Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Hello family-

I don't know if anyone got the message but I'll be home on Friday. Could someone come give me a ride home? I'm in Italy right now and I'm almost done being a missionary, but not quite. Tonight I'm going to teach the grandma of one of the sister missionaries at temple square. She was planning on getting baptized when her granddaughter got home in September, but in church on Sunday she came up to me and said, "You're the first person I'm telling but I want to get baptized on my birthday- May 19." Tonight will be the last lesson I teach as a missionary and then tomorrow I'll go to Milano and have dinner with the Wolfgramm's and then the next day I'll be home.

Did Mom really dye her hair blue? I still can't figure out if that's a joke or not. I think it's probably a joke.

I'm giving a mass acceptance to all invites everyone gave me. Beekeeping, bb gun shooting, apartment managing/fixing, James Bond marathons, sleeping on Stefan's couch (that's my own invite, but oh well), tea parties, trips to the park and whatever else anyone wants to do.

What else...

As far as people at the airport I don't really want anyone but family there. I don't want it to be a big deal and I really just want to see you guys. There will be plenty of time to see lots of other people- because there are lots of people I'm excited to see- but I want take it a bit at a time. I don't want to have to pay attention to anyone but you guys right at first.

It must be at least a week since I've slept for a full eight hours. I either lay awake for a long time before falling asleep or wake up an hour early because I'm so excited to come home. I have to take deep breaths for at least five minutes before I try to study otherwise I get nowhere. Is anyone else going slightly crazy? Based on Xander's email I'm pretty sure he's lost it too.

Well this is it- the end. I don't think anyone will be able to understand what this feels like. In moments when I'm not busy working or thinking about home I have a solid feeling of peace. I feel satisfied. I feel like I'm in a holy place. I don't just say it because I'm a missionary but I feel like I've done something of worth, something significant that not even I completely understand yet. I'm glad I came on a mission and I'm glad I stayed being a missionary despite all the times it would have been easier not to. I love you guys and I love the Lord.

Love, Ben


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Dear family-

...I feel like I'm back where I was two years ago when writing you makes me too excited to think of things to write about.Dear family-

...I feel like I'm back where I was two years ago when writing you makes me too excited to think of things to write about.

Before I forget, Melvin just let me know his wedding will be June 21st. I've got to be there. I don't know how much of the summer is already planned but that's an important event to keep in mind. Also the dinner sounds fun. Melvin wrote me about it and he loved it. It won't be long before I'm there too.

OK so I'm moving down my list of things. Sometimes I like making lists to help me remember the important things to write about but then sometimes it just cuts out all of my other random stuff that I remember as I ramble. I'm still reading the Old Testament and it's so cool. This week the ten tribes were lost. How do you lose a whole tribe of people let alone ten!? Haha I'm so funny. Anyways it was so cool to understand the background and see what a big deal it really was to lose them. The scriptures talk about it all the time and now we're working on gathering them again. Did you know that the gathering of Israel and them taking back the land of their inheritance will outdo the Exodus in significance? One day people will stop talking about God as the God that brought the children of Israel out of Egypt (which they do all the time) and they will start to refer to him as the God who restored the ten tribes of Israel. Anyways I've been enjoying my study time lately.

Stefan- Oh where do I even begin to talk about Stefan? First of all happy birthday to you Stefan. And secondly I hope you want to hang out with me as much as I want to hang out with you when I get home. Without doubt I count as one of the greatest blessings of my time as a missionary the way I feel about Stefan. I clearly remember nearly two years ago when I first heard about Stefan's ACT score and my first reaction was jealousy, "Why does he always outdo me?" But then something told me to stop. I took a deep breath, and just started to feel happy for him. I realized that I was lucky to be his brother and that his success didn't have to make me look like less. Before long Stefan become my favorite topic of thought and conversation and everybody on the mission knew about my brother Stefan. Why did I waste so many years fighting with Stefan? Now it doesn't matter though. What does matter is that we have years and even eternities to come together. I'm so grateful for that day when my heart began to soften and I discovered my brother.

