Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 23rd

Great week in Tasmania; we had the Sister Training Leaders come to do exchanges with us and saw a ton of miracles come out of it! Sister S and I had spotted a Chinese family who lived on our street earlier in the week and had planned to have one of the companionships visit them when we were on exchanges. Sister S and Sister R went over and not only was the husband and his mother home, but he invited them in and said missionaries could come back next week to meet with the whole family! That same day, Sister S and I were also able to meet with a Chinese investigator named Yan Chen and she was really excited to have sister missionaries in the area who could go to Relief Society with her so she could better understand what was going on. We are so blessed.
One of the women in Relief Society shared with us this last Sunday a lesson on the conference talk from President Monson. One of her realizations as she was reading the talk was that many of Christ's greatest miracles occured when he was on his way to do something else. She gave as a few examples, including how Jesus healed the woman on the way to heal Jarius' daughter and the story of the 10 lepers. It really struck me and is something I want to work on even more this next week. It is too easy to feel you are "too busy" to help someone when you are rushing to a lesson or appointment.
My motto for this next week:
I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.5
Also. We had a couple of investigators at church last week and had to do translation for them in sacrament meeting. Ugggghghgg. I did not realize how limited my Chinese was until then haha. One of the speakers was talking about rubix cubes in their talk. Killer.
Love you all! Rachel's email was awesome, glad she is enjoying Bolivia!
-Sister Bennion

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 17th

Yet another late email! So sorry! We went on a zone p-day to the Hasting caves (so fun, but 2 hours away from our area!) and had mission president interviews on tuesday, so we could not get to emailing until Wednesday. It is great going places for P-day, but I think I would prefer a normal quiet monday this next week haha.  
Everything is going great in Tassie! Sister S and I still love our area; we have seen a lot of progress with Sally, our investigator from Taiwan. She asked us to meet with her a second time last week to help her prepare for IELTS test. We went to meet her and, as we were about to start helping her with English, she asked "Actually, would you mind if I shared with you a few scriptures that I liked before we start?" We were also able to go with her to a member's home for dinner and she absolutely loved it. We want to start setting up more investigator-member feeds in the future if we can.
Our regular sized bikes finally came in last week and we had a blast coasting down the hills next to our flat to get to an appointment. Getting up the hill was a different story...I am not in as good of shape as I thought haha. We did our hill sprint day for morning exercise as well yesterday (we are getting up at 6am so that we can have a full hour to workout) . KILLER. Sitting down right now is not the most comfortable experience haha.
On another note, Sister S and I have started reading a chapter from Jesus the Christ during personal study and have discussed it a little during companion study and it has been a really great experience. I feel like I learn a lot more from the book when I have someone to talk about it with. We were reading the chapter on Gabriel's visitations to Zacharias and Mary and started contrasting the two encounters. Zacharias was visited in one of the most ideal of places: the Holy of Holies in the temple. The chance to be able to visit that part of the temple to perform the established sacred ritual was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him and one that he had prepared for for most of his life. Furthermore, the Holy of Holies was the prime visiting place for a heavenly messenger, as the most sacred of rooms in the holy building that was the "House of God" on the earth. However, despite the ideal location and preparation that Zacharias had received prior to Gabriel appearing to him, he was still surprised by the divine visitor and doubted the message that Gabriel brought. Mary, on the other hand, was visited in a humble Galilean town far away from Jerusalem and had received no preparation to be visited by an angel. However, she was quick to believe the angel's message, responding with faith rather than doubt. I think that this contrast really helped me recognize that one of the attributes that characterized those who are blessed greatly from the Lord is a willingness to respond to situations with faith rather than doubt, no matter the circumstance.
Love you all! Hopefully I will have time to send in some pictures! -Sister Bennion
On flight to Tasmania

View from Sarah's flat of the harbor.

Fitted bikes arrived.  Sarah likes going down the hills more than up!

