Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TRANSFER-mers: More Than Meets The Eye

 (Have I used that title before? If I have, I am so sorry) 
H-h-h-h-h-h-h-ey! How are you all doing? Don't answer that (unless you are willing to write to me about your life, too).
In case you were perplexed by my absence of an email yesterday, I will now call those of you who passed judgement on me to repentance by reminding you that yesterday was Memorial Day, a wonderful holiday with an important message. It also meant that all libraries were closed, hence the reason for the delayed communication.
Anyway, we got our transfer calls this week. In fact, in just a few hours, I will be picking up my new companion, his name is.......... (awkwardly prolonged drumroll)........................................................................(Holy toekinis, this is going on way too long! It's like... Cats the Musical! All exposition with no climax!)............................................................(It's finally building up!).................................................................................................... ELDER (lightning/steven) MACQUEEN! I don't actually know his first name, but I figured I'd get my silly jokes about his name out before he gets here. I'm sure everyone he meets is either going to make a joke about a certain Disney movie involving talking cars, or else ask him if he is related to the famous Steven Mcqueen.
Anyway, I have a little story to relate to you now:
Once upon a time, a man and his wife lived in a little cottage in the woods. The man would watch football all day without regard to the many problems going on in the house, much to the frustration of his dear wife. One day, she decided she'd had enough. She stormed into the room, turned off the television, and said: "Honey! You have got to take some responsibility around here! I am doing my best, but the house is just falling apart. The roof is leaking, there is mold and mildew spreading on every surface (must be in Washington), the fence needs repairing, the door's hinges need lubricating, we need the peach tree trimmed, and the neighbors keep launching rotten tomatoes at our house with that siege catapult prototype they developed last week! Won't you do something?!? I'm at my wits end!"
The husband looked at his wife, suddenly realizing how neglectful he'd been. He was sorry, he truly was. He stood up. "My little cabbage, I am so sorry for my laziness. I promise you that starting tomorrow I will be more diligent."
The next morning, he got up, put on his work clothes and went in to the back yard. He spent all of that day sweating and straining as he... threw slabs of concrete around. Needless to say, his wife was not happy.
"What are you doing?!?" she scolded exasperatedly, with a few extra expletives sprinkled in, "I thought you said you would help out?!?"
"I'm working as hard as I can!" He retorted angrily.
Now, I ask you, dear reader, was this man diligent? Sure, he worked hard, but I will tell you this now: Hard work is not necessarily diligence. Diligence is also working smart, and working on the correct things. It involves prioritizing, planning, and focusing. I don't have enough time to go into the details, but I had a call to repentance this week from the Spirit. Why? Because I was working hard, but I was not working as smart or as effectively as I could have. My efforts were wasted. So anyway, my challenge to you is to evaluate your efforts in that which you know you should be doing. Ask yourself questions like: Am I sincere? Am I following the Lord's established way to do this? Am I spending my time on that which matters most? Is there anything I could do beforehand to make this more productive?
Anyway, I love you all. Have a great week! 2 Nephi 26:30

Elder Benge

Random Haiku! HIYAH!

It comes in two parts. Here is the poetic, inspiring part:

Threads suspended as
a bejeweled tapestry,
intricately twined.
Here is the part that sounds like me:

If you walk through it,
people will think you're crazy
swatting at your face.

Elder Benge

Monday, May 23, 2016

Those "Immo-" Words

You know, nothing makes Sunday School better than having a teacher who uses the words immortality and immorality interchangeably and doesn't notice. Truly, malapropisms make life more meaningful and keep your brain on its toes, however that works. Anywhey, on to a quick recapitulation of the week:
This week was good;
We went to the hood.
I almost got shot
By a guy smoking pot.
But we didn't get killed,
and we had our mouths filled.
The end.
Actually, the only the last two lines of that poem were true (And by the way, "The end" does not count as one of those lines). Actually, this week was wonderful. We went to the temple, and it was incredibly spiritual. We also had a musical fire side meeting on Sunday, which was very spiritual and very uplifting. I always enjoy having the opportunity to sing. I just want to say right now that this church is true (and complete). I know that the priesthood authority is on the Earth. I know that I was called by God to serve in the Washington Tacoma mission. I would rather be no where else in the world right now than right here. I love my Savior. I know he wants me here for a reason.
However, I have somewhat of a weightier matter to address today. It is not a topic most people like to discuss, but I feel it is important. I would like to specifically address the youth (not the super young youth, but the young men and young women). This specification is meant to include anyone of the single status, and has application to everyone, regardless of age. However, I would like to first address the young women: Dear young women: Beware of the "immo" word. In this case, I am referring to immodesty. Now before anyone of you starts complaining and saying things like "Holy juniper, why does everyone keep harping on modesty?!?", I want you to take a moment to consider the power and influence you have over your peers, especially those of the male gender. You truly do not realize how much influence you have. Your immodesty is like a dagger that pierces the minds of those who regard you. Immodesty shows disrespect for yourself and for the gift God has given you. By being immodest, you are portraying yourself as an object of carnal indulgence and smothering your real spiritual beauty. Sorry if I sound harsh. I know you are not all immodest, nor are you always immodest, etc. However, please keep in mind that you have a powerful influence on the actions of the young men you affiliate with. Please try not to aid Satan in his attempt to pepper your peers with fiery and corrosive darts. Many of your peers are currently struggling with immoral thoughts. I'm sure they would appreciate it if you didn't drag their minds into the gutter by the way you dress.