The next thing I put on my list is home. I'm not sure if I have anything in particular to say about it besides the fact that I'm so excited to come home.

Metro Miracle- The other night I was on a scambio in Milano. We were riding along on the metro and I made eye contact with a lady. I smiled and she started to cry. I walked over and sat down next to her and asked if everything was OK. She explained that her mom had been in a coma for a week now and that she was a member. The lady herself was a member too but it had been a long time since she had gone to church. We sat and talked for a minute and I got her information to give to the missionaries in the area. She was crying because seeing us was a sign to her. She said we were angels. Whether or not I actually am an angel it was cool to be in a position where I was acting as an angel to someone.

Well I'll see you soon. Have a good week. I'm alive and doing well.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

kissing girls

Hello family-

Melvin is getting married! The video was so cool. It was so perfect. And they look so happy. I'm so excited for them.

The video really was very cool. I'm sure Melvin and Maggie loved it. Wow I still just can't believe I watched him kissing a girl and stuff like that let alone kneeling down and proposing.

Well, I'm feeling much better than last week. The weather is rainy and my companion is sick but life is good. I can't wait to come home. The other day we were on our way coming home from my last district meeting. It still doesn't really feel like I'm really coming home but every time I come to a "last" it becomes a bit more real. I'm really excited to come home and I can feel myself starting to move on but I feel good about it. I'm not done yet and I've still got two weeks of good work left in me, but looking back I can honestly say that I've been trying and working and giving my best for two years. I wasn't always the best but I worked at it and I improved and I never really stopped. And I think it's because of that that I can start to move on with peace of mind. The end has come and I while there are lots of things I love here I don't feel like I'm leaving things undone. I feel satisfied and it's a good feeling. I'm ready for what's next.

Speaking of what's next marriage seems to be coming up constantly. I don't know if I've just started noticing it or if people are really talking about it more but I feel like I hear about it all the time. Last night was probably the best. I was on a split with the stake patriarch, who is such an amazing guy, and he ended up telling me all about how he met his wife and what he thought were important things in finding a wife. It was so fun and funny.

I feel like I don't have that much to say. We're teaching a guy who stopped us on the street. He's a Buddhist and pretty funny. He came to church on Sunday and when they asked him to introduce himself in priesthood meeting he said his name and then said "and I'm a mystic."

Life is good. I'm not going to die. I can't wait to see you again.

Love, Ben

OK, in an effort to try and share something slightly meaningful I'll tell you about my latest scripture studying. I got a new copy of the Book of Mormon and I've been specifically studying the atonement. I've heard of people doing this before and I'm amazed at how good it is. It's nice because I don't worry about writing too much in the copy because that's all I'm using it for and I've been amazed at how much I've learned. Confirming once again that I learn by writing.

OK, all done. Have a good week.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dear family

Oh dear family-

Oh how I love you. I could write you another valentine this week I love you so much. Did you get my valentine? I made one and sent it last week. I hope it gets there.

Things here have been snowy, wet and cold. The worst part is that for some reason nobody wants to see us in bad weather even if we meet with them inside. Bleh.

Does anybody at home miss me? Because I miss you guys a lot. I watched my birthday video again. It's still awesome.

So mother-of-the-year do you know when you're going to New York?

I don't know what to write today. This week I was reading about David. He's my latest favorite scripture hero. The young David of course. I feel like it's so sad that he had such a sad ending and that it seemed to ruin everything good about him. He was so cool when he was young. I loved how brave and faithful he was. Everything he did just seemed to work out well too.

I can't believe that Melvin is at our house. Isn't he funny? Did he ask for hot sauce when you ate for him. No matter what we ate he would always put hot sauce on it. Have you met Maggie?

Thanks for doing my classes mom they sound perfect.