View infront of their flat

At the church

Investigator Board

Visiting the Hasting Caves in Tasmania
P-day Group Shot at Hasting Caves
Beautiful Harbor

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June 7th

I'M IN TASMANIA!! And my companion and I are LOVING IT! It is so unbelievably gorgeous here; everything is so green and the area we live in is right next to the bay. Our flat is at the top of a pretty high hill and overlooks the bay and the rest of Hobart. Pictures can't even capture how spectacular it is. Our new catch phrase: "We are blessed" (sidenote: I brought my camera today to send pictures, but forgot the plug to get them onto the computer! Soooo, next week :) Give you something to look forward to).
Fun fact about Tasmania: It is VERY hilly. Not like Melbourne at all. And we found out last week when we got to the area that we will be on bikes (we are going in to get fitted for new bikes tomorrow, because the ones the elders who were in the area before us have are made for 6ft tall men... and the ones that the other elders wanted to give us did not have gears or brakes). We are so pumped. We are the 1st Chinese speaking sister missionaries to get bikes. Dream come true. We are going to get thighs of steel. 
The people here are amazing, too. The elders before us did a great job and really got the work moving in our area. Even though they doubled into an area that no other Chinese missionaries had been in before, they helped 3 people be baptized in just 3 months! However, because the ward has not had Chinese missionaries for a long time, most of the Chinese members baptized a few years back are less active. The only Chinese people at church last Sunday was the 3 recent converts. One of our goals is to get enough Chinese people back to reactivity/becoming members of the church that we can petition for Chinese translation devices in sacrament meeting and start a Chinese Gospel Principles class.
Yesterday was our first normal day of procelyting in Hobart and it was AMAZING! One of the best days I have had on my mission. We met with one of the investigators that the elders had met with once before and she was super keen. One of the first questions she asked was how she could get baptized. We set a baptism date with her and when we asked her if she could come to church, she asked "Can my friends come too? I'm think they would be interested in this stuff." So good. We also met with this lady named Sally who was actually one of the investigators I met with in the city! She is from Taiwan and investigated the church for years. She wanted to be baptized when she was 16, but her father was Buddhist and would not give permission. By the time she was 18, she was unsure of her testimony and drifted away from the church, although she still stayed in contact with a lot of her friends from church. She backpacked around Melbourne for a while (thats where I first met her), but did not have a ton of time to learn then. But, she met missionaries again in Tasmania and, when she found out Sister S and I would be coming down from the elders, she said she wanted to meet again. We had an amazing lesson with her where the spirit was really strong and she admitted to us that she had always been really drawn in by the idea of having an eternal family. We asked her at the end if she would be baptized and she said, "Let's do this" haha.
Love you all! Expect miracles! Sister Bennion

An excerpt from Sarah's Mission President that was sent to us.
You may have heard that Sister Bennion is going to Tasmania.  We need some Chinese-speaking missionaries in the Hobart area.  There are a fair number of Chinese people who live in that area (partly because of the university in the area).  We haven’t had Chinese-speaking missionaries there until about three months ago, when we sent two elders there to see if they felt there was enough work to keep missionaries busy.  They are convinced that there is enough work.  However, one of those elders just finished his mission this week, so we needed to make a change, and the stake president said he’d prefer sister missionaries anyway.  I have felt that your daughter would do a great job in that assignment.  She is an outstanding missionary. As you know, she’s training Sister S, who is a pretty impressive new missionary.  So, I think they will both do well there.  It’s also beautiful in Tasmania, though a bit colder than here in the Melbourne area.There are two stakes in Tasmania.  One is in Hobart, very close to the area your daughter will be serving in.  The other is in Devonport, on the north side of the island, about 2 ½ hours away.  There are five or six wards in the Hobart stake, though they are a little smaller in size than wards in some stakes in the states.  There are 18 missionaries in Tasmania, about equally divided between the south end of the island (Hobart) and the north.  There are eight sister missionaries there.  The Sister Training Leaders and the Zone Leaders are on the south side of the island.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June 2nd

Let me set the scene really quickly:

 There are 3 sets of missionaries in our ward (2 sets of Chinese Sisters and 1 set of English Elders) and, as transfers came closer, we knew that some people would be moving. The other Chinese sisters had been in the area together for about 3 transfers (18 weeks) and the elders had been there a while as well. Sister S and I had just been in the area a month and had started building up an investigator pool. So, when the transfers call-out came this last weekend, we were pretty certain that we would be in the area for much longer. 


