Monday, July 11, 2016

November 19th

Final Testimony:
I just finished reading the Book of Mormon for the 2nd time this year during personal study and spent the rest of the time reflecting on how incredibly grateful I am for the opportunity I've had to serve a mission.  It has been the hardest, most tiring, emotional-exhausting, uplifting, inspiring, amazing experience I've ever had.  It has been more rewarding than receiving a scholarship and more fulfilling than getting a PR in a 300 m hurdles race. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone in every way possible.  It has strengthened my testimony more than anything else ever has. I know that God is my Heavenly Father. I know that He knows my name and that He loves each and everyone of us more than we can imagine. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I have felt how His Atonement has enabled me to do things I did not think were possible and has comforted me when nothing else could  I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through Joseph Smith and that we have a prophet on the earth today who has authority from God and can receive revelation from him to bless the human race. I know that the Book of Mormon is another witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ. I have read it, I have prayed about it, and I have felt the Holy Spirit confirm that it is true. I have loved sharing the Gospel with the people in Australia and I look forward to sharing it in whatever way I can after my mission. 

 President & Sister Maxwell say, "Goodbye."
Getting ready to board the airplane with Elder Erickson and Elder McCleary.
                                                        Count down to arriving in Medford!
There is no place like home. Medford is my pot of gold! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17th

This week flew  I really can't believe it is Monday.  Here is what happened this last week....
1.  We went to Deloraine (North Tasmania) last P-day for a BBQ (so Australian, right? :) and to film our segment of this years Christmas video.  (Each of the zones were given a part of the Nativity story to act our and they show them all together at the big mission Christmas party).  Our segment was the star signifying Christ's birth appearing in the American continent, we all dressed as Lamanites and Nephites.  The costumes were actually pretty good.  Except for one of the new elders from China who decided to wear a dress and wig....hahahaha. But, REALLY A GREAT P-DAY.

2. Went to a Zone Meeting the day after that was really good!  The Zone Leaders gave a great training on setting baptism dates on the 1st lesson  and Sister Chan and I trained on how to have successful role plays.  (In which we had to role play how to role ply....Inception)
3. We found out Sister Chan is leaving Tassie as well! :( Doubling out!  So we spent a lot of time prepping everything for the next missionaries who will come in.  (calling everyone, setting appointments for next week, cleaning the flat, area, book, etc) 
4. Said goodbye to everyone! So....incredibly.....sad! I have loved serving in the Hobart ward; they have really been so good to us.  It was hard to leave recent converts and our investigators as well.  Sigh.....
5. We got to go to the Melbourne temple with Jess (a member) and Harry, our recent convert who was baptized two weeks ago!  Because Harry had to book his flight tickets later than everyone else in the ward, he went up on a Friday flight instead of Saturday morning with the other members.  We asked one of the Chinese members of the Melb. Branch if Harry could stay with her and she said he could.  She also agreed to drive him to the temple.  But what we didn't know was that she was a temple worker and so she left to go to the temple at 6:30 am with Harry!  By the time we got there at noon, he had already done 2 sessions of baptisms for the dead!  But, he loved it, he even did another session after we left as well. In total, he was at the temple for about 10 hours! Harry is the best.

6.  I got to go to the Melbourne Chinese Branch for my last Sunday!  And Harry came as well (which was AWESOME because he could listen to church in his own language for the first time!.  It was so fun to see all of the members there!  I missed them. It was cool also to realize that my Chinese really has improved over the last year and a half.  My first time I went to that branch, I understood NOTHING, but yesterday I was completely comfortable and knew what was going on the whole time.  My Chinese is still far from perfect, but I can defiantly see how much God has helped me to learn a language I thought was impossible.

Thank you all for being so supportive this last year and a half!!  Thank you for the emails, the letters, the prayers, the fasts, and everything you've done for me.
See you soon.
Sister Sarah Bennion

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 10th

Hey Family! 

So today was a little crazy....actually really this whole week was a little crazy. 

What was crazy about it? 

I will make a list:

1) We were in Melbourne for a meeting and came back to Tassie Tuesday night. The meeting was really good; I really learned a lot there, but being out of our area for so long kills!

