Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Columbia MTC

Hola!
I made it to the CCM in Columbia safely!  It was a crazy long day of traveling and I definitely experience some culture shock when we arrived in Bogota.  I heard more sirens in 10 minutes in Bogota than I had in a year in Vista!  It's awesome here, everything is so different.  President y Hermana Dyer are super nice, I love them. The teachers here had us teach a mini lesson to them en espanol for a few minutes just so they could see where we are at.  After that they pulled me back for much more interviewing and they decided they wanted to send me to my mission in 8 days!  They figured I will be prepared enough to leave that soon BUT then they found out no one is going to my mission until 4 weeks from now, and I can't travel alone... So looks like I am stuck here! Oh well, I like it here, and I am companions with Elder Gubler who is a brand new gringo who knows no spanish at all (he came straight here and hadn't gone to Provo) The Latino Elders here are awesome!  So funny.  I feel my Spanish has improved since I've been here and I haven't even had a class yet.  I just speak it a lot in everyday things.  I am loving it!  On Saturday we are going out into the city and going to go contacting for 2 hours.  It will be sweet!  It will be hard with a brand new Companion, but it will just make me work that much harder.  I am having a lot of fun!  Thanks for your prayers, I am going to need all the prayers I can get to stay healthy running on so little sleep and being in a different country eating different food.  So far the food has been good though!  Different but good :)
I love you all so much!
-Elder Bender
ps.  its so weird typing English on a Spanish keyboard, it says everything is spelled wrong... haha 
Adios!

Provo, Utah MTC pictures

P1050180.JPG         Elder Bender with Companion


P1050139.JPG     Going to Bolivia, Santa Cruz!


P1050132.JPG    The name Badge!!!

P1050134.JPG  The District!

"We are NOW the Lord's missionaries!"

October 21, 2013
Hello everyone!
It has been a fantastic week!  I am leaving tomorrow morning to go to the CCM in Columbia, so today is my last day in the US for 2 years!  So on Tuesday I got to hear from Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!  It was fantastic.  He spoke on what makes our Church different and what makes it TRUE.  He broke it down in three points.  
1:  We have additional living scripture
2:  We have the Priesthood Authority of God
3:  We have a unique relationship and love of the Savior Jesus Christ
It was so cool to be in his presence, when he walked in it was just epic!  One of the greatest highlights of being in the MTC is when we all sing the primary song "We will bring the world His truth"  It has always been one of my favorite songs, and in the CCM they change the lyrics from "We will be the Lord's Missionaries..." to "We are NOW the Lord's Missionaries and bring the world his truth..."  It's so epic every time we sing it I get all teary eyed!  The Spirit is so strong here ALL of the time.  It's the best place on Earth to feel the Spirit and learn.  Other highlights were we finished up teaching our "investigator" Shonna and it was really cool to see the improvement in my language abilities, teaching abilities, and most of all seeing her open up to us and the love that we had for her and she had for us.  Yes, it is all a act, but it feels just as real as you make it.  And the Spirit will ALWAYS be present when we testify of truth.  That is what is most important, for the Spirit does the converting not the missionary.  

This week I got spoiled!  3 Packages of goodies!  I have been eating and sharing goodies like a mad man.  Thanks Mom & Dad, Sabrina, and Devore's!  Sarah, those milky way cookies and 'better than crack brownies' are infamous among my zone.  Everyone is talking about them!  |
Also, thank you everyone for all the awesome E-mails!  The support is greatly appreciated.  I wish I had more time to write back to everyone!

This week my Companion Elder Cisneros got his Patriarchal blessing and seeing his complete transformation from who he was before he went into the room to receive the blessing-to who he became afterwards was a testimony builder to me about Patriarchal blessings.  Tonight I am going to read mine again!

I just want to throw in here that I have the best district ever.  Since me and one other sister are leaving tomorrow to go to the MTC in Columbia we had a district testimony meeting during some of our personal time.  It was amazing, its so cool how you much faster friendships grow when the spirit is present.  I am kind of bummed to leave this awesome District!

I heard an awesome quote from Elder Holland recently that I'd like to share.  He said that when Jesus set up his Church is was part of the calling to Apostleship to be messengers of the Gospel and be missionaries.  Think back to "FEED MY SHEEP!"  He then went on to say that as full time missionaries we are 'Extensions to the arms of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles''  That is so cool to think about!  Missionary work is great, and I am so grateful to go to the Colombian MTC and hope to learn Spanish even faster there!  I testify that God knows each and every one of us, and that he loves us infinitely.  I also want to share one last awesome quote that I heard since being here "God loves all of his Children equally, he just loves his Missionaries more equally!" Serving my Master, Redeemer and Savior full time is such a blessing and I feel so blessed to be a part this hastening of the work.
I love you All!
-Elder Bender

Monday, October 14, 2013

"The MTC Rocks!"



