Monday, December 30, 2013

The Holiday Week

Srečno Novo Leto!!!

And a merry post humorous Christmas! Christmas this year was quite good. I can't believe the day went so incredibly fast. 

During the week, we taught our friend who we met through English class, and he is doing wonderfully. We met with him on Christmas eve, before heading over to the senior couple's place for Christmas eve dinner (simple, but friendly soup). He is doing really well. We met with him twice this last week despite the holidays, and he launched us straight into teaching the plan of salvation, talking about the purpose of this life, where we came from, and how we benefit, especially from the challenges and trials of this world. We completely put our other plans aside as this was what he was interested in, and really benefited him in building his testimony of the full truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge and direction we receive for the questions of the soul that can not be found anywhere else.

We had great experiences with another friend we have been meeting with for awhile, a mother. She is really spiritually growing in her understanding of God, and is starting to really show personal progress in building her personal relationship with God in prayer and through reading His word, especially the Book of Mormon. From the time when we first started meeting with her again a few months ago, she has really progressed a lot, and can see a lot of the change she has experienced in that time, all for the better.

Otherwise, Christmas was excellent. The Maribor missionaries came down and we had a wonderful and massive Christmas brunch with all the great American breakfast foods that you can not get here. Unfortunately, I ate a little more than my fill. Then, a few hours later, still very stuffed, we get a call from the member we have been working with for awhile that we were going to go skype at his place. He was calling asking if we could come over an hour or so early as his girlfriend had cooked us dinner!!!... So we went over, and they had 3 different types of meat, čevapčiče, sliced roast, šnitzle, mashed potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and a great orange juice. It was all absolutely amazing, just I was so so so so so so so so so so so full. Elder Lyman and I then Skyped our families at his place, and walked on to the senior couple's for the rest of Christmas. It was a great day, just it all went so fast. 

Otherwise, the week has been very full of rain. It has been really nicely warm actually relatively. Quite nice, no snow like last year. We'll see how long it will last. New years is coming up though. We'll see how it is. Last year it was crazy, and this year it looks like it will be so again. We have heard fireworks every single day for nearly a week now, even in the rain. It is bound to be crazy.

So I hope you all have a great week, and New Years, just not too crazy. Stay safe and happy!!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, December 23, 2013

A BUSY Christmas week of border crossings and amazing people

Vesel Božič!!!!!!!

This week has been an absolutely insane week. Truly insane. Truly.  As I logged out last week from writing my letter, it began to snow. The first true snow of the year. But the snow was not long lived. It stayed on the ground for a few days, and then on Thursday (when we had an... adventurous border crossing and our Christmas Party in Zagreb) The sun came out and it has been really nice weather ever since. Almost 9 degrees Celsius I heard yesterday on Sunday!! So nice and warm!

As I just mentioned, on Monday last week, I still wasn't sure if I was going to get to go to the Christmas party for the whole mission in Zagreb yet as my renewed visa still hadn't come in yet. And so Tuesday morning I called the visa person we work with as missionaries to hear that my visa was still in process, and thus had absolutely no chance of making it to me before Thursday. No Chance. Done. And so, that was sad. I resigned myself into sinking mindset that I would simply have to find someone (I have no clue who also cause everyone was busy) to spend the day in Slovenija while everyone else went on to Zagreb. 

Then, the day before, on Wednesday, I talked with the zone leaders who said they talked with the visa person who said that if I had the paper confirming that I was in the process or reapplying for my visa I could still cross the border even though I didn't have the visa!! I had hope!!!!... until I looked at the paper itself, and there in the last sentence it said, ˝This confirms for the foreigner the ability to reside in the Republik of Slovenija, but is not valid for border crossing.˝ None the less, we all decided we were going to go for it, so I quickly found a white elephant gift, was up at 5am Thursday morning, and on a train by 6:30. Keep in mind now that Elder Burdette meanwhile had the same issue as I did. And so, we quickly arrive at the border, the border guards come on the train, and start checking all the other missionaries visas. All is well, then they get to Elder Burdette first. He had the great plan of just giving them his passport without the old visa card like everyone else, which immediately got him caught. However, he presented the guard with the old visa card and the confirmation and they said it was fine and moved on to me. I had quickly wised up and slipped my old visa card into the passport, and didn't get a second glance from the border guard! Before too long we had arrived in Zagreb!!

Then the next question was getting back in. But the process was the exact same. I simply gave them my visa with my old visa card, and all was well, them simply stamping my passport and moving on. And so that was incredibly stressful, but we ultimately had no problems.

As for the spiritual work this week, I am probably the busiest now that I have ever been in...... for sure since I've been in Celje, if not for my whole mission. We doubled how many visits we had last week from this week, and even yesterday we were running from appointment to appointment, ending late in the end because of all the work. 

Furthermore, I had a bike accident yesterday as we rushed to our first appointment. As we were going through a right angle corner around a building (on a side street) I was leading. I've always hated that corner because it is impossible to see around it before you start to go through it. So I was leading, and start to go through it, to find a car coming towards me only about 2-3 meters away. I quickly brake, which ultimately was a bad decision, as the hard brake mixed with the damp streets caused my bike to skid off balance and me come crashing to the ground. But hey! It's better than getting hit by a car, right? My right hip is now really sore along with my right elbow, and I tore some of the skin on my hand, but in a few days it will all be well.

