Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 18: "Doors"

Dear those I LOVE:

Well. Another week has come and gone! This may be a shorter note, but I'll tell you of all my adventures nonetheless!

It was one of those weeks where we must have knocked on at least a hundred doors. Unfortunately it seems as though most doors this week were either bad timing when we dropped by, they weren't interested in having us in (seriously, two cute & friendly girls with a great message? Why wouldn't want to let us in?), or else they just weren't home. Mostly it was the latter. Thursday we must have been around to 20 homes, and it wasn't good timing for anyone. We were debating whether or not to just go home, but I suggested that we try one more person. This individual we had been trying to get a hold of since our first day in the area (so for a month or so), and had been unsuccessful. Well, you guessed it! She was home! We had a fantastic visit with her. Sometimes we can be led to all the wrong doors just so we are at the right one at just the right time.

You meet the coolest people. Do I sound like a broken record? I think I say this every week. :) This week we met a lady who is VERY into geo-cashing. Geo-cashing is basically treasure-hunting with GPS coordinates. People hide (and submit the coordinates online) geo-cashes all the time. Anyway, this lady in our ward has been successful in finding a geo-cash for over 560 days in a row, and she says that she's going to continue this streak until she beats the all time record of 1000 in a row. Hoo-rah. Rock on, Sister. She's an adventurous spirit. I love it. Her husband is a music-guru from England. I was pretty jealous when I heard that he's seen Queen (with Freddie Mercury) live. If only time-travel was possible. If only.

Oh. Speaking of music, we borrowed a Primary song meets dubstep CD from a Sister in our Zone. There is a version of "I hope they call me on a mission" with a righteous primary rap in the middle. Sister Roundy and I may or may not have rewound and listened to that rap over and over until we memorized the whole thing. Ha. It's amazing what we missionaries do to entertain ourselves. ;)

I bought the Vocal Point CD - "Lead Thou Me On". I love talent. It's so good! 

This Sunday we were called into the 5 year old class. They were all wearing homemade name tags! Their teacher put on "I hope they call me on a mission" and all the kids sang to us! At the line "when I've grown a foot or two" they took paper pictures of themselves that had adjustable legs and grew them for us! So tender. 

Numbers-wise things are a little bit low, as is expected of a new area. However, Sister Roundy and I are working hard. We're setting a lot of goals that hopefully get things moving in this area. I love serving in this here ward. We've been warned that this ward has been hard in the past in terms of missionary work, but I don't believe that for a second. It's going to be a productive area when I'm through with it. ;)

Time is short! Adios my friends!
-Sister B. 
Melts my heart!

Elders will be Elders.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 17: "Spring is in the (Bel) Air!"

My Most Wonderful Family and Friends,

On the mission, weeks go by like days and days go by like weeks. Time is so strange out here, and I would think that everyone who's served a mission would agree with me.

We've been keeping ourselves very busy, working on updating the area book! We've knocked on a LOT of doors. When I say a lot, I mean it. I'm feel as though I'm getting more and more comfortable with talking to people I've never met before. It's great!

This week we taught door approaches at an "MTC Experience" Activity for the youth. We had so much fun! We even had volunteer actors from the ward so that our kids could role play. We walked around and helped the youth if they didn't know what to say. It's fun teaching others how to be a missionary! Maybe one day I'll teach at the MTC. That would be a fun job.

I got scared so badly this week while doing service! We helped a couple who had just moved in to the ward in the Winter with their yard. There was a lot to be done, and Sister Roundy and I had a fantastic time while doing it. It's so refreshing to finally work outside when it is warm. I was picking up wood debris in the large yard, and I went to pick up a twisted root, only to see that it had a face!! Aah! It was a mummified squirrel, skin and all! That was a momentarily terrifying surprise to the innocent passerby. I took a lot of pictures of it that I'll share as soon as I can. It was fascinating. We guessed it got stuck in a snow drift and frozen in the Winter months. 

The Mummy
To Be, Or Not To Be?

