Monday, September 18, 2017

Shadows Over Washington

The land grows darker each day. Smoke and ashes fill the air, filling the lungs of those who inhabit this shadowland. Thick clouds have rolled in, vowing that they shall envelope the land for many more months on end. The days of sunshine, merrymaking, and dead lawns are over. An almost palpable gloom seems to clutch the hearts of many and linger in the recesses of every home. My heart is still filled with faith, but tormented by lurking shadows. I fear my time is drawing nigh. I ignore the omens and focus on my calling, but dread still lingers behind me: softly chuckling like a delirious madman. The cold begins to set in.
The winters are back. This is unfortunate for me, as it means my time is ticking very quickly. I still have time, and there is always still hope, but I still feel tinges of melancholy at times.
I do love it out here. The work is wonderful. I love the people. I am so grateful for everyone I have been able to meet. Stacy came to church this week! We are so excited for her. She has been reading the scriptures and has a baptismal date approaching. We brought her and one of her member tenants, Carl, to a barbecue put on by the Elder's quorum. It was a lot of fun. We played some competitive "cornhole", which, for you Utahns out there, is like a more structured form of "bean bag toss" with only one hole in the board. Elder Robb and I played on a team against two of the members and we lost. The final score was a whopping 21 to 5. I'd like to say that it was a close game, but if I did I would be downright lying. They absolutely slaughtered us, processed us, and sold us to a local grocery store as fresh, human jerkey. It was a lot of fun, though, and I enjoyed the opportunity. Elder Robb is a great companion. I enjoy being with him. I love you all. There is nothing more satisfying in life than doing God's will. I can say that with certainty. It is easy to get distracted by Satan's artifices, but don't be fooled: Only by following Heavenly Father and His plan can we attain true happiness. I hope you all have a phenomenal week.

--
Elder Benge

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Inadequate

I'm sorry, I sped through that last letter so fast I forgot to mention our investigators. We are very excited about Nauss, one of the investigators who came to church a few weeks ago. When we taught him the first time, he just seemed sort of flaky. But just a few days ago we taught him again, and now he has read some of the Book of Mormon and he loves it. His whole demeanor changed. He was asking questions, he was commenting on the Plan of Salvation and very involved. This time he was willing to set a solid baptismal date. The spirit touched his heart. I am so excited for him. I love it when people really open their hearts to the message. The Spirit is so strong when that happens. We also found a potential investigator who didn't seem that solid, but when we came back and taught her the restoration on the return appointment, the Spirit was very strong and she became very interested. I told her she had been feeling the Spirit as we taught, and she agreed, and excitedly accepted a Book of Mormon from us and eagerly committed to come to church. Man, I love the work. I hope you all have a glorious week.

--
Elder Benge

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

Beginning on Monday last week and ending Friday or Saturday, we had the strangest weather here in Washington. For behold, ashes did rain forth from the sky, covering the vehicles and making the air absolutely horrid. When I first walked outside and saw all of the ashes, I legitimately thought that some volcano had exploded somewhere. Alas, it was just the forest fires from Canada. Still, it made for a great week with a fantastic atmosphere (Not the physical atmosphere, that was awful, but the "pervading tone or mood of a place"). I felt like Elder Robb and I were in some strange, post-apocalyptic world, converting people the the gospel while running from nuclear waste zombies.
Also, if you are wondering why I am writing on Wednesday, it's because on Monday we had Mission Tour, which is when a member of the Seventy (In this case, Elder  Benjamin De Hoyos and his wife) comes and teaches us. It was a great opportunity and the spirit was certainly there. I am grateful that we have prophets and apostles to lead and to guide us today. I am grateful for that revelation, and that we can really be guided as a church by God, and not by man. Anyway, I have not much else to write. The church is true indeed, my fellow brethren and sistren. May you all stay strong in the faith, and remember to be humble and keep your eye single to the glory of God.
Adios.

--
Elder Benge

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Don't Take Cookies From Strangers

This week we had a very interesting experience. We were knocking along a dead end back-woodsy road, and we met a Native American lady who was baking. She said she was spiritual and not interested in our message, so we walked away. A little bit later as we were coming back the way we had come, she came out of her driveway with two small bags, with two cookies in them each. She said she had thought to give us some cookies and she thanked us for what we were doing. We thanked her profusely for the gift, and accepted happily. She then asked us, just for clarification, "Which church are you from again?"
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormons if you've heard us called that before."
"Oh, good. Well, enjoy the cookies. They are organic." She replied. Then she left. As we departed, I opened my bag and took out the cook. Organic food items are always a risk, especially homemade ones, because sometimes they taste like straight fodder, while other times they taste normal. I picked up the cookie and took a bite. The moment it touched my tongue, I could taste a horrid skunky taste mingled with everything else. For some reason, it tasted like something familiar. I chewed it a little more, when I suddenly realized that the nasty flavor was familiar because it tasted exactly like weed smelled. 
I quickly spewed the poisoned food all over the side of the road. "Sweet guacamole!" I exclaimed (I'm paraphrasing now), "She gave us marijuana cookies! She tried to get us high!'
Anyway, we narrowly dodged that snare of the adversary. Fortunately, I can recognize the smell of weed after serving in Washington for so long.  Anyway, other than that, the week wasn't too interesting. We put two people on date for baptism that ward members found for us, so that was exciting.

Also, just a fun fact about Washington: It seems that very few living rooms have light fixtures built in to them. I guess they've decided that the darkness of Washington should be inside the houses as well as outside them. Most people end up putting a few lamps in the main room, but it doesn't usually do much to fill the dark space, and the room ends up looking gloomy.

Have a great week, tout le monde!
--
Elder Benge

Monday, August 28, 2017

Give Us This Week Our Weekly Week

Holy cardinals, Batman! This week was so stupendously... normal! WOWZA!
Okay, I don't really have much to write this week. Elder Robb and I worked really hard. We did our best to stay focused. We knocked, and we knocked. We visited potentials. We did our best to inspire the members as they graciously fed us dinners during the week. Nothing really interesting happened until Sunday. We had a less active show up who brought his non-member room mate. She is interested in learning. We also had another semi-less active member (who just barely got back from his summer job which doesn't allow him to come to church) come and bring his wife's cousin (also interested in learning) and his 9-year-old unbaptized daughter. He wants us to come teach them both and get them baptized. We are so excited! God definitely answered our prayers and blessed us for our hard work. I definitely do have a testimony that his is the Lord's work, not ours. It is not the work of man, it is the work of God, and he is in control. Whenever we try to take control and ignore his will it just causes problems. I also know that God hears prayers, and that he loves us. This doesn't mean he always gives us what we want, but it does mean that he will guide us to what is best (as long as we humbly seek), and that he will not upbraid us for asking (See James 1:5). I am very grateful for that. I love God, and I know that he loves each one of us.
I am sorry that this was boring weekly email, but hey? What can you do?
Have an astounding week, and may you never trip while walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night in such a way that you break your nose.
--
Elder Benge

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Semi-Super Bowl (Missionary Style)

Here are some pictures from zone activity last week:


(From Left to Right)
Top Row: E. Jocelyn, E. Reynolds, E. Allen, E. Carr, E. Robb, E. Benge
Middle Row: E. Meik, E. Howell, S. York, E. Pisciotta, E. Rosquist
Bottom Row: S. Kreutz(I think that's how it's spelled), S. Baldwin, S. Fisher
--
Elder Benge

The Words Will Choke In Your Mouth

This week was really interesting. We had to drop a few people and that was sad. We found a couple more people and it will be exciting to teach them. By far the most exciting parts of this week were when my companion, dear Elder Robb, choked on his food. It actually happened two different times this week (once at a member meal). I want to preface this by saying that I am very grateful that he survived and that nothing bad happened... but I must also admit that what happened was way funny. It is going to make a good memory some day for him and for me. The only reason it was funny was because the food never clogged his throat all the way, which meant he could still breathe. So it was still really awkward and embarrassing, but at least he was doing fine. I have made sure I am up to date on "how to help your companion while he is choking" skills, so next it won't be as awkward. I am very grateful that everything ended well, though.
I will say that that was definitely one of the most exciting member meals I have ever been to.
Anyway, other than that I cannot think of a single interesting thing to share with you that will last more than a sentence, so here are some random, inspid things for your mind to munch on: I have a flat tire on my bike. Elder Robb is a really good artist and has made a lot of his own comic book superheros. I got my hair cut. I have been looking out the library window at the solar eclispe while I've been emailing (using solar eclipse viewing technology, of course.) [P.s. a rice krispy treat wrapper works remarkably well]{Don't worry, I also have an official viewer that meets the transmission requirements of EN 1836:2005 & AS/NZS 1338.1:1992 For Eclipse Filters. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds reliable #ethos}.
Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful day. Don't eat your mashed potatoes or your chicken too quick!

