Monday, December 26, 2016

Three Ships Go Sailing

I don't have much to say today. Not really. MERRY CHRISTMAS, TOUT LE MONDE! My family is wonderful. It was so great to see them over Skype. They also sent me some packages, and it was truly wonderful. Christmas time is a wonderful time, so long as we remember the true purpose behind the season, and are not caught up in consumerism and coveting, and monetary insufficiencies, and advertisments, and store sales. Giving to others is wonderful, but it is most important that we are grateful this season, and remember Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to earth and atoned for our sins. We should see Christmas as an excuse to focus even more on Christ and to recommit ourselves to him with even more determination, not as an excuse to go and splurge. 
'Nough said.
The ward here is wonderful. They take great care of us. This ward has treated us the best out of all of the wards I have served in on my entire mission (and all of my wards have exceeded expectations). This area is doing wonderfully right now. We have 3 people who are on date to be baptized within the next month, and 2 others who have committed to be baptized but for some reason or another have not yet nailed down a specific time (or have had to change it).
Rose should be baptized this coming week, and we are so excited for her.
As for transfer news (because we got our transfer calls on Christmas Eve), I will be the only one out of our foursome who is staying. Elder Pisciotta is heading to Silverdale, Elder Payne is off to Raymond, and Elder Rogers is off to Ocean Shores. This leaves me to usher in Elders Jocelyn (The other Zone Leader), Budge, and a greenie. (Budge and the greenie being Spanish missionaries).
Anyway, I am very excited to have the opportunity to bring these three Elders in. It may be a little stressful, but I doubt it will be too bad. 
This last transfer was amazing, and I think the coming transfer will be as well.
Have a wonderful week, everyone, and Happy New Year!
Elder Benge

Monday, December 19, 2016

#LightTheHouse (Unique To This Blog)

Here is a picture of Christmas lights taken by my companion Elder Rogers. They certainly went the full 9 yards on this house (or perhaps more like 600 yards of Christmas lights). They even had music and moving parts! Unfortunately, neither the music nor the movement is captured in this photo.

Elder Benge

Incompatible Compendium (MAD LIBS)

Incompatible Compendium
unit of time:_________________
adjective:  _________________
adjective ending in 'est':______________
verb ending in 'ing':________________
same noun as last time:_______________
he/she/it (corresponding to the last noun):______________________
he/she/it (same as last 'he/she/it'):________
famous historical person:________________
name of person in room:________________________
famous modern person:__________________
verb ending in 'ing':_________________

_________   ___________,  everyone! This week was a very ___________ one! Perhaps the
 adjective      unit of time                                                      adjective

_____________________ thing that happened was when we met a crazy ___________ while we 
 adjective ending in 'est'                                                                            noun

were _________________ in a(n) ____________ neighborhood a few nights ago. Well, when we
          verb ending in 'ing'               adjective

knocked on the crazy _______________________'s door, ___________ came out and showed us
                                    same noun as last time                he/she/it

pictures that were taped to the ___________. ______________! It was weird! __________ had 
                                                  noun             exclamation                           he/she/it

pictures of ________________________,   _____________________,  _____________________, 
                    famous historical person         name of person in room      famous modern person

and even a picture of a stuffed _____________ doll ___________________ a _____________.
                                                   noun                    verb ending in 'ing'              noun

What a(n) ___________ day.
So, anyway, sorry about that. It seemed like a great idea, so I tried it. In case you were wondering what the real story was, we met a crazy lady while knocking doors who had pictures of Jesus, Elvis, and a bunch of other macho-looking/famous dudes taped all over her door. It was a very surreal experience.
The Christmas season truly is great. Yesterday we got to go to a large musical Christmas event put on by our stake. Our investigator Rose came and we were able to show her the baptismal font afterward. She is way awesome, and will definitely be baptized on the 30th. The musical event itself was worthwhile, the performers decent. I am quite sure that some of the sopranos at least contributed to the legend of the banshee as we know it today (just kidding).
Anyway, I was thinking a lot about Joseph the (surrogate) father of Jesus Christ. I feel that Joseph is often overlooked in the nativity story. What an overwhelming responsibility, to be the earthly substitute guardian of the Savior of the World. How very inadequate he must have felt. How relieved he must have been to know that he could still marry Mary!
We know little about him, but we do know that he was a very good man, and followed the law of Moses. Anyway, my point is, many of you will do great things that will go overlooked by mankind. Do not worry about that! Our Heavenly Father sees every single thing that you do, and will repay you for all! I am so grateful for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior! I am grateful for this Christmas season, and I am especially grateful that I can have this time devoted to God in order to serve him and help my brothers and sisters. I hope you all have a wonderful week!  ________________!
  farewell salutation

Elder Benge

Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter Album: The Album Cover

​This will be the album cover for my first Christmas album. I mean, doesn't that just look so abstract and generically symbolic?
Elder Benge

Blog X-clusive! Christmas Charity

Crazy thing happened this week. I was walking along in the snow and I had forgotten my gloves at home. No big deal. I had just thrown a couple snowballs, and my hands were very cold (although at this point it didn't really bother me at all).
Anyway, Elder Rogers and I were street contacting downtown, and we talked to a group of wonderful homeless men for a brief time. As we shook their hands, one of them spoke. "Your hands are freezing! Would you like my gloves?" he slurred, his speech slightly impeded by alcohol.
I was stunned. "I'm fine," I stammered, "you can keep your gloves. I just left mine at home..."
Wow. Who would have that. That was probably the most kindness I had been shown all day, and it came from such an unexpected source.
Merry Christmas.
Elder Benge

