Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 26th

President's letter:

This week went really well! Sister Z and I are getting along and I am seeing some progress in my Chinese. We definitely have seen a lot of miracles, one of which was being able to teach 11 member-present lessons (I love our ward!). Another miracle occurred during our lesson with one of our most progressing investigators, Betty. 

Betty is absolutely amazing; she had already been to church for three weeks, reads the Book of Mormon and prays every day, and had finished almost all the lessons necessary for baptism. She had a baptismal date set for late September. We met with her on Tuesdayto teach the law of tithing. I knew enough Chinese to teach a little bit about what tithing was and extend the commitment to pay tithing once Sister Z had expounded on the subject more throughly. After Betty accepted the commitment, Sister Z started talking to her about something else. I caught a few word about baptism and realized Sister Z was probably asking if Betty would be willing to move up her baptism date a little earlier. Betty seemed a little nervous, but I couldn't understand enough Chinese to know what her concern was. But, I really felt a prompting to say something, so I said in Chinese: "Baptism isn't a test. You don't need to know everything about the Gospel to be baptized and being baptized can help you feel the Spirit more and understand more." Betty seemed to relax a little and, after talking to Sister Zhang a little more, started nodding and agreed to whatever Sister Z had said. After Betty had left, I asked Sister Zhang what had happened and she said, "I thought you understood! Betty said she would be baptized next week! Your comment really helped her make the decision!" 

I am so grateful for the Spirit. This week, I was reading D&C 42:14, which states: "And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach." I know this to be true. I am not yet good enough (nor will I ever be good enough) at Chinese to teach anyone about something as complex as the Gospel alone. Thankfully, I will never have to. As long as I stay faithful and worthy, the Lord will qualify me for my calling and will provide me with necessary direction. 

Hope everything is going well! Have a fantastic week! 

-Sister Sarah Bennion

Thank you so much, Dad! I loved your insight on the brain and how it evolves! I sometimes forget that learning a new language is a slow process. It's funny; at the beginning of my mission, I really just thought that I would wake up one day and be able to understand chinese. False. It is not something that can be learned immediately, but through daily study, a lot of practice, and a lot of moving neutrons. 

This week was much better. I am still trying to find a better way to effectively use my hour of language study every day, but I am beginning to pick up more of what is said in conversations. My companion is really helping. I learned how to talk about Christ's life and ministry this week in understandable Chinese! Jiayou (that is something similar to hooray in chinese...they use it a lot here)!

Fun fact! Most of the missionaries called to speak Chinese are great piano players, because piano makes you use both sides of your brain. Dad, you were meant to speak Chinese  (I don't care what Yijia says about your tones being incorrect :) )

I am so grateful for all the support I feel from the family. You guys really are such an inspiration to me. I can definitely feel the effects of your fasting and prayers. Love you sosososo much! Tell mom, mimi, and rachel I go their letters today! LOVE!!!

-Sister Sarah "Sunshine" Bennion 

PS I read a really interesting talk this week called "A Heavenly Manifestation" by Heber Q. Hales. It is not doctrine, but it definitely gives an interesting prospective on what the Spirit world could be like. It reminds me of something I heard in the MTC: "We are missionaries now, missionaries when we go home, and if we are do really well in this life, we get to be missionaries in the Spirit world as well! So enjoy the work!" I love my calling!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 19th

I'm in the city! AND I'M SPEAKING CHINESE. My companion is from China; her name is Sister Zhang and she is one of the hardest workers I've ever met! She had me making phone calls in Chinese on day one to investigators! And remember how I was saying I don't really like finding? Yeah, we do two hours or more of finding every day. I am verrrry quickly gaining a lot of experience. 

As you can probably imagine, these first few days have been pretty challenging. I definitely do not think my Chinese is sufficient and I really wish I could speak and understand more! It is so frustrating that I have not been able to help out that much in lessons as of yet and it is easy to become discouraged. The amount I need to learn is overwhelming and there really isn't time to study. One of the scriptures that has really helped me is Ether 12:27, in which the Lord says "And if men come unto me I will show unto them theiraweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them." I have definitely seen my weaknesses this past week. I have definitely been humbled. And I definitely know that, as I have faith in the Savior, that the Lord can strengthen me. There is no way that I can learn what I need to and do the work I need to without the assistance of the Lord. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be refined and I am praying that I can have the faith necessary to see miracles! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 11th

I have LOVED all the pictures of Mary's wedding prep! The day is speedily approaching! I really can't believe it is happening so soon. Make sure to take a ton of pictures at the wedding and, when you wake up from your stress-enduced coma after the wedding, send them to me!
Missionary work is going well!

