Monday, December 28, 2015

Correction For the Previous Post

I didn't sing "Be Thou Humble", I sang "More Holiness Give Me". For some reason, I always get those two mixed up.

Elder Benge

An Awkward Moment: Only On... The Blog

I was asked to sing at a baptism this week. It wasn't planned, but a mormon message wasn't working, so they asked me to stand up and sing a song. Of course, I complied, and I stood up and sang "Be Thou Humble".
It was a wonderful experience, and the spirit was there. After I sat down, I looked downwards, and lo and behold, my zipper was down. And it was pretty obvious. I guess all I can do is hope that no one saw it.

Elder Benge

Snow: The Final Frontier

Sorry I couldn't come up with a good title this week. But, it I would like to say that something crazy happened here... It snowed. I walked out of church on Sunday, and SHAMWOW! It looked like the pagan sky gods were spilling powdered sugar everywhere as they ate their heavenly crepes and french toast. It's a good thing there are no "sky gods", But it's even better that we do have crepes and french toast. Mmmm.
 Also, I would just like to wish you all a late "Merry Christmas!" and an early "Happy New Year!" , and let you all know that I had a spectacular Christmas. We were able to carol this week on Christmas eve, and it was fun being able to carol again! One of my favorite family memories is going caroling as a family. We also had our mission Christmas party this week on Tuesday, and it was about the most ferocious, wild type of revelry I could ever imagine missionaries participating in. That doesn't mean it was bad, because it was a ton of fun, and it didn't get out of hand. It wasn't worldly revelry, it was missionary revelry (so, no alcohol). I guess I could say it was righteous revelry and missionary merrymaking. I know both of those words have bad connotations, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, I am very excited because we are going to be having Susan's baptism in two days! Her baptism will be my first! It is so amazing watching people change and improve their lives by receiving  Jesus Christ and his restored Gospel! I love being a missionary.
We also had an interesting discovery with Michael. We were talking to him about baptism, and he asked me what views we had on re-baptism. I thought he was talking about how he'd been baptized in another church, and I was confused because we'd already talked about proper authority and such, but  then he revealed the final card, delivered the punch line, the uppercut, the last straw, the final countdown, he pulled up the last weed... anyway, he finally revealed that somehow he had already been baptized into our church at the age of 18. Unfortunately, it sounds like their had been some sort of confusion as to the correct procedures for baptism, and he didn't really understand what was going on, he only knew that they wanted him to be baptized before he went off to war. Well, if we can find his records, he's going to go from being an investigator to a less active of 34 years. Holy Guacamole. He hadn't brought this up before, and I don't know why, because we'd asked him about his previous baptisms, and he had only ever told us about his other baptisms. I think he was afraid we'd stop teaching him, or something. In any case, Michael is a wonderful man, and he is progressing slowly, but surely. I love being able to meet people like this.
I guess I'll wrap up now with a scripture, namely, 2 Timothy 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
Now, there is a lot to look at in that verse, but what I wanted to point out is when he says "lay hold upon eternal life".
God has prepared a way so that we all have the opportunity to receive eternal life. The word of God is before us! If we lay hold upon his word and obey it, we shall have eternal life! Helaman 3
The reason I brought this up is because it is easy to get discouraged. The world is a depressing place filled with hard ship. We cannot allow the evil influences of the world to beat us down. Remember, that God has prepared a path for us to take to be free from sin and from discouragement. It won't be easy, but it is there, and it is the best path we could ever take. It is the only path that will lead us to be truly happy. Keep up the good fight of faith! Do not just lay down and take all the crap that the world throws at you, but remember your Savior and Redeemer, and remember that through his power, you can overcome all things! This I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Benge

Monday, December 21, 2015

*music* Caroling Caroling Through The... Rain?

Merry Christmas to all you happy little bunny people! (Doesn't that sound like a quote from some terrifying TV show for children? You know, one of those where it's supposed to be for little kids, but it really just ends up being super creepy? *Insert cough that sounds vaguely like the word "Teletubbies"*)
Yes, Christmas has been very wet this year. In fact, the practically perpetual precipitation  promptly proceeds to permeate my pants within seconds of me leaving the apartment. Even when I am wearing a "waterproof" coat, it only takes a few hours before it starts to soak through. There are very few "waterproof" things in Washington that actually manage to live up to their name for more than a few hours of walking around outside in the rain. (Don't send me any coats in the mail, though. This one is good, I promise. It lasts longer than any other missionary coat I have seen as of yet) There is so much rain that I feel like it is coming out of my very pores and nostrils, and every orifice of my being. That's right. I don't sweat. It's just my pores raining because I'm in Washington.
I was also able to sing in sacrament meeting this week! I love singing. I've missed it a lot. We have been able to go caroling a couple times as a zone, and I simply love it! I want to be able to use music as a missionary to help further the Lord's work. We have mission Christmas party tomorrow, and each zone does a skit. For our skit, I wrote a parody of "The Final Countdown."
It is called "The Final Judgement." If you want to see my lyrics, you can find it on the blog. I want to be able to use music as frequently as I can on my mission. Music can truly bless lives, and touch souls. Beware though, because bad music can canker our souls and desensitize us to the Spirit.
Anyway, this week has been strikingly splendid. Seriously. Simply stated, we've started successfully scheduling some serious seekers of truth into our daily routine. We've actually been very busy teaching people this week! We also got Susan to come to church (where she found fellowship) as well as a pair of less actives that we found earlier. Things are definitely looking up. David is still really struggling with methamphetamine. Drugs are a terrible thing. They really destroy lives. If you remember, please pray periodically for these people. It is hard to watch people you have learned to love so much ruin their lives because of poor decisions and addictions in their lives. Everyone needs the light that this Gospel brings! It is only through the truths of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can find lasting happiness! I promise you that this is true. Living according the world's definition of happiness only brings temporary pleasure, which is then followed by constant sorrow, piercing pain, and relentless regret. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, these feelings can be relieved and replaced with abiding joy, profound peace, and a deeper understanding of God's purpose and love for each one of us.
That is why I love being a missionary. We literally become the means of helping people to use the Atonement in their life, and to completely change a life of confusion and sorrow into a life of joy and peace. I love the Atonement. I would recommend studying it this week. Perhaps by studying Alma 7 and/or Isaiah 53.
I'd just like to end with my testimony that Jesus Christ has born all of our burdens. He knows everything we go through. He did this so that we would be able to be reconciled with God. He did it because he loves us, and he wants us to be happy. I testify that Jesus Christ lives, and that he is the Son of God. He loves you. He loves each one of us. I promise that this is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Benge