A Sprinkling From On High

Santa Claus is coming.... *bzzzz* ... home for the holidays!... And since there's no place to go, let... Good King Wenceslas...wish you a merry Christmas and a... silent night. 
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeeer, had... pine cones and holly berries...underneath the mistletoe last night... singing polly-wolly-doodle-alla-day!
Merry Christmas everyone! The Christmas miracle of the week was that it SNOWED! Honestly, it was one of the best days of my entire mission. At night right before we turned in we built a snow-missionary. Random snowball fights would break out in the middle of our knocking sessions. Downtown Centralia actually looked pleasant in the snow. In all honesty, I didn't even know that I liked snow until that day. Sometimes something has to be taken from you before you realize how much you actually love it.
The day after the snow storm, of course, was not nearly as much fun, because it rained and we ended up tromping through freezing slush through hours on end, but it was a small price to pay for a moment in parad-ice. Despite all the spontaneous fun and frigid slippage of the week, we actually had a very successful week. We found a lot of new investigators, and had a few great people come to church. One investigator who came to church was named Rose. She had been invited by a member to come, and had not been introduced to us at all yet. Well, we met her, and set up a time later that day to meet with her in a member's home. I didn't get to go to the appointment, but she is on date to be baptized on the 30th, so (as it says in the old Dixie melody) "Shout hallelujah! Praise His holy name!" We are very excited, and grateful that we were able to meet Rose.
In other news.... umm... Centralia had a 'lighted tractor parade', which in and of itself shows quite accurately what kind of town Centralia is. (Not in a bad way, just in a very accurate way). I wouldn't be surprised if my dad had 'lighted tractor parades' in his hometown when he was growing up.
Other than that, I don't have much to say, just a lot of pictures which are very, very overdue. So with that in mind, adieu.

Elder Benge


Us at our best.
You can call me iron man.

Elder Benge

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Geriatric Ward

'Twas another great week in Western Washington, and all the world is green! And really wet. We are actually getting some snow today, which is really uncommon here in Washington. I am excited for it. If we get enough, we may have a snowball fight for part of zone activity today. I have a few notes on the week to tell you about.
1. I got in my first bike wreck on my entire mission! Yay! I was riding a bike around a corner and slipped in a slime-patch of wet leaves lying on the sidewalk. My bike skidded sideways and I landed on my back. It didn't hurt, but it was funny seeing the face of the man driving the car who was passing at the time.
2. This ward here is awesome, but also very... er..... experienced. They have many years of wisdom behind them. Really though, it does feel more like we are in a retirement home than a church at times, but all of the people are really awesome anyways, and I love it. 
3. Basically, the only people here who aren't old consist of the Hispanic members of the ward, who usually some English. However, I generally don't have as much interaction with them, due to the fact that Elders Pisciotta and Payne are both Spanish missionaries, and deal with that. It is very interesting being in a sacrament meeting where there is somebody up on the stand translating everything. I am tempted just to go up and try to confuse them, but I won't. Probably. (I could just go up and start rambling on and on about physics equations and values and constants and every once in a while throw in some technical sounding bit of fake jargon: "And then you divide the velocity by the angular acceleration to find the number of psidreochonics being released during the reaction..."

Anyway, that is really it. I am happy to see that it is again that time of year where Christmas is in the minds and hearts of the people. I love the Christmas spirit. I have already seen some wonderful acts of service done here, and it cheers my heart. Someone keeps crocheting scarves and stapling them in plastic bags to trees that line the road so that the homeless population can keep themselves warm. What a great thing to do!
Anyway, I challenge you all to watch the Church's new Christmas video "Light The World", and then look at and do the activities listed for each day on the "In 25 Ways. Over 25 Days" calendar. It is a wonderful thing to do. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and a happy December 7 as well.

Elder Benge

Monday, November 28, 2016

Diamond In The Rough

Hello, my dear friends, How is everyone doing. Good to hear, good to hear. This week was a wonderful one, and a wet one. In other words, 'twas a week in the Wa-Tac.
In the movie "Aladdin", the giant sand-head-beasty-thingamajigmeister say mentions that only 'the diamond in the rough' can get in. I was thinking about that this week as I knocked a street called Diamond St on what was one of the wettest days I have experienced in my time on the mission. This combination caused me to reflect upon the necessity of trials and adversity in our lives, and then I remembered that Thanksgiving was the next day, and then I started thinking about gratitude. You know, gratitude is the key to having lasting joy during the difficulties that always inevitably jump into our lives and start doing obnoxious things to us, like like loosening the bristles on our toothbrush so that the next time we brush our teeth our mouth is filled with disconnected bristles. That is right, gratitude brings hope and joy no matter what our circumstances are. So happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Other than the wetness and Thanksgiving, I cannot think of anything that is even remotely interesting (Not that rain is interesting) for me to write about. Let me see..... some members gave us a box of jalapeno potato chips! Random boring fact number two: Elder Payne is ticklish, and we randomly jump on him and tickle him! Random information number three: Elder Rogers and Elder Pisciotta got sick on different days, but fortunately we are in a foursome so we could always have two of us out working still!
Here is the last thing: Go and watch the new Christmas video released by the Church ("Light The World"). Then, look at the 25 ways in 25 days initiative they are doing foro 25 days of service. Then, do them! Therefore, if ye know these things, see that ye do them!
Go and share your light with somebody else. And then, if you are feeling extra generous, go ahead and send me a package of Skittles in the mail. I love surprise candy. (Or if you want to do some good you can go volunteer at a food bank and help feed someone that actually needs it. That is probably the better idea, although I would never ever ever in my entire life ever ever say no to candy {unless it was given to me by strangers}).
Anyway, farewell.

