Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Lep pozdrav dragi prijatelji in družina-
So the word konec in Slovene means - The End.
Today is the last day I will have as a missionary. Technically that day was yesterday, as I will still a full time missionary going out teaching people. But now I will have my exit interview in a few hours, and then the closing returning missionary dinner and fireside, then sleep in the mission home, and then at 7:00am we will be on our way. But then again, my parents are already here in Zagreb right now as well having lunch with President Grant. So tomorrow morning at 7am I will meet with my parents and we will return to Slovenija for a week and a half. We will be a majority in Slovenija for the week and a half, but we will also be in Vienna for two days, and will be the first Sunday in Ljubljana, and then the next Sunday in Paris, returning to America the next day after Paris.
So I don't actually know how I feel yet. It's actually not that bad since I am returning to Slovenija, but ... I might have had one eye tear up slightly as I was on the train leaving Ljubljana. But we will see how it is in two weeks.
So this week was still a great week. Meeting lots of people, saying goodbye, and lots of service. We went and did service for one of the members who has been fairly distant from the missionaries, but we had a lesson with him this week and at the end we asked if he needed any help. He then said he was remodeling his house since he will be moving out in a month. So Elder Stott and I went to help him out in shoveling a massive patio worth of gravel so he can go over it again in a plastic covering. It was hard work! But really great. Afterwards we got to meet a less active member who hasn't been to church in many years as he gave us a ride home. It was great.
Elder Stott and Simon will now be together in Ljubljana. There is only one elders companionship in Ljubljana again as Elder Burdette and my replacements couldn't enter the MTC until next round (2 months later) as they were both still in high school. So there will be a hole in Ljubljana for two months. But it will be fine. Otherwise Elder Lyman will be with Elder Brown in Celje. We will see all the Ljubljana people again as we will be in church in Ljubljana this next Sunday, then we will likely have an activity in Celje to say goodbye to everyone. But it will be a great next two weeks... once we get past tonight. It will be great to see my parents again tonight. A little strange, but great. They met Elder Simon and Lyman last night, giving them a tour of downtown Ljubljana as I carefully avoided it.
But that should be pretty much it.
Hope everyone has a great week still, and we might either hear from each other or see each other in the next few weeks!!
Srečno! Čao!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, July 14, 2014

The last week, and the perfect closure

Hello all, family, friends, acquaintances, and people I have never met,
živijo, živijo, živijo.
This week will likely be more brief due to lack of time. For my last p-day, all the missionaries in Ljubljana went to the Slovene coast. It was great, but as such we are short on time.
But this week, as mentioned last week, the biggest event was of course the baptism of the great person and dear friend now that I taught in Celje. The baptism was amazing, despite starting a bit late because I was late. The branch president had asked us the day before to visit someone in a hospital from Brazil, and the only visiting hours were from 2pm to 5pm... the baptism was at 3pm. right in the middle of it all. So we asked for the help of the senior couple, and went to visit our brother there in the hospital, before running off to the baptism.
It was really amazing. After the baptism, he stood and spoke for quite a long time bearing his testimony and discussing how he came to the point where he is now, and how the Lord has wrought many great changes in him. It is truly incredible remembering the person I first met some 8-9 months ago, and the man I baptized a few days ago. The gospel is true and works the greatest changes in a person than any other thing can do.
Otherwise, the work is moving forward most definitely in Ljubljana. All the other missionaries are of course looking forward to an exciting and mission shaking transfer. We will be short one companionship in Slovenija (Ljubljana) so that will make some interesting changes. Otherwise all the members are very excited for the people being baptized as well, and to soon see my parents who are coming to visit as well.
Have an exciting week and look forward to the last week!
Also, if you haven't already, I invite you to send me an email to my current email at cbenson@myldsmail.net about your feelings and impressions as you have read any of my letters. I cannot promise responding to those this week or next. Also, I will be sure to write up my final closing remarks later soon after next Monday.
Enjoy! Much success!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, July 7, 2014

