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