Re: Hi, Jack!

Sorry. I accidentally said I was in Chehalis, but I am actually in Centralia. Sorry about that, tout le monde.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hi, Jack!

Bonjour, my dear and wonderful friends and associates. I am happy to report quickly weakly upon my week this week. I definitely had perhaps one of the must interesting non-spiritual experiences of my entire mission this week, just yesterday, in fact. However, I first must say that transfers went very well. I am now in Chehalis, and enjoying my stay thoroughly. I mistakenly reported last week that I was going to be serving with Elder Trebilcock. That was false doctrine. I was grievously mistaken, and would like to inform you that I am actually with Elder Pisciotta, Elder Rogers and Elder Payne. Yes, that is correct. I am still follow up training him, though. (I am happy, because Payne is much easier to pronounce than Troubleglock)
Anyway, let's get down to business (to defeat the huns):
Yesterday Elder Rogers and I were street contacting downtown, and we contacted a group of 4 people. Two had just gotten in the car in the back and in the driver's seat. One guy was standing up leaning on the open passenger door talking the other individual on the curb. I don't know the details, but I know that the man leaning on the door owned the car. I think he was drunk and had asked these 2 men (strangers) to drive him home or something (I am not sure on these details, I just know that he owned the car, and he did not know the guy in the driver's seat. In fact, they guys may have snuck into the car without his knowledge. I don't know).
Anyway, we talked to them, and the man on the door declined us. As we walked away (it was only a matter of seconds later), we heard a screeching of tires behind us and yelling, as the two chaunchos peeled away from the curb, buffeting the man and hurling him to the side of the road. As they screamed down the road, the man yelled for assistance and hollered for someone to call the cops. Anyway, somebody called, and the cops came, and Elder Rogers and I walked away bewildered (we could have stayed and been witnesses, I suppose, but we didn't really see the guys who took it, and we didn't really see anything else useful, either). So yeah, we got to street contact two criminals about to act! It was crazy. It was weird looking behind us a couple minutes later and seeing all the flashing lights and realizing that we had been a part of that.
Anyway, I love this area and my companions. Most of the time when  we have free time at night and are done planning and such, we play board games (the most recent is "Murder Clue", a fun variation of Clue I developed using the clue board and pieces, but in which you are trying to murder another character with a specific weapon). It is actually quite fun.
Anyway, that is all I have to say. We aren't really teaching anyone yet. It is weird having a half Spanish companionship, because a lot of times we will be at the houses of Latino members and such and my comp is talking while I just sit and strain and wriggle in my seat trying to hear familiar words taught to me in my youth by my mother.
Anyway, have a wonderful week, my dearly beloved brethren and sisteren.

Elder Benge

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Breastplate of Riotousness

Good morning, dear people of the world. This week was interesting mostly because of transfer calls; and what wonderful transfer calls they were, too! Ahhh yes, I shall be sad to leave Olympia, but the thought of a fresh area is just invigorating. I will be heading down to Centralia, WA, and her is the really exciting part: I am going to be in a foursome! HALLELUJAH! Sing praises from morn until even! I am pumped. I will be with Elder Pisciotta (pronounced 'Pish-oda' making it sound sort of like a man with a lisp talking about an 'angry' Master Yoda), Elder Trebilcock (Good luck on that one. I have no dependable idea on how to say it, but I think it is like the treble clef in music mixed with a rooster), and Elder Rogers (pronounced 'Raw-goo-airse' [Jk. It's pronounced normal]).
Elder Pithyyoda and Elder Tremblingcrock are both Spanish Missionaries, and Elder Tribbleclock is also in his second transfer, meaning I am helping follow up train him. I am very excited. Normally Centralia is an spanish-missionary-only area, so it was a huge surprise that I am going there.
Ha ha! Pretty soon my emails are going to contain smatterings of espanol, and after that they will probably be written entirely in the foreign dialect, at which point you will stop reading them and I will lose contact with you entirely. Anyway, I am excited for the transfer. We also met with an investigator named Elisa this week who we found through a media referral (she referred herself). She is way solid, and is taking the Book of Mormon to a week long conference for her job to study it during every available moment. I am fairly certain she will be baptized, although I will be gone at that point. Anyway, farewell, dear amigos! Have a good week.
Also, here is my new address:

1007 Roosevelt Ave Upper
 Centralia, Wa 98531
(The 'upper' part is because we live on the upper floor, apparently)
Elder Benge

Fwd: The Imp


On Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 9:32 AM, David Benge wrote:
Elder Benge the Younger has been honing his photobombing skills and is getting more proficient at it. I guess I am proud ☺:

On this last one, I might have actually caught Jerry Lewis in a time warp, but I think it is Elder Benge the Younger:

There are more people bombing this photo than not:

Love you all!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Dribbling Deceased

