Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 23: "A New Dawn, A New Day, A New Life..."

Dear my gregarious family and friends, 

Hello once again! It's your friendly neighborhood missionary Sister Bennett!

Speaking of friendly neighborhoods, I first want to express how I feel blessed to be here in Boise. I can come back anytime I want to visit! I already plan to. Some people I've met here feel like family to me. 

We started this week off right - by climbing a mountain!! It was exhilarating. I'll include pictures soon. Boise is now green and quite beautiful I must say. 

However, this week has also been ridden with its own particular trials. Sister Roundy hurt her knee on April 1st. As she describes it, she bent down to pick up a letter, and it popped out and back in. I may or may not have mentioned that a month ago. We got her to a hospital that day, and they gave her a brace for it. We rested, elevated, iced for a few days.

Of course though, missionary work involves a lot of movement, especially if we are knocking on doors. Well, the past few days Sister Roundy's knee has really been bothering her, to the point where it's been as bad as it was the day of the injury. So that has slowed down our pace exceedingly. We're going to get it checked out asap. Hopefully she'll be ok. 

We've seen tender mercies though! Our new investigator came to our sacrament meeting, and really enjoyed it. Another two of our investigators committed to baptism next month! I've been so lucky to have the opportunity to work with these people. Oh, and probably the biggest miracle this week was that the daughter of one of our investigators agreed to take the lessons! Patsy has talked to us often about how much she loves her daughter and grandchildren, and how she wants them to understand the faith she has found in Jesus Christ, which is so important now to her. It was a miracle that we got to even talk to her daughter, much less agree to help her understand more of what her mother believes. I'm excited for the opportunity! 

Yesterday we were EXTREMELY involved in our church service. We both gave talks (have I mentioned I'm coming to enjoy speaking more and more?), we sang in the choir, and we taught Young Women's! Everything went really well. Bishop gave me a hard time though. After my talk, he turned to Sister Roundy and said, "that was a good talk you wrote for your companion." :) In my talk, I told the story of Andrew Watson (my ancestor) who trekked across the plains through the Winter in the Willie Handcart company. I've been pretty inspired by my ancestors lately - their example, their willingness to sacrifice and stand up for their family and for their faith. I'm lucky to have such a rich heritage. 

More and more, especially as I have prepared my talk (on Charity), my thoughts have been turned to my Savior, Jesus Christ. This week I have been studying the 3rd Nephi chapters in the Book of Mormon where Christ visits the people in the Americas. To me, these are the most important chapters in the Book of Mormon. What an incredible testimony that the Savior lives, and that he is the Son of a living, loving, and eternal Heavenly Father. To me, having that account means everything. It is a further witness that Jesus Christ lives. It is a beautiful compliment to the Bible. It means that God is aware of all of his children. It means that he loves me. I know that, and I cannot deny the peace that has come through Him. Words can't quite express how I feel. 

Well, that's all folks. Sister Bennett signing out. Peace and love.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Week 22: "HAPPY EASTER!"

April 21, 2014

It is beautiful here in this corner of the world! I want to shout! And dance! Honestly, I spend every second that I can outside. I make up any excuse. Two days ago during planning I needed a two minute break, so I went out and laid in the grass. Today for P-DAY, we'll be hiking Table Rock, and I've been looking forward to that for a llooooonnng time. It'll be nice to be on top of a mountain again. :) Being on a mountain feels like conquering the world. Even if the Boise Mountains are more like hills when compared to the Glory and Splendor of the Canadian Rockies. ;)

I'll get off my soapbox now. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! A little about my Easter week. Of course, we've been focusing on Christ. We always do, but this time it seemed magnified. Last Monday, our Mission President emailed us, and told us to show everyone we can the new video on, "Because of Him." It is powerful, and it was such a great message to share. It is so simple, and yet so incredible what Christ has done for us. We had a great week of teaching and testifying of him. I love being a witness of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I owe everything to him. 

This past Tuesday we had an amazing leadership conference. All Senior companions, and other leaders were invited. We learned about goal setting and planning, and that was EXACTLY what I have been wanting/needing to hear. Did you know that around only 3% of the world's population are actually consistently goal setting? That was amazing to me. Studies have also shown that those who live goal-centered lives are on average happier, more financially stable, more likely to be leaders, and more productive, among other things. I want to be more goal-oriented, not only as a missionary, but as a person in general. We took what we learned and applied it to an exchange we went on. Sister Worden came with me to my area, and it was amazing what we were able to achieve! There were so many small successes, small gifts of joy throughout that day. Sister Roundy and I strove to apply that principle to the rest of our week, and we feel as though it went really well. But, we can still be better! I know we can be bolder, and more anxiously engaged in this work. I'm excited for the possibilities. 

