Monday, March 31, 2014

Watching waves and Climbing Mountains!

Hello friends and family! 

Another week come and gone her in Honduras. This week was full of lots of great experiences! The Mission Doctor Elder Cragun and his wife came to visit our mission so my companion and I got to do a little traveling! We went to all of the meetings with the missionary's and then acted as secretary while the missionaries got a chance to talk with him personally if they had any health concerns. 

On Wednesday night we traveled to La Ceiba in un bus and President Klein and his wife invited us to come to dinner with them. It was an amazing opportunity to get to spend some extra time with them! I feel super spoiled sometimes, but one of my favorite things about my specific calling is how much I've been able to get to know Hermana Klein and President Klein. They have been a huge support to me and I couldn't be more grateful! Their hotel was right on the beach, so while we were waiting for our food we walked out to the waves and got to stand and watch and listen and look at the stars. Mmmmm it was so peaceful. It was my first time seeing the beach here in Honduras! It was nice to take a step back, just be still, and soak it all in. Sometimes I forget just how incredible of an opportunity Heavenly Father has blessed me with to be here!

This week a family of the other hermana's got married and then the family was baptized the next day! We got to go to the wedding and it was so incredible :) They were so happy! And here in Mezapa they have the baptisms in the river here and it is so beautiful. If I had to guess, I'm pretty sure the waters of Mormon were right here in Mezapa!!! 

Things have been going really well with the work here in Mezapa. Lately we've found some amazing people that are really interested in the gospel. We have been teaching a family of 14 recently, and I have such high hopes for them! One of their daughters is really interested and reading the Book of Mormon and is setting the example for the others. We are really working on helping the Dad to come to have a testimony of this gospel because we know that he will be a huge influence on the progression of his family. At church yesterday, 3 of the kids showed up without us even knowing they were going to come! It really is amazing how quickly the love you can feel for these families, even when we've only known them for such a short time. When I'm feeling a little sad or frustrated, I just think about the incredible opportunity it is to get to meet these people and see how the gospel can bring them happiness and peace. It makes everything else vale la pena (worth it).

Today my district hiked a mountain here in Mezapa!!!

Yes.... I was in my element :) We got up early and hiked up to a tower. It was a super steep climb and took us about an hour to get to the top, but I loved every single minute of it! Hiking is definitely something I've missed and it was a great way to unwind and get some exercise in. And the view was super pretty. I took lots of pictures, but they don't really do it justice!

I love you all and hope that you are having an amazing week!!! So excited for Conference this weekend!!!!! Until next week :)

Hermana Bennett

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I am the light which ye shall hold up....

March 24, 2014
Hello family and friends! 

Another week come and gone here in Mezapa. I feel like I´ve learned so much in this last week. But then again I´m pretty sure I say that every week :) I feel like lately I´ve been starting to see my mission in a new light. I recently had an interview with my mission president and he talked a lot about setting goals, and I realized that for my whole life that is one subject in which I´m just not that good at! He talked about making my own personal vision of what I wanted to accomplish here in the mission, with real measurable goals that will help me to focus on the task at hand. He said that if I wanted to be genuinely happy, that making a vision was the key. So for the past few weeks or so I´ve been really contemplating and thinking about what my vision could be here in the mission, and I finally finished! My objective here in the mission is the same as every other missionary, "Invite others to come unto Christ," but how could I PERSONALLY do that? I studied my patriarchal blessing to find my own personal talents and gifts that I can contribute to help these people, our brothers and sisters to come to know of the truth. And I found a scripture in 3 Nephi 18 that talks about holding up your light, and that Jesus Christ himself is the light the we should hold up. 

So how can I hold up the light of Christ? By becoming like him. So a lot of my goals are focused around studying the life of Christ, studying his attributes and trying to apply them into this work and into my life. It´s incredible how different of an outlook it has given me. I feel more of a genuine desire to talk to people and am starting to love them even more! 

This week we´ve had the opportunity to do a lot more service! In the beginning of the week we helped a recent convert pack up all of her things so that she could move. On another day we passed by a house in which they were moving a bunch of boards so we stopped and helped them. They invited us to lunch later on in the week and we helped them paint their house. It was fun and it´s a great way to talk about the gospel.

