Monday, November 30, 2015


November 30, 2015
Well Dearest Family,

Here I am, yesterday I hit one month until the finish line! Wow, I really cannot believe it! I got my travel itinerary today. I can't believe I have that 6 hour layover in Salt Lake, are you kidding me! Looks like I will be getting home around 9:20 in the evening! Cannot wait! I am sending lots of love and prayers your way!

This last week we wrestled with the lice every morning, sadly it disrupted morning studies all week, but I seem to have hit the green thus far. My companion got really sick this week though and so I am worried that might be what is coming next. The weather has been really really cold, but no snow yet. They have started to set up the Christmas decorations on old town so Warsaw is getting all jollied up for the season. I am so excited! Side note to mom and dad: I sure am excited to celebrate Christmas when I get home hint hint, ie. we should do Christmas eve the night I get home and then the next day Christmas! A little non traditional eh! It is kind of sad to know I wont be with my family again this year, but I also am happy to spend one more in Poland!

We had a good Thanksgiving celebration here this week. Not as good as spending it with all of the family, but probably the best we could have done it here in Poland. We did potluck style so everyone brought one or two things and it was really TASTY! Tak Smaczny! We had turkey, roasted goose, mashed potatoes, salad with avocado, rolls and Sister Edgren saved the day and somehow managed to make pumpkin pie. Seriously Sister Edgren makes the best pie I have ever had in my life! Happy Thanksgiving!

This week we had some interesting experiences with our investigators. One day we got dropped by one of our investigators and in the same hour span chewed out by the other on the phone. One of our baptismal dates got moved back to January or February and the other one is still in January so we shall have to see. It was interesting to learn how to react in those types of situations. There are so many variables when you are teaching people, it never goes 100% smoothly. There are always obstacles and bumps in the road. After getting chewed out by one of our investigators because they were offended by someone else. I got off the phone and was like, hah, we are dropping them.  Well, by Sunday I had to humble myself and help solve the situation more thoroughly. I think that something the Lord is really trying to teach me this transfer is to salvage my confidence, but stem my pride, to be positive and have hope, but still able to relate with those who are struggling. Maybe I am supposed to be finding happiness and gratitude even in the most difficult of situations. Limping along, but still looking for that sweet joy in the journey!

Love, Sister Benson

Monday, November 23, 2015

Itchy Scratchies and the Psychiatric Ward

November 23, 2015

Cześć Moja Umiłowana Rodzina,

Oh my heavens, you are all going to laugh your heads off at this week. I think I am only able to laugh about it in retrospect! I really do love my mission, even with all of the random crazy, sometime unpleasant things that happen.

The beginning of this week I had the blessed opportunity to spend time with my old companion from Gdańsk, Sister Bąk, before she went home. She came in on Monday night from Wrocław to stay the night with my companionship and spend her last day with me before heading off. We hauled her ancient hard cover green suitcases through the city to my apartment and we reminisced late into the night about our missions and our futures.  It was interesting to look back at how far we have come on our missions and to realize that it is drawing to a close, much earlier for her than me. We dragged ourselves out of bed on Tuesday and she spent some time with Kaja while I went to district meeting then we met up

for lunch again and I got to be her companion for the day. We had manakin crepes with some of her mission friends, walked around old town a bit, then caught a bus down to the mission home. While she was in her departure interview I played with the Edgren's adorable grand-kids who have been visiting for the past couple of weeks. We had a nice big family dinner with President and Sister Edgren and their daughter and son-in-law and laughed about missionary life. Then there were sweet testimonies and my group’s farewell video. Yes, I got a sneak peak of the departing sisters group. As I watched the mission and watched one of my best friends leaving the mission I was just struck with a lot of love and gratitude. I really have loved my mission, and the people, and my companions. I really do see the hand of the Lord in my life, in Sister Bąk's life, in the lives of all of the members, missionaries, and people here. It was a wonderful experience to remind me of the good things, and the good things yet to come. I left that evening with a renewed desire to work hard, to hoe to the end of the row as Grandpa Dance always said.
So after Sister Bąk left the mission home, Sister Gustafson, another one of my previous companions from Lodz, came on exchanges with me. This is when all crazy broke loose. I had been an itchy little monster from sometime around Tuesday morning. Wednesday I finally called Sister Edgren about it. She told me I needed to do a lice check, and I just laughed and told her that I am extremely clean person, especially my hair, but we checked anyways. We couldn't find anything for a long time and then I looked down on my hairbrush and we found a little bug just running along one of my hairs full of my blood. I freaked out and called Sister