--
Elder Benge

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Whole 9-9 Yards

This week was actually interesting. That is good, because it means I have at least some semi-interesting morsel of information to share with you (at least, I found it interesting. You may still be bored, but you can just keep your cutting remarks to yourself, Fujong!).
Anyway, on Friday, our entire mission had a 9-9. This meant we knocked doors from 9 am to 9 pm without taking any breaks for lunch, dinner, or going to the bathroom (Just kidding, we'd use gas station facilities and such* when we needed.). Our zone made the day extra special by having every companionship knock in someone else's area in the zone. Elder Robb and I were assigned, alongside Elder Pisciotta and Elder Carr (another companionship in our district) to knock in the Lakewood ward. Contained within the Lakewood ward boundaries is a group of apartment complexes known to the missionaries as "Chocolate City" (for reasons I will only tell the avid seeker). This knocking spot is renowned throughout the mission as the best, sketchiest, most ghetto knocking spot in the entire mission. Suffice to say, it was a very fun knocking session. It was definitely very ghetto. I am very glad I had the opportunity to knock there. The day was long, but very rewarding. We packed many PB&J's into a bag and brought them with us all day. We found a lot of new people for the Lakewood missionaries to teach. (They found a few people for us to teach as well.)
The other most interesting part of the week was that I was asked to give a talk in church on Sunday. So, yesterday I got up and gave a talk on... how to overcome challenges in marriage. Yes. That is the topic I was given. So, I drew upon my years of wisdom as the Bachelor§ I am and told everyone how they ought to be married. 
It was pretty funny. I was replacing someone else who had had to cancel, but it was still really funny having a missionary give a talk on marriage.
We had another lesson with Eric this week. Elder Robb did well as we taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Eric admitted that the only thing keeping him from feeling ready to be baptized is that he still hasn't put a full honest effort into reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. Lessons with Eric are always very spiritual, and I really enjoy teaching him. We invited him to redouble his efforts on reading the Book of Mormon. I pray that he will. I know he has felt the spirit and knows that what we teach is true, he is just too hesitant right now to take a baptismal date (we have invited him several times).
Anyway, I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is so simple. It is so profound. It is so powerful. Christ has changed my life, and he has changed me. He continues to change me as I allow him to. 
May we all allow Christ into our hearts, and allow him to continually change and mold us.
I hope you all have a beautiful week full of fresh raspberries, free food samples at the grocery store, happy infants, and bright rays of sunshine. I love you all. Please pray for the people out here in Washington, as well as the people around you so that you may have missionary opportunities as well.
19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
                              - 1 Nephi 10:19
--
Elder Benge
*bushes, trees, obscured clearings, the houses of random strangers, roadside port-a-potties, empty water bottles, nearby unlocked missionary apartments, ditches, less-frequented roadsides, shopping centers, fast food restaurants, members' homes, etc.

§ I am the Bachelor.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Super Fly Pic


​This was a super spontaneous picture, but I thought it ended up looking really good. Something about the layout is just really pleasing to the eye (At least to my eye).

--
Elder Benge

Slow Week 'Til Fast Sunday

As the title of the email clearly illustrates, this week was a rather slow one. We found a few new. Nothing much exciting was happening. We were really praying that would start finding some more people. On Sunday, Ashley didn't come to church, and we were really disappointed. Then, right before dinner we biked up to the member we were eating at at the top of the area and decided to knock there before dinner (which was a slight change of plans). On about the 3rd door we knocked, someone opened the door and said "How did you know we needed you?"
I'm not going to lie, I honestly thought they were joking or just needed to move their couch or something. Nope, they had actually just been praying and trying to get a hold of the missionaries even going to the extent of just barely sending in a referral for themselves on lds.org so that their daughter could get a blessing before going in for ear surgery the next day. They were members, but they weren't from the ward and were just taking care of someone who had just had a stroke, so they didn't know how to get a hold of someone. So we gave the daughter a blessing, as well as the older gentleman who had just had a stroke. It was a small thing,  it was a small thing, but it was a relief to know that God was using us as angels to answer prayers. Sometimes it is nice to know that God really is using you for something. We then went to dinner and got a bunch of great referrals from the member, and then we knocked doors and found a less active very interested in coming to church and a solid new investigator. It was very nice. 

Now, for other miscellaneous moments of mystification for the week:
We met a weird Asian guy who explained to us how God was a single-celled organism started all alone and then made the universe out of circles. It was an interesting conversation. He would ask us really random questions and then compliment us if we got the answer right (of course, it was just a guessing game as we would try to figure out his the details of his obscure belief system.)
Here are  some excerpts from the conversation:
Him: What part of our body does God dwell in?
Me: The heart!
Him: Close...
Me: Um.... the sternum.
(He stares at me blankly)
Robb: The brain!
Him: Yes! What part of the brain?
Me: The cerebral cortex!
Him: You are very smart. That is very close.
(I am now at a loss for words because I don't know very many other parts of the brain and I have no idea how close they are to each other)
LATER IN THE CONVERSATION
Him: What is the most sacred part of the body?
Me: Ummm... The heart! No, wait! The tongue!
Him: Wow. You got it right on. It is the vein that goes directly from the heart to the tongue. 
ANOTHER PART OF THE CONVERSATION
Him: What do these circles look like?
Me: Er...  A flower?
Him: Yes, very close. A flower is part of it.
Me: The circle of life?
Him: Wow. You are 98% right. It is the flower... of life.
Me: Ahh, silly me! Of course.

Suffice to say, it was a very interesting conversation. I wonder how many crazy people I have talked to on my mission. Probably a good amount. Anyway, I will stop boring you with my life, and I will permit you to return to that which was previously keeping you occupied. Adios.
--
Elder Benge
 

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Great Train Robb-ery

This week has been amazing. My very new, greenie companion is Elder Colby John Robb. He is from Syracuse Utah, and he is very awesome. We are already getting along really well, and he is a great missionary. He has also taught me a few moves from Krav Maga (a type of martial arts). Now I am ready to beat someone up just in case someone decides to jump the poor missionaries.
We have met a lot of Samoans this week, and they are very nice. They love feeding the missionaries and giving them things. Sometimes they drive by and hand you money or boxes of food. It is way awesome. 
This letter feels disjointed, and I apologize for that. I am just spitting out random things from the week as I think of them.
We got an investigator named Anthony to church this week and introduced him to some members. We were very excited when he came, as he was a little bit late and we were getting scared, thinking he wasn't coming. 
We have found a few potentials this week, and we are really hoping they will go somewhere. This transfer looks like it is going to be great, and I am way excited to be with Elder Robb. He is a great guy. 
I definitely know that God watches over each of us. We are the sheep in his flock, and he knows us each by name. He calls to each of us, and it is up to us to respond to the good shepherd's voice. He calls us in his own name, to signify that we are his. We become his and take his name upon us as we make sacred covenants, such as baptism. I am very grateful for the restored truths of the Gospel. Many people out there do not understand the beautiful simplicity of the fullness of the Gospel. They have been confused by the philosophies of man.
We had the opportunity to teach the primary children this week. As we taught, I felt the Spirit testify to me of the truthfulness of the restoration. I realized how very blessed these children were to be raised with such precious pearls of truth. I urge us all (myself included) to not take for granted what we have been given! Have a wonderful week! Ta ta, cheerio!