2) Car crash. Not for us. For some other elders in our district. We were heading back from district meeting in very wet weather. We were driving behind them so we got to watch as their car hit a wet spot, skidded off the road, and rolled twice as it tumbled down a hill. Scariest moment of my mission. Luckily (incredibly, inconceivably), the only thing injured was their egos and their car. [I included a picture of the crash and elders...notice the BYU cougar that was on a piece of litter next to the crash scene.]

3) We had a three days in a row that were completely packed with was insane. We just went from appointment to appointment to appointment. And we were able to set a lot of baptism dates with some really solid people. Exhausting? A little. Awesome? Definitely. 

4) Yesterday was my last time in Hobart ward, because I will be going back to the Melbourne Chinese Branch for my last Sunday. It was so gut-wrenching to realize that I won't be back in that ward! Ugg. I am going to miss the members so much!  (Special shoutout to Alice Bell, who has done SO MUCH FOR US and to whom I had to say goodbye to already because she is going to be in Launie for this next week!) 

5) The Hobart ward temple trip to Melbourne is this next Saturday and we got permission to go up with  Harry, our recent convert! He got the priesthood and a temple recommend this last Sunday. So excited for him! But that means we will be leaving Tassie on Friday! Not ready to leave!!!

Spiritual Thought:
A few weeks ago, at a meeting, Pres Maxwell shared with us a story he had heard from the Area president of the Pacific Area,Elder Pearson.  Many years ago, Elder Pearson was a very talented baseball player.  He played throughout high school and had a lot of success.  After graduating form high school, he was called on a mission to Finland.  His first few months, he struggled.  It was cold and dark most of the time and the language wad difficult.  To make things worse he was with a companion that wouldn't ever talk.  He missed home, baseball, and all of the other things he had left behind.  However one day, he was reading a scripture in 3 Nephi and received an answer on what he needed to do to be successful And happy as a missionary.  The revelation was simple: ;you need to change the way you view yourself.  At that moment, Elder Pearson realized that he still thought of himself as a baseball player who was called on a mission.  His mission was changed for the better when he accepted that he really was a MISSIONARY who used to be a baseball player.  he later shared the quote: "You are not you.  I am not me.  We are different from the way we sometimes view ourselves." Elder Pearson also shared some tips on changing self view.  They are:
1. Accept you have agency.  You are not a victim. The Lord knows your circumstances perfectly and He knows when you are simply choosing not to follow all His commandments.
2. Act outwardly the way you want to feel or be inwardly (example: SMILE!)
3. Accept grace.  Learn about and rely on the enabling power of the Atonement.
Hearing Elder Pearson's experience and advice really has made me think about how I view myself and how I should be viewing myself.  In a few weeks, am I just going to be another university student who use to be a missionary? I hope not.  I hope that I can always view myself an "A disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (3 Nephi 5:13), even when the badge is gone and regular life resumes!

LOVE YOU ALL. Thanks for all the support, prayers, letters, emails, etc! 

-Sister Bennion

            Scariest Moment of my mission watching the elder's car roll twice as it tumbled down a hill .
                                                    Elder's came out only with bruised egos!
                                        I love the King and Bell family! Best Sunday dinners ever. 
                   Alice made us a sign when she picked us up from the airport when we got back to Tas

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3rd

Family! How you going? (said in Aussie accent)
We had a Zone Conference this last week and it was really amazing.  I feel like I learned a lot from the training given.  One that really hit me was the mission president's on righteous character.  In the training, he mentioned the line; "Character is not developed in times of trial; that is when it is used." Greater righteous character is something I hope I can improve on both in the remaining time I have on my mission and after.  
Also....miracle of the week....Harry got baptized last Friday!!!!!!! 
We explained to him that in order to go to the temple on Nov 15th, he would have to get baptized sooner than Nov 9th (because he would need to get the gift of the holy Ghost and have an interview with the Bishop), so he decided to get baptized on October 31st instead!  It was so amazing to see him get baptized.  he is one of the most converted people I have ever had the privilege of teaching.  I think it is because he just loves to read the book of Mormon.  In about every lesson we had, he would start by telling us something he had learned from the scriptures.  It has really made me re-evaluate how much interest I have in the word of God and how much I use what I  learn.

