Monday, September 28, 2015

A historical week!

This is going to be, and has been a historical week! (Well, really they are two weeks but whatever...)
1) A bloody moon eclipse:  Who saw it?  Dad says it happens once every 30 years.  Seeing that Christ hasn't returned yet, looks like we got another 30 years to get prepped ;)
2) 3 New Apostles:  This Saturday we will sustain them.  That's cool, it'll be the first time since 1906 that 3 apostles have been called and sustained in the same conference!  Will there be any non-Americans? I think yes.
3) A new companion:  Yes!  Last Monday and Tuesday I was in Santa Cruz for Mission Leadership council meeting, and Wednesday I met my new companion, Elder Hecker from Las Vegas Nevada!  He's only 6 months older than Kaylee, (that weirded me out to think about!) and has a strong testimony of the restored gospel.  He was in the Provo MTC for 6 weeks, and I officially think it is the LEAST effective MTC in Spanish language training.  In Bogota I felt like I learned a lot more than my first two weeks in Provo MTC, and the Elders I meet that come from the Lima and also from Buenos Aires MTC's are well prepared in the language.  The few that are coming out of Provo seem to have less experience.  NEVERTHELESS, We are getting sore about that now are we?  Hay que trabajar no mas!  We are working with more faith, than ever before, and we are getting along greatly.  However we'll need your prayers for the Vilca family, and in general that our investigators can come to general conference and receive testimonies there.  Teofilo Nina seems to be getting less interested, which bums me out, he was basically in the water before hand, but with prayers I know he'll come around.
4) 20 years of the "Family - A Proclamation to the World":  Yup, on the 23rd of September she had her birthday.  So to celebrate I have set the personal goal to give out a ton of those documents to try and save more families in this decaying world.  I also have set the goal to memorize it... probably in English!  I haven't started yet, but this week I'll begin:)  Who'll join me?
I love ya'll mucho!
Élder Bender

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Work righteously for your own incentive

September 21, 2015

Good day family and friends! 

Today is the beginning of Spring here on the Southern hemisphere. Fun fact.

This week I recognized I was behind on my goal for contact 1000 people, and contacted about 16-22 a day to get back caught up, but I did!  I have contacted a bit over 500.  

We worked really hard this week with Teofilo Nina trying to get him prepared to be baptized, and more than anything have a very strong testimony of the Book of Mormon.  He even had his baptismal interview and passed, however he'll need to be included in everyone's prayers that way he can gain a strong confirmation of the truthfulness of that book in order to be baptized in October.

Sadly, my time with Elder Lozano was cut short, and he received a call from the assistants Tuesday and they said that he would be needed in Santa Cruz to finish training a missionary who has 5 weeks in the field (he has 11 weeks).  Elder Lozano is a stud and I know he'll kill it!

I was made companions with Elder Ramos for the time being until Sunday, when all the mission was informed of their transfers, and what a surprise, Elder Bender will being training a new missionary!  Once more.  =)  I am content, I love training!  It strengthens my faith.

I thought I'd share a special miracle story with you all: 

Monday I contacted a lady walking with her 14 month old daughter.  Her name is Benita.  She was very shy when we chatted, but we managed to set a visit for Wednesday.  Tuesday we were informed of the temporary transfer that would happen in my area, and that Wednesday morning we had to wake up early and drive to Tarija to make the transfer.  I was full of emotion leaving Elder Lozano, he has been a great companion, and will be a life long friend.  Elder Ramos was to be my temporary companion, and with the emotions of leaving a buddy, being with a stranger as a companion, and having only 4 hours of sleep in me, when it came time to go to the visit we had set with Benita at 3pm, I thought, "She isn't going to be there, she was really shy and probably only set the visit because of shyness.  Anyways, no one is in their home at 3pm on a Wednesday."  "Plus my companion has to unpack his stuff, it's hot out, and even if Benita is there, her husband probably won't be." (without a man in the house it's prohibited to enter and teach her alone).  "We are better off just going to our lesson for 4pm"

Did the spirit prompt me to go?  No.  Did I know from 23 months of being a diligent missionary that I SHOULD GO, yes.  Were the chances of actually teaching the lesson high, obviously not. Did we go?   Yes.  

Benita was there, Beto, her husband was too.  They let us in, they accepted a baptismal date, and Beto informed me that he just stopped attending his evangelical church because of some false doctrines that were taught there.  He felt that we were an answer to his prayers.

I know God lives, and I know that he TESTED ME but not flooding me with the spirit to inspire me to go, better yet He knew that I have been a diligent servant and I knew I must go.  I know that God wanted more than anyone else for us to be the answer to Beto´s prayer, but it was up to ME to act.

May we be quick to act, and work righteously in the service of our God, is my prayer and earnest desire for all of you this week.

Elder Bender

Being the Homecoming Queens brother, does that make me royalty too?
Good work Kaylee, we all love you!

                                                     Last district meeting of the transfer

Fun district pictures, Rene Santos came to district meeting with us, the dude is a stud!

 We brought new ties and got them imprinted with our names of all the trainers and trainees who were together for 12 weeks!  Good times, BERMEJO

I took a picture of my proselyting card on the date that says I am finished as a 'minister'. Well, I still have 1 month to go!