I must be quick today, for presently I must dash away. As Puck from The Seussification of  A Midsummer Night's Dream said (according to my foggy memory) "Razzamatazzimapip-pip- putan! I'll go get that flower just as quick as a can!"
By far the highlight of the week was Elder Seegmiller's funeral. Because this is his last transfer, we gave him a funeral before District meeting. The service consisted mostly of extemporaneous musical eulogies, and a formal reading of the cause of death, and a tribute to his life. The best moment came as we lifted the table he was laid on and carried it into the room (with his face concealed by a thin blanket). Well, Elder Stuart made me laugh really hard as I was picking up my side of the table. Well, as anyone who knows me really well can attest, when I start laughing uncontrollably, I also start drooling without restraint, and this was no exception. Soon, the blanket over poor Elder Seegmiller's face was saturated with my saliva. That made me laugh even harder, especially because he had to go through the entire funeral service with the damp cloth on his forehead. It was awesome. 
We also had some preparation for Elder's Quorum this week. On Friday we went to see one of our potential investigators, and there was a moving truck at her house. Surprise! She was moving away! Well, we helped her load all of her belongings into the truck despite the grievances caused by her nuisance of a child (possibly the most obnoxious child I have ever laid eyes upon, but that might also have been because he had clearly been drinking a lot of Mountain Dew and he was on a sugar and a caffeine high [his mattress had a freshly made urine stain from the night before on it. :D]).
Anyway, we returned home fatigued from our labors, only to discover another moving van right across the street from us. So we went and helped out. It was a lot of fun, but my forearms were pretty tired by the end of the day.
We got to do a lot of service today, including rushing to the hospital and giving a blessing to a pregnant mother whose child was apparently stubborn enough that he was refusing to be born even when he really needed to be.
There is something intensely satisfying about being a ministering angel for the Lord. I am sure John the Beloved and the 3 Nephites just love doing this for so long. You are at the beck and call of God and are always available to help out those in need. It is just fantastic. 
Anywhart, that is really all that I have today, so I hope that you all have a wonderful week.

Elder Benge

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Fate Worse Than Death

Here is a short story I wanted to write for all of you to celebrate Halloween:

Leaves crunched and swirled around Harold's feet as he walked along the darkened road. The bitter air nipped at his ears and nose, harshly reminding his body that winter was approaching. He grumbled and pulled his jacket tighter, already regretting the dare he had accepted from his best friend, Thomas. If it hadn't been for Shannon's presence at the time of the dare (and what a sweet girl she was, too) he never would have agreed to stay out on the streets all night on Halloween. It was already past midnight, and the trick-or-treaters had long since turned in for the night, along with everyone else. He hated to admit it, but he was scared. The mind plays some interesting tricks on a lone soul wandering at twilight, with nothing but his own thoughts as solace. Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted as he saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned to look back down the street, but saw nothing. Shaking his head, he tried to dispel his encroaching fear, but terror gripped at his heart like Attila the Hun showing off his strength by crushing an apple in his mighty fist. Again, the flickering nagged at his vision, and he turned once more, now stopping dead in his tracks. Something told him that it was not his sleepy mind playing tricks on him this time.
Harold paused, straining at his senses for any hint of movement or sound. A faint odor creeped into his nostrils,smelling like rotting carcass intermingled with remnants of the time he threw up at a birthday party after eating too much garlic bread. Not waiting for another warning, Harold turned and sprinted down a nearby alley. His mind was a frenzy, not thinking of anything except escape, the mind of the hunted during the chase. He rounded a corner and stopped, fear flooding his veins. He couldn't believe it. It was a dead end, no way out, just solid building walls on each side. No way out but back the way he had come, but now he could hear a thumping, lumbering sound coming that way, accompanied with the sound of labored breathing. He desperately wanted to disappear, to fly away, anything at all! Yet he could do nothing. His every nerve screaming at him, he timidly peeked around the corner, terrified of what he might see. The scream choked in his throat. Before his eyes was a monstrous behemoth, a horrid silhouette worthy of an Edgar Allen Poe nightmare. As Harold tried to make out the details, he almost had a heart attack out of sheer surprise. He was both dumbfounded and horrified, but he could not deny the reality. Like Paul before King Agrippa, he could not deny the reality of what he was seeing: A huge, bloated orangutan wearing what looked like a bloody and soiled miniskirt, wielding a wicked looking machete was lumbering toward him. 
At that moment, the thing's mouth opened, and spoke in an unearthly voice that made every inch of Harold's body shudder: "Come and do my laundry for time and all eternity or I shall destroy you in the flesh."
"Who are you?" Harold squeaked back, sounding much like a mouse being sat on by a walrus.
"I am Lamech, the one spoken of in times of old," said the horrid creature. "I have been cursed, as Cain, to wander the earth as a fugitive forever and ever, and to destroy the souls of men. I also need someone to do my massive amounts of laundry, so you are the lucky one."
Thus ended the story of poor Harold.
Genesis 4:23-24

So, Happy Halloween! That's right, I had nothing better to write, so I bored you all to death with a completely unrelated story that I dreamt up this morning. Today we are not going to be doing any work, because it is P-day and Halloween. We will meet as a zone tonight and watch "The Best Two Years", which I am excited for (Thanks to special permission from President Blatter).
Concerning investigators, we have none, not really. I mentioned a family of 6 last week, but they decided to go to another church. Sometimes it is interesting because our prayers are answered so that we know that God is aware of us, but then we are also reminded that people still have their agency. Baptisms will come in this area, but it will take time. We spend most of our day knocking doors. We also spend much time street contacting, and when it gets dark at night we inspire members. That is mostly what we do. So yeah. I don't have anything else to say, except that I encourage you all to remember that Christ wants to heal you and help you with things that you struggle with. He died so that you could be healed, and so of course he wants to help you. Whatever you struggle with, he is aware.
 13 Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God.Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name.
Elder Benge