Baptism, guided by inspiration, new mission president, and wrapping things up

Hello all family and friends,
So, the end is quickly and (uncomfortably) approaching. This upcoming week is the second to last week of my mission. The time has gone fast, but just because we are near the end doesn't mean it is the end of the miracles!!
This week as actually been truly incredible. The first and biggest and most important part starts with the exchange I had in Celje this last week on Tuesday and Wednesday. While there Tuesday night, we had English class, which was very good, and afterwards we lead a spiritual thought for those who wished to stay. Present was one of the people I had met and began teaching the gospel in my time time in Celje about 8 months ago who had still been meeting with the Elders in Celje and coming to English class. He had actually been set to have a baptism date at the end of June, but according to the Celje elders, was not able to be prepared by that time.
And so I saw him there and had the chance to talk to him Tuesday night after the spiritual thought. He come up to me and said, ˝So Elder Benson, I know that you and I are usually connected quite well. Have you felt it?˝ A little confused I asked, ˝Felt it, felt what?˝, he responded with, ˝That I want you to baptize me.˝ I was a bit shocked and overwhelmed, but confessed that I had actually had a feeling like that. So we then discussed when (as I would of course be leaving in less than three weeks from that time of course). Looked at the last Saturday, there's a branch activity. The next Saturday before that, the 12th (this Saturday) and he said, ˝OK! The 12th it is.˝ And so he is set to be baptized this Saturday here in Ljubljana. It is amazing really, to be able to see him now. I remember one of the first times I taught him, and invited him to be baptized and he said no. Since then he has changed and grown so much. But as he says, it is not to ˝be baptized˝, but rather changes for his whole life, to be a better person in better connection with God. He has quit smoking and become a much greater, joyful person as he applies his faith.
Also, the next morning in Celje, (I was serving with the youngest missionary in Slovenia, Elder Brown) we had the goal of really going out and following the Spirit in our work. So the night before we prayed as to where we should go that next morning and came up with a path. As we closed, we prayed again and asked if it was right, then the next morning asked if it was right again and prayed for success as we carried out the plan. We then went out and talked to a few people for the first 5-10 minutes... then the miracles started pouring out. About 15 minutes in, we ran spontaneously into a girl who I had taught her and her mom English, the gospel, and who came to church a good few times, just coincidentally on the street. The chances of running into her the one day I was in Celje was amazing, and we had a great conversation. But it didn't end there. We walked on, talking with a few more people, and Elder Brown said he got the feeling like we should go visit a less active member on the way. So we went over and near her apartment building, we ran into a guy on his bike the elders had taught a month ago, but hadn't had any contact with. We had a great short conversation with him, before moving on, going into the apartment building, and as we were going in, one of the women I had taught in Celje was coming out! We talked with her for a bit and set up for the elders to go back and see them that Sunday. We contacted the less active's door, but no one was home, so we walked on, only to have one of the members I had really strengthened in my time in Celje to come around the corner and walk along the street we were on only 20 feet in front of us! I ran to her and had a long conversation with her, learning she had just returned to Celje from Montenegro two days before. But as we were walking with her, we passed by another of the elder's people they had taught, then lost contact with a month or so ago on his bike. He stopped talked with Elder Brown, and set up to meet the next week. And so we walked on, and then as we were almost running out of time to be late for our next meeting, we passed by a guy on the street with a shirt that had ˝Utah˝ printed on it, so Elder Brown stopped him and had a great conversation with him. Running out of time, we said goodbye to the member, and rushed on to our next appointment, arriving on 5 minutes late.
It was a morning of coincidence after coincidence. But I personally believe that there was no coincidence involved. It was pure inspiration. Goes to show that we are truly guided if we let ourselves be, by a greater force (a loving Father in heaven).
Otherwise, this week we met President Grant. He is really great. A really big person, well over 6', so Elder Stott got along with him really well as he is bigger than even Elder Stott. He is definitely different from President Rowe, but he will do many great things I believe here.
To close, I would like to invite any and all of you who have taken part and followed me for the last two years to write me, and let me know how my experiences have enriched your lives, helped you, or entertained you. It would be great to hear from you. You can email me at my personal myldsmail account here, cbenson@myldsmail.net for the next few weeks.
I hope you all have a great, miracle filled and guided week!-
-Starešina Benson