A Special Witness

September 14, 2015

This week was fantastic!  Elder Juan A. Uceda member of the first quorum of the Seventy and President of the South America North East Area came to tour the mission and train us as missionaries.

Thursday, I was flown in to Santa Cruz for a special Mission Leadership Council meeting with Elder Uceda and his wife.  It was amazing to me how simple his message was to us.  He talked about the conversion, and how it's impossible to achieve without one gaining a personal testimony of Prayer, Scripture study, and Church attendance.  These things give the spirit an opportunity to touch our hearts and mold us.  Moroni teaches about "Being perfected in Christ" in the last few verses of the Book of Mormon, and that simply isn't possible without these three vital lifestyles.

Saturday, I went with my powerful district to Tarija for a Zone Conference where Elder Uceda presided.  Honestly, for 5 hours I was on the edge of my seat!  It was very, very insightful.  The spirit was tangibly present.  Elder Uceda taught about "digging deeping" into the sciptures.  It was very cool to learn how he studies the scriptures and hear his insights after years of being a general authority.  Even though he was born in Peru, he said that more than 30 years have passed since he has studied the scriptures in Spanish, he studies in English 100% of the time, and literally exhorted all of the Latinos to learn English. Hahaha it was nuts!  The man is powerful!  like out of nowhere he just starts yelling!  haha or better said exhorting, but it was legit.

Something really special happened on Sunday, out of all the units in the mission, he chose to preside over our district conference!  Freak it was nuts though, so much "palo"!  He basically just gave all the members here a spanking.  haha.  For two hours:  Pay a full tithe, arrive to church meetings on time, or early, no purchasing on the Sabbath day, Modesty, and Having a current temple recommend.   It was heavy!  His wife got up and said, "NO COMPRAR EL DÌA DOMINGO, NO COMPRAR EL DÌA DOMINGO, NO COMPRAR EL DÌA DOMINGO"  (Don't buy on Sundays x3)  Literally yelling/exhorting.  haha I loved it.  It's exactly what we needed here in Bermejo!  And what basically every unit in Bolivia needs.  

All in all, it was a life-changing experience.  The spirit worked so strong within me this week, I feel so blessed! 
It is so important to be 100% obedient to even the smallest of things, after all, we are doing it for Him.
D&C 64:33, Amen.  

Elder Bender

                                                         Can you tell it is hot here?
Elder Lozano and I got matching BOCA shirts! Aguante BOCA!
Elder Rose and I both suffering in the heat on P-day. We had a great Churrasco with Presidente Fred!

The Work of Salvation

September 7, 2015

Such a special week!  Hey, the weather even cooled off for a few days too!  Probably the best birthday present;)

On Monday we had a super Asado (BBQ) with the district after playing an intense soccer game.  A bermejeño classic!  Soccer and Meat!  

Tuesday we drove to Tarija early in the morning to get to our Zone Conference and interviews with the mission president.  It was a fantastic zone conference that truly changed my life.  We prepared for it studying about the Light.  Light from Christ is tangible and easily measurable in one's own life, and its a precious commodity that we can easily gain, or loose depending on simply daily decisions. After the conference President asked for my district to stay back after all had left, and then said, "Today is Elder Bender's birthday!  Let's take him and his district to lunch!"  Haha I love President Willard.  So sneaky!  So we went to a way to nice restaurant with an all you can eat sides buffet, and yes, more great meat.  I had a great interview with President, and really nothing makes one feel better than knowing that God is happy with what one is doing.  God helped me to feel at peace knowing I am truly giving my all, each and every day.  President Willard is the best!
When we had returned from from Tarija we were blessed to teach two great lessons in the hour and a half we had left.  We taught the Gareca family (they still are the best converts ever!  So much faith!) and the Vilca family!  (The best investigators ever!)

Wednesday, Nephi's prophecy (2 Nephi 28-29) was fulfilled in just about every lesson. So many people that hated on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.  As Moroni said, Joseph`s name would be held for good and evil, and more and more for evil as our Redeemer´s second coming closens. 

My district meeting on Thursday was focused on preparing ourselves and our investigators for the district conference where Elder Uceda will preside this next Sunday!  This is big news, in 40 plus years of the church in this pueblo, this is the first time a general authority will be visiting! Kind of a big deal... ;)  ¿Bermejo Stake?
I had a great exchange with Elder Evans Thursday and Friday.  One plus was running with him in the AM!  I set a PR, 6k in 22:20.  I hope Kaylee is training!

Saturday was very special.  Micaela Teran was baptized.  We sang a special musical number with Efrain Vargas, the World's best Mission leader.  He rocks.  She cried. #wesinggood

Honestly I just love the work of Salvation!  Sunday was full of ordinances.  The Sacrament, a confirmation, a baby blessing, and ordination of Roque Cazon to the Priesthood. 

¿Could this work be any more perfect?  I know is perfect because is His.  He guides His church.  We are His servants (friends).  What a blessing that is.  ¡Que se llenen con luz esta semana!

Elder Bender

View from our 3rd-floor apartment

 For the Bermejo foundation day (24 de Agosto) Everyone marched in celebration, even Bolivia's fiercest Marines

                                                  A random apostate march for some "virgin"
                                                    The Cazon Family baptismal pictures

                                                             The patio after a baptism!
                                            Elder Lozano and I last Monday with the prized meat.
                                                Another meat picture, Argentina's best.