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fictitious Fantasies

Sometimes I feel like Lehi, with my mind so distracted and swallowed up in other things that I can't focus or remember stuff. (See 1 Nephi 15:27)
In all honesty, I can't really conjure up any memories of anything from this past gongjuggledy-upped week. The whole week just sort of drippled by in a blur, leaving just a residuum of giwhonkled memories behind. Ah, yes, now some of it is coming back to mind...
On Saturday we had a ward Halloween Party and Chili Cook Off. We had a lot of less actives show up, and that was really cool. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to dress up and mingle in with all of the other bizarre, unique, and niggley costumes we saw there. That was fun, and the chili was simply cantatacious on the taste buds.
We have been working very hard trying to find people to teach recently. Bernie is going out of town, and failed to prepare fully for baptism. She will be back at the end of November, so I probably won't even be here anymore. 
Anywhilk, we were working hard and we just weren't finding anyone, and we had been praying for a family of 5 this whole transfer. Well, this Sunday a family of 6 showed up at another ward because the father wanted his kids to go to church and be baptized, and he felt like he should come here. Well, it turns out he lives in our ward boundaries, so we are absolutely stoked to go and teach him. (We haven't met him yet, we got the referral yesterday). God answers prayers, and he does it in ways we don't expect.  Elder Miller and I (but mostly me) were just bizooping off of the walls when we got home in excitement. God really is just awesome. Things are going well here. I would not rather be anywhere else then here at this time, and I love sharing these things with people.
I was reading Alma 5 today and I was simply fascinated with it. The imagery and the spirit contained in his words is amazing. Who are we becoming? Do we have God's image in our countenance? Are we sufficiently grateful for the blessings we have each received in life?
May you all take time to read and ponder on the scriptures every single day, for in them we have the words of eternal life, and answers to all our questions, and comfort for our times of need (we can also find answers for those around us, and things that will comfort them) 
What else can I say? 
I am way too discombobulated right now. Have a good week.
Elder Benge

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cumulo Numbutt

You know, life is full of ups and downs. Of all the frequent and varied vicissitudal swings of life, one of the worst is when your Great Expections are ruined by an incredibly uneventful reality. (Thanks, Pip). We received several warnings from members and nonmembers alike on Wednesday that a big old heifer of a storm was approaching. We even got a text informing us of a warning issued by the U.S. weather service encouraging us to prepare for hurricane level winds, and to have extra supplies and extra fuel. Needless to say, we were very excited. 'What if?' statements flew through my mind like a dingo thrown by the Incredible Hulk.
What if our power is out for several days and we have to seek shelter in a charnel house?
What if everything floods and we are walking around in knee deep water for a few days like bosses?
What if all sorts of destruction happens and Olympia looks like a post apocalyptic ghost town?
What if they run out of that delicious hummus at the grocery store and I have to buy avocado instead?
Well, we were severely disappointed. The worst it got was on Friday when it started dumping buckets on us for about an hour, but it wasn't that bad. A lot of fields flooded and we got wet, but that is not very unique in Washington. There was also a lot of thunder and lightning on Friday morning, which is unique for Washington, but not very exciting other than its absurdly high decibel level. So yeah. I actually caught myself complaining that it wasn't very bad, which I found a little bit ironic.
That's really it. We are still struggling to find new investigators here. Bernie is preparing for baptism this Saturday, and we are very excited for her. Other than that, there really isn't much.
I also hit my year mark last Friday, and I am a little sad. Time sure slips by discretely, like a stealthy ninja. In fact, it is so discrete and inconspicuous that you never fully realize its passing until it comes up swiftly behind you and bludgeons you in the back of the cranium with the iron mace of a distinguished calendar date.

My thought this week is drawn from 2 Nephi 28:30

30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

Be sure you don't reject what God sends you. Remember the importance and promise of revelation though the Holy Ghost. It is easy to forget our dependence on God, but it is so much better to remember and be grateful. I testify that God loves each one of you, and is anxious to help us with our individual needs and concerns. Have a great week!

Elder Benge

Monday, October 10, 2016

Rain, Pour Favor

It's that time of year again, when the sky is always overcast (like a musical with too many flaky actors), and your right foot always squelches when you step because you didn't know it would be raining and you put your holey shoes on, and every time you get in the car you pretend you are in a movie with a melancholy atmosphere (My favorite is pretending that I am an orphan boy on a grimy train going to an unknown destination, staring out the window and wondering if life holds any joy for me). I really am very joyful right now, but it is still fun pretending to be a solemn orphan boy.
I heard some great quotes this week, but the best was probably one by President Blatter:

"If you see a clown, avoid the clown."
                                -- President Blatter
That is some true wisdom right there. There is a weird scare going around about clowns right now in Washington. Really it just goes to show how ridiculously irrational mass hysteria can get, because everybody is freaking out, but nobody can justify it. Never fear, dear friends, I am quite safe from clowns right now (and just to tease your mind, I am not going to expound on that topic any longer).
We had some splits and exchanges this week and we got to meet one of the new (greenie) missionaries being trained in the zone right now. It was a lot of fun. Due to some extreme circumstances, I ended up in a threesome for a day with Elder Woodbrey and Elder Stuart, and we had a blast. It was probably one of the best days on my mission. Afterward, I was reflecting on the experience and I had a realization. You know, life really is what we make of it. Looking at that day from a detached viewpoint, it would have looked really discouraging: not many people answered the door and few listened, it was raining the entire day, I accidentally smacked Elder Woodbrey in the eye with pokey branch, etc. However, because we chose to be happy, we had a great day, and I will always remember it. We had a few great spiritual teaching experiences, and we laughed and worked hard all day long, and it was good. Happiness is based on our personal choices, not on our circumstances. Anyway, that is my insight for the week.
One scripture I really liked this week is found in Revelation 3:20-21

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 

These verses teach some wonderful truths. God is always reaching out to us. He wants us to have joy and to be happy, but we still have to open the door. If we do, we will be able to fulfill our highest potential and become as one with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 
I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation, also called the plan of happiness. I love you all, and I advise you to share a truth you hold dear with someone else this week. Farewell! 

