Monday, December 31, 2012

Praznik week!

Lepi Prazniki prijateli in družina! (Happy Holidays friends and family!)

This week has been a bit of a slower week what with the holidays,
Christmas on Monday and Tuesday, and now New Years tonight and
tomorrow. Today is called Sylvestrovo, or the day before New Year's, and
while everything is open, it's all closing early. And tomorrow is a
prav (real) holiday in Slovenia, so no one is going to work tomorrow.

Because of the holidays, it has been a slow week. A few good meetings
with some of the people we regularly meet with, but most everyone we
know wanted to wait until after the New Year's and the holidays are
over. So this next week is going to be super busy and awesome. We are
planning on going up to a town about an hour north of Ljulbjana, like
45 minutes north of Kranj called Jesenice.

Christmas was a great day as well. Christmas Eve, Monday, we went
around Kranj with all the missionaries in Ljubljana and caroled around
to different members and people we know. Then on Christmas day, we all
met in Ljubljana and the missionary couple's apartment, the Hansons',
and had cinnamon rolls for Christmas and told stories. We then went
around to different members and people the Ljubljana missionaries knew
in Ljubljana and caroled to them, eventually ending back at the
Hansons' to open presents and letters I received, play games, and eat a
great lunch and dinner, and begin calling our families on Skype! It
was a great day.

The most miraculous day of the week was yesterday. This week, starting
on Saturday and going until tomorrow, is a big youth conference for
all the youth in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia in Ljubljana.
There were about 40 youth (12-20) there in all, and everyone was at
church. There were well over 100 people there and the meeting was all
the youth giving the talks (or in other words, sermons) and their
testimonies of the truthfulness and blessings of the restored gospel
of Jesus Christ. It was so inspirational to see so many people at
church and to hear just how strong the youth are in our mission,
especially knowing that many of them and their families found the
gospel not too long ago.

Many times, life can be hard. The youth mentioned how at times it may
feel like they are all alone in who they are, what they believe, and
the morals they stand for. But being collected, we know we are not
alone. There is a light inside each of us which shines through the
darkness around us. And when we are gathered together this small light
builds and multiplies into a great fire which cannot go out. And as we
are here in Slovenia to share, we know this light which inside all of
us will build and grow individually with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Such were Jesus' words to His followers, that ˝you are the light of
the world. A city which is set on a hill cannot be hid, neither do men
light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick and it
gives light to all in the house.˝ In this holiday season, we can be
the light to another person, and should seek to build and strengthen
our personal indivudual lights through a greater understanding of His
gospel, living that, and sharing it with those around us to build an
eternal flame in our areas which will not be put out.

Vesel Božič in Srečno novo leto!, (ja, vem da sem malo pozen, ampak
še!!!!) (Merry Christmas and Happy new year! (yes, I know that I'm a
little late, but still!!!!))

-Starešina Benson

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Growth

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

The people are starting to get busy this week in the streets of Kranj
as Christmas approaches... tonight. This week has largly been one
preparing for Christmas and contacting old people we had met before
and haven't seen much of since.

Last Thursday, we had a mission wide Christmas party in Zagreb with
all the missionaries in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia coming
together to see each other, play some games, have a white elephant gift exchange, and a
devotional. It was a great experience being able to really see for the
first time every person who is in my mission. It also really
emphacised how isolated Slovenia is from the rest of the mission.
Basically, because Serbo-Croatian and Bosnian is all the same
language, and there aren't too many visa troubles between the
countries, all the other contries move between eachother. Slovenia,
however, while the language is still quite similar, it is quite
different (especially for Serbo-Croatians understanding Slovene) and
visas for Slovenia are really difficult to get because we're a border
country of the EU. So all the Slovenes know each other and we all move
between the 4 towns in Slovenia with each other. There's a whole other
world outside of Slovenia!

But it was fantastic to see Sister Giles and Sister Compare, my MTC
sisters. It was also a fantastic spiritual and learning experience
where I learned may things regarding how I can change and be better.

Life and the gospel is a process, not a destination or things to learn
and do. Yes, the steps of our days are made up of things to learn and
do, but are not the complete whole. We never stop moving. We are
either progressing or regressing. We can not stay in a point exactly
the same. We are either being tried and tested to be able to grow
through our challenges, or we can be destructive and destroy the
progress we make, or simply sit and let the progress we have made
simply decay.

The choice of which direction we go, who we become, and how we effect
others as to who they can become, however, plays out in the quiet
corners of our minds. What do we choose to focus on? Do we nurture the
seeds of trial and growth, or water the seeds of doubt and denial?
Sometimes it may seem easier to go the way of denial and doubt, easy
only because we can do it through our own power. But when we understand
and begin to harness the power of the sacrificial atonement of Jesus
Christ, the easy way is no longer the doubt and destruction, but
instead the challenges, trials, and growth; made easy through His
strength, understanding, and love.

The easy destructive path becomes the difficult path. The difficult
beneficial path becomes the easy path.

The Christmas season can be difficult for many. But what is beneficial
for yourself and others doesn't have to be difficult. Take a step
back. Look at the eternal reasons of why you are doing what you do.
You have help greater than you can imagine avalible for you.

Vesel Božič all and srečno novo leto!

-Starešina Benson

Monday, December 17, 2012

Firewood, Food, English class, Božič

Lep pozdrav prijateli in družina!
(Beautiful greetings friends and family!)

This week has been a little bit of everything. Weather-wise (cause it
always seems like that's how I start these isn't it?) It's been all
over the place. No new snow really, but SUPER cold. One night we were
out in -15 C. Then, a few days later, it started to rain, so a lot of
the snow has melted now. And it's been relatively quite warm, which is
a nice break. I still wear my nice and warm winter European coat

And service this week! So much service. By the end of this winter, I
think I am going to be an absolute pro at chopping firewood. And when
I say that, I mean chopping firewood like the fronteirsmen did, with
an ax spliting it down the center. We cut some firewood for one of the
older ladies again in Kranj, and a person who has met a lot with the
missionaries before. So much firewood. Many things in Europe are
obviously modern, but now and again you see these glimmers of the
past. Probably becuse those things are better (and cheaper!) than the
˝modern way˝.

And if any of you had worries that I would be starving in the frozen
wilds of the west side of the alps known as Slovenia, you can have your
fears put to rest. I have been fed so much this week it's not even
funny. Most of it is interesting Slovene food. But really, Kranj is
the land of milk and honey when it comes to free meals because people
love us. Cmoki, more stews than you could describe, veineršnitzel,
potica, anchovies, more stew, it's amazing.

This week has been a fun week with a lot of visiting less active members
of the church here. Elder Bateman and I are starting one of the
members who we've met with a bunch this week to stop smoking. We have
a program where we help them be able to completely quit smoking within
one week, and we're starting this today. He's had great success with
it, and this is my first time trying it. If the person follows it
completely there's a 90-100% chance of success. Curious? Ask your
local mormon missionaries.

Also, this past week the church here in Ljubljana had the Božič
(Christmas) activity. It was a ton of fun, complete with music
(performed by members and the missionaries. Yours truly doing a jazzed
duet of Joy to the World, and bass part of a polish folk song) and
well done videos of the birth of Jesus. I baked little miniature
pumpkin pies (exotic for Slovenes since they don't have pie like we do
in America. Really, they have never ever seen pumpkin or apple pie
before), and there were all kinds of delicious desserts.

