Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It's been a month since I've been gone..



I don't even know anyone Hawaiian, but I feel like I need to come up with some exciting beginnings to these letters or else people are going to get bored ;) Wait! There is one Hawaiian lady in our branch! She doesn't actually even speak Spanish, but she wants to learn. So there you go.


Well, I forgot my journal in the car, so I won't have much to report this week. I have realized over the past two months that I have the worst memory in the whole world. Seriously. We have an 84-year-old lady in our ward and she remembers more about her youth than I do about mine! In fact the picture that I have is of her. The branch threw her a surprise birthday party on Saturday. So fun! Except that fiestas are the worst things in the world as a missionary because: A) There is loud music of the dancing variety and we can't dance. I never realized how much I like to dance until I was prohibited from it! And B) There are adorable little children everywhere and we're not allowed to touch them. We can still play and high five and things like that, but missionaries aren't supposed to hold kids on their lap or tickle them or do anything that could be misinterpreted in this world of lawsuits and such. It. Is. So. Hard. For. Me. But such is life.


Other exciting things from last week:


We met an older Colombian man today in Walmart who told us that God blesses us with many things, but that the greatest blessing of all is beautiful women like us. Hahaha.


The wedding is still on! So excited for that.


We had five, count 'em, FIVE investigators in church yesterday.


I bought a little individual-sized blender last Monday and now I eat delicious smoothies every morning! Best fifteen dollars I've ever spent.


While playing soccer on Wednesday night I got hit in the leg with the ball and it left the ball mark on my leg! I've wanted one of those my whole life. Goal accomplished.


For the second week in a row we were taken out to a Chinese buffet by members. Yummmm.


We went to the farmers market to see if there were any Hispanics there (there weren't), and one of the vendors gave us some free produce! Which became delicious homemade squash soup today. Double yum.


I promise that we did a lot of other missionary-related things as well! It's just that nothing super exciting happened that I can think of right now, so these are the things that are standing out to me.


Well, that's about all I've got for this week. Being a missionary is still great!


The church is true and I love you!!!


Hermana Bennett

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another great week! [It's getting too hard to keep track of what number it is. ;) ]

Another great week!!! I have decided that something really, really, really hard must be waiting for me because missions are not supposed to be this amazing. I think the Lord is just giving me a taste of how it can be so that when it gets rough I can remember this time and not give up.


As far as the raincoat goes, Mom, I have no idea what happened. I honestly don't think that it was stolen or anything because USPS is safe and the box was still closed and everything. I think I'm just blind and dumb. I had already thrown the box away by the time I read your email last week and we were going to go look in the dumpster, but then by the time we had time to do that the garbage man had come. But it's all right I'm just telling myself that someone really needed a raincoat, so Heavenly Father blinded me temporarily so that I wouldn't see it and they could get it. That way I don't feel like such a dummy :) It's honestly not a big deal though. In fact I think I'll be just fine with just my umbrella.


Also I love everyone's emails! Mom, I feel like I'm sitting on the couch talking to you as you do something when I read yours because it kind of jumps to different things as you think about what you did the past week and your plans for the next one. We've always been able to follow each other's train of thought well :) And Whitney I already told you this but your emails are the BEST! I adore them. Valerie, I am so excited to get your letter. THANK YOU!!! Shelley, I got Parker's letter finally! THANK YOU!!! Sister Day, you are the best. Thank you for your kind words! Jordanann, you rock and I know you will do great on your new team and everything!!! A lot of the other emails I get are from other missionaries so they won't be reading this, but for anyone who is, you are all wonderful! I appreciate your support and feel the help that Heavenly Father gives me in answer to your prayers. And most of all, Megan, thank you for being so loyal in updating the blog!!! You rock.


All right, want to hear about last week? Good!


The lesson that I learned this week is that as missionaries we are just instruments in God's hands and that nothing we "accomplish" is through our own abilities. It's all Him and the Spirit. I can't remember if I mentioned this last week or not, but last weekend one of our less-active members, Rosalio, invited us over to do family home evening with him and his kids. He has three daughters and a son here with him in the United States, but they're all grown up with their own families. We agreed to do it but had no hopes that it would go anywhere because we had spoken to some of them before and they did not seem interested in the least. Well, first of all, we got to church that Sunday and he was there along with his entire family. MIRACLE! Then that night we went over and they all actually came. MIRACLE! (As missionaries we get stood up more often than not so this one was huge) We talked a little bit about what they liked about church and the power of prayer in our lives. To our surprise, they all participated and were interested in learning more, so we set appointments with all of them. MIRACLE! Since then we have met with all of them and taught various parts of the restoration and plan of salvation. MIRACLE! Then they all came to church again yesterday. MIRACLE! The most exciting part of it all, though, is the son, who has a "wife" and three kids (they're not actually married; they just live together). Two nights ago we invited them to get baptized and they agreed (MIRACLE!) and then last night we talked about the law of chastity and how they will need to get married before they can be baptized. They were all for it. MIRACLE! They will be baptized on August 10 and the wedding will be a few days before.


