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.




Hermana Bennett

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Great Week!



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



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.




Have a great week, all.




Hermana Bennett

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Full heart, broken body

Is that title dramatic enough for you? Ha.


Hello all!


This week I learned some good lessons:


1. Trust the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.


2. Jump roping can be dangerous.


3. Plaza Azteca is a yummy restaurant.


But before I get into those things, there's something that I meant to say last week and forgot. And that is: Someone get Taylor Fletcher on the phone and tell her that I found her long lost twin and she's my companion. Seriously. Hermana Johnson, one of my trainees, is so much like Fletcher it kind of freaks me out sometimes. She looks like her, she acts like her, she even runs like her! I almost start to reference old stories from high school sometimes before I catch myself. Here's a picture of her in Walmart... next to a big stack of beer... whoops. She's great, though. I thoroughly enjoy having a mini Fletcher around all the time.


All right, on to the lessons, shall we?


1. One of the biggest challenges as a missionary is to learn how to listen to the Spirit when you're teaching. You find out pretty fast that you can say everything you can think of, but you'll never understand the needs of other people as well as Heavenly Father does, so it's best to rely on His wisdom when you're talking to them. The hard part is figuring out exactly what His wisdom is. Maybe it comes naturally to some people, but personally I am constantly second guessing myself and trying to figure out if the feelings that I have are coming from the Spirit or just from my Hermana Bennett head. Thankfully, this week I think I made some progress.


The first one was with one of our investigators, Aurelia. She has been taught almost all of the lessons and feels the Spirit, but doesn't see the need to change religions and join this church. We have invited her to pray about it lots of times, but she just never gets around to it. Well, last week we decided to have a conversation exactly about that - why she hasn't prayed about it. As we were doing it, it seemed like we were at a stalemate and we just needed to give up, but for some reason I just kept feeling like I needed to be super bold with her. In the end I basically ended up telling her, "Your church isn't true. It isn't led by Jesus Christ. You need to pray to ask if you should join this church." Whaaaaat? I would never say that to someone. And yet she took it really well and agreed to do it. That's how I knew that the Spirit was the one telling me to be so bold, and not me.


Then, a few days ago, we tried to go to an appointment but they weren't home, so we started walking down the street to visit another investigator that lives close by. On the way we saw a member outside with two of his friends, so we walked over and started talking to them. After a few minutes I asked them if they would like to hear our message and they said yes, so we went inside and began talking about what it is that we do as missionaries, their religious background, etc. As part of that conversation, the woman mentioned some difficulties that she was going through, and I felt strongly that we needed to talk about the Plan of Salvation instead of the Restoration like we normally would with new investigators. So we did, and it went really well. At the end I asked them how they felt and, after struggling to explain their feelings, I was able to help them understand that they were feeling the Spirit. Since then we have gone back and taught the Restoration and they accepted a Book of Mormon!


I am so grateful for these experiences that help me to learn how to understand the Spirit and have more confidence as a missionary. That's one thing that I have noticed over these past few weeks of training - I feel like I am receiving a lot more revelation for my investigators because I am the one that knows them the best and that can communicate with them. It is an amazing experience to feel the love that Heavenly Father has for His children and feel Him working through me to communicate with them.


2. This morning I was jump roping during our half hour of exercise. One second I was jumping along fine and the next I was one the ground moaning... Sprained ankle. Ouch. Pretty soon it swelled up pretty big, so we called the mission office and they made me go to an urgent care place to make sure everything was ok. A few x-rays and a million years later they gave me a little stability shoe and some crutches and told me to take it easy for a few days. Good thing we have a car and not bikes! I'm hoping that people will take pity on me and let us in more readily :)

3. There's this Mexican restaurant here in Newport News called Plaza Azteca. So. Delicious. We went there the other day for dinner and it was amazing! Plus, the elders know every single worker in the place, so as soon as we walked in we were greeted by, "Hola, hermanas! Como estan?" We felt like celebrities! So fun.


Well, that's about it! Here's a picture of some nice yard art in a trailer park and me in a wheelchair at the doctor's office.

Have a great week everyone!


Hermana Bennett

Monday, September 2, 2013

Eeemmmaaaiiilll............ 8/29/13

Hello from Virginia!


This last week was busy!


On Monday we dropped off my trainer, Hermana Flores, at the mission home. I cried like a baby when we had to say goodbye. It was the worst! We got pretty close over the past nine weeks and it was hard to send her off.