Three of our English class students came to the activity and had a ton
of fun. They really enjoyed the program, even with its religious
content. We are now going to have a discussion with all of them this
week on the gospel. We'll see where this goes. English class ended as
the Christmas season is beginning this last week. We'll start it again
in January (after everyone makes new years resolutions to learn
English!!) It is a lot of fun and we both learn a lot.

One of the things which really surprised me here in Slovenia, however,
is how few people know the origin of Christmas is related to the
birth of Christ. This season is a time to be with family, and enjoy
the most valuable relationships we have here on earth, and feel the
love of one another. And also to recognize that this love and these
relationships do not have to end in this life. That because Jesus was
given for us, because of the love our Heavenly Father (God) has for
us, we can overcome death, both spiritual and physical. (John 3:16)
With the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us, we
can live in peace and free of the guilt, sorrow, and pain this world
can give us, both now and for eternity. This is our message, and the
reality of the work we share because we have experienced it.

I wish everyone a merry Christmas!! No promises on an email next week
as it will be Christmas eve which is a holiday in Slovenia, and
computers may be impossible to get to. But still. Merry Christmas and
Peace and happiness!!

-Starešina Benson

Monday, December 10, 2012

CRAZY CHANGES and more... snow...

Hey everyone over in the warm world of America.

This week has definitely been one of the craziest weeks so far. The
unimportant news is that it snowed again, and a lot more than it did
back in that freak October snow storm or whenever that was. It started
Friday night, and snowed for probably like 12 hours slowly. We got
what looks like on like 9˝ to a foot of snow? Something like that. And
the real fluffy snow too, not the frozen snow that's easy to walk on.
The weather has been somewhere between below freezing and just above
for the past week. The coldest I think was -9 Celcius, warmest...
maybe 6 Celcius? There's no fahrenheit here so I have no idea what
that would be... except cold and below freezing. But since Saturday,
it's been sunny even if not really all that warm outside.

The Christmas lights in the centers of Ljubljana and Kranj have light
up. Last Monday, we went to the lighting ceremony in Ljubljana and saw more Slovenes than you would ever see at one place at one time. Then on... Tuesday evening maybe.. they had the lighting
ceremony in Kranj center, just so happened as Elder Hardy and I were
walking though. We looked around wondering why are there so many
people?!?! And then we found out. It was interesting. Complete with a
catholic priest blessing the Christmas tree, childern playing
harmonica and accordion music, and Sveta Niklauša comming (Saint
Nicholas, so Santa and Saint Nicholas are two totally different
people here with two different times for arriving). But now it's
really pretty, what with the snow and the lights and now its been
super clear the last few days, the mountains in the background
covered in snow.

But the most exiting thing to happen this week is.... I have a new
companion. It took everyone by surprise, and still no one is really
sure why it happened. President called Elder Hardy and I on Wednesday
morning to tell us that Elder Hardy is going down to Ljubljana, I'm
staying in Kranj, and one of the Elders in Ljubljana, Elder Bateman,
is coming up to Kranj. With that change I also became district leader
of the missionaries in Ljubljana and Kranj... all 6 of us. It's
outside the transfer week, which was about 3 weeks ago, so no one was
expecting it. But it is a refereshing change. It's super nice doing
work with a different person who has a different outlook on the work.

Elder Bateman is from Vancouver, Canada, and now, besides Elder
Burdette, is the youngest missionary in the mission age-wise, but is
the 2nd oldest missionary here in terms of being in Slovenia. He
actually first served in Kranj as his first area as the last
missionary before president closed Kranj. Then he went to Maribore for
8 months, Ljubljana for 4, and now back. Fun fact: Age-wise, I am the
oldest missionary Elder (boy) in Slovenia now. Of course, I'm still
younger than most all the sisters, but give them some time and they
will be gone before too long.

This week has largly been a transition week with the exchange. One of
the successes we had however in the beginning is one of our older lady
people we visit, the one I had a really hard time understanding before, is finally progressing in the gospel. We challenged her last
week to try an experiment, to 1) ponder a question, 2) Pray about it
to God, then 3) To read the Book of Mormon to then 4) receive her
answer. She did it, and after talking about it for a moment, she
realized herself that God had answered the question and concern she
had expressed to Him. She said she would try the same experiment again
this week with another, more specific question.

In my life, I have seen how the scriptures, both the Bible and the
Book of Mormon, are more than just books to read with information, but
rather that the words are, to put it in a metaphoical way, alive. They
are a means God uses to comunicate to us, through His word and spirit,
to address the concerns and challenges we have in our lives, whether
they be spiritual or even physical. God has all knowledge, knows all
truth, and knows what is best for us and how we can be most happy.
Whether the question is about what is the true path back to God and
salvation? (because millions of people say they have the way,
contradictoray to another). How can I be more happy? How can I have
better relationships with my friends/family? Should I really take this
job? They are all important to Him and He wants to help us, and will,
through communication to us, or personal revelation. Prayer and
reading the scriptures are all methods, and that is part of what I do
here. To help people have these spiritual experiences and communication
with God, because it has been such a blessing in my life. And as we
have these experiences, we gain a sure knowledge of where we should go
and what we should do, both now, in the future, and for eternity.

I pray everyone is safe this week. Enjoy Christmas as it fast approaches!

-Starešina Benson

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas and Comfort

Heyo F+F! (Fam & Friends),

Hope all is well and warm back home. The weather here has been slowly getting colder and colder every day until it finally snowed again yesterday. It was the first time it's snowed since the freak snow storm back in.. October? Thankfully this time I am more prepared for the winter now and am fully outfitted with a winter coat, scarf, gloves and cap. But snow is here, and so are the lights in the cities! Tonight is the first night where the lights turn on, and everyone is having a big party supposedly in town, especially Ljubljana to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season. Before now, there hasn't really been many signs of Christmas. Slovenes don't really start Christmas in November since they don't have Thanksgiving to kick it off from.

This week has been an interesting week. English class has been really fun. I've finally gotten into the routine of how to effectively do it, and one of my students is interested in the gospel. Every time we talk about some topic in English. Some of the topics of the past are: What is your favorite holiday? What fables did you grown up listening to? What is your favorite foods? It's been a great opportunity to really learn the culture too. Last week, I brought some homemade pumpkin pie I made for Thanksgiving from my mom's recipe and everyone was super excited and interested. They don't have pie like we do in America, so it was a new dessert none of them had ever tried before.

This week, we also reached out to a member who has been stuck in a nursing home for months and months. Very few people have reached out to her, and she has fears of what is next. It was a great opportunity to be able to go visit her and comfort her soul with the truthful peace that comes with the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and the greater peace she can achieve through living the gospel. To visit her and be only a poor similitude of the love Christ has for her was humbling to know that I am being given this chance and time to bring people's souls to peace.

Also, we had an... interesting, if not a little crazy, discussion with our great legenda who knows it is time to return to the fold. We learned she is not particularly keen on returning to reading from the scriptures, believing she already had them as a part of her heart (she said she's read the Book of Mormon over ten times). The plan of the things we wanted to talk about almost immediatly dissolved and the Spirit of the Lord took control. I was reminded of an experience I had had in the MTC, when I was in a particular low of if I could really do this. Could I really learn a second language that is night and day difference from English? Can I really teach people to bring them to Christ? What am I doing? Going off for two years to the middle of a foreign country to say things no one really wants to accept. And then I was reading in my scriptures through this, in Alma 45:2-8, and the words began to talk directly to me. I likened the words to myself, and God spoke directly to me. The name ˝Alma˝ changed to the name of the person who taught me the gospel, and it became, ˝And (Elder Hertig) said again; Believest thou in Jesus Christ, who (came)? And (I) said; Yea, I believe all the words which thou hast spoken. And (Elder Hertig) said unto (me) again: Will ye keep (His) commandments? And (I) said: Yea, I will keep the commandments with all my heart. Then (Elder Hertig) said unto (me): Blessed art thou; and the Lord shall prosper thee in this land.˝ From that moment, I was filled with a peace and power that words can't describe from God, and was given the confidence and comfort to continue, many steps and days later, to where I am today. She, and her friend who was there felt the Spirit, and committed to read the scriptures.