Edgren back and was like "OH MY HECK I HAVE LICE". By the time we got done with the meeting we were in, all of the drug stores were closed and we couldn't buy lice shampoo. I called Sister Carlson, another one of my previous companions; because she went to beauty school and she told me a natural remedy would be mayonnaise. So we did the only thing we could do and bought a jar of mayonnaise. Sister Gustafson was a champ and picked out all of the ones from my hair that she could find, even a jumpy rather frisky louse. Once we figured out what they looked like, we found a lot of them. It just really surprised me how small they are. Then the painting of my head with a jar of mayonnaise began. We wrapped my head in a plastic bad to sleep in but the oil dripping from the bag was so bad I had to wear a toilet paper scarf to sleep. Needless to say I didn't sleep much.
Mayonnaise did not work by the way!! 
Then the next morning I had to be hung over the tub and sprayed down, showered, ran to the drug store with wet hair and finally got our hands on some lice shampoo, showered again, then spent five hours sorting through every strand of hair picking out lice. Our exchange got extended from its already long 4 days to five days so Sister Gustafson could keep helping me pick out lice. We have to go through my hair every single day for the next 10 days, deep clean the apartment, wash my sheets every day, and vacuum every day. On top of that everyone goes running screaming whenever I walk in a room and I am like, wait guys, I swear I am a clean person! So along with juggling my little lice buddies we have been trying to still get work done. We still even got to go to Legionowo outside of Warsaw to visit our investigator Kasia and her family and take a sweet member some dinner. We taught about divine nature and individual worth. I just thought it was funny sitting there teaching about confidence and selfworth, while I looked like a run over super self-conscious dog. So I have been a bit sleep deprived all week from staying up late to fight the lice and my scalp is really tender and itchy from being poked, prodded, pulled, scraped, mayonnaised, and chemically bathed. Oh the things you experience on your mission. Someone called me this week and told me that the southern sisters have dubbed me the "Job" of the mission. I just thought that was funny because all of the crazy things that have happened are usually humorous later.

Here is where the other super interesting event of the week comes in. We went to visit a dear friend had had recently been committed to a psychiatric hospital earlier this week for some things that she was struggling with. She is honestly one of the most beautiful kind people I have ever met! I took another one of the sisters from my district with me, Sister Craig, to go and find her hospital after church yesterday. It was about an hour outside of Warsaw in Ząbi by bus and then we had to walk down this long country neighborhood lane just following the map out to where she said her hospital was located. After a few miles, it starts to turn foresty on one side of the road, but all of the leaves are gone so the trees are bare and the sun is starting to go down. This creepy looking building suddenly rises up from behind the massive grey wall on our left and Sister Craig was like, oh no, that has got to be it. Well, yep it was. We approached the security gates and the guard let us in. As we walk up, these men were pressed up against the windows watching us approach the building. We had to ring the bell and a nurse came down and unlocked the doors to let us in. Then they led us upstairs and took us through another locked door where we were actually inside the psych ward. As we walked into the ward everyone turned and looked at us. Like picture 1970's horror psych film. Yellow walls, people in robes and orange pajamas with stripes wandering around in a daze, beds crammed down the hallway and 4 people crammed into every tiny bedroom. We were led down the hall until we finally found our sweet friend. Her wonderful mother was there and we got to meet her, which was nice. We went back out to the commons area where we sat down at a table to talk with her. When we pulled out our Book of Mormons to share a message, suddenly our table was surrounded by five or six men just staring. They pulled up chairs and starting trying to talk with us. They just had empty or really sad eyes. After we shared our thought we got introduced to a new friend who ended up bawling and begging us not to leave her there. Poor sweet lady. They were all really nice people, it was a sad experience seeing people that much mentally struggling. I truly believe that God has a ton of love for all of his children, no matter what they struggle with. You could feel it, even in such a heartrending situation.

Well for the gospel part of this email. My verse of the week is Proverbs 27:7. I highly highly recommend looking this up. I would say this scripture describes my mission perfectly.

Love you all so much! Have a beautiful week
Sister Benson

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Work in Progress

November 16, 2015

Well Dearest Family,

Jak zwykle, it is a joy to hear from you all again! As I near the end i get more and more anxious to actually get to see you in person. Love you guys so much!

There have been many times of trial and difficulty on my mission, I can't even put it into words. When people come home from their missions and say that was the hardest thing they have ever done I never understood. Even when my brother said it several times after he returned all I could think of was what... you missed family a bit, couldn't sleep in for 2 years, struggled with a foreign language?  Yeah, oh boy, was I in for quite the treat. Through it all, I have seen the Lords hand through good and bad. This mission has changed my life, and changed my eternity. God knew what He was doing when he sent 18, and 19 year olds out to take on the world; to build their lives, and build others. Basically as I near the end, I am filled with a deep and eternal gratitude for my privilege to serve in Poland at this time. I wish I had been more willing to do things the Lord's way the entire time, but I am a work in progress and am so grateful that I could be one of the Lord's missionaries.

Sister Bąk, on of my best friends, a previous companion, and from my MTC group, goes home on Wednesday and she will be spending her last day with me. She comes in tonight and then tomorrow I get to be her companion for most of the day. Well this is going to derail my focus train! It will be strange to have to do the whole last day, last dinner thing, twice! I am going to miss her. I have met some of my very best friends here! It is hard to watch everyone drift away slowly to progress onward in their own lives. It is all a part of the plan!

