Monday, July 21, 2014

Cookies, a new vision, and the Work rolls onward

Hello Everyone=)

Last Monday we made the famous Mormon Chocolate chip cookies with the Castillo Family, a convert family I baptized about a month ago.  They loved them, there is NOTHING like chocolate chip cookies here in Bolivia.  I am just showing them the path to the Celestial Kingdom, and WHAT it will be like when we arrive! =)

This week the Assistents and President came down and stayed the week in Tarija.  The assistents stayed in our Palace with us, it was a good time, and we had a good deal going where we made them yummy breakfasts every morning, and they always had awesome dinners at night.  We had an exchange with Elder Gallego, one of the assistents, and it went really well.  We got some great tips in how we can make our Ward Counsel more effective, and the following day we took action!

In the pics, you can see we went out of our way to make binders for each auxillary in the ward, for them to keep track of their sheep.  We made records (Recent Converts and less actives who have come back to activation) for each recent convert and rescued less active in the past two years.  Made sufficient copies for each corresponding binder, and then with the help of the Bishop and ward Clerk, we are going to put these records to date so that EVERY CONVERT not just mine, but each one for the past two years gets sealed in the temple.  

WOW.  It was a lot of work, but finally I feel like we are going to be able to do this marvelous work in the way the Lord wants it done, without loosing a single soul.

I love the Work of Salvation, its beautiful.  

I know that the Lord is pleased with the work we are doing, I feel His presence and feel His Love.

We have fingers crossed to be in white next Saturday, cruzen sus deditos tambien!

Elder Bender


Monday, July 14, 2014

Coymata Coymata Coymata!

July 14, 2014
Hello Family and Friends!
Last Monday we took the Zone to a famous waterfall here in Tarija called Coymata.  It was so beautiful, and just a GREAT activity to relieve a bit of stress.  It is about a 1.5 mile hike through San Lorenzo Valley, and they it opens up to a beautiful majestic waterfall.  It was a beautiful day, and luckily not too cold!
Later on in the week we had some great lessons, with some great people. 
I am amazed as I see some well to do people, who really aren't suffering at all, open up their hearts simply to hear the truth.  Miracles.
One highlight is I made my companion and I a special French Toast breakfast, only two gringos would know how to enjoy french toast so much in Bolivia!
We were BLESSED to have 8 amazing investigators in church Sunday, and as I am the teacher in our class of Gospel Principles, I taught about eternal families and it was wonderful.  The spirit is always so strong when we are strengthening and defending the special family unit that the Adversary tries so hard to destroy.
I know families can be eternal, and that my family WILL be.  I know the power of God is here on the earth to bring us closer to him now, and for the eternities.  I know that life isn't easy, but it's worth it and there is much Joy to find in the Journey.
I love feeling my testimony grow, and feeling the arms of the Savior surround me in times of trial.
Elder Bender

                                                                  Coymata Falls
                                                                      Elder Bender

                                                            Elder Bender and Elder Bailey

Normally when I have had BIRTHDAYs in the mission , Speaking of months, never did anything special, just a normal day.  Hoever because Elder Bailey and I have the same time in the mission, on the 9th I made us a special 9 month birthday breakfast.  Frenchtoast and fresh orangejuice!

Happy Birthday Tarija!

July 7, 2014

Hello Everyone!
Interestingly enough over 440 ago Tarija was founded on the 4th of July.  WOW, we totally copied them.
It was a cool week as people were preparing to celebrate it, everyone had their red and white Tarija flags outside of their house and the city just looked stunning.
We spent the first half of the week in Santa Cruz where President Willard and later Elder Uzeda from the Seventy trained us. It was EXTREMELY interesting, and I can tell that the Church really is putting a TON of focus in the Ward Council meetings.  I always feel so blessed being in the presence of such spiritual giants, I definitely had my bucket filled.
When we came back to Tarija, we got the white clothes ready and filled the font!  Melisa Mendez was Baptized on the 5th of July.  It was such a beautiful baptismal service and our new ward mission leader HELPED SO MUCH.  What a blessing that was for us.  As always, the beautiful service opened many doors for new investigators, one of them is the Ledezma Family. The Parents of Leslie (33) and Ninet (21) Ledezma when we baptized last month.  Tonight we are going to challenge them to be baptized and then send the whole family off to Cochabamba to be sealed as a family!
I love you all so much.  The Church is true.  Yesterday in our testimony meeting I bore my testimony about how the gospel blesses families.  The tears came as I thought of how truly blessed the Bender Family is.  He lives, and He loves us.  I know it, and I will continue preaching it with all my heart for all eternity.
Élder Bender

Baptism of Melisa

Yesterday the best convert family ever (The Castillo family) made us some delicious fish for lunch.  They are the best!