I know the power the scriptures have given me in my life. More than just knowledge, but peace and power in this life as well. The blessings are undeniable. They are from God, and will bless every person who reads them with a sincere heart desiring to know God and build a relationship with Him.

I pray everyone is safe and happy this Christmas season! I just got a TON of letters yesterday, so combined with Christmas gifts, mail should start rolling out before too long.

Much Love and Care,
Starešina Benson

Monday, November 26, 2012

Čudno Teden & Arkitekturo

Strange week.

Really really strange week. but no French... sort of... yet... This
week started with the first transfer of my mission. Surprise! Nothing
changed. Elder Hardy is still my companion and we're still in Kranj.
The only thing that really changed in the Ljubljana/Kranj area is one
of the sisters, Sister Gullo, in Ljubljana moved to a town called
Celje half way up Slovenia to the Northeast. So Sister Ary who was in
Celje is now in Ljubljana. But ultimately not a lot changed. Next
transfer though, in two more months, Pretty much everyone is
predicting Elder hardy to go down to Ljubljana and I'll either be back
with Elder Burdette or be training a new missionary in Kranj. Not that
I mind, I absolutely love Kranj. Language would be something
interesting, but I'm working hard to prepare myself for something like
that. But it's all speculation. We'll all have to wait until the
middle of January to find that out. :-)

Thanksgiving here in Slovenia was awesome as well! Of course, Slovenes
don't celebrate Thanksgiving, they hardly even know about it. When we
mentioned it was Thanksgiving today (like to my English class) every
one asked, but isn't there a big holiday on July 4th?.... Yes, but

So all the missionaries in Kranj, Ljubljana, and the sisters from
Celje all came and was had a big Thanksgiving lunch in the church
building. I cooked my mom's homemade pumpkin pie (hoorah for bringing the recipe with me from the states!) from this massive 17 pound half pumpkin I got from the sisters who got it from one of their english class students. I'm practically drowning in pumpkin puree right now.

But there was turkey (not a full one though, can't find those in
Slovenia), sweet potato casserole, salad, rolls, stuffing, practically
a full good thanksgiving. Then one of the Elders in Ljubljana made a
big murder mystery to solve over lunch. It was super awesome,
basically an alternate reality where one of us at the table killed him
and was have to figure out which one of us it was. Clues were left
around the church to find and some people randomly were given clues.
You really wouldn't have any idea how aggressive some of us can get
until it's a competition to see who can get that one vital clue that you know one of the other missionaries has.

Then, the next day, we had a weird convoluted exchange, where Elder
Grover who usually serves in Ljubljana was my companion for a few
days, then Elder Hardy went up to Maribor to be Elder Burdette's
companion for a few days. Was really strange. But we had a baptism on Saturday! This man the Ljubljana elders have been teaching was baptized and it was an amazing experience. Sister
Ary and I did a duet of ˝Vem da Odrešenik Živi˝ (I Know that my
Redeemer Lives) for the service, which was interesting but amazing with ~30 minutes to prepare/practice.

And then on Sunday, all the elders in Ljubljana drove up to Maribor to
end the exchange. So I have now basically driven through all of
Slovenia, and seen Celje and Maribor. And so we are today.

But this week, we taught this man who had met with missionaries a lot
before. One of his missionaries was actually Brother Sherman, one of
my Slovene teachers in the MTC. He is super prepared. We basically
rediscussed with him the restoration and asked him his relationship
with Christ. He said Christ has been there for his so much, and He has
ultimately saved his life. We discussed getting answers from God
regarding anything, whether life troubles or questions of what is
truth and he said God has spoken to him many times. We finally
discussed what it would mean if our message was true, if the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Christ's church, and he said ˝I
know it is true˝. A little surprised we asked how he knew and he
answered, ˝Because I know Jesus and He told me it's true.˝

As we were leaving he mentioned to us that us reappearing to him was a
sign from God, that he hadn't been thinking of Christ for a long time, and had begun smoking again recently after God and Elder Sherman
had helped him quit. But now that was have returned, that was are a
sign from God that the time has come to once again refocus his life on
what is important and to quit again.

We can all be messengers of God. Just because you don't do what I do
full time in reaching out to people as a set apart, full time representative of Jesus Christ doesn't mean God can't use you to help others in bringing to pass His will. Something I have come to realize in the last few months is that God is one of the greatest architects
ever. However, He is not the architect of buildings, but the architect of
people. We are all influencing each other in a grand masterpiece we
can't begin to comprehend, and slowly bringing to pass His ultimate
goal and His glory, our enternal happiness through eternal life. And
why does He do all this? Because He loves us. Because He has already
sacrificed and paid the ultimate price for us. And now we just need to
bring the final pieces together to complete His purposes. This is my
work. And thus is the work of all those around us.

I pray everyone is and will be safe as the Christmas season starts.
Lights are going up in the city centers now. It's going to be

Much care!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, November 19, 2012

And if you thought last week was amazing...

This week has been even more so!

This last Wednesday, we had a whole Zone meeting in Ljubljana with President Rowe, so all the missionaries in Slovenia were down for that. It was a great meeting, where we discussed explaining simply our purpose as missionaries, the meaning and importance of baptism, and how all of that relates to missionary work.

Then, that night we got back to Kranj and went back by our wonderful Legenda who wants to return and her friend. They were tired after work, but were excited to see us. We began discussing the restoration of the fullness of the gospel and she runs out and grabs a whole other stack of memories to review as we discuss Christ's ministry, the great apostasy (or, in Slovene, the great fall) of the early church, and the restoration of Christ's full gospel, with her friend. At the end of it, we discussed baptism a little and what it means, and he committed to being baptized in December if God confirms to him what we share is true! It's so exciting to see the faith of other people as they begin to rely more and more on the Lord for understanding as to what to do in their lives. I know from experience this direction leads to far better paths than we could do on our own.

Then, the next day, we went to go cut more firewood for one of our older member ladies in Kranj. Afterwards we had lunch (she always serves interesting food. It's not bad usually, just interesting. Gorjenska, the name of the state Kranj is in, farm food. Hardy, filling, and quite... interesting.) and a short lesson about missionary work as we had learned the day before from President Rowe.

About probably 7/8 through, her doorbell rings though, and she says, ˝Oh! My friend is here. I don't think she's really interested, but we can try doing a little missionary work still.˝ About five minutes later, her friend comes in an begins a large gospel discussion with us. Since, her friend has agreed to meet with us again and to see for herself if our message is true. Absolutely amazing how much the Lord softens others hearts if they are introduced to the gospel through a friend and not some strange foreign kids wearing white shirts and ties on the street.