But this week, one of our English class students who we started meeting with a week or two ago personally about the gospel has suddenly showed a lot of interest. He said he is willing to meet with us almost every day, and came to both our Christmas Concert here in Celje (which was a WONDERFUL success, we had nearly 50 people here for it) and then church services the next Sunday. He is reading the Book of Mormon nearly every day and is finding new personal spiritual insights with nearly every single sentence he reads. I can see him progressing very quickly.

Also, we met with a referral we received from the mission office this week who lives in Velenje, about a good 20 minute drive away from Celje. She had lived in America for a good amount of time and there had investigated a few faiths, but when she moved back she was disappointed as she found she had no one with whom she could have these spiritual conversations with her. Until she somehow (we're still not sure how she came in contact with us) found us. She has a lot of questions, but seems sincerely interested in finding and coming to know the truth of God herself.

The work here in Celje is insanely busy, even despite the Christmas time. Elder Lyman is wonderful and a master of language now practically. He is a wonderful missionary. Otherwise all is well. Looks like we'll have another green Christmas this year. Who would have guessed the two years I live someplace where it can snow that both years would be green Christmases. Oh well. No complaints as long as this year isn't as insanely snowy as last year was.

Sending warm greetings and love and care from across the ocean! Merry Christmas!!!
-Starešina Benson

Zone Conference Dec 3,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lots of visits and family

Zdravo vsi prijatelji in družina v Ameriki!

This week has been a cold week, and fairly foggy, but not overly horrible. Just still more frost. It kind of looks like snow still, but it isn't. And doesn't get everywhere like snow usually does. The people are also saying that it probably won't snow here for another week or two at least. So if we have a white Christmas, I don't know, but one thing is for sure. There is definitely not the same amount of snow this year as there was last year. It hasn't even snowed once this year yet! Last year it had snowed multiple times already.

This week, especially, this weekend we have had a lot of success. We have taught a lot of people and we found a few new ones as well. In our English class, we are seeing one of our students who has been interested in gospel discussions and the spiritual thoughts we have at the end of class.  He became even more interested in diving deeper into faith. He has even said that in the time he has come to English class, he has learned more than any other class, it has all stuck, and that he has learned more and grown spiritually more in the last month than ever before.

This weekend we also had a lot of visits set up as well, and despite many of them falling through or moving to a different day or week, we were still able to find other visits in place of them so that we have taught a lot of lessons over the last two days.

We have also had a bit of success yesterday with our less active friend who was baptized a long time ago here in Celje (which means a lot since we don't exactly have a ton of members here) but had been inactive for some 8 years. In the last two months he has been coming to church (regularly nearly every Sunday except for the past few weeks) and is now talking about the church and we are kind of.. almost... teaching his girlfriend who he has been with for two years. We talked about his spiritual goals and desires not just for himself, but for his family, for them to be unified and together, in the presence of his girlfriend. We discussed that a bit more and the doctrine and the importance of the family not just on this earth, but to God as well, and invited them together to pray together. They accepted the commitment. I truly hope they act on it. I know that they will strengthen both themselves and each other as they act and come closer to God in acting in unity as one. This is where the greatest happiness lies I believe, is in a strong unified family. Nothing else can replace that.

With Christmas coming up, we also had transfers. And of course, when you think you could just about expect almost anything to happen and you can't be surprised any more, the Lord throws a curve ball at you and you get surprised. The transfers? Where we all are moving? Where am I moving to from Celje since I have already been here a long time (~9 months)? The answer? Nothing. No where. I am staying in Celje another month and a half (which will mean I would have been here for 11 months total at that point). In fact, no one is moving anywhere in Slovenija. We are all staying the same. Which actually works out for now for all the Christmas plans we have with the branch here. 

Also, we have the mission Christmas party this week on Thursday... If I will be able to go. My renewed visa still hasn't come in yet, and my old one expired last week. While I am in the middle of the process, I cannot cross the border without not being able to get back in. So... we will see. Elder Burdette is currently in the same boat.

And such is live in Slovenija. The work is moving ahead wonderfully.

I hope you all have a great gear up for the holidays! Vesel božič!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, December 9, 2013

Blog Additions

Dear Family and Friends,

We are having success with a less active we have been working with for a majority of my time here in Celje. For the last few months she has only been minimally responding to our efforts to invite her back, to little response. However, I feel the whole time that her only concern really was a lack of motivation in the mornings. But she has since been put in charge of the Christmas program we are having here in Celje, and has suddenly been becoming more active as a natural result. (along with the support of the other active members and our help with her responsibility.) She came to church on Sunday, and has been attending almost all the activities and choir practice we have been having to prepare for the concert. It is working a miracle.

We have also been working some with another less active member from Ljubljana as he is here in Celje working on renovating the church. We spent part of the day today helping him sand the door frames and put rooms he has nearly finished back together. We've talked a bit about his mission experiences and shared some Thanksgiving treats with him. He is doing well, but I have little idea what has been going on with him in the past with different missionaries.

Also, I achieved a major milestone in my goal of memorizing the sermon on the mount in finishing fully memorizing Matthew 5.

Hope all is well. Transfers are next week.

-Starešina Benson

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pumpkin Pie!!

Hello all readers,

This week is an excerpt from the letter to Cameron's family. Because "I haven't really any time left at all as we just left and came back from lunch / dinner. You can include the thanksgiving blurb for the blog." were his instructions. So, here it is:

The pumpkin pies were an absolute success!!!! The pumpkin was great, not too big like last time (10 kilos, even when it was still only half the pumpkin!) This time the pumpkin was just 4-5 kilos, and we still only used half of it to make 4 pies. The only disappointing thing about the pies was the crust. I don't think I used enough wonderful butter, but we'll all probably live a few extra hours because of it.