--
Elder Benge

Monday, July 24, 2017

Chugga Chugga

This week we got transfer calls. I now only have two transfers left. Time goes too quickly. However, I did receive some exciting news about the transfer. I am going to TRAIN! (Chugga chugga whoo whoo!) Elder Bane is going to be leaving and heading off to Lincoln area. I am really excited, and I am sure this area is going to do great these next two transfers. Other than that, not much has happened this week. Elder Bane crashed his bike and broke his pedals. That was interesting. 
Other than that..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
I know not what to say.
I am excited for next transfer.
Ether 12 is a great chapter. I thought a lot about it this week. It certainly is true that God can make is strong in spite of our weaknesses. 
We cannot worry about the choices others make, we just need to be sure that we are always doing the best we can to follow God and to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as we do that, we will see that our influence has had a greatly positive effect on those we serve, even if we think we didn't help anyone. Have a great week everyone. I am grateful for the time I have out here, and I love it. Serving God always worth it, and he always gives us so much in return.


-- 
Elder Benge

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Fly Like An Eagle, Squirt Like A Jellyfish"

This is a very silly skit from a Christmas party in 2015. Elder Benge said I should post it.

Enjoy!




Monday, July 17, 2017

Knock Knock

*Knock knock*
"Who's there?"
"It's the missionaries!"
"Not interested!"
"Okay, have a great day!"

*Knock Knock*
"Who's there?"
"It's the missionaries"
"Who?"
"The missionaries!"
"Who?"
"We're the Mormons."
"Who?"
"WE'RE THE MORMON MISSIONARIES!"
"Oh. Not interested"
"Okay, I hope you have a wonderful day."

*Knock knock*
Door opens
"Hello, how are you doing--"
"Get the [heck] out of here!"
"Okay, bye."

*Knock knock*
There is a scuffle of movement behind the door. The peephole goes dark as someone looks through, unsuccessfully trying to observe us without being noticed. The peephole goes light again as the persons backs away, terrified of the Mormons who have come to brainwash them.
-Silence-
*knock knock knock*
-Silence-
"Sigh..."

*Knock knock*
"Come in!"
(You awkwardly exchange looks with your companion)
"It's the missionaries!"
"Never mind, go away!"


Well, now you know what I did all week. Yep. I knocked and knocked and knocked. We had a sit down lesson with Tom, who seemed semi-interested, but then he bailed on the next appointment and didn't come to church or answer or texts. Oh well, we'll figure something out. Marvin was too busy with work to even meet with us this week, which was a disappointment. Elder Bane's bike has some really messed up tires, and he tries to avoid riding it if possible. We end up walking a lot because of that. This area is probably the booniest area in all of what we call "Central Conference" (which contains Lakewood and Tacoma). We end up walking on desolate dusty roads and I don't even feel like I am serving in one of the "Central" areas, which are generally known for being fast-paced, high populated areas. It is still fun, though.
That is all I have got, friends. Sorry about that.
The scripture of the week is taken from the Book of Jacob, chapter 7, verse 23.
(This is after Sherem has led many people astray, but is confounded and renounces is false teachings just as he dies, and then everyone stops following the false paths).
23 And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people; and they searched the scriptures, and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man.
Search the scriptures, my friends. They bring peace and love into your lives, and protect against the deceptions of the adversary. The scriptures are filled with truth and light, and will protect us from the philosophies of man and the temptations of the adversary, as long as we read the humbly and sincerely. Be a seeker of truth. I love the scriptures. I definitely know that the Book of Mormon is true. I hope you all have a wonderful week!
--
Elder Benge

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Story of Stinkton

This is a random story I just whipped out in a few minutes.
#noonetoemail

Once upon a time there was an prodigious clod of dirt. His name was Stinkton. Now, Stinkton was a very stinky clod of dirt, and his stench was known throughout all the land of the clods. Stinkton was very self-conscious of his scent, and could often be found in the corner of the community gardens singing a sad song that went something like this:
O that I were not
a clod that smelled of rot.
Then perhaps my heart could find a gal.
She would be my honey sweet,
and she could be my queenly treat.
And we could then call each other 'pal'.

Every day, Stinkton would weep in the garden and sing is sad song of longing. One day, a beautiful womanly dirt clod with fine curves was wondering through the garden, when she heard is longing cry. She found his voice so alluring, her mind completely blocked out the awful stench she smelt, and she was completely enraptured by his voice. Mindlessly, she followed his call like a sailor following a siren, to at last she entered the clearing where he stood. There she stood, transfixed, as Stinkton mournfully finished his song. Then he looked up, and saw her. "What do you want?" He said bluntly.
"I want you." She whispered back seductively.
For a moment, he was at a loss for words. Finally, he managed to stammer, "Well, then. Let us be wed immediately!"
And so they were. And they lived happily ever after for the rest of time and all eternity and had many baby dirt clods, even as the sands of the sea, (or the dirt of the forest).
THE END
--
Elder Benge

An Invitation To Come Home

This week passed by in an exceedingly quick manner. On Independence day we got to go to a little party with the District and the Zone Leaders. We had a meeting where we got to meet our new mission President, President Leishman. At the meeting he shared a video of a talk Elder Holland gave to the new mission presidents in the MTC which I would like to briefly relate to you. A young man left home vowing never to return again. He was in Idaho. He went and joined the Hell's Angels and got into an appalling life style. One day he woke up in an trashed apartment having no idea how he had gotten there. He took it as a too-late wake up call, and drove all the way across the country to California (by some sort of arbitrary decision). There he started getting involved with the local Hell's Angels again. One day as he sat on the porch of his beaten up trailer home, he saw two missionaries coming down the street. The very sight of them filled him with rage, bitterness, and resentment. He watched as they approached his house, and laughed as his two vicious pit bulls charged the fence frothing and gnashing their teeth. Part of him wished the fence was not there. The missionaries quickly backed away from the fence and kept walking. Then, they suddenly stopped, talked for a while, and came back toward them man who was laughing cruelly at them and his two savage canines. Again, the dogs charged the fence with their usual ferocity, but when they drew near the missionaries, both dogs suddenly stopped, quieted, bowed their heads and turned and walked back to the porch and sat down. The man was stunned, as were the missionaries. The missionaries then opened the gate and walked in, heading toward the man. They began a conversation, in which he told them how stupid they were for coming in. One of the missionaries asked, "So, are you from around here?"
He replied that he was from Idaho originally, and named the town he was from.
The missionary asked "Oh, do you know Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so?"
The man replied. 'Those are my parents".
The missionary paused, and reached out his hand and said. "Those are my parents, too. They have been praying for you at family prayer every night for the last 20 years. God has sent me here to invite you to come home."
Over time, the man, helped by his brother who he didn't even know existed, repented and came back home to his family and became active in the church and is now sealed in the temple to a wonderful woman. How amazing is that? Think about how many people had to be prompted by the Holy Ghost for all of that to happen! We are where we are for a reason!
We are out here to invite people to come home. I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the kind of person I have become because of my Savior.
I don't have anything else to report on for this week, but I did want to be able to share that amazing story with you. I hope you all have a great week! Farewell.

