Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 35: "Malo Tau Ma'u Pongipongini!! (I speak Tongan now)"

Dearest Anyone and Everyone, 

Happy P-Day! It's been a busy week! Of course, that's how it always feel. I admit, the days on the mission feel long. Really long. But then the weeks fly by! It is entirely not right. How has time passed? Yesterday I had sort of an awakening. I've been out on my mission for 8 months! I have only 10 months to go, it is ridiculous in all manners of the word. 

The Bel Air ward feels like home. Things continue to progress. It's been an interesting week. FINALLY - yesterday - both Sister Fiefia and I were feeling 100% better. No more sickness, please. But it's still been a good week! 

Wednesday we went on leadership exchanges. We had a training in the morning about the Holy Ghost, and applied it out in the work. Well, I learned some interesting things that day.

A question I like to ask of late to those we teach is, "Do you have a desire to know if the Book of Mormon is true?" I've found a lot of people don't know. This time though in a particular appointment with a lady who has met with us to learn more. I felt impressed to ask her, "If you prayed about Book of Mormon, and God told you it was true, would you act on it?" Her answer, to my surprise, was a no - she would not be willing. Well, as hard as that may be to hear, it was good to see where she stands. I love it when people are honest though. That was a unique experience. It's been wonderful talking with her though, just to learn her views, although we've agreed to meet only one more time. She told us we are very good representatives of our faith. 

In contrast to that experience, Wednesday night we had our mission President's wife, Sister Winder come out with us! Oh how I love that woman. :) We were able to have a wonderful lesson that night with another of our investigators about the Spirit. We watched the "Patterns of Light" videos by David A. Bednar. Pretty powerful. I think it was a wonderful moment for our investigator to recognize that the feeling of love and peace she has when she meets with us is the Spirit. This was all the more evident in a lesson we had with her later on in the week. I had a feeling to stop talking (sometimes I get ahead of myself) and let my companion share. Well, Sister Fiefia spoke from the heart, more so than I've ever heard her before, and it was probably one of the most spiritual lessons I've been in on my mission. 

I've found that no matter how much opposition or negativity we face, those moments where we help others feel and discover that incredible love of God - those moments where I can see someone else's eyes light up - those moments make it all worth it. 

I've also rediscovered what a powerful influence music is in my life. One night after we got home I just felt flustered and a little anxious. I decided to try listening to an old CD that the Andrus's have. Well, almost immediately after doing so, I calmed down and was able to relax - despite how old fashioned and "not quite my taste" the music was. ;) I think that music will always play an important role in my life. Out here they are offering free piano lessons for missionaries every PDay! Sign me up! That's going to be such a blessing. I'm sick of almost, but not quite being able to play songs. I have improved out here though! I've taught myself how to better read music. Hopefully with the lessons I'll be able to progress faster. 

Speaking of music, the other day we were in a home where "Frozen" was playing in the background. Yes, I was able to not be distracted by it, but oh man was it tough. ESPECIALLY when I kept on hearing snippets of the song "Let it Go", which I've never heard before except when children sing it to us. I need to watch that movie the moment I get home. 

Lastly, I gave another 5 minute talk about Pioneers, and mentioned Andrew Watson in it! (Is he my great great grandfather?) What an incredible man. I love the story of him falling in the snow in exhaustion, and two women from his party noticed he was gone. They came back several miles in the snow to find him, put him on their handcart, and brought him back to safety. He was so cold he didn't notice his clothing had caught fire when he was put by it to get warm. Without the courage and love of those two brave women I would not be here. I have much to thank for the sacrifices those pioneers made. :)

AND...that's all folks. I love you all! Know that you're in my prayers! Remember who you are and what you stand for!

Sister Bennett

P.s. I always think of all I need to say to you all...and then I forget it all when it finally comes to emailing! Oh well, press forward. :) 

Patterns of Light: The Light of Christ

Patterns of Light: Discerning Light

Patterns of Light: Spirit of Revelation

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 34: "Half-Hatched Duck Egg"

Dear Family,

Who knew that my mission would be so exotic? I'm training a Tongan, and this week we are going to eat dinner at a Phillippino lady's house. (Hopefully - fingers crossed.) She's not a member of the church, but she's famous for having missionaries over, and feeding them half-hatched duck egg. I have to try it. I want to experience as many cultures as I can while being out here. :) The other week we got taken out to a rather delicious Indian restaurant. I'm a big fan of trying things from different cultures. 

