Monday, January 27, 2014

First time in Maribor and the calm before the storm

Hello all family and friends!!!
This week has been an interesting week. We finally had our first snow since a light overnight dusting a month or two ago. It snowed for the majority of the day on Friday, stopping around sunset (at like 4:30). But of course none of it was very good. Here in the city we didn't get very much, maybe just like an inch, and none of it was very good. Practically all slush falling to the ground, and instantly melting  in many places when it hit the ground. But it did color (or rather decolonize) the place. There is still snow on the northern facing slopes and north slopping roofs too where the sun can't hit yet. But it won't last long if it doesn't snow again, which it doesn't look like it will soon.
This week, we had my first exchange as a zone leader. I went up to serve the day in Maribor (that was Wednesday) with Elder Stott who has been in Maribor some 10 weeks, while Elder Dereanger who just moved to Maribor from Ljubljana came back to Ljubljana to be with Elder Burdette. It was a great experience, and actually my first time ever serving as a missionary in Maribor.
I arrived in time to help teach English class and then be at a branch activity afterwards.
Then, the next day started. We had a few things in the plan, but nothing in the morning until 12, so Elder Stott and I went out and talked to nearly every single person walking along the river from 10:30 to noon. It was a great experience and we met a lot of great people, and had the opportunity to teach and hand out a copy of the Book of Mormon. The exchange was great for Elder Stott, as it gave him the opportunity to see a different style of missionary work than before.
Afterwards, we had the opportunity to teach a less active member whom they were teaching for the first time. Then, using a list of people who had met with missionaries in the past, we went around contacting people and seeing if they were interested in meeting again,. We set up with two people right their at their doorsteps to meet with the Maribor elders for the next week. At the end of the night, we came to one person where we knew which apartment building he lived in, but nothing more exact, and so we went through the building watching for him, ultimately however, we didn't find him. However, the very last man, looking about 25-30 years old said he was interested in what we had to share, and so we set up with him for the next week as well. A total of 3 lessons set up for next week.
Otherwise in Ljubljana, this week has largely been a week of meeting with some of our great active members and inviting them to act, some of whom haven't met with missionaries in many months. also, we have been reevaluating and planning how we should go about doing missionary work in our area. Here's to hoping this week will hold some great success and new people as we go out and apply the things we have prepared!
I hope you all have great and inspired weeks as well.
Take care and stay warm!!
-Starešina Benson

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Welcome to the big city - Ljubljana

Živijo, živijo, živijo
Hello all family and friends. The end of an era in my mission has come, and a new beginning has begun. With this, last Tuesday, my time in Celje came to an end, I have officially been transferred after 10 months to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenija. Ljubljana has the biggest population of Slovenija, a MASSIVE 250,000 people. As well as the oldest and most developed one branch in Slovenija with about 60-70 people at church on Sunday. It has been a big change from Celje to say the least. Ljubljana is at least a real, proper city.
With the move and the adjusting has also come new responsibilities. I am now the Zone leader for Slovenia, meaning I represent the mission President for all of Slovenija, and am the connection between him and the missionaries here. It has all been a lot to take in, but it helps that I was in Kranj a year ago so I already know most of the members here in Ljubljana. But the weather didn't help the transfer. It was clear on Monday, then the moment we went outside with my luggage, it started to rain, and has basically been raining ever since until last night. But who knows, normally it would be cold enough right about now that that rain should normally be snow. Could always be worse. ;-)
This week, I went to English class in Ljubljana for the first time, and we had a great lesson. The zone leader companionship teaches the advanced class, which is all in English of course. At the end of the lesson, we invited everyone to a short spiritual thought which we lead, and everyone was invited to take part in if they so wished.
One of those people who stayed was from Bosnia, and was very interested in what we taught. I spoke with him after, asked if he wanted to meet with us to talk about faith more, and got his number. Two days later, we had a good lesson with him about God and the importance, vitality, and necessity of family. As we were finishing however and about to go, he said ˝Wait! My parents are coming! I want you to meet them!˝ So we waited another five minutes, when his mom and dad whom he had just talked about came in. We then proceeded to have another discussion with his parents over a lunch they hastily prepared for us. The good, but strange thing about Bosnian hospitality, they force the goodness and charity on you, and never want you to leave. And so about 2.5 hours after we first arrived, we finally were able to force ourselves out. A good visit, but very draining.
Otherwise I hope you all are well and happy in America. I hope the horrid cold that gripped America is coming to an end. We are still exceptionally warm here in Slovenija, thus all the rain.
Well and warm wishes-
-Starešina Benson

Monday, January 13, 2014


Dear Family and Friends,

My time in Celje is coming to an end. After 10 months being here, I am moving to Ljubljana to be Zone Leader with my MTC companion, Elder Burdette!!! It is super exciting!!!!!!!  I am really grateful too, that the snow has been really late in Slovenija this year, as I came to Celje in the snow in late March, and would be leaving in the snow as well (a full cycle). But it is not to be. :-)

My visa (after a ridiculous 2 long months) has finally come in. I will be picking it up after I move to Ljubljana tomorrow.

My memorization of the sermon on the mount hit a slow point after I finished Matt 5. Riding bikes instead of walking around everywhere is not all that conducive to looking at a book and memorizing. But there are no bikes in Ljubljana, just buses, so there should be more opportunities now. We shall see.

We took down the Christmas decorations in the church this week.

I will send pictures next week probably. I have planned to get pictures of all the important people from Celje, as well as their addresses.

We have been going around visiting a lot of people before I head out. It has been a great week. Next week in Slovenija it is rumored to be really rainy and even potentially snowy. We shall see. A... interesting introduction to Ljubljana I suppose.

Much Love,
-Starešina Benson

Monday, January 6, 2014

Warm winter and a fiery New Year

Hello all family and friends, lep pozdrav.

I heard that in America it is brutally cold and 40 of the continental 48 have tons of snow. Well, what is the weather here in Slovenija while you all are freezing under layers of snow? Rain. And clouds, and more rain. It is just too stinking warm to snow. Sorry America. We gave you all of our cold this year it looks like. Nothing like two strange winters on my mission. Last year it was the year of the never ending snow. This year it is the outrageously warm year where it can't snow. Exciting times.

This week has been an interesting week. It has also felt like one oN the longest weeks in a long time. I can't believe New Years was this week. It feels like decades ago.

This week we had a lot of progress with the mother who has been investigating the church for a bit with us that I had the prompting to go visit some two months ago. She has been reading now, and praying (sporadically, but still it is something and she will benefit from it all), but the big progress she made is she came to church yesterday!! We didn't even have to invite her, she just asked us on her own when it starts and where it is. When we offered if she needed any help, if we wanted to go together she said, of no, it's not necessary, and she came. It was in the end, a great testimony meeting, and she had a great experience.

New Years was a good day as well. We had a New Years activity at the church which was punctuated by excitement, but ultimately a good experience. New Years here is crazy. The fireworks start going off around Dec 21st there abouts, and are at least a few fireworks every day for the next moth practically. Then on New Years eve it is practically a war zone with people launching fireworks out of their windows on the 8th floor of an apartment tower, or just in every free parking lot in Celje, or just a street, doesn't matter where. There are no laws about that.

But it isn't over yet. Tomorrow is Serbian Christmas, then 7 days later will be Serbian new years, so it will all happen again. It is exciting though. The grand finale woke me up this year unlike last year, so I sleepily shuffled over to the window to watch the fireworks for a few minutes before going back to sleep. Now I can say I saw New Years on my mission!!

Well, it's unlikely that this letter will change the weather much, but my wishes are warm through this week. Much care-
-Starešina Benson