Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 25th another week in San Diego!

Another great week in San Diego! So much went on this last week, but I'll try to just talk about a few people.

Maria: We met up with Maria last Sunday (I think I told you a little bit about it in my letter, but I'll recap a little). We were walking by her garden and commented on how gorgeous it was. Maria already knew my companion, Sister Montgomery, because she had given Maria a Spanish Book of Mormon and referred her to some Spanish-speaking sisters in the area, but she had dropped those missionaries and did not seem that eager to talk to us at first. But after a little bit of chatting, she let us into her garden and started sharing with us stories from her life. Her life had been pretty rough and she really believes that God got her through it all. She talked to us for a while and I was so tempted to pop in something about the Mormon church, but I had a feeling that I should just listen. After 45 mins, she said, "Why don't we meet up later this week and you girls can tell me your testimonies of Jesus?" We agreed rather enthusiastically. So, last Thursday, we met in her garden again. She brought us veggies from her garden to eat and shared with us how her life was going. Then we were able to talk about our lives a little and have a Bible/Book of Mormon study. It all went great, but, as we were about to leave, Maria mentioned that she was really troubled with a decision that she had to make. Sister Montgomery asked her if Maria wanted a priesthood blessing after explaining a little what the blessing was. I was thinking, "What are you doing, Sister Montgomery! You are moving way too fast!" But Maria accepted the offer to have a blessing! We called up the elders in our district and the blessing went really well. The Spirit was there and you could tell that Maria felt it. I am so grateful for a companion that is wiser than I am! 

Liz: Liz is a college student that is roommates with a member. Sister Montgomery had met her once before at a dinner, but had not seen her since, so yesterday, we decided to go over to the member's apartment and see if we could teach Liz and the member together. When we got there Liz answered the door and welcomed us in. The member was still out at work, but we got to have a great conversation with Liz. We found out that she had already taken some of the missionary lessons and, a year ago, had gone to the LDS church with some of her good friends for a month! She said that she stopped going, because she got hung up on the rule that we couldn't drink coffee. We told her more about the Word of Wisdom and having faith and she seemed to understand what we were saying. And she invited us to come back next week! So excited!

Edmund: Edmund is a golden investigator. Seriously. He comes from Hong Kong (unfortunately, he speaks Cantonese instead of Mandarin. Curses!) and is in San Diego finishing college. About a month ago, he visited Salt Lake City and, after seeing the temple, he decided he would check out the church in San Diego. He just appeared at church three Sundays ago and has been going ever since. He has been taking the lessons as well and is reading the Book of Mormon regularly. He even went to a Family Home Evening at a member's house with us yesterday! We asked him if he wanted to be baptized and he said he would like a little more time to make sure it is true before committing, but I really think that he is going to receive confirmation that the church is true soon! Unfortunately, he is moving to San Francisco in August, but I know that the Lord will make sure everything works out. According to His will. 

I am really loving this area and loving my companion! I really lucked out, she is an awesome trainer and she knows the area really well (she has been in this same area all 5 months of her mission). Funny story: Last Wednesday, Sister Montgomery went on an exchange (where two sisters switch companions for a day) and I was left to fend for myself in San Diego with a companion that had only been out a few more weeks than me! And I had no idea how to get anywhere! I really had not paid any attention to directions the past week and, boy, did I regret it! It took us an hour just to get home (went the wrong way on the freeway...) and, once we were finally back, we were doing U-turns all over the place. We were also missing the piece of the map that we needed to get around. A lot of our turns were guided by the Spirit haha. But it was really fun to get to know another companion and we still got a lot of missionary work done, so it was all good. Sister Montgomery promised to prepare me better next exchange. 

