Monday, January 27, 2014

week 27 - Need some new people to teach!

Well hello everyone! I'm so excited to hear about Malia's baptism!! That sounds like it was an amazing experience! It's too bad I couldn't be there, but at the same time this is where Heavenly Father wants me to be! Malia, good job with not sinning so far!!! Haha, hopefully Ethan isn't being a terrible brother and trying to get you to! Well this week wasn't too bad. My new companion Elder Grant is pretty awesome! He is from the south of England in a place called Bormoth (I think thats how its spelled??) so in other words he has a sweet accent. We're both super pumped for this transfer cause we both feel things are going to start happening here! Right now though we are only teaching Aaron and Jackie, and we are having a hard time getting some new investigators. We have a ton of really solid people that keep setting up appointments with us, but just don't keep them. It's hard sometimes, but it's okay cause if we trust in the lord, he will help us find those who are really prepared for the gospel. That's so cool to hear that there will be 11 missionaries serving from our ward!! I'm really happy to hear that and I know that the ward back home will be blessed because of it. As for speaking on Sundays I gave 3 talks in Mullingar, all about 15 minutes, and then I have a talk here in about 2 weeks. So I don't know if you consider that speaking a lot or not, but I don't feel like it's that much. Irvine is a pretty big ward so we don't really speak that much, which I think is a good thing! I like the idea of the ward uplifting one another and not relying on missionaries to uplift, edify, and inspire. Obviously its good for us to speak every now and then, but just not all the time.

I'm so jealous of you guys getting to go through the Gilbert, Temple soon!! I seriously want to go to the temple so bad, it's such a bummer we don't have one in our mission boundaries. I heard that there are now 2 new video's in the temple! That's so cool!! I wanna see them, and can't wait to go when I get back home. The temple is such an important thing and as I am out sharing the gospel with people, I really try to keep that as my end goal for them. Baptism is just the first step onto a path towards the temple, which then leads on to eternal life.

So Malia I can't believe you got your ears pierced!! You are growing up so quick! You might even be taller than mom by the time I get home! haha I'm glad you had such a wonderful birthday and I hope you know I love you very much!

I'm so excited to hear about the Super Bowl next week! You guys will have to let me know what happens. I really can't believe the bronco's are in the super bowl the year that I am on my mission!!!! Haha oh well at least it's not the D-backs in the world series or else I would explode.

I'm a little jealous of the weather over there! 70 degrees and sunny sounds amazing. On average it's between 4-7 degrees celsius over here, not including wind chill, (you guys can do the conversion, my guess is it's like 35-40 degrees F.) and I don't think I told you yet, but it has rained literally every day since I have come to Irvine, and this past week it hailed on us while we were out tracting a few times. It's funny cause I'm just so used to being freezing and soaking wet now that it doesn't even bother me!

Ethan - I have seen quite a few people in Kilt's! They look really dumb, I won't lie. But it's okay, if you tell them they are wearing a skirt they will flip out and beat you up!!!! Haha, plus on a funny side note, when people say head over here it's exactly like that one movie! "HEAD, PANTS, NOW!" I can't help but smile everytime I hear it!

Well that's it for now, I love you all so much and hope you all are doing well with school and work. Bye!

Elder Benesch

week 26 - Getting a new companion!!!

Man this would happen the year I'm on my mission!!! Next thing you know the Suns will be in the NBA finals with all their young guys and the D-Backs in the World Series!!
haha Dale who is a huge Cardinals fan was on his mission when they went to the Super Bowl, and he told me the same would happen to me!!! Guess he was right.

So I just realized that I completely forget to tell you guys last week that this week is moves week!!! It's all good though, I am going to be staying in Irvine anyway, but I am getting a new companion! His name is Elder Grant, and he is from England! He's been serving for quite a while (at least that's what I hear, I haven't met him yet) so this'll be a great opportunity for me to learn, especially since all my other companions have been pretty young missionaries! He'll be the district leader here as well. So I'm excited for that, although I'm a little sad that Elder Clement is leaving, he was a really good missionary to serve with and we got along really well. He taught me a lot and we had an absolute blast together! I can't believe that at the end of this week 1/4 of my mission will be over! It's going by way to fast! Haha.

There isn't that much other news for this week, we are still plugging away and working to get some new people to teach. We have some really solid potential investigators that we have appointments with this week so we'll be able to get some new people to add to our teaching pool soon! With the crazy week of moves though I'm a little scared that we will lose some of the momentum we have developed, but it just means we'll have to compensate and work harder!

