Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas/First Baptism

December 26, 2012
First Baptism

We had a very Merry Christmas yesterday and got to Skype with Anziano Benson.  He looked so good and is doing great. He said they did have the baptism on the 21st and that it was an amazing experience.  Something he will never forget. He went over to some members houses on Christmas Eve and feasted on octopus and squid spaghetti and he said it was delicious.  He said he would recommend we all try it some day.  He said they then ate over 20 different appetizers and then got to the main course of lasagna.  He said it was all so delicious and they were so happy that the members are so good to them.  On Christmas Day they went to some other members to skype and they really took great care of them.  I will try to attatch a clip of the skype if I can get it to work in the next few days but today Anziano Benson sent us some pictures from his first baptism and also from his visit to Switzerland last week.  It was just the best Christmas gift ever to get to visit with him.  He sent us this quick note today.

Buon Natale Familia,
So Anziano Merrill is going to Torino and my new companion will be Anziano Memmott. Anziano Memmott is coming from Prato in the Firenze district where I served when I was in Siena so I’m really excited. He’s a good guy.  Anziano Smith and I did splits with him back in September and he loves to joke a lot so it will be good fun. Tomorrow is transfers so I will be going to Milano to pick up my new comp! I will leave you all with some of the most recent pictures :) Buon Natale! I miss all of you and it was so good to Skype with you all yesterday! Well enjoy yourselves and eat some cheese ball for me!

Switzerland !!!
Love, Anziano Benson

Switerland is Beautiful!
Christmas Money"Haven't Found Anything to Buy Yet!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Switzerland or Bust

December 19, 2012

Ok, so I’m so sorry but super fast. We are on our way to SWITZERLAND!!!! I’m so excited! Swiss chocolate here I come! So I’m a little rushed. So sorry about it. I feel bad because there is a ton of stuff going on this week. Baptism is moved to Friday December 21! At Milano 1 chapel. Super excited! His name is M____________. He’s got an awesome name I think haha. He is an awesome guy and has a huge love for the gospel. He has been to church an impressive 10 weeks in a row. I’ve never had anyone do that, ever! So I’m very blessed to know this man and his desire of real intent to be baptized for the remission of sins following the example of Jesus Christ. I will tell more on Skype after the bap! 
Well, we are all ready for Christmas and I’ve got plenty of junk food haha. I think I might be all junked out before Christmas. I even bought myself a Pandoro which is a huge Italian cake that is super super good. Look it up on the internet. It’s famous here at Christmas and it’s a tradition.  

You’re all the best and I love you so much! I will get you some pictures from the Swiss Alps today! Merry Christmas and remember the Christ in Christmas and what you can do to give not to get. It’s so weird to be away from home for Christmas and for the first time ever I’m not thinking about myself but only about other people. For the first time in my life I think I’ve found the true meaning of Christmas.

Well I’m off to catch the trains. Love you all and talk to you next week!
Love Anziano Benson