I'll end my email with a spiritual thought. We had the opportunity to visit the Mormon Battalion a few weeks ago and it was such a cool experience. Basically, it told the story of the saints who were called away from their trek west to fight in a war. A captain came to the Latter-day Saint camp soon after the Saints were kicked out of Nauvoo and told Brigham Young that they need a couple hundred of the Mormon men to help fight in a war. The saints were not happy that they had to fight for a government that had done nothing for them a few months earlier, but the prophet counseled them to go, so many of the men left their families and went out. One of my favorite parts of the story was from the beginning, when the saints were first joining the army. They were each suppose to receive a uniform that marked them as members of the US army. However, the army was out of uniforms and instead gave the saints a certain amount of money to buy clothes. The saints were able to keep the clothes they had and send the money to support their families while they were gone. This money proved to be a great blessing, but I can't help thinking how disappointing it must have been for the saints to not have those army uniforms. It was the thing that would have marked them as soldiers and helped them feel that they fit in. One girl in my district mentioned that sometimes the Lord will do the same to us. He strips us of our "uniforms," or whatever we think forms our identity, but will always gives us innumerable blessings that more than compensate for it.

My new address is:
Sister Sarah Bennion
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong PL
San Diego, CA

I love you guys so much! Thanks for the emails and prayers! Still no word about my visa (I was told it could anywhere between 3-9 weeks), but I am loving the opportunity I've had to have a "second" mission! Tell Aunt Robin I am going to the temple next week and I am so excited to see her!! I loved seeing Mary's dress; keep sending me pictures of wedding prep! 


Sister Sarah Bennion

June 19th Snail Mail Letter

Hello Familia!
I had a little extra P-day time and wanted to send you a quick letter!  Iwas so bummed that my email time ran out so fast!  I barely had time to tell you about the first day and didn't get to tell you about anything else.  So here is what I do every day!
I go gunning 1st thing in the morning (my companion loves running!  I so lucky!)  an swe get to go right next to the temple.  I love how close it is and am really excited to go in for a session next week.  (we can only go to the temple one p-day ever 90 days)//  Afer. we have a ton of studies.   Personal study, companion study (2 hours of it) and language study.  Sister Montgomery said she wants to practice english while I do Chinese, so it works out perfectly!  I am right now trying to memorize the 1st lesson and missionary purpose in Chinese.  Hopefully, I'll have both covered by the time I go to Australia.
After studies, we have lunch (aka a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ALL the time!)  I usually finish in about 2 minutes.  I asked Sis Montgomery if we could go out teaching earlier, but she turned me down, so I just do more personal study.
After lunch we finally get out of the house and start teaching.  We usually start by going to a less active member's house.  So far, we have gotten into only about 5 Less Active houses, but it is still totally worthwhile, because it is during the traveling between houses that we talk to the most people.  We met on lady who was watering her garden next to the home we were about to visit.  We talked for a little bit and she invited us in so she could talk about her experience with Christ.   At first, I really wanted to talk and control the conversation , but I got a feeling that I just needed to listen.  she told d us all about her 2 marriages (both of which failed) and how Christ got her through it.  After she was done, she said, "You know, we should do this every week!  And next time, you sisters can tell me your testimonies!  yes! Si. Montgomery said that she gone to Maria before and she had never let the missionaries talk.  HOpefully, we are able to tell Maria What she needs to hear, but even more importantly it taught me PATIENCE and helped me remember that these are people not lessons to be taught!
Throughout the day we usually go to a few members as well.  It is super important to get to know them better and show that they can trust you with their friends.  sis. Montgomery says the referrals come in pretty slowly, because all the members are pretty busy with kids, but hopefully, we will get a few soon!  On our way to one member's house, we passed a lady in a bikini who was completely drunk.  she stopped us and said, "I met you in New York!  I am sorry I never came to your church like I said. "  After which she asked for our number so she could call us.  We gave it so hopefully she doesn't lose it in between where we met her and where she's going! Not much storage space in a bikini.
At night, we typically go to a family's house for dinner.  They are pretty good at feeding us (a little to good sometimes)  But, occasionally, we have to feed ourselves and I'm running out of ideas (aka spaghetti &b PB's)  So please send me some easy recipes if you can!
I loved reading your emails!  The rock wall looks SO AMAZING and I'm so glad Mary has a wedding spot picked out!  Good luck to Rawly, I'm so glad he's coming out!  The field need him!
I love you guys!
Love Sister Bennion
The tea is for Dad :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

First week in San Diego: Finished! And, wow, what a week!