For the next couple days Hermana Nord and I were together alone, which was weird. That's the first time in a long time that I've been with just one companion and not a trio. It was nice! And also very lonely without Hermana Flores :(


We also moved! Newport News got another companionship of hermanas, and since I'm new to this whole training business the zone leaders were kind enough to let us all live together so that I can get some guidance and counsel from Hermana Mendez, who has been out for quite a while. Our new address is:



On Thursday I got my trainees! Their names are Hermana Johnson and Hermana Hilton. Both are nineteen years old, from Utah, and just started learning Spanish six weeks ago! Let's just say I've been doing a lot of talking... :)


No, but they're doing a good job. They were at the Mexico City MTC, and it seems like whatever they're doing there is working because my trainees already know a lot!


Things are going well as a trainer. It's definitely stressful - I'm the one in charge of understanding everything, keeping track of everyone's problems, communicating with all the members, talking on the phone, getting members present in lessons, etc. It's a lot! The past few days have been a bit exhausting, to say the least, but I know that as they learn more they will be able to pick up some of that responsibility and I won't have to do it all by myself.


Overall, though, training is going well. I can already tell that by the end of these three months of training I'll be ready to take on the world. Since I don't have a senior companion to turn to when I'm not sure what to do, I am learning a lot and becoming more confident every day. Bring it on, mission! Hit me with your best shot!


What else? Last night we got FOUR new investigators! Yeeha. Last week in the flea market we met some men from Mexico, and last night we went and visited them. After explaining what we do and giving a quick lesson, they all agreed to keep meeting with us. We gave them some Bibles and Books of Mormon and went on our way! So exciting. I was glad, because mostly my poor trainees have been knocking a lot of doors. This was a good chance for them to see some success.


Well, that's about all I can think of this week. I hope you're all doing well!


Keep the faith! Rember who you are! Return with honor! :)


Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY WHITNEY!!! I lurrrrrrrv you. If you can't read your sign, it says: You've had a birthday shout hurray!


Hermana Bennett


PS. Here's a giant jigsaw puzzle I solved. It took about a whole transfer during all my lunch and dinner breaks, but I did it!


PPS. Here are my greenies with their green pancakes. Yum.

I didn't send the picture of the green pancakes. Oops.

Hermana Bennett a trainer?! ..Yes indeed.

First, here's a message that our mission president has asked us all to forward to our families:



Dear Parents of the Remarkable Missionaries of the Virginia Chesapeake Mission:

Sister Baker and I have now been serving as mission president and wife of the Virginia Chesapeake Mission for six weeks. We had thought that contact information had been sent to families before our arrival, but have learned that many of you do not yet have that information. We have asked that each missionary send this message to you in their email home.

For your awareness, the mission office address is:

Virginia Chesapeake Mission
1115 Cherokee Road
Portsmouth, VA 23701

The mission office phone number is:


Our preference is that letters be sent directly to the address of residence for each of the missionaries, and that they inform you the first Monday after transfers of their new address (if they were moved during transfers).

Packages that are sent first-class to the mission office or to the missionary address of residence can be forwarded without charge to the missionaries, but the forwarding of all other packages will result in a charge to the missionary's mission purchasing card.

Letters and packages should not be sent to the mission home.

We love the missionaries of the Virginia Chesapeake Mission, and are grateful that you have sent them to us.

With love and gratitude,


President and Sister Baker



Get it? Got it? Good. There is a 95% guarantee that I will be in this area for at least three more months, so no address changes for a while.


We had a great week this week. Hermana Flores, my trainer, is going home today, so I've been taking advantage of the last week to talk to her a lot and try to learn as much from her as I can. Unfortunately this means that I did not write in my journal once, nor did I take a single picture. Woops. You can only ask so much from me. I'll do better next week!


A miracle from this week: We have been teaching one man basically since I got here, and a couple of weeks ago one of his friends started sitting in on the lessons as well. Then a few days ago we stopped by and another of their roommates was there, and he also accepted the invitation to talk with us. What's amazing about it is that all three of this men are people that don't "look" ready to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ or talk to the missionaries. Their lives have been hard and some of them have had serious problems, and their outward appearances make them seem tough and hard-hearted. In reaily, these experiences have humbled them and they are now looking to take the next step and find more peace in their lives. I am learning to never make assumptions about who is and is not ready to change their lives. You never know.