Friday, December 14, 2012

Good News

Hey good news! Randomly all 3 packages showed up! One of my packages got opened by the Italians and checked. I’m sure they took a little candy and then taped it back up and left the rest. I really was glad to finally get something haha. I was so excited and thank you so very much. I was so thankful because the gloves that I bought were not cutting it. It’s just too cold. Winter is full on here and we got snow and negatives here Negative C that is not F. But humidity is terrible! So cold! So thankfully I got my packages. Loved the candy.  Man I miss American candy. They think Italy does everything great but the truth is they could learn many things on making candy and pastries. Kind of a bummer to learn that we do it better haha. Oh well enjoy the world in its fullness.. Eh don’t worry about not getting anything here for Christmas, really. I think the money in the account is much better. I will figure out something to do with it. For the first time in my life I don’t know what to do with $$$$, I don’t really want/need anything. Nothing here seems cheap enough. It’s all out of the sky prices. Soccer jerseys are like €80 or $100 US dollars so I think I’ll just get some cheese and crackers and be Wallace and Gromit haha. Everyone just sells wine and cheese and that’s it around here haha, so looks like I’ll just stick to that. . I will definitely find something to buy. Maybe some snow boots because my toes are falling off.
So surprise surprise. I managed to get hooked up with a member here who is an American. He went back to the states for Christmas with his whole family... so I managed to sneak some goods back with him and he is sending you all a package :)Don’t open till Christmas. I also mailed an explanation of who gets what in just mail letter style. Protect what I sent you mom because it’s the best you can buy here in Italy! The girls got there’s so just take it and run. Quality not quantity is what I got you and Dad. And girls I just got you some yums haha. Shhh don’t tell the kids. Just put it randomly under the tree and without and markings and see what happens when they find out I sent an entire package haha. All the way from Italy, well kind of. But anyways there you go, Merry Christmas! I did get grandmas letter and I have been enjoying learning about the Savior everyday! It’s great.  Thanks Grandma.
The work is accelerating and YES we are having a baptism!  M______ is 100% locked in. We had a good number of suspicions about him and that he wouldn’t actually commit to challenge 100% but this week he bore his testimony to us and told us that he’s joining for a lifelong commitment to the church so we agreed that he’s ready! We confirmed that he has devoted his life to this promise and covenant and he will be baptized on December 22. Merry Christmas! I honestly couldn’t ask for more. That’s all I want for Christmas is a baptism. Santa came early for me I guess. We also had a miracle referral from the Lake Como Anziani and we got this super awesome elect guy and his family. He is honestly one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He even drove 20 min to pick us up which never, ever, ever happens. Usually people are like “Hey come over,”and then we go all the way out to their house in a rain storm and they kindly are not there, then they hang up the phone on you when you try to call, so let’s just say this guys is amazing. He has real intent, it’s just a matter if he wants the blessings of the gospel or not. He has 2 super cute little daughters who are just like Bre and Anni. 5 and 11 years old and they know a little bit of English so they try to talk to me from what they learned at school. Haha such a great family. The wife is super nice, but she works a lot at night to help the dad out since the economy here is terrible and there is just poverty and homeless people everywhere. Super sad. You would think that it’s not like that, but there are just endless people searching for work and don’t find it since they can’t speak Italian. Many immigrants are here since it’s the only country with open borders to migrate. So well it’s a mess. But I’m thankful for what I have and we are being blessed at this time with so much. The work is getting better and we went from teaching 2 lessons to 10 lessons a week and we are getting stuff done! Also since we didn’t have any work to do we went on a reactivation spree. We reactivated 1 family, 1 man, we are working with another family right now to get them back to church, and in the other family we have 2 more to help as well. Most of them have been coming more often, but not consistently. We are so blessed and I think I should say I didn’t reactivate them but really the Lord did. He just put the missionaries there to help these people and really I didn’t do anything. I just invited them to change and see the blessings they are missing out on.

 We were going to go to Switzerland today but we couldn’t go because some of the other Anziani who planned to go didn’t have enough money. But we might go next week if it’s still good weather. I get to Switzerland free since I have a train pass for all of Lombardia which is Milano all the way north to Lake Como I can use any train or bus. Glad to hear all is well. Any snow sticking yet? Well that’s about it and things are going good. I love you all and will talk to you next week.

