Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17th

FAMILY:
This week flew by...wow.  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.
Love, 
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 lessons....it 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

Family!
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

FAMILY!
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 Lord...it 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


                                                                  永远的兄弟姐妹

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13th

Family!
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.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 6th

Hey Family!
It’s been such a fantastic week here in Tasmania!  First, some big news: we found out transfer news…I’m staying in Tassie with Sister Chan!!! I was so excited when I found out. I really love this area a lot and I’m glad I have some more time here! I’m also grateful I get to be with Sister Chan another transfer, she is pretty hilarious. Example: Just yesterday after having a huge member feed of tacos, I saw her in the kitchen eating some leftover curry and rice from the last night.  When I asked her why she was still eating, she answered, “If I don’t eat rice or noodles every day I feel like I dishonor my ancestors.” Hahaha.
Cool experience of the week: Two Sundays ago, we did not have any investigators at church.  Sister Chan and I discussed it later that night and decided we wanted to focus on helping people attend sacrament the next week.  We started mentioning it in every prayer.  Because we were out of our area at meetings for 3 days, we were not able to meet with many of our investigators, but we kept praying to have people go to church. And in the last few days of the week, 6 people committed to coming to church and four of them actually came!  One of those 4 was just someone we met on the street on Friday and invited to church.   Two of the others had never gone to church before.  It really made me realize once again how aware Heavenly Father is of us and how willing He is to answer our prayers.  “Ask and you shall receive.”
I was reading the story of Balaam this last week from the book of Numbers in the Bible.  It is one of the stories I remember being told as a bedtime story many times when I was younger.  Balak the king of Moab is afraid of the Israelites and bribes Balaam, a prophet, to come and curse the Israelites.  Balaam is commanded not to go, but leaves anyway.  AS he is traveling to Moab, an angel appears in his path with a sword, unseen by everyone except the donkey Balaam is riding.  The donkey saves Balaam three times by swerving out of the way of the angel.  Balaam, not understanding why the donkey is behaving so strangely angrily starts to beat the donkey.  They (here come the part I loved as a kid) the Lord opens the donkey’s mouth so it can talk to Balaam.  The Lord also opens Balaam’s eyes so he sees the angel with the sword, who would of killed him if not for his donkey.  That’s as far as I knew the story before (probably because my attention span as a child tuckered out after the talking donkey part). However, as I had the chance to read through the story again, I was able to find out the ending of this story.  Balaam continued to Moab to see Balak. However, to the king’s dismay, Balaam blesses the Israelites rather than cursing them.  In Numbers 24, Balak angrily commands Balaam to leave.  He tells Balaam in verse 11, “I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the Lord kept they back from honour.”  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  I feel like there are many members of the church who have been told that because they follow the commandments of God they are being held back from prestige, promotions, riches, opportunity, or honour.  But I love Balaam’s rely to the king in verse 13: “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak.”  Balaam understood the concept that faithful followers of Christ throughout the history have realized; no amount of honour or glory we receive form man can in the least compare to the honour and glory we get from the Lord as we follow His commandments EXACTLY.

I love you all and pray for you often!!  Have a great week! Love, Sister Bennion
My zone in Tassie!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