Blog Only: The Final Judgement (Parody of the Final Countdown)

You've denied our message
And so it's farewell,
But we'll probably come back
No matter how much you yell.
I guess you'll have no one to blame
Except for yourself
When the inevitable day comes...

It's the Final Judgement!
The Final Judgement!

You've tried to demean us,
But still we stand tall.
Our message of gladness
Is welcome to all, yeah
And now that we've knocked on your door,
I guess we'll see you 'round.
I'm sure that you'll wish you listened close...

It's the Final Judgement
The Final Judgement X3

and the rest of the song is just repetitions of things already written above, mostly consisting of the phrase: "the final judgement"
Don't judge me too harshly. This song is written in good humor. Farewell, friends.

Elder Benge

Monday, December 14, 2015

Blog Exclusive! A Candid Photo of Elder Rasmussen

Elder Benge

Comp Picture

​Sorry I'm such a photo hog.

Elder Benge

Cyrillic Alphabet

Mwa ha ha... (check out X and the one afterward . Seriously. That's the best way to describe it) In the bottom left corner, you can see the beginning of my Russian cursive alphabet. Yep. That's right. There's cursive, too.

Elder Benge

Russian Stuff! Oh Yes.

Russian Testimony!

Elder Benge

Russian Around, But Still Having A Lot of ApocryFUN! (Even though my muscles are Thor)

Sorry. I shouldn't have filled the subject line with all of those stupid puns, but I couldn't think of any really good ones, so I just ended up substituting quantity for quality. I hope you appreciated it.
Anywhonk, let's get down to the nitty gritty.

My new companion is Elder Rasmussen. I hope I included that in my last letter. Anyway, he was adopted from Russia at the age of 7 by a Mormon family, and the rest is history. He is a great guy, and was actually originally assigned to the Moscow, Russia mission. Unfortunately he was reassigned to the Ukraine when they found out he had dual citizenship (which meant that if he had returned to Russia, they would have forced him into the military). Then, while he was in the MTC, civil unrest broke out in the Ukraine, and he was temporarily assigned to this mission. Soon his "temporary" mission became permanent, and now he's reached his last transfer here, with moi. He actually opened up a Russian assignment here, which he served in for 10 months, but unfortunately, it didn't really work, despite the plenitude of Russians here. Oh well. He is a great companion, and I am starting to learn a lot of Russian. I am learning the alphabet which is cool, and I am learning a few words and phrases. For example, I know how to say "I know that Jesus Christ lives."
It is quite exciting. 
We have had a lot of success this week. We now have three people on date for baptism: Sarah, Ken, and David. We also have been teaching Michael, who is basically one of the best Christian men ever. He is way nice, and way Christlike. He has a lot of questions. I hope he ends up getting baptized. (In case your wondering what he looks like, he looks like that bald guy in Monsters University. The one with the tentacles, the mustache and glasses. He seriously looks a lot like that guy)
Sarah is having her life fall apart around her, and basically feels like God is trying to tell her something. We keep trying to tell her that WE bring the message God wants her to hear, and that the message will bless her life. She is starting to understand that, but... I suppose I'll just say she's intriguing in the fact that we'll think she understands something, and she'll say she understands something, and then a few minutes later, she'll say something that clearly shows that she didn't understand what we were stating. We have to state things several times, and I hate having to repeat things, because I feel like a broken record. We have to state things several times, and I hate having to repeat things, because I feel like a broken record. We have to state things several times, and I hate having to repeat things, because I feel like a broken record.
We'll see how things go with Ken. We only met him two days ago, and we haven't had our follow up appointment yet. He, too, is very interesting. In fact, he basically believes in the Pagan Norse religion. He kept talking about Thor, Loki, some other guys, Valhalla, and a few other things. His religion believes that all books of scripture are codices that lead to some rooms, or something. I don't remember what the codices had to do with anything, but it was something about rooms. Anyway, he really is a great guy. His beliefs are very interesting, and he is a wonderful person. Anyway, because of the whole "each book of scripture is a codex" idea, we somehow ended up talking about the Apocrypha. It's nice that the Lord prepares us for certain situations. I had recently restudied some of the doctrine about the Apocrypha, and I was very grateful that I had. We talked a little about what it says about it in the Doctrine and Covenants. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then go look it up in the Bible Dictionary. It's quite interesting. Also, read D&C section 91)
Anyway, it was one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had in my entire life. And I've had a lot of interesting conversations. I would never in a million years have pictured myself having a conversation like that with someone. I guess it just shows how important it is that we prepare by the Spirit, because we cannot plan for everything, but God does know everything, so if we trust in him, he will prepare us for these things.
My spiritual thought this week is found in 2 Nephi 10:20:
"And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea." 
I also like verse 23:
"Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves- to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."
I am not going to expound too much on this scripture. There are many applications we can find in these scriptures (and I encourage you to study this section of scripture, and liken it unto yourself), but I will say that I love that Jacob tells us not to hand down our heads, but instead to lay aside our sins. Yes we all mess up, but God knew we would mess up! That is why Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, so that we wouldn't have to hang down our heads. Our guilt and our insecurites and our weaknesses can all be taken care of by the atonement. We just need to choose now whether or not we will follow God and accept his atoning sacrifice. It is completely up to us. We have our agency. Grace and forgiveness are available to every single one of us, no matter what. So be happy, because it is our choice whether we are relieved from the burdens of our sin or weighed down by them. Cheer up your hearts! We can choose which team we want to be on, and we have been told which one is going to win. Have faith! I love you all! Farewell.
Elder Benge