This week has been great; I have definitely seen a lot of miracles, especially with the less active members. A little less than two weeks ago, we had the oppurtunity to visit a family who had not been to church in years. Their oldest daughter answered the door and said that she was going to another church and was not really interested in coming back. But after we talked to her for a bit on the doorstep, she invited us in anyway and began to talk  to us. She said she had been bullied in church when she was younger and had told herself she would never go back (because many of the people who had bullied her were still in the ward). However, she also told us she had always wanted to go on a mission and that none of the churches she had visited had the kind of mission experience for young people that was offered in the LDS church.  We talked with her about, even though the Gospel is perfect, the people are not and how important the Gospel was. At the end of the lesson, we invited her to come on splits with us the next week. She agreed, but canceled this last week. However, we invited her to church again and she came yesterday! For the first time in years! And she agreed to go on splits with us later this week!
Aaaaaaaaand more big news: I'm getting transferred!  So today will be filled with packing, prepping, etc. I am pretty sure I will be assigned to the Chinese branch and am so excited! I'm ready to start speaking Chinese all the time!

I have really loved my companions and our area! The recent converts are amazingly strong and have already been helping teach new investigators! But, even though this has been a great area, I am really excited for the oppurtunities and experience that will come this next transfer in a new area!
There was a fireside this last week and Brad Wilcox was one of the speakers! He was so hilarious and I loved his thoughts on how we know the Gospel is true. After the fireside, we were about to get into the car when some elders asked if they could catch a ride, because it was getting late and they wanted to get home on time (it is not against the rules for elders to get rides with sisters here). It all would have been fine EXCEPT that one of the elders was a 200+ pound Samoan and, since I am in a threesome companionship, I had to be in the backseat with them. Defintely uncomfortable for all parties. In a normal sitauation, I wouldn't want to be that close to a guy (this is Sarah Bennion you are talking to :) ) and, as a missionary, it was pretty much unbearably awkward or as the Australian would say "Awkward as" (In Australia, they always say "___as" instead of finishing the simile..."cool as" "awesome as" etc).

I know this week is going to be busy /hectic, but keep up the great work, Mom! You are amazing and DEFINITELY not spiritually lacking! You have a lot on your plate and you are handling it all extremely well! Remember D&C 10:4!
I love you so DANG much! Have fun this week!
-Sister Sarah Bennion

PS Attached is a picture of my companion and I with a koala cookie and a picture of me with my Australian long lost cousin :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 4th

FAMILY! I'M IN AUSTRALIA! And I've held a kangaroo!
Just kidding. Australia is a little less exotic than I imagined. Not a kangaroo or koala in sight! I feel like I've been deceived...BUT! I did get to see a black swan! 
Now. Moving on past Australian wildlife. I'm here! And I love it! It is very similar to America, except for the driving on the left side of the road thing. I am in a threesome companionship (my companions, Sister Foster and Sister Williams, are the nicest people ever! Sister Foster is Australian and Sister Williams, American) and we had a few close shaves when Sister Williams is driving haha. I am teaching in English right now, but transfers are next week on Thursday and I should be transferred to the Chinese branch and start speaking Chinese. FINALLY! I am so excited (and nervous) to start!
This area is great! We have a lot of people who are interested in learning about the Gospel and we have had a lot of miracles happen! I don't have a lot of time to expound, but I will make sure to talk more about experiences next week. 

When coming to Australia, I read a conference talk called "Never Leave Him," by Neil L Anderson. It was based off the story in John 6, when Christ proclaimed to His followers that He was the Son of God and the prophesied Messiah. Some of the followers could not accept this and "walked no more with him" (John 6:66). Jesus then turned to His 12 disciples and asked them, "Will ye also go away?" to which Peter emphatically answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ." I love this bold and simple testimony. It is the kind of unshakeable faith that we all need to have if we wish to overcome all the trials and temptations that we go through in this life.  As President Monson said, "Unless the roots of your testimony are firmly planted, it will be difficult for you to withstand the ridicule of those who challenge your faith." I know that, if we do not have a firm testimony in our Savior, we will eventually fall away. The forces of Satan will convince us to become offended or ashamed or uninterested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the members I visited in San Diego spoke in church about how he "prays every day to never fall away." I have made this part of my prayers as well and, as I have asked for strength and a firmer testimony in Jesus Christ, I have really felt the Savior's influence in my life. I know that my Redeemer lives and this knowledge helps me change and grow in the Gospel. 

I love you all! Thanks for the prayers, emails, and love!
-Sister Sarah Bennion

I only have an hour and a half of email time, so it would be better if people sent letters (but if that is too troublesome or expensive, don't worry about it! I love just hearing from you!)

I few questions I asked Sarah:
1.  Do you have to write a letter each week to your mission president?  If so can you send it to us too?  That would stop you from having to repeat information and give your family even more precious information!
2.  Are you printing off our letters and reading them later and using your time just to reply to us?  How long do you get on the computer?
3.  How is your Chinese?  Did you hit the ground running or has it been a stress?

Sarah’s answers to my questions:
1.  I definitely will start sending you the same mission president letter that will be much easier!
2.  I have an hour and a half for emailing (including time to write the mission pres letter). Sorry I was not able to answer all the emails this week; because I was not able to email last week, they really stacked up! I'll be better next week! 
3.  I haven't spoken Chinese yet! But the time speedily approaches...