September 29th

Family,
Fun Fact: I am on a plane flying to Melbourne right now!  No, I have not been transferred…yet (I find out this Saturday if I get transferred or stay in Tassie for my last 6 weeks….nerve racking), Sis Chan and I are just going to a missionary council and we were lucky enough to get to travel up on a Monday.  Do you know what that means? P-day in Melbourne City!! Woohoo!
Christina received the gift of the Holy Ghost this week! She is officially a member of the church. And, we were able to finally meet with some of the people we have contacted in the last few weeks in other words, everything it well in Sandy Bay, Tasmania.  Oh, funny story though  Well…I thought it was funny. One of the recent converts in our ward has had issues getting to church lately, so we shared with him the story of the 10 virgins in the lesson we had with him this last week.  We told how the 10 virgins represent members of the church, the lamps represent our testimonies, and the oil represents true conversion.  We then explained to him how the oil of conversion cannot be shared, but must be gained individually, etc.  The recent convert then told us that the main reason he was not coming to church regularly anymore was because he did not have a car and he felt awkward asking ward members to drive him there.  The only person he felt comfortable asking was another recent convert who had a car and has not been going to church lately.  He then told us that last Sunday, they were both planning on coming to church, but his friend's car was having oil problems.  I took this opportunity to Say, “See? Just the point we wanted to make.  You can’t live off borrowed oil.”  Ba-dum-chee.  I thought I was hilarious. No one else got it!
A few weeks ago, we received a training on yielding to your companion.  During the training they drew a picture.of a big mountain with narrow pathways and two mountain goats with big horns meeting on the mountain.  They explained that the pathway the goats had to walk on was too narrow to allow the goat to pass by each other and asked what we thought the goats did when they encountered this kind of situation.  Many of the people in our zone (including me) answered by saying that the goats probably used their horns to butt heads and thereby clear the pathway. The person giving the training responded that in their situation, what really happens is one of the goats kneels and the other jumps over the kneeling goat! Isn't that so interesting!  I defiantly feel like I learned a really good lesson form this story: there are times in relationships with companions (or really anyone) that you have to be the one who kneels.  The Savior gave the best example of yielding when He submitted Himself completely to the will of the Father.  Humility is so vital and definitely a Christlike attribute I would like to work on.  Love you all!!
                                                          Goats Meeting on the High Mountain

Have a fantastic week! Love Sister Bennion

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22nd

Family,
Such a crazy, fun, stressful, amazing week.  We spend Monday-Thursday as translators for a Chinese senior couple on the Tasmania Senior Missionary Retreat.  On Sunday Christina was baptized!
Here are the highlights of the trip:
1.     This happened.
I actually got to pet a Tasmanian Devil.  They usually do not allow people to touch them, but since it was raining hard when we got to the Wildlife Park, they brought the animals to us.
2.     Also got a selfie with a wallaby.

3.     I got to witness Sister C’s first time being in the snow when we went to the top of Mt. Wellington.  It was a complete BLIZZARD and I was pretty sure we were going to be blown off the mountain, but Sis C was so excited!


4.     WE went to Port Arthur! It was the biggest convict prison in Tasmania where all of the worst convicts would be shipped off to.  It was not as impressive as I thought it would be because a lot of it was under construction, but still……
Criminals built these buildings while being shackled to each other.


5.     We got to spend time with the Lins!  They are such great people and it was fun translating for them and showing them Tassie.  In conclusion….sign me up to be a senior missionary.  They are living the dream.

Christina’s baptism went really well.  She was so prepared and happy.  The ward welcomed her in with open arms.  She also got the chance to bear her testimony and it was so rock solid.  We are so lucky we got the chance to teach and be taught by her.  She is going to be a fantastic member of the church.


Spirital thought:
One of the senior missionaries shared with us a quote.  It states: “The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue.  It is the integrity you demonstrate towards the faith you do have and the truth you already know."  This quote reminded me a LOT of Christina.  She studied math and science as her majors in uni and it was hard for her at first to develop faith.  However she was willing to keep the commandments, pray, read the scriptures, and go to church as as she did these things her faith started to grow.  However she still expressed to us just a few weeks before her baptism how unworthy she felt to make a covenant wit the Lord.  She felt she did not have enough faith or enough knowledge to be baptized.  We asked her to pray about it and through prayer she realized the concept that is stated so well in the quote the senior missionary said to us later on. God does not expect us to know everything or to believe everything all at once.  He simply asks us to act on the faith and truth we already have.  His call is not to be perfect now, but to “Walk with Him”, as it states in Moses 6:34.  And as we do this, He promises’ us that His spirit will be upon us and that He will abide in us.
I love you all.  See you in less than 2 months (Where does time go?!?)
Love,
Sister Sarah Bennion

