Tuesday, July 22, 2014


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

Monday, July 14, 2014

The last week, and the perfect closure

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

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

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Incredible people and American peanut butter

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

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

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

The light of one another.

Hello all family and friends!!!!

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a very light filled week!

-Starešina Benson

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

Monday, June 9, 2014

A week of returning members and the fruits of the work

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

Miracles by miracles. Schools and in the right place at the right time.

Hello family and friends!!!
So the summer is slowly coming to a start with the beginning of June, but thankfully it hasn't truly started. All the Slovenes haven't left for the coast yet, so there are still a majority of Slovenes in Ljubljana right now rather than tourists. But over the next month it should slowly start getting worse and worse. Thankfully by the time it is awful I should be gone.
This week has truly been a miraculous week.  It started pretty early with an exchange we had with the Ljubljana elders in Center. I spent the day with Elder Lyman. That night, we were finishing with our day, slowly starting to head home by a round about way to talk to people on the way, when a guy on his bike stopped us and asked us what were the basics of what we believed. He was very interested and so we set a time the next morning to meet with him at his home. We had a fine lesson with him. He had already met missionaries a long long time in the past, and is very passionate about what he believes. But a majority of that what he believes is truth, unique to us. Otherwise, he is a paramedic with a family of five. Great guy.
Also, Wednesday, we had organized a tour of the church for a primary school in a small town called Gorenja Vas. There were about 45 kids there ,plus the teachers who were on a field trip in Ljubljana for the day to see a variety of other faith sites, us included. We had a great tour, teaching a 20 minute group lesson at the end, before having a great question and answer session. They all left with a great impression. As they were leaving though, one of the teachers saw our table out front with free copies of brochures and copies of the Book of Mormon. She asked if she could have one and we said of course. Then, over the next 10 minutes the students started streaming back into the church in groups of one or two or three people, each saying they saw their teacher reading and wanting their own copy. We then handed out more than 20 copies of the Book of Mormon over the next 10 minutes. But the story doesn't end there. Yesterday, one of the teachers showed up at church! We had invited them all to the ˝Come and See˝ day that we are having this next Sunday (the 8th), but she learned she couldn't come then, and so told her family yesterday that they were going on a little Sunday trip, coming to church in Ljubljana!! It was truly a miracle and amazing meeting.
Lastly, in the efforts to get as many people as possible to church on our ˝Come and See˝ day, or open house this Sunday, we have been asked to have contact with every single member in our areas, even ones who probably haven't had contact in the last 5-10 years. Easier said than done. So Elder Stott and I isolated a couple who we hadn't noticed before, and decided to go visit them. Unfortunately, we got the address wrong, and went to the completely wrong address. But still, we met a great man there and invited him to English class as he pointed us in the right direction. So eventually, we arrived at the right address. As we were coming up to the apartment building, we passed by two older women and said hi to them, before walking up the stairs. Once there, we looked at the buzzers for the right last name, but it wasn't there. Meaning? They moved. Still the wrong address. But one of the older ladies we passed came up the stairs to the same building, so we said, ˝Excuse us mam, would you happen to know this family by chance?˝ She said, ˝They're not at home˝. ˝So then did you know them?˝. ˝Mmmm you could say that I know them.˝. ˝Ah! were they good friends then?˝. Then the older woman said ˝The wife, she is my daughter.˝ What are the chances?!?!?!?!!! We then had a great conversation, hearing the sad story of what happened to them, but learning that the wife would be at home on Monday (today), and the grandmother inviting us to come back this evening. It was an amazing experience, not an accident, and completely inspired. We were in just the right place, and just the right time, and talked to just the right person, for it to happen at all.
I know the Lord is leading us. He is the one in charge, and miracles are happening. I hope everyone back home has a wonderful, miracle filled week!
Well wishes-
-Starešina Benson

