after finding him she told me that she was afraid that he would lock us in the trailer and do something to us. I told her that the Spirit would help us to know if someone had bad intentions. By the time we left the appointment she was gushing about how much she loves him :) He is great! Very humble and lots of potential. We did a baptismal invitation and he said that after he learns more that he would be baptized.

Thursday was Thanksgiving! We spent the entire day at the Anderson family's house cooking, eating, playing games, and decorating their tree. It was so fun and made me excited to create my own holiday traditions someday. Another highlight of the day was a little trick that the elders pulled on us. They spent the morning helping Brother Anderson with yard work while we cooked, and in the process found some half dead crawdads, which they then put in our shoes! Hermana Brugman found it first and freaked out. Silly elders. If you don't know what crawdads are, which I didn't until Thanksgiving, look them up on Google. They're like sick slimy alien creatures.

Friday we had district meeting and I can't remember what else. Good day.

Saturday we got stuck in the mud! We went out to South Mills to visit a less active, and they live on a little farm. It's been raining off and on over the past few days, so the ground is soft. (Oh, and everyone parks in the yard here.) So, not thinking anything about it, we parked our car next to their gravel driveway so that it would be out of the way and then went in to our lesson. We came out, tried to drive away, and we were just STUCK in the muck. Hna Brugman, who's from Arizona where apparently there is no mud, kept saying, "Just gun it!" as our tires were spinning away. Finally I made her get out to look and she said, "Oh, now I get it." Finally the member's husband heard us making all this noise revving our engine and came out to help us. He tried to pull us out with his tractor a few times, but the hook kept slipping off, so everyone ended up pushing from behind as I gave it the gas. Finally we were free! Pretty funny. Us city girls in skirts looked like downright fools out there stuck in the mud.

Sunday we studied, went to church, ate, studied, ate, and went home. It was the most unproductive day ever. So frustrating. BUT, we had an investigator in church! Adan came and loved it. He is golden.

So, as you can see, things are going well! We're learning the area and having some fun experiences. 

Sorry still no pictures. Someday. Maybe in a couple weeks.

I LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Bennett

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


This is going to have to best quick, sorry. I lost track of time and only have thirteen minutes to write this!
Updates from my journal:

Monday

P-day! Love it. I twas a good one. We emailed and then sent to Walmart, where I bought a Garmin! Up until now we've had this old dumb Magellan GPS that was horrible and we were getting lost constantly. It was free, though -- some elders gave it to us -- so I was going to just tough it out and not spend the money, but today I snapped and bought me a nice GPS! It is the best purchase I've ever made. No more getting lost constantly. No more stressful drives! I seriously feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Sooooo happy. Now I know that wherever we need to go we can just plug it in and be there in no time!

Thursday

Well, not much to report for the past three days. Hermana Brugman got really sick so we had to stay in for two days. Today we took a break from driving and walked around the whole city. Met some cool potentials! Then we ate dinner. Twice. Last night Sister Morris was signed up to feed us all, so we showed up and started talking to her and she says, "Yeah, tomorrow I'm having y'all over at 7!" Then the awkwardness ensued. Pretty soon both sets of elders were there trying to act like they had just so happened to also drop by. so they left and we shared a scripture and left too. So, as you can see, we had no choice but to eat with her. The problem was that we already had a dinner appointment for the next day. Rather than reschedule, though, we just did them both! So full. Good practice for Thanksgiving.
Saturday

Hermana Brugman is doing well. Frustrated with the language, as all trainees are. I wake up every day determined to speak to her only in Spanish, but she understands next to nothing and I get impatient and switch back to English. It's hard. I don't know how to help someone learn. Just learn! I don't know.
Overall things are going well! We're learning the area and the people and improving day by day.

On a completely different note, my new favorite hymn is "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy." It's a men's hymn and is the most beautiful thing in the world. Not the way that it's written in the English hymnbook, though. It has a higher melody that I don't like. Just the lower part. Ahhhhhh it speaks to me. And even better in Spanish! That, a version of "Be Still, My Soul," and "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" are my FAVORITES. Sung my men. Predictable, I know, but so beautiful.

Well, gotta run.

I LOVE YOU!!!
Hermana Bennett

Oh, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Estoy en Carolina del Norte!


Hello, hello, hello from the South!

Wow. The difference between Virginia and North Carolina is huge. Now I feel like I'm actually in the south. It's fun!

