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.