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