My entire mission I have made it with only getting officially sick once, way back in January when I had a cold for a few weeks. Well on Saturday one of my investigators, Emma, from Sweden, took us to go and get Mexican food. After living in this country for almost a year and a half now I should know that #1Mexican food here is not actually going to be Mexican and #2 that is usually destroys your body. I disregarded the logic and ate a huge burrito! Well I did fine until about four in the morning and then it hit me.  I was sick all day yesterday! I managed to make it through church with only moaning occasionally haha! So pathetic! I only cried for mommy a few times.

Love, love love,
Siostra Benson

Monday, November 9, 2015

Of These Truths I Testify

November 9, 2016
Dear Family,

Wednesday we had a wonderful opportunity to serve after all of our plans canceled on us. The other sisters called us and let us know that one of the mothers of our branch was sick and maybe we could serve her and her family in some way. So we made them a hearty sausage soup, apple crumble and took that over with bread. I know other people are always grateful for the help, but in reality I always feel that the service is such a blessing and privilege for me.

On Friday, Elder Adler came and had a fireside with the Warsaw missionaries on Friday evening. Oh man, it was splendid. Just what I needed to hear, seriously! He talked about how our missions are more than survival, getting rejected and enduring difficult trials, they are about us growing, leading others to Christ, and for other purposes that our Heavenly Father knows. He sent me to Poland not to chasten me, but because He loves me! I have been so blessed in my life. The blessings are endless. This mission has continually proven itself to me as one of those priceless blessings, and to think I never planned on serving a mission when I was younger! I know this church is of God, and that is is true. I believe in Latter-Day prophets and apostles and in a Savior that loves each of His children, and this knowledge is beautiful to me. One of the challenges that Elder Adler left us with was to testify every single day deeply and soulfully, I have included it in there to testify of the Savior. Actually I feel like this email is my opportunity today to testify. A testimony is hard to express in words, but I have felt and seen the difference the gospel brings, I have experienced the love of God and seen it for His other children. True happiness lies not in following our own wills but in following the Savior of the world. Of these truths I testify.

I don't know everything going on out in the world because I don't have access to news, but from what I do hear it is crazy; so many people fighting, so much contention, anger, and confusion. The tempest is raging. I fully support the equality and love of all mankind, but take my stance as a disciple of Christ alongside the prophet and the doctrines of the gospel. One of my investigators from Sweden this week told us that by believing in such restrictive and conservative views in church we are limiting the love of God; that God would not require of us such ridiculous things as abstaining from pre-marital sex, drugs, and alcohol. She proposed that because God gave us free-will to choose, we do not have consequences for the actions we make, and we are happier governed by our own conscience. Being a missionary has given me much an opportunity to discuss with every walk of life the points of that discussion, and it has also given me the unique perspective of viewing the outcomes. I truly believe that the love of god is extended to all mankind, and the commandments and gospel is an extension of that love. The Holy Ghost will confirm that to you if you will live by it and ask of God!

Anyway, I love you all so much.
Siostra Ellis Benson

Monday, November 2, 2015

Warsaw I

November 2, 2015
Dear Family,

Well I officially just finished my first week of my last transfer.  I thought my heart would always be stuck in the Warsaw II area but I actually really like Warsaw I. We are the missionaries in charge of the only actual chapel in Poland and we get Old Town and the Rynek. We scored for the Christmas season area wise. We get the Warsaw Old Town during Christmas when everything is lit up. It is great! The branch here is really great! We also have two baptismal dates we are working with and might have a couple more on the way. I had almost forgotten what it was like to teach! Everything is very much a blessing!

We met one of our baptismal dates on Thursday. She is so sweet and kind. Her husband is a member and they are working towards coming together. We also had a wonderful lesson with our new investigator. Other than service, one of my favorite things to do as a missionary is to sit down and have a spiritual lesson with an investigator. I always see the hand of the Lord in sit down lessons.

We just had a national holiday here this last weekend called Dzień Zmarłych, or Day of the Dead. They deck out the cemeteries with miles and miles of candles, flowers, and lanterns. The chapel happens to be conveniently located between two cemeteries so we held an open house this weekend to try to coax some people in for tours. Most people generally think we are a sect or cult, but we actually had a couple of people come in and learn about the Mormoni! It was a Really good weekend. We spent most of Saturday at the open house and some of Sunday as well. We couldn't get very many people interested at first because it is such a solemn holiday, but by Sunday we actually had quite a few visitors. We took big trays of cookies and would go out and advertise the hot chocolate and tea to catch people's interest. "Ah, Zapraszamy wszystkich na dzień otwarty. Mamy czokolady na gorąco, herbaty, ciasteczka, i bez płatne toalety." Whoever though that I would be yelling "free toilets" for the general public to hear. The things you do on your mission... Sunday night we finished if off by getting to see the lights in the cemetery. So wonderful! Kocham Polskę!

Well love you all. Have a wonderful week!
Siostra Benson