Monday, November 17, 2014

The Aponte Family

This week has been full of smiles!  Heck, every week as a missionary is(=I read this morning 1 Nephi 15:13-14.  A super strong spirit came over me testifying that I am fulfilling the prophecy:

13 And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the  fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the   space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of theMessiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the   remnant of our seed— 14 And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to theknowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they  shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to   come unto him and be saved.

Am I teaching Lehi´s seed?  Yup. Are they rejoicing in the eternal blessings thanks to the restored gospel?  Yup.
So you are probably thinking thanks to the title, who is the Aponte family?  Well they are who Lehi profecied of in verse 14.  The Aponte Family had been less active for 6 or 7 years, and we contacted them simply talking with everyone in the street. They came to church for the second time last Sunday, and the Bishop came with us to visit them. He extended the invitation to them to go with the ward to do baptisms for the dead on the 28th of this month. They accepted joyfully and are going full throttle with their family history. Truly they had been prepared to accept the gospel at 100%, because they are as a family studying the BOM and praying together everyday.  It's truly beautiful to see a family fill that empty space once more and find that Christ has his arms open to EVERYONE, always.
Élder Bender

                                                                 My Roommates!
                                              Hump Day T-shirt, thank you Grandma Bender!
Zone Conference wearing the new belt and tie I bought with Birthday money from Uncle Dan and Aunt Tina!
                                                      pique machu.. my favorite bolivian dish!

Monday, November 10, 2014

1 Nephi 19:9

¨lo soporta¨

This morning I had a great companionship study.  We learned about how Christ is the most patient and long-suffering person to have walked this earth.  As it says in the title,  1 Nephi 19:9 is my new favorite scripture.

 And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be athing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it;and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea,   they spit upon him,and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.

I love it.  Christ truly is the best example for us and how we should react to even the worst of outcomes.  The mission isn't easy.  In fact, it's pretty tough!  haha.  No one in the world is free from challenges.  In fact, we signed up for 'em, so enjoy 'em!  

I really love that scripture in Spanish because it says rather than ¨he suffereth it¨ ¨lo soporta¨.  To me the Spanish translation helps me to think that not only did Christ suffer through hard things, he carried them with his chin up, giving the glory to the Father through the entire journey.

On Tuesday we had a great zone conference about the Holy Ghost and how he can and SHOULD guide us in every moment.  This week I have felt more guided by the Holy Ghost that any other week I have yet lived.  It has been amazing.  The spirit is EAGER to be a part of our lives, LET HIM JOIN!  Trust me, he will guide our daily lives a whole lot better than we can alone.  

We need to tune out the world to listen to his whispering.  It's a blessing to be a missionary because I know NOTHING about what's going on it the world.  It's easy for me to follow him and his promptings.  He invites us ALL to tune out the world, and to tune into personal revelation and direction.

God Lives.  He Loves us.  I am more sure of that than anything else.  

Élder Bender

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Happy Halloween!

November 3, 2014

Howdy folks!
A great week to be a missionary!  Luckily it wasn't so hot this week=)
On Monday we got together with a member family and with Tatiana and made my famous chocolate chip cookies!  I always love the Bolivians reaction because those type of cookies don´t exist here and they just die everytime.  haha.  Then love em!  We also made the Cruzeñan famous Cuiñapé.  Yes, don´t worry I learned how to make em so I´ll teach ya´ll!  Basically what they are are little ping pong ball sized rolls with cheese mixed in the dough so its a cheesy gooey delight.  Dad would die for 'em guaranteed. 
Halloween was a joke here haha.  We live in a ¨rich¨ neighborhood so there actually were a few kids dressed up and trick or treating, and I even bought a bag of candy to give out but no one came to the house)=  Despite the fact that I put a hand written sign on the door that said ¨Halloween!  Trucos o Dulces!¨  I felt like Aubree making that cute little hand written sign and waiting patiently for little niños disfrazados. So, with my companion and the other two Elders in the house we ate the candy and did the Harlem Shake.  Figured it was a good enough Halloween celebration!
A big time blessing that I have been able to participate in throughout my mission (yet never have written home about yet) is reactivating inactive families.  Throughout my two months here in El Fuerte I have been able to teach and help the Marcos family a bunch.  This last Sunday they had an interview with the bishop setting goals to go to the temple for the first time!  =)  Seeing people who have felt full of shame or have forgotten what really is important ¨wake up¨ is a true blessing in anyone's life, and has been in mine.  He lives, and He loves us all.  His invitation is to return to Him who is powerful to save and redeem. ¿Lo harán?
les quiero muchísimo!
Élder Bender

100 degrees faithful!

October 27, 2014

Que tal buen día!

We had our primary program last Sunday and just began to think as I sat in Sacrament meeting, ¨How marvelous it is that being so far away, in such a different environment where everything is completely different, yet it's all the same.¨  The gospel is true and eternal wherever you are.  

