Monday, February 25, 2013

I Am Impossible

Another warm greeting from a cold place family and friends!

I know that spring has to be close, but winter is doing it's absolute best to keep a death grip on the land. This week I think we got at least three to four feet of snow, some of it for a straight 24 hours. Many of the Slovenes say that this much snow is incredibly unusual, as for example last year, they only had one week of snow in February, while this year they have gotten tons of it. Nonetheless, Slovenes are very good at getting rid of snow quickly, even if they hate being in it for a extended amount of time. From my experience living in it for a season, I don't think my opinion of it has changed at all. It's nice to look at, and can be fun for an hour to play in, but overall is not good at all to live in.

This week in terms of work and success has been a great one. Now that we have established the right kind of relationship and desire with the people we meet with, they are really progressing in coming to know for themselves if the message we share is true. That and they really like us. When we contacted one of the people we met with last week and asked if there was anytime outside of the normal time we meet, he said yes and set up with us then. Then he asked if we could also come over to his house on the normal time!! It was great, and he has expressed over and over his appreciation of how we have helped him understand faith, God, and himself better. Also this week, we've had some great success with being directed to people through other people. One of my English class students for example told her friend about us, who was interested in meeting with us. 

This week we also had interviews with President Rowe about how we are doing and how we can improve. Unfortunately, as most things do with President, they ran over, and so we had to catch a later bus up to our area than we had expected. However, as we were on the bus, a girl was staring at us as occasionally people do. As we were walking by her, I said hello, how are you, and she responded, ˝Čakaj! Imam uprašanje! (Wait! I have a question!)˝ We then had a good 20 minute conversation standing on the bus about who we are, why we're here, what we do, and why we do it. She gave us her number and said we would be in contact later. A few days later, we called her, and as we talked she said that this week she had told her grandmother about running into us and how we are here to help others through faith, and that we support ourselves through it. Her Babica (Grandmother)'s response? That's impossible. And so, I have now reached impossible status. And really, from an outsider's, material, worldly concerns, point of view, it kind of does seem impossible. To pause school for two years, pay yourself through, living with few worldly conveniences, and be happy to constantly be serving others, it does kind of seem impossible. But all of them take one reality out of the picture: God. It this work weren't true, real, and powered by something greater than man, then the Babica would be right. This probably would be impossible and have no purpose. But it is real. I know beyond a doubt it is real. I have seen people be blessed from my service here. And know many more will have the opportunity as well. And so the work goes on. I have reached the impossible, and continually defy it. Because with God, nothing is impossible.

I hope everyone is happy and growing stronger and better every day ahead!
Much Love-
-Starešina Benson

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Dark and the Light

Greetings everyone back home!!

From what I hear, winter for the most part is starting to loosen it's
grip back home at least in South Texas. Weather in the 70's
makes me just want more and more for winter to end. But it should be
soon. As I'm writing right now it is snowing, again. But there's hope!
None of it is sticking right now. Hopefully it will stop before
nightfall so it doesn't start sticking again in the freezing weather.

This week has been a big pick up compared to last week of the winter
doldrums. We have had some great progress with some of the people we
meet with in truly understanding the importance of our message and, if
it were true, why it would be important to them. In addition, Elder
Wilson and I have had some great success this week in finding new
people as well.

One of the people we've been meeting with is a good friend of a member
whom we are good friends with here in Kranj. The last few times we've
been meeting however seemed to have been more for the enjoyment of who
we are and the stories we can share having been from America rather
than on the more eternally significant things of the gospel. This week
however, for lunch, we met with her and reiterated the great apostasy
and why exactly there are so many different denominations on the earth
today (despite the fact that there is only one God), and the
importance therefore of the restoration of the fullness of the gospel. She
understood well, and committed to do the things to come to know if the
message we shared is true or not.

It was a great lesson, and I learned a lot about how important the
darkness of the great apostasy is necessary to have the great light,
joy, happiness, hope, and confidence of life the restoration brings.

To top off this week also, we had the great joy of having a baptism in
Ljubljana. Our new sister truly emphasized the blessings the restored
gospel of Jesus Christ brings to people, and was a living example of
the light people radiate from the inner joy of the gospel of Jesus
Christ. As she said in her own words, “I am sorry that my words are
not so rich, that I could describe these wonderful feelings…I feel
peace and the Holy Ghost, and that to me is beautiful”.

This is truly the gift we are here to offer to people, is this
beautiful peace and ease of consciousness. While winter may sometimes
be cold and dark, the gospel is a light which can not be put out
inside each of us to bless us and others around us.

I hope everyone is well and safe and has a truly blessed week.
-Starešina Benson

Monday, February 11, 2013

It All Works Out

Hello all family and friends!!

Hope all is well back home. Things are exciting and still freezing in Slovenia, but that should hopefully change before too long.