--
Elder Benge

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Heir Assumes

Well, President Blatter is officially dead, dead, and gone. President Leashman is our new magistrate as of last Friday. I haven't had the opportunity to meet him yet, although we heard is voice on Sunday over a conference call. On Wednesday we will have a meet and greet with him and his wife, so that should be fun. Other than that, not much happened this week. I crashed my bike and knocked the rest of that day with a torn pant knee and bloody palms. I felt like a zombie.
"Grhaafdaghsz... We here to bahptize ur BRAINZZZ!"
Sometimes, I feel like there are a lot people treat us like we are zombies knocking on their door. "Watch out for those Mormons! They say they want to share a message with you that will bring happiness in your life and help you increase your faith in Jesus Christ, but I know that secretly they just want to CONSUME YOUR BRAINS!!!" It's okay that some people treat us like that, though, because there are still a lot of very kind people out here. I was reminded this week quite a few times of the many nice people that still exist as many people have offered us water or give us water when we ask. It gets quite humid in the heat out here, and when you are on bike, you get thirsty quick. I am very grateful for the nice people out here who are willing to give us water.
Anyway, I am grateful for my testimony. I am grateful I can be on a mission at this time. I love the Lord. I love the Book of Mormon, and how it has brought be closer to Christ. It really has. It testifies of Christ. It teaches that through Him, we can receive eternal life. I do know that Jesus Christ lives, and that he speaks to us today through modern day prophets. I encourage anyone who does not have that testimony to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. An answer will come. God always answers the sincere prayers of humble seekers.
Have a wonderful week, and I love you all.


--
Elder Benge

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pedal To The Metal

Today was my first full week on bike! It was actually a lot of fun, pedaling the metal. As we knocked doors, it was fun peddling, though it tested my mettle. I must always remember never to pettle, so that I may earn a heavenly medal. Last but not least, when I see flowers, I do not meddle with the petals: Especially if it's nettle. Instead, I settle.
Honestly, I can't think of much that happened this week. We had a goodbye meeting with President and Sister Blatter. They are going to be leaving this Friday, and President Leashman will be coming in. That will be exciting.
This past few days were stiflingly hot. The humidity was so bad I felt like I was in King Kong's armpit. However, it was a nice change from the eternal rains of winter. 
I made some delicious meals this week. I poured Raisin Bran cereal into a hot dog bun, then I put ketchup, ranch, and mustard on it and ate it. It wasn't all that bad. I tried it with a cereal similar to fruit loops as well, which wasn't bad, although it was definitely better with Raisin Bran. Never to fear, missionaries always survive, even if they don't buy quite enough groceries on P-day! ('Twas my fault, I was lacking in foresight).
Honestly, I am out of things to say. Here is a wonderful scripture taken from the book of Mormon in the Book of Mormon, about the Book of Mormon:
16 And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.
Morrmon 8:16

The Book of Mormon truly is such a blessing. The world was in darkness and in bondage under apostasy. But our loving Father in Heaven so fit to release us from this darkness. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to a young, inquiring Joseph Smith and put in motion the restoration of all things.
Just think how much light has come into the world from the Restoration. Look at how beautifully and purely the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ. Look at the blessing we have of modern day propehts and apostles. What a gift. What a blessing. Look at the redeeming work for the dead that is done in temples for those who did not have an opportunity to even be on the earth when the Gospel was present. Look how this time blesses all of the human family! Look at how it blesses you personally and individually. I am so grateful for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that it happened. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ really did appear to Joseph Smith on that soft and sacred day. I am grateful for the truth and light that has come into my life as I have sought to gain a personal testimony of these things. I hope you all have a wonderful week.
--
Elder Benge

Monday, June 19, 2017

Agents of P.E.T.A.

This week was quite entertaining. For the most part, we knocked doors. Sometimes, we would talk to people. We put somebody on date to be baptized. We pray that he will have the courage to take work off on Sundays so he can reach his baptismal date. However, the week suddenly took a sharp turn when God decided that we need not limit our work to the salvation of human souls only, but that we ought to try our hand at rescuing various animals in their temporal form. A few days ago, Elder Bane and I were trudging along the roadside, which runs parallel to a deep ditch meant for channeling rainwater. The rain was coming down with moderate intensity, but the ditch did not yet much water flowing through it (the rain having just started). We were startled when from the grassy depths of the ditch suddenly emerged two sodden kittens, bedraggled yet cute. I was stunned. "What ho! Behold yonder creatures, dirty and disheveled, sodden and soaked! What ought we to do, dear fellow?"
I called out to Elder Bane."What have we to do with them?" he retorted. "Pets we cannot have, and our hearts are here pledged to continue knocking on the deafened and darkened homes."
"Alright," said I, "but the nameless creatures must yet be named, for how could they enter into the kingdom of heaven if they cannot be identified by any such sort of title? This one shall be called Cayden."
"And this shall be Jasper" He replied.
Then, we knocked on. Pretty soon, it was time to head to our dinner appointment. As we passed by the ditch again, we saw Cayden and Jasper again, and I just didn't have the heart to let them die there. So, we picked them up and walked with them, not knowing what we were going to do. We got to the main road where the car was parked, and realized we could do nothing. We could not take them home. So we left them in some bushes by the road, hoping they'd be safe. As we walked away, Jasper came out, meowing in desperation. A car on the road noticed him, and slowed down. A girl got out, and started heading towards the kittens. She was determined not to let them day. Cayden and Jasper had been saved. 
Later that day, we found a large, beautiful butterfly lying on the ground, unable to fly because it was too wet. We picked it up, named him Jude, and then walked him to a house with an alcove where a friendly lady was fascinated with him and asked us to leave him under the protection of her outcropping porch roof. 
It was awesome. We saved a bunch of animals, and it made the day very entertaining and very unprecedented.
Other than that, I don't know what else to inform you all of. I found the complete works of William Shakespeare in our apartment. That was cool. Also, I forgot to tell you last week that right before I left we put that family with unmarried parents on date for marriage so that the girlfriend could be baptized. They did a remarkable job of having the courage to talk to her parents about it.
Also, here is one of my favorite scriptures (it is an Isaiah scripture, but it is also in the Book of Mormon):
18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.
 1 Nephi 20:18 (Isaiah 48:18)
Remember the deep peace and power that come as we strive to obey the commandments of our Father in Heaven. Our willingness to demonstrate faith and humility (like the Savior did) in following the Father's will, will determine our spiritual success in this life. I hope you all have a great week.
Adios

Monday, June 12, 2017

Meatball Quesadilla

Good day, fellows. This week started out nice and ended with a plot twist worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. We started out the week by going to a Zone Conference at Zion's Camp and doing a ropes course. It was a lot of fun, and Elder Quinton and I had the opportunity to be in charge of the "Trust Fall" activity. It was quite enjoyable, especially the infrequent occasions when someone would let out a  piercing, involuntary scream as they fell back (Normally the sisters where the ones screaming, but not always). On Saturday, we got transfer calls. I was convinced I was going to be staying, because Elder Quinton had already spent a very long time here. However, we were terribly startled when President informed us that I would be leaving after just 2 transfers, and Elder Quinton would be staying for his 5th transfer there. I am going to be leaving tomorrow for Lakewood. My new companion will be Elder Bane. For those of you who are interested, Lakewood is a very sketchy, ghetto place. Crime and drugs are rampant. In fact, the city of Lakewood commonly appears on the TV show "Cops". 
This is going to be a fun transfer. This is going to be the most city I have ever had in one of my areas. It will be interesting.
There is a good chance that this will also be my last area, but as we have just witnessed, the Lord often throws some plot twists into our lives just when we least expect it.

Well, that is about all I have for the week, so let me relate a dream I had last night:
I was eating food with my dad. My father finished what he was eating, but he wanted more. He put a tortilla on his plate, and then put about 12 meatballs on the tortilla, and put a tiny sprinkle of cheese on it. He then carefully placed another tortilla on top of his masterpiece, and handed me the plate. He asked me to go and put his quesadilla in the microwave for him. I walked over a few steps to the microwave and put the plate in, but I then realized that all of the meatballs but two had somehow disappeared during my short trip over to the microwave. I informed my father, and he got very stressed out about it. I was very stressed out, too. I searched frantically for the missing meatballs, but to no avail.They had mysteriously disappeared. Then I woke up.