Speaking of cultures, I've learned a couple unexpected things about Tongan culture this week. 1) If you compliment each other specifically about an item of clothing, the recipient of that compliment feels obligated to go out and buy that same item of clothing for them. Luckily I found that out sooner than later. I don't want my companion to feel obligated to buy me anything, much less her entire wardrobe! 2) Gifts are very private. There is no "opening presents" at birthday parties and the such. It's just between the giver and the receiver. That's really cool to me, however different it may be from our culture! 

The other good news - I'm feeling better. Sister Fiefia has been seeing a chiropractor (for free I might add - he is the kindest soul on this hemisphere I swear.), and he offered to adjust me too. It's been fabulous. When I had my major headache, it almost went away for two days (two glorious days that I could go out and work), but then Friday it came back with a vengeance after district meeting. I didn't even feel safe driving. One of the other Sisters in our district suggested I go see a chiropractor because my nerve may have been affected, and she was right. Friday night I was sick, but Saturday I toughed it out (with the help of a generous amount of pain killers), but after seeing John, he did something that I swear made me taller, and I've been great ever since. Hallelujah. However, part of what I had on July 4th - July 8th must have been a virus, because Sister Andrus (the lady I live with) is now down with the same symptoms. It's no fun.

The other good news part 2 - We had a baptism this weekend! The first I've seen in this area! Patsy, at 71, chose to be baptized. It was a powerful experience. People can change their lives, even in their old age. Her good friend Ed (more commonly known as "Mr. Ed") baptized her. I had the opportunity to sing at the baptism as well. I sang, "Savior Redeemer of My Soul." I'm so glad to have been able to share that with Patsy. The Spirit was incredibly strong there. The only thing that didn't run exactly smoothly was the baptism itself - we made sure we had 2 extra, able bodies young men in the font with Patsy and Ed, just in case either of them lost their balance. Well, nobody lost their balance, however, they must have not rehearsed exactly how Patsy was to go in and out of the water, for basically she just bent at the knees until she was fully immersed, and then came back out. It was cute, but it worked. :) She was radiant afterwards. Her daughter and grandkids who are not members came to support her. That was nice to see. Turns out her daughter was a theatre major! And by accident as well! She had never taken drama in high school, but in college she decided to take an intro to theatre class for fun, and by the end her teacher offered her a full ride scholarship in it! Naturally, she accepted! Amazing. After her twins are grown she wants to go back into that field. It was so cool to talk to her about that. She has a lot of questions about the Church that she wants to ask us as well. 

This week we'll be working hard. We've been kind of held up these past few weeks due to circumstances as well as cancellations, but these next few weeks will for sure be busier. It's all about serving those around us as much as we possibly can. I love unplanned opportunities to serve. Those are the best. 

I know that serving others brings so many blessings. I am so grateful for those who have reached out to serve us. When I was sick, a Tongan family made Sister Fiefia a meal - a piece of home. Today when we were getting groceries, a lady in our ward paid for our groceries. Man, sometimes it's hard for me to accept gifts of service like that, but it sure was an incredible blessing at this time. I just hope I can help and give to others as much as I've been given. It reminds me of the hymn, "Because I Have Been Given Much." I don't think we'll ever be able to repay just how much we've been given. 

I also had the opportunity to sing in church Sunday, and our less-active adopted grandmother came!! I was so happy - it felt like having family there. At first - and even as I sang - I was slightly disappointed because I didn't see anyone we had invited to come there, but after the meeting we saw Lana in the back! I adore her! She honestly feels like a family member.  Also, funny moment of the song - during the last line, a fly kept on flying and hitting my face. It was determined to stop everything I'm pretty sure. I think I kept my composure well - until the very last word - where it decided to land on my eyebrow. Good one, fly. Needless to say, my last note wasn't as extended as I intended it to be. :) The bright side is that nobody noticed I was having troubles! 

You know the drill. :) I love you all.

-Sister Bennett

We helped a family with the baptism of their granddaughter!

This is the most incredible landscaping I've ever seen done by someone who didn't hire professionals. His yard is a masterpiece. 

A cave, conveniently a part of the landscaping. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Week 33: "Drink Lots of Water"

July 7, 2014
Dear Everyone,

Well, this week didn't go quite how I wanted or expected it to go. You see, July 4th I woke up not feeling well. We stayed home most of the day, and only went out briefly. It was fun to be in America for their Independence Day. Saturday, I woke up still not feeling well. However, I still took my companion up to a service project we had. I tried to do some weeding in my corn patch, but I just wasn't feeling well enough to continue. Instead, I had a conversation with Joe, who told me his background, and about his long (one might say eternal) investigation of the Church. It was a great conversation. He also gave me some good advice for the future.