Well I'm sorry I don't have any great stories for this week. Have a good week everybody.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

five million views

Hello dear family-

Has anyone seen my birthday video? It's practically the coolest thing that has happened ever. I've already watched it twice and I'll probably watch it a million more times before I get off the computer.

I'm pleased to report that I am now the proud holder of an Italian library card. There's this really cool new library in our area and we were trying to organize an exhibit here but we couldn't because they aren't allowed to do religious stuff. Anyway, now that we have library cards though we can use the internet here and it's so nice to have a computer with a keyboard that works. I feel like I'm back in my natural environment in a library.

So before I forget mother-of-the-year, thanks for signing me up for classes I just had a few thoughts. First you said I could do 3 of the 4 right? I would probably not do the aeronautics one. The other ones sound really cool though. Although if there was a statistics for economics instead of engineers that might be better. Also could you see if Brother Swift is teaching Book of Mormon. That's who I had before and he was so good. Oh you're the best, did you know that? Thanks for the blog post too. It was so nice. I guess I did make you a mother didn't I? That's a title I'll proudly take. I felt a little bad though that you remembered me as the critic son. I've realized more and more lately that I just have lots of ideas about how to do stuff but that doesn't mean everybody wants to hear them. I'm trying to be less critical. I'm trying to be less critical of myself too though so I'm trying to not give myself too hard a time about being critical. I remember right before I left you told me that I would need to be patient with myself. You weren't worried about me learning another language or working hard but you said the biggest challenge would be being patient. Well you were right.

There are so many times as a missionary when I just feel so not good enough. I feel totally inadequate and not up to the challenge but then I try anyway and looking back I've done some good stuff. Nothing strengthens my faith in Christ more than looking back after stuff is over. Oftentimes I don't see His help in the moment but looking back especially over the last two years it's obvious how the Lord has lifted me up and walked with me through hard stuff. I really believe that He has helped me.

This week has been good. We're already to the funny transition between winter and spring. It gets warm and then it snows and then it gets warm again. Right now the sun is shining and it's a nice day but people have been saying that it's going to snow later in the week.

Life is good and I'm happy. I can't believe that I'll only be writing a few more letters. I have to admit though that I feel surprisingly normal. I'm love working with Anz. Eveson and now that transfers are over I'm right back into the grind of the work. I don't know if I'm really going home or if it's just a dream in the future.

Speaking of going home I don't know if I'm actually going to come home. Someone this week told me that Obama had banned Nutella. I don't think he can really do that but I heard it from more than one witness. Please give me a decisive response because my return home depends on the response and I should let the mission office know if they need to cancel my ticket.

Other big news here is that the Pope is resigning. Everybody is talking about it and it's been nice for us because so many people want to talk about it.

Well I love you lots. I'm off to go watch my video five million more times.

Write me good letters next week. And Stefan you sure do know how to leave a cliff hanger. Just don't forget to finish the story next week.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

my valentine to you

That was the coolest video ever!!

I just want to watch it over and over and over.

This week has been a bit grey. I've been sick, but as usual not enough to really take me off my feet and put me in bed, but just enough to make me the worlds largest snot producer and constant sniffle machine. It dumped snow here and this morning fog is everywhere: I thought I had escaped the winter but it came back to bite me: Now the computer is being funny so once again excuse my punctuation and capitalization:

something this week told me to just hold on and look forward to my emails and what a bucketload of happiness i got. the video! did i tell you how amazing it was? mom has made some good videos but this one has got to be the best. oh it was soooo cool. it's no wonder she's the young mother of the year. i thought she got the award every year but i guess this year we have people outside our faMily recongnizinG the achievement. Wow yOu guys arE so cOol.

Oh I just went back and watched the video again. I just had to. I don't know if I can watch it again though otherwise I just might start crying tears of joy.