Our meetings are from 3 to 6 in the afternoon because there are three wards that meet in our building.  In case you didn`t know, Santa Cruz at this time of year at three o`clock hangs out at a temperatures of 100 to 108 degrees.  With 90% to 100% humidity.  That's freaking hot!   Let me tell `ya all about it.  It amazes me seeing people walk MILES in white shirts and ties in that terrible weather to come to worship our Savior. Their only day off of work they sacrifice not to rest, but to go out once more in the heat!  After 50 years of the Church being here, it's strong!  It is True.

This also makes me even more excited as many of our investigators on their own free will decide to do the same, to keep their commitments with our Father and worship Him in His meeting house.  Well, to put it bluntly, All your folks in the states have no reason to not attend your Sunday meetings.  I know we can receive revelation in the chapel of the Lord.  Go, and adore Him.

Élder Bender

Happy Halloween to everyone who celebrates that!  Haha we don´t down here.

50 years, 50 books, dream come true!

October 20, 2014

Buen Día!
Tuesday we had a special meeting especifically for trainers.  Never once has President Willard done that, but he is obviously really hoping to make something big out of this group of 27 new missionaries who came last transfer, 1 of them being mi querido Elder Trinidad=).  It was a good meeting, and I could tell that it really got to Elder Trinidad and he really is wanting to change.  Hes becoming such a fantastic and skilled missionary it amazes me.
Saturday we baptized!  Laura was baptized member of the restored church.  She was like a miricale baptism because she had attended church for 5 years straight with her older sister.  FINALLY her dad gave her permission to be baptized on her birthday, October 18th.  We had the blessing to teach her the lessons preparing her to make her first of many covenants with our Father.  Also her Mom who is less active is coming back to church thanks to our visits, and her Dad is a LOT more receptive to the gospel!  It's a testimony that God sometimes has people wait so that they can influence others around them when they are ready for the gospel.
Sunday President Willard was going to come teach our Sunday school class here in our ward, however he called me a few hours ahead of time saying he was triple booked, and that he wanted my companion and I to represent him and talk about the work of salvation.  Uhh.. What?  haha Nah I felt fine, and was able to bring to life a little dream I had!  This upcoming November the Church will have its 50 year anniversary here in Bolivia!  I made a quickie call to the Zone Leaders and asked them to bring me 50 Books of Mormon.  My Companion and I shared with the entire ward about how in order to really celebrate 50 years of the restored gospel in Bolivia, that we had 50 Books of Mormon for members to take and give to their friends during this month.  Seeing how thanks to the Book of Mormon God restored the fullness of the gospel in these latter days.  My comp and I did a mini demonstration in how a member can share the BoM with a friend in a loving and comfortable way.  The entire ward got super hyped up to participate and in the end we gave away all 50 books, plus two extras!  We are hoping to have a lot of great refferences thanks to this activity that fell into my lap.  We had each member write their names on a list as they took a Book, and also the name of their friend who the book was intended for.  These next few weeks we are going to be following up and visiting these members to then hopefully teach their friends in their homes.
Love you all!
The gospel is true! So live it puej!
Élder Bender

                                                                Laura was baptized!


October 13, 2014

Howdy family and friends!
Well in all honesty it gets harder and harder thinking of knew things to write about...
Yesterday were the Presidential elections here in B town.  We were locked inside all day and the Sunday meetings were canceled.  Boring!  However the blessing was we all as a mission studied a bunch ¨the 4th missionary¨ document.  In preparation for a 40 day fast!
Someone wanted to hear about the food.  Honestly I don´t even pay attention to what I eat anymore, sorry!  OH!  In my district there is a companionship of Colombians, and they cooked us a super yummy Colombian dish called ¨Pisa¨.  It is made up of a giant sausage, fried beef, rice with coconut, and ironed down platano!  (Green bananas)  They just iron them.  Literally.  So they turn into little flat patties.  Crunchy crispy, and a little sweet!

I´ll take a moment to tell you a bit about Tatiana Duabyakoski (Her Dad is Polish!  Talk about a last name that's hard for Latinos to say!)
We met her Friday before General Conference in front of her home and invited her to come to GC with us.  She came!  Sunday night after conference we taught her and gave her a Book of Mormon.  Thursday she accepted a baptismal date after reading 15 chapters of that little blue book.  Last Saturday she had finished 1 Nephi and is trucking through the Isaiah chapters better than I can do! 
She also has a study journal where she writes summaries on each chapter.  After a year in the mission I had never seen someone fall in love so quickly with the look of Mormon!  Shes just counting down the days until her Baptism for November 8th.  She is contemplating accepting the challenge of reading the entire book of Mormon before her baptism. 
The Book of Mormon is true!  It changes lives!  Read it as a family to have your family changed too. Meditate it. Pray about it.  Act on it.
I love you all!
Élder Bender

Pictures are celebrating my one year of Missionary service!