Monday, May 26, 2014

Busy week of work

Lep Pozdrav!!!!!!
Slovenia this week has been quite nice weather, mostly all gray and warm getting up to a warm (warm to the Slovenes and the Utah missionaries) 25 C or 80 F thereabouts. For me personally, I cannot wait for it to be even warmer. :-)
That is, it was warm until this morning. About an hour or two ago a massive front came in all of a sudden and started dropping tons of rain and thunder. The thunder has stopped now, but it is still pouring. Good thing we had planned a relaxing and much needed rest p-day today.
This week has been a week full of work. No worries friends, Elder Benson is definitely not getting lazy as the end approaches. My companion Elder Stott won't let me slow down. Rather, we have worked really really hard this week. None the less, we haven't seen all that much success, but we have met tons of great people.
I was also on an exchange this week as well with Celje. I stayed in Ljubljana while Elder Hunt in Celje came down to spend the day with me. That night after teaching English class, we had a little time before going home, so we tried getting in contact with the 15 year old we teach, but he wasn't home. So instead we began walking back. But I personally set a goal that i wanted to talk to 3 people before we made it the 15 minute walk home. So we are going, I didn't tell Elder Hunt this goal, and there is absolutely no one on the street. Finally, about 5 minutes from home, we pass a grandfather and his granddaughter, and I talk to them for a moment, but they don't have time and so they went past. So we are really close to home now, approaching the intersection right outside of our place, thinking maybe we should go around for a little bit more, when a younger girl in her 20's comes across the street obviously dressed to go for a run. I say hello and she immediately says hi back and asks how we are. We then had a great little talk at the street corner. She had met missionaries once in Slovakia while traveling, but they couldn't speak their language very well. She was just so amazed though, that we were here as Americans and could speak such great Slovene! She was just in awe. So we got her phone number and set up to meet her that weekend with one of our members present to discuss what we believe. We met and it was really great. She was very open and curious, but in the end she said she didn't really want to act on our message and find out if it was true. It was none the less a great experience though and the seeds have been planted.
Otherwise, the week has been very busy, which is a good thing. It is never fun as a missionary to have nothing to do. Otherwise have a great busy week as well!!
z ljubeznijo-
-Starešina Benson

Monday, May 19, 2014

The beginning of the final push forward

Hello all family and friends!!
As I found out this morning, apparently there is massive devastation in Bosnia and Serbia this week from flooding. In Slovenija, there has been no damage, a good amount of rain, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, as it is in the same mission, we have heard of the humanitarian aid work being activated in that area now, and the missionaries down in Bosnia and Serbia being activated to help clean up.
But meanwhile, the sun has been in and out of Slovenia this week. While it has rained every day this week, the sun has also been out every day as well, so the weather hasn't been too strange. Just a bit cooler than normal.
The first week with Elder Stott, my new companion has been great as well. We have worked hard and have had many great experiences so far.
This week also, Friday morning we coordinated with all the Slovene missionaries to have a group prayer before we all went out to work that morning. We did a round, where one missionary started, then we went through everyone in the zone one by one, each adding their portion of the prayer to the end when the last person to pray closed it. It was a great spiritual experience, and we saw so many miracles that day.
Some of the miracles we experienced, were the 15 year old kid we teach had disappeared for a week or two, after we had taught him pretty much everything. Then he called Friday afternoon, asking to meet with us! He is doing well, now reading the Book of Mormon on his own and really enjoying it, which was one of his struggles before. He also came with us to church Sunday, his first in 3 weeks since he started to disappear. That Friday we also saw and talked to his mom and set up with her to teach the whole family this week.
Also this week, we met a man the other elders talked to on the street who lived in our area. He is incredibly prepared and told us he wanted to be baptized, and we just needed to teach him and tell him when and where. He really knows his Bible though, quoting multiple verses on end. My mouth hung open a few times as I just listened to him quote the new testament. We are moving forward a bit cautiously with him as there are some obvious... peculiarities with him... but we shall see how it develops in the coming weeks.
Great things are happening. We also had a ton of people in church this week more than normal, but it is all slowly rising more and more.
As I slowly come to the close of my mission, I personally have three goals I want to accomplish before I finish my mission in a now single digit amount of weeks.
1) The most important, to finish strong, working to the end.
2) For some of you, this may seem strange, but I have gotten really serious on my mission, and I need to relax again. So goal? Be less serious. :-)
3) As many return missionaries probably know, missions are great for your soul, and not the best usually on your body. I have atrophied a lot on my mission, and so to keep working out to have regained some of the muscle I once had when I reported.
In addition to all of this, i also have the goal to finish the Book of Mormon again before I leave.
These are the things to achieve. great things are happening, and with the help of God, all of this is possible.
I hope you all have equally miraculous weeks. Well wishes to everyone across the ocean!
-Starešina Benson