Then the next day (yeah that's right, this is all in the space of day by day). We had been trying to get in contact with a person who had met with missionaries before in the past, but lives in the absolute middle of nowhere mountain Slovenia. We finally got in contact with him, and made it out by a series of bus transfers and him picking us up in a small town to get to his place. He's a super awesome guy. An amazing musician, has had his own band, and can learn a song in probably 5 minutes of playing it, and is almost building his own house by himself, is super prepared through past spiritual experiences to receive the gospel. The only big problem really is he lives in the middle of nowhere. And so, after a great (and long) visit, we had to get back close to Kranj to meet with a member family. Problem? the last bus left 10 minutes ago, and there won't be another for 3 hours.

There... might... have been hitchhiking involved... from a former

Missionary English class student....

Also! English class was started this week. We have about 10-15 students, a majority older women, all sincerely wanting to learn English to be able to use it in America. I am teaching the middle and advanced classes, and so my lessons have mostly involved having discussions about a variety of topics in English. It's quite fun though, and am looking forward to each class.

Possible highlights for next week? Thanksgiving of course, and... French in Slovenia? We'll see. Also, today is transfers. Elder Hardy and I are staying in Kranj for another two months. Elder Burdette's companion up in Maribor is finishing his two year mission today, and so he will have a new companion, and because we will have an odd number of missionaries in Slovenia, a Croatian missionary is coming up. We'll see how well that works with the language. The only change in the Ljubljana missionaries, is one of the sisters is exchanging with a sister in Celje. And that is all.

I hope everyone has a fantastic, safe, Thanksgiving week full of turkey and thankfulness.

Much love

-Starešina Benson

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blessings, Albanians, German Service & an Exchange, and The Return of a Legenda?

Hello all family and friends!!!

This week has been a fairly spicy week, event-wise, capped off with the
most amaying experience of my whole time serving last night.

Weather's quite mellow and damp too, but unimportant.

So!! First. Wednesday! Having a lesson we had fall through, we went to
go visit an elderly članica (member lady) nearby with another member
we were intending to bring to the lesson. First of, this lady is
absolutely amazing. She joined the restored gospel about two years ago
at the age of 80. She is probably the sweetest, kindest person I have
ever met in my entire life. Anyways, on Dan Mrtve, she went to her
home town, a small town in the northeast end of Slovenia, to go
visit her ancestors' graves. While there, she fell and broke her arm!
She's since had a little trouble getting around, and so we went by to
offer her help and a blessing, which she warmly received.

After the visit, Elder Hardy and I decided to go door to door for a
little bit before heading home for the night. We went to a blok in the
northern end of Kranj we had peppered with English class fliers the
week before. (Or two weeks? I don't know. Time is all a blur). Going
into this really large, tall blok, we take the elevator to the top to
begin working down and we knock on the first door. A lady probably in
her late 20's opens the door and as we begin speaking, she
stops us and says, "wait." She goes to get a man (her husband) and we're
thinking like, ˝oh no.˝ When he comes to the door he looks at us,
instantly smiles before we say a word, and says, ˝Notre! Notre!˝
(Meaning Inside! Inside!)

We slowly walk into the living room, a little confused and cautious,
and we're invited to sit at a table. It was so eerie, like they were
expecting us. We quickly find out however, that none of them can speak
Slovene. Problem. We soon discover the three people home are all
Albanian, the husband can speak Serbo-Croatian (which is how we knew
to come inside, we can understand him but he can't understand us very
easily), and the wife who opened the door can randomly speak Spanish.
Thankfully, Elder Hardy can speak Spanish (studied it for 7 years in
school), and so we work through her, speaking Spanish to her where she
then translates into Albanian (Which is nothing like Slovene). And so,
after explaining who we are and why we're here, the husband starts
going on a rant on how great America is in Serbo-Croatian. ultimately,
we're invited back when we have time in the evening. Even though
they're all Muslim, as he said, Jesus is God, or Allah, so it's all
the same.

The next day we had the English class sign up day (~12 solid people,
plus a few more friends they might bring, we start tomorrow
afternoon), we had what's called exchanges. Basically, one of the
Elders from Ljubljana named Elder Grover came up to Kranj for the day
to be my companion while Elder Hardy went down to Ljubljana for the
day. It was an intersting day having a companion with a different
teaching style and... living style and sense of humor, but was
ultimately fun.

We recontacted an older member who looked into the gospel for a long
time but was ultimately never baptized. Her husband is German and
apparently can't speak hardly any Slovene, so that would be
interesting. So we went by and she opened the door. She said her
husband has been having issues (they are older) and was in Germany
right now and she was planning on going up to be with him Wednesday.
Either way, we offered if she needed any help or service and she said
to come back the next day at 11am. Returning, we helped her move all
of her plants and lawn furniture into her cellar for the winter before
she returned to Germany. She is super sweet and kind. She has had A
LOT of friendships with missionaries and even the Mission President,
and made us lunch afterwards (most amazing potatoes I have ever
eaten!) After she said there's a chance she may not go back to
Germany, but we have her number, so we'll see what happens. Either
way, it was a great opportunity to help her.

Lastly, the greatest miracle of them all. for a few weeks now, we've
been trying to get in contact with an inactive member in Kranj, but
each time we've been by, her son answers the door and says she was
resting. Our faith in her was starting to wear thin, but from what we
heard about her, she was awesome! (Former black belt, hilarious, (Jaz
sem anti-krist contact). So, we tried again to contact her last
night. We ring, the light turns on, we see someone look in, hear
someone leave, then come back with the keys and this good middle aged
lady opens the door. We start talking, asking to make sure this is the
right place and who we are and she suddenly just says in English,
˝Take it easy!˝. She goes, runs to put on a robe, stands in the door,
smiles, and says, "come on in!"

We sit down at her kitchen table, and there's a picture of a temple on
the wall. hmmm... cool... She then tells us these amazing spitirual
experiences shes had, good friends she made, her baptism experience
(and the records she still has of it), and brings out an old Croatian
Book of Mormon (they used the Croatian translation before there was a
Slovene version 10 years ago), shares more spiritual experiences shes
had, and is just pure awesome and funny. When asked how her
experiences were, she thought for maybe 30 seconds of silence
then bursts out in English, ˝Glorious!˝ Ultimately, we asked her if she
would like to return to church and she sits and thinks for a moment,
and muttering under her breath in English (she didn't speak a lot of
English by the way) she said, ˝yes, it is time... to return.˝ The
catch to returning Sunday? We have to drive with her to show her where
the church is. The problem? We need another man with us for safetly
and mission rules. The fix? She calls a friend she has over in the
other room in, (mind he's never had any experience with missionaries,
doesn't really know who we are) and practically tells him they're
going to church together Sunday and he's like, ˝Ok.˝ Super!!

She is super awesome. She was super prepared to return, just needed
someone to visit with her, remind her, and bring the Spirit and God
does all the work. That and her friend might also be prepared to
receive the gospel as well. Simply goes to show when you put yourself
out there and act as a representative of the Lord as we are doing (and
as all do as home teachers and visiting teachers in the church), in
faith, miracles happen.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and His work is going forward. Let
us all join in of this great labor and not get left behind.

Until next week friends and fam!!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Week of Fliers and Tongues

Živijo Family and Friends!

All is well and a bit wet here in Slovenia. The weather has been a
little bit of everything (I seem to talk a lot about the weather, don't
I?) It started this week with the remnants of the snow, being really
cold, then we had one or two quite comfortable days, then back to
freezing, and now it's somewhere between comfortable and cold and
pouring rain. The snow is all gone (for now). It stayed on the ground
a bit longer in Kranj than it did in Ljubljana, a few days worth, but
then again Kranj is higher up. I guess we got maybe 3 inches here? One
of the people we've been wanting to go visit who lives up in the
mountains said they got a meter of snow though!