Monday, June 30, 2014

Incredible people and American peanut butter

Hello all family and friends!!!
This week has been an incredible week. It's biggest, most important part was the baptism in Ljubljana on Saturday of course. A woman who lives in the Celje area was baptized at the church here in Ljubljana and it was an incredible event! We had many people who came, including our young friend who hasn't been doing too much recently. He said, after the ordinance and while the sister missionaries were teaching a little something while people were changing back into dry clothes, that he felt really great inside his heart.  Like the greatest happiness he had ever felt, pure love. It was an incredible spiritual experience and everyone left feeling that happiness.
Also on Sunday, we had a great church service, with the young kid coming again to church and the first Slovene member coming to church as well. For third hour, we did a little something different combining everyone together and having someone teach about unity, our hearts being knit together in love. It was an incredible lesson, and at the end the teacher asked 5 specific people to stand up at the front, the first 5 people in the church here in Slovenia some 20 years ago. Then, they were a true family, meeting in one of the member's houses and having so much contact with one another. Today, the family is a little bit bigger, but should still seek to be just as unified.
This week, Elder Stott and I also taught a lot of people we found, not all of which though were interested enough to meet with us again. But we met many great people. One of which was a family we met. We were going around on the west side of Moste in Ljubljana one day by some houses when we saw a woman outside by her car. We stopped her and talked to her, but she fairly quickly and politely said she had found her own way and was not interested. However, the next moment her mother came down and opened the back of her van to reveal a truck filled with bags. We offered to help them carry them all up, and they consented. After bringing all the luggage up to the second floor apartment of the house, they offered us some drinks and we sat and talked, meeting the woman's sister and mother, all of whom were incredibly nice. The mother was actually quite interested in our message, and so we discussed it for a bit. As we were leaving though, we noticed a large, family size jar of Skippy peanut butter on the table. THIS DOES NOT EXIST IN SLOVENIA!!!!!!! We of course had to ask them where they got it, and she explained that her other sister was married to an American and worked on a military base in Germany. They brought it down as a gift from the base. We then of course explained how much we loved peanut butter and how it is impossible to find quality and quantity peanut butter in Europe, to which they then offered to give us THREE jars the next Saturday if we would come back. Of course we came back the next Saturday. That Saturday, we met the whole family, including the sister and husband that live in Germany. It was a great visit and we saw that the mother is really interested. We will see how it all turns out, but either way we now have (ended up with two) family size jars of authentic, American, Skippy peanut butter.
Hope you all have a very busy and successful week. These last weeks in the mission with be crazy. Today is President Rowe's last day in the mission, President Grant arrives tomorrow. We will then be having a zone meeting with all the Slovene missionaries this Thursday, in addition to interviews with the Ljubljana missionaries. it is going to be a crazy few weeks.
Have an amazing one as well!!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, June 23, 2014

The work is moving forward like never before!!!!