It is truly amazing to see how the Lord is deeply interested and highly involved in the lives of each and every one of His children. As missionaries we work hard, try to keep the Spirit with us, and teach lessons, yes, but the real finding and teaching and converting is done by the Spirit. Often we plan things and think we know how it will work out, but it turns out that Heavenly Father had something entirely different and even better planned for us. We don't understand until it's all over that He was there all along leading and guiding and moving the work forward.


On an entirely different note, I am becoming more and more convinced that I want to work with the immigrant population for my career. They need advocates to fight for them.


Also, I gave a talk in church yesterday and it went surprisingly well. I kind of hate speaking Spanish for extended periods of time because I can hear my own accent and I know that it's not as good as I would like it to be, but at least people seem to understand me pretty well.


Until next week!




Hermana Bennett


P.S. I just realized that I didn't take one single picture last week. Oops. I'll try to be more exciting this week.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Week 6!!

Hello hello hello!
I hope the rest of my mission goes like the past few weeks have because it just keeps getting better and better!
First of all, we got our new companion! Her name is Hermana Nord and she's from South Weber, Utah. She started learning Spanish six weeks ago in the MTC, so we have lots of fun! I didn't tell her that this happened because I didn't want to make her feel bad, but she said the funniest thing last night. We were talking to some investigators that work in a factory that processes fish (pescado) and she said, "Oh! Me encanta pecado!" (Pecado means sin). Luckily I don't think anyone heard her but me, but I about busted up laughing. Close, but also very, very far. But she is great. On one of our first days we both got dressed without noticing what the other was wearing and came out and we had on basically the same outfit! I'll attach that picture.

We also had a little miracle happen this week. There's a less active that has his records in our branch because he served a Spanish speaking mission, but he hasn't hardly ever attended for years. Well we finally got a chance to go visit him and he didn't seem that interested in talking to us at first, but we invited him to come to lessons with us and to read the Book of Mormon, and he said yes to both! So that was great. Then a couple days later he came to a lesson with us, but our investigator was busy so we went somewhere else, and they didn't answer, so we went to yet another investigator and he was there! We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it went super well! I think there was a reason that so many appointments fell through so that we were with this investigator. He is a very humble 19-year-old from Guatemala and has so much desire to follow the Lord. At the end of the lesson we were asking about how he liked to play soccer and he said he used to play in a league but doesn't play anymore because the games are on Sundays and since he wants to go to church, he doesn't have time to play. It was amazing! So much faith. I think that moment more than anything else impacted our less active. At the end after our investigator left he asked what time church started and volunteered to take our investigator! And they both came! It was so good. I realized that sometimes the Lord is working with us and setting things up and we don't even realize it until the end. During that whole lesson we just couldn't stop smiling because the Spirit was so strong and we had a less active AND an investigator sitting there talking to each other about the Gospel! Uh-may-zing.
We have another investigator, Hector, who's not doing quite as well. He has lots of desires to change but has a big drinking problem and that's really holding him back from progressing. For example he told us that he wanted to come to church yesterday, but then when one of our members went to pick him up he was sleeping off a hangover and didn't want to go. Then we went to visit him in the evening and he was raging drunk again... so frustrating. He also talked to some woman on the street that told him that if he got baptized in our church we would make him pay half his income in tithing, which really freaked him out. He felt like we weren't being straight up with him about everything, so we received the baptismal interview questions so that he would know what was coming and not be surprised when we talked about things like the law of tithing and the word of wisdom. I really hope that he sticks with us because he has so much potential! He just needs to ease up on the booze a little.
I also had a pretty spiritual experience during my personal study time this week. I was studying the premortal life and read a scripture in Abraham 3:22-23 that says, "tu eres uno de ellos; fuiste escogido antes de nacer." I'm not sure of the exact translation, but it means, "You are one of them; you were chosen before you were born." In that moment I felt a strong impression that I am here for a reason, that I too was chosen to be here at this time. Probably I don't have any large or visible purpose according to the world's strandards, but I am not here in this mission or on this earth by mistake. It was amazing to feel that confirmation from a loving Heavenly Father, and I know that it is true for each of us. He knows us and loves us and has great things in store if we will just turn ourselves over to Him.
Finally, thank you so much to everyone that sent me things last week! I got a blanket from mom, an AMAZING package from Megan, and letters from the Jim and Mary Gale family! (thank you Claira). I felt so loved :) I will write back promptly!
Hermana Bennett
PS. I think this thing is hilarious. It's an invitation to some activity for single adults ages 31 and over and at the bottom it says, "All divorces must be final." I would think that would be a given but apparently not...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More of the week!

