Monday, July 27, 2015

By Small and Simple Things

July 27, 2015
Well this week I went on exchanges to Warsaw with Sister Bąk which was awesome! Mondays train ride was fairly uneventful, they moved the whole mission over to using Polski Bus rather than trains, except Lodz, so we still get the trains whoot! Kaja was at the train station right when I pulled in to say hello. She is doing so good! Life is not perfect and I can understand why she is nervous, but everything is pretty much set for the 22nd of August. Please pray for her. But we had a wonderful chat while Kaja escorted us home on Monday evening.
Tuesday was really great. We had district meeting and I got to see two of my really good friends who were in my very first district. Elders Retallick and Wynne were comps in Warsaw II when I first got in the country and now Elder Retallick is ending his mission with Elder Wynne in the same area. After district meeting we had a rushed lunch and then I got to see one of my favorite members from the Warsaw II branch, Karolina. She left last week right after we saw her to go and live in England as a nanny, so I am so glad I caught her one last time! We helped her clean out the relief society closet for Monika the president as one last farewell gift, then had a very sweet lesson with her! As we were teaching her this lesson I felt the spirit so sweetly, I never cry in lessons, but I was tearing up the whole time. Moments like that are so so good. I am going to miss her so much! The elders came and grabbed Kebab's with us for dinner at one of my favorite Kebab shops in Poland afterwards, which let
Cleaning the Relief Society Closet

me tell you is such a sweet miracle. Lodz is supposedly the Kebab capital of Poland, that is such a lie! I have not found a single Kebab here that is even worth trying. So Kebab time in Warsaw is coveted by us Lodziankan's. Then we had contacting at this completely random corner in downtown that was really successful. Sister Bąk and I had 8 really good lessons at this banner board and the elders had like 6. That is another miracle, we no longer have to deal with the dinky heavy trashed white boards anymore. The mission finally ordered in these light-weight portable banners that we can put up when we are out contacting.

Wednesday was pretty uneventful other than a really hot sweaty train ride back to Lodz. We then rushed up to Zgierz and met with one of our members, Irena Zak. She lives an hour away, can't see, is older, and she still is an active members of the church. God bless that woman! All week we have been gearing up for our new referrals lesson on Saturday. We practiced our restoration all week, I legitimately have not taught an actual interested investigator lesson in so long that I was nervous out of my mind. I know because we
prepared that the Lord blessed us! It went really well. She accepted baptism on August 21st, whoot I know! But alas we already have to move it back significantly. She lives far out of Lodz and can only come in every week or two, so we need more time to teach her the lessons, and she needs more time to learn and gain a testimony. Then the same day, Saturday, we received another referral from a member in Wrocław of her friend who is living in Lodz. She was supposed to come to church on Sunday, but ended up canceling the morning of so we are praying that it will happen next week! Finally some momentum in the work, praise the Lord!

I just have to let you know, not because I am a missionary and I have a missionary obligation to throw
something spiritual into my emails, but because it is something that has been on my mind. This week I have felt the spirit so strongly as I have studied and pondered and tried to seek after good things. It all started when I watched the movie "Mountain of the Lord" one night before bed, then another pioneer movie "The John Tanner Story". My mind has been called to serious reflection. This gospel, this life, is so much more than we actually see. I have been trying to pray for the veil to be lifted a little so that I may see with a clearer perspective all that is in store for those who honor and give their lives to the Lord. This life is a life of preparation, and we will never be fully prepared, we will never be spiritually full enough to stop progressing and stop making those agonizing changes that make us more like our Father in Heaven. All of this jolly spiritual ranting means nothing to any of you unless you try them for yourselves, they are simply put just a bunch of words. But words put into action result in growth, real life-changing, life-building growth. The words of the scriptures put into actions equal a living testimony. Having a living testimony also means it has the potential of dying unless fed by continuous nourishment and care. One more thing, for years I have read the Book of Mormon over and over again. Yesterday I finished the Book of Mormon for the second time on my mission. I have always had a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true, that it is good, but I have always felt that Moroni's promise at the end has fallen flat for me. " 3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. 5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:3-5)" I never feel like I had received that big spiritual witness and it was so frustrating. Like I said, it doesn't mean I didn't believe in the BOM, I have read it every day and I know the difference it makes, I just felt like I was still searching for something more from that promise. Yesterday as I read the last five chapters of Moroni and tried that promise yet again, I feel like I got my answer. Still, ever so small, but yes it was an answer. As I read those last five chapters I knew what they taught was true, I knew that was my answer after all of these years. God truly has been patient and merciful to us children, Christ is the way and the life. The decisions we make now will truly affect our eternal destinies! "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Basically dear family and loved ones, don't give up, don't give in, make the gospel something personal in your lives. The more you learn, the more you understand, the more you will find joy in living it, and vice versa! This mission is blasted hard, but so so worth it. Miss you all, but we will see each other again soon!

