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:

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.
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.
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