Thanksgiving in general was wonderful. We arrived at around 11 after spending all night the night before (OK, to around 10pm) cooking pies, ran into the Maribor missionaries on the street, and began having a wonderful time. We all helped finish the last things for dinner (how's that having 8 assistants help you finish cooking?), and then we sat down and began eating for what must have been an hour or two. SO MUCH FOOD!!!!  We had turkey (not a proper full turkey, but the biggest turkey breast that a turkey has probably ever made), ham (the turkey and ham were sliced up into slice chunks), berry jelly, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry jam, green bean casserole, crescent rolls (not from the can, those don't exist here, but from scratch), candied yams (with the marshmallows on top, you know?), pumpkin pie, cranberry granola crisps, peanutbutter bars, no bake chocolate cookies, juices, and a simple salad. Absolutely wonderful. I might have forgotten something. Afterwards we chatted and played some Uno before the Maribor missionaries had to go back up to Maribor. Then we finished the day with English class. It was a good day.

It is also very very cold this week. It has been freezing every day as we leave the apartment now. The snow will not be too much longer as the frost is here pretty solidly. But it is supposed to be really nice weather for the next few days, which means really cold nights, and cold days.

That's all. Sorry for being so brief, no more time. In short, yes, turkey was good and pie was great.

Elder Cameron Benson

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Moving forward. Thanksgiving is coming!!!

Servus (there's some Celje speak if you want some)

This week has been... wet. And dark. And even more wet. And even wetter. So much rain. I'm pretty sure it rained every single day nearly nonstop for the past week until today. I think I only saw the sun once this last week. But the good news is that it is over now!! (hopefully). This morning the dark clouds rolled past and the sun (kind of) came out!! But it got really cold. I hear it is supposed to be really cold from here on out, which, means that the snow and ice are not far out.

But in happier news, the Christmas lights are starting to come out!! And Thanksgiving is on Thursday!! Which of course does not exist in Slovenija, but it exists for missionaries!! So I got a 4 kilo(10 lb) pumpkin today from the open air farmers market in center for some wonderful homemade pumpkin pie (which baffles all the Slovenes minds. Pumpkin pie does not even come close to existing here).

This week has been a fine week as well. One of the people we meet with has begun to show real interest in what we teach and is sincerely trying to learn to understand how to come closer to God. We also have had contact with pretty much all the people we meet with, and have set up with most everyone for this week. (which makes a really really busy week since we will be short a day of the week with Thanksgiving.) 

English class here has also taken off. This last week we have had 9 new people come and join. The beginning English class I am teaching now is probably one of the biggest English classes I have ever taught. 

Our less active who was gone for 8 years is still solid. Has not missed a single Sunday for the last three weeks since he came the first time in Celje. And he is starting to see his outlook on life completely change because he has been coming. That instead of just doing things now and in the moment, he said he has been thinking of his actions and more of their long term consequences. We also discussed his goals with his family, and how he will still personally progress.

This week I also spoke in Sacrament meeting. It was on missionary work, but tailored it more to the needs of the branch. If I have time I might write it out.

Thanksgiving is of course this week, but Slovenija is going to be cut in half instead of together. Maribor is going to come down here to Celje and we are going to have Thanksgiving together with the senior couple the Lamberts here, while the Ljubljana missionaries are going to stay in Ljubljana and spend the day with an American family which just moved to Slovenija a few months ago. But it should be still wonderful.

What else is new? It gets dark here really early now. It is almost completely dark by 4pm now. Which is right now actually 16:18pm, which is what, 11:18 Texas time? It is strange, but what can you do. Life will be much better once the Christmas lights turn on in the beginning of December. They add so much cheer to everything!!! :-)

I don't know what else to add. this week is going to be wonderfully busy and full of miracles. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!! (warm and dry at that)

