Monday, January 25, 2016

Change In My Pocket Wasn't Enough. (I'm Singing a Show Low)

Change is essential for us. Why? Because how else are we going to buy 25 cent sodas from dilapidated vending machines on the side of the road?
Yeah. That happened this week. 
But more important than our temporal pocket change is the type of change that comes as our lives are transformed around us at the flip of some sort of divine switch found in the heavens. However, this is no accidental occurrence that happens as a result of the angelic janitors of Kolob accidentally bumping into a panel of switches as they wheel around an immaculate mop bucket over pristine crystal floors. No, there are no coincidences in God's kingdom on Earth. This is revelation and inspiration at it's finest. We learn in Isaiah 55 that God's ways are higher than our ways, and I certainly agree. That is something that I have developed a testimony of over the years as I have gone from youth to Elder. It's one of those things that a lot of people struggle with. Their pride just won't let them accept the idea that God's intellect and wisdom is infinitely superior to our pathetic reasoning and fleshly philosophizing. I testify that God directs his servants through the quiet promptings of the Spirit.
Anyway, the point I am trying to get at is that my new companion is absolutely amazing and this transfer is going to be absolutely spectacular. His name is Elder Poland, and he is simply splendid. He is from Show Low Arizona, and has been out for a little over a year. He used to be in plays and is really just a great guy with a powerful testimony. We are definitely going to be baptizing this transfer.
I am still here in the Kitsap Lake Ward, and I really just love it. We didn't get anyone to come to church this week except for the insincere atheist who seems to be mocking the whole thing. He was respectful at church and didn't cause any trouble, but we won't be meeting with him any time soon. Anyway, the Jones family got sick again, but they are very awesome. We helped resolve some of the mother's concerns a few days ago, and now the whole family is hyped about continuing their learning in the church. 
Anyway, I'd just like to end with this scripture from Jeremiah 29:13
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
Let me tell you what this means in a nutshell. Be sincere. Press forward in faith until you can't go any farther, and then press forward a little more. That is when you will receive a witness, and an answer. God will test our faith and try us. I know that this church is true. I could never deny it. This I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Benge

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Picture: Spider-Pen, Caught On Camera!

Elder Benge

Spider-Pen, Spider Pen! Does Whatever A Spider-Pen Can!

Hallelujah! What I splendiferous week this has been!
Time flies like a mango launched from a catapult, and hits you in the back of the head just as you're about to taste the popsicle of competence, familiarity, and routine, which instead is forcibly jammed up your nostrils of mental serenity, giving you a major brain freeze of anxiety.
Actually, I'm not really anxious, I'm just repeatedly caught off guard by how quickly time trickles by.
Last Saturday we received transfer calls, and it turns out that I will be staying in this area!
My new companion will be Elder Poland. I don't know anything else about him, except that he is not from Poland. Naturally, that was my first inquiry the moment that I heard his name. I'm not sure why, but my second question was "How tall is he?" Currently, the answer to that question still remains shrouded beneath the dark and ominous fog of ignorance. Perhaps he is a Nephilim. Just kidding.
Anyway, I have a little miracle to share this week. I was having a hard day, because the Jones family (one of our only solid families) seems to be struggling and is on the brink of falling out of our teaching pool. Anyway, again I was just getting discouraged about everything. I was just getting discouraged with myself, our lack of baptisms, and everything which just seemed to be crashing down at the same time (Notice the past tense. I promise, not everything is bad. I know that each one of us has times in our life where we just seem to be discouraged. It happens. That's why the Lord has promised to help us through His Atonement). Well, as I was sort of in my melancholy mood, we were deciding where we would go tracting the next day. At that moment, I decided I would throw my pen at the map of our area, and see where it hit, just to give us some ideas.
Anyway, I threw the pen on sort of an impulse, I didn't think it through too long, but lo and behold, the pen stuck to the map. That's right. The pen stuck to the wall horizontally. I took a picture of it. Afterwards, we found out how it had happened (the grip on the pen somehow allowed it to stick to the wall.) However, although we could get the pen to stick to the wall under specific conditions, try as we might, we could not get the pen to stick to the wall by throwing it from the angle I'd been sitting at, and from the distance I'd been sitting at. Yeah, it was awesome. The pen was pointing at a road we hadn't knocked yet, so we knocked it.
We had limited success there, so we'll see what comes from it, but I don't believe that the Lord showed us that little miracle because there was some amazing miracle baptism that would happen on that street. No, I firmly believe that the reason that miracle occurred was to remind me that this is the Lord's work. The Lord is in charge. I don't need to worry about the results, I just need to do what the Lord wants me to. I need to represent Him in the area He has placed me in. He will send baptisms in His own time.
Sorry to go off on that spiel. 
One other thing I wanted to talk about. Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from our stake president, President Andersen, about learning from symbolism. We mostly talked about it in relation to the temple, but at the end in told us that everything in life is symbolic. The Lord is the Master Teacher, and the Universe is His classroom, and everything in it is meant to instruct us and teach us about Him and His plan for us.
We must not be afraid to dig a little deeper in our pondering. Look at something that interests you, some sort of symbol and ask: What is it? Describe what it is, what it looks like, feels like, etc.
Then ask: What might that mean? Come up with something that you feel fits the symbolism, something that it might be symbolic of.
Finally, and most importantly ask: If that's what it means, what do I do about it? This is where we apply our knowledge. This is where the Spirit will teach us what we need to learn and do from the symbol. Keep repeating this final step until you come up with something specific that you can do in your own life at that time that will be good for you.
The great thing about symbolism is that we can always learn from it. It is such an immense source of wisdom and knowledge. It is also very personalized. Because the symbols can have multiple meanings, the Spirit will help us know what we specifically need at that time from it.
Sorry that this letter was so long. I'm also sorry if that last portion was confusing. 
I know that this church is true. I really do. I trust in the Lord with all my heart, and I love Him with my whole soul. Jesus Christ lives, and He is our Savior and Redeemer. This I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Benge