Do you guys know how much I love you? Maybe I'll just write you my own little valentine: you are everything to me. You seven people are my whole world and if there was nothing but the eight of us in an empty universe I be happy just to be there with you. you lift me up, you make me better, you don't let me give up and you don't let me fall short. I can hardly recount the number of times when I've just felt too tired or not good enough to keep going but the thought of you has kept me going. lately i keep going back and watching the London video. there's a part where the bike racers go by and everybody is cheering. i can hear dad yelling really loud and I like to imagine you guys yelling for me. I'm yelling for you too.

I'm sprinting to the finish like dad keeps telling me and it's hard. but i can do it. especially with the great videos I've been getting.

This week was a good sorting out week: we've had so many good potentials but all of them were just potentials and this week we've gotten a few sorted out:

Anz. Eveson has brought a lot of good excitement and we've got a new project we're working on it help focus the members energy for missionary work to start bringing fruits.

Wow, mom is mother of the year. That's so cool: I already mentioned it but it's really cool: you get to go to New York? When? I can't wait to tell everybody.

Speaking of sprinting to the finish it sure does help to know that I'll be meeting an apostle right when I get back: gosh. pressure's on.

One cool story: there's a family that we're teaching right in Muggio. last night we were asking how their reading in the Book of Mormon was going. The dad ,said he felt like it was just full of stories of far away people and experiences and he didn't know what we were talking about with getting answers to questions from it. Then at the end of the lesson he was flipping through the index and noticed infant baptism. He asked about it and we directed him to Moroni 8. He read it and then stopped and said- "that's true. I've always wondered about that and this is right." My companion said- you just got an answer from the Book of Mormon."

Well I love you so much. will you all be my valentines?

I'm off to go watch my video again.

love, Ben

p.s. sorry about your arm, Xander. I'm sending you a letter today. I wrote it last week but just kept forgetting to get a stamp. So sorry.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

you people are crazy

Oh hello everybody,

It sounds like Xander had the coolest birthday party in the world. Bombs of two different types, bb guns and sparklers! I can hardly believe it.

Transfers- Anz. Chipman is going to La Spezia and I will be getting Anz. Eveson for my last transfer. He's a missionary I've known for a while. He's a really hard worker which is good. Anz. Chipman's so funny. I'll miss him a lot.

Speaking of last transfers, or as Dad would say it second to last transfers, I can't believe this is it. This is the end. So it isn't exactly the end because there are still six more weeks but it is the end. I can't really put into words the way it feels but it's a funny feeling. Sometimes I want to cry. Italy has become such a home to me. I would even say it has become sacred to me. Other times I get excited thinking about being home and going to school. But it just feels right. It's the right time. But I have six more weeks. And don't worry about me getting trunky. I still remember Dad's "halfway" lecture and it has stuck. I plan on making the most of the end of my time as a missionary.

This week Anz. Free and Anz. Rodriguez are going home. They both called me and I think both will be visiting you guys. Anz. Free said Mom and his mom talked so you're probably expecting that one. Anz. Rodriguez is going up to Utah to see his girlfriend. They'll be in Salt Lake and probably stop by. These guys are like my brothers and I probably talked about you guys enough that they know the rest of you well enough to be part of the family. Take care of them when you see them.

As far as news from Muggi├▓ there isn't too much. We just baptized all of our best investigators so we're trying to build the work back up again. It's been tough especially with transfers. The ward however is really goo and I can really see that they trust us. We've had lots of people tell us about friends they've been thinking of and even if not all of them are ready to get baptized right away it's still really good that they're thinking of friends and they're telling us about it.

I feel like there was other stuff I wanted to tell you about but now I can't remember. This always happens when I make a list for myself of things to remember. I end up just remembering the things I wrote down and nothing else. Did you sign me up for classes Mom? Anz. Rodriguez said he's got some apartments and that he'll be looking at them when he goes to Utah.

Alright. Well that's all for this week. I love you lots. Have a good week.