First week in San Diego: Finished! And, wow, what a week! 

Last Wednesday, I went to the chapel and met my companion, the spectacular Sister Montgomery. She is an awesome missionary. She really has a desire to learn as much as she can and cares about the people she teaches. She has dyslexia, so it is really hard for her to read from the scriptures or Preach My Gospel. (However, it really has not affected our teaching at all. I have barely ever heard her stutter over any words when we are reading a scripture to a less active or investigator. Just watching her has really taught me a lot about the power of relying on the Spirit). I was assigned to the University City 2nd ward. Sister Montgomery has served her whole mission there so far (4 months), so we were able to jump right into teaching!  I soon found out UC 2nd ward is almost completely made up of really young families (I think about 3/4th of the families consist of a husband, wife, 2 toddlers and one baby. No joke) and it is pretty difficult to get investigators to church, because they feel too old. So, most of our time has been devoted to visiting less active members, street contacting, and forming relationships with the members (which is VERY important, because, since we do not go tracting, we have to rely on the members to find potential investigators). 

The first day was pretty challenging for me. None of the potential investigators answered the door and most of the less actives told us it was a bad time and sent us away. One less active straight up told us to leave him and his family alone. Because we really had no one to teach, we spent a lot of the time street contacting. Which I loath. Stopping people on the streets is so uncomfortable. We stopped one guy pretty late at night (around 8:30) and asked him if he knew anything about the Book of Mormon). He responded in the negative and we taught him a little about the Restoration and gave him a calling card. He looked at the card and then looked at me and said, "Why do you believe this?" It is a pretty simple question and I gave a prompt answer, but afterwards it stayed in my head. Why do I believe this? Why am I out here, when no one is investigating, no one is interested, and no one has gotten in this area baptized in months? I went to sleep discouraged.The next morning, my companion and I went for a run at 6:30 am. As I ran, I said a prayer in my heart, pleading with Heavenly Father to give me direction and comfort. When I finished the prayer, a line from the Living Christ came to my mind: "He (Jesus) went around doing good, yet was despised for it." As I continued my run, I thought about this scripture a lot. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and Redeemer of mankind, was rejected. He was beaten and killed on dubious charges for teaching a Gospel of goodwill and happiness. People have agency to choose. The Spirit can work miracles on a person, but only if they are willing to take the first steps, to have the desire to improve and to change. And I realized why I believe this Gospel. Because it is true. It is real. Joseph Smith did see God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. The Gospel was restored by the authority of God. And the Spirit can manifest to any heart that is willing to listen and it can strengthen any who doubt. 

The next few days were a lot easier. We met a couple people street contacting that seemed pretty interested. One was named Mat. He is Chinese and attends the University of San Diego. He has been church hopping and really identified with the story of the young Joseph Smith going to the Lord asking which church was true. We got his address/ phone number and want to teach him sometime this week (if he is interested, we will have to redirect him to the Singles ward missionaries though. Bummer). We also taught a guy named Chet, who left the church when he was 19 and has since taken up smoking and drinking. He seems to have a desire to come back, but can NOT keep his commitments. Frustrating. We taught him a lesson yesterday on Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, "The First Great Commandment" and asked him to ask the question "Do I love God more than all of this?" every time he is tempted to drink. We'll see how it goes. 

I also got to talk to one of the members, who went to Taiwan on her mission! She gave me some advice on learning Chinese in the states (she had to wait for her visa too). Another sister visited Australia and gave great advice on the culture. 