Leaving Newport News was so hard. I miss it. It's like I have poured my whole heart and soul into those people. They are my everything. When I left I felt like I left a huge chunk of me behind. Good days, bad days, triumphs, devastation. It's crazy how attached I am to them. Ahhhhh I cry every day inside when I think about how much I miss them. I took tons of really great pictures, but I still don't have my little converter thing, so I'll have to send them in a few weeks when I get it.

My new companion is Hermana Brugman, from Chandler, Arizona. (finally! not from Utah!) She's super nice. I think we'll get along great. She's athletic (played basketball at Dixie State for a year before coming out here), which is also a nice change from previous companions. Yay for real exercise in the morning!

 Now let me tell you a little bit about my new area...

It's huge. The whole zone, in fact. We cover like eight different cities. We have to drive a ton. English ward with a Spanish group. About nine Spanish speaking members. We're the first sister missionaries this ward had in five years and they LOVE us, which is great, but also stinks because they want us to do tons of English work. I don't want to do English work! I'm a Spanish missionary! Oh well. We share the ward with the zone leaders and some biking elders, which is fun. They are a little less awkward than some elders I've met, but also a little weirder.

As you can tell, everything is just SO different. I feel like I'm starting my mission all over. Relearning how to work with the members, where to go, how to find people, how to use our time most effectively. And all with a little baby trainee that has no idea what she's doing! So far we've spent our days just meeting the members and talking to them about their perspective of the work in this area so that we can work in the most effective way possible over the next three months.

Oh, before I forget, here's my new address:
905 Poindexter St.
Elizabeth City, NC 27909

Look it up on google earth! We live in the bottom floor of a house and it is ADORABLE. After you look at the house do a 180 and look at the view. So beautiful. We have this nice field right across the street and then just water and trees. It makes morning exercise quite enjoyable.
Things that I have already noticed about the South:

People are SO nice. Southern hospitality is real.

Lots of people are still racist. Yuck.
The scenery is BEAUTIFUL. Virginia is gorgeous, but North Carolina just puts it to shame. It's like the difference between the terrestrial and celestial kingdoms ;)

It's warm here. I'm in a skirt and short sleeved shirt today and it feels great. Jealous?
Butter.

I want to live here, I think. My companion took some stunning photos of the scenery, but she forgot her camera cord today. I'll have her send them to me next week and then I'll send them to y'all! (haha. y'all.)
So, things are going well! Different, but well. I'm excited.
Have a great week y'all!

I LOVE Y'ALL!

Hermana Bennett

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Transfers!


Well, the day has finally come. I'm getting transferred! Wow. I'm being moved to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, which is about three hours away from where I am now. We're "whitewashing" the area, which means that both of the missionaries that are there now are leaving and we're both coming in fresh. And extra fresh, because my companion is a greenie! That's right, I'm training again. I have lots of emotions, but overall I would say that I am looking forward to the growth that I will make there. I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot different from Newport News, so I will learn a lot. They've never had hermanas there before, just elders, so hopefully their area book and apartment aren't too much of a mess... we'll see.

 I forgot my journal (again. seems to happen more often than not), so I'm trying to think about last week. Oh, we went on exchanges with the sister training leaders (sort of like zone leaders, but just for sisters). I was honestly dreading it, but it went really well! I learned a ton from Sister Banner about planning and personal study and being bold and establishing your purpose and all sorts of things. It was great. Hermana Johnson and I have been able to put those things that we learned into practice over the past few days and have seen great results.

 Sunday night we had an amazing lesson with a woman named Alma, her mom, and two of their friends. The spirit was SO strong. Probably the strongest that I've felt it during a lesson on my mission. We brought our recent convert, Melina, with us, and taught them about the Book of Mormon and the Holy Ghost. They understood really well and all committed to read it, pray about it, and be baptized when they know that it's true. After the lesson we knelt down and they asked me to say the prayer. As I was praying the spirit was SO POWERFUL there. I couldn't believe it. Then we employed something that we had learned in district meeting the week before, which is to leave right after the closing prayer so that they can feel the difference between the spirit that was there with you and how it leaves as they return to normal activities. I love it. Because often after lessons and closing prayers people want you to stay so they offer you water or juice or whatever and you start talking about other things, and the spirit slowly slides away without anyone noticing. It makes it harder for them to notice the difference in how they feel when you're there talking about the Gospel and when you're not there. Anyway, we did that and I feel like it went really well. We're going to go back tonight to see how they're reading is going and answer any questions.
 