Monday, December 7, 2015

Un Autre Blog Exclusive! Happiness!

I don't know what to say, I just wanted to have another message that was exclusively on the blog...
 The word of the week is catechize. 
Look it up. Jesus used this a lot. I am working on being able to effectively catechize this week. It is a great way to help people understand things.

Elder Benge

I lost in a game called "What are the Odds"

So, I had to sleep with a bike helmet on.
*It was in this very game that I was able to get Mccarthy to eat a pinecone.

I know, I look way stupid in this picture.
Elder Benge

Mene Mene Tekel A Mockingbird (And a companion)

Howdy doo, fellas?
As the title suggests, my time is measured, and my actions weighed by the Lord. If you don't understand the title, look it up in the Bible Dictionary. I was reading in Daniel this week, hence the title. (The mockingbird part is obviously not in the BD. That part is just a stupid pun)
This week has been crazier than a coon stuck in a running washing machine. With Elder Geddes going home in two days, we have had so much to do. I will do my best to remember all that has happened, but currently I am having difficulty wrapping my mind around this week's occurrences. 
I guess I'll start by informing all of you that I got my transfer call this Saturday. And the big news is... *drum roll*... I am staying. As we all knew. But, my new companion will be Elder Rasmussen (Who was born in Russia and adopted at the age of nine). I don't really know much about him, except what I inserted into my parenthetical statement, and also that this will also be his last transfer. So, I'll be killing off another one. Still a greenie, but I am already a serial killer. Mwa ha ha.
So, we started out the week with another exchange. This time, I went to the Bremerton, Bremerton area with Elder Mccarthy. He is on bike, so I got a little more of a work out than usual. Honestly, I can't remember too much that happened, but I'll give you a list of what I remember.
1. I got Elder Mccarthy to chew up a pinecone*. (Evil laugh)
2. I spoke to a guy on the street, got invited in to his house, and ended up in a deep discussion with him about the Book of Mormon. He had had many missionaries stop by, but none of them had asked him to read the Book of Mormon. I ended up bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon a lot, and defending it from his intellectually unsound jabs at it's truthfulness. The best combat against the lies of Satan is the Spirit. That's why when we talk about the armor of God, the only weapon is the Sword of the Spirit. Truly, the Spirit acts as both offensive and defensive, and is VITAL in the role of conversion.
3. Some lady out on the street had a dog that had a muzzle on and several chains around it that she had to use to (quite physically) restrain it from pouncing upon every passerby. Seriously, the dog was pretty big, and it would attempt to leap on every pedestrian to walk by. She had to exert all her effort to stop it. I'm glad it had a muzzle on. Anyway, we walked up to her, and talked to her, and she told us she was "street training" the dog. Honestly, I don't know if I felt worse for the dog or for the woman. The both looked like they were having a heck of a time. Anyway, she asked us if we could help, and we ended up standing there for ten minutes while she slowly allowed the dog to get closer and closer to us. It was almost funny. Eventually, the dog reached us with no incidents, and I ended up petting him and all was well in Zion.