Elder Benge

Monday, October 3, 2016

Forget All Your Troubles, Forget All Your Cares And Go... Downtown!

With those psychedelic lights!
Teaching hippies all night!
And I got to ride a bike, too!

This week was certainly an extraordinary one, with a markedly different weekend due to the occurrence of general conference (a fact with which you are already acquainted with and which was a very superfluous thing to include). The week was also on the hair of it's toes because of an exchange we had which took me downtown on bike for a day, and because of the suspense of having transfer calls in between conference sessions! Oh boy, sounds like a week worthy of inclusion in the Iliad with all of that excitement and mythical magic, eh?
Alright, now I am just rambling.
I thought conference was phenomenal, and I especially appreciated the ever-present themes I found emulsified throughout conference. Here are some themes I noticed:

1.Beware of the philosophies of men! (and don't go less active)
Amen to that council! Probably my favorite talks were by Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Ronald A. Rasband. I loved Rasband's sermon on not forgetting. It is very easy to forget things. My brain is especially proficient at forgetting. I am so grateful for journals, and for the constant other reminders I have around me that remind me of the spiritual experiences I have had. Don't forget, my friends!
2. Be grateful!
Be grateful for commandments, be grateful in trials. Be grateful for repentance. This theme was also very intrinically connected to the next theme, a fact which I found very interesting... The next theme was:
3. Have Joy! Seek for joy!
Yes, interesting right? One of the key components of joy is being grateful. I also loved the idea of seeking for joy, and looking to find joy in repentance and all these other things. Joy is the only long lasting and completely satisfying form of happiness. I am grateful for the gospel, and the joy I have felt in it.

Anyway, I must go now. My companion is anxiously shaking like a hungry, hypoglycemic child in a candy shop. Also, there is no news regarding transfers. Elder Miller and I are both staying, (and not training.)
Have a wonderful week everyone!
Elder Benge

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Alcoholic's Invocation

Dear reader:
There are times in life when you meet crazy people in the streets. These moments are those that make missionary work most exciting (second to spiritual moments, of course). Usually they are under the influence of something, such as alcohol, marijuana, meth, infatuation, or insanity. Most of the time we pray with them. Well, this week we had another "Lunatic Prayer in an Alley" instance.
We met a very sentimental alcoholic in the street sitting on a bench. It became very clear that he was not in his right mind the moment he responded to our invitation to hear a message. However, he wanted to supplicate with us, and he even offered to pray himself, so of course we complied (who wouldn't). His prayer was so funny and unexpected that I wrote it down after it happened. You, dear friend, are lucky enough that you get to read it. Please imagine the slurred voice of a sentimental old fellow as you read this (Remember to have a long dramatic pause in between each line). Imagine the cool of the evening, and hearing the sound of traffic in the background. Imagine the faint buzzing of the fluorescent light overhead, and you can even throw in some choked laughter from a surprised missionary after you hear the word "wench". The prayer went as follows (He addressed Heavenly Father at the beginning of every line, but I will only put it at the start to avoid too frequent repetition):

Heavenly Father,
give you thanks for this bench...
I give you thanks for that wench...

I thank you for these guys...
I thank you for the blue skies...

Thanks for all that you are...
Thanks for your shining star,
 Jesus Christ, amen.

So yes, it was funny, but it is also nice to realize that there are many people with faith in Jesus Christ in this world. His prayer wasn't all that bad, really. It was just really funny that it rhymed, and the fact that it was completely capricious and arbitrary.
Anyway, this week was a good one. Not too many interesting things happened in the work. We are still trying to find people to teach. Recently we have gotten a lot of referrals, but none of them have answered the door yet. Transfers are coming soon, and I really hope that Elder Miller and I will be able to train here in Olympia. That would be awesome. Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week.
Also, our Recent Convert Andrew was struck with how profound Alma 34:32 was. Do we take this truth for granted? We know our purpose, but the world really doesn't. You should consider sharing your testimony about the Plan of Salvation this week. If you do, I promise you'll be able to increase your personal testimony of it, so will you? Good. Now you have been sufficiently committed. Now that you know these things, see that you do them.
Elder Benge

Monday, September 19, 2016

Knock And It Shall Be Opened

1. Rob before his baptism.

2. A candid photo of myself taking by another missionary. (What a weirdo, right? ;)

Elder Benge

Luau, Luau, Skip To My Luau

You know you're in Olympia when...

- The majority of men shave their legs and armpits and everything, while the majority of women have hairy armpits and hairy thighs, wearing tank tops for all the world to see.
- You find that 45% of the people you see fit under the gender category of either "androgynous" or "anonymous".
- You can see a rainbow no matter where you are and no matter what direction you are facing.
- You spend 15 minutes talking to a random person about kale. ("We make kale hats, and kale gauntlets. You have to keep them refrigerated so they don't wilt." They were joking, but also sort of serious.)
-There are no plastic bags. You either have to buy paper, or you have to carry it all in your arms. It makes it really tough *sob* because I like reusing plastic bags as garbage can liners and such. If anybody wants to mail me some, I would be very happy. *sob sob* Please save me. Life is so hard... :'( (Jk. Although if you do send me plastic bags, I would definitely use them)
-The streets are organized in an illogical manner and are designed more for the ease of pedestrians and cyclists than they are for the people in actual cars.