Anziano Benson

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Love the People Here

Decmeber 5, 2012

Family, so good to hear from you.  You asked about Thanksgiving and the gravy and well, the ward wanted 3liters of gravy and well we just couldn’t buy €40 of roast so we decided just to make some brownies and they all went crazy for them because there is nothing even close to them here. We had a lot of fun and they even made some pumpkin pie for us Americans. Hahaha no way!? Well as for Christmas I have no idea. Usually we can Skype but we do it from a member’s house and seeing how we don’t have any member appointment for Christmas it might not happen. I actually don’t know what we will do. We don’t even have a way to call so you guys might not get to hear from me except email. No fun...
Allison is coming here?!!!!!!!!! (Sorella Astel. A girl from our ward that lives 5 houses down. Anziano Benson grew up with her)I’m so happy haha! that’s awesome! I just laughed super hard when I heard she is coming. I don’t even know what to think anymore. Who next, Katie Chase? haha I’m not sure what’s going on but I guess there is something in the water in Idaho Falls huh?
Hey I’m glad you get to meet Anziano Smith’s mom! I miss Anziano Smith and I’m sad that I won’t get to see him again until I get home but he’s done his time and he’s off to college! He said he would come see you guys when he’s in the area.
As for the packages I got nothing so. Bo non lo so?
Italians go all out for Christmas
They hang lights up on all the streets.
As far as the work goes, it’s getting better. I think there is some improvement that we can do on our end of the deal, but we are building up some potential investigators to see. Mxxxxx is still going good and he will get the priesthood in 3 weeks so he can baptize this 8 year old. Super awesome! We just need him to keep reading the book of Mormon and he will be set! We may not have any other investigators but hey at least we are baptizing! It could be worse and we could have absolutely no one... but instead we have at least someone who is ready. Busto has really just put me to the test. And I think I failed that test, but that’s why we have the Lord because my best isn’t enough and sometimes you just have to work hard and do all that you can and let the Lord steer the ship. It really is tough when you go weeks on end of no one having interest in the gospel, and I don’t even understand why it is that way. But I will say that once you find those elect Italians they give everything to the church and they don’t lose their testimony. The opposition is hard here because Satan knows that these are some of the most strong believing people in the world. This is where Christianity has reigned since the time of Christ and everyone has a belief in god here. They just don’t know how to find the truth in the world of confusion between religions. Nor do they want change. But I love the people here even though they yell at me and use words that I don’t know what they mean haha. And of course there is the occasional Jehovah witness who try to bible bash us which is pointless. But life goes on. Well hope you are enjoying the holidays. Don’t work too hard. Love you all.

Anziano Benson

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"And a Child Will Lead Them"

November 28, 2012

Milan Ovest Zone
Well this past week has been a little better. We had some good interviews with president. I think we just need to keep working hard. Still need some more investigators but another day in the life of the missionary no? So we had a cool story this week. Our investigator who was preparing for baptism, is very good friends with a family in the ward. This family has 3 children in it and a mom. They are very nice kids and know a lot about the gospel. One of them is 8 years old and is preparing for baptism. We teach our investigator at their house every time, but he was having a hard time and didn’t want to read the book of Mormon, and he just didn’t have a testimony so we didn’t think he was ready. And he told us that he didn’t want to read the book of Mormon and we told him that he couldn’t be baptized if he didn’t read. So basically we decided to cancel the baptism. But, then the next day in church he came up to us and said that he wanted to be baptized as soon as possible because this 8 year old asked him to do his baptism, and the only way that he would be able to do that is if he was first baptized himself and held the priesthood. So, long story short we will have his baptism on the 22 of December and then he will be baptizing this 8 year old in the near future! More or less around then. Merry Christmas no?! haha I’m so excited it was just great to hear that he now wants to read the book of Mormon and will do whatever it takes. I guess it’s true in the scriptures when it says “and a child will lead them.”
Other things going on. Hmm it’s just pounding rain! Man it just won’t stop. It’s raining more than Seattle and that’s saying a lot! It’s raining so hard I feel like Forest Gump in Vietnam when he says sometimes rain even seems to come straight up from underneath. Haha. It’s not stopping either. I’m rather cold! 

Random Accomplishment of the Week:
So you all know of the BIC crystal pens right? Well have you ever actually used an entire one? Usually they get lost before it’s even possible to use it all. Well you see I have had this pen since senior year in high school, took it to college, and brought it on the mission and I used an entire BIC pen until it wouldn’t write anymore! took 2 years. I’m super proud haha. I have a picture to prove it! Enjoy the random event. Also me feeding a squirrel. I know you’re jealous...

Guess what? I hit 250 km on my bike so far in 4 weeks. That’s averaging about 40 Miles per week, in the rain. I think I’m riding more that you are Dad! haha just kidding probably not. Well thanks for being so awesome Dad and make sure you keep the girls in line haha. I’ll talk to you next week.
Anyway, I heard Matt Tolson got his mission call to Germany! That is so awesome! I’m stoked for him! Also, Jerikah Reid got called to New Hampshire! I’m so excited to hear so many people going on missions!
Happy Birthday to Anni! Hope you are having fun! You’re getting very old now. 6 already?! That’s so crazy! Love you lots and make sure to clean your room and mind Mom and Dad. haha.