Hello all family and friends!!!
Slovenia is sunny and warm, but not too warm.  It is not anywhere close to 90 degrees again. But the summer is now beginning. School is over and people are heading out to the coast for vacation. Let the summer evacuation of Slovenes slowly begin now. Then again though, I will soon be joining them in a few weeks.
So Elder Stott and I worked really hard this week, and we had a lot of fun.
It all started last Monday where we had a zone p-day together with all the elders in Celje. we played ultimate Frisbee and was great for building unity and getting to know each other. Everyone was invited, but most of the sisters ditched out on coming. Even the Celje ones even though it was their own city! But it was a great day, and we started an exchange there that night too. Elder Deringer came back with me to Ljubljana and we had a great Monday night and Tuesday together. We really got to know one another and worked hard talking to people.
We had a great lesson with one of the less active members Elder Stott and I met a few weeks ago who has very fond memories of all the members and church, but hadn't been in many years following a really bad car accident. But we began teaching him the doctrine again, and it was a powerful experience for him. Then, yesterday, he organized himself with one of the other active member families out by him to give him a ride to church, and he came!! For the first time in many years. He was incredibly excited and happy, greeting everyone who came by. He had a great experience before leaving.
Also, on Friday Elder Stott and I had the opportunity to go to the Slovene coast, Izola, where a member lives. She had come to church in Ljubljana for the first time in months three weeks ago and I met her there, got her number and set up. She is so incredibly strong. She goes to church every single Sunday in Trst about 30 minutes away in Italy because it is an hour and a half away to Ljubljana, even though she cannot speak any Italian, and no one there can speak any Slovene. She struggles, but she endures and is a contributing member there, organizing FHE activities and giving talks sometimes on Sundays, using the help of a computer to translate to Italian.
She said though that she had been praying for years that the missionaries in Ljubljana would not forget her, and that she would one day have the chance to be taught the gospel again in her native language of Slovene. And so she said that us coming was an answer to her prayers after many many years of faithfully enduring with the Lord for this request. She was so happy and broke down in tears a few times. After the lesson and lunch, we then went to go find some people we thought lived on the coast  who were members, and she was the best. She had no fear to ask anyone for help, and she was a great asset.
Also, in the mission, we have had the goal of 500 people attending church in the mission on one Sunday before President Rowe leaves, and this last Sunday we achieved it!!! President says that when he arrived about this time three years ago there were about 300 people coming in the mission. Then yesterday we hit 502 total. Miracles. It has been amazing being able to be a part of that too, especially here in Ljubljana. Since the time I arrived here in Frebuaryish, Ljubljana's attendance has jumped significantly. What was once a record high for attendance here in March is now becoming the usual.
Amazing things are happening as we say goodbye to President Rowe this weekend. On July first the new mission president, President Grant arrives. It will be a great time to improve even more. We also have a baptism scheduled here in Ljubljana from the Celje branch on Saturday, which will be the first baptism in Slovenia in 6 months, and the first baptism from missionary efforts in... nearly a year? A very very long time. It is wonderful. Miracles are happening and people are coming to Christ like never before.
Here's to great success in the next week in the Lord's Kingdom moving forward!
-Much love
-Starešina Benson

Monday, June 16, 2014

The light of one another.

Hello all family and friends!!!!

This week has been a really really really great and busy and crazy week!! It has been cloudy in the morning, sunny in the afternoon, and rainy in the evening. The big summer storms have started to top up. Wednesday especially was really intense. We had an exchange with the assistants from Zagreb, but because there are now three people in that companionship, they just had one, Elder McAllister come up to work with Elder Stott and I, instead of one of us going down to work in Zagreb. So we had a threesome for a day. But it was amazing!! The prior week, we had coordinated with our district president to work with him as well the same night, so instead of being a massive amount of 4 missionaries, we split into two companionships, Elder Stott going with Elder McAllister, and me going with our district president. It was an amazing few hours!!

We started going to see if a less active member was home whom we haven't yet had contact with for a long long time. So we went and knocked and her mom was home, and said that the less active person we were looking for was not there, but she then asked if we would like to come in and talk a bit more about what we believe!! Since I was with the district president, we could, and so we went in and had a great visit. We focused on Christ and the Resurrection, for which she had a lot of questions about.

