Thursday, October 18, 2012

I love you lots

Oh my dear wonderful family-

Could I ever start a letter any other way? No not really. I can't believe how much has changed since I left. For example- I've only met the Garlicks once. I still feel like I know them though so make sure to tell them that I say hello this week. What do I have to say this week?

Let me take care of a few items of business before I forget. Thanks for the election update Dad. Mom mentioned getting an envelope that would let me vote from Italy and asked if I wanted her to send it to me or if I just wanted her do it for me. Well I know that especially in Utah my vote probably won't make much of a difference so the whole point of it for me is the thrill of voting. So please send it to me. It's much more fun that way. Also I was wondering if you could send me the rest of Mom's friends thing on the scriptures. It was so good and I've been thinking about it all week. I was also wondering if I was going to get any new pictures anytime soon. Sorry to whine about pictures so much- I just really like you guys.

Well...I loved mom's blog posts especially the one about getting older. It really reminded me of my journal. A lot of the time people say dumb stuff to me without even really thinking about it and a lot of the time, especially lately, it sticks with me and I have to stew over it and try and figure out what they really meant to get some sense out of what they said. Were they trying to be mean? Why would they say it like that? Maybe I just need to be more like Dad and be Mr. Insensitive. I loved the blog post though because so often I sit writing in my journal writing out the reasoning and explanations I need to just be calm and not be bugged about stuff. Maybe I've been doing it more lately because the weather is getting colder and the sun is out a lot less and I'm getting into my winter grizzly bear mode. Now that I think about it I have felt just slightly grumpier lately and I think it's because of that. Oh the sensitive soul that I am. I wish I was Mr. Insensitive.

I can't believe Anz. Rodriguez wrote you. That's so nice of him. Anz. Rodriguez became one of my favorite companions. Anz. Rodriguez is such a good friend now. I'll probably be friends with him for forever.

Like I said before I've been thinking about the scriptures thing all week long and I've just enjoyed reading the scriptures in a whole new way. I like to imagine the scriptures cleaning my brain and making them pure, washing away the filth and grime of life leaving my brain pure and clean. Lately the mission has been talking a lot about desire and I've been thinking a lot about what I really want in life and more importantly what God wants. I think we are all born with lots of desires and they pop up all throughout life. We can develop our desires and curiosities by giving them time and attention. But, our time and energy is limited so we have to choose which desires are worthwhile. The scriptures give us a clear view of what's important and just as importantly they can give us a constant daily reminder of what we really want.

I think when we stop and think about it our true desires are pretty clear- family, kindness, righteousness...But it's so easy to get distracted and so often we don't consciously get led into sin, but we really just get distracted and slowly led down to hell. Oh it's been a good week for thinking about the scriptures. My favorite scripture study tool I've discovered as a missionary is a study journal. I write down the things that stick out to me and the ideas that I come up with. The coolest part is that oftentimes many days and weeks will all tie together making the pages of my journal like building blocks. With all my ideas ready at hand I can put them together learning something new.

One last story before I'm done. Last night we were standing on a street corner when a lady walked up to us. She apologized for disturbing us and then explained that she had been looking for us. She said she wanted to come back to church, but because it had been more than ten years since she had gone to church in another city she was wondering if we could help. I can hardly describe the way I felt, but just that moment would make my whole two years worth it. Every hard moment would be worth that one beautiful moment. I feel so blessed. She hadn't even seen Elder Nelson's "Ask the missionaries" talk. Oh it was so good. It was one of those moments I'll never forget.

Well I love you. Have a good week. Hans tell me about your favorite class and the book you are currently reading.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This is war

Oh dear wonderful family.

What a week. Where do I even begin?

I don't know.

I realized that the age change would bring big changes but I feel like the effects are felt much more at home. I was the only one who gasped in shock and excitement when Pres. Monson made the announcement, but even I didn't think of all the changes that will come. It sounds like Utah and especially BYU is in an uproar of change. I also loved the blog posts about the scriptures. I don't know if it's just because I've been reading the Old Testament lately but all of this feels very much like preparation for the end of the world. That sounds so dramatic but even the conference talks seemed much more down to business about choosing between good and evil because the gap between the two is growing. Did you notice a few of the apostles talking to people outside the church. It's almost like they were saying "quick get on board with us because for now you can find good outside the church but before long we will be going into open warfare and if you want to be on the right side you need to be all the way over. The days of the middle ground are coming to an end."

I've been reading the old testament manual when I find time and it's so interesting to see how much of the ancient prophecy is dedicated to the end of the world. The history of the world is pretty well centered around the house of Israel, their scattering and their gathering. Anyways enough end of the world talk.

Anz. Rodriguez is on the other side of the country now and I was so sad to see him go. But my new companion Anz. Roisum is fantastic. The other night as we were getting the numbers at the end of the week I realized just how young our zone is when I noticed that I'm the only leader to have ever been in a leadership position before. None of our district leaders have ever been district leaders before. It puts a lot more pressure on me to take the lead and do a lot of teaching.

