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!
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

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Chronicles of Narnia: No Lion, No Witch, Just Wardrobe

Now is Narnia unveiled. Now shall you behold it's filth! Months and months of lazy departing missionaries have contributed to what Narnia has become!
​Narnia is fully exposed through the now-opened gateway. What can you find hiding among the atrocious heaps of miscellaneous junk?

A shot of the desolate wasteland, piled high with the excess of several thousand generations of foolish young adults of the male gender.

Elder Benge

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Mission's Apprentice

Here is the gateway to Narnia. It is currently closed, the magic land veiled.

Elder Benge

Narnia Man

Here is the infamous "Elder Jocelyn", in it's natural habitat: a dirty mess that needs cleaning.

Elder Benge

I've Got Chills, (They're Multiplying)

This world's out of control
And the power
from testifying
Is electrifying!
Tell the world to shape up, (Doo doo doo!)
And beat the natural man!
For we know what we teach is true.
And one day we'll be judged. (Doo doo doo!)
On the things we've done.
And without Christ we'd all be doomed....

That's all I've got. Ha ha! I hope I just got a song stuck in your head. I challenge you all to finish the parody and send back what you have. If you want to change the part I wrote to make it fit your parody better, then you absolutely may.
Anyway, this week was interesting. Probably the coolest part was when I saw a fulfillment of part of a blessing my father gave me before I came on my mission. 
I have always had a difficult time dealing with people who want to logically analyze and critique the church and our doctrine. This frustration should be no surprise to anyone who knows me or has read my emails. I just get frustrated because my brain does not let me just let go of misconceptions people have about our beliefs. I feel like I have to correct them or else I'm not doing my job right (even if they are being snarky and don't even care what we actually believe). Well, recently I have been working on responding to objections as the Savior would. I try to be patient, and loving, and to testify of truth without arguing over unimportant tangential dogma. Well, I was tested.  A man invited Elder Muñoz and I in, and then prefaced our conversation by telling us that he loved debating with missionaries. Whoop-de-doo. Anyway, instead of focusing on knowledge and proofs and logical arguments, this time I silently prayed for the Spirit, and for patience and love for this man. As he asked us our questions, I would answer them, but this time my answers were more simple and thoughtful. I asked him questions back, not to be aggressive, but to gauge his sincerity and to help him ponder. I took the opportunity to share the first vision with him. His questions began to delve into the realm of ridiculousness, and I bore a firm and powerful testimony of the simple truths we cherish. I talked about the Book of Mormon, and of Joseph Smith. I told him that I could not deny what I had felt because God had told me they were true by the power of the Holy Ghost. I bore my testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that he loves each and every one of us. The Spirit was very powerful. I told told him that if he humbly asked God whether the book was true, he could know for himself, regardless of what he had heard from the philosophies of man. I could tell he had felt the Spirit. He was shaken in his cynicism, and was hesitant to respond. He asked a couple more, less aggressive questions, and Elder Muñoz bore simple testimony as well of the Gospel being for everyone and being able to reach into everyone's lives. We shared a passage from the Book of Mormon with him. As Elder Muñoz and I stepped out into the cold night, we said a quick prayer. I thanked God for helping me to control my impulsiveness. We thanked Him for allowing the Spirit to be there. We prayed that the man would humble himself and ask God what was true. I do not know what that man will choose to do, but I will never regret following the Spirit that night. It was a powerful experience, and I learned that to be learned is to be good, if we follow the counsels of God. I learned this not just from looking at the man in his life, but also realizing that I rely on my own learning too much in teaching the Gospel, and that teaching completely by the Spirit is always the better way.

You are probably bored to death with that story. I can't think of anything else that happened this week. Except that Elder Jocelyn cleaned out a huge mess in our apartment called "Narnia". 
Basically, a bunch of Elders have died in this area and they just left all they stuff they didn't want in a little storage space behind where we hang our clothes. It was just an enormous, overwhelming mess. Well, Elder Jocelyn being the organizer he is, decided to tackle the challenge. We are proud to report that he was successful in his undertakings.
I will send pictures.
Elder Jocelyn may here be seen by the careful observer, in his natural habitat, namely: Narnia.
Narnia is hidden behind rows of hanging clothing.
Elder Benge