Wednesday, January 30, 2013

cAutioN- urim and tHumim may be required fOr inteRprEtatIOn

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WELL HELLO DEAR FAMILY_

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.

thanKs foR explaining siri tO mE gAbe. I WAS WONDErInG WHAt ThAT WAS. ALSO PLEASE PUT ASiDE THE BEST RALPH WALDO EMERSoN BOOKS FOR ME XAnDER.

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

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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

HOME

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