So Dad, as far as I know the activity rate over here is pretty low. If I remember right in Mullingar, our branch had about 30 active members, but on our branch list we had almost 400 members. Now that is obviously not very accurate because I guarantee a lot of the people on the list had just moved away, but that still show's you it's pretty bad over here. Our ward in Irvine is probably one of the better wards in the mission when it comes to activity, and we have about 100-125 coming out regularly, but we have a TON of less-actives here. It's so annoying cause most of the less-actives have just stopped coming to church because of someone offending them, or they see someone who comes to church doing something wrong so they don't want to be apart of it anymore.  It's so hard because we try to talk to people about forgiveness, especially how we are to forgive ALL men, and it goes in one ear and out the other. So I guess my spiritual side of the email this week is all about how we are to forgive everyone around us. We should never criticize someone so much because of the wrongs they do, when we ourselves are imperfect. I believe it is a great blessing that God has commanded us to forgive all men. In a way it gives us more time to work out our own salvation, because we don't need to spend time evaluating others and judging them. We can forgive everyone, and spend our time to work on improving ourselves and helping others see how they can improve as well. Hopefully that made sense to you guys. Sometimes it's hard for me to explain things I think of quickly in my emails to you guys!!

Also to answer your other question dad, our investigators have to come to church 3 weeks in a row in order to be baptized. We have the same problem here with lots of people being baptized and then going inactive. It's a lot better now though than in the past. 

Anyway on a happier note you'll be glad to hear Aaron and Jackie will be getting married on valentines day and then baptized the day after!!!! They are progressing well and I am super excited for them!

Also I know Dad you were curious about the number of baptisms in our mission, and although I don't have the actual numbers. I can tell you the average per missionary per year is 0.99. So basically on average it's a baptism per missionary per year which means our mission is probably at around 210 baptisms or so per year. Our mission president said his goal is for each missionary to baptize 8 total on their mission so 4 per year, so in other words we have some work ahead of us to reach presidents goals for the mission.

Well that does it for this week, I love you all so much and hope you guys keep on doing well!

Elder Benesch

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

week 25 - good stuff but kinda a tough week

What's the crack!?

Well I'll start off with the bad news. Our investigator A. who was supposed to be baptized yesterday got cold feet. He decided not to get baptized because he felt he wasn't ready to commit to a few commandments and so that really hurt. We worked hard to explain the commandments he had an issue with and I really feel he understands them, but just doesn't want to take the next step. It's really hard, but we have to let him exercise his agency! As far as good news goes, A. and J. are submitting their marriage papers tomorrow, and they are planning the wedding to be on Valentine's Day! Then the day after valentine's day is the baptism and then the sunday they are going to be confirmed and get the gift of the holy ghost! I'm pretty excited for them. They have been progressing well, and are getting a much greater understanding of the gospel every time we meet with them. Another little success we had was this person A. who we taught a lesson too about a month ago, but then told us never to come back, said we could come by some time this week! She was super solid, and when we first taught her the spirit was really strong and I thought for sure she would be baptized. It was such a bummer when she dropped us, but now she seem's like she is interested again! Which is so good! Other than that we only had one other really cool experience this week, and the rest of the week was a ton of cancelled appointments and rejection. The cool experience we had was with a member family called the Pentleton's (the one's who let us skype). Me and Elder Clement felt we should talk to Sis. Pentleton about her dad who isn't a member and see if there was any way we could visit him and start teaching him. When we went over to their house, she started talking with us about her dad without us saying a word about him! She said she had a very personal spiritual experience a month or so ago, in which she felt that the time for her father to join the church was coming soon. (She was promised in a blessing that her father would join the church on this earth during her lifetime). She said she was planning on giving us his address before we came over for dinner that night! We went by her dad's house later on in the week, and he said he was busy but we could come back sometime either this week, or the following week!!! I am so pumped for that, and I really hope we can help him find the truth and be baptized!!
So now I will say...
Happy Birthday MOM!!!!!! I hope you had a wonderful birthday day, and got to relax a little! I love you so much and am so grateful for all you've done for me!

Bronco's in the AFC Championship! That is so legit! Keep me posted on how they do pleaseeeeee! Also Dale Brown has been updating me on baseball news so don't worry too much about that. ahaha

I love you all and keep you in my prayers!
Elder Benesch

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

week 24 - Back to normal life... well normal missionary life that is!