On Friday, Elder Geddes had the departing missionary temple trip, so we had to go up and sleep over at "The Mansion" (The housing for the AP's, the Office Elders, and one other companionship) It gets pretty crazy in The Mansion, but it was fun. The AP's are great people, and I have come to love them a lot. Anyway, after we slept over, I went on joined the other companionship at The Mansion while the AP's, Geddes, and one of the Office Elder's went to the temple. That exchange was a lot of fun. We had a way good knocking session, where we met a lot of wonderful, slightly eccentric people. We taught a lot of lessons, and it was way good. One thing I learned from that day was that it is extremely important to listen closely to people on the door and love them. Without Charity, we cannot succeed in missionary work. If we don't care at all for the people, the Spirit won't be able to help us with them because we simply don't care. 
My other comment from that is that people are so weird. Everyone is weird in their own way, but you really get to see it a lot as a missionary.
For example we street contacted a teenager at one point during the day. And here is what happened:
Me (or maybe Elder Mortenson or Elder Stapley. I don't remember, but it was one of us): Hello, man! How are you today?
The teenager walks up to us. He won't look us in the eye, but rather squints awkwardly at the ground.
Dude: Hello. (He shakes hands with us, still refusing to make eye-contact) I am a Republican with pro-Jewish views.

Yep.  None of us had any idea what to say after that. After a brief, awkward conversation in which he told us he was not interested, he walked away. What an interesting way of introducing yourself. He also never made eye contact with us at any point in the conversation.
Anyway, the Sisters in our ward had a baptism this Saturday! Her name is Paige. I gave a talk about Jesus Christ as the light of the world and the Restoration while she was getting dressed. The Spirit was powerful the whole time. If any of you wonder about why we make covenants, read 1 Nephi 17:40, and ponder on it. I love that scripture.
I'm running out of time, but I just want to say a few more things: I love the Stake President here, President Anderson. HE IS SO SMART! He gave us a two hour discourse about physics and chemistry with gospel applications. I want to be like him some day. He is so humble, so smart, and a powerful teacher. He taught a lot about light, because we started talking about how Elder David A. Bednar talks about light a lot. (what a great Christmas devotional, eh?)
 It's funny, because I had a lot of thoughts about light this week, too.
 Finally, I just want to quote 3 Nephi 18:24, "Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up--- that which ye have seen me do..."
I love this scripture. Christ is the light that we hold up to the world. We are charged to bring others unto Christ. He is the light in our lives, and the light and life of the whole world. We all have darkness within us, but through him, the everlasting light, that darkness can be dispersed. I promise that through Jesus Christ we can fill our souls with effulgent rays! I know that his Atonement has changed my life, and filled it with so much light. Don't turn your back on the light of the world! Bring others unto him! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Benge

Monday, November 30, 2015

Blog Exclusive! Badabing!

This is a haiku.
In the Wa-Tac, we baptize
The gospel is true.
Elder Benge

Chapter 6 In Which I Haven't The Foggiest, But We Certainly Have Some Fog

Good morning Baltimore!
This week has certainly been interesting. I would like to quickly give some exposition on the title of the piece. It is the beginning of Week 6, almost transfer time, thereby making this Chapter 6 of my life in the mission field. If I messed that up, who cares? Not I, said the fox. Also, a brief note about the fog here: Holy matrimony, this is fog! The fog in Utah doesn't even qualify as "wussy wisps" in comparison with this fog. This is true, manly fog. I would go so far as to say that this fog is thicker than a Senator's skull, and that is certainly saying something. Anyway, I think it is way cool.
However, I shall now attempt to tell you about this wonderful Thanksgiving week! I have had the opportunity this week to try my hand at at least 3 different trades, namely that of Dental Assistant, English Teacher, and Chef. I will begin with my exciting advents in the name of Chefdom. We went to a potential investigator's house containing 3 women who are rooming together for college. I apparently forgot to write about this last week. So, last week we knocked into a woman named Valerie, and shared with her the Resoration. She was very kind and received it well, but when we went back to visit her, we met her two roommates, Launa and Teresa, instead . Launa is a member who just got out of prison. Anyway, we found out that Valerie had just had a stroke and was in the hospital. So we sent the Elders in that area by to give her a blessing, and instead started teaching Teresa. Well, we haven't been able to share much with her because she's been busy fighting in the courts to retain her house, but we went buy Thanksgiving Eve to check up on Teresa and Launa. As we talked, we offered service in any way that they needed, and they asked us if we could help bake pies. We thought they were joking, so we laughed and said we'd love to help, but the pies probably wouldn't taste very good. Well, they weren't joking, so Elder Geddes and I spent the next few hours baking (fortunately we had no other plans that night. Isn't it great how things work out like that? Every other plan had fallen through, and they were actually our back up.) It was funny, because we couldn't find the measuring cups at first, so we sort of... improvised the amounts for the salt and the ginger. Anyway, our extempore cooking ended up actually being really good! We wound up with one of the pies and some cranberry orange muffins I helped bake. We stopped by afterwards and they told us that all six of the pumpkin pies we had cooked had just been ravenously devoured by their Thanksgiving guests. Apparently, we are really good at guessing (I prefer to call it "intellectually measuring) out the amounts.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to serve as dental assistant this week. Elder Geddes felt like he was getting a cavity, and so he enlisted the help of Dr. Haws, a dentist in a nearby stake. When we arrived at the scheduled time, it turned out that the business was actually closed that day (it was Friday). Dr. Haws was kind enough to come in on a day that he didn't have work in order to help Elder Geddes. Anyway, I ended up helping push buttons for the X-ray, and I thought that was all I'd have to do, but then Dr. Haws found a small cavity and offered to fill it right there, right then. So he did, and I got to put on gloves and a mask, and hold little suctiony thingermabobbers, and suck saliva out of Elder Geddes' mouth, and use a tool to hold his tongue out of the way, and so on. It was actually a lot of fun. Elder Geddes actually got his cavity filled without using any anesthetic, and he said it hurt a ton at the end. Oh well.
Lastly, I got to try out being an English teacher. Okay, not really, but I hope my English teacher is proud of me. I actually gave a training in district meeting on Tuesday about how we need to teach investigators according to their needs and the promptings of the Spirit. As part of my training, I contrasted how Polonius, from Hamlet, taught his son, and how Alma, from the Book of Mormon (duh), taught his sons.  It was actually funny because I started out by asking the district, "Now, who remembers the story of Polonius from the Bible?"
Awkward silence... Everyone felt stupid that they didn't know it, until I told them that he wasn't in the Bible, but actually a Shakespearean character. It was actually a highly instructive contrast. When Polonius offers advice to Laertes before he leaves, he gives really vague, general advice that isn't incredibly unique for Laertes. The advice itself isn't bad, but Polonius is using the occasion to gratify his pride and better his image, rather than giving the advice out of actual love for his son. On the other hand, when Alma teaches his sons Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton, (Alma 36-42) he teaches them each lessons that are tailored specifically to their needs. He still talks about the Atonement with each one of them, but he still teaches them each very differently. If you have the time, I would recommend studying that. 
Before I close, I would like to share a scripture with you, namely Romans 8:35,38-39 :
"35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"
I add my testimony to Paul's here. I know that nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. He will always love us, no matter how badly we mess up, and no matter how much the world may try to shut out God, he will always love us. We choose whether or not we accept him and his mercy. We choose whether or not we respond to his loving guidance, but his arm of mercy is always extended to us. The Gospel is for everyone: Bond or free,  black or white, male or female. This I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Benge