-Starešina Benson

Monday, November 18, 2013

LA Success, Miracles, and Insanity

Lep Pozdrav (Beautiful Greetings) all family and friends and others!
The weather in Celje has been a bit... dark... and cloudy... and wet... and cold.... but the week has been very interesting.
To begin, we had a missionary from a different mission come in to Celje on Monday night whom we met. He was having visa problems, and so had to leave briefly to correct the problem before heading back the next day after it was all resolved.
We also are seeing a lot of progress with the less active members we visit with. ALL three of them at least came to the chapel this Sunday, the 8 year long member coming for the second Sunday in Celje in a row, and this time bringing his girlfriend with him. For one, it was the first time in a few months (she came twice to Ljubljana back in October, but before then it has been awhile). Then for the third, he has been doing really well, reading the scriptures and praying every day, and has finally decided to come to church, at least came to the church yesterday. It was a great Sunday.
Plus, we had another success with home teaching (the program in the church where different members visit each other once a month and care for their physical and spiritual well being.) We had a lesson with one of our great members who recently was released from his calling and so did not have very many responsibilities to fulfill. But, we talked about his vision for the branch, and thus his desire to help other people. We talked about the people he home taught, and identified two of whom he could focus on, one an active member whom he lives close to, and another, a less active who he was good friends with. We invited him to set up with the active member and we would go with him to visit her, and then he said he would get in contact with his less active friend, see how he is doing, ask if we could come on a visit with him, and invite him to church. On Friday night, we saw him and he said he planned to go to his LA friend the next day on Saturday and invite him. Then, when we see him Sunday morning before church, he said tat he went to his place and had a good chat with him, and said that he said he would come to church if it was nice weather. A little bit of a weak excuse and promise, but we'll see. Then, about 20 minutes later, a man I had never met before walked into the chapel, and all the members suddenly jumped up (not too different from how it was last week when out 8 yr LA friend came to church for the first time in Celje) and cried his name, hugged him, chatted with him, and welcomed him back. He came! And we didn't even have to talk to him, his own home teacher invited him back. Goes to show that this work isn't just for the missionaries, but for every single member of the church, and we ALL can have success.
Beyond this, we also had a miracle this week with one of our strongest families here in Celje. We had set up on Tuesday a visit with their son who is a great member with some problems whom we meet with fairly regularly. And so, we went over there with a nice lesson prepared for him, and as we walk in, we see his mom and another woman I have never seen sitting at the kitchen table. We immediately begin talking, and soon find out this woman is the best friend of the mom. We introduce ourselves, and before too long we are in a discussion about the godhead. She expressed a lot of interest, but is cautious that she wants to go at her own pace which is of course fair. But she has the same goal as we do, for her to strengthen her faith.
This week we also had a really great incident. On Wednesday morning, our landlady came in to our apartment with a mechanic to clean out the hard water sediment of the hot water heater in our bathroom. It was all well (just no hot water that previous night of course, it had to cool down for him to work on it), but he was still working when we had to go out, so we left them there. We go through a very long, very busy, and very successful day, and came home right around the time we had to be at home (we have to be home by 9:30 every night, no exceptions usually). Also, we knew we had to get to bed pretty much immediately that night because we had to go down to Ljubljana the next morning, the train leaving at 6:50, meaning we would have to wake up 30 minutes early at 6 to make it on time. And so, we get home, exhausted, and ready to take a quick shower and get to try and make up for the 30 minutes of lost sleep, and as I'm turning the key in our door I hear something and say, ˝Strange, it sounds like there is water running in our apartment....˝ It sounded like someone had left the shower on. We get inside, and open the door to the bathroom to find water ALL OVER the floor and bathroom.
What had happened was that he had to take out a pipe that connected from the wall to the water heater to work, and one of those pipes had become frayed when he tried putting it back in, and so when he turned the water back on and left, as it refilled the water heater, water began spraying everywhere out the connection of the pipe, all over the bathroom. When we had finally gotten home, it had probably been spraying for a few hours at least. So we call our landlady back, telling her, ˝Voda je vseposod v kopalnici!!!˝, meaning, ˝Water is everywhere in the bathroom!˝, she said she was coming immediately. And so, in the time we are waiting for her, we figure out how to turn the water to our apartment off to stop it from spraying everywhere, and mop up the floor of water, and begin waiting for her. 45 minutes to an hour later, she arrives, looks at it, says she will call the man to fix it tomorrow, and leaves. It was all fixed the next day while we were in Ljubljana, but to say the least we did not get our 30 extra minutes of sleep, nor a shower that night.
And so that has been the most exciting parts of our week. Fairly fun and exciting and successful if I say so myself, except the weather and some of our plans falling through. But it has been a great week. Thanksgiving is coming up, and so the challenge of finding an American pie pan begins. I hope you all enjoy your week and have a great lead into the holidays!!!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Transfers and we're going forward!!

Hello all!!!

Hope life is well and warmer and sunnier where you all are. It actually wasn't too horrible of a week this week, it is just everything went south on Saturday. The dark clouds rolled in from the south and it began to rain. Ever since then it seems like it has been perpetually in almost some kind of rain, whether heavy pouring, or really light drizzle. And the clouds are here, only clouds, no sun. But it has at least kept the temperature higher instead of lower. If it was colder than freezing right now, it would probably be snowing. No worries. The snow will come before too long. Then winter will really begin.

So we have transfers today!! And the big changes for me are.... nothing! Elder Lyman and I are stying here in Celje. But as expected, Sister Legro went home, or rather is going home today, and so Sister Flanders who was down in Ljubljana is coming up to be with Sister Jones in Celje!! It is all just going to be one big party. Meanwhile, Sister Legro's replacement, Sister Brown, is taking Sister Flander's place in Ljubljana with Sister Burton, who is training, and who has only been in the country for 6 weeks. That will be fun. But they will both grow and learn. 

The Elders are all kinds of mixed up now too. Elder Simon is moving from Maribor to Ljubljana to be with Elder Dereanger, while Elder Wilson is going to be zone leader with Elder Burdette!!! Elders Hunt and Stott are going to be in Maribor.

This last week however, has largely been a week of meetings and chores. We had zone conference all day on Thursday, and had to go to Ljubljana on Wednesday to pick up Elder Lyman's visa (Yes!! He has his own real visa. So fast.) None the less we have had a good week. We had contact with all of our new friends we found last week and everything is going well. Any fears I had at first that they don't want to meet with us after the first time are eased now. We actually had a really great visit with the friends of our less active (8 year LA guy) and they said they were going to start reading the Book of Mormon and see if what we were sharing was right. But, then I forgot to ask them when would be a good time for us to come back, and so we were about to head out the door, not set up for next week when they asked, ˝Ali se bosta kdaj oglasila spet?˝, meaning ˝Will you two ever come around again?˝ I then realized my mistake, and we quickly set up for next week. none the less, it goes to show that they are sincerely interested to want to meet with us by them asking us to come back.