Love you all!
Anziano Benson

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Making Gravy

November 20, 2012
Well this week we had to change pday to Tuesday so I won’t hear from you guys till next week. Well other than that, not much has changed in the last week. Our bap date is rescheduled for sometime in December but we need to ok it with him still. He’s been working a lot and we couldn’t see him last week so now we have to push it back more. The work has just been hard here. We aren’t having a lot of success in finding people to teach. I’m not sure how much longer I can go doing all day finding and not having a single person listen to you. Its hard to believe that in the last 6 weeks that there is not just one single person searching for the truth. But I guess we just haven’t found who we are looking for yet. I’m searching for what the Lord wants us to do here but so far I haven’t been able to see the path ahead. Sometimes you just don’t understand the higher more perfect ways of God and you just have to go along with it rather than fight it. At the end of the day at least God loves us. To put it into perspective we worked all last week and had zero success with finding anyone, the part that gets to me is I could of sat at home and did nothing the entire week and had the same result. But I didn’t sit at home at all. We did 4 hours of street contacting and 3 hours of knocking doors. Every day for a week. I’m exhausted. Thankfully the weather has been rather nice so that makes it not too bad.
Well, other news is that our ward has asked us that we make gravy for Thanksgiving. That will be good fun. We are doing a ward party and it should be great! I sent a few pictures. We had a good time playing some futsol last week, and I had a chance to take one last picture with with Anziano Smith before he leaves for home. I'm glad I had the opportunity to say goodbye.

One Last Picture with My Awesome Trainer
Anziano Smith Before He Goes Home in December
 Tell grandma B that I actually read the stories you gave me of the journal entries of Dad, Grandpa and so forth, and that I would like some more stories about my ancestors. I read the story about Robert Harris and I loved it and I want more stories to read. Talk to you next week.

Anziano Benson

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Still in Busto

November 13, 2012

Still in Busto and I’m with Anziano Merrill. No changes for now, next transfer should be pretty interesting so we will see what happens. President Wolfgram always keeps you on your toes with surprises so it’s pretty fun. Yes Riley (Anziano Salmon) got here today but he won’t know who is training him or where he is going till tomorrow. Neither does his companion.. So I really really hope that Riley goes to Milano 1 because he will do companionship exchanges with me here in Busto! But chances are not likely ha-ha, but I’ll see him eventually. (Anziano Salmon is from our ward and according to his Mom, Riley is near Venice-Nowhere close to Anziano Benson)  
Well our investigator is going strong and we have a bap date for Nov 24. He is doing good and we are just working on helping him receive a testimony on these things. He believes them but hasn’t asked God if they are true. Super important that part is. Anyways we might push back the date but nevertheless we will baptize him for sure!
Today we had an awesome P-day. The Milano church has a futsal court outside and so we got together a ton of Anziani and played some futsal. Anziano Smith was there with his old comp, Anz Thompson from Idaho Falls, and a couple others from the surrounding area of Milano. It was super fun and I also said goodbye to Anziano Smith since I probably won’t see him until I get home. He is just such an awesome person to be around and a great companion. It was good to see him. He wants to come see you all when he comes to visit at BYUI, he will stop through to see you guys. Anyways work is going ok, not fantastic, but it’s going. So it’s all good. Well have a good week. Any snow sticking around there yet? 

Anziano Benson

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Un Sacco di Pazienza (A Ton of Patience)

November 7, 2012

Streets of Siena
So what’s a day in the life of an Italy Milan missionary during the election of the United States?? Picture this. My companion and I are teaching a lesson in the middle of the town square on a bench. Nice peaceful day, the sun is out. Many people walking by, ok... fine. So we are teaching a lesson, random Bangladesh man comes up to us (never seen him before) and asks us "Who’s going to win... At first I didn’t know what he was talking about, and then it hit me.  “Oh the elections.”  It happens at least a few times a day.  "Hey are you guys American?!!" "Yes" Who’s going to win?!" I respond "Bo" or Italian for who knows and then leave haha. I’m a missionary and we are not allowed to support, talk, or give opinions of any kind of government. So glad the election is over because now people will stop asking me questions I’m not allowed to answer!