In other words, it's a great place to be a missionary. :)
This week we had our ward Luau. It sounded like a great experience, and we had a lot of investigators come. This ward is wonderful and is very missionary oriented. For the Luau, they killed a huge pig (more than 200 lbs) and cooked it in an authentic Hawaiian fashion, swathing it in banana leaves and digging a prodigious hole in the ground to cook it in. Unfortunately (but fortunately at the same time), I did not attend with my companion, because we got permission to do a temporary exchange with some other missionaries so that I could go to a baptism in Belfair! That's right, folks!  Somebody I taught in Belfair actually got baptized eventually! It was a great experience, and I was very glad to see Rob finally baptized. The rest of his family will soon follow.
Anyway, back to the swine: Elder Miller ended up carving the sow the for most of the event, and we took home a hefty bag of meat due to the unbelievable proportion of meat that was left even after so many people partook of it.
What is my point in telling you all of this? Ummm... I have no quacking idea, although I suppose it goes to show how bountiful this world is. Our Father in Heaven provides us with everything we need. We are so blessed, and ought to show more gratitude for what we have been given. Speaking of blessings, we had quite a few miracle investigators just pop out of the woodwork this week. Elder Miller and I have been working very hard this transfer just finding and finding and grinding and finding,  but have seen no real success in it until now. We had two people call us this week who have been struggling with something and want to come to church. I have never met either one, and both are interested in hearing a message from us. Cynthia called on Saturday asking for a ride to church on Sunday. She then stayed all 3 hours, and met many members who all feel that she is prepared to be taught and baptized. Holy quagmire! God really does bless us for our efforts! We were doing all that we could, and God brought us some investigators (although none of them came from where we thought they would).
God blesses us when we obey. We may not now how he will bless us, but he always does.
I also just wanted to share this scripture with you:
Revelation 3:21
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Through Jesus Christ, we can have everything that the Father has. Everything. He loves us enough that he wants us to be able to have the best we can. It is up to us whether or not we will endure and receive that, or give up and give in. 
I love this Gospel. I know that it is true, and I know that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration. I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Benge

Monday, September 12, 2016

Holy Ghost Peppers

I am so sorry. I don't have much time this week (again). However, this week I ate a ghost pepper. It felt like I was trying to inhale outer darkness and an running internal combustion engine at the same time. It was way cool. I feel like a man. But you know what makes me feel even more like a man (man of God, not natural man)? Teaching by the Spirit. Seriously. Whenever the Spirit is with us, and we humbly follow the promptings we receive, we will be led aright. 
I am very grateful for God's love, and for this opportunity to be on a mission. Have a wonderful week, my dearest amigos.

Elder Benge

Monday, September 5, 2016

Porta-Potty Pondering

The air was cool and humid, and permeated with the unholy and pungent stench of human waste. The constant sound of rain drumming on the green plastic roof vibrated the air, battering it's way through my ears and into my thoughts. The poor lighting filtering through both cloud and translucent plastic only dimly illuminated the cramped enclosure I was squatting in, revealing the nauseously green stall I inhabited. In my hand, I held fast to some miscellaneous stationary we had found previously while rummaging through the car in desperation*. I clung to these papers as if they were my only lifeline to the world I had once known.

It was in such destitute circumstances that I had a very surreal moment, suddenly realizing where I was, and what had become of my life, and also that it was my 19th birthday. You know, life certainly likes to throw some nice curve balls. It was also in those infelicitous circumstances that I suddenly had two very strong feelings overcome me: Humor and gratitude.
If you had told me 11 months ago that a time would come on my mission that I would be compelled to use a dilapidated old porta potty in the midst of an unexpected rainstorm on my mission, I probably would have laughed and called you a deluded old heifer. If you had told Elder Miller before his mission that he would spend 3 months constantly accompanied by an albino Fijian, he probably would have guffawed and punched you in the shoulder. (I am not an albino Fijian, but one of his previous companions was).

My point is, life is pretty absurd, and we never really know what sort of things are going to happen to us. However, I certainly wouldn't have it any other way. It is the details, and the unexpected moments, and the sweet moments, and the embarrassing moments, and the moments of inertia that make life real. It is the hard times, and the confusing times, and the times of learning that help us to grow, and to become something. I am so grateful for Heavenly Father, who I know is molding me into a better person, a better father, a better son, a better citizen, a better husband. That is what I want to be, but I have no power in and of myself to bring those changes to past. It is only through the Atonement, through mercy, through faith and through trials that we can be refined and become a person we would have never expected.
I am also very grateful for a sense of humor. A sense of humor can turn an embarrassing moment into a golden memory. It can turn a pathetic romance into a cherished experience. I am just very grateful for the truths that can help us become more brilliant and valiant Sons and Daughters of our Father in Heaven. 
1 Corinthians 15:10 
Who have you become through the grace of Jesus Christ? What is your fondest dream? If it is in line with God's will for you, you can have it if you are faithful. (See the words to the hymn, "I Believe In Christ).
Anyway, I guess that is all I have for the week. I love you all, and thank you to those who sent me birthday messages.