Then, we went on to a lesson with the first baptized member in Slovenia who was right down the street. She has been doing well, and her desire to return has been growing so much. But then when it all is going great is when the greatest opposition happens. And so (not because of her own will) she has not been about to go to church in the last two weeks. But we both went and had an amazing visit with her and gave her useful ways to overcome her challenge and just showering her with our love. We otherwise fasted with her this last week. Then the miracle Saturday night. All her government money challenges had been worked out!! And so she went to the coast to celebrate... and couldn't come to church yesterday... but she told me that next week, she wouldn't say if she ˝might˝ come, but that she ˝will˝ come. It really is true I've seen. Sometimes someone's desire doesn't really grow a ton until what they were being asked to do suddenly becomes difficult to impossible. I think that is truly evidence that the people with the most challenges in coming into the gospel but endure through them, are the most amazing, strong people.

We also had some incredibly spiritual lessons with members . It really is great being here and being able to serve everyone. Being able to share each other's light and encourage and strengthen one another. The world is a dark place which seeks to tear us down and have us compromise our potential and dreams. But with the light of the gospel in one another, we can endure through everything.

I hope you all have a very light filled week!

-Starešina Benson

PS I can count how many weeks I have left on one hand. Weird.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A week of returning members and the fruits of the work

Hello, Živijo friends and family!!
Hope all is well at home. Here in Slovenija, the Summer is just beginning. It was been up to 30 degrees this last week for a few days, which is about 90 degrees. It has been great! Unfortunately that means that people will soon begin taking their trip to the coast, abandoning the cities, and the tourists will begin arriving by the hundreds.
This week has been a very spiritual and busy week. June 8th, yesterday, we had our "come and see" day. It was incredible as we saw many many members come to church for the first time in many years, up to 8 people. It was also phenomenal in that President Rowe was here in Ljubljana as well (mission president). We also had zone conference this week, the last one with President and Sister Rowe before they head home. Their mission ends July 1st, and then we will have a new mission president, President Grant. It will be a great last few weeks for me of busy change. Also this week, we had our final interviews with President Rowe, for me we basically had a final final interview, as I will have known President Grant for 3 weeks before I go home.
But in Slovenia, the work is exploding!!! In the last 3 or so weeks, we have seen 5 people accept dates to be baptized, three in Celje and three in Ljubljana! That is for 6 total, after a long time of not seeing much of anything. The whole Zone is incredibly excited and all of their faith is just going like nothing else. Also, one of those in Celje is a man I began working with whom we met through English Class. He loves to philosophize, but is incredibly intelligent and has received a testimony of the truth of it all, and now has the desire to be baptized. He still has to quit smoking, but he has the pure desire and faith, and with that anything is possible.
In terms of Elder Stott's and my work, we have been working, with the June 8th day, to contact every single member in the Ljubljana are,. not an easy task, as there are many who haven't had contact with missionaries in a long long time. So we went out, and had some great conversations and met lots of people. One of them is a middle aged man who hasn't been in some 6 years who lives on the exact opposite side of Ljubljana as the church. He is half handicapped by a car accident, but still has great memories of his spiritual experiences here in the church.
Also, alongside having contact with every member, we were asked to then knock on ten doors around the members and invite their neighbors to come as well. So we were in a neighborhood on the far side of our area where we don't go too often, but were there because a member lives over there. We knocked on the ten doors close by, with little success. But it was the end of a row of duplexes, so we decided to knock the last 3 even though it was more than what we were asked. The very last door, a man opened and said immediately to us, ˝Janez Smith?˝ we laughed after correcting him and he immediately invited us right in. He had met missionaries many many many years ago and had a Book of Mormon from them... in Croatian, (The Slovene translation was released in 2002) plus a really old copy of the story of Joseph Smith that is no longer printed in that style anymore. He was really open though and we had a great conversation. I really have learned while being here that the success you have doesn't happen in the first 20%, 50%, or even 90% of your work. It comes once you have given 101%. Then the miracles and blessings begin to flow.
Hope you all have great, successful week, and that you are able to give 101% and then keep going!
-Starešina Benson