We both are getting transferred to open TASMANIA together! Yeah. Tasmania. The island at the bottom of Australia. It has a population of about 500,000 people overall (number of Chinese speakers uncertain) and is about as close you can get to Antarctica without actually going there. We are so excited. We are the first Chinese sisters to ever go to Tasmania in the history of the mission (and might even be the only set of Chinese speaking missionaries on the whole island)! We leave next week! 

These last month has been amazing, especially the last 2 weeks. We have seen huge miracles and were able to start teaching such a really prepared Chinese family just a few days ago and received about 4 referrals from members. It will be really sad to leave everything behind (the ward, members, investigators), but we know we are going were the Lord needs us to be! 

One of the elders in our ward recently printed out a copy of the talk, "Beware of Pride" by President Benson and I had a chance to look through it again. It is so good; I always feel like I get a lot of insights about how I can improve when I read it. As I was looking through it, I recognized one of the paragraphs that had stuck out to me the first time that I read the talk in the beginning of my mission. It states:

Most of us consider pride to bsin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. (See Ne.9:42.) There ishowever, far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking upIt is manifest in so many ways, such as fault finding, gossiping, backbitingmurmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.
Reading that paragraph reminded me of something that had occurred about a month ago. It was when Sister S and I had first become companions. We doubled into the area that had for a long time been occupied by Chinese speaking elders. The Chinese elders had just been moved out two weeks previously and we took their flat. When we got to our area the first day, the other set of Chinese sisters quickly introduced us to the area and gave us an area book. We did not have time to look at the area book right away, but when we finally got a chance to look at it that night, we realized that it was completely blank. The only teaching records that were still in the book were about 10 former investigator forms in the back. We called the elders who had lived in our area before and asked if they had any investigators they had been teaching before they left. They responded that yes, they had some and one even had a baptismal date set, but, not knowing that a second set of Chinese sisters would be filling their place, they had given all of the investigators to the other set of Chinese sisters. Awkward situation. We called the sisters, asking if there was anyone that we could teach and they responded by giving us two numbers for potential investigators and a binder of former investigators we could call, but not one of the progressing investigators the elders gave them. I did not want to complain or press them for more investigators, because I had already gotten to know both of these sisters before I came to the area and knew they were great sisters. They had been in the area a long time and had struggled a lot previously. But the whole day after, I was pretty bugged by it. As I thought more about the situation the next night, however, I began to realize that the feelings I were having really was another form of pride, the bottom looking up type, and was hindering me from completely loving these sisters and feeling happiness in their success. I realized I had to accept things as they were, rely on the Lord, and move on. It was a humbling pill to swallow and there were still a few times after, such as when we saw them with their many investigators at church or heard about how they had moved that investigator's baptismal date up a half month, I still felt a twinge of jealousy. But, as Sister S and I started to work, we definitely saw a LOT of miracles. In four weeks we found more investigators in a rural area that my companions and I averagely found in 2 weeks in the city.  And, when the Chinese elders' investigator was baptised last week, I was able to really feel happy for him and the sisters instead of selfishly feeling bitterness or resentment just because we were not the ones to teach him. Looking back now, I really think those sisters were the ones he needed in order to get to the waters of baptism anyway. And I feel like the last few weeks have prepared Sister S and I for serving as Chinese-speaking missionaries in Tasmania! 

Ah. Pride. I feel like its pretty much an eternal struggle for me. But, I am so grateful for the scriptures and living prophets that help me recognize it and the Savior who gives me a way to overcome it. 

Love you all! 

-Sister Bennion
Sneak peak at the beauty of Tasmania!