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 15th

Family,
Here is some of what happened this week!
1.        We had exchanges with some sisters in Launceston (which is on the north edge of Tasmania.  We are on the southernmost part, so we had a nice road trip J).  It was so strange to go into an English speaking area for finding and teaching!  But it was a great experience; both the Launie sisters and their area are really fantastic.
2.       The mission president instituted a new rule.  Sister missionaries and elders cannot be in the same car without another member of the opposite sex in the car.  This would be no problem IF it were not for the fact that we don’t have a car…and officially our area is the bottom HALF of Tasmania…BUT, luckily we have been blessed with members willing to drive us to church, ward council meetings, etc..
3.       We met a guy from Taiwan on the street that is not a Christian or a member of any church who said he believes in the “ministering of angels” Not something you hear every day.  We set up an appointment with him and will hopefully meet this next week.
4.       Sis C and I found out this next week we are going to join senior missionary couples on a 3 day tour around Tasmania (so we can translate for the Linns, one of the senior couples who are from Mainland China and speak no English)!  I will let you know how that went next week.
5.     Christina called us on Tuesday night of last week and said she prayed and got the answer she was suppose to be baptized!!!  So exciting.  Even after almost a year and a half, I am still awed and amazed by the fact that people who a few months ago knew near to nothing about God can talk with Him, find answers from Him and change their life for Him.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is amazing!
6.       Spiritual Thought: In one of our church meetings yesterday, temple and temple attendance were discussed.  As they discussed the importance of attending the temple and the blessings received from the temple.  I was surprised to see many of the people listening to the lesson were in tears.  AS I continued to listen to the lesson I realized how much harder it was for the people here on the island of Tasmania to get to ta temple.  I have always lived in close proximity to a temple and have started to overlook what a blessing that it is.  In that same lesson, a quote was mentioned that also caught my attention, “The temple is for worthy people, not perfect people.”  I think that besides geographical distance, another factor that can stop people from going to the temple is fear that they are not good enough or prepared enough to make the sacred eternally significant vows in the temple. But, I think it helps me to realize that as long as I am doing my best, repenting, and trying to follow Jesus Christ, I do not need to feel like I am not prepared or good enough to be in the house of God.  I feel like I really want to gain a stronger testimony of the temple and the importance of performing the ordinances inside the temple.
Love you all! Have a great week! 

Love, Sister Bennion

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 8th

Family,
Another beautiful week in Tasmania!  I would never guess that we are just coming out of winter, we have been spoiled.   I swear Tasmania is Australia’s best kept secret.  This last week, Sister Chan and I were able to give a training in District Meeting on finding.  It turned out pretty well, we did a role play at the end where we had missionaries close their eyes and randomly grab a pamphlet, then use the pamphlet in a finding situations.  It definitely pushed some of the missionaries, especially on elder who picked a law of chastity pamphlet.
After the District Meeting we went outside to find that a member had prepared us all a HUGE lunch.  She made more than 100 sandwiches with soup and dessert.  She told us we were expected to eat EVERYTHING.  There are 10 people in our district and everyone was full with 80 sandwiches still left.  We ended up just passing the sandwich platter around the table over and over again with everyone taking a sandwich each time it went around.  So many sandwiches. BUT we finished everything…SUCCESS!
One thing I found out this week: Sister Chan HATES dogs. Hates, hates, dogs.  Every time a person with a dog passes us on the street she runs past and says, “They tried to kill me!” Today as we were doing morning run, two dogs on leashes across the street from us ran across the street from us and ran into each other, started barking at each other and doing other typical dog things.  After we ran past them, Sis. Chan turned to me with a complete serious face and said, “There was a war.” HaHa.
In our ward’s relief society lesson this past week the topic was faith.  The Relief Society President, who was teaching the lesson, shared a quote that I loved.  It stated, “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone.  The shell cracks, it’s insides come out and everything changes.  To someone who doesn’t understand growth it looks like complete destruction.”  Often  in the church we hear the scripture from Alma 32:28 where faith in the “word” is compared to a see.   It is something you plant in your heart and see grow over time if it is nourished.  But I think one of the lines of the scripture that I often overlook is the “if” clause presented at the beginning of the scripture. It says that the see can start to grow IF you do not cast it out by your unbelief.” And why would someone cast out that see of faith?  Because in order for faith to grow there needs to be change and that a change can be painful.  However, as a missionary, I can testify that it is from perseverance and continued efforts to increase faith that we can start to see the blessings that faith brings and it is at this point that faith does “enlarge the soul” and “enlighten understanding”
Love you all!  Have a fantastic week!
Love,