The moral of the story is that sometimes, we get stressed out by little things in life (like meatballs disappearing from our quesadilla). When we start to get worked up about these little things, we just need to take a step back and realize: "Wow. I just saw 10 meatballs magically disappear from a quesadilla. That is amazing. It will probably never happen again in my entire life. Besides, the world isn't ending. It's just a meatball quesadilla. No big deal. This will make a great story one day for my grandchildren."
So there you go. That is the secret to avoiding the small stresses in life. 
We can even use this strategy to avoid larger stresses in life. Next time you are stressed out about some difficult thing that has arisen in your life, I challenge you to just say. "Heck, what am I freaking out about? In the eyes of the Lord, this is just a meatball quesadilla! He knows what is going on and he has a plan for me!"
Then, go and pray that you will be able to learn whatever you need to from the experience.

Also, if somebody wants to make a meatball quesadilla and then send a picture to me of them eating it, it would probably make my day.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Fare thee well.
--
Elder Benge

Monday, June 5, 2017

Clay Babies

Sorry I didn't write much of a letter last week. Fortunately for you, nothing much really happened last week anyway, so you didn't miss out on too much. 
It also just so happens that not much of anything interesting happened this week, either. This leaves us at a stalemate. If I don't have anything to write, what shall you read? What will my mother say? Will she beat me with her metaphorical stick of chastisement?
Therefore, I shall grasp at straws.
Last Monday, we went to Bella Bella Beach on Fox Island (an island in our area). Fun fact about Bella Bella Beach, a.k.a BBB=B^3= B(B*B)=B*(B+B[B-1]), is that on (B^2)*B you can find some  strange looking rocks called "Clay Babies." These naturally sculpted clay figures can only be found in nature in two places in the world. One of which is x where x=B(B+(B/4)[4y-4]) where 2yB+1=2B^2+1 (solve for x), and the other place in the world is some random beach in Japan. So that is cool. I actually found a clay baby, and it was very exciting. I will raise it as my own. Hopefully someday it will grow up just like me.
Anyway, our part member family is doing well. The mother of the family was able to talk to her mother about marriage and they are working out a marriage date right now! Soon, they will be on date for both marriage and baptism! That is so exciting. Other than that, not much has happened this week. We found a lady and her children who had been taught before and were planning on being baptized but had to move before they could be baptized. We will meet with them in a couple of days, so that should be exciting, too.
This week we will be having a zone conference with half of the mission at a place called Zion's camp (located in my current zone, and my old area, Belfair). It should be a lot of fun.
The rain has finally subsided here in western Washington, and most of the last few days have been beautiful and sunny. How wonderful it is to finally see the sun.
I love you all. I know that this work is the work of the Lord. I know that he watches out for us, and that he is in control of it all. The world may seem crazy, but remember that all things are truly in the Lord's hands. I know that for sure. Have a wonderful week, and here is a great scripture from the Book of Mosiah about Jesus Christ:
9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
Mosiah 16:9
--
Elder Benge

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Time To Go

Time To Go
A poem by Elder Gideon Benge

Time to go.
I didn't have much to say, anyway.
Instead, I will hit the keyboard
Three times:
jvck
njmmrf
bh,

--
Elder Benge

Monday, May 22, 2017

Life In The Fast Lane

This week we had a cool experience. Lately, we have been teaching a part member family. The parents are not married. The mother is not a member, but wants to be. She just can't get baptized yet because they need to get married first. They also have a 9 year old who wants to be baptized. We met with them on Thursday, encouraging them once again to take some steps toward marriage. We also asked if we could help the daughter progress toward baptism. The father told us he didn't think she was ready yet (although later he confessed to us that he wasn't letting her get baptized because he really wanted to be the one to baptize her). Our pleas for their marriage were becoming repetitive, and our hearts were beginning to get despondent. It didn't seem like they were planning on getting married soon. They were too afraid of the mother's parents, who were very against the marriage. As we talked, the mentioned that the mother's mother would be coming down to visit in a couple of weeks. We invited them to commit to talking to her about them getting married when she came, and they seemed reluctant. I then felt prompted to invite them to join with us in a day of fasting and prayer so that they would be able to see have the courage to talk to her and that they would be able to see a miracle. We set the day of fast to be this last Sunday, and we held to it. In church on that day, we learned about marriage and repentance. The father came up to us afterward and told us that he had felt that he really just needed to man up and talk to his girlfriend's parents. It was a direct answer to prayer, because we knew that he had been the one holding them back. It was a really cool experience. I definitely know of the power of fasting. We really do come to be more in tune with the God's will as we feel the Spirit during our fasting and sincere prayer.
I can testify that God is a God of miracles. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If there are no miracles, it means that there is no faith, because God works according to our faith.
I had a wonderful study on miracles this week. I also got to go on exchanges to Belfair with Elder Stuart, one of my favorite Elders. I served around him in Olympia, and it turns out he is from Layton, Utah as well. This is his last transfer and, consequently, it was going to be our last exchange. Too celebrate, we bough a dozen donuts and tried to eat all of them in one evening. I succeeded with my half, but Elder Stuart wasn't feeling up to it. It was good to see members of the ward again. We got to teach one the recent converts that I had taught a year ago before they were baptized. He was struggling a little, but starting to do better.
Anyway, God really does love us.
Just as a final thought, I wanted to remind all of you, my dear friends and family, that true happiness only comes through obedience to God. I have a very strong testimony of that, and I wish I could make it even clearer. Permit me to say it one more time:
True happiness only comes through obedience to God. Therein lies the key to joy. God loves us. He knows what is best for us. Through Jesus Christ, it is possible to repent of our sins and overcome our weaknesses, and we receive strength to do what we never would be able to do without Him. We can only have joy in life as we submit our wills to Heavenly Father, and repent. 
Alma 41:10
10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.

See also Mosiah 2:41

I love you all. Have a wonderful week. Remember that God can work miracles in your life.
Farewell, be of good comfort. 
Watch out for crazy people.
Adios.
--
Elder Benge

Monday, May 15, 2017

After The Storm



Elder Quinton and I, looking slightly sodden after a particularly heavy downpour. Elder Quinton actually doesn't look quite as sodden, but he cheated and used a hood. 
The true question is, was a just more manly than he, or was I actually lacking in foresight, or perhaps was I just intentionally making a stupid decision?
Perhaps it was some bizarre combination of the three.
You decide...
--
Elder Benge

Parting The Nimbostratus Sea

This week was very typical of missionary work in the area. We walked a lot. We knocked a lot. It rained a lot. It has been raining for the last 7 1/2 months now. A few days ago the rain was really intense. One of my shoes had mostly soaked through and we had only been out for 30 minutes so far that day. I was rather tired of the rain, but was doing my best to push through it with a great attitude. Then, the sun came out briefly. We were under a very small blue strip of sky, with thick dark rain clouds all around us. A little ways a way, over the water, we could see a very, very nasty looking storm with great twisted, clawed hands and a maw of teeth like rusted nails.  I was really just not looking forward to it. I also knew that the Elders in the area right above us were on bike and were having a difficult time and also really not looking forward to it. We said a very sincere prayer and asked that somehow, we (most especially the Elders above us, who were having a very difficult time staying motivated at the time) would be spared the rain for at least a little while longer and be able to have some blue sky and the sun shining on us. We then supplicated and asked that if clear skies were not in God's will, we desired the strength and motivation to be able to keep our spirit and energy up despite the morally pernicious storm.
We prayed, and felt good. The storm approached, I was steeling myself for the break of all hail or something, but deep inside I was still praying that the rain wouldn't come. 
The clouds approached, soon, we were overshadowed by malicious looking choppy gray lumps. But the rain didn't  come. We could still see the rain not too far away. Still, I prepared myself, knowing that those rain clouds were still moving our way. Deep inside, I was still praying. I knew God could change the weather if he really wanted to. 
Well, the rain never came. After a little bit, having lost all sight of any blue skies, we suddenly and unexpectedly found ourselves under blue sky again with rain all about us. Pretty soon, the clouds split, and we found a thin streak of blue sky stretching off into the distance before us, with threatening black clouds all about. All day long, the dark gray rain clouds hovered ominously nearby, always seeming on the brink of destroying us, but they never did. We had wonderful warm and sunny weather for the rest of the day.
It was honestly really awesome. I was just so grateful that God really cared about us that much. It was truly a witness to me of the power of prayer and of God's deep love for us.
Sometimes, God allows us to go through storms in order to build our character, Sometimes, we build our character as we witness the approaching storm and rely on God for it to be dispersed. Either way, the relief and growth comes because of faith in God. Either way, we are spared by heaven's power, and are able to look back at the experience, marveling at what God has done for us.
Anyway, that is really all I have for the week. Happy Mother's day.
Adios.
A typical "Washington" sun. Can you spot it?
--
Elder Benge