Love Ben

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

cAutioN- urim and tHumim may be required fOr inteRprEtatIOn



I?M REALLY EXCITED TO BE WRITING TO YOU: WELL I AM but I'M ALSO typing on a keyboard that?s so old and broken that the caps lock goes on and off whenever it wants and not when I WANT: please do your best to interpret my letter:

tHis week has been rEaLly grEat actually. We hAd aLINES BAPTISM WHiCH WAs ReALLY GReAt. it Was kiNd of funny because sHe's leaviNg to gO study in spain this weeK. i felt bad tellinG tHe meMbeRs thaT tHey werE aBoUt to lose theiR latest nEw cOnvert. A few days befoRe we went to visit aline. sHe wanted tO know morE aboUt president monsOn becauSe he's thE prophet and well it's prettY obvious why she would kinD of want tO know wHo hE is. We haVe a video aboUt hIm so we were watching thAt. BeforE we started the video she said she hAd some questIOns abouT polygamy tahT she wanTed to ask us about after thE movie wAs over. AFTERWARDS SHE ASKED US ABOUT POLYGAMY, ANd SAID SHE HAD BEEN READING ABOUT HOW No ONE CAN FIND THE CITy OF BOuNTIFUL ANd JUST A LOT OF OTHEr AnTI MORMoN STUFF. i was getting nervous until sHe said "but i dOn't care about any of thAt stuFf. I'M NOT GETTINg BAPTISED FOR GOLD PLATES OR A PROPHET OR THE CITY BoUNTIFUL OR ANYThING LIKE ThAT. i'm gettiNg baptised because i know tHis is true. I JUST KNOw It. i'vE seeN so maNy chuRches anD nOne of them haVe ever attractEd mE, bUt here I CaN FEEL A DIFFErENCE." I'Ve NEVER SEEN AnYONE HAvE SUCH COnFIDENCE In THEIR TESTIMONY So EARLY On. it makes me thInk about how maNy peOple I'VE TRIED tO EXPLAIN THiNGS TO WITHOUT ThEM REALLY HAvING A TESTIMONY. it's amaziNg what a diFference iT makes when peOple feel the spirit and then learn abOut things as opposed tO doing it in the opposite ordeR.

transfeRs are next week sO I ShOULD FIND OUT SOMETIME On MONDAY OR TUESDAY WHAT'S HaPPEnING. IT'S A WEIRD SITUATION BECaUSE BOTH ANZ. ChIPMaN AnD I HAVE BEEN HErE FOR THE SAmE AMOUNT OF TiME. THERe IS A CHANCE THaT WE CoULD STAY TOGETHEr BUt IT'S MOsT LIKELY THAT ONE OF US WILL LEAVe. i can feel it too. ANZ. cHIPMAN IS TO THE POINT WhERE He'S READY To LEAVE THE NEST AND MOVE ON To NOT BEING WITH HIS TRAINER. HE LOVES ME BUT HE'S READY To TAKE ON MORe. maybe he'll get a really young companion next transfer. it woUld be gooD fOr him. the reAl questiON is whIch one of us will go. prEsident fairly often sends missiOnaries tO a nEw city for their lAst transfeR which i thInk wOuld be kind oF weird. IT'S AlSO ReALLY WEiRD To ThInk That thiS Is THe BEGiNNING Of MY LAsT TRANSFEr. it dOesnt rEaLly feel real. IT DoES In SOME WAYS BECAUSE I HaVE TO THINK ABOUT SCHOOL AND STUFF LIKE THaT BUT I DON'T FEEL DETACHED FROM THe WORK AT ALL. iN fact I FEEl MORE ENGAGED IN THE WORk THAN EvER.

happy birthday dad. aNd mom. anD xandeR. wow. what a fun weeK we hAvE ahead.


I ALMOST FoRGOT. i got thE nicest envelope frOm tHe mitchells thIs week. Tell them thaNkS foR me. I LOVE THEIR LETTErS. AND i probably wOuld haVe actually cApitalized loVe in thaT sentence.