Well update on the work. So far not much again. Man I think I’ve just been brought to my lowest. I can’t give anything more than I’ve already given. I’ve given exact obedience to the best of my ability, I stop anyone in sight who isn’t in a rush and will listen and we are asking for referrals. I’ve got nothing else to give. I’ve given my will and my might, and all I’ve got to say is that I’ve just been chastened, humbled and brought to the complete mercy, direction, will, and way of the Lord. Since I’ve accepted this and chosen to do; not what I want, but what the Lord wants, I honestly don’t have any idea what is happening, and maybe it doesn’t even look like it’s been better than my ideas and desires, but there is an eternal course here and I’m choosing to follow that one. Those who accept the call to serve don’t automatically accept the will of the Lord, it’s a choice you make when you get up every morning on time, that decision to go to the obscure dark alley where there is graffiti out the wa-zoo to find some homeless guy and give him a pass along card. It’s when you talk to the grumpy old guy who gets mad at you and then tells you that you are of the devil and we are liars and a few other things I can't repeat. Hmmm, do I honestly want to talk to that guy? heck no! But does the Lord want me to? you bet! So I do it anyway and I’m happy I do. That is submitting to the complete will of the Lord. I’ll be honest I don’t know what I’m doing, it doesn’t even look like I know what I’m doing or show any reward or success that what I’ve been doing is what a good missionary does, cioè, baptism. But who cares. I’m just following the one who knows everything and not asking questions, even though every second of my life in the mission field has been a struggle, a challenge, a doubt that what I’m doing or where I’m going is right where I need to be. The mission has brought me to my knees because I have nowhere else to turn, but in the end it all seems to work out. I would say Busto has been a big honkin storm and I’m just trying to somehow manage to make it through, but eveyone knows you need a GPS when you’re in the middle of the ocean trying to make it out of the storm, cioè by GPS I mean the hand of God. At least that’s what the brother of Jared did. He said hey I’m getting in this boat ready to go to the promise land. I bet he didn’t know that he was in for the ride of his life in that boat. Hey me either. I’m just doing what I’m told and I got in the boat because I wanted to get to the promise land and now that I’m here, I’m out in the streets slaying the enemy with the word of God and trying to not get kicked out of apartment complexes and find someone who wants eternal life. Man what an adventure. haha.

Anziano Benson and Anziano Merrill

Lake Como
Ok, well now in less dramatic story form the members in this ward are bravissimi! Our ward is jam packed with priesthood leadership. We have a former mission president, about 15 RMs a member of the stake presidency, and before they changed the ward boundaries there was a former member of the 70. So pretty much our ward dominates at being awesome. We just still are trying to get the work rolling. It’s getting better, but we are still in need of new investigators. There are a lot of part-member families that we can visit but they have a lot of things to work though and many of them don’t want to baptize. But we are praying for the opportunity to find some work to do other than banging of doors all day in the rain. I have learned as they say in Italian (Un saco di patzienza) or a ton of patience here in Busto, and I’m not really sure if I’ve done what I was called here to do but I’m trying to figure it out. I see people baptizing here and there and everywhere around me but I think so far I’ve been the one just finding and teaching and preparing all these people to be baptized rather than doing the baptizing. But we will see. We have a date of baptism for Nov. 21 and this guy is bravo. He said he is ready and nothing will stop him from getting baptized, but everyone has to take their stand against the wall of faith and actually put words into works of faith. Faith without works is dead no? Let’s just say we as missionaries are a little picky about who we let get in the font because there have been many people baptized and never seen again in church and if that’s what will happen we don’t baptize them. We look for those who are ready to give their all for the true church of Christ and endure to the end with real intent having faith in Christ.  
My new companion Anziano Merrill
Anyways that’s all for now. President Manwaring is just so amazing, you’re really lucky Dad that you have the opportunity to meet with him so often and learn from him. I wish I had his wisdom haha.
Ciao! Love Anziano Benson. 