Monday, May 8, 2017

Eviction Notice

By the way, just an update on that family of 5 we find a few weeks ago, we tried to stop by and visit them last week... and they had been evicted from their house. That was really sad, but I think wherever they are now, they will almost certainly turn their lives around and seek the Gospel. I believe they are going to accept the Gospel sometime soon, wherever they are. They are in the hands of the Lord of the Harvest, and he knows what he is doing. 
But yes, that is missionary life: You find some way cool people to teach, and then in a few weeks after they accept a baptismal date, they get evicted and disappear.
The vicissitudes of the work are real. 
Anyway, we are teaching a part member family right now that is way solid, so hopefully we can baptize them before they get evicted or hit by a meteor or something.
:) Have a great week.

--
Elder Benge

Heart Of The Storm

I apologize dearly for not writing a mass email last week. In all honesty, I completely forgot to. I am not sure how that happened. I wrote to everyone, and then sat back and waited for my companions to finish emailing. I sat and stared, convinced I had done everything on email, and wondering why I had finished so early. As we left, I suddenly had an epiphany! Elder Benge, I thought to myself, you never wrote a mass email, you noob! So that's what happened. The only interesting thing I can remember back from two weeks ago is that we got our transfer calls. However, everyone in the house is staying the same, but Elder Porter and Elder Stapley are now covering the Gig Harbor Ward, instead of the Crescent Valley ward, and Elder Quinton and I are just covering the Wollochet ward, instead of covering both the Gig Harbor and Wollochet wards. So, things changed, but not really. Our area just got smaller, and that's it.
This week we had a crazy lightning storm, though. Washington almost never has thunder and lightning. Before this week, I can honestly say that I had only ever heard thunder once on my mission, and the lightning storm was very far away. Well, last Thursday was a very hot and muggy day. We had our sleeves rolled up, sweat coming down our faces, and not a care in the world. As we joyfully frolicked in the sunshine, I noticed some very strange clouds in the distance. It looked like the sky was covered in bluish shaving cream. Within moments, the sunshine was gone, and the land was dark. Overhead, goober-like clouds levitated, looking very ominous, threatening, and moldy-whipped-creamy. Then, we saw the lightning and heard the thunder. It was a sound I had longed to hear for a very long time. I rejoiced gladly at the approaching thunderstorm. My soul was almost as electrified as the clouds overhead.
Soon, the rain came pounding down, and I can honestly say that I have never been in a storm that bad on my mission, and probably my entire life. It was actually quite invigorating. 
That night, as we knocked after dinner is when it all really came down. We were standing at the first door, when the world was suddenly plunged into chaos as the previously mild rain intensified until the sky was shooting bullets, and all around us were the cracks and flashes of lightning. Words cannot describe the experience. We sprinted from house to house, but even just a few seconds in the swirling deluge soaked our clothes completely through. The air felt supercharged, and the sky was constantly splintered by cracks of lightning on every side. We were under the storm's supercell. We considered going back to the car, but both Elder Quinton and I felt peace about being out at that time, so we stayed, and it was awesome. And we didn't die. I definitely felt some profound peace in the middle of nature's fury.
Definitely one of my favorite experiences.
We all can, in the midst of the most turbulent experiences of our lives, still feel the peace of the Savior. The precious gift of the Holy Ghost can bring us hope and solace in even the most spiritually, emotionally, and physically chaotic times of our lives. I know that. I am so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I am so grateful that even in the loudest storm, the smallest prayer can still be heard. You are never forgotten. You are never abandoned. You are never alone. Cleave always to God. Reach out to him in prayer. He does hear. Your trials and tribulations will be but a small moment. I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love my mission, and I am so grateful for the experiences I have been able to have out here.

--
Elder Benge

Monday, April 24, 2017

Take Five

The greatest miracle of the transfer happened this week. Up until this week, we really struggled to find new investigators. We hadn't found anyone (Except for a bro who seemed semi-solid and normal, but when we came back, answered the door with disheveled hair, a jacket and plaid button-up shirt on, and.... no pants or anything other than that. It was a little strange. He then proceeded to spew forth a bunch of pathetic anti mormon stuff he had been pumped with from the internet).
Anyway, my companion and I had been praying to find a family that we could teach and baptize (I had been specifically praying for a family of 5). Well, on Thursday, we knocked on a door and a black man answered, and the first thing he said was: 
"I've been reading your book."
My companion, a little taken aback, responded, "The Book of Mormon?"
"Yeah. I'm on page..... 28, I think. One sec, let me go  get it."
Elder Quinton and I exchanged a surprised look, and then he returned, and soon a wonderful Gospel conversation developed.
He had met missionaries before and been given the Book of Mormon. He really respected some white missionaries that he had met in "the Hood" when he was living in California. He also really wanted to come to church now. He also happened to have a wife and 3 children, ages 16, 14, and 12. We invited him to be baptized, and he asked; "Is the water gonna be cold? I guess even if it was I could do it."
We reassured him that the water would indeed be warm.
Anyway, it was a very tender mercy. He does not have a specific baptismal date yet, but we assigned him to read Moroni 10 and pray about it, and he did it. We will follow up with him more at our first scheduled meeting this Tuesday.
He and his wife even came to church this week, but they came at the wrong time, thinking we had said it was at 11 instead of at 1. They had to leave because his wife had work, but it was still way cool. I am very grateful for our loving Heavenly Father, who does indeed hear and answer our prayers. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. This week was a good one, and I am so grateful we finally found someone to teach! Now we just need to go out and find some more.
The area here in Gig Harbor is very beautiful, despite the fickle weather. It alternates every 20 minutes between pounding rain and effulgent sunshine. Sometimes we even get a 20 minute hailstorm followed by unimpeded sun. A lot of the time it is raining while the sun is shining brilliantly upon us. It is very intriguing.
Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week!
10 Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.
11 Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.
12 And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?
Jacob 4:10-12
Seek not to counsel the Lord, but instead be reconciled to his will through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Wow. What great principle. What a great scripture. There is a lot you can learn from that. Attain to a perfect knowledge of Christ through the Atonement. That is how we become reconciled with God.
Adios.

--
Elder Benge

Monday, April 17, 2017

18 Months And What Do You Get? Another Day Older And Deeper In Debt

First of all, I would like to wish you all a Jolly Easter! I am so grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and for His Resurrection. We do not have to suffer any of our pains forever, neither spiritual nor physical, because of Jesus Christ. 10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit. (2 Nephi 9:10. See also, vs 11-16)
So yes. I am very grateful for Jesus Christ. Without him, this life would have no purpose, and we would have absolutely no hope.
I reached my 18 month mark this week. It is very strange to see how far I have come, and also how quickly time goes. I definitely don't feel like God is indebted to me because of my mission, but I instead feel even more indebted to God for his many blessings. It reminds me of Mosiah 2:21-24

21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

Life is pretty amazing. We were blessed these last few days to finally find a few new investigators. We were very grateful to find them to teach, because Glenna dropped us this week and so did our only other investigators who were even close to progressing. It was sad, but agency is necessary.
We also met an amazingly humble less active this week who struggles with an addiction related to the Word of Wisdom. He humbly told us of his struggles and meekly pleaded for our support and help. The Spirit filled us all as we testified of Christ's mercy and his power in helping us overcome our temptations, sins, and weaknesses. I am excited to meet with him again and help him overcome this hurdle in his life. It is so nice to meet humble people. It is such a blessing to be called to teach the pleasing word of God to the poor in spirit who are willing to listen. There is no greater call.
May you all have a wonderful week.
--
Elder Benge

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Face of Fear

This is real fear. I thought he was about to drop me off the log. The picture was taken at the opportune time. Wow. What a great memory caught on camera.