Another miracle (not as massive as Harry being baptized, but still pretty cool).  We were doing some finding in a place we normally don't go to because on of our investigators canceled on us and we came across the door of a Chinese lady.  We talked to her for a few minutes and she invited us in. She told us she believed in God and that she had wanted to join a church. but was always too busy with uni before.  But, now she is graduated and is having a break from work because she is pregnant with her first baby.She said she would love for us to come by again and would love to meet some of the women inour ward (because a lot of them are your mothers).  It is so cool how God always seem to place us exactly where we need to be!  I have seen it happen so often on my mission; one lesson will fall through and we find another person who is awesome in the time that we would have been teaching.  I have definitely learned to trust God's time instead of my own.
Love you all!  Have a fantastic week.
Love Sister Bennion
Tassie Zone!

Sister Bennion & Sister C at Harry's baptism.
                                 $200 Giant Costco teddy bears are popular among others besides Yijia!
Costco has a Ferris Wheel!
Chicken Legs!!!!!!!

Yuck fried chicken legs!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 27th

How is everything going stateside?  Tassie is still good; its warming up here!  We also went to Mello this last Thursday for a meeting and it was HOT (We have been up to Melb so many times in the last few months.  By mid-Nov I might have enough frequent flier points to ride business class from Melb to the USA haha!) the meeting we went to was really great though. They shared a recording of a talk by Simon Sinek called "Why good leaders make you feel safe." (Approved by Pres Maxwell because he is not a member of the church :)) It was really eye-opening; it make me realize how important it is to really care about the people you work with.  Sinek shared a story in the speech about a company that was in heavy debt during a financial crisis and needed a couple million dollars.  Some of the leaders of the company discussed laying off people, but the head of the company refused to do so.  He instead announced that everyone in the company would have to take four weeks of unpaid vacation sometime over the next few months.  He said they could take it all at once or a bit by bit over the period of time.  His reasoning it it is better that everyone go a little without than for anyone to lose their job.  The response from the company was enormous.  The company made twice the amount of money they needed to cover the debt.  Many of the worker who were more well-off took extra days of unpaid vacation so others could go to work. The point of the speech: when you provide a safe environment for those who you work over or around, people will respond with trust. Jesus Christ is of course the best example of this.  He was bold in his defense of truth, but still responded with forgiveness and compassion to the repentant.  His motive for everything He did was LOVE and it made all the difference.  
Other than the meeting, we have seen a lot of progress with a lot of our instigators.  Especially Harry.  We shared with him about the temple this last week and he was really into it!  We asked him if he would like to go to the temple with the ward on November to do baptisms and he said "YES!"  Not sure how it will work though...Because his date for Nov. 9th and he would still have to wait a week to get the gift of the Holy Ghost and get a recommend...oh well.  We will work it our somehow if he really wants to go up to Melbourne for it. 
Sister Chan just said to me this morning, "You're going home in 3 weeks. Hash-tag" Weird to think about.  Got to use every moment!
Love Sister Bennion
Before Russell Falls....
                                                              Nice and soggy after  Russell Falls!