P.S. we are trying to talk the Sicilian sisters in the ward to do a ward Thanksgiving, haha we will see what happens!
American Cemetary in Florence

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!
Pumpkins at Home in Idaho
Well yes, they do have Halloween here but it’s not quite like in the states. They like to have fun and go to the bar haha, so there is no trick or treating. But they do dress up in costumes at schools and the families do games together. We don’t have anything planned, but I think I’m just going to relax, after I go buy some candy haha. Thanks for sending the pictures of your pumpkins. I do have to say every year we get better at carving pumpkins. I remember when we did the first Adidas pumpkin and now its kind of a tradition. I think my favorite is the Italy one haha. You all did very well and they look great! I got the  letter with the fake mustaches. Thank you so much! It made my day haha. I was so happy when I got them! Especially in Italy. They don’t have little joke stores or cheap stuff made in China. It’s all super fancy and expensive. And of course I’m dirt cheap so I never buy anything here unless it’s on super sale haha.  I wish I could be there for Halloween with all the girls, but you’ll just have to take pictures and send them next week.  I would send some pictures home but apparently at Muhamed's computer cafe you get viruses on your camera or SD card so I think I will just go print a few off and send some in an envelope.

I don’t have a lot to say about the work right now. We are trying to visit some less actives now that we have bikes so that we can see if we can get some part member families baptized and reactivated. I had a cool miracle this week. And we are planning on baptism, but we will see. We have only taught him one time. I wrote more details in a letter I sent you.  The members are really good and they are super nice. It’s hard because after 7:00 the streets are absolutely dead. As for the bike problem we finally found one. The mission only buys used bikes so any bike stores don’t have any good mission bikes just some fancy road bikes for €1000. We finally found a bike though after going to some old grandpas fix it up bike shop where they don’t even sell bikes just fix them. Quite the ridiculous hunt but it’s nice to finally have some transportation since we are working in 3 cities it’s just impossible to get around without bikes. For now the bikes work but they all are junk so we will be doing some fixing up soon.
Anyway, the weather here is getting very cold and I know I’m from Idaho but after being in the heat every day I got used to it and now its super weird to be cold. I wish there was heat again because it’s freezing! Especially on bikes! It’s the super humid weather so even a little bit of cold makes it seem twice as cold. The mountains got plastered with snow with all the rain we got in the valley. I am going to have to buy some new bike riding gloves for winter and a beanie.  But anyways I’m doing good. Work has been tough but whatever that’s life.
Well I’m super happy to hear Ellis got a job! Congrats to her! Now she can make cinnamon rolls for us haha. I’m sorry Ellis but I don’t think the bakery is harder than working with Jerrod all day in the truck, or mowing lawns and weed whacking for 8 hours. But you do have to pay for gas and college so don’t quit haha. Hope you’re taking good care of the old Honda.
Time is going fast. November hits 6 months and I’m already 1/4 of the way there. In May, it will be a year. Crazy how fast time goes. Ok so I did find out that if you send padded envelopes I won’t get charged for it; hopefully. Just make sure that you don’t send anything valuable because they will find a way to charge someone along the way. Maybe you could throw some of that Halloween candy in one for me, I don’t know haha. I cooked some skillet the other day it was not too bad some good sausage potatoes and veggies to go with. Reminded me of home.

I got a nice letter from Grandma B and I enjoyed it. Can I get the address for Grandpa Dance I can’t seem to find it? Thanks for everything I love all you Guys and have fun trick or treating! Tell the girls to eat some candy for me. Happy Halloween!

Love Anziano Benson

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bikes in Busto!