Monday, January 11, 2016

I May Not Know Everything, But At Least I Don't Have A Noodle In My Beard

WOOHOO!!!!!! Happy Monday EVERYBODY, Everybody, everybody, everybody... 
Holy half-n-half, this week was crazy! Two exchanges and a "special stake meeting" left the week with more twists and turns than the Twilight series, but with a heck of a lot less romantic, yet awkwardly descriptive paragraphs...
Although, I never actually read the series. Or saw the movies. So, everything I just wrote about that book is based solely off of rumor. Crazy huh? I still probably know more about it than some people claim to know about the Book of Mormon, because some of my sources regarding Twilight are actual reliable, if not meticulously detailed. I mean, I swear some of these people have never even heard the words 'reliable' and 'source' in the same sentence.
We knocked into a less active this week who had some preposterous questions about the Book of Mormon. I mean, his questions were ludicrous, useless, and easy to answer for anyone who was not looking for an excuse to disbelieve. I mean, he wanted me to go and study his questions, even though after he asked them I was able to give a sufficient explanation off the top of my head. In fact, a 6 year old could have explained his questions to him. The fact of the matter was, he wasn't actually worried about those things he brought up. He knew they weren't legitimate concerns. They were just his excuses to not believe because he either is 1. Feeling guilty because of some sin in his life that he's not willing to change, or
2. He's too lazy to do anything and he doesn't care about actually being happy in this life.
He knows it's true. He also had a noodle in his beard. He's just not willing to accept that he needs to change.
That is my plea to you friends, brothers, sisters, parents, extended family, random strangers and awkward acquaintances: If you don't know that the church is true, get a testimony of it now. If you will seek and sincerely desire to know of the truth of the Restored Gospel, then read the Book of Mormon. Pray about it. Talk to your parents, missionaries, friends, bishop, or any source of guidance. Seek to follow God and his commandments. God has promised us that if we ask, we will receive. If seek, we will find. If we knock, it will be opened unto us.
Do not let guilt stop you from receiving God's love. The gospel is there so that we can be made clean from sin, so that we can have our guilt swept away. Anything you have done in your life can be repented of, and has been experienced by the Savior. We have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order for us to be able to overcome sin and be made perfect: Don't let your sin stop you from accessing the perfect remedy for your sin.
I also had some guy try to argue with us this week that there was "no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon". He was contentious and it wouldn't have gone anywhere, so we just left him, but let me at least tell you all something:
HA. No archaeological evidence my foot. I don't know everything about the Book of Mormon, but I do know of these evidences:
1. Nahum
2. Codices
3. Horses
4. Knowledge of the Arabian Peninsula
5. Coriantumr cutting off Shiz's Head (The science behind it)
6. Native American records of being visited by a "white god"
And there is more, but it's about time for me to wrap up.
Of course, none of this will ever be enough to get you a lasting testimony. The most important thing we can do is read and pray about the Book of Mormon and receive a spiritual witness that it is true.
I know that God lives. I know that through the Atonement, we can be perfected in Christ. I love the Lord, and I love being in a part of His work. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet and to restore His true Gospel here on Earth. These things I say, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Benge