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wet Week

Hello all family and friends!!!
I apologize for not emailing yesterday on Monday (granted with the delay of blogging, you probably didn't even notice it). Yesterday night, the BYU symphony orchestra came to Slovenija and had a charity concert, all proceeds going to a local firefighters volunteer organization which experienced major flooding and ice storms this last year. The concert was phenomenal, with hundreds of people from the surrounding community coming. However, because of the needs of the concert that day,we missionaries were asked to help, setting up the whole stage and all the seating Monday, then doing a lot of last minute advertising to the town the concert was held in. To say the least, we had no time to do any of the normal Monday p-day things, much less have a break from the work. But the concert was a huge success, and the program was phenomenal.
Otherwise, this week, we had some great things going on. The 17 year old kid we teach who reappeared last week met with us twice this week. The first time Tuesday we had the opportunity to teach him more, then on Sunday, well... that was interesting. We were set to go meet him at 8pm Sunday night, and he doesn't have a working phone right now so we can't call to change anything. So we left a fireside the BYU orchestra was having early to make it to him by 8, bringing a member from America who we recently learned had moved to the same neighborhood. So we go, and when we get on the bus, everything is fine, but we might be a little late. Then we notice it has started to rain a little while on the bus, but it wasn't bad. But when we finally got off the bus, wow, it was pouring buckets, and because of the wind it was all sideways. We got drenched almost instantly. Thankfully, we were given two umbrellas from the sister missionaries to return to a member who lives by us, so we at least had cover, if only for our heads because of the wind.
So we finally make it to where he is waiting on us, thinking he surely had left by then, we were about 15 minutes late, and the rain was incredible. But no, he was still sitting then outside on a bench waiting on us. We meet up and start walking to the member's home, but the weather just keeps getting even worse! We go for another 2 minutes, and then the hail starts. And the rain gets even harder. Impossible. So we quickly ran for cover by a shopping store. The weather let up a little over the next five minutes, just enough so we could get to the member's home, soaked.
So, because of the delay, we didn't have a lot of time, so we quickly read a bit from the book of Mormon, sharing with our young friend its importance in our lives, even how it has changed our lives, and committing him to read. He also said he might still be baptized once he knows it is true. It was a great, shorter visit.
Then, as we were leaving, we were about 30 seconds from the bus stop (keep in mind it is still pouring), and we see our bus go right by us. ugh. It's Sunday, and the buses run very rarely. So we have to sit and wait in the cold and the rain for another 30 minutes nearly for the next bus. It was a great night for the lesson, but terrible for the weather and the luck.
But this week should hopefully be great. President moved up the transfer a week, so I have now started the last transfer of my mission, 10 weeks long. Elder Burdette went back up to Maribor this morning, back to the land of his birth to finish. Elder Stott, who started his mission in this area in Ljubljana some 10 months ago is now back with me as Zone Leader and will be my last companion.
Heres to a great week filled with miracles!
Well wishes (even if they are a bit wet!)
-Starešina Benson

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Miracles and changes. Things are speeding up!

