Monday, March 28, 2016

The Clause of Christians (Also, Happy Easter!)

I'm pretty sure the title is a punitical allusion to something, but I have no idea whatsoever where it came from... 
In any case, this last week has been one of great pondering and reflection for me. Our current cloud of potential investigators is just like a giant nebulous bubble that we have recently been unable to have any traction with. It's just an overwhelming, intangible blob that has become rather frustrating to work with. As to interesting happenings and goings-on that have occurred this week, I can think of none. So, in order to actually leave you with something of value (whether real or imagined), I will let you in a little ways on some of the "insights" I've had this week.
Mostly, I have been pondering on society, and it's utter rejection of anyone who sincerely follows Christ without fear of man. This past week, my companion and I have faced rejection numerous times, and not only that, but lately they have become increasingly more vehement and/or obnoxious in attitude. While I have become rather accustomed and calloused to rejection (don't worry about me), it caused me to reflect on how selfish society is.
Most people don't really want to follow God. Yes, many people profess to follow him and loudly proclaim that the love the Lord on occasion, but in reality, most people want religion to take a back seat in life. They don't want, heaven forbid, God to actually be the center of their life (In case you couldn't tell, that statement was positively dripping with sarcasm).
No, whenever religion presents itself outside of their pre-determined time for "religion" (usually, that time is once a week, when they go to church), they find it irritating and offensive. Relatively few people are actually willing to serve God. Rather, most people want a god that will serve them. They profess to love and follow Him with their lips, but in reality, they "have removed their heart[s] far from [Him], and their fear toward [Him] is taught by the precept of men." (Isaiah 29:13)
The reason I bring this up is not to pronounce judgement on the world. True, it is sad, but we all have our agency. We cannot complain that others have made bad decisions. We all have. The reason I brought this up is because I wanted to warn all of you not to have religion take a back seat in your lives. No, it's not easy to devote your life to God. But it's worth it, and it is the only way to find true and lasting happiness. That's a promise. It is hard work, but every moment of it, every single right decision is rewarding, fulfilling, and satisfying. So, in a way, it isn't that hard to follow Christ. the hardest part is starting. Once you allow the Atonement in your life to change your erroneous ways and habits, it begins to be easier to do what is right. Not because the nature of the thing has changed, but because we ourselves have changed and increased in our ability and proficiency at it. How? By becoming more like Christ. We change for the better by using the Atonement.
I'm sorry if this letter has not been as bubbly and absurd as you had hoped it would be, but the truth is, everything has a time and a season, and this week I just felt like writing about what I you have just read. I do love the work here. Finally, here is an uplifting Easter scripture that touched me this week:
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
I especially like that last phrase: "shall have the light of life".
Jesus Christ is the light and the life of the world. He is the light and the life of my life, and I am so grateful for Him. I am almost out of time, but I want to say at long last, that I love all of you. I know that God has restored his true church here on the earth, with all the power and authority and validity it had when Jesus Christ set it up on the earth. I know that my Savior lives. I know He loves each one of you, and each and every person you will ever come in contact with. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Benge