Now, young men, you are not off the hook. You need to avoid the other "Immo" word: immorality. I heard a young women say when discussing the topic of marriage that she didn't expect to marry a virgin, and considered the idea unrealistic. Not because she didn't think it was important, but because she didn't think any such men existed, except in very minute iotas of a percentage of the population. Keep in mind that this was a Sister Missionary, not some worldly high school student (Don't ask me why they were talking about marriage. I wasn't part of the conversation. Now, I feel that she was exaggerating to some extent, but I hope that you were as utterly horrified by that comment as I was. Really? Is that the sort of impression we are giving to daughters of the covenant? This was her perspective of priesthood brethren. Brethren, live up to your priesthood. Be respectful of the women in your life. Get your minds out of the gutter. I understand that we all need to repent. If you need to repent, do it now. Don't let sins of the past keep you from progressing. If you have messed up big time, just repent. I was just surprised that she didn't even think it was weird, she considered it normal. Now, I must go, I am out of time. But repent. Help others to not make the same mistakes even if you already have. Talk to your bishops. I love you. Have a great week! Bye.
Elder Benge

Monday, May 16, 2016

Keep Your Eyes On The Road...

Elder Benge

Tahuya! Word.

Elder Benge

Thou Shalt Have No Other [Snogs] Before Me

What an interesting week this has been! I have all manner of quirky and odd experiences to relate to you this week. Well, not that many, but at least I actually have some.
First of all, we were contacting people in the parking lot, when we saw an incredibly... hormonal couple in the parking lot enjoying each other's company. They were quite clearly about to kiss, and my companion turned away in respectful silence... as I walked up to them and asked them if they would like to hear our message. Yes, I knew what was going on, but I knew the first commandment: Thou shalt have no other snogs before me. I couldn't help but smile, though. It was really awkward, but they just laughed and politely declined before they want back to their lip-voodoo. 
What else happened this week? Well, we spent a lot of time in the small "town" of Tahuya, which of course derives its name from the onomatopoeia of a violently sneezing water buffalo. The population of Tahuya is probably about equal to 2% of the student body at Northridge High School, but the area is absolutely gorgeous, and it smells like Mr. Clean's armpit mixed with the fresh scent of pine mulch.
I also ought to share a story that happened a few weeks ago. I don't think I wrote about this yet, but if I did, I apologize for my redundancy: I went on an exchange with Elder Hatfield into the Wollochet (onomatopoeia for a giraffe simultaneously sneezing and burping into a megaphone) area. We had dinner at a member's home, and they had a guitar sitting in the corner, and we began a discussion about music and how awesome it was, and I mentioned that I could play the guitar. Well, faster than you could say "Quit stomping on my favorite atlas!", one of the members had whipped the guitar into my hands and requested that I play something. Well, in all honesty, my mind was totally blank. I couldn't remember any songs that I'd learned. However, the combined temptation of peer pressure, a musical instrument I could play, and my slightly pressing desire to show off made quite the tantalizing prospect. So, I ended up improvising a short song about Nephi and his family. It must admit, it turned out better than I expected, except for one moment in which I, in a desperate attempt to rhyme with a previous phrase, ended one of the verses by informing everyone that Laman and Lemuel wanted to "cut off Nephi's hands". So, yeah. It was a little haphazard, but I relished the opportunity to improvise.
Anyway, I don't have much else to say, except that our Ward Mission Leader started texting us this week thinking we were his wife, and everyone was really confused for quite a while. Fortunately, everything ended up okay.
Now, before I close this letter, I just wanted to say a little bit about preparation. Preparation is very important. In fact, oftentimes, our preparation for an experience determines how much we get out of it. This applies to temple worship, sacrament meeting, scripture study, serving a mission, and so on and so forth. There is a reason we start our meetings with song and prayer. 
However, a large portion of what we gain is up to us. Do we think about the sacrament and the Savior throughout the week? We ought to. If we don't, we aren't really honoring our covenants, are we? Please, my dear friends and family, prepare yourselves. Effective preparation is key to being truly diligent.Prepare your minds for the spirit, and prepare yourselves to be tutored by the Spirit. I can promise you that if you will prepare, you will see that it drastically increases your ability to both retain and recognize the whisperings of the Spirit.
Mosiah 4:27
D&C 38:30
D&C 78:7
D&C 88:119
Also, you can look up "Prepare" in the Index or Topical Guide.
Have a great week! I know that the Savior lives!
Elder Benge