Siostra Benson

Monday, July 20, 2015

Guidance From Above

July 20, 2015
No Hej
We had a really interesting week here in Lodz. I was so motivated by all of the lessons and people we met the last week, but then kinda took a hope crash in the middle of the week. Psh, sister missionaries, we can be overly emotional sometimes. This week we met a man from the faith of "The Flying Spagetti Monsters", yes it is a legit religion here (basically created to mock believing people), ate some really good froyo, and got to spend a lot of time with members which I really enjoyed. Getting to know the members is one of my favorite missionary experiences.

The Gift of Navigation!
Our branch president here, President Połodnikiewicz, is this really great guy that works incredibly hard for this branch. He actually reminds me of dad a bit. He and his wife invited us over for lunch this week. We hadn't really met his wife Mirka yet because she has been recovering from surgery, but I was nervous because I knew she was quite the fire cracker. Old Polish woman style you know! So we stressed all day about planning a super good lesson, being on time, and went and picked out a nice bouquet of flowers. Heck she may be a firecracker, but I love her so much haha. The Lord seriously must have helped us know how to prepare for this meeting, because I swear there was divine assistance helping us. I don't even know how to describe it. The second she saw the flowers she fell in love with us I think. President was just happy because his wife was happy. She kept saying, my lovely girls... you are so beautiful and sweet...and you were perfectly on time... here eat some more of this we will fill you right up. She made us this gourmet lunch, and we were so touched by their kindness. Really our branch president is great. We had the gift of tongues with us and had such a good time getting to know each other better. I love getting to know our members because then we feel the support of the branch as we work in this area. It was hilarious because Mirka love the flowers so much. She said "only one senior couple has ever brought me flowers before, I have never had younger missionaries do so, thank you so much. (then she paused and smiled) but this better be the last time you buy me flowers, ok. We know you don't have the money to do this often!" Just the way she said it was so funny. Another thing I loved is they just got it, they understand what love, sacrifice, and faith truly mean. Stalwart members.

As I said we got to spend a lot of time with members this week... so Thursday we went out to visit the Diarra family. Seriously one of the coolest Polish families ever. They live pretty far out South of Lodz in Tuszyn Las, and we had no idea how to get out there so we were praying for divine assistance in that as well. I must add... on my mission I know the Lord helps missionaries with many spiritual gifts. The gift of teaching, gift of tongues, as I mentioned last week the gift of piano tongues. This week I must add that I know there is a gift of navigation. All missionaries in Poland, minus the APs and office elders, navigate by hard copy map. I didn't know how to drive my car to McDonald’s in my home town some days let alone navigate an enormous city with a dinky map using public transportation. The night before we looked online to try to find a bus route to their town if we could make it to the fringes of Lodz by the public transport routes, but came up empty. I just decided if we could make it as far as we could with our Lodz map then we could walk the rest. ( to be honest we never would have made it if we had done that... it would have been like a 5 mile walk). As we left on Thursday afternoon, I looked at my comp and told her, psh if we somehow find a bus and make it there without having to walk a couple of miles it will be a miracle. We traveled by tram to the fringes, I asked a Polish woman if she knew of country buses to Tuszyn and she kinda gave us a general area where there might be. We hop off the tram walk down a street, and we found this dinky little bus pulling out of its station. I ran up and asked the driver, no idea how he understood my broken Polish, and we somehow had found the random bus stop in the middle of nowhere out to Tuszyn. It was halarious, just imagine this dinky little van, probably a little bit bigger than a normal mormon van, but full to the capacity with around 20 people. We had no idea what stop we were supposed to get off at, there was no air conditioning, and there we are just bumping along through the Polish forests sweating our eyeballs out on this bus. We somehow managed to get off at the right stop after asking a passenger next to us for help. Then we somehow magically found the right neighborhood, bought them a giant watermelon.  We then had a really good meeting with the Diarra family at their beautiful country house. They grilled Kiełbasa for us. Then we missed our only bus on the way back, somehow found another same random dinky red one and made it home exactly on time. Well it for sure wasn't magic that got us out there, it was guidance from above. Needless to say, this story has to be lived to appreciate fully. Good times.