Another one of the people we meet with, who we wern't able to meet with last week had a great experience. She and her family couldn't meet with us last week with the holiday, and so we were trying to set up for this week, but we couldn't set a time, and so eventually I asked if we could come by around 5 on Sunday. But I wait a few days and still don't get a response. So Sunday comes around, and despite the fact that we still hadn't heard back from her, I felt like we should still go see her. So we go, and knock on her door. Her son answers and he says to us immediately, come in. We aren't sure what to do, having just been invited inside by a 8 year old, until she comes from around the corner and says to us also, ˝Naprej!˝, meaning ˝Come in!˝ And so, even though we didn't have a lot of time, we set up for our next visit, introduced what we'll talk about, and prayed together. She said in the visit that she had run out of credit to text with her phone, so she wasn't able to say yes! come!, but was hoping and expecting that we would come around. We actually came at just the perfect time as she had just finished baking some Slovene cake as we range her doorbell. Goes to show there is inspiration in the process of planning and we are truly guided as the Lord's servants.

Also, church yesterday was excellent. We actually were not able to meet with out LA friend (8 year) this week as he had something come up at the same time we had set up for on Saturday, but I organized and made sure everything was OK so that he could come on Sunday, and he did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The first time he's come to church in Celje for about 8 years!! I was starting to get nervous with him, even though he had come to church in Ljubljana last month, he still hadn't come to church in Celje yet, missing a few weeks. But he finally came yesterday. It was so wonderful to see him standing at the doorstep of the chapel looking around. One of the really old families were already there who he knew from back in the day, the mother stood up and introduced herself to him, and then we said his name she said, ˝Ahh! Ne!! Dobrodošel!!!!!!!˝, meaning ˝Ahh! No!! Welcome!!!!!!!˝ and gave him a really big hug. This happened basically with every single one of the old time members. Everyone was so happy he came and warmly welcomed him back. Leaving, he said he had had a good experience, and said he was looking forward to coming next week with his girlfriend (she couldn't come today as she had to cook lunch, but they will prepare Sunday lunch in advance next week he said).

Well, here's to looking forward to another wonderful week which will not be burdened by too many meetings. I have my Visa renewal coming up before too long, but that should be a fairly simple process. I'm also so excited for Elder Burdette to be Zone leader. He's going to be wonderful.

Hope you all have a prijetno week.
-Starešina Benson

A picture of a Slovene graveyard (right after the day of the dead) These graveyards are a big deal.

And a picture of our former Maribor and Celje Sisters on a hill near Maribor last week.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Week of Miracles

Hello all family, friends, dearests, special people, Americans, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, parents, and so forth (a little bored with the usual, you know? have to change it up sometimes!. :-) )
Life in Slovenija is wonderful. We had a TRULY MIRACULOUS week this week.
But you're weekly weather report from across the world. This week has been truly wonderful weather. Clear every day, sunny, and warm in the 70's, to cooling down probably into the 50's at night.... until Sunday. The storms rolled in, and the sun has been hidden. It has rained off and on (mostly drizzle, a down pour or two) also though, with the weather settling into around 50 degrees. A bit chilly, but you can't complain too much. It is starting to get to be that time of the year. I just remember last year this time it had already snowed, so no complaints at all! The benefit however, is that now we're past dan mrtvih (it was last Friday), the next holiday in Slovenija is the Christmas holiday!! And that means the Christmas lights should start coming up in the next weeks!! I just need to get some good winter socks and I will be able to make it though another European winter. Hey! Life in this kind of winter isn't always easy for a Texas kid who's worst winter days at home were drizzle in the 40's and 50's (sounds like the weather outside today...)
As I mentioned, this week has been a truly wonderful, miraculous week. The work with people who are not member of the church is suddenly taking off!! It all started really, a few weeks ago when we were on a visit with the less active who was less active for 8 years and finally has started coming back. (fun story about him in a bit!) At the end of the visit, we mentioned that we were going to go out for a few hours that night and go door to door, and if he had any suggestions on someplace where we should go. He at first said no, you can go anywhere, maybe a big bloc (apartment building), but then he said, well, actually, I have this friend who came to my baptism some 11 years ago. He told us his information, and we went out to go contact his friend. However, as it is with spontaneous visits, we came at an inconvenient time. And so we came back a few more times to his friend, not getting a specific return time.
Then we come to last Tuesday. I had an exchange with Elder Wilson from Ljubljana who was here for the day while Elder Lyman went over to Ljubljana for the day. At first when the exchange was originally planned, Elder Lyman was supposed to stay and be with Elder Wilson in Ljubljana, and so I planned an excellent day for them, a visit with a member, and two visits with less active members. Then, we also saw our referral and I said (actually out of accident) that we would come back Tuesday night, forgetting I wouldn't be there. None the less, I told Elder Lyman that he can come here and have contact with him, then if he doesn't go anywhere still you can try finding people in his bloc. However, the day before the exchange, we find out that Elder Wilson's plan had changed without us knowing, and I was going to be in Celje with Elder Wilson. No problems.
And so Tuesday came, Elder Wilson came up, and we went around teaching the less active lessons we had in the plan. Also, Elder Wilson broke Elder Lyman's bike. That's a side note. And so we go through the day, it was wonderful, and then we get to the night when we had told the referral we were going to be coming. We go, he answers, but says they just sat down for dinner, but we set a specific time to come back on Saturday, and suggested we would invite his friend who referred him to us to come along as well. And so we begin going through the bloc.
After a bit, we find this very nice woman who is interested in discussing about faith and almost lets us in, until we ask if she has a man home (as missionaries we can't be alone with people of the opposite sex). She doesn't, but says we can come back that next Saturday and she will invite her brother to be there with them. She also had a maybe 13 year old son we met there also. We keep going, and on the same floor, we meet another older lady who lets us in immediately and we teach her a quick lesson about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet her husband. She was very open and very kind.
And so we had some potential lessons set up for Saturday, in addition to a visit with our 8 year less active member. And the miracle is, everyone was interested. The lady who said she would tell her brother to come was home, just finishing lunch when we came, and we taught her, her brother, and her son all together. They are a very strong, very kind family. I can not wait to see how the gospel can bless and strengthen them still even more. Then the visit we had with our less active member was wonderful. He girlfriend stayed for the whole lesson, but she wasn't interested in talking, only listening, so she's not quite ready to meet with us for her, but she's so close!!! And then we went on to his friend (he couldn't come with us, he had another visit that night besides us), and the referral lets us in and we teach him and his girlfriend. They are good people, and will really progress, especially if his friend is there to support them.
And so we found a ton of people to meet with all in one day really, but you can see how the Lord has been preparing us to meet them, and I believe the Lord has been preparing them to meet us.
Otherwise, the little story about our friend. He said he would come to church in Celje for the first time on Saturday, given that it didn't rain as they didn't have umbrellas or jackets. The last week he had a surprise visit from his mom who brought lunch, so he wasn't able to come. And so, he said Sunday morning they get up, it was very cloudy and ominous looking, but it wasn't raining, so they get dressed and ready to go, he, his girlfriend, and his little 3 year old daughter, and leave. They are walking on the road  to center for 5 minutes, however, when it begins to rain and the little girl begins to cry with a runny nose. And so they turned around and went back home... So close!!! I know they will soon come and will dramatically progress in the gospel of Christ.
But this was basically the highlights of the week. It has been a great week. Meeting and teaching individuals, couples, and families. Here's to the next week being just as wonderful!  This week is also the last week of the transfer. But then again, since I am still training Elder Lyman, nothing will likely change for the two of us. Sister Legro is going home however from Celje, and so that will make Elder Burdette and me the most experienced missionaries in Slovenija. Weird.
Anyways, stay strong, safe, and warm. I know thanksgiving is coming up before too long. Enjoy the week! It's wonderful!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Autumn Days