--
Elder Benge

Take A Hike!

Every once in a while while knocking doors, we meet a slightly peeved individual who, upon seeing us, immediate shouts "Take a hike!" and dramatically gestures at us, as if without the excessive histrionics their unkindness would be insufficient to make us leave. I have often been tempted to ask them if they know of any good hiking spots nearby where we could go, but I always bite my tongue. I have learned that generally angry people do not have sense of humor, and any response to them other than fear (including good-naturedness and kindness) only serve to infuriate and enrage them further. If you don't take them as seriously as they want you to, they take it as a personal offense against them, their family, their dog, and their favorite footwear. I know this not just because I have met angry people before, but mostly because I have, it times in my life, been an angry person. I would be a liar if I side I have never been like the angry people on the other side of the door. Really, I should have more compassion on these people. I don't know why they are angry. They could have just slammed their finger in the door. Or maybe they had a child who died and their preacher told them that their 2 year old daughter was burning in hell because she was never baptized, and now they just intensely dislike religious people. You never know. It is not a good idea to poke the giant, stoke the flames of rage, or incite someone to a state of infuriated madness. It is always better to handle things with charity and compassion, and to do your best to leave the campsite better than you found it.
Anyway, thanks for reading my meaningless blathers. 
I couldn't think of anything to write about this week other than the fact that we took a hike last P-day, and it led my mind off on a wild tangent.
I suppose we did have a wonderful meeting this week where we learned about disciplining our minds and giving 100% of our attention, focus, desires to the Lord. It is very difficult, but we need to be all in. We need to be standing up on the inside, not just the outside. I really learned a lot and have been striving to incorporate what I learned in my daily walk. It is way hard, but I have made some improvement.
Finding new investigators this week has been a struggle. Nobody has seemed interested in talking to us. We have been praying and fasting and working our calves off to find someone to teach. Our success right now may be hard to measure, but I am confident that God has something wonderful in store for us and for this area. I do not doubt that God has a plan for the salvation of each of his children, even the easily angered ones. All people are children of God, and all people deserve an opportunity for salvation. No matter how far gone. 
I love this work, and I truly do know that it is God's work, and that it is for us, His children. I know that God loves each one of us, otherwise he would not have sent His Only Begotten Son for us. In fact, if he didn't love us, He wouldn't have even sent us here in the first place.
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Here is a picture of the hike: (Only 3 companionships came to the hike from the whole zone, which was kind of weird)

Left To Right: Elder Quinton, Elder Porter, Elder Benge, Elder Stapley, Sister Parker, Sister Christiansen
--
Elder Benge

Jane's The Name



--
Elder Benge

Crazy Awesome Janie


Janie is a homeless lady in Centralia who we became quite attached to.
--
Elder Benge

Monday, April 3, 2017

Transfer Day Trio


​Transfer day. This is a pic with me, Elder Stuart, and my new companion, Elder Quinton.


--
Elder Benge

A Day In The Life Of A Missionary


This happened a little bit before I came into the area. Yes. It really did happen (This is a note from the primary that was given to the Elders after the incident). The Elders got maced in the face by a mean old man who was salty because someone knocked on his door at 6:00 at night. He called the police and then the police chewed him out. :)
--
Elder Benge

Your Girlfriend Reminds Me Of A Story About Airplanes


Ha ha ha..... This is how you help a companion who may be a little girl trunky. (This is from my last area, we altered a picture in his calendar from home.)

--
Elder Benge

Hide-Away Porter



Elder Porter, hiding in a hide-a-way bed. He has been confined there by the matchless strength of Elder Quinton.
--
Elder Benge

A Whistle From The West

I have decided that here in Washington, I am in one of the wettest and westest parts of the west you can get to in the world. I mean, I suppose Hawaii counts as the West maybe, but if you go more west than the West, you end up in the East. Wha...? I suppose that's what you get for living on a globe. So, there you go. I am in the westernmost West.
General Conference was the highlight of the week, as I'm sure it was for many of you, too. It was interesting watching some of the sessions at member's homes with our investigators. We were at our Ward Mission Leader's home for the Sunday afternoon session with Glenna, one of our best investigators. It was during that session that Joaquin E. Costa gave his talk about his conversion and addressed it to nonmembers. Elder Quinton looked over at Glenna during the talk and noticed she was teary-eyed. She was very impressed with all of conference. She is very close to baptism. We just have to be help her choose a specific date and stick to it. Although she has been unwilling to set a specific date each time we bring up baptism, we can tell it has been on her mind. She brings it up of her own accord and has been continuing to take baby steps toward it. We committed her to say a specific prayer asking specifically if the church was true and if  Joseph Smith was a prophet and if the Book of Mormon was true. I think she will get baptized soon. Please pray for her to be able to progress and be baptized! It will bless her life so much!
We also ate some Persian food this week at a recent convert's home. It was pretty blasted good. 
Other than that, I am not sure what else to say. I liked so many talks from conference. They talked a lot about building faith in Jesus Christ by doing the small things every day (Through small and simple things are great things brought to pass... Alma 37:6-7)
There were talks about studying Christ's life and the document: "The Living Christ".
There were many talks on the Holy Ghost.
There were many talks about the Plan of Salvation God has created for us.
There were many talks on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
I had many questions answered, some of them very specific.
I really liked Elder M. Russel Ballard's talk on goals. I found it very profound and insightful. It is so important to understand your purpose wherever you are, and to have plans and goals to fulfill our purpose. We are so blessed in the Gospel to actually understand our purpose. 
Whatever insights you had in General Conference, don't forget about them! Remember those things you planned on doing and changing, and implement those changes in your life.
I love you all. I am done now. Here is a picture:

Elder Porter in a phone booth... with no phone.

--
Elder Benge

Monday, March 27, 2017

Unique To The Blog: Now DAT'S A Good Photobomb



--
Elder Benge

Blog X-Clue-sive: Another Transfer Day Photo


Left to right: No idea who this bro is, Elder Budge, Elder Woodbrey, Elder Benge (Myself), Elder Strong, Elder Moe
--
Elder Benge

