Monday, September 28, 2015

Bread of Life

September 28, 2015
Dear Family,
Wow what an interesting week. This week we saw some really cool miracles that I cannot wait to tell you about.
Last Monday my companion and I were out tracting in the middle of the city. We were blessed to find a random two streets of houses. So we are tracting along down this street, it was getting later and we weren't having much success. We rang this beautiful Polish house, and I remember looking through the front window and seeing the elegantly decorated parlor wishing I was inside, the woman who answered the door said no, so we kept going. We tracted a couple more houses down then crossed the street. Suddenly my companion turns and say's, "I need to stop this woman across the street." She jumps the bushes on our side and I follow. We are so creepy sometimes... but we come walking up on this dark street standing off of the sidewalk and stop this girl. She was like ,"it is so cold and late out here, what are you doing out this late in the dark girls, my house is like three down, come have some tea with me." We were thrilled, trying not to look too giddy, but went with her. Then she stops... right in front of the big beautiful house we had just tracted. I awkwardly explained that we had already rang the house and she just laughed and said that she will explain that we are her new American friends. So we ended up sitting inside that beautiful parlor I had just been admiring 5 minutes earlier drinking tea with our new friend Klara and we were able to teach her a bit about what we believe. She is our miracle of the week.
We had the opportunity to later go back on Friday and teach a Plan of Salvation. She is a very dedicated Christian, but I love how open she is to learning about our message.
This week we also had the opportunity to make cinnamon rolls for our branch. We went to the mission home on Friday and baked three huge batches of cinnamon rolls and then made a bread of life message that we attached to all of them for as many of the members of the branch that we could get to. We spent all of Friday and Saturday delivering them. Gotta love public transportation with Biadronka grocery bags full of cinnamon rolls. The Polish members were so funny because when we tried to call ahead to let them know that we were dropping by with a surprise, most of them were like, uh ehh no we don't have an appointment with you. Some wouldn't even let us come over, but when they found out what it was, they loved it. One of my favorite things to do on my mission is serve people. Honestly some of the greatest joys in life don't come from living for yourself. It is about living for the Lord, your family, children, and the people you touch along the way. Service and true changing growth bringing you closer to God and the Savior is what brings true joy.
John 6: 35" And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst"
John 6: 51" I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
As missionaries we have the opportunity to bring people the "bread of life." We testify that through our Savior Jesus Christ, we may become spiritually full. As we come unto him our lives will be happier and filled with  true joy that comes through living in accordance with the will of God. We must choose everyday to partake of this spiritual bread. We promise you that as you follow and partake you will find greater satisfaction in your lives and be able to feel the eternal happiness and love of our Redeemer. We love you all dearly!
-The Missionaries

We were really blessed this week to have many of our kind members feed us which was such a blessing. I have never had it happen this much my entire mission. This must be what it is like to serve in the states whoot haha! Anyways, Have a wonderful wonderful week to you all. I believe in a loving Heavenly Father, may we all believe and live according to the knowledge that we have. Good luck with Gen, Conf this week. I get to watch a few sessions yayy! Make sure you spiritually prep!
Siostra Benson