Saturday night before Easter we were surprised by the couple we live with. They had boiled eggs and bought dye so we could color eggs! They brought out the kid in me. However, apparently NOBODY knows about the egg-rolling tradition here! My companion has told me several times it is a waste of eggs to throw them down a hill, but I think she just hasn't experienced the joy of watching eggs crack. I even had Brother Andrus (our "Dad" that we live with) google it. Apparently it's a tradition that originated in Scotland? Cool. I had to save one egg to throw down a hill (or a yard...) But today I boiled an egg so I can roll it down Table Rock mountain! Yes.

I was surprised with Easter goodies from Ali! She included chocolate eggs, so yesterday during lunch Sister Roundy hid them for me in the backyard. Oh the joys of being a kid.
I love you all! Take care, and have a good week!
- Sister B.

Week 21: "Choose Ye This Day"

April 14, 2014
My Dear Family and Friends,

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with happiness? I don't know exactly why, but today I've just been taken aback by you all. I feel incredibly blessed to have such an amazing, supportive, (if at times oddly) hilarious family, as well as such encouraging, and inspiring friends. I'm so grateful for you! You all are rock stars in my books.

The weather has taken a turn for the beautiful here. I make any excuse I can to be outside, which is good because we've had a lot of opportunities to do service outside. There's nothing like being outside. I think growing up on a farm helped me appreciate that.

Being outside has its perks though....because Sister Roundy and I accidentally locked ourselves out of the house! I had the bright idea of weekly planning outdoors in our backyard. Which was fantastic until we realized we forgot to check if the lock on the door was open before we came! Luckily we had our phone so we called Sister Andrus, and she let us know where the spare key was. Oh, days in the life of a missionary.

Yesterday, I was asked spur-of-the-moment to sing a musical number at the assisted living facility sacrament meeting we attend. Of course, I said yes. I simply sang "Because I Have Been Given Much." It wasn't perfect, but I'm glad I did it.

Due to recovering from sickness this week was a little slower than usual, but we continued to strive to be as diligent as we could be, and I can tell you right now that we've seen blessings from that. We found 3 new investigators this week!! When we opened this area, we only had one, but now we have five! A happy missionary is a teaching missionary, and that has definitely been a source of great joy to me. Two of our investigators are a single mother and her son. The Spirit was so strong as we taught the Restoration. They agreed to be baptized when they came to know the truth of our message!

On missions, a funny thing happens. You become all too aware of your weaknesses. However, as you come to know these things, it just allows you to rely more on the Lord. With the Lord, I know that our weaknesses can become strengths. I know, because I've seen it happen too many times to deny it. There is a definite power in doing all you can, and then humbly turning the rest over to the Lord. One of my favorite stories from the New Testament of the Savior is in Mark 5 about the woman with the issue of blood. Mark 5:25-34. I think at one point or another we all feel overwhelmed, much like this woman. I also know that as we follow this woman's example, as we reach out to the Savior in faith, we can feel the Savior's words, "Thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." He can make up the difference.

I encourage you all to look to the Savior during this Easter week! 

Much love, 
Sister Rachel Ann Bennett

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Week 20: "Try Not! Do, or Do Not! - Yoda"

April 7, 2014
Hey Y'all! (As Sister Roundy would say..)

This weekend was an exciting one! General Conference, and transfer calls! *Drumroll* Sister Roundy and I are staying here! I was relieved when I heard that. I really would love to stay here in Bel Air for a while. There's people I've met that feel like family, and there is so much work to be done!

We had fun this weekend for General Conference. We watched all four sessions in four different family's homes. Sunday morning was particularly good, and not just because of the bacon, sausage, German pancakes, fruit, and buttermilk syrup involved. ;)  Conference was everything I expected it to be and more. I simply cannot choose a favorite talk, so many were relevant. However, if I had to recommend one it would be President Uchdorf's. You can watch it here: It really struck me, for around a year and a half ago hearing a similar talk helped me resolve to try and apply the principle of gratitude that President Uchdorf teaches here. It's amazing to see how far I've come from who I was a year and a half ago. It honestly has helped change me for the better. Do I still have far to go? You bet. Honestly this past week I've had a few struggles, but I think this talk helped me put things back in perspective. 