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blown About By Every Wind of Doctrine. Minus the Doctrine Part.

Bonjour, tout les monde!
This week was fun, fun, fun until daddy took the T-bird away!
The week started out with an exchange, which ended up being the funniest part of the week. So, Elder Geddes went up to be with the Zone Leaders, and Elder Drubay (Only out six weeks longer than me) came down. I ended up  being in charge of the area. The funny thing is, I  happen to be severely geographically challenged. I had to use the GPS for everything. It was also very food for me because it helped me learn the area better. I might actually have the ability to do a decent navigation job in the area now. Of course, I feel safer not testing that theory. 
Sorry, I am way distracted right now. My mind keeps going off on tangents, which I generally regard with a floccinaucinihilipilification. Sorry. I love that word. It's funny.
I apologize for that whole last part. See? Tangents. Anyway, where was I?
Oh yes. Exchanges. The most exciting part of the exchange was the weather. It was pounding rain the whole time, and it was extremely windy. And when I say windy, I don't mean whoopee cushion windy, I mean big bad wolf kind of windy. I mean, there were branches, occasional garbage cans, sticks, children, adults, and large woodland animals flying all over the place. Okay, you got me. There are no garbage cans in Washington.
Anyway, power was going out everywhere, because trees were toppling (like the great and spacious building) and hitting power lines. The best part was when Elder Drubay and I were driving to a member's house for dinner. However, the road we had to take was closed because there was a tree across the road. It was hanging from the power lines,  so the end of it was above the road. (It's hard to describe. It was like a lean-to. Only the leaning part was a huge pine tree, and it covered most of the road. And it was only  being held up by some power lines, which had been stretched all the way across the road.)
There was another way to go around and get there, but it would have taken a long time, and wasted a lot of miles. Of course, I wanted to save miles by not going around. So we may have... um... driven under the tree, even though the road was closed. I can neither confirm nor deny that we drove under the tree. However, we got in to the area somehow, which is amazing because once we were in there, it turned out the road from the other direction had had  a tree fall across it, too. So, technically, there was no way we should have been able to get in. But somehow, it happened. Anyway, the members were way surprised to see us. They thought for sure that we wouldn't be able to make it. And all of there power was out. And the wife was mad because she was supposed to have had a refrigerator shipped to her that day, and it hadn't come because supposedly the road was closed, but somehow the elders had gotten to her house, so why wasn't her refrigerator there, and she was quite pithy (forcefully expressive), and she called the delivery company, and so on and so forth. Ahem. Anyway, dinner that night was: PB&J sandwiches. Which is totally understandable. I felt bad. We then proceeded to knock the area, which was way boony for two hours, even though it was dark and we had no flashlight, and all the power was out. Oh boy. It was way fun. I call it "blind knocking." 
People kept telling us that they couldn't hear our message because the power was out. I should have told them that we could bring them the light of Christ, I guess. Anyway, it was quite fun. The rest of this week has been less eventful. In fact, we have had little success in missionary work, but we are getting the ball rolling in this area. Jia told us that she was going to wait to learn about the church with her husband, who was coming home in a couple weeks. Apparently, they are both searching for truth, so that is WAY awesome.
Finally, I would like to share a little insight I gained from reading in Helaman and 3 Nephi this week. We need to be truly converted to the Lord. Our faith must be steadfast, and immovable. We cannot repent one time and think that we're good. Enduring to the end is a process and a pattern. We have to go back through those first steps of faith, repentance, keeping covenants and following the Spirit. I know that I've talked about this before, but it's important. We must be humble, and we must continually repent in order to progress. Humility and repentance go hand in hand. If you have one without the other then you need to rethink it. I wish I could express how important this is. We must be humble, and we must repent, or else we are literally damning our own progression! Anyway, I know that this church is true. That knowledge can be gained by any earnest seeker of truth, and that is a promise. This I say, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Benge

Monday, November 16, 2015

Oh yeah. A picture.