DiD YOU SIGN ME UP FoR THE VIDEO CLASS MOM? i waS thinking aboUt how much fun thaT soUnded tHis week.

i loVe you all very much. i just can't take writinG On this keyboard anymOrE.
haVe a greAt week.

love, ben


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rain and cold

Hello family-

Lately I've noticed that I need to write a sentence or two to really get my brain going on what to write. A lot of the times I write something like "what do I have to say today?" or something like that. It doesn't really matter what I say but it always helps to get my brain going and then I start to remember the things I had to write about.

This has been kind of a slow week. The weather here has gotten cold and wet and it seems like the cold weather might be keeping people from coming to their appointments. Nothing drives me more crazy than getting ready for a busy day with lots of appointments only to end up waiting around for people to show up all day long. Oh well. It happens sometimes. The good news is that Aline is getting baptized on Saturday. I still kind of can't believe it's actually happening.

I'm trying really hard to think of what happened this week but there really just wasn't much to report. Dad's elders quorum discussion sounded like fun. I just hope there weren't any investigators in church. Things like that as a missionary make me crazy. I just realized that dad probably goes with the high priests now. Wow- he's old. There was one ward where they loved to sing "If I could hie to Kolob" and it seemed like they sang it almost every week. We had lots of new converts and investigators ask us some crazy questions after that and finally we asked them to stop singing it.

Mom- are the classes you put in your email the ones you're actually signing me up for? They look like fun. And President Wolfgramm already signed my thing? I didn't even have to ask him to. As long as it's taken care of then I won't worry about it. I also found out that Anz. Free is going to spring semester. That will be fun.

Well I hate to just have a full email of me just writing that I don't know what to say but my week was just very slow and wet and cold.

Mom do you remember your story about when you met one of the three Nephites in Milano? Assuming this wasn't one of your made up stories, like the Cecret Lake story, do you remember what park it was? I was in Milano this last week and we were working in a park with a big castle in it. I thought it could have been the park.

Anz. Chipman didn't know Jake Wilder or whatever his name was. Speaking of Anz. Chipman he's dong well. It's amazing to see how much he's learned and grown since he got here. The transfer ends in about two weeks and I can just feel that it's time for him to move on. He's ready to not be the trainee anymore. I'm wondering if I'll stay in Muggi├▓ for my last transfer or if President will send me off to just do one transfer somewhere.

Happy birthday to everybody! Eat lots of cake for me.

By the way- I think I've gotten the last of the Christmas letters but I never actually saw the big envelope. I told the office to not pay customs on any packages for me and just send them back instead. I hope yours didn't get sent back by mistake.

Well have a good week. I love you lots

Love, Ben

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Well hello dear family-

Nothing like knowing my homecoming is scheduled to make coming home crashing in on me. I'm just kidding. Actually the last week or two the reality that I'm actually coming home, and surprisingly soon, is really starting to take shape. Registering for school and stuff like that makes it seem much less like a fairy tale and much more real. One of the missionaries I live with goes home with me which doesn't exactly help us avoid the subject. It's also the big sale season here so I'm going to look for a suit today. Does it make anyone else's head spin to think that I'm actually coming home? Anyways...

Has Gabriel gotten his birthday letter yet? I only put a few jokes in it. Sorry Gabe- don't get offended. I'm so glad you were born though. I miss you a lot.

I talked to Anz. Rodriguez and he really wants to room together. I feel like whatever happens though I'll probably just be a little bit all over the place. Obviously I'll want to see you guys a lot and I think I'll have a lot of friends in Provo too so I think that no matter where I end up I'll just bounce around a lot.