Saturday we had a branch barbeque out at the branch działka. It poured rain on us, we got eaten alive by bugs, but had a good time. We played some soccer as well which was a perk. Today my district is going out to the forest north of Lodz to do some hiking, I am so excited. Living in the city is so different than being able to get out. Then tonight I am back to my sweet homeland of Warsaw on exchanges with Sister Bąk. It is gonna be great!
Missionary life is so interesting. I wish that I had a go pro camera and you all could live this with me via video. I think you would be surprised... I think I would be surprised. My mission has been made up of a million moments; So many hard, awkward, embarrassing moments. So many happy, precious, miracle filled moments. It is hard to describe and hard to depict accurately through email. But I just want you all to know that I am grateful for my mission. I am grateful that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. It feels right to me and edifies my spirit. I have seen that grow within me and within others as I have served here in Poland. I have also seen much of wrong, things that are heart wrenching and do not feel right. It is hard to not be blinded by the flashing lights the noise and commotion and the voices and people demanding our attention and our lives all around. All my life I have turned to those around me for support and strength. Yet something I have learned, and am still learning on my mission is inner personal spiritual strength. As you turn to the Savior and our Heavenly Father and make living and studying the gospel a personal thing, you too will see your spirit edified and grow with those things that are good for your temporal and eternal welfare.

Love you all have a wonderful week!

Siostra Benson

Monday, July 13, 2015


July 13, 2015
Gift of Piano Playing much like the Gift of Tongues
On Tuesday we sat down to plan in the evening when all of our appointments for the next day canceled. I would say that pretty much 80% of our appointments cancel on us these days, not that we have very many to begin with haha. I always wrestle with trying to find a balance in what we do while still being obedient and fulfilling our purpose. I sat at the kitchen table trying not to despair because an empty schedule meant probably another 8 hours of contacting the next day, Luckily my comp calmed me down and offered that we go and try to keep finding outside of Lodz tracting. We ended up going out to a little area called Nowosolna to the north east of Lodz. After tracting for about an hour and a half I was surprised to find that I was actually enjoying it. Before my transfer in Lodz I had never been let in before, but now I have been let in several times and taught a lot of lessons in yards and at gates. We had started in some little neighborhoods and then progressed steadily down this long country lane with cute little houses and farms along the side. We were doing good, tracting along, then an older Polish woman in this beautiful Polish country house just ripped into us, as we were walking away she just followed us down the fence still yelling at us. Moments like that always shake me up, I sometimes struggle having love in my heart when experiences like that happen, it has been harder and harder as my mission has gone on. But we kept going. Then the last house we stop at on this long country road, this grumpy mean looking older man came out, his two dogs were trying to eat us through the fence and he thought we were Jehova Witnesses. That is how we met Miroslaw. Our only current investigator is a 70 year old Polish man, and dang is he awesome! In that one day of tracting we were able to teach three lessons, including Miroslaw, and then bake cinnamon rolls and meet with an active member and a less active all in one day. The Lord proved to me that if I would work, he would come through on His end, He always does. I shouldn't be so excited about our Polish grandfather but he has helped me love the Polish people more this transfer than anything else. He was an answer to our prayers. I felt the gift of tongues and the spirit work through my companion and I. We are praying for more miracles to come.

The country went from strangely hot and humid to freezing and rainy this week, meh anything but the heat. On that whiteboard we taught around four lessons. There was a man who stopped on his bike and was just staring at our question of the day, "do you believe that God still speaks to us?" I ended up talking with him only briefly but he told me that he has been living in England for the past 6 years. When he moved to England he forsook his faith in the Catholic Church, but upon returning to Poland he is trying to find it again. He prayed just days before to see if God was there, and said that our conversation at the white board was an answer to that prayer that God was speaking to him, and it was time to take up his faith again. It didn't really lead anywhere new other than encouraging him to go back to the Catholic Church, but alas, God works in mysterious ways.