Zdravo! Lep Pozrav, itd...

The weather is absolutely WONDERFUL!!!!!!!  Since I always start with the weather update I figure we should just get that out of the way. This week has been absolutely amazing, Occasionally fog in the mornings, but it is a nice warm fall. I remember this time last year was the first snow fall, but it doesn't look like it will snow this year in October. Usually it has been in the 20's (70's) recently for the highs. Cool enough to wear a light jacket outside, but you might roll up the sleeves if you're outside too long. Its great for just leaving the window open all day and night though.

So this week we had the European day light savings time.... At least I think it is different here than in America. We all fell back one hour. One of our members gave us a heads up about it some weeks ago, but I didn't fully trust it, so I kept it in mind as I went to bed and expected that my phone would automatically switch the time if he was really telling the truth. This was really easy since our phone is our alarm clock. So I go to sleep without changing anything, and we wake up, go over, turn it off, and find that all our other clocks say 6:30 also. Huh. I guess the time didn't change. So we go through our morning, when we start talking with the sisters who are also nervous about the time change. After it gets a little later, they call that member who gave us the heads up and he said.. Yep! It sure did change. None the less, I still didn't believe him, so I called another member a little bit later and he said, Yep! It's 8 right now, not 9..... Uh oh. Oops. We just accidentally woke up at 5:30. Oh well.This morning we woke up at ˝6:30˝ But I think I was still up earlier. It just happens when you are used to waking up at the same time every day for more than a year!

This week we had excellent visits with our less active members. None of them came to church unfortunately (Sunday was a very very strange day), but many of them, and the members who didn't come had fair reasons.... (Which still aren't really excuses, but oh well!)

Specifically, the girlfriend of the member who has been inactive for 8 years is really starting to show interest in the gospel. We had a visit with them on Thursday after they came to church for the first time in Ljubljana on Sunday. It was a great visit and we had a good chat and watched the restoration movie together in Slovene. Unfortunately, when we asked his girlfriend if she wanted to join us for the lesson she thought about it, then said no... What can you do? Can't force anyone into the gospel.

None the less, we went on with the conversation and started to watch the movie after setting it up. After about 5-10 minutes though, his girlfriend comes around the corner into the room for a snack and sees we are watching a movie, and stands in the doorway watching it with us!! After a few minutes, she sits down next to her boyfriend and watches intently. She was in and out of the visit from there on out, but stayed for most of the rest of the movie. She isn't quite learning from us yet, but she is definitely on the way, and is definitely interested.

Also, Saturday Celje hosted a great ˝Kostan Piknik˝ -Chestnut Picnic. It was excellent and members from Maribor and Ljubljana came as well. Some less actives and investigators from Celje came as well. It was a great success.

What else is going on this last week? Elder Lyman is amazing. The Sisters are doing well. Sister Legro goes home in a few weeks. Her parents are coming over to visit and pick her up. Friday is the 1st of November. Dan Mrtveh - Day of the dead. MASSIVE holiday here in Slovenija. Halloween basically doesn't exist. Elder Wilson is coming up here to Celje tomorrow for the day for an exchange. It will be fun. We have a lot scheduled tomorrow.

Hope all is well and warm at home. Be safe and strong till the end!

-Starešina Benson

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Success, and after 8 years

Hello all family and friends!!!

