Monday, March 30, 2015


March 30, 2015
Wow, I cannot believe that it has been a week since last P-day, it feels like it has been four haha! So here is a quick update on what happened this week...
Last Tuesday we rode into Bydgoszcz and to practice our music for zone conference and stay the night. Then on Wednesday morning we woke up very early and hopped the train to Warsaw for zone conference. Every single time I enter back into that city is one of the happiest moments ever. My heart just seems to soar when the city outline finally comes into view with Stalin's tower at the peak. Who would have ever guessed I would like the big city.

 Even better was the amazing Zone conference we had. It was so good to see so many missionaries gathered together in one single location. Looking back I cannot even tell you half of what was said but I still remember the powerful spirit I felt. Everything was just what I needed, and the testimony at the end was a beautiful way to finish it off.

Sunday my friend from Warsaw, Molly, came up to visit me. She joined us for church and then dinner at the senior couples house! Then we bargained with her in Amber Alley this morning. She leaves back to America within the month. I would definitely have to say that I have met some of my closest friends on this mission!
I look back at the past 9 months of my mission and wonder if I have even changed significantly at all. Then I look at this current transfer and it has been none of the butterflies and sunshine that I was hoping for at all, but I have come to realize that the small things in life that I took for granted before now mean so much to me. My life has truly been truly blessed. We are all so blessed. My childhood is above price to me. My relationship with God is still progressing slowly step by step, but it is above price to me. Mom said this week, "where much is given, much is required". We have all been given so much. I am going to try to remember how much I have been given this week and try to give more of myself to the Lord and to others.
Love, Sister Benson

Monday, March 23, 2015

God Is Good

March 23, 2015
Dear Family,
There has been so many miracles in this mission right now! My companionship got a small taste of goodness this week, God gave us a miracle. We received an online office referral of a young woman who wanted a Księga Mormona (Book of Mormon) from us. The phone number we had for her didn't work so we decided to go and just see if she was in, So we hiked the big drive to her student dorm, saw some crazy wild boars running through the trees right by us (so crazy, I thought they were bears, it scared me half to death, these huge wild hogs) and she didn't answer. On Thursday we had Elder's Fotu and Allen come and give us some training about setting expectations boldly and firmly within the first two minutes of a meeting and how to tie it all together at the end. This training laid it down, and I know we needed to hear this training on Thursday not just for this investigator, but anyone we meet. On Friday when we actually went back to her house she let us right in and we had this amazing first meeting. The spirit was so strong and that is probably one of the most bold and spiritually guided meetings I have ever had. We set the expectations of who we are, why we are there, what we expect of her, and why it will bless her life as soon as we sat down in this meeting, and somehow she accepted it. It was such a beautiful moment. I know that if we would have seen her on Wednesday we would not have been prepared, we needed to have the training and on Friday night it really payed off.
Today Sister Bąk and I spent the morning with one of the members from our branch here, Agnieszka, who took us to what people have deemed Polish Black Friday, thrift style. Basically there is this thrift shop that sells everything in the store (coats, boots, pants, shirts, you name it) for 1zł, which is like the equivalent of 35 American cents. All of these Polish women, young and mostly old, line up outside the store and they open up the doors at 9 am. then the rush begins. Mom and Grandma, you would have loved it. It was eerily quiet, because it's the Polish way, no screaming like in America, but everyone just went rushing inside grabbed a basket and then just started grabbing everything they liked that they could get their hands on. People sort as quickly as they can through the clothes and then stake out a spot by a mirror and go through sizes and try it on later. After being open for a few hours the store is usually cleaned out, and they do it every single Monday! Agnieszka is pretty much professional at it. Sister Bąk and I barely survived amidst all of the scuffling and frenzy. Needless to say it was so intense that we only walked away with some Indian sarii's and manly sweaters to wear at home as a joke. Definitely interesting!
We travel to Bydgoszcz tomorrow and then to Warsaw on Wednesday for zone conference. I am SO excited to see everyone, and of course get another spiritual boost. Then Sister Bąk will stay in Warsaw for exchanges and Sister Kutcher will be coming back to Gdańsk with me for a few days.
Honestly this week I didn't feel very deserving of that miracle that we saw. I feel like we have been working, but not with very high expectations or priorities. I am so blessed to have a earthly and heavenly parents who love me just because I am theirs, and who want to help me succeed despite all epic failures and pathetic human moments that I have. God is good!
Love You All,
Have a beautiful wonderful week wherever you may be!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Baltic and Malbork

March 16, 2015
Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to give a quick update on how things are going over here. Being a missionary is a wonderful blessing and we see such miracles, large and small every day. Honestly life is just a miracle for so many reasons, and then of course there is the days when simply surviving is a miracle haha. Missionary work is a blessing, and I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. It holds me up and leads me on always. I know that Heavenly Father not only hears our prayers, but He truly cares as well. Don't draw away from God when it gets hard, I promise it is always worth the effort to let Him in to bless and change your life!