Sister Sarah Bennion

September 1st

Family!
I got a new companion this week.  Her name is Sister Chan, she is from Taiwan.  She is a great missionary (she literally talks to EVERYONE.  Keeps me on my toes) and I am really excited to be serving with her down here is Tasmania.  I already miss Sis. Seeley a LOT (especially during morning exercises.  The quality since Sister Seeley left has declined by heaps!)  Sis. Chan is appalled that Tasmania has so many hills.  Her catchphrase during our morning jog is I’ll do anything for the Lord”….but change is good. 
Great experience of the week we finally ran into Juncker again.  Juncker was one of our investigators that had quit smoking in order to be baptized, but had fallen off the face of the earth about a month ago.  He would not answer phone calls or texts and every time we visited his house, his roommates said, “He was at school or work”. We were walking by his house this last week and I had a feeling we should stop by again.  We knocked on his door and his WIFE answered!  She said she had arrived from China a few days ago and after we talked a little about what we do as missionaries she said she wanted to know more about Jesus Christ! So cool! 
Later that same night we went to Christina’s house and taught her about the Holy Ghost.  She asked us for an example of times we had followed promptings from the Spirit and we shared with her the experience from earlier that day with Juncker’s wife.  As I was telling her how we had tried to get a hold of Juncher over the last month, I used a phrase we had visited his house about a thousand times.  Christina interrupted and said, “That’s harassment!” ha ha! Probably shouldn’t exaggerate with Christina around.
In one of our meetings this last week, someone gave a training on the subject of conversion.  In that training we used an analogy, likening our testimonies to nail.  He then explained that in order for a nail to with stand the necessary hammering, you must apply some initial pressure to it and keep it steady.  Our testimonies are the same. They need pressure.  I think that pressure can come in the form of commandments, callings, church attendance, and other things worthy things that may seem to press on our time and energy, but also help us spiritually perspire for the eventual hammering of trials, temptations, opposition and questions.  As we hold firmly to our testimony and apply pressure, we can truly become converted.
Love you all!  Thanks for your prayers!

Love, Sister Sarah Bennion

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 25th

Family!
Transfer new came in this last week!
And..(drumroll please…..)

I’m staying!!!

But sister Seeley is leaving. VERY bittersweet. I know that she will love being in the city (she will be going to the City Chinese Branch) but she will definitely be missed. We had a lot of success down here in Tassie and tons of fun. I have never had as good of workouts on my mission until being companions with her haha. But it is very comforting to know that we will be able to hang out again, even if we don’t get to see each other my last 2 transfers of my mission (she lives 20 mins away from SLC..pretty easy drive J ).

Other than that, we have had a fantastic week! We were able to meet up with some former investigators again! And we have seen huge progress with some of our investigators. This last Sunday, one of them (Christina J) started asking members of the ward to give talks at her baptism in a month haha. Oh, funny Christina story for the week! We were asked to join the stake choir after church 2 Sundays ago and we dragged Christina into it with us. At first, she seemed really hesitant, but as we practiced she got more into it. The night after choir practice, she texted us asking for the names of the hymns. When we went into a ward activity with her later that week, she showed us the copy of the hymns she had printed out and spent the whole night going up to members and reading the songs to them to “practice her pronunciation.” Haha.

Spiritual thought: we had stake conference last Sunday. It was such a great session! One of the stories that stuck in my head the most was one told by Pres. Maxwell (he was one of the guest speakers) about a woman who had been investigating the church. After she had learned about the Plan of Salvation, she turned to the missionaries who were teaching her and asked “What does God expect of me?” Isn’t that a great question? I think too often my prayers consist of me telling God what I want, in other words, what I expect of Him. But as I thought about this woman’s question more, I was reminded of the Bible dictionary definition for prayer. It states, “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and others blessings God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them.” Prayer’s purpose is to find out what God expects of us and change our own desires and actions so that our will is in correspondence with His. I am going to try to say more meaningful prayers as one of my goals for the week as well as keeping in mind the question “What does God expect of me?”