In more exciting news, I am having twins! ;)


Transfer calls came last night, and I'm going to be training two new hermanas out of the MTC! That's right, nine weeks into the mission and I'll be training. Aaaaah! I'm nervous, to be sure. I have learned a lot in these nine weeks and am feeling much more confident, but having my trainer leave me and then getting completely new missionaries puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Unless one of them already speaks Spanish, I'll be the one that has to make all the phone calls, communicate with the members, understand everything in the lessons, etc. I also have to remember all of the little policies we have like which meetings we have when, what paperwork we have to bring, etc. It is a lot!


Despite all of that, however, I'm actually not that overwhelmed (at least not yet). If the Lord trusts me to do this, I know that I can, so I'll just move forward day by day and do my best. I know that I'll make mistakes and will be far from a perfect trainer, but everything will be ok in the end. I like the saying that says: "The Lord doesn't call those that are qualified. He qualifies those that He calls." I trust that He knows what He is doing and will magnify my labors so that we can keep the work progressing in this area.


Also, thanks for the mail, everyone! This week I got letters from Megan, Sister Day, and Mona. My sincerist thanks to each of you. Letters are the best!


Have a great week!




Hermana Bennett

What a week!! 8/19/13

Hello all.


This week started off with a bang in colonial Williamsburg. It is beautiful there. They have all sorts of museums and demonstrations and all of the workers dress in typical 1700s clothing. We didn't actually get to go into many of the museums, etc. because they require a $40 day pass, but enjoyed walking around and taking fun pictures.


Also there is a chocolate shop there.


I'm not going to say how much time we spent in it.


Another interesting moment from the week was making a surprise visit to an investigator that we have been working with since I arrived here in Virginia. He is a good man but struggles with some Word of Wisdom issues, and was more than a little bit inebriated when we arrived at his house. Regardless, we sat down and talked with him for a bit. During that time, he kept trying to give us back his Book of Mormon, saying that he had tried to change but that he was Catholic and just couldn't do it. We wouldn't take it back from him, though, and told him that he could do whatever he wanted with it but it was his and we wouldn't accept it back. At the end Hermana Flores got up and said, "That's fine, do what you want, but just know that you have your salvation in your hands." I thought, "Woah! That's a little bold!" But after that when we told him that he could call us at any time if he decided he wanted to learn more and he said, "Ok, how about tomorrow at 7?" Haha. We called him the next day and he was happy as a clam and didn't remember a thing. So we're going to keep teaching him :) 


On Saturday we had the wedding-baptism! It was crazy stressful for us, but in the end everything turned out wonderfully and the spirit was strong.


The best moment was watching the bride and groom dance their first song together as a married, baptism couple. I may or may not have shed a few tears. It is amazing to see the people that you have worked with grow and make choices that will bless their families for generations. They are truly modern-day pioneers. I didn't get a ton of pictures on my camera because I was busy, but other people took some so I'll try to get a hold of those.


We're also making good progress with an 19-year-old investigator from Guatemala. He's the best.


Have a great week everyone!


Also, we ate breakfast with a Venezuelan woman and she fed us AREPAS! Soooooooooo delicious. I understand now, mom. I understand.

Oh, also! (Sorry this is so disjointed.) One of my good friends from my freshman year at BYU is from North Carolina, but is currently on his mission in Africa. Well, we email every week and I told him that I was in Newport News and turns out that his dad is from here! Jokingly I said, "Tell them to come visit me!" Not expecting anything of the sort.


Well, on Sunday right before branch council I hear people saying, "Hermana Bennett! Hermana Bennett! Somebody wants to see you." I walk out to the hallway and see an entire family (mom, dad, grandma, kids) that I had never met before looking at me expectantly. Then of course I start feeling guilty thinking, "Why can't I remember who they are?!" The mom said, "Are you Courtney Bennett?" "Yes..." (even more guilty feelings for not being able to come up with a name) "I'm Jacob Dick's mom!"


His entire family came just to meet me and say hi! So nice. Turns out they attend church in Williamsburg, which is just about 20 minutes away, so they decided they'd come and see if they by chance could find me. And they did! It was great.

These are the two little girls of the couple that got married on Saturday. Missionaries to be!


And the new raincoat! THANKS MOM! I adore it.