 Last night we did FHE with Rosalio and Melina (those same recent converts). It was so sad to say goodbye to them. I've been there with them since their first lesson, their wedding, baptism, first time praying in church, callings, everything. I can't stand to leave, but they are incredibly strong and I know that they'll do just fine without me. And in nine months they can go to the temple and be sealed!
 
 

 It's crazy to me how much I love the people here. Saying goodbye is hard, but I know that I have to do it.
 
 

 
 
Funny story. The first picture is with a little girl named Melanie Flores. In primary during sharing time they were talking about temporal blessings and in particular about our five senses. Each of the children got a little piece of paper with one of the senses written on it and had to think of a blessing that had to do with that sense. For example, if I got sight I could say, "I use my eyes to read the scriptures." Well, Melanie got hearing and said, "I can hear Hermana Bennett!" So Hermana Self wrote "Hermana Bennett" on the board for the blessing. It was adorable. The other pictures are Rosalio and Melina and their kids. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH IT HURTS.


 Well, I should probably go. Sorry this letter was so disorganized.

 Have a great week everyone!

 I LOVE YOU!!!

 Hermana Bennett

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jalo. (That's Colombian for hello!)


Well, I forgot my journal this week. I feel like I had a ton to tell you, but now of course I can't remember anything.

 Let me think about each day at a time...

 Monday was p-day! Woot. Not too much to report there.

 Tuesday we had a mission-wide sisters' conference. The theme was "Too blessed to be stressed," so we heard about gratitude and humor and things like that. They also fed us Hawaiian haystacks for lunch. There was a clothing exchange, and I found some surprisingly good things.

 Wednesday... not a clue. Oh! We went and saw Angel, the less active that we've been working with a lot. We read Mosiah 4:11-12 with him and talked about the importance of scripture study, prayer, and church attendance in retaining a remission of our sins.

 Ohh, now I remember Monday. I fasted! Because Sunday night we met with Angel and he told us about the things that he has gone through in life and how he feels tired and hopeless at this point. He doesn't think that God can forgive him or that he can change. Right there in his kitching I started crying like a little girl.

In my defense, he cried too.

 Anyway, on Monday I was feeling like I needed some heavenly help.

 You see, people often expect us, as missionaries, to be super humans. We should never be sad, tired, or angry, and we should always know the answer to every question and the solution to every problem. Well, it's just not so. I am a twenty-year-old girl and I'm as ignorant as the next kid with a nametag on. I do, however, have the authority to receive revelation for the people in my stewardship. And if there was ever an hermana in need of revelation, it was I.

 Angel's situation raised questions that I had never thought about before. He was baptized, and one of the requirements for baptism is complete repentance of all your sins, which means that he should already be free from his past mistakes. Why, then, does he still feel the guilt and pain? Is it just because he can't forgive himself, or did God revoke his forgiveness? Is that even possible? Never in my life had I thought about these things before, at least not seriously. So Monday I fasted, asking Heavenly Father to help me to understand and to just bring peace to my soul about the situation.

Well, it worked. By the end of the day I felt calm and peaceful, and I know that that change did not come from my own power. I also found an answer in the scriptures, and it surprised me. I had always thought that once God had forgiven us, that was it - the sins were gone. But it says in various places that we have to RETAIN a remission of our sins. Retain? Woah. Mind blown. Like King Benjamin says in Mosiah, one-time repentance is not enough. We have to humble ourselves continually, pray daily, and endure to the end (continue striving to keep all of the commandments), in order to rejoice, be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of our sins. Big learning moment for me.

 This is something that I'm learning on my mission. I don't understand ANYTHING. I do, but I don't. Every day we teach about faith, repentance, the Atonement, the love of God, prayer, and other principles. I understand them, but at the same time, I understand nothing. What is faith, really? How can I even begin to comprehend the grand scope of the Atonement? I've listened to Brad Wilcox's talk about grace about five times and it still just blows my mind when I try to comprehend it. I also read the Pearl of Great Price over the last few days and my mind just about exploded. Because of this, Mosiah 4:9 has become one of my favorite scriptures:

 Believe in aGod; believe that he is, and that he bcreated all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all cwisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not dcomprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

 Simply put, I have a mortal brain, and I just can't wrap my head around the perfection of the Gospel. So I just believe and do my best, trusting that someday I will understand.