This week has been quite... busy. It has rained nearly every day of the week, but at the same time been great weather. Just strange big storms have come up every day and rained A LOT for a few hours before clearing our for the night. Then the next day the same.
This week otherwise has been really busy. I went up to Maribor for an exchange with Elder Dearinger. Then right after I got back to Ljubljana, Elder Burdette and I turned around to head to Zagreb for the day for a leadership meeting. Then Friday we and the other Ljubljana Elders went to a town to the south called Postojna to advertise for a big event happening this next week. So really the only days Elder Burdette and I had together were Saturday and Sunday.
But the big event, this weekend, the BYU chamber orchestra is coming to Slovenija as part of their international tour. They will be here on Sunday, and are having a fireside on Sunday. Then on Monday they are holding a charity concert in a small town called Logatec for the firefighters. The town had a big flood a few months back, and so has been stressed with the clean up, and so we hope to help! We've been advertising for it in the other surrounding towns, Elder Lyman, Simon, Burdette, and I going to Postojna. It should be great!
Otherwise, also this week we had a little miracle. So the kids we have been teaching, the 15 year old is still doing well. We've nearly taught him everything, he just needs permission from his mom to get baptized. But he had his other friend we were also teaching a bit who is 17 years old. However, about 2 months ago, they got in a fight, and the 17 year old disappeared. We taught him a few times after the fight, then we lost all contact with him, until yesterday!
We were sitting in church yesterday in a great testimony meeting (first Sunday of the month of course) and I got a text from the branch president's councilor who was sitting on the stand saying he thought he saw our friend outside, but he probably didn't have the courage to come in. So I grabbed Elder Burdette and we went out into the hallway to look, only to find to my horror that one of the weird stalker people was there, who usually goes to Celje. I quickly went back into the chapel, texting the councilor back who was here. Then about 5 minutes later, the wife of the family who was sitting in front of us came back from the hallway cause she went out to calm her baby down, and told us that our friend who we used to teach was outside. I didn't believe it. By the mouth of two witnesses something has to be true, right? So Elder Burdette and I went back outside, walking past the stalker guy, going downstairs, and there in the hallway, was our 17 year old friend who had disappeared!!!
He apologized for being late, and losing contact. His phone had died and didn't have money for a new one, neither did he remember our number, but he knew exactly where we would be on Sunday morning at 10am! We set up with him there, and set up for him meeting with his 15 year old friend. Long story short, they are friends again, and we are meeting with him again! It's a miracle! I didn't understand why he had disappeared even though everything seemed to have been going great.
Things are going really well otherwise. There are a few changes. Elder Wilson whom I trained at the beginning of my mission who was transferred to Croatia 6 weeks ago is now assistant to President. President is also moving up the next transfer by one week to move things faster, and since no one new is coming out, so this upcoming week will actually be the last week of the transfer. Elder Burdette and I will most likely change. This will be both of our last transfer on the mission. Weird. 10 weeks left after this week........... So we will see what happens. Otherwise we have zone conference for all of Slovenija on Friday. I'm super excited for it!! Mother's Day is of course this weekend as well, the same day as the BYU fireside, meaning the last time I'll get to see my parents before seeing them in person!
Everything is moving well. Hope you all are safe, happy, and being strong!
Well wishes for a good week!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, April 28, 2014