Note on my visa: It probably won't come in until the end of this transfer (5 weeks from now) or the transfer after that (11 weeks from now). They sent me an email asking me and my family member not to call and check on it, because that could cause the process to take even longer.   

Spiritual thought: I started at the beginning of the Book of Mormon again and I just finished 1 Nephi 8. In verse 38 of that chapter, it talks about how Lehi "bade them (his sons Laman and Lemuel) to keep the commandments of the Lord; and he did cease speaking unto them." When reading this verse, I was really reminded of the importance of following up. Never cease teaching investigators or family members! Be constantly reminding them of the blessing of keeping the commandments and following the Lord.  

I'm running out of time! Just know that all is well! Sorry if I was not able to answer a lot of emails; I did read them all and I am so grateful!  


Sister Bennion

Monday, June 17, 2013


I am in San Diego!  And I am doing great!  My mission president and his wife are the nicest people ever.  When we got to San Diego, all of us got lunch, a quick orientation, and a nap, which was much needed.  I woke up at 1:30 am today!  I was expecting to get thrown into the field so this was a very welcome surprise!
The orientation was good, I found out that I will probably get to Australia in 6-12 weeks, because they wait to send out visas until transfer dates.  Here is some info about the San Diego mission.

1.  It is a no tracting mission.  We will never be asked to knock on a random door.  But, we are expected to talk to everyone we can.  We just get most of our investigators from member referrals.

2.  It was the district they filmed "The District part 2" in (which is the video on mission work we are asked to watch before coming to the MTC)

3. It is a car mission!  I'm kind of glad because it is very hilly in some areas.  However, I'm really hoping I don't do a lot of the actual driving.  I feel like I would do a Mary and get lost (even with a GPS)

4.  It is an English speaking mission for me.  I will have to study Chinese on the side.  I don't know if I am relieved or disappointed.  I feel like I am just prolonging the inevitable.

I really love it here already!  I am so excited to be out and teaching tomorrow!  I know that I am here for a reason and there is someone who needs to hear from me here in California.  Hopefully there is someone who needs me in Australia as week, so I can have the best of both worlds.  I've already promised myself that I will practice Chinese with anyone I can.

It was awesome talking to you all the morning.  My p-day is Tuesday, so I will not email for a little while, but I will for sure have a ton to tell you guys abut teaching and investigators and beautiful San Diego!

Sister Sarah Bennion

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mission President Welcomes Sister Bennion

Dear Brother and Sister Bennion,

We are so excited to have Sister Bennion serving with us in San Diego.  She arrived in great shape, and we wanted you to get this photo as soon as possible.  She will also be sending a letter today by regular mail.  Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.  We love your daughter already!


President and Sister Clayton
California San Diego Mission

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And it came to pass...

Day 10 at the MTC! I really can't believe I've only been here for a little more than a week! I really can't remember what it was like not going to bed at 10:30pm and waking up at 6:30 am ( I know, I'm just as suprised as you). I really love being here.
I've been to two devotionals so far and they have both been spectacular. One was about Joseph Smith (this guy did a monologue where he pretended that he was Brigham Young's cousin, Willard Richards. It was about an hour long and he memorized and acted it all! Really, really impressive) and the other by Tad R. Callister. The second devotional by Elder Callister was especially cool to me, because I received a complete answer to my prayers.On Wednesday, we taught an investigator named Claudia about the Restoration of the Gospel and after the lesson, we asked her if she would be willing to be baptized if she prayed and received an answer that what we said was true. She answered, "I'm already baptized." My companion and I tried explaining to her, but we ran out of time and had to leave before giving her a clear answer. But, during Elder Callister's talk, he mentioned a scripture (Acts 19:6) where Paul rebaptized some people who were baptized by someone without the proper preiesthood authority. I am definitely going to use that scripture the next time we teach her!
This week, Sister Parkinson and I taught a lesson in Chinese to one of the teachers who pretended to be an investigator. Yeah. It was rough. Luckily, we did better than some of the Elders who taught another teacher in French. They accidently swore at him haha.
I am SO EXCITED to be going to serve next week! I really did not expect to be out of the MTC so soon! I will be going to San Diego, California until I get my visa (I'm not sure if it is Chinese speaking or not). I leave on Tuesday at 2:30AM.
Oh and I am going to send a couple of the things I don't want to bring to my mission to Diane, because I have her address. Can Mary and Michael pick it up when they come to P-town?
Thanks! Love you guys!!
Sister Sarah Bennion