 Thursday was Halloween! We had to stop proselyting when it got dark, so the stake president's family had our entire zone of missionaries over for pizza and fun. After that we went to Angel's house to help them make tamales for their Halloween party the next day.

 
All I remember about Friday is eating, and eating, and eating some more. People think the missionaries starve, but really all we do is grow... outward.

 Saturday we did exchanges with the hermanas in Gloucester. Hermana Karson came here to be with me and Hermana Johnson went up there with her companions. It was way fun! I thoroughly enjoyed being with Hermana Karson again for the day, and we got some good work done.

 Sunday was crazy. Two of our less actives had committed to come to church and then fell through, which was really disappointing. By the time we got to church I was not in the mood to smile and greet all of the branch members, but it turned out fine. We had some good classes, testimony meeting was great as always, and then after church we had a couple really good appointments and dinner with a family from the branch.

 So, as always, a wonderful and terrible week! I never knew that life could be so amazing and so awful all at the same time, but that's how it is out here. By the end of every week I think, "I never want to live that week again." And at the same time I think, "Wow. I am so blessed to be here. I love this." Pretty crazy.

 Well, I LOVE YOU! Have a great week.

 Hermana Bennett

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Halloween (almost)

Well, we had a great week! I'm going to tell it in pictures.



Halloween is a-coming and everyone in our favorite trailer park has their decorations up. It's also starting to get cold. Everyone that told me that humidity makes hot hotter and cold colder was RIGHT! It's freezing. Luckily we are still having some warm days, but pretty soon we're going to have to bundle up every day.




First of all, these. This is actually from last week, but it's a funny story. Last Sunday we had dinner at a member's house and then went over to see a less active. Well, I failed to remember that they had asked me what my favorite food from Mexico was and offered to make it for us. So we get there, stuffed, they ask us if we want to eat, and I say, "Oh... do you already have food ready?" Hoping the answer is no. They say, "Yes, what you ordered!" Oops. We had no choice. So we each sat down to a plate of SIX of these things. I made it through four and then called it quits. Delicious, though!



We made one of our less actives, Angel, this sweet prayer rock. He loves it and has been praying every night since then!



They subsequently took us out to dinner on Friday night to a super authentic Mexican restaurant. Delicious :)
Angel is the less active, and his wife Judith, is a nonmember. We just met them a little over two weeks ago, but since then we've seen them three or four times a week. They both have so much potential and we're working hard to help them overcome the obstacles that they have. I love them so much I can't stand it. They're the best.



Friday night we carved pumpkins with one of the families in our branch. (sorry I can't figure out how to rotate it)



Do you like my CTR pumpkin? Once a missionary always a missionary.

Finally, the craziest thing happened to us a few days ago. Here it is from my journal:
For the past few days I kept feeling like we needed to go to this apartment complex called Heritage, but I kept brushing it aside because we've already knocked every single door there. Yesterday during our training, though, we were reading in Preach My Gospel about listening to the Spirit and I mentioned to Hermana Johnson that I kept having this feeling that we should go there, but didn't know whether or not it was the Spirit. Typical of Hermana Johnson, she looks over at her books and says, "I have these three books, one of which is Our Heritage. I'll close my eyes, you close yours. I'll mix the books up and you pick one. If it's Our Heritage, we go." (All of the books are the same size and material, so we couldn't tell). Just for fun I agreed, but silently said a prayer that if we were supposed to go there, Heavenly Father would help me to pick the right book. 
So we both close our eyes, she mixes the books for a bit, and then says go. I choose, we open our eyes, and it was Our Heritage! We both screamed.
Our appointment canceled on us for right after that, so we went straight to Heritage, praying to know what we were doing there.
Right when we got out of the car, a guy started to talk to us and I thought, "No way!" But then he got in his car and drove away before we could start a conversation. I thought we missed our chance. So then we knocked some doors that we knew were Hispanic, and even found two guys that were nice and open to listening, but couldn't go in because there was no woman home, so we referred them to the elders. Then we saw Eddy, a guy that we had met when we knocked before, and almost ran down to talk to him, but he also drove away. I started to give up hope.
Finally we decided to just walk to the back of the complex and start knocking from there because we still had another hour before dinner. So we walked all the way to the back, picked a building, walked up and knocked one of the four doors, and heard Spanish on the other side! We explained a little and the guy let us in - luckily his sister was home - and I made Hermana Johnson give the whole overview of who we are and what we do. He listened to the whole thing and then told us that he's already a member of our church! He was baptized five years ago but then drew away because he had to work a lot and felt bad that he couldn't fulfill al lof his responsibilities. He was super hesitant, but we got his name and number and are going to start visiting him regularly. 
The whole experience was just wild.  The words works in mysterious ways and the Spirit directs us even when we don't realize it. We had no reason to go back there, but we did anyway and ended up finding a "lost sheep." He just moved back three weeks ago, so we definitely wouldn't have found him earlier.
Pretty amazing! I feel like it's a perfect cookie cutter missionary story to share with future generations :)
Well, I have to go. Love you lots! Have a great week!
Hermana Bennett