So this week a ton of wonderful things happened. It is so wonderful it will be hard to write it all, especially since I don't have a ton of time to write. But this week... the library worker just told us we will have more time to write actually. So no worries!

Autumn is truly here in Slovenija right now. The weather has been absolutely miraculous. A bit cold and foggy in the mornings, but then it all cleared up and nearly every day has been warm and sunny. Well, warm so that I'm perfectly comfortable in a sweater. All the trees are all in full color now. It is absolutely beautiful.

But the work this week has been amazing. One of the less actives we've been working with, who we reestablished contact with a week or two ago has restarted praying and reading his scriptures, and told us this week that he plans to come back to church in a month or so.

A nice mom we found last week is doing very well and prayed for the first time in her own words last night with us.

We established contact with a referral we received from another less active member and he said he would invite us in at that moment, but he had guests over, and we set up a time this week to teach him.

The less active sister who came to general conference last week in Ljubljana came with us again to Ljubljana a second time to district conference (like stake conference for all of Slovenia). She is doing very well.

BUT!!! The greatest success of all with the less active who has been inactive for 8 years. (this gets really confusing since I don't include names for privacy sake, doesn't it?) We had a lesson set up with him for last Thursday, and I had prepared a small gift for him from some service we had done that day, but when we arrived, we rang his ringer at the bottom of the apartment tower... and no no one answered. We try again, nothing. We wait a few more minutes, and try again, nothing. We call him, no answer. Well, he's definitely not home is what flashes through my mind, and we decide to try going to visit other people we've met with nearby who said we could come back.

We go through all of the people we had, and then the question was what to do. We still had a little time before having to head home, and then as we thought, I had the feeling that we should go try visiting the less active one more time. We went, not expecting much, and we ring the phone, and his girlfriend (who isn't a member) answers!! She says they're home, and that we can come up briefly. 

We go up, and talk to him at the doorstep. At this point it is too late in the night for a visit, but I give him the gift (a few kilos of fresh chestnuts), he apologizes for not being home, and we reset for Saturday!

But then... Saturday morning comes around and as Elder Lyman and I are finishing studies, our phone begins ringing. It's our less active friend. It's never a good sign when someone you have a visit with that day calls you the morning or day of the visit. I answer, we talk for a moment, and he tells me the expected bad news, he can't meet that day. He apologizes, but then he tells me something I couldn't have even imagined...
He has for the last few weeks been thinking about when he wants to return to church, and had decided and felt, that he should, and promised, to come to church the next day! Despite the fact we had district conference in Ljubljana, we found seats for him, and he AND his non member girlfriend came with us. It was a great conference, his favorite talks being from the district president and from President Rowe. Afterwards he met many members, and reconnected with a few. His first Sunday meeting in 8 years.

We have a lot set up for this week as well. It should be a wonderful week. We're in Kranj right now, spending the P-day there. The Lamberts, the senior couple arrived safely (despite some interesting experiences with cars breaking down in the middle of the road in Celje as they are moving in). They are wonderful and from Arizona.
Life is well and wonderful. Hope all of your lives are wonderful and miraculous this week as well.
Lep Pozdrav!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, October 14, 2013

Strange strange week

Beautiful Greetings. (Lep Pozdrav)

It is sunny today. It is so wonderful. This week has been an incredibly strange week. Largely cloudy, cold and drizzly up until yesterday. Then the sun pierced through the fog and the weather turned absolutely amazing. We'll see how long this will last.

So I feel like we have been all over this week. We have had something strange every single day of the week. It all started on Monday. Last week we all went to Ljubljana to have some fun and spend time with the missionaries there. It was great. Then on Tuesday Elder Lyman and I had to go back to Ljubljana to do visa things for him. It was a relatively smooth process. We then, on the way back to Celje stopped in a little town called Zagorje to find (more try to find) someone who was referred to us through (yes! It does work believe it or not! I was amazed too!). None the less, a relatively smooth day. We found someone ( woman with a nice little family) to teach that night too. Then Wednesday, guess what, BACK TO LJUBLJANA! For zone conference. Zone conference with all of Slovenia was fine, but not nearly as inspiring as the time before. Then Thursday and Friday we hosted an open house in Celje where we opened the church doors and gave a handful of tours of the church and invited some people to learn more. It was actually quite successful. The sisters found someone new to teach through that as well. then came Saturday, where we went to Maribor!! As general conference was a week or two ago, we are just now getting around to watching it. I'm just grateful we had the opportunity to go and see it in English, mostly. We were there in at the senior couple's place watch conference for a majority of the day. It was amazing, inspiring, and gave direction to my life and answered questions of specific things I need to do and things I need to focus on to be even better than before. Then Sunday came around, and we went back to Ljubljana!!!... But in this was the real success of the week.

Instead of having regular church in Celje this week, we had it in Ljubljana to give people a chance to go down and view general conference in Slovene (the translations were actually done by Slovenes for the first time and were absolutely wonderful. Not the dreadful former missionaries translations). None the less, it was us four missionaries, and then only 2 Celjeians. But, these two Celjeians were one, the sister's investigator who is awesome, aaaaand a less active sister we've been working with who hasn't been to church in some 3 months or so (longer, a year or so, if you go back to the time when she came every single Sunday)!!! It was a wonderful conference and I feel she really received the counsel she really needed. We will keep working with her to help her become even more strong and cemented in the gospel. All the members were amazed to hear that she had actually come to the conference in Ljubljana. It is quite ironic too, that the Sunday she would come back was in a way (by train), place (100 km from home), time commitment (10 hours total after travel time and conference), and monetary cost (price of a train ticket to Ljubljana and back) above and beyond the normal commitments of going to church. Goes to show one someone wants something and is inspired and driven to do it, nothing is too difficult. Especially with the Lord.