Grateful in Any Circumstances

Remember when I told you about the mislabelled Root Beer bottle prank the Elders and the Jenks pulled on us the first day of this transfer? Ha, well, us Sisters decided to get revenge of a sort. ;) Saturday, on the last day of the transfer, Sister Roundy and I called the Elders. We had a "flat tire" that we needed them to help change. This was around 8:30 at night. Little did they know that Brother Jenks and his friend were waiting a block away in their truck, with ski masks on and baseball bats, waiting for our text. As the Elder's worked on our tire (that we intentionally flattened) this truck pulled violently into the parking lot, and these men jumped out and started yelling at the elders to get down. Elder Mayer got down, and Elder Crowley just froze, and slowly put his tire down. After around ten seconds, Brother Jenks and his friend broke out into song, singing, "I hope they call me on a mission", and took off their masks. They got this all on camera. Haha! After pumping our tire back up, we had a good laugh about it afterwards over ice cream. :D

Unfortunately, on top of the excitement of Conference, transfers, and pranks, I've had a consistent migraine headache. But fear not! Hopefully after resting today I'll be feeling back up to 100 %.

Well, as always I love you to China and back! I love being a missionary! 
-Sister Rachel Bennett

Week 19: "God is Good."

March 31, 2014
To: The Best Family (and Friends) this North American Continent has to offer!
(In my humble opinion.)

Hey! Listen! (Catch the reference?)

Things continue to go well, here in Boise Idaho. It really is a great place to serve a mission. I submit that it is one of the best places to serve one. To me at least. ;)

This week was busy! Which of course, is the best. A busy missionary - and a teaching missionary - is a happy missionary.

We started the week off on an unique note - Sister Roundy was sick. While she was recovering I spent the day catching up on writing letters and organizing. No matter how much I seem to do, there is always more to get done!

One special opportunity we had was to participate in a special training meeting for all the Sisters in the mission! No only was I able to see many who I love, but it was a great learning opportunity as well. There is a reason more and more women are choosing to serve missions, and I'm excited for that. There was over 60 of us in attendance. There are some great sisters in this mission that I can learn from.

I thought that was girl power to the max - until I attended the General Women's Conference. There is something incredibly inspiring and powerful about thousands, if not millions, of women in the church of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicity, and culture coming together to learn. I was touched God's love and spirit as I learned from our leaders about covenants, service, and our great potential as women and children of God. We took our investigator, Patsy, to the broadcast. As we watched she turned to each of us and simply said, "Thank you."

We found two people to teach this week. I love teaching the message of the Restoration. If I could sum up the entirety of that message in a phrase, I would say, "God Speaks." God can give us guidance if we sincerely seek it, and he loves each and every one of us. No matter who we are.

One of those opportunities happened because Sister Roundy and I felt we should practice teaching. As we looked over members in the ward, both of us felt like we needed to ask a recent convert if we could practice on her. When we called her, she said a friend of hers that is not a member was staying with her long term, so we could practice on her! That was a blessing, and it was a really good experience talking to her.

I have never before been told that I have a light about me, but during that particular lesson, I was told by an individual who is not sure she believes in God that I do have a light - and that that is something she wants in her life. That truly was a humbling experience.

Last week, we dropped by the home of our musical director in the ward. I told her if she ever needed someone to sing, I was available. Well, unbeknownst to me, that next week she had to organize an unexpected funeral. She tried many people in the ward to see if they could do a musical number, and it seemed as though nobody was available. She then remembered that I had dropped by, and when that came to mind she asked me. I was of course willing - and grateful - for that opportunity. I asked Sister Haas to sing with me as well (she has a wonderful voice), and we sang "How Great Thou Art." I love that song. It was a small funeral service - just family and close friends. I hope that through our music we helped increase the sense and feeling of love in the room. To me that is what it would mean to be successful.

Christ paid attention to the one; the individual. It's amazing that as we go through this work - as representatives of Jesus Christ - we are led to individuals who we serve one at a time. There have been several instances this week that names of specific individuals have come in mind as we have prayed and sought out who we should serve. As we've followed those promptings, I know that we have seen blessings. Some of these may seem small and simple, but through small and simple things are great things come to pass. (Alma 37:6-7)

This week I am amazed at the tender mercies of God. With all honesty, my experiences this week have truly led me to know that no matter how limited, or weak, or flawed we are, God can work through us. We can be instruments (Alma 26:15-16) in his hands to touch and bless the lives of others.That is where real happiness lies. I can tell you now without any reservation that I have never been as deeply and profoundly happy as I am right now serving as a missionary.

I love you. I hope all is well.

-Sister Bennett

Our fabulous Sister Training Leaders; Sister Edstrom (top) and Sister Haas.

One of my best friends!

Two great sisters I've worked with: Sister Hatch and Sister Pratt
ALL of my companions. Ever! Sister Willard, me, Sister Allen, and Sister Roundy!