The last weekend, as expected, was slower because of the holiday. We
spent halloween and dan mrtve going around the bloks (basically small
highrise apartment buildings, they don't have apartments like in
America) placing fliers in mailboxes advertising the beginning of free
English class. It was a good use of time I think though. We didn't
disturb anyone on their holiday, and now we have the sign up day for
this Thursday! We'll see what happens.

We also have a new person we're meeting with up in Bled, which is the
big tourist place in Slovenia. I included a picture of the grad
(castle) and church on the cliff over lake Bled last week. We should
hopefully be going up there more often to meet with him, (like

So. The gift of tongues is real. Truth. How else could I have spurts
of near fluency in Slovene after only being here for a month? Also, I had
really cool experience this week. We meet with an older lady in
Kranj every week. The problem for me however, is that the older people
have a much thicker accent and are really hard to understand
typically. This can be a problem. That and this lady likes to talk, a
lot, a lot, and about random things (like mice infestations in
Slovenia, true story). This last week we met with her on Friday and
the discussion began as usual, understanding some, maybe 20%, and then
suddenly, something happened, it's hard to describe, like something
moved in my mind and a warm feeling and I could understand pretty much
everything she was saying. It stayed like that for the rest of the 45
or so minutes we continued to talk. Soon after it was over though, I
was back to where I had been before, asking people to repeat what they
said so I can understand them.

It truly is amazing reflecting how far I have come with the language.
One or two people have actually asked me where in Slovenia I'm from.
When I tell them I've only been here for a month they are amazed at
how well I can speak. Hard work is a part of it, yes. But with faith,
God provides the rest of what's needed. Our needs can be fulfilled,
despite how impossible they might seem, if we simply act in faith
believing it can be done. If you don't, it is near guaranteed that it
will not happen. Such is life, and even more so is missionary work.

Hope all is well at home and everyone had a great and safe halloween.

Much care,
-Starešina Benson

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Elder Benson sent new pictures!


Bled castle and church

View of Kranj



Monday, October 29, 2012

My Worst Nightmare has Arrived


Hey all!

Sunday morning, I woke up (an hour later than normal thanks to Slovene
daylight savings) to a whitewashed world outside my window, with
strange white powder falling from the sky. It had been raining for a
day or two before it got cold enough, so the rivers are once again
really angry. Thankfully we did have some warning. Last Monday night,
we went to go visit a nice lady we've been talking to every week on
her doorstep and she warned us it was forcasted to snow on Friday.
Friday came, and rain, but no snow. Saturday, more rain, thankfully no
snow. And then. And then. Sunday. It came.

It's really strange living in snow considering I've never lived in
snow my whole life. It's not actually super cold yet. Enough to make
it stick, sort of, but it is all kind of slushy stuff by the end of
the day. And no ice yet. I'm really glad I bought boots and wool socks
two weeks ago so I can just walk through the stuff without getting wet
or cold. Elder Hardy says it'll prolly be a cold winter though since
it's already started snowing, and it's only October.

So this week has been a great week. Lots of lessons and sincere
people. Not a lot of contacting, but we did do some more service
cutting drve (firewood) for an older member lady here in Kranj. Last
monday, we went hiking up Šmarjetna Gora, a mountain next to Kranj and
got a great view of all of Kranj and the surroundings. If I can get to
a computer that can upload photos, I'll send those today. I am going
down to Ljubljana...

This week is also going to be super strange. It's a holiday week,
which basically means all the Slovenes take the whole week easy. The
31st is ˝Reformers Day˝ (even though there aren't any protestants to
speak of in Slovenia really) and is a state holiday. The 1st,
meanwhile, isn't technically a state holiday, but the whole country
takes it off because it's a Catholic Holiday here, Dan Mrtve (day of the
dead). A day where everyone (even members here) spend the day
remembering their ancestors and go to the pokopališče (Cemeteris) to
spend time remembering them and leave them something, like a little red
candle. Work basically stops here, even for us. Elder Hardy and I are
planning to maybe go visit a member family on Wednesday and pepper
Kranj with fliers advertising English class. Other than those two
days though, the work looks good.

This week, we had a lesson with a sweet fant (guy) named Janez. His
family met a lot with the missionaries before maybe 5 years ago, but
didn't end up joining. He was buddies with the missionaries, but never
really heard what we have to share. He actually contacted us on the
street as we were walking home. He is a Jazz music major at a faks
(college) in Austria and is part of a band, but lives at home in
Kranj. He was really interested in what we had to say and said ˝you
gave me some new things to ponder about.˝ He really wants to see what
we're all about, but is in Sarajevo, Bosnia for a music festival this
week. He was hesitant to commit to acting because he said he
wasn't sure if he would act on an answer he would receive.... which is

He truly understands the concept of ˝real intent˝ which is the key to
getting answers from God. If we want to know truth, to really receive
wisdom from a higher power for something we don't know (James 1:5),
then we need to be sincere with our asking. If we have no intent of
acting on some answer we get, we are not being sincere and will not
receive an answer, or the answer we get will simply be our own pride.
But if we do ask with a ˝sincere heart and real intent˝, then we can
know the truthfulness or untruthfulness of anything we need from the
Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:3-5). This truth, this knowledge, is the simple
definition of revelation. Knowledge and instruction from God. And god
is unchanging, and will give us truth today just as he gave the
ancient prophets and apostles. And this direction can be a pattern
for living the most productive and happiest life. We simply need to do
our part and be humble and sincere enough and have real intent to be
able to receive the inspiration from on high.

Hope all is well back home. I hear it's starting to cool down there,
too. Pics to come hopefully.

-Starešina Benson

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Fall of Faith


Ladies and Gents, fall is definitely here. The leaves are falling,
the fruit is ripe (and really delicious!), the weather is cooling,
and miracles are happening.

This last week has been a busy one full of service and meetings. We
helped an older member here in Kranj mow her yard and weed her jagoda
(strawberry) garden, and a different family cut and gather wood for
the winter (more on that to come!). We also had Zone Conference on
 Tuesday where President Rowe and his wife, and the assistants to the
president, (a missionary companionship who works with president) came
up to Ljubljana where all 14 missionaries (not including senior couple
missionaries) met together for instruction. It was really cool seeing
all the missionaries gathered again.

Less missionary work has been done this week due to the large amounts
of service and vacations. (We had two of the people we meet with go to
Koper, a Slovene city on the sea, this week). But that's perfectly fine.
The opportunity to help others is one of the main reasons I am here,
and service is a fantastic way.

One of the families here in Slovenia, the Lotrič family who lives up
in the mountains, needed help gathering and cutting firewood for the
winter. So we were picked up by the branch president (bishop, pastor
of the congregation here), President Majc in the morning for a nice 45
minute drive up to the middle of no where. We worked there for the
whole day gathering enough wood they said for two winters. I have
pictures when I am at a computer where the pictures actually work.

Also, across the mission we have titled the time from now until the
end of the year the ˝Fall of Faith.˝ Fall of Faith because miracles are
happening. I've mentioned it before, but the full extent of it is
difficult to fully realize. As long as the members and missionaries
here do their work in faith, real miracles are happening. People are
literally contacting us wanting to meet up to talk about the gospel.
Also, as a mission, there is the goal of having 100 baptisms, which is a
record no one has even come close to achieving before in this European mission.

