Monday, January 20, 2014

MotoTaxi's, Menonites and Miracles!

January 20, 2014

Hello All!  =)
This has been another action packed week!  I am overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled by the many ways in which I have seen the hand of the Lord this week.

Random fruits!  This week we changed our pensionista (And it is SOO much better!) and she has introduced me to a new fruit!  It's called Ambiba.  It closely resembles a dead snake, and and a sand-papery outside, and a super sweet inside!  I sent some photos of it=)  Also I sent some photos of the Achachiru that I had written about before too.

Also this week things got a little complicated when we were trying to meet a family in whom we had a lesson with, and we got a bit lost!  So we ended up needing to take a MotoTaxi to get to where we needed to be.  Needless to say it was AWESOME!  The sketchiest, fastest, and most epic way to travel in Bolivia!  The driver, my companion, and I all crammed on one MotoTaxi and I was on the back holding on for dear life!  I was smiling and laughing the entire time, it was awesome=)

This week we had a multi-zone conference with President Willard.  It was AMAZING!  I learned SOOO much and took tons of notes.  My companion and I have been trying to apply the things we learned in the conference, and ALREADY we are seeing improvements in how effective we are as missionaries.  I LOVE searching for ways to improve, and I love seeing the Lord help me as I do my part, he makes up the rest.  A quote I really loved that President shared goes something like this in English ¨Choose the right, because it is right, because your heart loves the right, and in this you will overcome all things¨  --Joseph F. Smith 
Family!  I would like for all of you guys to memorize this quote tonight for family night, and recite it each family night!  I firmly believe that as we maintain this attitude we will overcome all troubles that pass in life(=

A few days before Christmas one of the most faithful members of our Branch was kicked out of her house by some gang members and she and her husband evacuated to Cochabamba for about a month.  They came back last Sunday, and this past Saturday we got together and helped them build their new house!  Maria Rocha is her name, and she is the most upbeat, happy, faithful person ever!  She has no home, but is always smiling and looking to serve others!  It felt really good to help her build her new home, my companion and I put in work digging a huge pit for their bathroom (outhouse).   In like 40 minutes we dug a 12ft. 12ft. hole about 8 ft. deep!  It was epic!  

Also this week we did some service for the Ayala Family.  They are a family that is going to get married and baptized, and have extreme faith!  However they are extremely poor.  They often don't have food to eat, and they are doing all they can to get some money together to pay for their identification papers they need to be married.  On Saturday night finally Pedro got paid for some work he had done (and finally he could buy the papers he need to be married).  Also because his family was starving, he left his house at 10:30 at night to go buy chicken for them to eat.  On his return trip he was jumped by some gang members and beaten to a near death state with a shovel. They stole his food, and the little money he had.  His girlfriend found him early that morning lying in his own blood in the street.  Sunday morning we went to pick them up to come to church with us and when we found him like this, his face and neck and back were all purple and bloody and swollen and he has to have a towel over his head to keep the flies from laying eggs in his open wounds.  The gashes are gnarly, they say he is lucky to still be alive.  Instantly when I saw him and heard the story my eyes flooded with tears, for I have come to love this man with all I have.  This man literally works like a dog to feed his family of 6 children, he wants to follow God with all he has, he never thinks of himself, always of his family, and yet he was cruelly beaten and robbed.  He expressed to us his worries that because he is so weak now he will not be able to work for his family.  We gave him a priesthood blessing and are working with the branch to give his family the help they need.  This truly is a test of his faith, but I am 100% sure that this man and his family will overcome this challenge, that they will be married, baptized, and in the near future go and be sealed as an eternal family in the House of the Lord.

Today, we went as a zone to Paurito.  It is a Menonite Colony that is actually in my Area!  But it's like a 30 minute trufy ride from where we live.  It was so FUN!  Our zone is awesome!  We goof around and make everything fun.  The Menonite Colony is like a whole different world out in the middle of nowhere!  There are 3000 Menonites, and they are all from German descent.  They speak German amongst themselves, and resemble Amish people in every way except they use motor power tractors to farm.  I bought a half kilo of cheese there for less than a dollar, and it's super good!  (There's a photo of me taking a big ol' bite out of it!)  They dress like Amish people, and they are really strict about things.  They always marry within their own colony.  However they are the nicest people!  We just showed up and they invited us on a horse drawn carriage tour around their colony.  It is super cool how they are self sustained in everything that they do.  They were really interested in us Americans, they had never seen Americans before!  They were awesome, it was a once in a life time experience for sure!

We have witnessed another great miracle!  This week Ismael gave permission for his son Marco to be baptized.  Marco is such a strong young man with a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon.  On Saturday he was baptized, and the entire ride in the Micro to go to the stake center he was asking me questions about being a missionary and he expressed to me that he really wants to be a missionary in the next few years!  =)  Even a greater miracle, is the change we have seen in his father, Ismael.  He has had his heart softened, and we are hoping that as we continue to visit their family this will eventually bring their whole family into the fold, so they can be baptized and then be sealed as a family for time and all eternity in the Temple.  I have great faith that they will make it there!  I am excited to continue to see the miracles, and to see it happen=)
As you can see in the photos, both Marco (14) and Jonas (11) were baptized on Saturday.  Both are extremely powerful young men who I have no doubt will grow to be great missionaries and leaders in the church.  Their testimonies are pure and profound.  I feel blessed to have had the experience to teach them, seeing their growth and change, and to raise my arm to the square right there in waist deep water(=

I love you all!  Thanks for all of the prayers!
Élder Bender
                                                      Baptism of Marco and Jonas

                                                           Elder Bender, Jonas and Marco
                                                                              Ambiba fruit

                                                                     Achachiru fruit
                                                    Visiting the Menonite Colony with my zone!


                                                                          My Zone


  1. Wow! What a neat place to visit Elder Bender!! Sehr schön! We hope the Lordcs choicest blessings for you and the sweet man who has been so brutally beaten. Love from CA to you! The Loehrmanns

  2. Great updates Elder, keep up the good work and thanks for writing down your experiences. The Vista 5th Ward is thinking and praying for your continued success!