The couple we served were so appreciative. They had wanted their patio cleaned off and set up before their kids came home to visit, and we were able to accomplish that. They said we helped them have hope that they'll be able to accomplish what they want to this spring! Just having them say that and seeing their eyes light up made it worth it.

We had a special experience with Patsy this week. We watched "On the Lord's Errand" - a documentary of the life of President Monsen before he became President of the Church. It was a powerful witness that the Lord's hand is in the lives of those he calls, and that whoever he calls he qualifies to do His work. The Spirit was so strong as we watched it. Patsy loved it. I think it clarified any questions she had about latter-day prophets. Her first questions afterwards were how she could be baptized and how soon.

On the Lord's Errand: The Life of Thomas S. Monson

I also learned that people can be not so kind to missionaries. On exchanges Sister Haas and I went to a home that a brother in the church had referred us to, because there was someone he wanted us to visit. We were met at the gate by snarling, barking dogs, and then a man came out and started yelling at us. We replied to him calmly, apologized for getting the wrong address, got in our car....and burst out laughing. That's really all you can do in that situation. :D We really can't control how others treat us, only how we treat them in return.

Yesterday I had dinner with a family, and they had 9 kids!! It was almost relieving to be back in that atmosphere. Have I ever mentioned that I love that I'm from a large family? Ali sent me a family picture, and I show it off to everyone I can! I love how fun and chaotic it was.

Oh, and before I go. Have I ever mentioned how much I love and look  forward to General Conference? I kid you not, I think it's more exciting to me than Christmas. I just can't wait!

Well, until next week - good luck! You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

There is no more rewarding work than spreading joy to others!

Sister Rachel Ann Bennett
An antique we found in our first week here.
A drawing I did for one of the youth in our ward.

Sister Roundy!

 I'mma Giant.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 16: "#stuporofthought"

Dear my favorite people!!

Sister Bennett, signing in. Calling out to family and friends across the geographic masses...

I don't believe I have experienced anything more rewarding than being a missionary. Before, I had heard it countless times. "I've never been happier," "I learned so much," "Those were the best two years for my life." I've seen people who have served - those who just got off their missions, and grown adults who now have grandchildren - reflect nostalgically on their missions, and on how grateful they were that they served. 
Although I've only been out for about 3 and a half months, I think I'm beginning to understand how those people feel. On one hand, I don't think I've ever been this tired. Missions can be stressful, and I have a lot I need to learn. But on the other hand, I feel so much joy in this work. I wouldn't trade what I've learned on my mission, or the year preparing for my mission, for the world. I've seen so many miracles in my life and in the lives of others. I'm so grateful.

Serving in the Bel Air Ward has been a new learning experience. It is now my responsibility to lead an area, and because I'm so new on the mission it's easy for me to point out my own shortcomings and areas that I can do better. However, I know that I'm here to learn and grow, and that it will come eventually if I work towards it. So, gotta keep my chin up. :) Hopefully Sister Roundy and I can work so we can be a blessing in this area.

I'm learning a lot from Sister Roundy. She can be blunt and straightforward, which I think is good for me. We also laugh a lot. She brings out a quirky side of my sense of humor. It's an adventure working together.

Some experiences of this week. 1) The members here spoil us. Thursday for dinner we got taken out to The Cheesecake Factory. Until then I had never experienced such a place in my life. It was glorious. We went with a family of six. Three sons, and a daughter. The husband is a manager of an interpreting company for sign language, and he is also getting his second Master's degree in fine arts. He showed us some of his pieces - pretty incredible. You meet the coolest families and people on the mission. 2) Last P-Day, during P-Day sports, I talked with an Elder from just outside London. As we began talking I automatically responded to him in an English accent, and after a while he got excited because he legitimately thought I was from England as well! I apologetically admitted to him that I was actually Canadian. That was pretty funny. 3) This week we took our investigator, Patsy, to a baptism. She had a wonderful experience, and afterwards she expressed that she wants to be baptized in August on her birthday! Mom, she wanted me to ask you if you're proud of me. She told me you would be, and when I said I wasn't sure, she told me to ask you and then let her know. :P I'm grateful we get to teach her. She is a testament to me that no matter what stage you are in your life, living the teachings of Jesus Christ can help you, and bless your life.

