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