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20th

How is everything going in the USA?  Life is good in Tassie.  Really, really good.  Sister Chan and I have been completely blessed these last few weeks.  It is finals time for most uni students right now (aka the time where all Chinese students go into study hibernation for a month and have absolutely no time to meet with missionaries), bu we are still teaching some really prepared people right now.  One of them is named Jack. He is a really cool guy.  He loves NBA basketball and has a ton of Michael Jordan shoes (which I learned long ago from Chris Bates is a big deal for guys :)) Another is Harry (I think I talked about him a little last week). He loves the Book of Mormon and has read to Alma 20 already.  called us last Saturday night (side note: I hate getting calls on Saturday night because typically it is an investigator calling to say they can't come to church, etc).  We asked him what was up and responded, "Nothing.  I just wanted to know, can I come to church tomorrow?"  Haha I have never had an investigator ask permission to come to church he is just so prepared.
Also, I can't remember if we've already told you this or not, bu....we have a car!  For the 1st time on my mission!  It has been really nice to get places faster.  Cars are awesome.
Funny moment of the week:  
We have a new Elder in our district named Elder Kumano (originally from Japan).  He was assigned to give a training in our district meeting this last week.  Our district leader, who was conducting the meeting introduced the training by saying, "Now we will be privileged to hear from Elder Kumano who will give his training in his native language of Japanese.  Subtitles will be shown on the screen below" hahahah
Spiritual Thought:
I read through the book of Job this last week.  I found it very interesting, especially the dialogue between Satan and God at the beginning of the book (and the fact that in Job 1:6 it talks about the children of God presenting themselves before the sounds like the equivalent of a Bishop's interview to me.  Also I did not realize before reading the book all the way through that about 35 of the 42 chapters are Job's "friends" counseling Job to repent (because they are sure that God would not allow so many bad things to happen to a righteous man and Job arguing back, asserting his own righteousness.  Finally, in the chapter 32, one of Job's friends, Eligu, angrily criticizing Job for "rebelling against God" by refusing to admit his own fault.  His harsh criticism goes on until chapter 38.  I know if I were Job at this point, I would be thoroughly confused and begin to doubt whether I HAD done something wrong and if all the misfortune really was a punishment from God.  I think it is significant that when the Lord's reply to Job's prayers finally comes in chapter 38, it states "The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind." when I read that , I thought of the Lord's voice not coming out of a real whirlwind, but a whirlwind of confusion and uncertainty, or as Joseph Smith puts it in his own account, "a tumult of opinions." In the April 2014 General Conference, Elder Lancer E Corbridge said, "Opposition, criticism and antagonism are companions to the truth." I have definitely seen the truth of that statement on my mission.  There is definitely a whirlwind of worldly voices that try to convince those who follow the commandments of God that they are in the wrong, many of which, like Job's friends, do so with what they feel is good intent. The most important thing, however is always to be listening for the voice of The Lord, which pierces through such whirlwinds and testifies of truth.
Love you all! Hope you have a fantastic week!
Love Sister Bennion

                                                      Constitution Dock in Hobart


Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13th

General Conference was so good!   I feel like being on a mission has really opened my eyes to what a blessing being able to listen to the prophet and his apostles twice a year is.  A lot of the talks given were direct answers to my prayers as well as to the prayers and questions of Harry, our  investigator who went to the Sunday sessions of conference.  One example we had a lesson with Harry between the morning and afternoon session and he shared with us a scripture he had read in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 9:51), which basically states “do not spend money for that which is of no worth.” He then asked us what kind of things are of worth and we asked him to think and pray about it.  Then, we went to the afternoon session and Elder Scott gave an awesome talk on the 4 keys to conversion aka: what is of worth.  I love General Conference!  Funny Sister Chen line of the week: We have a former investigator named John who is a member of the Baptist church. We run into him a lot because the church he attends is on the street where we often go to do street contracting.  He is really nice, but it is always a little bit awkward running into him.  Last Saturday I saw him walking up the street and said to Sis. Chan, “Look who it is again.”  Sister Chan looked up for a second and offhandedly said, John the Baptist” hahahaha .  It cracked me up.
Spiritual Thought:
I was ready this last week the Bible story of Elijah.  It is one that I had not read entirely in the past and I felt like I got a lot out of it.  I especially liked the part where Elijah gathers all the people to Mt. Carmel fir the showdown between him and the priests of Baal.  But, the part that stood out to me most was not the challenge between Elijah and the priests of Baal itself, but the question Elijah asks to the gathered Israelites on Mt Carmel.  He said, “How long halt ye between two opinions?  If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” As I watched conference this last weekend, that statement kept coming back to my head.  The message I kept getting from every session of conference was that there is no room for neutrality as a member of the church.  We have to make a choice and consecrate ourselves to it.  Because God will make demands of us (I loved the quote by Elder Christofferson, “A god who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a god that doesn’t exist.”) and those demands will require sacrifice.  But, as we commit ourselves to following the Lord with not just our might and strength, but our mind and heart as well, we will find the fullness of peace, happiness and blessings alluded to so often in the scriptures.
Love you!!! Have a great week.

Love, Sis. Bennion
Proof I really can cook!

This is what happens when you look a the same picture of Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove every day for a year and a half!

Because we can only have posters in our flat that are from the gospel art book or are of apostles and prophets......

On top of Mt. Wellington!
Grandma's (she has all missionaries call her grandma because she does not have an kids)
 birthday party.