Scripture Plougher

This week has been a great one. Transfer day was exciting. My new companion, Elder Dallin Michael Quinton, is a stud muffin (something you'd find in the wall of a gingerbread house). Really, though, he is awesome. We live in a house owned by the church that is right next to the church. It is way awesome. Honestly, if it weren't way dilapidated and abused by missionaries and if it was given some needed maintenance, it would be a way nice house. The back yard is way cool looking, and we even have a slight view of the harbor. We call it the Gig House. We share the home with two other missionaries, Elder Devin J. Porter and Elder Alec J. Stapley. They are both way cool. This is looking like it is going to be an awesome transfer. Elder Quinton is originally from Price, UT. He was in choir classes there, but he also likes basketball and track. He is the second youngest of 5 children. By the way, my new address is 3603 Rosedale St, Gig Harbor, WA, 98335.
Now, allow me to tell you about a great lesson we had with one of our investigators, Said (Sah-eed). He is actually from Azerbaijan, and lives here now. He is very interested, but does not really have much of a background religion. He thinks Jesus Christ was a good person, but did not understand that he truly was the Son of God, and did not know about the Atonement. Well, we were planning for my first lesson with him, and we were discussing his needs. We wanted him to read the Book of Mormon, understand the Atonement, and understand what true prayer was. We prayed about what to do in the lesson, and we both felt like we should read the Book of Mormon with him and teach him from that. The next question then was: "What chapter should be read?" Well, I felt like I should go to Alma 34, and as I read the chapter, it just seemed to feel right. It fit so well. 
Fast forward to the lesson, we now have a member, Brother Gunn, with us. Said is a very analytical man. He asks a lot of questions, and has a reputation of derailing lessons onto ridiculous tangents. Well, as we read, he started asking a lot of good questions about the Atonement. "Why did we need the Atonement?" "Isn't that like cheating, if you can just keep sinning and be saved? Why do we need to be good if he paid for all the sins?" Well, as we talked with him, we realized that the chapter answered all of his questions. We would just keep reading, explain the next passage a little bit, and he would find his answer. By the end of the lesson, the Spirit was there very strongly, and Said was just smiling and glowing. He now had a basic understanding of the Atonement, something he had earlier been confused by. It was an awesome experience. We are also teaching someone named Glenna, who is also very sincere but very meticulous. I think both her and Said will get baptized, but they are both insisting on taking baby steps for now and won't commit to a date, although they have now been reading and coming to church. It is really cool.
I love this ward, and I love this work. I am so happy to be here on a mission. It is just so amazing to be able to watch the Atonement change people's lives as they turn their life over to Christ. There is nothing happier. I hope you all have a wonderful day.
P.S. It is way beautiful out here.
P.P.S. I have no way of converting my pictures off of my SD card here. Sorry. No pics this week.
Except this one my dad sent me off of the blog.

Elder Quinton is the one standing next to me. On his other side is Elder Hathaway, one of my previous companions. He doesn't look very ready for the picture. On Hathaway's other side is Elder Moe, who is serving in the same zone as me and who also came out with me from the MTC. On his other side is Elder Eaton, someone I am not very well acquainted with, but seems cool anyway.
--
Elder Benge

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lifeless Objects Disguised As Baptismal Statistics 2


​Our other new investigator: Albus Dumpledore
--
Elder Benge

Lifeless Objects Disguised As Baptismal Statistics 1


One of our only new investigators this week: Orson Hyde. (Orson Hydrant?)

--
Elder Benge

Kiss The Girl

There you see her,
Staggering outside the pub
But now it's too late to run
She's already seen you...

Now, hold your scampering horseflies, everyone. Before you start imagining what is coming next, I'd just like to say that this week was a great one, though also very slow. There. Now that we got that out of the way, let's fast forward to the most exciting thing this week! The most exciting event this week  on St. Patrick's Day. This is the story of my.... 🍀ST. PATRICK'S DAY MIRACLE!!!!!🍀
Really, though, it wasn't actually a miracle; it was just a..... very uncomfortable situation. 
Elder Jocelyn and I made the mistake of street contacting outside the many pubs in our area on St. Patrick's day. Just so you all know, I actually never knew that it was a St. Patty's day tradition to get drunk that night. I had no idea. I was walking around looking at how crowded it was, and say to Elder Jocelyn: "What the heck? Does everybody just get drunk on St. Patrick's day?"
Good job, Sherlock.
So yes, I am naive. Anyway, we met a lady who was very drunk, and she started talking about how she had a Mormon friend who was in an accident, and she wanted us to pray for her. So we said we would, but she wouldn't take our word alone. She asked me to pinky promise, so I did. Once our pinkies were latched, however, she clung to me like a barnacle. She insisted that we not only pinky promise, but that we also "Pinky-kiss promise." And with that, she pulled my hand up and planted a fat kiss on my pinky. The smell of beer was overpowering. Oh, boy. "Now kiss my pinky!" she insisted. Every atom in my body wanted to scream and run. However, I raised her hand up few inches from my face and kissed the air. She insisted that I give it a real kiss. I kissed the back of my hand. She reproved me, and obstinately commanded me to kiss her pinky. I kissed the air a centimeter from her pinky. She still wasn't having it. I finally humbled myself to the dust and kissed her pinky, my lips barely making contact with knuckle before I pooled quickly away. It was more of a brush than a kiss, but she was finally appease. Then she turned to my companion and made him do it to, much to my pleasure. We walked away from that experience smelling strongly of beer and marveling at what had happened. As we walked home, another drunk man told us that Joseph Smith had communed with humans 10,000 years in the future. 
Needless to say, it was an interesting night.

Anyway, this week we spent all of our time searching for new investigators, with very slim results. However, at the end of the week we somehow ended up with 19 non members at church. Yes, there was a baby blessing, but 8 of those people were still good teaching prospects brought by members. One of the nonmembers was actually a 14 year old we had met this week that asked her member friend to bring her. We didn't think she was going to come, but she did! 
There will probably be a few baptisms here this month or next. 
Unfortunately, I am leaving the area!
That's right! It's transfer time!
President Blatter called on Saturday and informed me that I was going to go to Gig Harbor/Wollochet with Elder Quinton (Yes, Elder Wood, it is spelled with an 'O') as my new companion. I am sad to leave Centralia, but I am excited to be going to Gig Harbor. This will probably be my second to last area.
Anyway, I love you all. I hope you have a wonderful week.

We have had some very, very rainy days. They are very fun. I often pretend I am starring in the missionary version of 'Singing in the Rain'. Especially on the rare occasions that I use an umbrella (umbrellas are usually used more for twirling and opening dramatically than for rain protection).

--
Elder Benge

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Fantastic Four, The Three Amigos, And The Dynamic Duo

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me
that I stay and you are gone.
There's a grief that can't be spoken
There's a pain goes on and on.

This week was very sad, in that we went from a companionship of four down to a companionship of two. An Elder was going home in the mission on Wednesday, so President Blatter called us and told us that Elder Muñoz was getting emergency transferred to replace the Elder who was leaving. We were all very sad to see Elder Muñoz go, and we took him away that night. This left is in an awkward, 3 person companionship, but it was still fun. We went knocking doors the next day had a grand old time, when we got another phone call. It was President again. Another Elder was going home somewhere else in the mission, and President wanted Elder Budge to replace him because he didn't like awkward missionary companionships that included a 3rd wheel. (Like that guy that always ruins your dates).
So, on Friday we took Elder Budge to his new destination and said farewell to him there. In just a matter of days our companionship was halved. 
In the modified words of the Beatles:
"Suddenly we're not half the companionship we used to be.
There's a shadow hanging over me
O, yesterday came suddenly.
Why'd they have to go?
I don't know, Pres wouldn't say.
Someone did something wrong,
Now I long for yesterday."

Other than what I just conveyed, I cannot think of anything else that happened this week.
Oh wait, hold it!
It's time for..... WHACKO WASHINGTON BELIEF AWARENESS WEEK!
Oh here are some crazy things we heard this week!
1. There is a group of people here that call themselves the "Ramthafarian". They are mostly centered in Yelm, where they have a "Ramtha School of Enlightenment". As far as I have been able to tell, they believe that every time there are clouds covering Mount Rainier (so, almost always), it means that alien ships or something are dropping off lizard baby eggs inside the mountain. Someday the mountain is going to blow up or open up or something and hundreds of creepy lizard things are going to come out and eat everyone who doesn't have copper covering their house and have purple on the house or something. I am seriously not making this up. I am obviously not the most reliable source for all of this, but it is true. They really believe that kind of stuff. And you can look it up! It is very interesting. Anyway, I can't judge them, right? Article of Faith 1:11
11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
2. We met a man this week who tried really hard to convince us that the world was flat! He says everybody else in the world is just trying to get us to believe this lie they've created that the world is round. What is his source? YouTube. He was totally convinced. He shared a lot of his.... knowledge about it with us. I remain very unconvinced. He had a very strong belief in God, though. He was a good man. I just found it interesting that he felt like everyone else was brainwashed in school and by the TV, but his source was some random guy on Youtube... Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week!
-- 
Elder Benge