Last week I finally laid my eyes on the Baltic sea, it was great! Then today for P-day we rode the train to visit the castle Malbork. It is the largest brick gothic castle in the world and I think one of the largest castles in Europe. A lot of it was closed for renovation but it was still so crazy cool! My district probably took over 1000 pictures. Definitely worth the trip. I highly recommend it! Also got to visit Warsaw for a Sisters Conference this week and got to see one of my best friends Kaja. All in all, life is a przygoda (adventure), sometimes it turns out, a lot of the times it doesn't and thats okay, just remember to find joy in the journey! I need to remember to do that as well haha!

Siostra Benson

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Protection In Our Lives

March 9, 2015
Hey Family,
Thank you all for your emails this week, they uplift me like nothing else. Sister Bąk has been sick this week, so we are still kinda limping along. The Lord has been providing the little miracles along the way though and I am really really excited for this upcoming week. Tomorrow we get to head into Warsaw for the Sisters Conference at the mission home. We have spent so many hours planning it on the phone. I hope it goes well. I am going to try to sneak an earlier train time so that I can stop by and see Kaja. 
So we had that dinner appointment this week with our family that we got through the online referral. We were so excited for it all week. Lets just say that it was pretty much a disaster haha. Dinner itself actually went surprisingly well. Somehow Sister Bąk and I were able to have an entire dinner conversation all in Pollish, but after dinner the second the religious thought got brought up it got weird and we decided to leave. This world can be full of so much good, but so much evil. Being a missionary doesn't protect you from that. The gospel truly is a protection in our lives. Heavenly Father knows so much better than we do, He sees the whole picture. We have to trust in Him and follow His guidelines in this life. People mock that, and try to pretend it doesn't apply to them, but it always does. Holding onto the rod is key, letting go is not freedom. I am so grateful for what my mission teaches me every week. Through good and bad, I love my time here in Poland.
Watching the little triumphs and successes in the branch and area here is wonderful. I made some new friends this week that helped me get a little bit more love for this new situation. People really are not perfect, but God is. The gospel can really bring people together. I am forever grateful for my earthly family and friends. This week I found myself thinking a lot about my friends and family and the future. If nothing else, this mission has taught me to appreciate you so much more. I love this mission. It is so hard and sometimes I wish I was home with my family. But I would choose any day to be right here where I am right now. I love you all so much and hope that you know I pray for each of you every single day. You are my world. I know that this church is true!
Have a beautiful week, hopefully the spring is bursting forth. The weather is still bipolar here. We are off to the beach, whoot my first glimpse at the sea. P-day beckons, peace!
Siostra Ellie Benson

Monday, March 2, 2015

Welcome to Gdansk

March 2, 2015 
Dear Family,
Well I have arrived and am trying to get settled into my new home here in Gdasńk. Last Tuesday my entire district spent the morning at the Dworzec sending us all off on trains to the unknown. Sister Johnston and Elder Wright are the only two who remained. It was actually really hard to say goodbye to my Warsaw II district family, I have served around a lot of my district family for most, if not all of my mission. My elders helped get me onto my train because my luggage weighed a million pounds, yeah never doing that again! Then I had a long train ride by myself up to the northernland. I retaught myself how to crochet again on the journey and talked to a cool guy, he took a Księga Mormona too. Then the poor man helped me haul my luggage off the train when I arrived haha. Gdańsk definitely feels really European. Most of the buildings are old Polish style or communist. Actually a lot of the city is kinda sketchy and ugly, but the main touristy areas are stunning, and we live 5 minutes from the main street Ul. Długa. I still haven't seen the sea yet, I am dying to do that! We don't get up to the Sopot or Gdinia areas usually because they are so far away, but maybe for a p-day I will finally get to the water!

So this last week has been a bit of a bumpy start for me here in Gdańsk. Last transfer was really challenging, but I look back now and I realized how much I loved every bit of it, I loved being a missionary, I knew my purpose. I poured my heart into the people. In the moment it was hard to realize everything happening and changing, because every day was so full and busy and crazy. But looking back now I see so much passion, drive, and I don't think I have ever tried harder in my entire life to be a obedient and hard working, even considering all of the obstacles. I knew what I wanted and I went for it, and things by far did not go perfectly, but I really appreciate all that happened. I am so so grateful for my good start and 6 months in Warsaw, and I already miss Kaja, Molly, and Anita so much. When I got my transfer call to Gdansk I was genuinely excited. I really do like the branch and feel like there is a lot of potential regardless of a down first week. Sister Bak is a good companion as well. I think I just need to turn to the Lord a little bit more and remember the vision.
On Sunday I officially met the branch, everyone is super funny! Elder and Sister Shaw are the senior couple here, they are actually from Idaho Falls as well. They have the missionaries over for Sunday dinners, so we went over after church yesterday, I seriously just about wept at the sight of a Sunday dinner with mashed potatoes and English speakers. They fed us well, and let me tell you that enriched and lifted my soul like none else! I know I am pathetic!
So let’s just say cheers to a better week. As hard as it is sometimes, I know that this is true. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings us so much peace and direction. Keep holding onto that iron rod, I promise you the alternative is not worth it, not now, and especially not in the eternal scheme of things. Christ is our brother, and Heavenly Father is mindful of every situation. God has been so good to us. I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Sister Benson