Chalk, happiness, and reconections

Hello family and friends!!!
The weather in Slovenia has gotten a bit... wetter this week. The spring storms have arrived in full force. Yesterday, really just all of a sudden, it came out of nowhere and just poured for some 20 minutes with thunder and lightening before slowing down and stopping, only to start all over again two hours later. And because it was such nice weather in the morning when we left the apartment, I didn't have an umbrella, and Elder Burdette only had his small emergency umbrella!!
But otherwise we are planning to go to a mountain lake today called Bohinj. Even though it is still really cloudy weather and occasionally raining, it should be a great time. :-)
This week has been a great day otherwise as well. On Saturday we had another chalk activity in the city park. On a main walkway from the parking lot, we drew out the whole plan of Happiness, or in other words the plan that explains where we came from, why and how we are here, and where we go after this life, explaining how God is all fair despite different circumstances. It is a plan of hope and happiness, we are not lost or without purpose ever in this life. I had the opportunity while drawing to talk to a man who was walking by and teach him the whole plan. He has Parkinson's, and so was curious why bad things happen in the world. I explained that we all have our own trials. There is not a single person without them, but they are all different. Some people have health issues, others have family problems, still others with drugs, and still others have other circumstances created from the free choices of other people such as war and social issues. There is not a person without problems. But as long as we are humble, we can still learn and be happy through the trials. Our purpose here is that we learn to be better than the day before, the goal being the bright day when all will be restored to its perfect frame without pain or weakness. But the world now is not the garden of Eden. He was grateful for the conversation.
Otherwise we finally had contact with two of the people we teach yesterday for the first time in weeks. The first was one of our English class students who disappeared after getting a new job, but randomly called us after church had ended and invited us over to his place. It was great to see him again. The other was a person who had been meeting with missionaries some 6 years ago, but had had little contact for the last few years. She had been on plan for baptism, but issues came up which were not able to be overcome. We finally were able to meet with her and it was wonderful.
Everything is otherwise going well, if a bit wet. I hope everyone home is well and healthy. Have a great week! I know schools are ending soon. You can do it!!!
-Starešina Benson
chalk drawing with half the missionaries and the senior couple, the Thompson's

 i was in charge of drawing the predzemeljsko življenje, (pre-earth life)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter and Bosnians

Hello all fam and friends!!!!!!!
This week has been an interesting week. I feel like Easter just kind of creeped up on me from out of nowhere, and now it is over, but it was great!!! Tonight we are having a big Easter concert at church. I'll be singing a solo, consider the Lilies translated (perfectly finally) into Slovene, and we missionaries will be singing v Kristusa Verujem (I believe in Christ). It is going to be great!
Yesterday was a great day. We had a lot of people in church yesterday which was great. Afterwards we went to a member's house in the middle of nowhere and had a great traditional Slovene Easter dinner with them and the other Elders, Elder Lyman and Simon. It was great. We had an AMAZING Slovene salad and homemade mushroom soup with mushrooms they had gathered from the forest. Then the real meal, with ham (representing the body of Christ), horseradish (representing the nails/suffering), and hard boiled eggs (representing the tears). The eggs were dyed of course with different plant shapes on them. We also had Austrian schnitzel, chicken wings, rice, and potatoes. It was amazing! Then we had for dessert, a white cake with fruit and gelatin on the top, a blueberry cream in the center, and potica!! Potica is a traditional Slovene dessert they eat for Easter and Christmas. It's a bread, with either a poppy seed filling, or a walnut filling, that's wrapped into a spiral. It is amazing! It was a great day!
Otherwise, the work this week has been interesting. We had en exchange with the assistants in Zagreb which was exciting. Elder McAllister came up to Ljubljana to spend the day with me, and I'm pretty sure we found all the Croatian speaking people in our area. We had a great experience at the end of the day where we were sitting on some steps preparing some things to quickly advertise for English class before heading home for the night. So as we were sitting there, and a guy walked by us down the stairs saying, "Zdravo dječki!", meaning "Hello boys!"..... in Croatian .I told him that. Then, as we were finishing up, we started talking to a girl who wasn't too interested, but as we were finished talking to her, the same guy walked by again! We quickly stopped him before he got too far away and had a great conversation with him. He lived nearby, but was otherwise from Bosnia. We ironically gave him a copy of the Croatian book of Mormon though which Elder McAllister had on him, and he asked us three times to call him when he gets back to Slovenia in two weeks.
Otherwise all is well. I hope you all have a great week!!!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sun and Families :-)