Important to note is the difference between faith and hope. Hope is a
belief something can and will happen. Faith is ACTION on a belief that
something can and will happen. When we put forth and show our faith,
miracles happen. God is real. God is eternal and unchanging. And
miracles happen today just the same as they did 2000 years ago and
before (Mormon 9:19-20). The only difference is that people have lost
their faith, and so miracles to some seem to have ceased. But faith
must always precede the miracle (Ether 12:6). And so we go forward
every day in faith, meaning in action, as to the things which seem
impossible but will happen. This is the same for every person. The
only difference is we all have a different work. But if we exercise
faith in what we do, we will see results. The only way you can know is
through trying. That is the only true way of knowing the truth (John

And so this work goes on.

Much Love all-
-Starešina Benson

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another Photo

Eating dinner at Elder and Sister Hansen's (Senior Missionaries) House

Monday, October 15, 2012

Winter is on it's way and so is success!!

Pozdrav family and friends!!

A lot has changed in the last week in Slovenia (at least here in
Kranj). The weather first of all has taken a steep nosedive into the
cold side. The sunny, warm days I fear are over for the next four
months. I don't think I've seen a clear sky since one day where we had a lot of rain at night. It's actually kind of reminded me of the winters in Texas. Probably in the 40's at night and topping out
in the 60's during the day with mist (SO MUCH FOG) and overcast skys.
Raining every day or two lightly. Elder Hardy says this is kind of
what it's like all winter, except for mist is light snow, and much
more brutally (at least for my taste) cold. Being in the highest
elevation town with missionaries doesn't help either. But at least
it'll probably look really nice, and I still have some time to get more
clothes before the winter fully descends.

The work has also largly picked up as well. People who disappeared for
a little bit have recontacted us, and we've found some incredibly
prepared people. We've contacted a lot of people who have met with
missionaries before and are interested in meeting again, too.
Furthermore, our less active member buddy from Tržič moved to a town
closer to Kranj. We visted him at his new place (really nice!) and had
a great discussion about the temple. We committed him to begin
preparing to go to the temple and he accepted!

For those unfamiliar with the temple, The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints builds temples as worshipers of God have through all
time (until the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in aprox.
70AD). From Moses' time, (and even before including the mountain tops
of the early patriarchs). Temple worship has played a central role in
the worshiping God. The temple was used by Christ as a primary place
he taught at, and it continued to be following his death,
resurrection, and acension by the apostles. (Acts 5:42)

As God is an unchangable and eternal God, temples are important to
Him. While the exact purposes and implementation of the temple has
changed through time (from the mountain tops, to the Tablernacle, to
Solomon's, to Herod's temple), the significance of the temple has not
changed. Just as in Christ's and the Apostles' time, the temples of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today are places where we learn more about
our Savior and our Father's eternal plan for us.

We invite all people everywhere to prepare to enter the temple. But
just as God is perfect and holy, we need to live our lives to the best
of our abilities to be able to be worthy to enter his holy house:
standards of living taught by His prophets throughout time. Not even
all members of the church can enter. And so, it is our invitation to
everyone, regardless of where you are spiritually in your life, and
regardless of the groove you have set yourself in, to enter the

I know the peace, blessings, and strength that comes from the temple
is a true blessing in life and is unlike anything else. A temple is a
house of the Lord, set apart to be holy, and so the communication
between God and us, his children, easily comes. I know that God is
unchangable and eternal, and is a constant in my life and anyone's
life. Our relationship with Him and his Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ
is the greatest thing we can build on earth. From this relationship,
we recieve direction, comfort, and a greater understanding of who we
are, things needed even more so in this increasingly complicated and
darkening world.

I pray everyone at home is in good health and safe spirits.
Be strong!

-Starešina Benson

P.S. We have a Zone meeting (all the missionaries in Slovenija) tomorrow
with President Rowe in Ljubljana. I should be getting mail. Expect
responses in the next two weeks.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More Pictures!

With Elder Seegmeuller at the MTC

With Sister Whistler

The apartment


Holding Slovenian Flag at the MTC with MTC teachers and Elder Burdette

The Slovene countryside on a cloudy day

Another view

With Elder Hardy

It's Beginning

Pozdrav friends!

Sincerely hope all is well at home. The seasons are
definitely beginning to change here in Slovenia. The weather is
somewhere between 60-80 degrees depending on the day, and the leaves
are beginning to change colors. A little more color here than in
Texas, that and A LOT more green. But that's a really good thing! The
first sign of snow way up in the top of the mountains has showed up,
so now it'll be fun to watch that line slowly get lower and lower and
lower until it reaches us here in Kranj.

This week has been a particularlly interesting week. Lots and lots and
lots of walking. But I don't mind. We're walking though one of the
most beautiful places in the world! Last Wednesday, I think it was, we
took the bus to a person's house we were meeting with, about a 15 minute
ride to a town called Moše. Unfortunately, he wasn't home, and the next
bus to pick us up was something like an hour and a half out, so we
began to walk. And walk. And walk. And walk. I think we left sometime
around 7ish and got back home in Kranj around 9:30ish. A good
experience, long, but good to see the whole landscape. We figured the
distance we walked was just over about 1/4 the distance to Ljubljana.

We've also been doing a lot of work in a town to our north called
Tržič. Further north into the mountains. It's a nice, small, quaint
town tucked into a narrow river valley of the mountains. there's an
inactive member there we've been meeting with and helping who hasn't
been contacted by anyone in the church for something like 4-5 years
and missed the contact! He was so excited when we found him. But
everytime we go up to Tržič, something good always happens! Without
fail, we've always found someone who's interested in hearing our
message there.

Truly, serving a mission is a blessing greater than any other
experience on Earth. Of all the things I learned in the university,
none of them can compare to the things I am learning here. Things like
learning to live in a foreign country, to truly learning how you
learn, the digging even deeper into the simple, profound, and eternal
truths of who we are, where we came from, why we are here, and where
we go after this life. It's so true what people say that when we teach
something ourselves, we are the ones who are really being taught, not
the people we talk to. I can already tell that the lessons I am
learning now will take me through the rest of life and beyond. Lessons
that cannot be learned any other way than by doing.

If any of you are even considering serving a mission, know this. Stop
thinking and do it. It will be the best choice of your life and will
affect everything you do afterwards for the better. We know that if we
have the desires, we are qualified for the work. The Lord can do all
things, and in us can prepare us in ways we don't even recognize or
imagine. And preparation never ends either. We are always being
prepared for new experiences in the future designed specifically for
us. But remember this. For all the preparation you put in, there will
come a moment when the time of preparation passes and the time for
action comes. Fear not, for fear is the opposite of faith. And in
faith we can do all things for God will enable us. And it is not until
after the trial, or test, or experiment of our faith that we receive
our witness that the thing we have faith in it true, right, and a
blessing in your life.

I pray all is well in your lives. I have a cool plan in mind to share
a part of Slovenia with all of you that write me letters. The first
batch should be mailed off today ;-)

Much love,
-Your Brother, Starešina Cameron Benson

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall is turning

Dober dan moyi prijateli! (Good day my friends!)

Hope all is well at home. Life is great here in Kranj. the seasons are
definitely changing and thankfully it has been warmer today than it
was last week. Granted that didn't stop all the rain from falling this
week, but still that only makes the place even more green. Sometimes
when I walk around I just think how this place is probably as close as
you could get to the garden of Eden. Eveything is green, and blooming,
and there are fruit trees everywhere (especially apples). It rained a
lot this week though. Thankfully mostly during the night. The river
running by Kranj flooded its banks and tripled in size, but has been
getting calmer and more turquoise every day.