Oh I miss you so much. I can't believe that next conference I'll be home. It's going to go fast. I can already feel it. There's so much to do to. There are still so many things to figure out and learn. I know I don't need to be perfect but wouldn't it be nice to be. If I became perfect as a missionary I wouldn't have to worry about it when I got home!

What else, what else? I would be careful about your availability date Stefan. Don't cut things too close with finals. I would hate for you to not get to say goodbye to us. Finals and leaving are both stressful enough that you probably don't want both of them landing on the same day. If you did leave the weekend of finals I think I would just come and live with you right before you left so I could take better advantage of your study breaks.

Work is going alright although I'm still waiting for the flood of people responding to Elder Nelson's talk to come and start asking us things.

I love you all very much. Have a good week.

Love Ben

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Like father like son...with a bang‏

Well where do I begin?

Does anybody remember Dad mentioning a time on his mission when he fell asleep at the wheel? Well, I do. At least vaguely. I think I'd like to hear Dad retell the story with a few more details.

Anyways, this week was good. Transfers this week were good and I am sorry to bear the sad news that President's feeling about Anz. Rodriguez only staying one transfer were true and tomorrow he will be taking a nine hour train ride across the country to go to Udine. I will be staying in Torino and my new companion will be Anz. Roisum. I hardly know anything about him, but the things I've heard are good. He is by far the youngest companion I've ever had and as a new zone leader I suppose I'll be teaching how to be a zone leader. It's always so sad to see a good companion go, but also satisfying to think that I've made a friend good enough that I'm sad to see go. There's also the reality that before long we'll all be back at BYU. Speaking of BYU there are quite a few missionaries who already went to BYU before and they have now swayed lots of other missionaries to go to BYU so before long I think most of us will be there. I talked to Anz. Blaga the other day and even he said he was thinking about going to BYU.

In my stew of transfer emotions I also always have a little bit of anxiety about my new companion. Even when I hear good things about them. I think it's mostly because I know I'll have to change my habits and routines but there are also always worries about just not getting along with a companion. Well I think my worries I can just get over by being hopeful and having faith that everything will work out, but the change is inevitable and there are always benefits of trying something new, but it definitely requires a leap of faith. From studying to planning to cooking and working good companions get to know each other and find ways to compliment in each aspect and then when it's changed we have to start over relearning a new set of habits and preferences.

Well, maybe you're curious about the beginning of my email.

I loved the pictures of Timpanogus. In fact at the beginning of the transfer I covered the walls around my desk with pictures and used almost all of those pictures.

OK, fine I'll tell you.

Sunday afternoon we ate lunch after church and then set out to go to Cuneo. I was driving. After about an hour of driving we were getting close to Cuneo and Anz. Rodriguez was singing the Hallulejah chorus on the Christmas CD. I woke up to myself screaming and the burnt smell of airbag smoke. I fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the car. We hit the sidewall and wrecked the car.

Immediately after the fact I felt terrible. I couldn't help but think of all the times the situation could have been avoided ponder my rotten luck. How could I have done something so dumb and put us in such a dangerous position? Oh I felt bad. But as we walked away from the wreck I think my happiness training started to kick in and I realized that I could choose to feel bad about the situation and let it make me be a sad, embarrassed little missionary, or I could learn from it and emerge from the wreckage a better, stronger, more awake person. I chose the latter.

And as I look back I can't help but see more and more the grace of God in the accident. No one was hurt. The highway was practically empty. The only other car on the road was behind us and before we even got out of the car the driver, a nice Italian lady, was on her phone making all the necessary calls. The insurance expired that day. Anz Rodriguez and I escaped with nothing more than a few bruises and sore necks. As time passes I feel more and more blessed. I'm grateful for the grace of God- that even when my own stupidity merited a fate much worse, He saw fit to catch me, and prevent too great of a fall. Because the truth is that it could have been so much worse. Now instead of counting the times when it could have gone better it has become obvious that there were many more times when it could have gone much worse. And why didn't it go worse? Is it because I deserve it? No. It's because of grace.

So now please don't worry. I've written email after email in my head of how to tell you, trying to decide what would be the best way. I decided that if I err in the spectrum between toning it down to not make you worry and being honest I would rather be too honest. Because if I toned it down too much you would be able to tell and you would assume something way worse than what actually happened. So don't worry. I've told you what happened and you don't need to imagine anything worse.

I love you. I'm glad I have a family so nice. Dad if you would be so kind as to tell me about when you fell asleep at the wheel I would appreciate it. Lately I've found great comfort in hearing other people's stories about accidents because it makes me feel less dumb. I'm going to need it too because I'm going to be seeing a lot of missionaries in the next few days and I know there will be teasing.

Have a good week and drive safe.

Love Ben