​Washington: The Musical. Actually, this is just a picture of right outside my living quarters.

Elder Benge

The LA, The Physicist, and the Ward's Hope. (By C.S. Lewis)

Good day, everyone! Cause it's a good morning! It's a good good morning morning, good morning to day... (Bum dum dum bum dum dum dah)
Oh, what a glorious song. I would say that an apt description of this week would be: "intriguing in some aspects, but in many ways a let down."
Yep, that is a very apt description. Before you get too sad about that, however, I would like to say that I can plainly see the Lord's handiwork in this area. 
One thing that I have realized this week is the importance of holding my tongue at times. People are really stupid, and a lot of times they think that they're smart. For example, this week we met a physicist who we got into a discussion with about religion. He has his own sort of Christian religion that he wouldn't tell us because he said we'd have to have a good understanding of theoretical physics. Rather than argue are knowledge of physics, we just let him continue to tell us why he thought we were wrong. Oh boy. It was so tempting at times to just rip his arguments to shreds because he was so ridiculously misinformed. By himself. He mentioned the Jesus teaching the two great commandments, and then he started to quote it. I thought he was going to quote the ones about loving the Lord and and loving our neighbor, because those are the two great commandments, but instead he said something completely different that was clearly not what he was talking about in the first place. He might have been a little bit drunk. However, we actually convinced him to pray about the Book of Mormon after an hour of discussion, and so it was good. Anyway, as I pondered on this lesson I realized two things: 1. Pride is a huge stumbling block to spiritual learning and progression.
2. There are many times where we need to hold our tongues. We can't just have theological bashes with everyone who says something blatantly stupid. In Alma 14: 14-26, we see the example of Alma and Amulek, that even as they are mocked and smote upon by evil people and challenged with many things, they were silent. This happened for many days, and they are a huge example to me.
Anyway, it was fun talking to this guy, and very frustrating at the same time.
So, an LA is a Less Active member, if you didn't know that (because I didn't before I got here).
Eddie is a 14 year old member who refuses to come to church. He's on the football team, and he thinks he's way buff, so at the Ward Holiday Dinner on Saturday, Elder Geddes challenged him to an arm wrestle, and if Elder Geddes won, he'd have to come to church. Well, Elder Geddes won, withing 10 seconds. It was pretty funny. So, Eddie came to church the next day. Unfortunately, he kept saying that the church was "ritualistic, like the KKK" and other really weird things like that that are clearly not founded within the bounds of reason. It sounds like he has some really bad friends at school that teach him garbage. It was pretty frustrating. 
We also got dropped by Van Gelders after Sacrament meeting. Michael's mom hasn't been pushing him too much to keep his commitments, and because Michael is afraid to get baptized, she told us that we "probably won't be continuing the lessons, but I'll talk to Michael about it and text you his decision."
So, yeah. It sounds like we're going to get dropped. It was way sad, especially because I've really come to love the Van Gelders. The two-and-a-half year old, Mason, is way cute. He reminds me a little bit of my brothers Joshua and Enoch. Mixed together. I was trying to keep him quiet in sacrament meeting by telling him a story about Moroni. Once I said the words "swords " and "bad guys" He leapt out of his seat and started sparring with invisible enemies. It was awesome.
Despite our discouragements, we have been very blessed this week. We found Jia, a mother who was searching for truth. She recognized that just because she grew up with a certain religion didn't mean it was true. She already started reading the Book of Mormon, and loved the message of the Restoration. We will be following up with her soon.
Neil, the Atheist, is still as challenging as playing football while crippled. Last meeting, he brought his (and I say this in the nicest way) stupid atheist brother Chad. Chad is great, but he really doesn't know what he's talking about. The problem is that as we were trying to teach Neil, Chad kept saying classic stupid atheist things. Fortunately, he was still respectful, and the Spirit was there. 
Keep praying for Jia, Adrian, Neil, Michael, and David that their hearts will be softened and that their prayers will be answered. It is such a wonderful thing to be in the service of the Lord. I know that this church is true, and I know that Joseph Smith was called by God to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
If you have time, I would invite you to study just a few verses sometime this week, namely, Helaman 10: 1-12. And don't just read it. Study it. Ponder it. Think about it. I was able to find so many useful principles in these verses, and I know if you seek them, you can find some, too.
Have a good week. Keep up the good fight of faith. 
Also, Elder Geddes showed me how to do my hair. So, here you go. (Okay. It doesn't look that good in the picture. Oh well.)