Love you ! Have a fantastic week!
Inline image 1
(Us at Christina’s house)

Love, Sister Bennion

August 19th

Family:

Sorry the email is very, VERY late this week! Transfers are next week and about 10 of the sisters in our mission are leaving. Another 10 will leave the transfer after. To say goodbye to all of these amazing sisters, we had a gigantic Sisters' P-Day activity. The P-Day was fun (we got to take a plane all the way to Melbourne for the day! Then took another plane back that night), we tied dyed shirts, had way too much delicious food, and played games, but I am glad to be back in Tassie! Being surrounded by sisters can sometimes be a little depressing. Example: There was a unity game that we played where all the sisters would write down on a sheet of paper a question that begins with "What if", put the paper in a box, and have someone else answer that question. Then, we went around the circle, having one person read their question and then have the person beside them read their answer. It was a relatively fun activity, but about 10 of the "What if" questions were something along the lines of "What if I get fat on my mission and never get married?" An insightful peek into the psyche of a sister missionary haha. 

We got an referral from one of our investigators this last week! His name is Sam and he is such a nice guy! We were able to go to his home with one of the members of our ward and teach him. One of his roommates, Lee, was nearby when we came in and asked if he could sit in on the lesson as well. He had no religious background, but seemed to enjoy the message we shared. Lee was especially fascinated by the concept of the Holy Ghost. Every time we would start to talk about something else, he would stop us and say, "Thats good, but I'm still interested in the Spirit thing. Can we talk about that again?" haha :)

We had a training in district meeting on comp unity today that I loved. A scripture was mentioned from Amos 3 that states: "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Over the course of my mission, I have really realised how true this scripture is! There really is no way to work together with a companion and have the spirit unless you are agreed. And what does it mean to be agreed? It means to compromise and yielding to your companion when necessary. The training reminded me of another great quote I've heard on in a previous training on comp inventory: "It is more important to be one then be right." 

Love you all! Have a great week!

-Sister Bennion

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 11th

Hey Family!
A busy week! (Which is the best kind of week as a missionary) We were able to meet with a couple investigators that had been swamped with studies for a while and we were finally able to start a free English class! Only two people showed up, but still...its a start :) One of our investigators who came felt bad that attendance was low and ran into the hallway outside the library we were meeting. We called her to see where she had gone and she told us that she was "recruiting". She went up to all of the people who looked like they were international students and tell them to come study English. She told us "Everyone is ignoring me! What was that word that you taught me yesterday?" We thought about it for a second before answering "Apostacy?" She responded, "Yes! They are all apostates!" hahahaha. Oh man. I love these people so much.
I really have loved the area I am in and the companion I am with and, as transfers get closer and closer, I started to get a little apprehensive because there is a big possibility that I will get transferred. Then, I read a talk in the last ensign called, "Act upon this land as if it were years." It is based on a scripture in D&C that states:
“And I consecrate unto them this land for a little season, until I, the Lord, shall provide for them otherwise, and command them to go hence;
“And the hour and the day is not given unto them, wherefore let them act upon this land as for years,‍ and this shall turn unto them for their good.”
The writer of the article later states: When we “act upon this land as for years,” we begin to recognize opportunities we may not have seen before. We may also see that some ofthese opportunities may never come our way again. Then we think, “As long as I’m here, I’m going to get involved, do the best I can, and choose to be happy. I’ll continue to hopefor the future, but in the meantime, let me do some good here.” It’s the difference between treading water and actually swimming.
Love it! Make the best of every area!

                                                               View from Sarah's flat
Letter to Rachel & Mary:

So. Crazy story. Before we came to the area two months ago, the elders who use to live in our flat were playing soccer with a sunkist bottle and put a hole the size of a baseball through the window. We called the mission office to get it fixed, but, 2 months later, there was still no progress. And it was the middle of Tasmanian winter. So it was pretty chilly. But, moving on, one morning, we were coming back from our morning run and realized we had locked ourselves out of our flat. We quickly realized that we were in bit of trouble. We did not have our phone, had no idea what the zone leader or district leaders phone number was, the mission office was closed that day, and the nearest members house was about 1-2 miles away. And, even if we did somehow contact the zone leaders, there was no way of knowing if they would have a spare key. We tried to open all of the windows, but they were not budging.
Final solution? Remember how the window was a little broken.....
....Now it is very broken. We kicked it in to make a Sister S-sized hole.