Monday, January 4, 2016

Blog Special: An Adumbration For The Coming Transfer...

Elder Benge

My Companion... At Twilight

Elder Benge

Baptism Photo

This was for a Child of Record baptism, but I was asked to be there. (And I got to sing at it, so that was good)

Elder Benge

Gollum Benge!

Yes. So awesome.

Elder Benge

Upon This Blog Only: A Tongue Twister

It's not very hard, but it is funny to hear and say.
My flipping fleshy fleshly
friend is a fiend at finding ferociously
flirtatious, facetious, fleshy, flailing
females unfailingly.

Elder Benge

The New Year: 20 Sick Teens for 2016

At last, we meet again! In a very non-literal way. Or even a figurative way. I guess I should have just left it with: "At last, we communicate again", or something along those lines.
In any case, this week has been very... interesting.
The joyful balloon of elation and ecstasy I had last week in preparation for the baptism was transformed into a mass of hideous, bulbous pimples that marred the face of the week. The inconsiderate finger of life then decided to scratch the acne ridden wasteland until the clump burst, and a confluent flow of pus oozed out over the week, covering it with the viscous, filthy flow of discouragement and despair. Fortunately, by the end of the week, the pus had been wiped up by  the baby wipe of hope and faith, and the horrendous blight of acne had been healed by the Band-Aid of the Atonement, leaving only minor scarring upon the final countenance of the week. 

Descriptive enough for you? 

Well, what I was getting at is that the baptism of Susan did not happen due to some unhelpful, inconsiderate and seriously distressed son, a funeral, some fear, the adversary, and an early plane ride to Virginia. Hopefully, that description was sufficient for you, because I'm not going to go into details, because I might start crying. It is one of the saddest things in the world to watch someone you love make bad decisions that lead them away from Jesus Christ and the path of happiness. I can't imagine what it's like being a parent. It must be so hard. Even more than that, I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be for God to watch his children go astray.
However, all is not over. Last week we were dropped (more like "they decided not to meet with us". We hadn't actually taught them anything yet) by the Jones family, but we begged and pleaded with them to let us come by one more time, and so we did, and guess what? Over the phone, the father had told us that as a family they had decided to stick with the baptist faith after much discussion. However, when we got there, it turns out that only the parents had talked about it, and the children (ages 12, 16, 18, and 20) were all still interested. The parents told us that they were okay with us teaching there kids, because the just wanted them to believe in Jesus Christ! Their sons and daughter are so excited to continue learning! I am so excited for them. They are very in tune with the Spirit and have a great love for the Lord! I love being a missionary. So, despite our trials this week, God blessed us with some wonderful, solid investigators. I was also really helped and strengthened this week as I studied Ether 12. 
I'd just like to share verse 4 with you: "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."
I love this verse. There is so much to learn from it. What I wanted to focus on, however, was the part where it says that hope "maketh an anchor to the souls of men". Hebrews 6:19 also calls hope the anchor to our souls. Our hope comes from our trust in the promises of God. It comes from our faith in God. It is the opposite of despair. Because of God, I have hope for a better world. I have hope that as long as I work as hard as I can on my mission, and have faith in Jesus Christ, whatever happens will be the Lord's will.
I beseech you, my friends and family, to gain that hope and faith in the Lord if you don't have it, and to strengthen it if you already do. Never, never, never give up. Have that faith and that hope that keeps you steadfast in Christ. Anchor your souls in him and his Atonement. If you do, you will never go astray. I love you all! Be nice to people who knock on your door (unless they try to kill you or someone you love, or in a similar scenario)!

Elder Benge