What's new in Muggio this week though. Not much. It's actually one of the more exciting times of my mission though because we just have so much work to do. The rest of this week is totally filled up with appointments which is pretty unusual. The baptism this last week went really well and maybe I'll send a picture some time. The whole family was really happy because now this sets them on the road to the temple. Aline- the miracle Brazilian girl- is ready for her baptism a week from Saturday and there is so much other stuff to work on. I feel like the last week or two we've really had a turning point because we worked so hard to get things moving and now things are really really moving. I can't really take credit though. We have a really big ward full of strong families that help a lot. I remember being in Siena and hearing about Muggio and thinking about how in some situations you work so hard and get a lot whereas in other places you work just as hard and get just a little. This is one of those times when we are getting a lot from our work.

This week we were talking to the family whose son left for his mission in New York aobut a month ago and he just left the MTC. They said they talked to him and he said he felt so inadequate and had so many doubts about himself. It's funny because when he left he was such a confident guy. Anz. Madsen, the other missionary in my group, just kind of laughed. "Welcome to the mission" we said. It's so funny to look at new missionaries and remember the way it felt to be so new and feel so lost. I still so often feel totally inadequate for the job I'm supposed to do, but as I look back on what's happened I'm amazed to see that even though a lot of the time I really was totally inadequate things still worked out and somehow I did some good. It teaches me two big lessons. First of all this is the Lord's work and even though much is expected of me I feel much more like I'm in the Masters workshop. I'm far from the master, but he's just letting me come to work with Him for a while to see how things are done. I was never really expected to be the master and make everything happen. That's His job. Second of all I've realized that I'm actually much more capable than I realize. It's been in doing hard things that I've realized I can actually do them even though I often feel like I can't.

I'm actually really excited to come home. I have to stay focused otherwise I would just be miserable. And because there's so much good to enjoy here and so much work ot be done. But every once in a while and I see, not so far away, HOME. When Lorenzo Snow was leaving for his mission in Italy he wrote about how he was thinking about home. And he capitalized it HOME. I think because he loved home so much. Well I love my home too. And I can't wait to see you again.

By the way if I have time for the video class feel free to sign me up.

Don't shoot your eyes out. Or your brothers.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Buon Giorno!‏

Dear Family-

There are some weeks when I really just wish I could talk to you because there seems like there's so much new stuff to talk about. It sounds like way more has changed at home than I realized. We have a basement apartment? With tenants? Or was that just talking about Mom and Mary( Mary and I were sick and sleeping in the basement for a few days)? And there's a train from Salt Lake to Provo now? Dad needs reading glasses? Gabe has a bum!? What could be next.

But really though. After about two weeks of not seeing any Christmas letters I got about ten in one day. I was looking at the pictures and I still don't really recognize anybody, especially Hans. I almost feel like I'll be going home to a new family.

Before I forget about school, I'm so glad you think spring semester is a good idea and that you understand the way my brain works in signing up for classes. I'll just let you make all the decisions on what I take this semester. I was thinking about a major and I just can't help but laugh at the thought of actually choosing something. I think I've thought of about ten new things that would be fun. Another realization I've had, however, is that outside of a job I can still have plenty of hobbies and from what I've heard not many people stay with one job their entire life. I'm leaning more towards something hard (like dad said) like economics or statistics, but also taking a share of history and writing classes. I'm not sure what classes are available spring semester but I thought it would be nice to get a mix of the different things I like so I could get a taste of what it would actually be like to study the subject. The problem is actually coming up with a list of things that I want to study that isn't too long. Here are a few ideas. Economics, statistics, writing, Italian, history ( I would love a near eastern class. Mary took one that just talked about a lot of ancient history but all focused on Jerusalem. I went to it a few times and it seemed really cool.) And then whatever you, Mom and Dad, think I would actually like and be good at. Just make sure you think it's something I want and not something you want. I realize that's way to much for one spring semester, but oh well.

As far as living I'm not sure. Living at home and taking the train sounds very tempting, but I'm also not sure. Anz. Rodriguez will be at BYU and he asked if I would want to room with him which would be really fun.

Mom- are you alright with taking care of everything? It sounded like you were. If you could that would be so nice. Let me know what I need to do though.