Monday, September 21, 2015

Banana Scrambled Eggs and Brownie Batter Coma

September 21, 2015

We had a wonderful week here in Warsaw II. Same trials and tribulations but we are creating joy in the journey. Poland actually had a fairly warm last week but is getting chillier now.
I absolutely love the YSA in this country. Sometimes we go with our members or investigators to the FHE for the youth and it is so much fun. They all have such humor and character, put it all in a foreign language that you can kind of understand and it makes for some good times. It makes me excited to see my three little sisters soon! Congrats on your 16th birthday little Wee.
Wednesday evening my comp and I had a meeting with a member later in the evening and were going to be late home. Rather than waiting for the bus that wouldn't come we took off running. We ran probably a mile or two in ballet flats and skirts, and we made it in perfectly on time. It was fantastic, but I think my feet are still bruised haha!
Zone conference on Thursday was probably one of the highlights of this transfer and my mission. President Kearon a current member of the first quorum of the 70 and also the President of the European area came and directed zone conference. Seriously so inspired. Something that has continually struck me is the immense love that general authorities have. I was preparing myself for a smack down, like the whole those whom the Lord loveth he chaseneth. Instead we were shown absolute love and respect from the get go, such a good lesson to me. I really impressed that we can change and grow; expecting good things from ourselves, and do it in a way that we are not demeaning to ourselves when we mess up. Everything they said was just what I needed to hear. I love the general authorities, and looking at the steps they take in life, I see that they are following closely and diligently in the steps of the savior. It inspires me to do the same.
Thursday evening Sister Johnston, my trainee who is not so much a trainee anymore, got to stay the night with us. It was so good to be with an old friend and especially see the growth she has made. It is incredible. She speaks better Polish than I do!
Sundays for the missionaries here are usually fairly crazy. Every set of missionaries running around trying to juggle our investigator friends, members, lessons, and everything else that happens at church. This Sunday was especially overwhelming. The missionaries are assigned to speak and put together sacrament meeting every third Sunday of the month. We had the other Warsaw II sisters stay the night at our apartment after splits the night before because they live so far away, and we live close to the chapel. Friday the elders sprang on me that I had to play the piano in the musical number. Those of you who know me know that I hate playing in public. In my last branch in Lodz I had to play every Sunday, but only after much prayer and practicing. So Friday we throw together this musical number and I made up an accompaniment. Somehow the musical number went fairly well, even with me playing a made up accompaniment haha. Then I had to speak, whoot whoot, my first talk in Poland. Somehow I have escaped until this point without having to speak. It was a wonderful growing experience, both preparing and giving the talk was a privilege from the Lord. Then I had to last minute direct the music in the meeting and teach a primary lesson flying from the seat of my pants. Gotta love the day of rest eh!
Last night, Sunday, we  got to meet with  one of our members here. We sat under a tiny little light in her tiny Polish apartment and had such a beautiful lesson. I know the Lord helps us know what to teach because it was exactly what we needed to discuss. Her little turtle was running wild around the floor and her dog is worse than Kaiser and won’t leave you alone. I love Polish people, they are just the best.  When we got home I was starving, but our house was literally destitute! No flour, no milk, no meat, no butter. We only had a couple of eggs some old bananas and jam with moldy bread. So I tried to make pancakes out of eggs and bananas. I know call me crazy, but it had worked before. Well last night it did not work because alas no flour. It turned out to be scrambled eggs with smashed banannas. We were so desperate that we started eating it with jam smeared all over and sugar and cinnamon. It was so gross, so I was like... Sister Carlson I need something to eat that is sweet. Then we remembered that we had a box of hidden Betty Crocker brownies that Kaja had given us from an American family. We tried to make brownies with some of the ingredients missing, got too impatient after it was only in the oven for twenty minutes, so we took it out early and drank it with spoons. My companion might have a sugar intolerance and I am a horrible influence. Both of us were sick all night, well my comp more than me. I just slept like a rock all night haha! Thus we went from a sweet meeting to a couple hours later sitting on the floor with brownie batter everywhere happy as clams until the sugar hit. We missionaries are strange people!
I love my mission and I am so grateful for the privilege to represent the Lord at this time. I know this is His true church.
Have a good week!
Siostra Benson

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Key to Not Being an Idiot

September 14, 2015
Hey Family,
So I don't have very much time this week, but I will try to give you the run down.
Tuesday- Went out to visit Grójec and got to see the wonderful Wiśniewski family. The Lord is a miracle worker, for some reason Namra was inspired to tell us that the next bus back to Warsaw left in like 30 minutes, and the one after that wouldn't come for several hours leaving us stranded and late. Somehow we managed to run across the city, heart attack Wiola's house, and make it to the bus in time. Cud!
Wednesday- We got to spend some time with the Warsaw I sisters on Nowy Swiat and teach, so awesome. I love the other sisters kind and diligent examples. We also might have eaten two Pączki and a milk bar dinner in the process. Soo tasty, I wish you all could try it. Good old fashion Polish food has some great secret recipes!
Thursday- Life really hit the fan this day. I had to go to the dentist, which turned out not being as traumatic as I was working it out to be. Yay for modern day technology. My companion and I did a week of exact obedience this week. So we worked hard all day and were trying to be diligent and stay out and teach but be exactly in on time. We tracted and then raced home, running as fast as we could, to make it in exactly at 9:00 pm. to be diligent and obedient. We race up the stairs, get to the door and the clock is right at 9:00, throw the key it the lock, and and and... nothing. It wouldn't work. So we wrestled with our door for ten minutes before accepting the fate that something had happened and we were locked out for the night. We spent the night at the other sister apartment out in Wilanów.
Friday- In the morning we woke up like crusty homeless people after spending the night on the floor. Had breakfast with the other sisters, put back on our same clothes from the day before, gathered our little kid dolphin toothbrushes that we had managed to buy at a grocery store the night before, and set off for home. Of course the door was still locked when we got home. We tried again to open it and then racked our brains as to why the lock wouldn't work. We called a member to come help us. He called our landlord who then sent a locksmith. The locksmith man was not very happy at all, actually he was quite angry for no reason right from the get go. He kept asking me if we were using the wrong key. Well we only had one giant key that went to our apartment, and I don't ever carry the key's my companion does so I kept telling him no, we have no other key. We hadn't given anybody else the keys either in the past couple of days. We went downstairs to try the mail box key, which then didn't work either. It was then we had the horrifying realization that they were not our keys. My companion when she had transferred from Wrócław had accidentally taken the keys from that apartment. She had put our house keys in my bag, and in the process of trying to find the keys the night before had mistaken the Wroclaw keys to be ours. Of course the locksmith was even more furious and even though he had only been there for 10 minutes charged us 350 zł. Brat Jarosz the member had mercy and convinced the office to refund us. Oopsies. We are idiots.
I will just say. The mission teaches you many many things. I have learned so many hard lessons in the past year plus. So the key to learning how to not be an idiot is to serve a mission and learn everything the hard way. We limped into our apartment emotionally and physically battered that day.
Saturday- Taught some really awesome members and recent converts
Sunday- We got invited over by an American family, the Chadwick's for dinner. It was AMAZING. We got there and Bother Chadwick pulled out this giant meat, cheese, bread, and cracker spread for us and the other Ukrainian family over for dinner. I am assuming the nice meal was primarily for the Ukrainian family, but oh boy were we grateful. Then we had chicken and dumplings with an amazing salad, cookies, and cobbler. Sunday was the saving grace of the week!
Wow sorry this is all so jumbled today. I am hanging in there and trying to work hard and be an instrument in the Lords hands. In our week of obedience we may not have been perfectly obedient, but in the pursuit of trying, we saw a lot of improvement. Thus is the nature of our lives. In the pursuit of excellence we experience detours and lots of failure, but God expects that each of us tries our best and improves bit by bit until someday when we are worthy of eternal glory. Carry on my dear family and friends, we have good things to do yet!
Siostra Ellis Benson