A couple of weeks ago, all of our citas fell through and so we said a prayer to know where to go. A house with blue and brown paint came to my mind so we went to find it! When we got there, there was no one home.... So we put our names on a pass-a-long card and tried to put in on the gate but it ended up falling through and landing on the ground. We left hoping they would find it. Yesterday we were passing by and they were actually home so we stopped and and introduced ourselves as the ones that had left them a card a few weeks earlier. She was super excited and said that her little two year old son had found it and that she had saved it. We were able to teach her an introduction to the gospel and she was super receptive and we have a return appointment with her! It was a testimony to me that we should always follow the promptings we get from the spirit, even if at first they don´t make sense and we don´t see the fruits of it right away. Sometimes it takes a few weeks, months, years, or sometimes we don´t even see them at all in this life, but that doesn´t mean there wasn´t a purpose for it! For example, my companion shared with me her conversion story. She was sitting on a bus with a bunch of other jovens when a missionary stood up and bore his testimony to all that were on the bus and said, "I´m going to give this Book of Mormon to the first person that asks for it!" Someone a few rows ahead of her rose their hand, he handed them the book, and then sat back down. Something about the missionary stood out to her, even though she had never been religious. Where she lived their weren´t missionaries, but she had found a book of mormon in her backyard a while back. So she went looking for them, found them, and then asked them to be baptized. And now she is serving her own mission! She has no idea who this elder on the bus is, nor does he know the outcome of sharing his testimony on the bus had on her life. No effort goes wasted! We never know who is listening or who is watching and who´s lives we can touch if we listen to the Spirit.

I hope you all have an incredible week and that you are getting pumped up for Conference!!!!! I´m so excited. Can´t believe it´s already time for another one. What a blessing we have to listen to the prophet and the apostles! I love you all dearly. Have an amazing week :)

Hermana Bennett

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy St. Patty´s Day!

March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! 
I almost forgot about it, but one of the gringa misioneras reminded me on our way into town today :) None of us were wearing green.... haha whoops! They don´t celebrate it here, I´m pretty sure the majority of people haven´t even heard of it. But I will be sure to eat something green to celebrate!

This week has been good! Super hot, but we had a couple of days of relief with rain. I think it rains here a couple of days everyweek. I definitely won´t complain because it feels soooo good for a few minutes. Then the sun comes out and everything starts to steam again... haha I´m happy for my little umbrella that I´ve had since I got here. It´s designed specifically for the wind so it´s super durable. I wish it was twice it´s size but it will do! The other day it kept turning inside out, but with a simple flick it´s back to it´s normal shape. Hermana Maldonado kept laughing at me because it kept turning inside out, but then hers turned inside out and everything snapped and broke.... whoops! We had a good laugh about it.

This week I have learned a lot about God´s love that He has for each of His children. I always believed that, but this week I feel like I´ve become more aware of it. Not necesarily for any big experience, but just from thoughts and feelings that have come to my mind as I listen to someone tell me the story of their life, or meet somebody in the street, or feel the spirit as we are teaching a lesson. For example, we stopped by an investigator´s house and she wasn´t home so we visited with her grandma. She is super catholic, but she still likes to listen to us. She told us once of a story where there was a time when they didn´t have much money for food. She was sitting on her porch and a dove landed by her. All she could think about was how delicious it would be in a soup. She said she prayed to Heavenly Father and told him how wonderful it would be to make dove soup, but that she appreciated that the dove was his creation and wouldn´t harm it. Then lots more doves came and she started feeding them a little of the corn that she had. All of a sudden one of the doves choked on a piece of corn and died! So... she made herself some dove soup.... :) It sounds so silly, but I could really tell how much it meant to her and how much she felt like God loved her and listened to her prayer. As I sat listening to her I feel like I got a little bit of a glimpse into the love Heavenly Father has for His children. ALL of them! No matter who they are, where their from, or what religion they are a part of. Any honest seeker of truth, love and answers to prayers can get them. It made me take a step back and think about just how important the work is that we are doing. God wants all of His children to be able to return to Him again, and He expects us to spread the word! I´ve noticed lately that I´m the type of person that really likes to think and reflect... haha The other night after planning the four of us missionaries just sat outside of our house (we have a big yard protected by a locked gate so don´t worry - we´re safe!) and just talked and looked at the stars. It´s nice to just sit back sometimes and soak everything in. Heavenly Father really does love us. Don´t forget it! 

This Saturday we are planning to have the baptism of I! The missionaries found him about a month ago and he was suffering from alcoholism, so they weren´t sure if he could progress. but they decided to go back with him again anyways. They invited him to change and invited him to come to church. They weren´t sure if he would come, but he did! And now, he´s completely given up alcohol and has completely changed his life around. His family couldn´t be more happier. To me, it´s a miracle. It´s also a privilege to get to see the Atonement of Christ in full force in someone´s life! The work in this area is really growing. They just added another missionary to our area so now there are 8 of us to one branch! That´s like one missionary for every 25 members.... haha I´m excited to see where this branch will be in just a few short months. 

I hope you all know how much I love each of you. It´s a little hard to be away from home sometimes, but I´m thankful for your prayers and for all of your support. It´s amazing sometimes what a little note of encouragement can do to help lift one´s spirits :) Thank you for all of your examples and for all I have learned from each of you. I´m so thankful for the opportunity I have to be here and the things I am learning each day. 