Beyond that, everything is well in Celje. We have something really really really really really really exciting coming up soon. This week a senior missionary couple is coming to Slovenia, and is coming to Celje!!! We are planning something big for them this Friday, and things for them to do in the country.

Great things are happening, and more are still to come.
Well wishes home-
-Starešina Benson

Here are some pics I've been meaning to send you. The one in front of the Celje church is of me and Elder Baldwin back last month. Then we have a modern district picture of the Celjski misijonari in Ljubljana, and a picture of me and Elder Lyman in Ljubljana at the dragon bridge.

-Starešina Benson

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wonderful Days Past and Ahead!

Hello all family and friends!!!

Life is wonderful and cool in Slovenia. the rain has mostly stopped

though which is a big plus.

This week has been a bit crazy, and from last Sunday, I've been with

three different companions. It started out of course with Elder
Baldwin going back to Croatia (he's in Zadar now on the coast for his
last transfer before he goes home) while Elder Merl who serves in
Montenegreo (who is from Austria) came up to Celje. He was here Sunday
night, Monday, and Tuesday. We then went down to Zagreb on Wednesday
to meet our new companions we are training.

Those few days with Elder Merl was honestly one of the most fun

exchanges I've ever been on. We had a great time at FHE. Then Tuesday
was wonderful as we went out and did a ton of missionary work. We
taught a few people and found an inactive member I haven't taught in
about 5 months. He was a bit apprehensive with the language, but that
is understandable.

Then Wednesday I met my new companion, Elder Lyman!!! Elder Lyman is

wonderful. he is from Cedar City Utah in southern Utah and is 18. His
Slovene is fine. better than mine was back in the dark ages of my
first days. He got here and we have really hit the streets. It feels
so good to work so hard.

Last night we also had a wonderful lesson with the less active women

we've been meeting with. The branch president came with us (he had
first priority since he is her home teacher) and was amazing. He was
bold, we invited with power, and the Spirit was very present. It was
one of the best lessons I have ever had with her. As she was closing,
in her prayer she asked for the ability and strength to be able to go
to general conference next week in Ljubljana. When we left, she
thanked us some five times for the visit. It was wonderful. It would
be ironically wonderful if her first time to church in months is in
Ljubljana instead of at home in Celje. But no complaints.

It has been a wonderful week and it is looking like it is going to be

just as wonderful if not even more next week.
Hope you all enjoy your weeks!!

-Starešina Benson

Monday, September 30, 2013


Lep pozdrav!!
Transfers this week!! Guess what is changing! I'm not. Well, my companion is. Elder Baldwin is going back to Croatia, to Zadar on the coast for his last 6 weeks. Meanwhile, I'm going to be training again!!!   I'm only about 98% sure that his name is Elder Lyman... aaaaand that is pretty much all I know about him. I'm so excited!! I have so many plans for this next transfer!! We are going to go and get to work like work have never been defined ever before. Meanwhile, Kranj is being reopened!! With Sisters. Sister Fugal from Ljubljana and Sister Kovač from Maribor are reopening it. But in other fun and exciting news, we got a call from the assistants in Zagreb that they wanted Elder Baldwin to come down to Zagreb on Sunday night, so... no, I'm not in Zagreb right now, I'm still in Celje, but I do have a temporary companion. His name is Elder Merl. He is currently the only companionship in Montenegro and is going to be training also this transfer. He's also from Austria and is super awesome. We'll be together until Wednesday when we head down to Zagreb and meet our new companions.
This week, a fun little story is that we had a lesson with our awesome less active who we have been meeting with this last month on Saturday, and we had an active member set to come with us to visit with him. But at about 30 minutes till, we still hadn't heard anything from the active member. Nervous, I started looking around for another member, anyone who could come so we didn't go to him alone. Then, as we were finishing district meeting, the member who came to that (that in itself is another miracle story on how that district meeting even came together) was leaving when I realized, Hey!! Wait!! Do you have any time this evening? They did, and so we went on to our less active member friend to find...... he wan't home. Shoot. We all waited a bit outside his blok just to check to see if he was going to be late, when I realize and get the feeling, we haven't met with another less active person who lives close by this week. So I call her and she answers! She said she had just gotten home, and would love a visit, just to give her 30 minutes to get ready. So we wait a few more minutes with the active member and then head on over for a wonderful visit. We resolved her concern of sometimes losing courage and invited her to pray for strength and peace when those times come so she can do those things she knows are right. She has also been reading the scriptures every day for the last few weeks. You can see the change in her, and hope, despite the worsening weather, that she will soon return. She has already felt the prompting that she should come back, now it is just helping her have the peace and strength to help her act on it.
Amazing things are happening here in Celje with meeting with the less actives and people are progressing. I just hope to soon start to see the fruits of that. Also I hope to start seeing things changing with finding people who are interested in creating sacred coveneants with God as well. All in due time, which is God's time, not mine.
Here's a good Slovene farewell. There are literally millions of ways to say good bye and they try saying them ALL.
Srečno! Lepo se imejte! Fin bodi! Uživajte! Nasvidenje! Adijo! Čao! Lahko noč! Se slišamo! Se vidimo! Čao!
-Starešina Benson