Beyond the flood, not too much has changed. The people are still as
nice as ever, especially compared to people in Ljubljana (the
capital). Walking down the street in Ljubljana is a sad experience
because whenever you say hello to someone, they don't even look at
you, just keep their heads down and keep on walking. But the people
here in Kranj are amazing! They all respect us and what we are doing
and it always seems to put a smile on their face when we say Živijo to

So yesterday, Sunday, was district conference at the Church here in
Ljubljana. Many members from all over Slovenija came down, (from Celje
and Maribor) along with the rest of the missionaries. President Rowe
came up from Zagreb, and we had an Area Seventy (So in the new
testament, Jesus called his twelve apostles, then also a quorum of
seventy to minister) there as well from Switzerland. It was an amazing
conference! It is interesting having all the talks given in either
Slovene or English, but it is always helping my Slovene to get better.
I still have issues understanding people, but it is getting better
every day. And my talking ability is better and better also.

In the middle of conference, we had a rest hymn, and then President
Juhart (the district president for the church in Slovenija) asked that
Sister Rowe, then President Rowe, then Elder Benson would give
testimonies! I had no idea I was going to be asked to bear a testimony
here before all the members in Slovenia! A little freaked out, I had
to figure out if that was what he really said (it was announced in
Slovene), then seek inspiration on what I said.

I said a prayer and a scripture came to mind, Alma 32 on the seed of
faith. From this inspiration and through the Holy Spirit in the
moment, speaking from the stand, God gave me the words to say.
That I gave the word of God, the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, a
place in my heart as to like a seed, testing it. Because it was a good
seed of truth, it grew and became a great tree, and bore fruit more
delicious and beneficial to my life than I could even imagine, even
the pure, constant, and unchanging love of God and Christ. Having
tasted of this fruit, I know that the seed I planted is true. Action
is demanded when an undeniable witness is given. I am here in Slovenia
to further cultivate more fruits, in the people of Slovenia and the
members here as well. That the fruit, the pure love of Christ
unrestrained can be shared among all people. And how great is the joy
and how greater shall be the joy in the coming months. The work I do
now is not just for two years though, but is an eternal work. As life
is eternal, so shall be the joy made because of the efforts I labor

I hear the seasons are changing back home as well! Mail is a bit odd
since it must come from Zagreb, but I will get it before too long.

Much love!

-Elder Benson

Monday, September 24, 2012

Živijo from Beautiful Slovenija

Hey all family and friends!!

Home all is well on the home front in America! I arrived in Zagreb
after a very long flight from Chicago to Zurich, to Zagreb where I met
my mission president, President Rowe and his wife, and a few other
missionaries here in the mission.

It was an interesting first day. We had introductions, met, and ended up in President Rowe's house for the night, having an amazing meal Sister Rowe cooked and sleeping in the little girl's room for the night. He has a great family. two little girls (I'm guessing probably about 8, 10ish years old?) and three sons (two I'd guess in their like 13-17's and another who wasn't there, but I'd guess he is like 10ish?) Super nice family! We got to
sleep in that night until 8:30am! Before President came in and woke us up. We had a meeting that morning and then my new companion and I took the train off to Slovenia!

So on the way out of the mission home (President's home), we got our
assigned areas and new companion. I'm with Elder Hardy who is super
cool. He's from Boston sort of (and Toronto, France, but Boston is the
simplest answer) and has been in Slovenia for around a year. I'm so
glad he's been here for a while so he can speak the language. The MTC
definitely prepared me to speak, but understanding is a TOTALLY
different experience! I'm glad I did all I could from the MTC to learn
the language cause otherwise I would probably be totally lost. Trying
to understand what everyone says can be a real challenge sometimes,
but I can cope. At least I can say what I know fairly well and am
easily understood when I don't butcher the words or make a silly word
mistake So... side story, yesterday at church, the branch president
(Pastor basically) asked me to introduce myself for five or so
minutes. In that I said, "Jaz sem smešen biti tukaj", meaning to say
"Jaz sem srečno biti tukaj". Meaning: I am funny to be here vs. I am
happy to be here. Oops!!!. But I am very grateful Elder Hardy can
really speak the language well. I would be so lost without him

So I am currently in the city (town really, not THAT big) of Kranj,
about thirty minutes northwest of the capital Ljubljana. we're
reopening Kranj. There haven't been any missionaries in Kranj from
about a year. It's a super quaint little place. Very European. Just to
the South east of the Gillian Alps, and to the south of the mountains
bordering Austria. You can see the mountains really well in many
places in town, but I haven't taken any pictures yet. Sorry!! Next
week! :-/ There is snow now on the mountains though, and is quite
cool for what I'm used to. Elder Hardy said this is the coolest town
in all Slovenia because it is the closest to the mountains. Elder
Burdette by the way, went off to Maribor in the northwest corner of
Slovenia, really really close to the Austrian border.

So some interesting things about Slovenia and the people here. there
is no central air systems. At all. Meaning no air conditioning, or
heating systems. Everyone has radiators here, but no one has turned
any of them on yet since it's still in the 60's ish. Winter is going
to be interesting. take the guy who's never lived in snow and starts
to get really cold below 70 degrees and put him where it gets really
cold in the winter. Oh well. I'll survive. I'm going to go buy some
winter clothes later today. Kaj še.. what else.. So everyone has a
garden here! it's awesome. All the apple trees in everyones' front
yards have apples. And the juice and bread here is amazing! I haven't
run into any really weird food yet. I had a strudle yesterday at church
that I couldn't figure out what it was, but i still sort of knew what
it was. and some Serbian food a few days ago, but that was more like
fried bread with sausage in it. delicious, if not healthy. Also, I've
come to the conclusion a few days ago that I like Slovenes a lot more
than Americans. they're a lot nicer, almost everyone you walk past on
the streets says something like Živijo (Hello), and they're all just
really polite. And direct. My kind of people!

So really amazing story from Wednesday, my first day here in Kranj.
Because we're opening the area, we had no appointments. just because
there haven't been missionaries here though doesn't mean people don't
know us. We had a few people want to talk with us because they
recognized us and haven't talked to us in a long time. But my first
day, great intro to Slovenia. we get to Kranj (A older missionary
couple serving in Ljubljana drove us up from the train the Ljubljana),
get groceries, and find a house someone wanted us to go visit. It
starts to rain. A lot. And it's cold. We get to their house
(navigating by map since this is Elder Hardy's first time in Kranj too)
and no one is home. So we head back to check out a room we have in the
one skyscraper in town, close to home. we come back outside after
checking the room and Elder Hardy asks which blok (apartment complex)
we should go visit. I point to one across the street. It's really
started to pour now. We get there, and start from the top door. The
first door we knock on opens. We (by that I mean elder hardy in
Slovene) says a statement about a small portion of our message and the
guy who opened the door is interested. His name is Andre and we had a
great lesson with him. he speaks great English, but as with most
people here, much prefers to speak in Slovene. It was a great tender
mercy from the Lord to introduce me to the work through that. I mean
what are the chances? first door knocked on in Kranj is a lesson. It's
as if the people here are finding us to talk to instead of the other
way around. We have a lot scheduled to do this week so it's really

Hope all is well on the hope front. We have District conference here
(all the churches have a single church meeting from across Slovenia)
next Sunday in Ljubljana, and then we have general conference (World
wide church meetings) the next Sunday, so the Sundays will be super
busy too. sorry about the no pictures, I will fix that next week!!
Mail might take a little to get to me but I promise to write back.

