Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas is in the Air...

December 15, 2014
Hello!

What a fun week!  Right now in the offices the 4 secretaries and the assistants are all writing home wearing Santa Hats and we are listening to some good ol` Christmas tunes=)

So basically I have the best companion ever.  Elder Garcia is the best.  We have so much fun together, and yet learn so much from each other and both want to work really hard in our area.  We have seen many miracles this week with finding new investigators.  Its been fantastic working in the Lords vineyard.

One office highlight was making the Mission Christmas card! The one from President and Sister Willard to the entire mission.  That was 100% my job and it turned out great, (if I do say so myself)...;)  I am getting way too good way to fast at using Microsoft Publisher, Excel, and other fun programs.  

On Thursdays we teach an English class.  Its actually a big hit!  In my time in the mission when missionaries have tried to teach English it usually fails after about a month because one one goes.  However this is our 3rd week doing it and we had like 25 people there!  Mostly members, but they are going to be inviting their non-member friends too.  I think its such a hit because here in the middle of the city people are a lot more advanced... More money, higher education, and they have a higher understanding of the importance of education.  Plus its cool being in the office where we can print out like 500 fliers to invite everyone to come and hand `em out on the street.  Bonus points.

I had an exchange on Saturday with Elder Bennett from Idaho.  He has 6 weeks in the mission and has had it rough these first 6 weeks.  He has a had time with the language and misses his family.  It was truly a blessing to be with him and build up his spirits and also give him a few Spanish tips.  I remember thinking that I would NEVER learn Spanish, its such a hopeless feeling!  Poor guy, Pray for him.  But we had a great guy, taught some great lessons, and he is going to be just fine.

Hope ya`ll are all doing great!  Don`t forget the true meaning of Christmas.

Love,
Èlder Bender 

                                 My companion and I sending birthday wishes to his family in Utah.
                                                          Me in my natural habitat!
My companion and I with our MTC group photos (yes we are from the same MTC group if I haven't told you that yet.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Exhausted...

Buenas Tardes,

I am so beat!  It's been such a tiring week full of lots, and lots of learning and smiles.

Monday we went to go pick up 9 new american missionaries.  It was fun to see them and be reminded of how humble we are as we start of the mission.  I want to be that humble again.

Tuesday we gave them a little training on contacting and about the ¨He is the Gift¨ movement.  We went out to the Plaza 24 de Septiembre (google it) and went contacting for an hour giving those new passalong cards out.  I buddied up with a new Elder named Elder Rose.  He's a great guy, and turned out that he is now my new great great grandson.  Haha Yes, he too has the blessing of starting in Samaría.  (Random note, for 14 months there has always been a new missionary in their training in Samaría.  In my second interview with President Willard when I had about 2 months in the mission he told me to work hard and learn all I can so I could train.  He wanted to turn Samaría into a training ground.  It thus so turned out.)  Tuesday in the afternoon President met with the Assistants and I for 4 hours to do what was supposed to be a few final ¨tweeks¨ to the transfers.  Well revelation was received and we made changes until 7:30.  That meant I was buying and canceling flights extremely late.  Oh joy it was.

Wednesday, Transfers.  So hectic.  The day started at 4:40am sending missionaries off to the airport to get to their new areas. 

Thursday, Sending home 21 missionaries after completing full time missions (Yes, I live in the airport now...)  oh and that went down from 12midnight until 5am.

Friday,  Zone meeting.

Sunday we had the cool experience of not having any investigators in church...  I prayed really hard in Sacrament that those who said they would come, would actually come!  I felt impressed to leave right after they finished the sacrament ordinance to go outside the church building and walk around inviting everyone to come in.  My companion Elder Garcia was down to do it, and we ended up finding Eduardo.  A random guy, and invited him to come to church with us, right that instant, and he said he would!  He changed really quick and stayed until the end.  It was a true miracle, and we are going to go teach him in about an hour!  =)

Pray for the spirit's guidance, and he WILL guide you.  It just leaves you to listen, and act.

Love,
Élder Bender

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fun Changes!

December 1, 2014

Buen Día!

Hopefully you have seen the new ¨He is the Gift¨ video the church has made!  If not, watch it NOW!  Our mission got 40,000 pass-along cards to help the entire population of Santa Cruz remember really the true meaning of Christmas.  The Church went big with the video, they bought youtube, yes, youtube, for a few days. they bought big advertisements in times square, and printed million of pass-along cards for us foot soldiers to hand out.  But really the purpose of this short yet inspiring message, is for you, yes YOU to watch it, and share it on your social media pages.  The Lord's second coming is close, let's do our part to prepare the hearts of his children for that day!

Tuesday night I got a call from President Willard asking me to be the new Secretary to the President.  Wendnesday I started my training and it became very clear that I had a LOT to learn to help him help the mission function.  Your prayers will be needed.  I feel very unprepared for my new responsibilities, but I am happy to serve, and happy to learn.  Today I´ll accompany President and Hermana Willard to the Airport to pick up 8 new gringo missionaries.  So that will be fun to work helping all the new missionaries feel comfortable and have a successful transition.  

The Church is true, I am thankful for Jesus Christ and his perfect example He left for us.

Love,
Ëlder Bender

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2014

Elder Hammond (a roommate) and I jumped the gun doing bad math thinking that turkey day was last Thursday... haha.  Just goes to show there are no hints whatsoever as far as when American holidays are down here. 
This week was delightful. =)
Thursday I decided to mix things up in my district meeting and invited Tatiana (an investigator mentioned in an earlier email) to participate in the pratice exercises.  It was such a sipritually powerful district meeting hearing the testimony of an investigator in the meeting and also it was great to get her feedback in how the elders are teaching.  It was the real deal!
Saturday the same Tatiana was in white and was baptized a member the Christs true church.
I love the mission!
Bonus points, shes going to Cochabamba with the Ward on Friday and Saturday to do baptisms for the dead. 
The church is true!
I am so thankful each and everyday for my Savior Jesus Christ and his Atonement.  I serve Him, and I love Him.  He is my everything.  I am thankful for the Book of Mormon which changes my life everyday, and for its faithful witness to me of Christ's healing power.  Read it.  Pray to him.  He is willing to help.  In John 15 it shares a great thanksgiving message:

14 Ye are my friendsif ye do whatsoever command you.
 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you        
friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
I am thankful that Christ has shared and given ALL things unto us.  He loves us.  I am thankful to be his friend.  I am thankful for his commandments and the opportunity they give me to make my love for Him manifest.  
Love,
Élder Bender


                                                               Baptism of Tatiana!
                                                Elder Trinidad and Elder Bender with Tatiana
                               

                                     My comp and I in front of a Bolivian famous Toborochi tree!

                      Pics with some of the guys from my MTC group from a meet up at an multi zone activity.

 Read the sticker.. 92 bolivianos... haha so worth it though!  It's about $13.79 in dollars!  Yup after a year the body will do anything for a bit of Jif.
 Pics of worn out running shoes! Also a pic of my SWEET new running shoes=)  Great Christmas gift thanks!  (=  

                      My old eccos (before and after taking them to a shoemaker)  THEY TURNED OUT GREAT!