Saturday, June 1, 2013

First Day Done!

The MTC is GREAT! They got us working right when I got here. I immediately met my District, which contains a hodgepodge of people from all around the world. Four of us are from America, two are from China, three are from the Philippines, and one is from Christmas Island. And we are all sisters! Our branch president said we are the second all sister district he has had in his branch in all his years at the MTC. So cool! The lessons the first day were focused on the missionary purpose and orientation. Most District have language prep courses throughout the day, but since we are in the Advanced Language route, we will only be here for two weeks and so we are focusing on learning lessons and doctrine rather than studying languages. And since we are Advanced Learners, we are all going to different missions and most of us are speaking different languages. One of the girls here is going to Madagascar, French speaking! After she announced it, three sisters said at once, "Oh, like the movie!"
My companion's name is Sister Parkinson. She is from Michigan and is going to Taiwan, which is REALLY nice, because we can speak Chinese together throughout the day. I really lucked out; she is really the best companion imaginable. We are always on the same page on what we need to do every day and she has great insight on Preach My Gospel. Plus, she also eats quickly and speed walks everywhere. And we both have no ability to read our watches right. On the first day, we were rushing into a class that started at 5pmand nobody was in there. We started asking around if everyone had left the room in the last few minutes. One of the sister missionaries asked to look at our schedule and pointed out that it was only 4pm. Same thing happened two classes later. Got to love that analog clock. Yesterday, our main language study focus was praying in Chinese. Sister Parkinson already finished Chinese 202 at BYU and is really good at it. Me...not so much. I feel so lucky to have a companion that pushes me to learn Chinese faster and study harder. It really helps when all of your studying is alone to have extra motivation.
We had our Branch President meeting yesterday and the Branch first counselor gave an awesome spiritual thought. He read the first verse of Matthew 5. In this verse, a multitude is following Jesus around. Instead of turning around and teaching them immediately, Jesus climbs a mountain and, as it says in the scriptures, his "disciples" follow him. Then, He begins to preach one of the greatest sermons ever given, the Sermon on the Mount. As a missionary, I would be thrilled if a ton of people were to follow me, waiting to be taught. I would stop whatever I was doing and teach them. But, Jesus realized that there were people in the multitude that were simply following the crowd. He wanted weed out the curious from the serious, therefore, He made the people who really wanted to hear his Gospel work for it. And only the disciples, the "disciplined" followed him. Brother Vaughn said that missions are the same way. There are many people that, to use a colloquial term, "jump on the bandwagon." They are serving for the experience or to learn a new language or visit a foreign place. But the Lord wants missionaries. He wants people who are there because they love God and want to serve Him. So he will give each of them trials, make them "climb a mountain" and, thereby, separate the curious from the serious.
It is great to be surrounded by such fabulous people! But, I am so grateful I will be in the field so quickly, because I know that any learning I do here will be nothing compared to what I'll learn in the field. I'm ready to teach!
I hope that the family is doing well! Its completely okay that you pulled a Mimi, I pulled a Mom yesterday and bought earplugs (one of my roommates snores haha). I love you all and I'm praying for you all (in Chinese. Gah!). Thanks for the email! Have an absolutely fantastic week!  
Sister Bennion
Final Goodbye at the Medford Airport May 29th

Receiving her Call to Australia Melbourne Mission February 20th