Hi guys!
So this week is finally a totally normal missionary week! I'm pretty excited cause there has a lot of craziness these past few weeks, and I'm just ready to do normal missionary work again. This past few days went pretty good though! We found some new people to teach and they seem pretty interested! Saturday night we were really excited for sunday because we had 6 investigators say they would come to church, and then none of them showed up!!! So even though our week went pretty good considering all the time we spent in meetings and with it being the holidays, it just didn't feel like a good week cause no one showed up to church. Although all those investigators still want to meet with us and learn more so we're doing alright. Plus our guy Alec is getting baptized this saturday!! I'm so pumped for him, especially since he has been investigating the church for almost 15 years! We've just told him its time right now for you to get baptized and he's finally decided he can handle the committment! He is going through some hard times right now though, but the way he looks at it is the closer he gets to finding truth, the more satan works at keeping him from it, so he understands that he just needs to keep going and get baptized! He is so awesome and I'm really excited for him.

This past Friday was something called zone interview training. It's the second one I've been at since I've been out, but last time I don't think I explained to you guys why we do it. So it's basically like a zone meeting but while the meeting is going on and the zone leaders are training us, we get called out one by one to have an interview with President Brown and then to have the AP's evaluate our daily planners and basically tell us how to do better. Since the missionaries are spread out over 3 nations, President hardly gets to see us, let alone sit down with us, so every other transfer instead of zone meeting we do this zone interview training so he has a chance to meet with us! It's always so cool to have an interview with President, and it's great to just talk with him about how to be a better missionary and to get advice from him. It was cool because the week leading up to zone interview training I had written down some questions I was thinking about asking president. Throughout the week though in my personal study time, I ended up finding all the answers to my questions, and basically learned for myself what I needed to do to become better! It was a really cool experience for me because it helped me see how there really isn't a magical solution to a lot of our problems. Many times we can find the answers to questions we have on our own through prayerful and thoughtful study of the scriptures. Obviously there are times we should seek counsel from others, especially our leaders, but for the most part we can find out for ourselves how we can be better followers of Jesus Christ through prayer, fasting, and diligent study of the word of God.

Alright now that you heard a little about my past few days let me......

Bro I can watch the video's you guys sent so I saw the awesome sparkler rip rider and your wing eating skills!! That's hilarious man!!! And pretty impressive. You'll have to teach me how to do that man!

I did see the picture of your room! It's really cool looking! I bet you are so excited about it! I can't believe you guys decide to change the whole house up right after I leave! ahahah just kidding. So Malia I spend most of the time walking around in the dark! It gets dark at about 4:30 right now and we don't go into the flat until 9. So we do a lot of stuff in the dark! Luckily every week the sunset will be 15 minutes later than the previous week up until the summer solstice so it'll start getting lighter later in the day.

Thanks for working on the mission book thing! I think after I get home from my mission this email account works for another month so that I can get all the stuff we want off of it before the church deletes the account, but if you get it all done for me while I'm still out then that's awesome! Also I want to save all of the email's in the folder President's Weekly Emails. So they can be like in a seperate little mission book. It'll be super easy for me to take care of it all after my mission though too so don't fret too much about it. Also I can play a CD so send Dakota's little music thang-me. (thats like a scottish word they use all the time. It's basically like saying thingy, but they use it ALL the time)

Sounds like you're having a good time redecorating! And also sounds like typical you getting lost in Ikea! haha just kidding. My companion and I are doing really well together! We teach well together and get along really well. He is really good at guitar, and he bought a nice one while he was out here and I LOVE having one to play again. I didn't think we were allowed to have musical instruments but I think the reason they tell you not to bring them is because it's some extra luggage to carry around. Our mission president is totally fine with it! It's been so relaxing to just kinda sit down for 15 minutes and play before bed. But anyways we're doing really good and so far I haven't frozen to death!

Dude physical therapy sounds rough, but it'll definitely be worth it! It is so crazy how fast time flies isn't it!? It seems like yesterday we were starting at Campo together, and you were the little skinny freshman haha! Which speaking of skinny, I no longer am. I finally found someone with a scale and weighed myself a few days ago, and I weigh a little over 12 stone. which means I weigh about 172 pounds man!!!! (1 stone equals 14 pounds, that's how the people over here measure their weight) I'm not sure if it's muscle or fat, cause I don't look much fatter, but I haven't been able to work out that hard so it's not like I'm putting on muscle and getting stronger. So I need to somehow find a way to test my body fat percentage and see how fat I really am!! Anyways keep on working hard to get your leg back in shape!