Elder Benge
*There was no toilet paper in the Porta potty, hence the miscellaneous stationary.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Seventies Times Seven (And Divided By 3.5)

Unfortunately, my time is dwindling. This week we had two General Authorities (Seventies), Elder Uceda and Elder Clayton, come to our mission. The experience was marvelous. I don't have much time to go into detail, but I will say that I know that these men, and the Apostles and President Monson and all the other people we sustain, are actually called of God. I know that they love us. I am with Elder Miller. He is awesome. He is also done emailing, and is waiting for me. In the meantime, he is entertaining himself by scooting himself around on a rolling chair backwards, making interesting noises. His sporadic bursts of jerky movement remind me vaguely of a large one-legged frog trying to get to the pond in the middle of a dry spell. So yeah, I should hurry up. He is getting bored. He is way awesome, and he is from Draper, Utah. This is definitely going to be a fantastic transfer. Listen to the words of the prophets and apostles. They will protect you. Always listen to the still, small voice. It will protect you. Remember that God wants you to be happy. Have a great week!

Elder Benge

Publishing Them Haikus

It seems one of my haikus may have been put into a book of haikus! How cool is that. Here is the photo with the haiku written on it.

Elder Benge

Monday, August 22, 2016

Every Day I'm Shu-Shufflin'

This week was certainly filled with mix-ups, plot twists, exchanges, and absolutely hilarious happenings. 

One classical comedic idea is the idea of mistaken identity, in which someone is mistaken for someone else and it causes a whole slew of mishaps, problems, and ultimately, comedy. We can easily think of a few movies involving this or some aspects of it, such as "Hot Lead and Cold Feet" and "The Court Jester", among many others. We can even go back to Shakespeare and see this comedic concept portrayed in "A Comedy Of Errors" (Which is a fine comedy, if I do say so myself)>
However, I must admit that I have never seen such a situation play out in real life... until this week. Boy oh boy, I was having a hoot and a holler. Allow me to set the stage...

This week we were scheduled to have dinner with some of the Ward Missionaries in our ward, the Swensens. I should also mention that on this day we were on exchanges, so I (still new to the area) was the only one who knew what was going on at all. Now, the Swensens had been on vacation for quite a while, and were thus a little bit out of the loop on who we were teaching and had baptized recently, etc. Anyway, we had planned to have one of our recent converts, Vick (an older gentleman with a fine sense of humor), attend dinner with us as well so he could feel more welcomed in to the ward. As we were knocking on the Swensens door at the appointed time, we heard a car coming up behind us. Naturally, I assumed it was Brother Swensen returning after having picked up Vick for dinner. I was right, but I was also somewhat wrong. You see, Brother Swensen was driving the car, and he definitely thought  he had picked up Vick, but let me tell you: It was not Vick. It was some random guy I had never seen before. I wasn't sure what was going on until Brother Swensen got out of the car and said, "Welcome to our house, Vick!".  The supposed 'Vick' then promptly walked up to me with a confused and desperate look in his eye and said "Hello, I'm John". Right then and there, I knew dinner was going to be awesome. 
"Hello, John! Nice to meet you!" I responded, hoping Brother Swensen would get the hint. He didn't. and he escorted the bewildered John into his house, and started introducing him to his family as "Vick". After each introduction, John would great his new acquaintance with an increasingly exasperated and desperate cry of "Hello! I'm John." Nobody seemed to catch on. At this point, I couldn't hold it in and I hurriedly went into the bathroom where I started laughing out of both nerves and humor. Yeah, it was a funny situation, but it might also end badly if I didn't figure out how to remedy the situation. I quickly waved Elder Seegmiller (from Layton, Utah, by the way) in to the room and explained the situation to him. This whole time we keep hearing John hopelessly trying to correct the error with even more fervency after each subsequent introduction, while still trying to be as polite as possible. "Hello! I am JOHN." 
Anyway, as we came in to the room, it was still clear that no one had any idea as to the true identity of this stranger, and everyone still seemed unworried and totally convinced that he was Vick. Finally, Brother Swensen, sensing some disturbance in the force, pulled out a business card John had apparently handed to him earlier and looked at the name on it. Then he nudged me and leaned over. "I don't think this guy is Vick." He whispered conspicuously, pointing at the name. Way to go, Sherlock Swensen. I hastily and emphatically shook my head, indicating my relief and verifying his suspicions. After that, it all cleared up, and we had a wonderful dinner with John. (Apparently, Brother Swensen had picked him up for church a few months ago and couldn't remember his name, but thought it was John. It seems John had no qualms about jumping unexpectedly into a car to go to an unscheduled dinner with the Mormons. Meanwhile, poor Vick is sitting at home bewildered, wondering where his dinner we up with him was)
Anyway, we called Vick, and everything ended up good. I almost started busting up laughing in the middle of dinner several times as I imagined Brother Swensen knocking on John's door and saying. "You ready for dinner?" 
To which John, though almost certainly befuddled then responded trustingly "Yeah, sure."
Maybe he has people randomly pick him up for dinner all the time. Who knows?
Anyway, it was a great experience, and there is a gospel application behind it. Our identity is very important because our identity determines our potential. Most people do not understand our identity in this world. In Acts 17:28-29, Paul teaches that we are the offspring of God. Still, most people do not understand what it really means to be a child of God. Have you thought about it recently? That should be our first and foremost identifying thought about ourselves. I urge you all to remember what it means to truly be a child of God. You have the spark of divinity within you. God loves you and wants what is best for you. He has a plan to bring you to your fullest potential, and to a fullness of joy. Anyway, that is all I have for you, but remember that. As it says in Lion King, (insert majestic Sky-Lion Mufasa voice) "Remember who you are..."
Psalm 82:6

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We also got transfer calls this week. I will be staying and getting Elder Miller. Hathaway will be leaving to Tacoma! Have a great week, dear friends and family!

Elder Benge