On that note, I just want to say thank you for all of your wonderful examples! It's made a difference in who I am, and who I want to be, and I'm grateful for that. Much love! 
Sister Bennett

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week 15: "Yo home to Bel Air!"

Dear everyone,

I love you! It's wonderful to hear everything that's been going on back home. (Wherever home is for you!) Keep on taking on the world.

So. I've been procrastinating this moment because I have so much to tell you! Nonetheless I love you, so I will write.

I am now serving in the Boise West Stake, in the Bel Air Ward. No, Will Smith did not have anything to do with the naming of this ward. Yes, I did sing the entirety of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air rap when I discovered that's where I was going. The first day we got here was Monday. Sister Roundy and I met, and went over to the family that we are living with - the Andrus's. They are a fantastic older couple. Oh, and bonus, they have a piano. Who's going to be practicing in her spare time? You guessed it. This girl.

Sister Roundy is lovely. She's from North Carolina, and she's a farm girl! She likes saying "y'all", she's a great artist, and she loves fantasy - as do I. We also both like to work hard, as I delightfully found out this past week. So we have a few things in common. :)

It's been a busy week. We got welcomed alright - in the form of a prank. Here we are, brand new in a new area. Our first dinner was with the Jenks. We were combined with the Elders, our district leaders. Turns out together the district leaders and Brother Jenks had the lovely idea of taking Root Beer bottles and replacing the labels with Miller Lite labels. Well, during dinner Brother Jenks kindly joins us with his drink - and Sister Roundy and I were thrown through a loop. What...?! I look around - "Families are Forever" quotes, pictures of temples, the first Presidency. What. Was. Happening. Soon, Brother Jenks got in a debate about the Word of Wisdom, ending in Elder Crowley taking a sip, on the terms of his "anxiety." I was frozen up - What are you doing Elder, you're a missionary!! I was so confused. Finally, Brother Jenks stoop up with open arms, and said, "Welcome to the ward, Sisters!" HA. As if I even remotely fell for that. AND it turns out they got everything on camera. Oh, the joy. We all shared Root Beers with misplaced labels afterwards.

Tuesday, we missionaries performed a skit at a Stake Primary Activity. We acted out "A Day in the Life of a Missionary," as a district, and of course it was a blast. I love performing for kids. I love thinking up of crazy things that we can do to make them laugh. At one point Elder Tarantino lip-synced as I (under cover) sang an outrageous high operatic version of "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today". We had fun at least, and that's all that matters. :) It was a great way to get to know my new district.

The rest of the week we worked hard, knocking on doors, meeting the auxiliaries, getting to know less-active families, getting rejected, and learning about the area. Yesterday we stood outside of many unopened doors as it poured rain, and yet I was so happy. Crazy, how being a missionary can do that. Oh, and Dad, you'll be happy to hear that our Bishop has much experience hoeing sugar beets in his life! He told us that taught him hard work. So it does, so it does.

We received a very warm welcome into our new ward yesterday. Many people met us - some saying they had never met Sister Missionaries before! This ward hasn't seen Sisters in around 30 years. Well, it's about time. :) It was testimony meeting, and one testimony in particular just blew me away. It was an eighteen year old boy, who had just lost his mother to Leukemia two months previously. My heart went out to him as he testified of God's love for all of us, and of the reality of his Plan of Happiness for all of us. I've rarely heard a more powerful testimony than his was to me at this time.

That night we had dinner in the Bishop's home. After dinner, I shared the Mormon Message, "He Will Give You Help." Although the events that happened in that video happened over five years ago, they are still close to my heart. What I didn't know at that time of showing them that was that the Bishop himself was struggling with the recent death of his nephew. I was grateful I had felt like I needed to share what I did. The Lord is mindful of all of us, even if others are not aware of what we are going through. He truly does send us the help we need.

Well, I have to go. Until next week, good luck! Sure love ya! 

- Sister Rachel Ann Bennett

He Will Give You Help