This week is a sort of holiday week in Slovenia. Last Friday was a national holiday, Slovene culture day. There were all kinds of cultural festivities and shops set up in center Kranj and it was all very exciting. Many of the older people were all dressed up in cultural dress, which all looks like a cool mix between Polish traditional, and more American pioneer dress. Then the next day, Saturday, was Pust Saturday. Pust is a huge holiday here in Slovenia that comes from the northwest side. It is something like groundhog day and Halloween mixed together. There was a huge parade, in which Korunt, or these big yeti monsters with bells wrapped around their wastes dance around scaring away the snow. Also, they had these men who had massive, maybe 20 ft whips made of rope which they whipped around cracking them for a few minutes, ˝˝whipping the snow˝˝ and scaring away winter. That and everybody was dressed in costumes, especially the little kids, just like Halloween. Then that night, the kids went door to door to ask for krof or money, just like Halloween.

And while the city has been going from dead to millions of people (as much of a city Kranj can be...) Our schedule did a similar sort of thing this week. One day, in which Elder Wilson was feeling a bit sick, he still insisted that we go out and try to find some people. Our day was empty, except for a 7 pm meeting which I cancelled that morning because it was with a younger girl, and I couldn't find anyone else to meet with us. (We have a rule we can't meet alone with women to ensure there's no inappropriateness)
And so we went to a few doors of people who had met with missionaries in the past, but had no success. Then, realizing we were in the neighborhood, I offered that we go try the home of a less active member who lived nearby. We rang her apartment phone outside the door and she let us right in! She was one of the first people baptized in Kranj, and had since been working to return to activity. We had a great meeting with her and we left. At that moment, we were inspired to go visit an older member who lives in a nursing home, and so we rushed straight over. We had a great meeting with her, leaving right after her dinner had arrived. As we were with her however, a member in Ljubljana, whom I had called the day before to ask if he could come on the 7 pm meeting, called, saying he had just gotten on the bus to Kranj to meet with us and the young woman I had cancelled on!! Freaking out, I called her, and reorganized to meet again at 7. All was well, and it turned out to be a wonderful visit with her.
The longer and longer I've been on my mission, I've begun to realize that even when things don't really seem like they are going to work out, if you include God and listen to His promptings, then it all ends up working out for the best, regardless of the situation or circumstances. Continuously, it has been a testimony builder that if you include God in what you do, he will help you. And He, knowing all and comprehending all that is happening, knows much better how things will work than we do. I heard not so long ago the phrase that in life, we can choose two ways to do things, ˝˝The Lord's way, or the slow way.˝˝ This truly is how I've been seeing it, and the less you try to resist Him and His will, the better EVERYTHING in life seems to work out, and truly the happier you are.

I hope everyone has a miraculous week, and hope everyone is safe and warm.
Much Love-
Starešina Benson

Monday, February 4, 2013

Love One Another

Hello all family and friends back home in an English speaking nation!!
I hope everyone is well today! The weather here in Ljubljana is going to be an absolutely wonderful, sunny, high of 48 degree day today, so sounds like perfect conditions to go play some sports for p-day.
This last week has been a great week, starting off last Tuesday with returning, yet again..... to Zagreb... I promise I'm in Slovenia more than Croatia, I promise. But we were there for a Zone Conference, with all the Slovene missionaries and all the Croatian missionaries as well. It was a great conference. The meeting was actually supposed to have happened some 3 weeks ago, but a massive snowstorm across the mission cancelled everything as it became nearly impossible for some of the Croatian missionaries to travel to Zagreb. As Slovenes, it's not so hard as the trains don't typically have issues, even in lots of snow typically, but a bus from Zadar off the coast would have been tricky.
None the less, it was a great experience in which we learned the huge importance of WHO you are is just as equal if not more important than WHAT you say. In the end, what we know is less important than how we apply what we know to ourselves. We ourselves, our personalities and emotions to others is a reflection of what we believe, how well we understand ourselves, and frankly our ability to share what we know and understand with others. It is one thing to say all and know a multitude of ideas and philosophies, but if you don't actually try and put these things to the test, try to actually build the building you believe you can build, all the effort we have put into learning and reflecting and reading and pondering, was for naught.
As a missionary, especially and as a representative of Jesus Christ, this is even more significant. As Jesus was giving his last words to his apostles, he said that it is His commandment, that we love one another, as he has loved us. That by these things, by this love we have for even complete strangers we have never met before, we will be showing ourselves for who we truly are - His disciples (John 13:34-35). Without this love, my work here is for naught. It would be more difficult, and even whatever success I may be having, without His love, the success is ultimately also, for naught.
Love is the genesis of missionary work, if we have an unequaled, abiding love for the people around us, His will will be done. We understand and see every person, regardless of what they look like or what experiences we might have had with them in the past, as a beloved, special, unique, and important person, a child of God. And when we live and understand this ourselves, we can be more effective, and happier tools in the Lord's hands as we go about our lives.
I wish a happy and abundant week to everyone this week as we begin to (thankfully!) pull out of winter.
Much love-
-Starešina Benson