I played the piano in Sacrament meeting yesterday. The chorister called me the night before and gave me one night to learn three new hymns. I butchered the first but then apparently there is a gift of piano available to missionaries because I somehow pulled the last two out of the gutter. My district said the first one wasn't so bad because the old bapcia singing drowned it out. I am grateful for my mission and the lessons I am learning here. Like Elder Holland has said, my mission may not be my best two years, there are better years ahead, but it was the best for me. Hopefully I can cram it all into a year in a half! Well love you all, I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. His plan leads to so much more, follow the Father's plan. My parents were always right anyways, I can admit that now because I am self governing in Poland right now, anyways I guarantee His plan is better than anything we could piece together or comprehend.
Siostra Benson

Monday, July 6, 2015

Cześć Wam,

July 6, 2015

We have just been settling into this week as the start of a new transfer and companionship. I was really surprised at how many goals we had nailed down within the first few hours of living in the same apartment. Both Sister Gustafson and I want to make something good out of this transfer and we already have seen some miracles along the way. We are trying to find ways to do service in the community, strengthen the branch, and also find families to teach.

Our first couple of hours back in Lodz we had people talking to us, not the other way around which is the usual. It is honestly easier to bring up the gospel to me when someone is asking why we are wrestling luggage on a bus than to just get someone to stop on the street. I am weird that way haha. We had another lady approach us while we were on our way home to ask for directions and we were able to invite her to church, she seemed interested and I really think she is going to come! Small miracles that boost you up!

My dear friend Linda from China
The one person that I have been consistently able to work with here in Lodz thus far has been our friend Linda from China. She received the lessons in English last year and got baptized without really understanding a lot, but boy has she made a comeback. Now I am just grateful she made that choice because we were able to pick it up later on. It started to change when we started Skyping with the Mandarin Elders in Boston who are reteaching her the discussions in Chinese.  We are meeting once a week with them, and it has been very helpful. Linda is yet another person on my mission that I have seen change because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She started coming to church again, even in a Polish branch where she hardly even understands the English translations. I love Linda. She has honestly been such a good friend! Sadly sometimes good things come to an end, she finished school here in Poland and is leaving. On Friday we had our last lesson with her and the Boston Elders. Sunday she came to church and now she is off back to China. I feel that she can return to China on a bit more solid foundation. Even though the church has not been officially established in China, there are members there and small congregations. I guess a lot of people have gotten baptized outside of the country and then return and now their membership growing. We hooked her up with the director of the church in Bejing and hopefully he will help her get connected to her local congregation. After some time in China, she is going to try to head to the states for school. I am grateful for the time we had to teach and be with her and am praying that she holds onto the rod!

New Companion Siostra Gustafson
For the fourth of July we went out to this supposedly American restaurant called the American Bull for burgers over by Manufactura. Alas, it was definitely not American. Basically every Polish restaurant here that claims it is Chinese, Mexican, or American is not really authentic. They don't have the same access to a lot of the ingredients so it is Polish- American/Chinese/ Mexican. I could kill for some Cafe Rio right now! Other than that we didn't really do much other than melt in the heat, whoo it got hot. I have never seen my district so cranky and delirious as out tracting in the evening heat. The Air Force has a big group stationed nearby for a couple of months so we had a member from the military from Arizona with us in Church, then we ran into some other military personnel yesterday. Being the American I am I couldn't help but stop by and be like... "oh my goodness, you speak English, with that accent you have to be from America." They probably thought I was an idiot haha! Of course I already knew who they were from their patriotic tattoo's but we chatted anyway and I wished them a late happy fourth of July and thanked them for their service. Even in Poland we got a taste of America. Funny thing is my companion is Canadian, so when we introduced ourselves she was awkardly like... "Well Actually I am from Canada."

This week I have been reading a lot of general conference talks. Honestly if you are looking for a spiritual upliftment, read read read away. General conference not only blesses us during the conference season, but also it can for long afterward. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Siostra Benson