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Devil's Pork Chops

An-yang-ha say-oh!
I must be completely honest and frank with you all. The title of this electronic epistle has absolutely no relation to anything at all that has happened this week. I haven't had pork chops. Even if I had had some pork chops, they certainly wouldn't have been prepared by any sort of despicably wicked and malignant being bent upon our misery.
I simply found the title to be alluring. You know, it sort of has a ring to it. Perhaps I will find an application at some later point in my communication.
I must also apologize in advance because the whole and simple truth is that nothing especially entertaining has occurred over the past week. Well, that's not entirely true, but not as much as I would have hoped. However, I shall fill the empty void of this letter by describing for you the beauty of the area. At certain moments in my mission, I am completely overcome with the sheer beauty that is displayed before me. God has created a spectacular world for us. If you simply take a moment to notice the utter brilliance and allurement of the world about you, you can quickly discern the fact that this world is bursting at the seams with evidence of God's love for us. All it takes is an eye of gratitude. This week I walked down a tunnel. It was not a man made tunnel. No, it was a tunnel of bright and vivid foliage and flora lovingly crafted by our loving Father. It was a tunnel of life, a fertile field of knowledge rich in symbolism pointing the avid seeker in the direction of our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. 
For you gamers, I felt like I was a Level 7 White (Oops, I meant Caucasian) blood cell traveling through the arteries and veins of a Level 28 Radioactive (and hence, fluorescent) Vivacious Goblin Skirmisher. I am not quite sure how to apply symbolism in the gamer sense, but I'm sure one of you bright and religious MMORPGLDSers can figure it out.
Probably the most interesting experience of the week occurred  when an extremely drunk citizen attempted to give us a twenty-dollar bill. I appreciated the sentiment, but I also would have felt bad taking advantage of someone who was not very accountable or mentally awake, so I just slipped it inside a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and gave that to him. We then thanked him for his kindness and walked away.
The work has been critically hit this week (probably by a level 666 Devil's Pork Chop), and took some pretty substantial damage. Our most solid investigators were impeded by family issues, sickness, fear, and all sorts of things easily recognized as the handiwork of the devil. Just when things start going well, the devil shoves his fat little fingers into the work like a child shoving Marvel action figures into the freshly cooked raspberry pie his mother has just made (Hulk Smash). Or, perhaps a freshly cooked pork chop.
Though we were sent reeling backwards by the blow, our armor of faith, righteousness, truth, salvation, and preparation of the Gospel of piece held up pretty well under the barrage, and our spiritual avatar is about to send back a fatal blow using our Sword of the Spirit. All damage can be healed through the Atonement. 
I love the scriptures. I love God. I love the people in this area. Please pray for them. Pray that they will be able to make the right decisions. Pray for their welfare. Remember to have gratitude in all things. I listened to Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk on having an attitude of gratitude. It was amazing. Having gratitude in times of prosperity allows humility and charity. Having gratitude in times of turmoil brings faith and hope.  I plead with you, dear brothers and sisters. Heed the words of the modern prophets and apostles. Search the scriptures. Ponder. "The words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." 2 Nephi 32:3
"The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much." James 5:16

Elder Benge

Monday, March 14, 2016

My Companion AKA: He-Who-Is-Adored-By-The-Ward

Don't worry. I'm not jealous. In fact, I just find it downright hilarious. He's a great guy.


Elder Benge

Not As Strange Tasting As It Looks

​Someone in our ward made some Korean food for Elder Lee. This is what looks like. Guess what it tastes like? Way-bland-nothing flavor. Yep. I asked Elder Lee about it, and he said that it was a pretty accurate representation of Korean food. He told me they thought American stuff was way too salty and flavorful and sweet and stuff. Thank heavens I'm American.

Elder Benge

The Seventeenth Year of the Rain of the Judges

Gee willikers, Ron! It Certainly has been raining cats and judges recently out here (More on the dogs later)! And by recently, of course, I mean almost non-stop for the past three weeks. Now, I am almost certain that I have a Vitamin D deficiency, because I have only seen the sun in all of it's effulgent glory probably... 6 times on my mission. Good thing I found some gummy vitamins in my new apartment. I've been eating those like candy. The whole jar lasted all of one and a half weeks. Hmmm... I guess I'm not nearly as mature as I thought I was. Anyway, now I know I've talked about the rain before, but these last few weeks have been especially horrendous, even for Washington. Any time I walk outside, I immediately feel like every single one of my pores is like the nose of a mournful widow that has been lamenting her deceased husband for 6 days nonstop without having access to any Kleenexes.There was one day where my thick coat was completely soaked  within the short time that it took just to walk from the house to the car. Yeah. That was a cold day. This is the first time I've ever used an umbrella on my mission, out of necessity, not preference. Just a side note: I don't use umbrellas for two reasons: 1. I find them cumbersome, and I prefer just weathering the storm as opposed to not being able to use both hands, and also freezing my digits as I try to cling to a freezing cold piece of plastic. 2. Any time I have an umbrella I either feel obligated to open and close it repeatedly in an attempt to fly like Mary Poppins, or else I spin it around and do little dance moves whilst singing or whistling "Singing in the Rain".
Fortunately, I have the presence of mind to cease my strange antics whenever someone is watching me. Well, usually whenever someone is watching me. 
Ahem. Anyway. I promised to talk about dogs, and now I shall. Every one and their dog owns a dog here in Belfair. I have almost been bitten twice. The first time I had to fend of the ferocious critter with my umbrella (Ha ha! Mary Poppins triumphs again!).
The second time I felt like we were definitely being protected by the angels of heaven.
Elder Lee and I were strolling nonchalantly down the driveway of an innocent appearing abode, when suddenly, we hear a thunderous bark and an enormous, shaggy ball of disheveled and hellish caninism careened around the edge of the house and started barreling towards us, gnashing its teeth like a son of perdition eating a Jolly Rancher. Well, there was certainly no time to run, for it was already much too close, so when it was about three feet away, I just took a defensive stance and let out a guttural vociferation in an attempt to make it think I was actually dangerous. My "roar" was a lot more pitiful sounding than I thought it would be, but the beast drew back regardless, much to my astonishment. The devil-spawn drew back, of course, not because there was any consternation caused by my pathetic attempt at a war cry, but more likely because an angelic guardian bopped it on the head like a field mouse being manhandled by Little Bunny Foo-Foo.
Suffice to say, Elder Lee and I were able to retreat unscathed to the safety of the middle of the road (Note to children: Do not use the middle of the road as a place of refuge unless you are a professional or a missionary.)
I guess I should probably talk about the actual work here, now, so here goes: The work here is absolutely fantastic! We are teaching a wonderful family of 6, and we have been blessed by God with several other very prepared investigators that we were serendipitous enough find. (In reality, it was no fortunate coincidence. There is no way we could have just gotten this lucky. God's hand has definitely been at work here in the Belfair area. Anyway, I know that God is real. I bear witness of His deep love for all of His children. He personally loves everyone one of you. If you do not feel that God loves you, then I challenge you to sincerely ask Him in prayer. Then, read the scriptures until you get an answer, and I promise that answer will come. I testify of the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel.
3 Nephi 18:15-20