I ended up sleeping the rest of the day, and cancelling the rest of our appointments. I couldn't eat very well either. We just went home. Well, Sunday we made it to church for sacrament, but then left. I just wasn't feeling well enough to stay. That night, a Tongan family had invited Sister Fiefia and I to come over, which I was excited for because Sister Fiefia had been feeling quite homesick, and I knew this would help her with her culture shock. Well, when the time came I just wasn't feeling well enough to go, so I had our Sister Training Leaders go on an exchange with us. During that time, I started feeling REALLY sick, and we ended up going to a Health Care facility - I was having symptoms of heat exhaustion. I could barely move without help. So, moral of the story is: Drink water. And don't work outside for extended periods of time in hot weather 100 degree weather. So now, I'm on doc's orders to remain at home and rest for the next couple days. That'll probably be good for me. I'm feeling a little better today.

One miracle this week: Two weeks ago we taught a lady who wanted us to know that although she wanted to learn, she had no intentions of joining a church, because she couldn't do the whole, "attend church" thing. This week though, she said that 1) She's been happier since she's been meeting with us, and 2) She's thinking about attending one of our meetings, in her own timing. That was amazing to hear! Small and simple things. :) She also told us her friends think she's crazy for meeting with us. Man, if it weren't for peer pressure, I think a lot more people would be open to talking with us. Oh well. All is well. :)

Well, I can't think of much more to say today. You know how much I love you. Remember who you are and what you stand for!

<3 Sister Bennett

Week 32: "I still get to hang out with Will Smith"

June 30, 2014
Dear F&F's! 

I'm not being transferred! Hallelujah! I still get to spend a little more time here in Bel Air. I'm so happy about that. This most likely will be my last transfer here, so I hope to work hard! There are some wonderful things in the works, I've really been blessed to see some people change and grow. But there is still so much more to do. I guess that's the manner of this missionary business. :) Sister Fiefia is staying here with me, so I get to finish her training, and continue teaching her English! I'm happy about that. 

Oh. This is a priority: HAPPY CANADA DAY!! I'm sorry I'm missing it, but I'll do my best to represent down here!! I love my country! You have to tell me all about it! The family I'm living with promised to fly my Canadian flag on that day. Oh, and Happy Fourth of July as well! I've never experienced one in the States before. I hope it's good. 

SO. Question for all Albertans this may pertain to. Has anyone seen Cardston theatre this year? How is it? Who is performing in it? What shows are they doing? Is there a children's theatre in Waterton? Some food for thought. It just hit me that around this time last year I was there, and about to open my mission call! Time flies, and learning comes so quickly. Being in Cardston last summer most definitely helped prepare me to be serving my mission. 

Enough about Canada (for now.) This week was a good one! However....we had a major hold up. We had spent a good amount of time getting Patsy's baptism ready. We were so excited for it! However, when we went to fill the font, there was no hot water! Some construction workers had cut off the gas main without letting anyone know, and we weren't about to put a 71 year old in cold water, so it got postponed last minute. That wasn't too fun, but no fear, we will have this chance again in two weeks from now. I guess that was just meant to be. It'll be an even better experience than it was going to be if we held it that day I guess. :)  

I feel like I have a unique role as a missionary, to help teach people who have some misconceptions about the church. Although these people have let us know they have no desire to join a church, they've agreed to listen, and come to more of an understanding. I respect them so much for that, for I feel it's so important to just understand, and respect what people believe, even if it is strictly educational for them. I hope, by example and through teaching, to help people see and understand what we truly believe, and who we have faith in. I am so truly grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the chance I have to share that message with others. :) No effort is wasted. For example, we are teaching a really cool woman who is a retired university professor. She has a jewish and catholic background, although she was raised something else, and has no structured religion she attends now. I feel like I learn as much from her as she is from us. 

Other experiences: We got accused of not being Christian, a semi-drunk man called out to us on the street to come teach his buddy who "needs more Jesus", made a great street contact with a young adult named Jesus (Spanish pronunciation) who told me I didn't look local because, "those eyes.", we're now teaching a 7 year old who loves Call of Duty and learning about the gospel, and was surprised by an investigator who I love dearly that she is seriously considering being baptized! 

We were surprised twice this weekend with Tongan food! I'm so glad. Sister Fiefia has missed it. 

Well, that's all for this week. I feel like I need to keep tabs during the week so I remember everything! 

Love you! Sing the national anthem loud and strong for me! 

- Sister Rachel Ann Bennett