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