Elder Benge

Monday, November 9, 2015

The ARRESToration of the Gospel

Dear all you peoples who I am writing to write now,
Again, the subject line lies. I didn't get arrested. Not quite. But, we did get in trouble with the police twice. Obviously, I am super happy about that. Or something. More on that later...
Time is flying by. It seems like only two days ago I was writing to you all. It's weird. In fact, time is going more quickly than the candy from a freshly broken pinata at a party of 8 year old children. However, I love what I have the privilege of doing here. Every time I see a family, or a baby, or when I see the Gospel bless someone's life, I remember why I am here. One of the most used words in the book of Mormon is remember, or some other variation of that (like "have ye so soon forgotten?") I promise you that as you try to remember your spiritual experiences and how you have seen the Lord's hand in your life, you will more fully feel the Spirit and be able to receive even more blessings as you show gratitude for those you have received. Speaking of remembering, we have the wonderful opportunity of helping an inactive remember these things as we are teaching her 10 year old son, Michael, in hopes that he will be baptized. We knocked into this family recently and have already taught Michael the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. He came to church yesterday with his mother and it was amazing. Sister Van Gelder (That is Michael's mom, by the way) actually bore her testimony to Michael about baptism in our second lesson. It was amazing, and the Spirit was there very powerfully. We might actually baptize him this week, which would be way awesome. I love being able to see Sister Van Gelder remember why she was baptized, and watch her realize that she needs to be at church. It is a wonderful calling as a missionary to be called to create spiritual sparks of testimony in people in the hopes that they will allow it to ignite and turn into the fire of conversion. It is when we see that fire in people that we know it is all worth it. Of course, a fire will burn out if you don't tend to it. We must actively work on our conversion, or we will lose what we have been given.
Next interesting thing: I have the wonderful privilege of being able to teach knowledgeable atheist. When I say knowledgeable, I mean in secular things of course. In a spiritual sense, atheists the opposite of knowledgeable. No offense, atheists. The only reason Neil, the atheist, is listening to us is because of Pascal's Wager (if you don't know what it is, look it up, because it's awesome). However, we are going to have to really follow the Spirit with him, because he doesn't take the evidences that we readily accept. Alma tells Korihor that the motion of the planets and the stars and everything testify that there is a Supreme Creator. I definitely agree. However, most atheists refuse this evidence despite it's blatancy. Seriously, if you actually take the time to think about it from a logical perspective, there is no blasted way we could be here without a God. Seriously. Think about how the universe is created. Of course the real problem with atheists like Neil is that they focus so much on their logic and their secular thinking that they demand secular evidence of spiritual things. It's ridiculous. Of course, secular evidence exists for spiritual things, but we must have spiritual experiences to gain a testimony of spiritual things (think about Laman and Lemuel. They saw an angel, but they still fell away. That is because they weren't converted, and they weren't seeking spiritual evidence, they would only accept physical evidence. That isn't how God works). The problem with Neil is that it is going to be hard to get him to seek these spiritual things. Once he does, he will get a witness, but getting them to take that first step is hard. What I can say for Neil is that he does have the "desire to know" that it talks about in Alma 32, and he is letting it act on him. In fact, for the next month he is going to live as a Mormon. He is going to keep the law of chastity, the word of wisdom, attend church and keep the Sabbath day holy, pray morning and night, read the Book of Mormon daily, and pray to know that these things are true. It's the Mormon experiment. I know that if he is sincere in all that he does, he will receive that witness. God will never allow one of his children that is sincerely seeking the light to wander in darkness.
Sorry that this letter is so long. I have to go pretty soon.
About getting arrested, we were knocking on a Naval base, and apparently, we are not allowed to proselyte on the base without express permission from the commanding Naval officer, so some guy called the cops on us. It was funny. The cop passed us twice, and only saw us the third time, which was at the end of our knocking session in that area. So, really, it didn't even stop us from knocking the area, which was a miracle. We met so many less actives in there, and met so many people that were willing to listen. Most of these people had never had the opportunity to meet missionaries because of the rules. It was amazing. We planted so many seeds there that night, and we have a lot of potentials we can go back and visit. (We don't need permission to visit people that we set up appointments with. We checked)
I know the church is true. Follow the prophets and apostles. They know what they are doing. If any of you have questions concerning the recent church decision, go to or and watch the church's news announcement about it with D. Todd Christofferson. That should clear things up. Have a good life! Let Us All Press On! 

Elder Benge

Monday, November 2, 2015

Address (by Papa)

Gideon forgot to post his current mailing address and asked that I post it here. He lives at:

   6665 Newberry Hill Rd NW
   Silverdale, WA 98383

Check out the Washington Tacoma Mission blog for some fun pictures that were added today with the new missionaries.

Picture of Elder Geddes.

Oh, wait, just kidding. The silly computer has an expatiating mind, like an ADD child watching psychedelic lights while simultaneously trying to do calculus. So, just kidding, pictures aren't working. Bye.

Elder Benge

Washing-Tons of clothes!