Yeah apparently I'm not that good at Answering Back...
haha but it is really cool to be over here in Scotland where the work is quicker. That was one thing I talked with President Brown about, was why is it that missionary work is going better in Scotland and Ireland? (I wouldn't put this in the blog by the way) I told him how I felt I was working just as hard in Mullingar as I am here, but am actually seeing success here while in Mullingar I didn't see hardly any. He told me about how he feels that it isn't always the fault of the missionaries that certain areas struggle while others succeed. So more than anything it helped me see that no matter where I'm at, the measure of success is more on how well I personally did the work in the area, not necessarily the amount of baptisms.
I totally know how you feel with getting back to work! I'm so excited for everything to go back to normal for a while. The running and swimming sounds like it'll be good! I need to start doing the same... well the running, not the swimming. Haha we have weights in the flat that I use right now, but some cardio is probably better for me to do since we only get like 30-35 minutes.

Well that just about does it, thanks for the emails, and hopefully I ANSWERED BACK enough! haha. We finally got the two hours to email again today so I can actually email like normal!
Talk to y'all later! (Elder Clement's texan accent is getting to me!)

Love you guys!
Elder Benesch

Week 23 - Holidays are finally over!

Hello everyone!

So I've officially entered my blackout year! Haha that's what we call the year where we spend the entire year on our mission. I'm excited for this year, especially since we're gonna be starting it out with a baptism next Saturday!! Woohoo! His name is Alec, hers been investigating the church for almost 15 years and just hasn't gotten baptized yet, but we've helped him see that he is ready! He has had problems with smoking that has kept him from being baptized before, but he has been off the cigarettes for a good enough time now and he is completely ready to give them up! I'm definitely excited for him. We have had to drop a few of the new investigators we had found in the last 3 weeks, but we are still finding new people to teach all the time! Aaron and Jackie, the couple that are getting married and then baptized are still doing really well, and will hopefully find out soon if their marriage papers went through. The town offices have been closed for the holidays so it's taking forever! But that's okay, they are still so solid and have such a great desire to be baptized. The members here are so awesome and helped us out so much during the holidays. New Year's Day we went to the stake presidents home and watched the amazing spider man (the newest one) with his family!! It was awesome! I'm not sure if that movie is PG in the states, but over here it is so as soon as they told us that we were like "yep, we're watching it!" Haha, that was the only movie we got to watch over the holidays but it was a good choice I'd say.

So some other cool stuff that's been happening, we walked along the beach a few days ago in Ardrossan! Haha it's one of the towns in our area north if Irvine, and it is so cold there! I don't think I ever want to walk along a beach in Scotland again! Haha the wind was super strong and the rain literally felt like ice pelting my face as we walked. I feel bad for the missionaries that are way up north in the Shetland Islands! I could never go serve up there, I would freeze to death!

Oh yeah and a fun fact: in Scotland they call New Years Hogmanay. I keep asking people why it's called that and no one here seems to know! They all just say that's what it's called! 

Well I think that's all from me this week, it's another weird email day so that's why I'm not writing too much. Next week everything will finally to back to normal! Love you all and miss you!

Elder Benesch 

Week 22 - Christmas Day!

Hope you all had a merry Christmas and I hope you guys have an awesome new year!!
My Christmas Day was pretty good, we had a great dinner with the Pentleton family, and then a good time with the Wilde family. The crazy thing is we didn't even watch any movies! We just had a ton of fun playing games and talking! Hopefully New Year's Day we'll get to watch movies. We aren't allowed to do any proselyting, so it's more hanging out in members homes all day. I won't lie, I'm kinda ready for the holidays to be over so that I can go back to normal missionary life! You would think missionary work would be awesome this time of year, but people over here get so stressed out about the holidays, that the little time they may have had for us throughout the year, they now don't have! It's a total bummer, but that's just how it goes I guess. Well sorry this is so short! We don't have a lot of time to email today, I love you all and miss you all so much!
I'll write you next week hopefully, we still don't know when next week we will be able to get to a computer, so just be looking for an email!

Elder Benesch