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Road Less Traveled

Robert Frost? I don't remember the author. #missionveil

Elder Benge

King of the Jungle Dancing

Elder Benge

King of the Jungle

Elder Benge

Defined, Refined, and Redefined

Dear friends and others
I really like poetry
And haikus are quick.

So I'll write in them
For part of this mass message.
For your enjoyment.

It might also be worth a try
To write limericks (I don't know why)
But I find them so simple,
like popping a pimple
I'll write them until my brain fries.

I will now commence
Telling stories from this week:
I don't have any.

At least, not good ones.
But Skyping home was awesome.
I love my mother.

I've thought about humility,
And my thoughts lead me now to decree
Please don't beat yourself up
That's dispiriting stuff
Rather, follow God's will cheerfully!

That's right! I thought a lot about humility this week! I also thought a lot about diligence.
Preach My Gospel makes an excellent companion to scriptural studies. It contains a lot of doctrine and understanding of the scriptures that has been compiled into an easily understood format that makes it an invaluable source for understanding principles. Seriously.
So, here is a quick thought about humility: Humility is not thinking how awful you are. No, it is understanding that you rely upon God while also submitting cheerfully and willingly and fully, without reservation, to His will, while forsaking our own will. I would like to propose that Mosiah 3:19 is a very good scripture relating to humility that provides useful insights as to what humility really looks like. Mosiah 4:11-12 is also of invaluable assitance in regards to understanding humility as well as the associated blessings.
One thought I had regarding diligence was that true diligence is consistent. It's not just an infrequent and spasmodic burst of zeal, but a continued outpouring of effort and energy in the Lord's service. It requires complete focus. It also requires effective and efficient planning, an aspect most people overlook.

Anyway, sorry to bore your minds into submission, that was not my intent. Our investigator pool is growing, which is good, but we have not made much progress (although we met a wonderful guy at McDonald's and have been teaching him there). We also had 4 less active members come to church last week, which was at least something. Working with the ward council can be very effective when everyone does their best.
 I don't have much time left, nor do I have anything left to say. So until next week, same time, same author, peace out.

Elder Benge

A Sunset Worthy of Haiku


Sloping sillouhette:
Fading golds caress the crests.
Dusk is descending.

No scoffing. I actually spent a lot of time perfecting that.

Elder Benge

Monday, May 2, 2016

B-Oyster-ous-ness Is Chasten Me

I am full aware of how completely incomprehensible that title is. I am also fully aware that I have no idea what would be right to write right now (religious rites, perhaps?)
This week was a whirlwind roller coaster of ups and downs and vicissitudal trenches and crests that climaxed in what seemed to be a bright and brilliant victory, which was then suddenly hit in the face at the last second by a surprise, fiery curve ball/plot twist thrown by the ostensibly indomitable pitching arm of the adversary, plunging Elder Lee and I into a transitory state of spiritual anguish and bitter resentment. Now who else likes run on sentences? 
After having read that sentence a couple times in order to full process it, you may be asking things such as: "What sort of vicissitudes occurred? What sort of victory do you speak of? What is the fiery curve ball of the adversary symbolic of? How fast did he throw the curve ball? Etc."
I suppose we can treat this like D&C Section 77:
Q. What was the fiery curve ball?
A. It was the Calkins family's decision to drop us like an egg at a disco party: on the day of their mother's baptism.
Q. What did your seeming 'total victory' consist of?
A. The baptism of the mother of the Calkins family.
Q. What were the vicissitudes spoken of in verse 1?
A. Miracles in contacting, sacrifice, 'serendipitous' meetings, and acts of faith that allowed the Calkins' to continue moving forward despite all sorts of earlier trials with medication, family disputes, etc.
Q. What scriptures helped you rise out of the trenches of disappointment you faced?
A. 2 Nephi 4:19, 28,34,35 (with the rest of the chapter) and Mosiah 23:21-22
Q. Are you almost out of time?
A. Yes.

Also, we ate oysters this week. I now have 10 seconds left, so goodb

Elder Benge


Holy Rhododendron bush! (We are standing on the second story of the house in this picture)

Elder Benge