Okay, that title is a total lie. I haven't washed any of my clothes yet here in Washington. For those of you who care (and for those of you who don't) I have been assigned to the Kitsap Lake ward in Bremerton, WA, But I we live right on the edge of Silverdale. (I'm on the edge... of Silverdale, and I'm hangin' with the Gospel of truth! [To the tune of "Edge of Glory" or whatever that song is called]) My trainer is Elder Geddes (from South Jordan, UT), and this is his last transfer. He is pretty awesome. He used to do rodeo-ing (which is cool because we were knocking and we found a family of rodeo-ers, one of which is Coleta, a nice old lady, and now a potential investigator). He also just got done with being the mission president's AP, so that is cool. Actually, elder Geddes and I are doubling in to this area, which means this is an area that has NEVER HAD ELDERS IN IT BEFORE! So, basically, all we've been doing is finding because we don't have anyone in the area book. There are sisters in this area, though, so at least we have some help understanding the layout. Basically, we spend all our time finding out here, knocking doors, or talking to people in the streets. The members are great, and so is the bishop. Knocking doors is scary, but WAY fun! We started out on Tuesday with no potential investigators, and now we have more than 15. Miracles do happen! Also, the slugs here are super sticky. I mean, touching one is like sticking your hand in a mixture of syrup, tree sap, barnacle glue, and boogers. It's super gross. ( I found one stuck to our door, and tried to pull it off. Big mistake.)
It's really green here. In fact, the vegetation is almost as green as I am. Ha. I love the work here, and prayer is such a valuable asset here. I love this Gospel. I am sorry for anyone who wrote me and I was unable to write back. I have so little time. The first investigator we met was Kaylee, who is 19 years old with a 2 year old son (Benjamin). They are so awesome! Anyway, farewell, toodloo!

Elder Benge

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tacoma Arrival (by Papa Benge)

I received an email from the Washington Tacoma Mission today announcing the arrival of a fine group of missionaries. I wanted to share a couple of the pictures they sent me. The second photo is at Puget Sound:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thyme OUT!

Sorry I don't have enough time to write much today! I still love the MTC, though. It's better than a side of ham on a steak. Also, I went to the Provo temple today, and I ate at the cafeteria and the food was EXCELLENT!
Currently, I have the opportunity to play piano again. I am accompanying some sisters in my zone on the song "Savior Redeemer of My Soul" (That's right, HARUCH!) and it is a spectacular song! Sorry I don't have much else to say, except that I got pictures with Chad Lewis and Taysom Hill (which will make my papa supremely glad!) The church is true! I'm really sorry about the short letters (We had problems with laundry...) 
God Speed the Right!
Elder Benge

Friday, October 16, 2015

Last picture. Yay. You are so excited.

Elder Bringhurst (right) and Elder Struble (left)

Elder Benge

Elder Henderson on the right. Elder Moe on the left. Aint dat awesome?
Elder Benge

Another picture of the awesome place.

Some people got no reason to live. Just kidding. That is Elder White making a face. You can see Elder Cooper's shoulder, and you can see Elder Moe in the background.

Elder Benge

More picsnores.

Sorry. I have to send my pictures one at a time. My district.

Elder Benge

More Picsels

The carpet.

Elder Benge


Elder Benge

A Liter of Ozone. More Like a Pint?

The Missionary Training Center is the most amazing place on Earth, with the exception of the temple. My first few days have been incredibly spiritual, amazingly deep, and masterfully, triumphantly crazy. My companion is Elder Taylor. He is pretty dang dandy. He is from Lehi, and he went to Lehi High School for schooling. He does cross country and wrestling. At the same time. Just kidding. Not at the same time. He and I are real close. Conversations go like this. I tell a joke. Pity laugh from Elder Taylor. I tell another joke. Real laugh from Elder Taylor. And so it goes, and so it goes, and you're the only one who knows. Anyway, we met with our branch presidency this week and got callings. I really thought we were going to musical... thingy... coordinators. Nope. Surprise! When the branch president got to Elder Taylor and me (that is correct grammar right there, by the way) he told us we were......... Wait for it....... Zone Leaders (Hence the title)! You might be saying "Oh, fun!" in your head right now, but I am thinking: "WHAT?!?" It is seriously nerve racking to have that kind of responsibility. On your third day here. Oh well. The food here is really good. I wish I knew how to make the chili. What I miss most from home right now are the little kids. I really miss tiny children. I'm not sure if I'll be able to send pictures yet. I left my uploading thingermajaggle at my room, but I'll let you know I took pictures of missionaries, Taylor, carpet, and nothing else. Well, I would just like to emphasize once more the how powerful the spirit is here. It is amazing. I know with surety that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each one of us individually. I had that witnessed to me within an hour of being here. If you are willing to open your mouth and testify of truth, then the Spirit will confirm your words. It is amazing! I also found a new chapter in the Book of Mormon that causes as much joy in me as Alma 32 does. My new beloved chapter is 2 Nephi 31! I suggest you read both of the chapters that I left you, and consider what they mean to children, men and women who do not know of the Gospel. Make time count! Make those commitments! Make those covenants! The Lord loves you! I know I am in the right place, and I know that if I will trust in God and strive to follow him, he will bless me. I know that the Spirit bears witness of truth and will help you find truth in your life, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

P.S. I really love it here.
P.P.S. See how many times I wrote a group of words that started with the letters "M-T-C" in my letter (Example: Make Those Commitments). That's my little game for you this week. Farewell, and keep up the good fight of faith!

Elder Benge