Thursday, October 24, 2013

...

Well, folks, to be honest I am just not much in the mood to write a long email this week.

 

Here are some journal entries from the week:

 

Oct. 15

Six months ago if you had told me that one day I would be standing in the dark in the rain on a man's porch telling him that Jesus Christ could change him, I would have laughed at you. And yet there I was tonight, telling Jacob that Jesus could change him. I love it.

 

Oct. 16

Today we knocked one of our investigators that we thought had been avoiding us, and it turned out that her schedule was just crazy and her phone was broken :( She let us right in and started asking super good questions abut the church and authority. Innately she understands that authority comes from God, not from studying. Gold. And, best of all, she's been READING! We are so excited. We had a progressing investigator and we didn't even know it.

 

Oct. 18

My English is going to pot. Today I said orden for order, direction for address, and comprension for comprehension.

 

Oct. 20

Nobody wants the free gift of eternal life. Six people committed to come to church today and not one of them came. Played the piano for the primary program. Wanted to cry I was so nervous, but prayed a lot and it went well. Ate dinner twice. Barf. Thank goodness it's Monday tomorrow.

 

It was kind of a crazy week with lots of ups and downs, but we're moving on to better things this week! (Hopefully)

 

Also, Virginia really isn't that southern but every once in a while we see crazy things like this:


Two fishing poles, two confederate flags, and a redneck sticker. Classy.

 

Also, spider webs like this one abound.


Kinda hard to see, but look close and you'll see it. And then you'll want to cry like I do every time I see these. The only thing worse is their creators.


Welp, have a great week everyone! Love ya lots.

 

Hermana Bennett

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rain.

Well, if I were to pick one word to describe the past week it would be: WET. It has been raining literally nonstop for the past five days. Finally today the clouds have cleared up and we can see the SKY! I almost forgot how big, blue, and beautiful it is. The rain has been kind of fun though. It is crazy here. During the summer sometimes it would pour so hard that I could barely see the lines on the road when I was driving. Follow the lights in front of you! So fun. I love the storms.

 

Other than that, this week was pretty great. Here's one experience we had.

 

We finally got to meet Angel, a less active that I've only met briefly when he came to church one time a couple months ago. I know his story and felt impressed to share Moroni 8:8 with him, which says:

 

Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the bwhole need no physician, but they that are sick;

 

After reading this I talked a little bit about how we all have weaknesses that we are so aware of and seem impossible to change. Things that we do again and again and think, "I will never do that again." But then we mess up and think, "I will NEVER do that again." But then we do. Sometimes it's a daily battle. I testified that even those things can be overcome through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. No matter how low or unworthy we think we are, we are never too far gone for the Savior. He can and will forgive us and we can put those things behind us.

 

I think this scripture touched his heart and after that and he really opened up to us and told us about his experiences and what he feels like he is missing in life. He has some real struggles, but is very kind and sincere. I am determined to help him. We are going to start going by twice a week to help him feel the Spirit and feel supported in his efforts to live the Gospel and change his life.

 

This was the first thing we learned on the first day in the MTC, but I feel like I am learning and understanding it more every day: Missionary work is all about LOVE. If we don't love the Lord, we won't know why we're here. If we don't love the members, they won't trust us with their referrals. If we don't love our investigators and less actives, they won't feel any desire to change. Sometimes people drive me crazy because I know what they need and they just won't accept it, and sometimes 45-year-old adults act like children and I get frustrated with them, so I tell myself, "Just love them to death. Either they will change or they will die, and then at least you won't have to deal with them anymore." Haha. Pretty dramatic, but sometimes I just need something to keep me from tying them to a chair with nothing but the Book of Mormon in front of them so they will actually read the thing! Love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

 

The most amazing thing to me is that sometimes I honestly don't like people, but I can still love them. I try my best, but I just don't have it in me to like everyone. I can love them, though. I pray for help, and Heavenly Father helps me to feel the pure love that He has for them and to see their divine potential. It is a beautiful gift.