Until Next Week!
Hermana Bennett

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mezapa 3!

March 10, 2014

Hola friends and family! 

It´s been a great couple of days here in Mezapa 3. It really is a different world from where I was before. Super small town. All the roads are dirt and super rocky. There are lots of cows, pigs, and horses roaming the streets. One pig even started chasing me and my companion yesterday as we were leaving a house. I´ve heard of missionaries getting chased by dogs, but pigs.... hmm... :) This area is SUPER green. Lots of palm trees, banana trees, and every other type of tree you can think of. It rains frequently and the streets fill up with water and rivers (mixed with cow and horse dung... yum!) There are no buses here, just mototaxis, but we just walk everywhere we go. It´s a pretty big area, but not as big as my last one. I still have yet to get to know the whole area but we´ve got lots more time! We come home with sore feet and sore legs, but it gives me the satisfaction that I´ve worked hard :)

My companion Hermana Maldonado and I get along really well! She´s been in the mission a year now.Our personalities are very similar (very laid back and go with the flow). "Should we do this? Sure! Do you want to eat this? Sure! Let´s talk to this person... Okay! Let´s go down this street... Why not?!" haha it´s been really wonderful actually. One of the goals we have as a zone or mission (i´m not sure which one) is to find 40 new people to teach each week... Wow! For example, for the past six months we would have 10-12 new investigators each week. But we decided that if it was the goal of the mission we were going to do it, even though we didn´t have a full week to do it! We ended up finding a lot of big families to teach and by the end of 5 days we had found 44 new people to teach! It´s incredible how a seemingly impossible task becomes possible when you put your trust in the Lord and let him lead and guide you in the work. I haven´t been here long but I´m already falling in love with the place. The branch meets in a house currently and are working there way up to get a chapel. The branch consists of only 2 people that were born into the church. The rest are converts! Crazy, huh? It´s amazing to see how the church throughout the world is growing. It also means that we are working a lot with the members and helping them with the doctrine and the organization of things. I already love the people here. I love to ask the members how they came to find the gospel and their conversion stories. The faith and the miracles that have happened in these people´s lives are incredible!

Power of prayer manifested in a simple way: We were teaching the first lesson to two jovencitas and the ENTIRE time their dog was barking it´s brains out. It took everything in me not to go shew it away! My companion started talking about Joseph Smith and the Restoration and I just started praying and praying in my heart that they would be able to feel the spirit and that the dog would stop barking. As soon as she started in on the first vision (Vi una columna de luz...)
(I saw a pillar of light) the dog stopped barking :) The whole time he was silent (with a couple growls here and there) and we were able to feel the spirit. After she was done he started in barking again, but I know that the spirit was able to be there when it really counted! I just love the little miracles that we get to see each day :)

I sure love you all! Thank you for all your prayers and support. They are definitely needed, and definitely felt. I love this work, I love this country, I love these people, I love my Savior, I love this Gospel, and there isn´t anywhere else I would rather be at this moment than right where Heavenly Father needs me. 

Until next week!
Hermana Bennett

Goodbye to La Paz, Hello to Mezapa!!!

March 4, 2014

Hello family and friends! 
I´m currently writing you from my brand spanking new area, in Mezapa :) It`s about 1 1/2 hours away from where I currently was. I`ve gone from super big ward to little branch, from church in a chapel to church in a house, from baptizmal font to river... I`m actually super excited to get going and for the new experiences that I will have here! 

It was super hard to leave my area and for the people that have become my family in this past six months, but the beautiful thing about this gospel is the way it knits together hearts, that this really isn`t goodbye but see you soon :) 
I had a friend 
once say that when we are walking with Christ, in a way we are walking together! I love to think of that. I was able to have some really incredible experiences this past week, more as I reflected on the miracles that I have seen and the lives I have seen change. Alma 26:16 pretty much sums up my feelings :) 

16 Therefore, let us glory yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

Hermana Rioja and Bennett

I had a great time with Hermana Rioja this passed month! Our experiences included making homemade tortillas and ceviche, collecting tamarindas and eating them straight from the shell, interesting haricuts, running to catch the bus, running to pick up our clothes, running to buy more lemons, and then running for the bus... again... defending the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, preachers from other religions, going back to investigators houses to get the umbrella that we always seemed to forget, baptisms, confirmations, miracles, planning sessions that lasted for an hour because we would get so excited talking about our investigators, spiritual experiences, and lots of lessons learned. With Hermana Rioja I learned that I`m not a perfect missionary, but that continuing to look back on what I lack won`t do me any good! Instead I should do something about it, and make an effort to change, and be grateful that I can change! I need to remember that today is a new day, I need to look forward at who I can become and not let who I`ve been continue to hold me back. 