Hope all is well!
-Starešina Benson

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Safe in Zagreb

Dravo friends and family!
Hope all is well back home! I had a nice little 25 hour flight to Zagreb and I am here in the mission office in Zagreb. I should find out who my new companion is tomorrow, and where I should be for the next little bit... exciting!!
So to briefly fill you in on what has happened since the last week. we finished our last week in the MTC, said goodbyes, had two new districts come into our branch to pass leadership off to, and then headed to the airport on the way to Zagreb. Met a ton of people on the way here, an awesome hippyish-hipsterish girl in the Chicago airport, a man from Czechoslovakia on the flight to Zagreb. And then here in Zagreb, we just had lunch and then an assistant to the president, Elder Bishop and I, went out to talk to people on the street. Awesome people. The place is amazing! They don't seem to be big fans of air conditioning, but then again it's fine. The mission office is in the city center with all these old buildings around (it is actually in an old building). It's amazing how many people here can speak English! Pretty much every person we talked to could speak English. Some better than others, but that is good. The food is amazing here too, the one meal I've had. The juice. Oh man.
Not a lot else to report. I'm alive here in the middle of southern Europe now. All is well.
-Elder Benson

Elder Benson with President and Sister Rowe

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lepo se Imaj Amerika

Hey all friends and fam!

How's life going on? It's getting cooler here in Utah and still hot in the day and dryer than the inside of a toaster. But you know what? That doesn't matter much anymore! Why? Because I'm leaving in less than a week!!!!! Woooo hooo!!!!!

So the four of us going to the North Adriatic (my district) got our travel plans last Thursday!! Here's the scoop: We report to the travel office on campus at 8:00 a.m. (yay for not having to wake up earlier than normal!... we always wake up at 6:30 a.m. every day), then our flight leaves SLC at 11 a.m. for Chicago. One time zone and three hours later, we arrive at 3pm Chicago time. Thennnnn we leave Chicago at 5:45 p.m. to fly through seven time zones and arrive in Munich Germany at 9:50 a.m. German time!! (you can do the math on the flying time. All I know is it's just A LOT... then we have a nice little hourish layover until we leave at 11:30 a.m. to make the comfy hour flight to Zagreb Croatia landing around 12:40 p.m.! to be picked up by the Mission President, and probably sleep for a billion hours trying to catch up on losing 8 hours of time. Yeah, we arrive just before 1 p.m. Zagreb time, feels like just before 5 a.m. to our bodies. THAT will be fun!!!......

But really, I'm so super excited to leave! This is what I've been waiting for! The opportunity to go to Slovenia to meet the people being prepared to meet me, and having the chance to get to know them, hear about their lives, and help them. The language has been better and better. At this point, it's all kind of just learning more and more words until I know enough, and applying grammar principles. I'm still probably not going to know a single word anyone says to me the first week, and everyone will probably be asking me to repeat a million times, but that's ok!!! I can learn quickly! And I'll have a new companion who's been there a while, knows what he's doing (hopefully), and is fluent to correct the language mistakes I've made.

But what does all of this mean? This means letters have a much smaller chance to make it to me before I leave next Monday (start using the Croatia address hint hint ;-) ) AAAAnd it means the letters I send back to ya'll will now have fancy Slovene postmarks and stamps on them!

Regardless, time at the MTC however has been amazing. I have grown and learned so much about who I am, what I have the potential to become and learn and do, and about the eternal truths the soul craves. Everything which is good comes from God. (Alma 5:40) We are often passively led by God to do good. I would encourage everyone to take a look at this short youtube series here on light by Elder Bednar. It explains what I just said far more clearly than I ever could.

If nothing else, know this. I know that God is real Jesus Christ lives and the same doctrine (or light/truth) and church Jesus established and taught in the New Testament is restored and on the Earth today, whom He leads.
Hope all is doing well. Not sure if I'll have an email next week or not, but expect not.
Hear from ya'll soon from across the pond!!

-Starešina Benson

Monday, September 3, 2012

Initiate Coundown!

Hey all friends and family!!

Hope all is well this Labor day weekend! See, I'm not that isolated from the world. I still know it's Labor day. :-p Mainly because I don't receive any letters today since the post office is closed though. But anyways, life is going great here at the MTC. My tiny district is officially on the final stretch before heading out to the mission field iiiiiiiiiiin TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!!!!!!!! That means that next week's email will be the last letter sent from the states barring anything that has drastically changed. Who knows, the Turks who were on our floor were reassigned to NYC Turkish speaking for like 6 months before going to Turkey. Also, that means if you want to send me a package of any kind, you are quickly running out of time before packages go from $10 to $50, and letters go from 50 cents to a dollar.

But those are simply silly details. The best part of the mission is about to start! Getting to meet the Slovene people and giving them the opportunity to find an infinite amount of happiness and the freedom from guilt and pain of past actions. It's amazing how much love I already have for these people even though I haven't met a single one of them. Part of it is probably a part of my call, and another is probably a small portion of the infinite love our Heavenly Father has for them. I simply can't wait to go and experience them!!! Yes, the MTC here in Utah has been great, but nothing could compare to the actual experience and people.

So cool experience this week. On the first day of new missionaries arriving to the MTC, they go through an interesting introduction to teaching. Thirty or so missionaries are put into a room together with a person who wants to hear the gospel, and they have to "try" group teaching that person one at a time (emphasis on try). It's interesting. But to start it off, they have a companionship that has been here for a while and are quite good at starting conversations and teaching to lead the newbies into it. Elder Burdette and I were asked to do this this Wednesday! It's super exciting, terrifying, and humbling that our teachers would recommend us for that, and that they would pick us for it. We get a special training for it tonight, and will let ya'll know how it goes next week.

Also, we had a widow named Sister Madsen come and talk to our tiny district going to Slovenia and Croatia Tuesday. She was amazing! Her and her husband Truman Madsen were good friends with former Croatian basketball player Krešmir 
Ćosić. They were a significant part of his discovering the gospel. After Krešmir joined the church, he wanted so badly to share it with his countrymen in then Yugoslavia, and so basically founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day-Saints in then Communist Yugoslavia. She shared her experience with him there and since his passing, and the work going on there now.

I will be blunt from what she said. There are miracles happening there right now. Where before only some 60 people were accepting the gospel a year in the whole mission area, in the past 6 or so months, there has been an explosion of people coming to know Jesus Christ. What was once 60 baptisms a year is now like 60 baptisms in 3 months. The work there is exploding, and I am going to be a part of it!

I know if I have faith that I can be effective and CHOOSE to be a useful tool in the Lord's hands in building His kingdom on Earth, I can and will be. We each have this choice. Will we reject what we hear and say around us, or actually put it to the test? Experiment if it is true? No results are had without trying. And I know this Restored Gospel is true. I know because I tested it, initially to prove it wrong, but still gave it a fair chance, and it has changed my life in every facet to be a better, stronger, and most importantly happier person. But these are only the physical blessings. Spiritual blessings beyond description and imagine are attainable. I encourage everyone to have faith and test truth where it is offered. If it brings forth good works, it is good and true (Matthew 7:13-19).

I hope all is going well at home. Hope to hear from you soon before I leave the States.

Best Wishes - Starešina Benson

P.S. Here's my new address for when I'm in Slovenia. Since I'm only two weeks out, figure it's good to have now. Will probably take a little longer to receive and get back, but could be worse, like somewhere in South America.

Elder Cameron Benson
Adriatic North Mission
Crkva Isusa Krista Svetaca
Posljednjh Dana, Svačicev Trg 3/1
10000 Zagreb