I got smart and brought my journal today so that I would remember what happened this week :) Here goes!


Nothing too exciting happened during most of the week, but Friday and Saturday were crazy!


Saturday we had a baptism! Adrianna is an 18-year-old girl (sidenote: Mom, as soon as I read this I heard Dr. Gamboa in my head saying "a very pleasant 18-year-old girl") that is dating a boy from our branch and got in contact with the missionaries through his family. She actually only speaks English, but since she attends our branch we still taught her :) This girl is amazing! My companions have been working with her since long before I got her, but even they say that they did nothing in the whole process. She truly listens and learns from the Spirit. I learn from her! She is amazing. The baptism, though, was CRAZY. I never realized that when the person getting baptized is a convert it's all on the missionaries to plan everything and make sure it goes over smoothly. Before anything even started we had to make and print the program, but of course someone had given us the wrong keys and we couldn't get in and then we couldn't find paper and then the printer got jammed, etc. etc. etc. Then, for the program itself, hardly anyone here plays piano, so it falls on either me or Hermana Karson to accompany, and both of us are only mediocre. So the music was subpar to say the least. Then right in the middle of the opening prayer, Hermana Karson got a nose bleed! So I see this happening as I'm walking back to my seat from playing piano and have to run up in front of the whole congregation to grab a bunch of tissues from the pulpit, which draws all the attention to us, which leads to a whole hoard of people following us out to give us advice on how to stop it, like putting a penny in your mouth. After that finally stopped and we went back in, we had missed the whole program and it was time for the baptism. So we went in and luckily the ordinance itself was perfect. No problems whatsoever. Then we went back and everyone was confused about what we were supposed to do and so I ended up playing the same hymn a bunch of times while people decided whether they were going to sing or just listen. And then our branch president decided that we were doing the confirmation there, which we had not planned and didn't have permission to do, so there were missionaries running around like crazy talking to each other and it was just CRAZY. By the time the whole thing was over it was one of those either laugh or cry situations, so we just laughed. I don't think Adrianna knew any better though, so she thought it was great.


Anyway, so that was Friday. On Saturday we had a missionary blitz because there's a new chapel opening up in Yorktown and they're having an open house, so they sent all the missionaries from this area up there and we walked around knocking doors and inviting people to go. It was really hot and humid that day, which made it a little uncomfortable, but I actually kind of enjoyed it because all we had to do was invite people and not try to get inside to teach a lesson :) Plus we met lots of cool (and crazy people). One lady gave us a card for a biker church that she started, I met my first Jehovah's Witness, and another man was an ex-Mormon who was sincerely concerned for our eternal salvation. It was exciting.


After that we went to a branch activity on the beach! It was BEAUTIFUL. We basically just ate, talked with members, and then shared a short lesson about charity that no one was too interested in listening to, so we made it quick. Mostly it was just so pretty and reminded me of my week on the beach in Mexico... except without the swimming :)


Then after that we went to a birthday party at one of the member's houses. The food was SO good and I ate so much I wanted to explode. Time to start exercising my self control, I think, otherwise my clothes are not going to fit pretty soon! ;)


Overall it was a really good week. I'm feeling more confident with teaching and listening to the spirit, although I know I have a long way to go. At least I did more than just smile and nod this week, though, so I felt good about that. We had a lot of investigators cancel appointments, which is frustrating but normal. Hopefully this coming week we can teach a bit more. I've taught the first lesson lots of times, but it can be hard to get past that point. I think that's normal though.


As far as a package goes, I would love that! The only two things that I can think of that I need are my raincoat and another blanket. I know I have some, but I'm not sure if they're at your house or Whitney's. I don't want a big comforter or anything, just another layer because I get cold at night. Thank you!!!