I have to admit that talking about this makes me just a little bit excited to come home. But, don't worry, I've got plenty to keep me busy right now.

This Saturday we have a baptism. The guys name is Marco and he's known the missionaries for about two years now. His wife was a less active member and they just got married so now he's ready to get baptized. He asked me to baptize him which was a surprise that I'm really happy about. I've never actually baptized anyone and that's normally the way we want it because it's nice for a member to do it so they feel part of their new congregation, but Marco has always wanted a missionary to baptize him.

About a month ago we were at a Christmas activity and I went to talk to a girl I didn't recognize. She was from Brazil, but had lived in Spain so she spoke Spanish. She didn't speak Italian so I did my best in Spanish. She's friends with a member family from Brazil and we had a few lessons with her at their house mainly depending on them to translate. She had seen a lot of crazy churches in Brazil and was really wary about us asking her to get baptized. We didn't see her for about a month, but after the craziness of the holidays ended she came to church. After sacrament meeting Anz. Chipman ran up to me and said "Aline is crying and we need to get the number for the missionaries in Madrid for her. I don't really know what's going on." The member came up to me and said "Aline wants to get baptized and she wants to do it here before she goes to school in Spain at the beginning of February." I was completely shocked and even more so later when we went to lunch at the members and when Aline told us herself that she wanted to get baptized. It was amazing to see how the Spirit had changed her understanding and view of the church and getting baptized. We've had two lessons since then and she has such a desire to learn. On Monday we finished teaching what we had planned and then she looked at us and said "is that all for tonight?" So we kept going and taught some more. I feel so blessed to be here for this.

Was the temple what you expected Stefan? What did you think? I guess you decided to take the Russian class.

Have a good week. I love you and miss you too.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hello again!

Hello family!

I'm so glad mom and dad remembered to write me. i loved the blog posts. can you think about anything but Russia? I can?t Oh this stupid keyboard is doing weird things with the shift key: Now it won?t do a period or an apostrophe: darn thing: why do i always have problems with keyboards?

I'm so excited for Stefan. ever since i heard about his call I've been so excited for him and just can't stop thinking about Russia. i also keep thanking the Lord for sending him there and not me. i get depressed with just the Italian winters i would go crazy with the Russian cold. is is just me or does anyone else think that Stefan just seems a little Russian? yes i did a question mark.

i was thinking about his departure date and we'll just have to make the most of the month in between when i get home and he leaves. i was also thinking that maybe i could do spring semester. i had never even considered it before because i thought Stefan would be leaving later, but now it might be a good option. i could do spring and then not do summer and then go back in the fall. let me know what you think about how it would work with any other summer plans. i think it sounds nice just because i don't want to have too much time with not a lot to do. and besides from what i know spring term is pretty flexible.

i didn't stay up until midnight. in fact i got kind of sick that afternoon and went to bed early. this is such a weird time of year because with all the holidays everything shuts down and even our so constant missionary schedule changes a bit: there are a few days when we stay in and some weird times when we can't do much work. it's so weird staying in so much and having days without as much schedule. it makes me little missionary brain spin.

i was looking at my new years resolutions from last year and they were pretty funny. i said i wanted to not get trunky until the end of the year and if i could make it until then i would let myself go crazy. i wanted to worry less and be more simple. you can tell it was kind of a rough time last year. this year however looking ahead at the new year everything seems so unpredictable. there are the obvious things like going to school and stuff like that and then there's so much other stuff that i don't even know anything about. what i do want to do is take the good things I've learned here and make sure i transfer them over to life after the mission. i want to remember how much i miss the people i love right now and then take advantage of being with them at home.

i loved what mom said about trusting the lord. I've been reading numbers and the old testament has a way of teaching trust in the lord like no other book of scripture. the people are constantly being reminded that they don't need to worry and complain because the lord is on their side. i guess that's what i really want to do this year is to remember. remember what i've learned and remember that the lord is on my side.

have a good week everybody. i love you lots.

love ben