 

Well, that's all I have for this week.

 

Here's me pretending to be pregnant one day with my bag underneath my raincoat :)

 

 

I LOVE YOU!!!

 

Hermana Bennett

Hola.

So remember how I was all excited about it being fall a while back? Summer is back with a vengeance. It was EIGHTY FIVE degrees today. What is that all about? And today was one of the cooler ones we've had this week. It's crazy.

 

The big news of this week is that we got FOUR new investigators, and they're both COUPLES with CHILDREN! FFFAAAMMMIIILLLIIIEEESSS! We're so excited.

 

The first two are a couple from the Dominican Republic. They just barely moved to Virginia and are still getting settled in. Super cute, four kids, way nice, and seem interested. It was pretty funny how we found them. About a week ago we walked through that whole trailer park writing down trailers that look potentially Hispanic (you learn the signs after a while). Then on Tuesday we started knocking each of those. As we were doing this, we passed some people outside so we asked them if any of their neighbors were Hispanic. He pointed to the end of the street, so we went down there. We knocked the trailer that we thought it was, and when I knocked the door, it pushed open a little bit. Pretty soon a dog pushed its way out of the now-open door and started growling and barking at us. I wasn't too scared, but my companions freaked out as we started walking away and wanted to run away and not knock the last trailer. That last trailer had a fenced-in yard, though, so I suggested that we go in there to escape from the dog. We did, successfully escaped the dog, knocked on their door, and they turned into new investigators! I don't know if there was any divine intervention or just a mean dog, but I like to think that he got so angry and chased us that way for a reason.

 

The other couple was a referral from the zone leaders that they found during a blitz last week. They are from Guatemala and super nice. They work on Sundays, though, which is going to be hard. Why must everyone work so much?

 

This week we also went to a nearby city, Poquoson, to see if there are any Hispanics there... there are not. It was an adroable little town, but definitely no Hispanics in sight. We found one Mexican restaurant in the whole place, went in, found Mexican workers, talked to them for a bit, and found out that they live in... Newport News! So much for that idea. It was a fun little trip, though.

 

Besides that, here are some funny little stories that I've been meaning to write about for a couple weeks and keep forgetting.

 

There is an 84-year-old lady in our branch, Hermana de la Cruz, that feeds our whole district every week. Most of my pictures are taken inside her house. She is the best person in the whole world. I love her. She's starting to feel the effects of her age and can't get around as well as she used to or remember everything, but she has maintained a wicked sense of humor and a firm testimony. You just never know what's going to come out of her mouth next. One day we got there for lunch and before we could finish knocking on the door she pulls it open fast, strikes a pose, and says, "Princesas! Por que nacieron tan bonitas?!" ("Princesses! Why were you born so beautiful?") Hahaha. Every time she hugs me she says, "Mi gringa mas linda." ("My beautiful white girl.") I adore her. And her food is the best.

 

This one only my mom will truly appreciate. We are teaching a Cuban family that just got to the states as political refugees about four months ago, so they're still VERY Cuban. The other day we were sitting talking to the two parents when the husband says, "Traeme un vaso de agua." ("Bring me a glass of water.") Without a blink, the wife dutifully gets up and brings him a glass of cold water. He drinks it all and simply says, "Mas." ("More."), so she brings him more. Then the son says, "Yo tambien tengo sed." ("I'm thirsty too.") So his mom brings him a glass. He drinks one sip and then hands it back to her and returns to what he is doing. And she does not complain one bit! I was amazed. All I could think about the whole time was, "Tengo un poco de sed." I was dying laughing inside. Hispanic men. Gotta love 'em. Especially Cubans. For some reason Cuban men in particular have no shame about their bellies and love to be shirtless. Makes for some slightly awkward situations for us, but it's all right. All in a day's work.

 

This will have to be last because I'm running out of time. My companion was on conference!!! Probably none of you even remember this, but Elder Valenzuela talked about the Mexico City MTC and it showed a bunch of pictures, one of which was of two hermanas walking around outside. Well, one of those hermanas was Hermana Johnson! Pretty exciting. My companion is famous! :)

 

All right, that will have to do for today.