Monday, September 7, 2015

I Will Trust In Thee Forever

September 7, 2015
Hey Family,
It has been raining here all day, downpours! In the space of two day's we went from decently warm to freezing. Pretty soon the snow will be here. This is fore-casted to be one of the coldest winters in 20 years according to some of the older generation here. I thought that last winter was decently chilly and it was considered mild, looks like I am in for a treat this year!

So here is a fun story of the week. Last week while out contacting on the streets we stopped and had a really nice quick conversation with this guy. We invited him to our church services because he didn't want to exchange numbers, then we walked away and I didn't think much more of it. Yesterday we sat down in church and as usual were trying to spread the missionaries out enough to cover all of the investigators and less-actives in the branch sitting in the congregation. We are trying to double church attendance this transfer, and we actually had a good number of people come yesterday. We are all settled in and I hear my companion gasp, I turned around and there was the guy we had talked to on the street. He had actually come to church, which honestly I can't remember the last time that has happened to me. I stood up and went to the back and grabbed him from the confused elders talking with him and got him to come and sit by us. Heck I couldn't even remember the poor guy's name. Anyways he ended up staying all three hours of church and then some. He had so many questions, wanted a Book of Mormon, and didn't even run screaming when one of our members information dumped on him. We were thrilled! He was our miracle of the day, even though we found out he moves to Kraków this week. Bummer. Hopefully he will make some missionaries down there very happy.
We also went and heart attacked one of our members door's this week, Emilia. She is such a sweet wonderful lady that I have loved since the beginning of my mission. She has a really big work load, but still is so loving and has a beautiful testimony. Honestly when nothing else is going right, service is such a wonderful blessing for the receivers and especially the givers of it. I love it when the Lord guides us to opportunities to serve, it is some of my favorite memories as a missionary! We also had a white board where I met this sweet girl from Ukraine. She spoke in Ukrainian and I spoke back in Polish. Wow, I kind of understand Ukrainian! The gift of tongues is so real!
Know that I have a testimony of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ! The plan of redemption is real. One of my favorite passages of scripture is in 2 Nephi 4: 16-35. I love this passage because I feel like Nephi. I love the Lord and I want to be good, do good, and accomplish all that my Father has asked of me. Yet often I am prohibited because of my weaknesses, selfishness, pride, temptations, and mortal incapacities. I know I have done good things with my life, but yet I expect so much more and when I fall force myself to change immediately and when that change is not forthcoming the frustration builds. But I also acknowledge that those frustrations, shortcomings, mountains we climb are part of the plan. They teach us patience with ourselves and with others, they teach us spiritual self reliance, they teach us that change happens when we work hand in hand with the Lord to make our lives count. We will never be perfect in this life, life will never be perfect, but with Jesus Christ all can be made whole, all can be made well! I testify and extend the words of 2 Nephi 4: 16-35
"O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever."
Love Siostra Benson