June 30, 2014

Hello Everyone who I love!
Well its been a great week, and I am excited to fly out to Santa Cruz for Mission Leader Counsel again today.  I will be there until Wednesday, and then we are coming back to go to work!
New experiences, and new faith.  This week it seemed as though half the zone just exploded in disobedience so we have been really worried and busy doing inspections, transfers, and phone calls trying to help everyone remember the reason why we are here.  It's sad when missionaries forget to love and get into dumb things.  However I am grateful for the experience where Elder Bailey and I had to rely on the Spirit and make changes to help these missionaries in their spiritual progression.
We have had great success in our area this week, and looks like on Saturday I´ll be busting out the white tie again, such a blessing=)
I love my companion Elder Bailey!  He is from Ogden Utah, and he's a great guy.  Humble, obedient, fun to be around, and a hard worker.  He's actually from my MTC group, so it was fun to have a companion with whom we were already great buddies from our 4 weeks together in Columbia!
I am just learning more and more the importance of Love in all aspects of the Lord's work.  Love for my amazing friends in whom I teach.  Love for my Companion, and love for the Zone.  However most importantly I am learning more and more of the great Love that our Father in Heaven has for us, and the great joy he feels when we are obedient. 

Yesterday both Freddy and his son Gonzalo received the Aaronic Priesthood.  Such joy fills my soul every time one of my beloved converts takes important steps toward the celestial kingdom.  He also invited us and about 25 members of the ward to his house last night for an awesome family night in which he planned and hosted.  Such a great man, future stake president! 
I love you all so much and am so grateful for your prayers and support.
Élder Bender

 Pics from the Last WallyBall session with Elder Brasher and the other buddies from here in Tarija.

  Sending Elder Brasher off in the Airport.  Yup, I cried.  Love that guy so much.

                                                       Elder Bender and Elder Bailey
                                               "Zone Leaderz - Tarija"

                                               Elder Bender and Elder Woolf, buddies

                                                                      USA Pride! 

One Special Saturday! =)

June 16, 2014

Hello Everyone!

I sure do feel so blessed.  Last Saturday we Baptized the Castillo and
Lidezma Families and also Sister Rita Delfin.  Two Families, three
doctors, and six children of God. It truly was a blessed day.

Never in my life have I seen such a small ward get SO supportive for a
convert baptism.  I love my ward=)  They all came together to clean
the chapel and even prepared a sweet array of refreshments.  The
Sister Training leaders came and sang my favorite song -I know that My
Redeemer Lives- before the baptism and the spirit was SO STRONG!

Later we descended into the font and performed ordinances that open
the door to the heaven.

Afterwards the families bore their testimonies and Freddy Castillo
just broke down crying from the joy the gospel has brought them.  I
know for a fact that within five years from now Freddy will be a
Bishop, he truly has been choosen since the pre-existence to be a
leader in the Restored Gospel of Christ.

The gospel is true, His hand is prevalent in HIS work, and we are all smiling=)

Love you all,
Élder Bender

                                                     One Special Saturday of Baptisms!

Sopa Poderosa (Translates to "The Powerful Soup"!)

                                                           Elder Bender and Elder Brasher
Elder Brasher and Elder Bender
Our zone is the best, so we took them to eat siece last week before internet, and then after internet we played soccer on the professional team's field. After that we gave them all stickers that say ¨I Love Zona
Guadalquivir!¨  Yup, we rock.

Change is Good!

June 9, 2014


Last Monday we flew to Santa Cruz for mission counsel.  It was a great
two-day conference and I feel so blessed to be able to share the
worries and concerns that President has to help better the mission.
It's a blessing to work under Priesthood keys to run this perfect
church in the way the Lord desires.

Thursday we held a zone meeting, and it went well.  The zone worked
really hard during the month of May and finished with 22 Baptisms.
More than any other zone in the mission.  I feel so blessed to be
surrounded by such great missionaries and see the miracles that the
Lord is working in each of their areas.

I feel like this transfer went by way too fast, and I am sad that soon
Elder Brasher is going to go home.  We are the best of buds, and I
have learned so much from him.  However, the blessing is that this
Saturday we are going to set personal records for both of us, and
Baptize seven souls=)  The most that we both have ever done in one
night,  For sure the Lord has blessed us to find his lost sheep.

I are learning the power there is in change.  Often we teach that the
key to repentance is change.  As I change my thinking, and way of
being, searching for who the Lord wants me to be, I am finding great
solace and love in the atoning power of Christ.  I feel as though I am
becoming molded into the servant who the Lord wants me to be, and I am
basking in His love and grace.

Elder Bender