Monday, November 24, 2014

Meatloaf But Not Meatloaf

November 24, 2014
Dear Family,
Wow, what a great week it has been! Really up and down, but great all the same. My language is finally barely starting to turn the corner. It’s still bad, I can't casually converse with people, but I get the gist of what is going on. I am excited for continual opportunities of growth!
I just have to say that I have a FANTASTIC district. I love them so much, they are a huge support here. It is comprised of Sister Tobler and I, Elders Retallick and Jourdan, and Elders Wride and Write. For Thanksgiving this week we are actually having a district dinner at our apartment to celebrate. We are buying rotisserie chickens, and then everyone is assigned to bring a couple of things. It is going to be a smashing hit, I just know it!
In reference to the title of this email, Meatloaf but not Meatloaf, allow me to explain. We went to visit a friend who surprised us with dinner; seriously so kind! There were two thick slices of meatloaf, vinegar salad, and some very interesting tea. I look over at Sister Tobler and she has panic written all over her face. She hadn't been feeling that well all day and eating this meal might push her over the edge. I mean what and the heck do you do in that kind of situation, you can't just refuse a meal that someone so lovingly made you. So we sat down and dug in! Turns out, the meatloaf, was not meatloaf. It was comprised of Kasha, onion, cranberries, dates, chicken broth, and some kind of crazy spices all smashed into a pan and then chilled. The vinegar salad actually tasted good in comparison, and then to wash it all down was that nasty strong herbal tea. I started choking it down bite by bite. I wonder if she noticed that I wasn't exactly chewing my food. I could barely manage smashing it around in my mouth and then swallowing as fast as I could. Sister Tobler only made it through the first of two slices before she excused herself to go to the bathroom. I knew the second she left what was about to happen. I almost busted straight up laughing, but then I realized I was the one left to finish my food and wished I could go join her in the bathroom. She came back five minutes later little pale and shaky and got excused from finishing the meal because she wasn't feeling well. Meanwhile I am in the middle of tactical deep breathing exercises trying to finish.  It was quite the experience, but I love how willing people are to serve us.
Sunday evening we did whiteboarding with the AP's and it really changed my perspective. My first few day's in the country I was just constantly scared. It was awful, suffocating. That fear always comes back when doing street teaching, whiteboards, tracting, etc. But last night, I was just like, you know what I am tired of my fear trumping my faith. So I just faked it until I made it. I tried to be bold and talk to everyone, and soon my fear went away and I was just full of faith and happiness. It really boosted my confidence and motivation to continue to learn Polish and be a confident missionary/person. Really tender mercy to experience such an opposite change. I want to be that kind of missionary all of the time.
Today we are going on exchanges again with the Warsaw IB sisters. I will be with Sister Poklinkowska for the next few days. She is such a sweetheart and I we are really going to focus on learning to love the Polish language. I know that I can learn this language so much better and faster if I loved it, so we are really emphasizing that factor. It's gonna be great! Today we are also going to go and finally tour the newly dedicated Jewish museum with our awesome investigator Kaja. She has been making such good progress and I just feel such a connection with her. I looked at her the other day during a lesson and the thought came to mind, you are one of the reasons that I was sent to this country. It was such a special thought to have, and to think that I almost decided never to turn in those mission papers. I would have missed an innumerable amount of growing experiences and might have never met some of these people who I know will be my lifelong friends.
Anyways, it was a really good last week. I love being a missionary! Just know that the Lord loves all of you so much. He knows us better than we know ourselves. The knowledge that we have of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so important, soul saving, and brings true happiness. It is true! I know it is true because I have studied it out, lived it, and loved it! Prayer and Scripture study sure goes a long way!
Love Sister Benson

Monday, November 17, 2014

Busy Busy!

November 17, 2014
Hello Everyone,

No time to write this week, but here are some pictures. Life is great here in Poland. It is getting pretty cold that is for sure.

The Lord is always there for us. The atonement is so real and can help us to go from good to great! I love being a missionary and wouldn't trade this for any other thing that I could be doing right now!

I finally visited the famous Rynek in old town Warsaw.  I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful week.
Love Sister Benson

Monday, November 3, 2014

All Saints Day

November 3, 2015
Hello Family,
Oh what a week it has been! This week was the Polish holiday All-Saint's Day on November 1st. We spent much of the week preparing for the open house at our chapel on Wolska as a way to invite the Polish people to come and learn more about the Mormons. On All-Saint's Day, or Day of the Dead, the Polish people honor their families by going to the cemeteries and cleaning off the graves of their passed loved ones and decorating them with tons of flowers and candles. The chapel on Wolska is between two really old and beautiful cemeteries in Warsaw, so it was a great opportunity. We made a huge Plan of Salvation chart and put it up in the cultural hall with refreshments and the office translated some really cool Mormon Messages and Bible video's that we also had playing. At night we lit up the walkway's in front of the chapple with paper bag lanterns (which was kind of my project of the week), and it actually turned out pretty cool. Sister Tobler along with the AP's Elder Fotu and Swicegood spent a good chunk of time this week putting it all together and it turned out beautifully. I have to admit that of the throngs of people walking by outside, not many actually came in, but I have hope that maybe one of the twenty or thirty people who came in will be a little better because of the experience. It was a blessing to be able to try to serve the Polish people a little more as they honored their families this holiday.

Afterward on Saturday night we took our dinner hour and went and walked around the two cemeteries. I wish you could have seen it. So many fresh beautiful flowers just covering these ornate and beautiful graves, and don't even get me started on the miles of candles. I didn't have a chance to send all of the pictures, but all of the graves were just covered in these mainly red and white candles that lit up the night. Near the West cemetery was a monument and graveyard honoring those who lost their lives in the Warsaw uprising, and surrounding the base of this monument for like twenty feet was just a sea of candles. It was pretty incredible. One of our brilliant and super cool investigators Kaja came with us when we visited the monument and she told us some pretty cool histories. She is an intern at the recently dedicated Jewish museum here in Warsaw that opened last week and she wants to give us the grand tour of the museum one of these p-day's. We are pretty excited!

Last night President and Sister Edgren had all of the sister missionaries serving in Warsaw, the six of us, come and stay at the mission home for a sister's retreat last night. Sister Edgren fed us soup and cooked us breakfast and we were able to kinda just relax and unwind. I am really grateful for the breather, it was well needed. This morning president gave us a nice long pep talk about our importance as sister missionaries and the role that a mission will have for us personally as well as in the lives of others. The mission age change is something that has and will continue to affect the entirety of church culture, especially for the women. Never before has the voice of women been so respected and heard and what an opportunity for the women of the church to represent the Lord as a missionary. It is life changing for us now, and for the lives of our future families. I loved what mom said about me being a different person now. I really am. I could not have progressed as far or fast if I had simply remained a student at BYU instead of serving a mission. This year and a half I have as a missionary has farther reaching effects than I first realized when I pushed that submit button on my mission papers. Missionaries have to do hard things every single day, and as dad say's, it builds character. I guess I am just saying that I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I may not be perfect, but through the enabling and cleansing power of the atonement I know that I can change. This morning really reawakened and enlarged my perspective of Heavenly Father's love and care for His Sister missionaries.