 

I LOVE YOU!!! Have a great week.

 

Hermana Bennett


I have this habit of leaving my camera card plugged into the computer after I finish emailing, so I'm going to send pictures first and then write.

 


Here's my district before Hermana Hilton and Elder Goodwin left. Elder Goodwin wants to go into the military after the mission, so we bought him this cheap camo Walmart cake and surprised him with it. Pretty fun. They're the best!

 


 Hermana Johnson and I before leaving this morning. We're a party.

 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

COMPANIONSHIP!!!

Hello!
 
First off, big news... I'M GOING TO BE IN A COMPANIONSHIP!!! For the whole four months that I've been a missionary, I've always been in trios (minus a few days when my trainer had gone home). Trios are great for a few reasons: We can take male members in the car with us, the person in the back can talk on the phone, there's more than just one person to talk to, etc. They're also hard for a few reasons: Instead of worrying about just the one relationship between you and your companion, you're worrying about SEVEN relationships: between each of you individually and the companionship as a whole. It's hard, and my patience has been starting to wear just a little bit thin. I look at people in companionships and think, "How easy would that be?" But, God answers prayers and one of my trainees is being transferred and I'm staying here with the other. :D :D :D Don't get me wrong, I love them both and I'm sad to see her go, but I'm also really excited to just have one companion for the next six weeks. My heart began dancing in glee when we got the news. ONLY ONE COMPANION!!! Yesssssssssssss.
 
That was last night. The whole week before was great, too!
 
On Tuesday we went to a trainers/trainees meeting in Chesapeake. At the beginning President Baker talked to all of us for a bit and had the trainees share their experiences with placing Books of Mormon and inviting people to be baptized. When my trainees were sharing their experiences my eyes started getting super watery all of the sudden (I had a pretty bad cold this week). President Baker looks at me, sees me apparently crying and says, "Do you have anything to share, Hermana Bennett?" thinking that I'm having some spiritual moment or something. I just said, "No... I'm only tearing up because I'm sick. I'm not actually crying." Ha. Great timing, eyes!
 
On Wednesday we got amazing news. We were in the church on our way to English class and accidentally walked into a Book of Mormon study class that the English missionaries give. There we found a man, Matt, that we had knocked into a month or so earlier and referred to the sisters. He's getting baptized in three weeks! AND the elders are going to start teaching his mom and his sister. It was so exciting and rewarding to see someone that we had found making that step and accepting the Gospel. We were on cloud nine all night.
 
We also got two new investigators this week. One we found tracting. Her trailer has a ton of "No trespassing" signs with things like: "Trespassors will be shot. Survivors will be shot twice." Very inviting :) Despite all of those, we knocked her door, and she turned out to be super nice! We set an appointment and later went back and taught the restoration of the Gospel and it went really well. She understood everything, had insightful questions, and was excited about reading the Book of Mormon. So amazing! The other new investigator was a referral from the zone leaders. We went to teach her and before we could even finish the lesson she said, "So when can you come back?" Whaaaat? Nobody says that! So much potential.
 
We also got chewed out by a crazy lady in a different trailer park this week. And I mean certifiably crazy. She was telling us about how she has visions and "discernments" and how she studies the Bible every day and our religion is mistaken, etc. It doesn't bother me... in fact it's kind of entertaining. I do get annoyed, though, when they're rude. Here's one of the notable exchanges that she and I had:
 
Me: "Are any of your neighbors Hispanic?"
 
Her: "Yes, but I'm not going to tell you which ones."
 
Me: "Oh, that's all right. We'll find them."
 
Her: "I'm sure you will."
 
Me: "You betcha."
 
Ha. I will find and baptize every last one of them! Just kidding. But really. People are crazy. The best part was when, in the middle of talking to us, she looks out the window and cackles like a witch, and then looks right back at us with a straight face and keeps talking. Ahhhhhh! It was at that point that I decided that we really needed to go. Run for your lives!!!
 
Newport News. Always an adventure.
 
Overall I'm doing really well. I love it here and I love being a missionary. One of the elders in our zone is going home tomorrow and so I've been thinking some about what it will be like to go home someday. I'm going to bawl my eyes out. I'm so attached to this place, these people, this life. They ARE my life. I can't imagine how I'll feel over a year from now.
 
Well, have a great week! Love ya lots.
 
Hermana Bennett
 
PS. No pictures this week, sorry!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Onward Christian soldiers...