Hello all! Živijo živijo!!
Spring is here and it is absolutely beautiful today!!! The highs are getting into the seventies and nice and sunny. There was a bit of rain this week, but nothing too crazy.
The work is moving ahead. The less active we are working with is doing really well. We invited her to a lesson we had this week, and she was amazing! She shared the rock solid testimony of God's love and how scripture (particularly the Book of Mormon) has helped her in her life. She is doing well, and came to church this Sunday again, second time in a row.
Also, our teenage friend is doing well. We taught him some of the commandments this last week and he accepted them all. He also says he recognizes when he breaks or broke commandments that he feels a lot different. He is progressing. We are basically still working with him as if he was preparing to be baptized even though his mom has said no for him to be baptized.
On Thursday, we went by to go teach him, planning to meet his mom as well. So we arrived and he said we should actually go and sit on a bench outside his apartment. So we went over, and soon his 9 year old sister came down and we started talking with her as well. Then soon after that his 20 year old cousin came over and sat with us and we started teaching her. Then his mom came and went, and some 10 minutes later his 13 year old sister and her best friend came over and sat down with us and we started teaching them all! it was great. We taught the nature of who is God, as our Heavenly Father and that he wants to hear from us, then teaching them how to pray. I also shared my story of how God had personally communicated with me and called me to serve a mission. We then prayed at the end and they all discribed that they were feeling the Holy Spirit, and explained that that means God is with us, and all we have shared is true. They are a great family and really want to be together. They may have tough situations, but I know this gospel can and will help and strengthen them now in this life, and if they follow it, enable them to be together for eternity.
Great things are happening here. This next week looks like it is going to be amazing! I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend!
Much love from sunny Slovenija!!
-Starešina Benson

Monday, April 7, 2014

Crazy Busy, Crazy Good, and a Return

Hello all family and friends!!!
This week has been really really really really busy, and really really really really good. We had zone conference this week for all the Slovene missionaries, and my first zone conference that I have lead and taught since I have been zone leader. It was really good, if not a bit busy and stressful. We had Indian food for lunch. Super good. Elder Burdette and I meanwhile taught about our personal conversion and the language of faith. What is the language of faith? Looking on life and the events that happen with hope, that everything will turn out alright, which it will. We can never become depressed or negative, because it is in that moment that we will have lost, even if the finish is still a while in front of us. This is to have faith. Perfect example? Look at the response to the task in the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 3:5+7. How do the brothers Laman and Lamuel respond in verse 5? How does it show their lack of faith and hope? How does Nephi respond in verse 7? How does it show his faith? If we despair at the beginning, we will despair at the end. But if we have faith, we will come off conqueror at the end.
Otherwise this week, last Sunday, as mentioned, we went to surprise a less active member and were an answer to her prayers. On Wednesday, we met with her again with a family whom she knows really well from church, and then on Sunday morning we met with her at 9am on the street corner and went to church together!! It was the first time in over a year she has been to church, and the first time really in 6 years since she has been serious about wanting to come back!!! Great things are happening!!!! She had a great time and was embraced by countless numbers of her friends at church, and had a good time.
Also this week, our 15 year old friend really wants to be baptized, but he can't because his mother is not allowing him to. However, we met with her for the first time this week and taught her and his little sister. His mother was so glad to see us, and literally told us, ˝Dobi se z njim!! Večkrat na teden!˝ or in other words, ˝Meet with him!! Multiple times a week!˝ She loves us, just doesn't understand the importance of covenants, but we hope to continue to teach them, and that the Lord can soften her heart. At the end we taught them how to pray, and everyone in the family felt the spirit.
The work is going ahead. I am actually quite surprised how much work we had to do this last week, with Zone Conference added in. It was a really great week, and looking forward to another good one to come!!
I hope everyone at home has a great time, and that we look forward with faith and hope to a brighter future of what WILL be!!!!
Lep pozdrav in se slišamo nasljedni teden!!
-Starešina Benson