Moral of the story: A hole in the window can sometimes be a blessing.




August 4th

It rained 5 out of 6 days straight this last week! It made finding a little difficult, because Chinese people in Hobart Tasmania evidently hibernate when its at all rainy/cold, but we still had a fairly good week. We were able to meet a lot of great people and see a lot of progress with the ones that we are meeting with.
We have an investigator named Christina who is so awesome! She was the one that texted us a few weeks ago asking for english help and "to know the purpose of life." We have been teaching her ever since and she is one of the funniest people I have ever met. 
Some of the best Christina lines:
- "When you're promoted, do you become nuns?"
- We took her to dinner with us yesterday and went to get our shoes on to leave and left her in the living room because she was still talking with one of the members of the family and we didn't want to interrupt. She raced in after us and said, "You left your costumer!"
 - (After we talked about Jesus being the Only Begotten Son of God, which in Chinese, translates as only child of God) "Aha! One Child Policy!"
I read a great quote on prayer this last week, it is from a guy named Dale Evans. It states: "I think the best way to arrive at the right decision is to first pray about it, placing it in God's hands. Then, sleep on it. The next morning, when you get up, I believe that the 1st solution that comes to your mind will be the right one - that is, if you have complete confidence in God's guidance.  ' But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.' "
I love you all so much! Have a great week!
-Sister Sarah Bennion

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 28th

THIS WEEK. Oh my goodness, where to begin! It has been the craziest, most stressful, and most completely and utterly amazing week I have experienced on my mission!
For the last few weeks, we have been teaching this girl from Shanghai named Emily. The elders who were in the area before us found her and she is one of the most prepared people I have ever met. She goes to church just about every Sunday, knows the Book of Mormon is true, and has a super strong testimony that God lives and loves her. However, she was really hesitant to get baptized. The elders had set a couple baptism dates with her, but each time the date approached, she felt unprepared or a concern came up. About a month ago, when we first got into the area, Emily let us know that she was going to move to Sydney on August 1st and told us that she had decided she wanted to be baptized there, because she felt like it would be a fresh start for her. We told her that we would respect her decision and continued to teach her the lessons over the next few weeks. However, this past week, both Sister S and I got the feeling that we should invite her to be baptized again. So, we went over tithing with her (the last thing she needed to know) and afterwards, went over the Baptismal Interview Questions (without telling her they were Baptism Interview Questions :) ) and she passed it with flying colors. We let her know that she was prepared and invited her to be baptized the coming weekend. She went home, prayed about it, and sent us a text that night saying she wanted to be baptized that Sunday! We spent the next 3 days scrambling to get everything done, but it was SO WORTH IT! It was amazing to see her dressed in white and looking so happy!! Ahhh. I love this work.
Love you all! Look for miracles, they happen!!
-Sister Sarah Bennion





Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 21st

Crazy week!!
 
Sorry, because of all of the BYU application stuff, this will not be the best email (let us all take a moment to dwell on how weird it is that I will have to apply to BYU classes again soon...ahhhh...real life). But here is a few really cool experiences from the past week!
 
1. We got a text from a roommate of a less active that said, "my name is Christina, I want english help and also to know the purpose of life. Can we meet this week?" so awesome.
 
2. We met a less active named Michael a few weeks ago. He is a really nice guy, just super busy and stressed about tests and visa stuff. He said that we could contact him after a couple of weeks so, last Saturday, we texted to see how he was doing. He responded, "Great! See you at church tomorrow!" and then he came! For the first time in a year! Everyone in the ward was so happy to see him.
 
I was reading through the Christlike attributes session and noticed in the introduction that it said "All Christlike attributes are a gift from God." I think it is interesting that the first Christlike attribute mentioned is faith in Jesus Christ. My companion and I were talking about it later and discussed how we both have always felt like faith is our job. It is something that we have to work on and then eventually develop. But, according to preach my gospel, faith is in fact, a gift from God. Great faith is not the finishing line to a life of living righteously, it is a gift bestowed to us along the way by the Lord to motivate us to do and be better and must be asked for through "great prayer and fasting." 
 
Love you all!
-Sister Bennion