More Goodbyes

This week I heard a song that I loved called Right Now. It talks about not letting experiences pass you by but to open your mouth and let your story unfold. It talks about silence being a word, waiting to be heard. I also read a talk by Elder Perry in the Liahona this month that talked about how we are writing our book of life and should feel it with "i`m glad I did" moments instead of "I wish I had," moments. It really helped me to change the outlook that I`ve had on myself. Instead of always focusing on the negative, what I should have done, I look at how far I`ve come and the blessing I have to continue to strive to be better each day. Leaving an area made me really reflect, did I do my part? As I visited some of our investigators, recent converts, less active members, and other members I was filled with a lot of peace.  If I started to try to name them all this email would just never end.... haha I´m so grateful for the chance I had to serve in La Paz 2!!

One chapter ending and on to another beginning :) My new companion is Hermana Maldonado from Guatemala and I`m excited to see how things go! I`ll have a lot more to share on Monday.

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers, your support and your love. It is definitely felt. I think about you often and you are always in my prayers!!

Hermana Bennett

Monday, March 10, 2014

Headed into Summer... joooooopieeee!

 Feb 28, 2014
Happy P-day yet again! It´s weird to think that this is the last P-day of this transfer.... Where did the time go? It has seriously flown by. The days and weeks feel like hours and minutes. Monday night you close your eyes to sleep, wake up and it`s Sunday again.

Today has been a fun, full day! First, we went to visit the Familia Robles at the school that they own in San Juan. It was so great! We went from room to room, bore our testimonies of the church and taught them to say "I am a child of God" in english. The children were so happy, excited and eager to learn. I seriously love this family. They are so full of love and so service oriented. They are a true example of how this gospel can bless families and are a huge example to me. They`re also excited about spreading this gospel to everyone they know! Some of their students already want to have the missionaries over to their house. One even came to their baptism and kept asking, "and me?? when do I get to be baptized?" 

After leaving the school we headed to the Olympic Soccer Stadium in San Pedro Sula to have a multizone activity to get together and play soccer in a professional field. 

It was a blast! I personal can`t play soccer (shhhhh.....) but it was fun to relive some of my cheerleading memories on the sidelines.... a bunch of the sisters wanted to learn how to stunt and I got the courage up to do my backhandsprings again! I was super suprised that I could still do it. It was a hoot :) A couple of the elders were cheerleaders at their high schools and were tumbling and stunting too (safely of course... suuuuuuper basic so no one would get hurt....) 

Hermana's Roija, Bennett and Ramirez

It was a fun opportunity to unwind, though most of us returned super sunburned! It`s starting to head into the summer months and the sun is SUPER strong. People keep telling me that I haven´t even experienced heat yet, they say that once April comes along the heat is unbearable until august... :) Sonrisa!!! (smile)

This week we`ve been continuing to meet and contact new people and we`ve had some great experiences. The members in our ward are getting excited about the work and have been absolutely wonderful in bringing us to meet their friends and coming with us to visits! It`s incredible how much of an influence it can have when someone can hear the testimony of someone how lives just down the street, and not just these two foreigners that have come knocking at their door. It`s like what happened with Alma and Amulek in Alma 9 and 10! This week we met a humble grandma with one leg who was so happy and friendly - she said that she almost died, and that a miracle happened to save her life and now she spends her time serving others with a smile on her face. We met 3 wonderful ladies as we passed by their house and offered to help them wash some of their dishes. We taught them the first lesson and they were really excited about it. One of them talked about how she had met with the missionaries 10 years ago and came to church a lot, but since she had already been baptized in another church she thought it was a sin to be baptized again. We were able to help her clear up some of her doubts and she is excited to read the book of mormon again. To me it`s amazing how this work is. It`s truly a testimony that everything we do has a purpose! Every seed we plant can one day be harvested by others in the future. 

One thing that I have come to find is that the majority of people here are super willing to let you in, feed you, and talk about God and the Bible - so the challenge is finding the difference between those that are genuinely interested in our message and those that are just happy to talk about God and "learn" more about him. We can fill up our agenda with LOTS of lessons and lots of people to teach, but it`s trying to organize our time effectively and really seek revelation and inspiration on those that are going to progress and those that haven`t quite arrived to their time yet. Hermana Rioja and I have been trying to focus on being super clear and direct (with lots of love of course) so that our purpose is clear in the beginning. We learned in a zone meeting that our calling is not to make friends here, it`s to bring people to Christ and help them to find their own personal relationship with HIM. Making friends and growing to love the people is a obviously a natural consequence, but we have to be careful that the investigators are strengthening their relationship with God first and foremost! Because we won`t always be here. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful week and enjoy this last little bit of February! I love you all :)
Hermana Bennett

PS - joooopiieeeee is a phrase that I have learned from Hermana Rioja... haha everything good that happens is followed with this simple shout of praise..... :) It helps to stay happy regardless of how the day is going