P.S. Someone told me I was a "true Washingtonian" a little while back after I knocked on their door, completely drenched on a rainy night and told her that "the rain isn't that bad". I then informed her that I was from Utah. Ha ha. The look on her face was priceless. 
Elder Benge

Monday, March 7, 2016

For The Beauty Of The Earth

​The view out my window.

Elder Benge

I Feel The Spirit Deep Within My Seoul

Holy Hari Kari, what an interesting week this has been. I suppose I should take a moment to inform you all that Elder Lee is from Seoul, Korea. He was baptized just a few years ago. He is learning English and he has been here in the WA-TAC for one transfer less than me. Actually, considering how new he is to the mission, he speaks English exceptionally better than I would have supposed.  The area I am in is ridiculously large. I mean, it's like the overly obese offspring of Alaska and China wearing an XXXXXXXXXXXL geographical fat suit. Plus some.* We don't even go to some parts of the area because it would take us way too long to drive out there. However, I should say that it is absolutely gorgeous out here, and the members love to feed us (emphasis on the gorge in gorgeous). No wonder this area is so fat.
We met a drunk guy this week, and when we asked him if we could pray, he offered to say it. We acquiesced, and he promptly proceeded to pray to the sun. And yes, I am very certain it was the sun and not the Son. Yes, he was also very drunk, so it is rather understandable. We are also teaching an especially eccentric recent convert named Christina. Please pray for her and her family. They are going through some difficult times. It is very sad to see the effect that drugs have on the brain. She used to just have some minor mental complications, which were extremely augmented and amplified by drug use. She is now recovering, and her peculiarities are beginning to subside, but she still has a host of issues because of her past decisions. 
We are also teaching a wonderful woman named Chynna. She asks all sorts of great questions, and is reading the Book of Mormon. She is on date to be baptized in two weeks.
We also recently found a family of 6 who relocated to this area from Colorado. They were taking the discussions there, and sorely missed the missionaries... until we knocked into them.
The hand of the Lord is definitely working in this area. I mean, region. I mean, state, Oh, wait. Maybe it's an entire country. Perhaps it is even it's own continent.
Anyway, I don't have much else to write, but I would like to say that I know that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth today. I know that the Atonement is infinite, and that we can overcome all things through Jesus Christ. I love the scriptures. If you have not read the Book of Mormon, read it. Even if you don't understand all the words, read it. Pay attention to how you feel. If you haven't been praying, start now. If you don't have a testimony, then read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. If you aren't living the way you know you should, then stop. God loves you. He wants you to repent, and you will be much, much, much happier if you do. I promise that joy comes from keeping the commandments. You can be forgiven. It may seem hard to repent, but once you do, you will taste of the most exquisite joy you could ever imagine (Go read Alma 36). That's a promise.
Pray, and ask God what you can do to be better. He will tell you (See the conference talk on "What lack I yet?"). I promise that if you will do what he tells you, you will find a greater measure of joy and satisfaction. I leave you with these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

*Note: This description is not to scale.
Elder Benge