Tuesday, October 27, 2015


October 27, 2015
Transfer news came this week. My new companions name is Sister Antczak and she has about six months of her mission left. She is from Texas and we have been together for approximately two hours or so. I feel optimistic about my last two months here as a Poland Warsaw missionary and I feel like there are some good things to come. I love you all and am so grateful for the support and love that you show me. Watching the departing group go was so bittersweet. Knowing that is me next makes me more determined to work hard and do all I can do to keep the work moving forward.
Love Ellie

Monday, October 19, 2015

Life is Precious

October 19, 2015
Well Hello Everyone,
I would have to say that we had a very interesting past week. Monday we moved out of our apartment for a few days and lived down in Walanów with the other sisters in our area because of some strange events from the past week. But it was a really good opportunity to bond with the other sisters. Wow that seriously feels like it was a month ago.

Tuesday evening we were able to have our culture night and it was awesome. I know call me crazy, but we went and saw Edipus Rex in Polish. I will be honest I probably didn't understand the first 25 minutes because I got confused about the story line, but it was very well put together. We watched it in this old small theater in the magnificent Stalin's Tower in the middle of Warsaw. Overall a really good night.

On Wednesday I got sent down to Lodz on exchanges, which was a huge blessing. This was by far one of my favorite most productive exchanges I have ever had on my mission. Not only was I able to return to my old area, but I also got to serve with my last companion Sister Gustafson who is amazing!!! On Thursday we had this crazy whiteboard in the rain/snow but talked to some really cool people. One of the first people that I stopped was this adorable older lady dressed in a hot pink puffer, and boy was she so prepared! It was probably only a two minute conversation but she asked about baptism and church and then we set up a meeting for the Lodz sisters on Saturday. That reminds me, I actually need to ask how that went! I am so grateful that we were able to meet her, no matter how fast the conversation went. Not only did I get to serve with one of my favorite companions, I also got to see Elder's Wright and Wride, who are two of my best friends in the
mission (Elder Wride goes home next week). The four of us had the opportunity to go to the Jewish cemetery in Lodz, which I believe is the biggest Jewish cemetery in Europe, and do service. It was one of the most spiritual and beautiful experiences of my mission. It was this old green overgrown place, rain and mist falling, graves everywhere, some new, many of them were very very old, and we just raked leaves for a couple of hours. Some of the tombstones read names from victims of Auschwitz. We took a little break where we walked through some of the graves and were reading the names that were not in Hebrew. Through the trees we could see a big field, so we decided to go see
what it was. The further we walked the older and more decayed the graves became and the thicker the trees got. Then suddenly the trees thinned and we appeared on the edge of this gigantic field. It was a field of victims from the Lodz ghetto and I believe other concentration camps from all over the east. It was a mixture of random tombstones spotting the landscape, a field of hundreds of grave markers of those without official graves, a couple of twisted trees, and then the wind tossed grass. I just had this striking moment standing on the edge of that field with the wind blowing where I was struck with such reverence and respect that it seemed to bring my world into focus and quiet the tumultuous thoughts that moments before had been running through my mind. Human life is sacred. Anyone who forgets that needs to quickly get that back into focus. The other turned back into the forest of graves and trees raining their colorful leaves, but I was just stuck there on the edge of that wind blown field. It was my privilege that day to serve those people, even if it was just by raking a few leaves.
Later Sister Gustafson and I got to teach a new investigator on her first meeting. Man I don't know what I am doing wrong in my own area but it went flawlessly. Why can't I pull that together when I need an investigator! Ironic eh! Then we got to meet with one of my other investigators . She took us to a bar/nightclub to get hot chocolate. That was an interesting experience. Friday I came back to Warsaw and
we got to can apples that evening with the relief society sisters from our branch. Looking around at all of the different nationalities American, Polish, Ukrainian. It was so funny to see so much diversity, yet a spirit of love and friendship was still there. We get transfer calls this Saturday. I had honestly planned on for sure ending my mission in this area, but with some events that have happened lately, there is a high likelihood that I will now be transferred. Watching all of the ladies of this branch that I love so much was a bittersweet moment, but I am trusting in better things to come. I always thought that I would care a lot more my last transfer where I would end up, but I am good with where the Lord needs me to be. I had a feeling at the beginning of this transfer that it would be challenging, but that I would learn a lot and the spirit whispered to me that I had lessons yet to learn and things yet to change. Looking back on this transfer, it definitely was a hard one, but I
know that the Lord has a plan for us much greater than we can often see. Trials are still hard to accomplish, but they are a part of the plan. There are two blessings that I always fall back on, my family and the gospel. Protect your testimonies and protect your families. When the going gets tough, those two things are all it really comes down too. Love,
Siostra Benson

Monday, October 12, 2015

Different Shades of Life

October 12, 2015

I am currently sitting in the mission home stuffed full of the most delicious food I have eaten in months. Sister Edgren had the sisters over today for us to fix some of our sewing repairs, have some TLC, email, and have lunch. She made the most incredible lunch ever. Carrot soup and tomatoe cheese pie, then for dessert, the best homemade apple pie and banana cream pie I have ever eaten. Seriously soo good!

The past week was pretty good. We have had a bunch of random things going on lately so our schedule has been all over the place. Some of my favorite parts of this week have been working with some really amazing people.

On Saturday we had a really cool relief society district activity. When we showed up at the Wolska chapel at the start, right clustered around the door was all of my wonderful Lodz Sisters, Zosia, Irena, Mirka, Dominika, and Wiola. I ran to go inside to greet them and Zosia turned around and when she saw me she had the biggest smile on her face. Oh I love them so much! We had a great conference on Sunday about service. We baked a strange banana bread cake with cream cheese frosting for the sisters. Knowing Polish people and how much they hate too sweet of cake, I have no idea what they thought of it. Then that night we got to see our wonderful Thai member Sam Chit at her Indian/Thai restaurant and she was so thrilled to have us come visit her at work. Man curry and pad-thai is amazing!

We had kind of a psycho weekend, spent yesterday in the mission home, finally got to see some good old general conference the Sunday afternoon session. General conference was really wonderful this year. Every single talk resonated with spirit and meaning. This week I also have a greater appreciation for my companion. Sister Carlson has been a wonderful companion this transfer and she has been such a huge support to me!

For some reason when we started this transfer I felt like it was going to be a challenge. And thus far it has been, but I have also seen the growth. My friend Julia emailed me this week about an analogy with watercolor. We had been emailing recently about the lessons that our trials teach us. She said, " It was in watercolor class. I finished a painting but I wasn't a huge fan of it- it really didn't look that great, and it was of the temple so I was rather disappointed! When my teacher looked at it, he said, "it looks like you're hesitant to go in with darker values." I experienced first hand that a painting does not look whole, complete, or perfected, without some serious contrasts (light AND dark shades) in the overall painting. Long story short, I just understood so clearly that sometimes there are dark shades or times in our lives, and it may seem unfavorable or unfair. But those very experiences are what makes the painting complete, balanced, and beautiful in the end!! And no matter what you are doing in a painting, you always keep elements of design such as lines, color, shapes, in tact. Just as no matter what we are experiencing in our lives, we must always keep consistent principles such as faith, scripture study, prayer, temple attendance etc. in our lives." I would say that this is a wonderful depiction of learning from the different shades in our life!

Well gotta run, love you all!
Siostra Benson