Hello from beautiful Virginia! Fall has come and it is GORGEOUS. The leaves haven't really changed color yet, but it's finally cool outside, which makes tracting much more enjoyable. Love it. Sorry to tell you this, mom, but I fall more in love with Virginia every day... Move here with me? :)

 

Highlights from the past week:

 

1. Tracting in Walmart. We got desperate one night around 7 PM, so we went to Walmart to hunt down some Hispanics. I've heard of people finding with success this way, but mostly we just wandered around awkwardly and were too chicken to talk to anyone. Finally, when we were about to leave, I decided to be brave. I walked up to a lady and just said, "Do you speak Spanish?" Obviously knowing that she did. Ridiculous, but effective. We got to talking and it turned out that she used to work for three different Mormon families and was really impressed with them. We got her number and invited her to English class. It was great. Being bold is hard, but worth it!

 

2. We set two people for baptism! They have a lot of things that they need to change before they can get baptized, so we might have to push back the date a little, but it was still really exciting.

 

3. One of our favorite investigators that was supposed to get baptized this Saturday moved to Arkansas without warning :( :( :( We showed up at his apartment a few days ago to try to visit him, and his roommate told us that he had left, along with a few other guys, two days before that. So sad. I'm praying for the missionaries to find him there so he can get baptized.

 

4. An RM that was here three years ago came to visit. It made me realize, again, how short this time that I have as a missionary is... It's going too fast!

 

5. I finally heard from my trainer! So happy.

 

Also, I can feel that I'm slowly starting to learn how to teach by the Spirit more. In our lesson with the couple that we set for baptism this week I was talking about baptism and I remember I said something like, "One of the final steps in repentance is keeping the commandments. Since baptism is a commandment, it is the final step in true repentance." After saying it, it struck me that it was true and that I had never thought of it in quite that way before. I knew that the Spirit was teaching me as I tried to listen and deliver the message that Heavenly Father wanted me to deliver. I still have a LOT to learn, but I am progressing, and that makes me happy.

 

Oh, and I got a package from Sister Day and all of the Beehives! THANK YOU!!! I love it.

 

Here's a picture of me in a typical stairwell of an apartment complex. I thought it was pretty hilarious.


Also, I solved this puzzle. I'm a puzzle queen! Who knew?

 

Well, that's all I have for this week.

 

I LOVE YOU!!!

 

Hermana Bennett

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Great Week!

Hello!

 

Looking over my journal from the past week, there is a lot to be desired. This is what it looks like:

 

September 10, 2013

I've decided that maybe I'll start writing in my journal in the morning during breakfast, because sometimes at night I am just way too tired.

 

September 11, 2013

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

 

September 12-16

Nothing.

 

Whoops. So much for that little goal. I only made it two days! I guess we're back to nights on that one. Ha.

 

Besides actually writing in my journal, though, I think the biggest lesson that I learned this week is that I need to stop babying my greenies so much. Last Monday night we taught a married couple the restoration, but we didn't know that we were going to be teaching them the night before when we planned, so my companions didn't have a specific part assigned to them or anything. Knowing that they would be nervous and look at me with those deer in the headlight eyes, I ended up giving the entire lesson without even once looking at them. Oops. After that I realized that I've been too protective to let them do anything! Neither of them ever wants to talk unless they have a pre-defined, practiced part, because they worry that they don't know the words or the people won't understand their Spanish. Admittedly, that sometimes happens and I have to re-say what they just said, but I think it's important that they put themselves out there so that they can grow.

 

After that experience I started to step in a little less, and one of those times was when we were knocking doors the next day. We knocked one door and Hermana Johnson started talking to him (in English, because he was American). He seemed interested, so she said a little more and then got scared and looked to me to take over. I didn't do it though! I just let her struggle and finish and then we left. She was a bit upset that I hung her out to dry, but I feel like they need to start taking a little more control and independence, so I was ok with it. I'm going to start pushing them even more to talk even when they don't feel ready, I think. They get mad, but they'll get over it :) Mostly I just don't want to allow them to rely on me so much that when they move on to their next companion they still don't have the confidence so take the lead in teaching situations.

 

Other than that, it was a good week. We knocked lots and lots of doors and met some good potential, so I'm happy with it.

 

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEGAN!!!


 

Have a great week, all.

 

I LOVE YOU!!!

 

Hermana Bennett