Hello Everyone!  
Thanks to everybody for all the kind DearElders and e-mails.  They are really appreciated! Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers as well. So I guess I will start from the top.
On the flight I sat by an Elder who is going to Argentina, so sadly that shut down an airplane missionary opportunity.  It was fun though, we talked most of the flight and he was way nervous because he'd never been away from his family.  I think I helped calm him down a bit - everything happens for a reason, so that's probably why I was sitting by him!  I got to the MTC at like 10am-ish.  There was like a pre-orientation orientation just to kill time with the Elders who came before 12:30.  Luckily, since I came early I got to eat lunch in the cafeteria!  It was good. 
I later met my companion and my district.  I LOVE my companion Elder Cisneros.  He's from Orem, UT and is fluent in Spanish.  The only reason why he is here for 6 weeks is because he can't read or write in Spanish.  In fact, I can read and write in Spanish better than him.  And that isn't saying much!  My district has 5 companionship's, 2 Elder-ships and 3 Hermana-ships.  They all are awesome.  My Zone is super cool too, all the Elders in my Zone are all in the same hall as me and they are all super fun guys and I know just about all their names now.  The first day was pretty easy and fun.  We did a really cool "Teach Experience" workshop that was eye opening and really great.  I really started to learn how to recognize what the investigator is feeling, yet isn't saying - which is really important.  
After day one, everything has been in Spanish, which is great for learning!  It also made you have to try REALLY hard to listen 24/7.  It's tiring, humbling, and hard.  But I am loving every second of it.  I am taking full advantage of every minute of personal study time so I can learn everything I can.  It's crazy how fast I am learning things - especially compared to the rate I learned with Rosetta Stone pre-mission.  It isn't even funny how real the gift of tongues is, and the power the Spirit has in helping us learn.  In addition to learning lots of Spanish I have learned a ton about studying, my Savior Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost, and just teaching skills in general.  
I taught my first lesson in Spanish on Friday.  Boy, it was so hard and very humbling.  The investigators here are so real, extremely good actors.  I had to fill 25 minutes of gospel and spirit filled time in Spanish. I was extremely blessed with being able to say a lot of the things I was prompted to say which was amazing.  However, I was reminded that I am a tool in the Lords work, and that I need to do everything I can to be the most useful I can be.  Saturday we had the second lesson with the same investigator, Shonna.  It went WAY better.  We talked all about the atonement and the healing power that comes from it.  We also taught her that Christ set the example for us to be baptized - along with talking about his life.  She seemed really interested and touched by the atonement, and when I testified of Eternal families I got all teared up and the Spirit was about as thick as pudding in the air!  It was awesome.  It so cool to feel the Spirit as I testify in Spanish.  I invited her to be baptized and she seemed interested but she want to change some things in her life first.  Tomorrow morning, we will teach her about the Restoration and Book of Mormon.
Last night, we had a sweet devotional all about the importance of the investigator feeling and recognizing the Spirit.  It was awesome, and I got to usher for it!  Pretty cool because then I got to sit in the second row in the very front!  So cool.  After that we watched the Elder Bednar talk "Characters of Christ".  Holy cow, it was amazing.  Everyone said, "It is so good, it will change your mission, and your life!"  And they were all true.  It's the best talk I have every heard and my love, appreciation, and desire to become more like the Savior grew so much.  I advise everyone to look it up and watch it, your guaranteed to cry your eyes out, I am getting teary just thinking about it!
I love the MTC, I love my Savior, I love my Companion, and I love this Gospel.
Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers, I can feel them bless my life here.
I love you all!
-Elder Bender
Caminamos con fe

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Elder Bender off to the Missionary Training Center!

photo.JPG




photo.JPGWe took Bryce to the airport this morning to fly to the Missionary Training Center (MTC).  We found out a few days ago that his visa hasn't arrived yet, so plans were changed for him to begin his training at the Provo, Utah MTC today, instead of the Columbia MTC.  It is anticipated that he will transfer to the Columbia MTC after his visa arrives.  Bryce had a great send off.  The whole family, including Grandma and Grandpa Huyett, came to the airport to say good-bye prior to his 6:15AM departure.  We miss him already but are so pleased with his decision to serve the Lord and share the gospel.  We look forward to hearing about his experiences!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Called to Serve!

On June 2, 2013 I held a packet with trembling hands sent to me from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.  This packet held the direction my life would take for the next two years, and change me forever.  I opened it up and read that I have been called to serve in the Bolivia, Santa Cruz Mission!  I am very excited and honored to give two years of my life in service to my Savior and the Bolivian people.  I leave on October 8th to fly to the Bogota, Columbia Missionary Training Center.

I can be contacted via e-mail throughout my mission at bryce.bender@myldsmail.net.  I would love to hear from you!

This blog will be kept up by my Mom who will be posting each of my weekly updates, along with photos that I take along the way.  If you would like to be added to the direct e-mailing list send her an e-mail at sallybender.bunch@gmail.com and she will add you to the weekly e-mail update list.

-Elder Bender