October 24, 2012
Busto, Legnano, and Gallarate are some great little towns! I love them! They are very clean, quaint,  places. There isn’t much hustle and bustle to go here or there. It’s really nice. They are similar to Idaho Falls, but they just need a temple! haha. I work in 3 separate cities and we use unlimited train passes to get to and from Gallarate, Busto, and Legnano. Work is a little slow because my comp has been sick, and we are starting with only a few investigators who we don’t know and they live forever away from the city so we have no way to see them.  We have no information about the area so we are basically working completely blind. We have some people we can work with but they live quite a ways away and we don’t have bikes and it’s just not working. This city apparently is a baptizing machine so I really want to stay here for a while and get some work going. We are trying to find some bikes to do some work since this is a bike or die city.  Bikes are a necessity since the church is an eternity away.  We have to bike/train/bike to get to the church.  I found out why everyone here steals bikes, and it’s because you can’t buy them here. There are absolutely no stores that sell them. Tough luck. Think we are going all the way to Milano to buy a bike so we can start some work. People in Italy don’t have cars. They use trains and bike so it’s a little difficult when you don’t have working bikes.
The ward is super awesome and it feels just like home... well kind of, not really, but the members are some of the best people you will ever meet haha. It’s really cool to have a bishop again, and it’s different to not be in the branch presidency that’s for sure.  Thankfully the people in the ward are super bravi and will help with anything we need. The Vescovo (bishop) helps us with everything so it’s super awesome! The cities are very different than Siena and the accent here is way way different than Toscana so I don’t understand them here haha. There are no mountains here so I never can reference the landscape haha. I’m so lost; luckily the towns are really small. I’m getting used to the subway in Milano as well. Milano is our district so we go there every week now.  This week we spent 2 days at Lake Como! That is where my zone leaders live, so we did comp exchange up there. A really beautiful place and we are going to Switzerland in a few weeks for p-day! It was really cool and I’m glad I got to go!

Well I’m really glad to hear about all the girls putting papers in and I can tell you that we need more missionaries! There are never enough. They have about 14 in Milan I think but there could be about 30 or more. Well that’s about it for now and I’ll chat later! Love you all.

Anziano Benson

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Busto Arsizio

October 17, 2012 

Transferred! Yes, I’m in a new city and after some long exhausting apartment cleaning and lugging around 3 suitcases all over Milano and the subways and walking and then unpacking, I arrived in Busto Arsizio! This is just a little quaint town suburb of Milano and is about 25 min north on train. We have a ward of about 80 so it’s quite the jump in size from Siena. My comp is Anziano Merrill from Chandler AZ. He’s a really nice kid and seems just like a great guy! I’m pretty exhausted. Well, I literally know nothing about this city and neither does my companion, he’s been here a week and a half and we do have bikes! But already after 2 minutes on the bikes they broke so I’m just beginning my battle with fixing the bikes every day. It’s quite chilly up here compared to Siena and I might have to start bundling up! Snow will come soon.

We had some really sad goodbyes in Siena with some of the members since we left kind of by surprise, leaving them wondering who the Branch President will be, but it’s all taken care of with the senior couple. I look back and tried to figure out why I was in Siena because we didn’t have many investigators but I feel that it was honestly to strengthen the members already there. It was really awesome to serve with President (Anziano) Smith.  What an amazing missionary. It’s a lot different being in a branch presidency than being just a missionary but I loved every second of it! Sad that my time there is up, but it’s time to work in Busto!

I’m really close to Milano, and the Assistants to the President are in our district so it will be a lot of fun! Tomorrow is Zone Conference so we might get to see Anziano Sexton and some of the old friends from the MTC. My zone covers part of Switzerland so we are actually allowed to go there for p-day so we will see what fun things we can come up with. Quite the adventure since I have no idea where we are and neither does my comp! Oh well fun fun fun. Not a fan of bikes already haha, but they are handy to get around. The grocery stores usually consist of pizza, olives, pasta and cheese and that’s about it, but luckily there are a lot of foreigners in Milano so the area has some good variety. Mexican food is nonexistent but I’m sure I can brew up some salsa using some other spicy peppers they use here. I got a waffle iron so I will put it to use! I literally just got here so I don’t know anything else haha so I will talk to you all later.
Sorry to hear about state Ellis. Don’t worry I lost too. Work on getting into college! Thanks for the pictures!

My New Address
Via Madonnina del Grappa 5
20025 Legnano (MI)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moving Forward

October 10, 2012
Well sorry, but we are at a ridiculous internet café and this computer is terrible and the keyboard buttons are all messed up so it will be a bit short today.
Well no news yet except that I will be in a new city next Wednesday.

Conference was great.  I am honestly glad they changed the age rule to go on a mission. It would have been so much nicer to leave earlier, and I think the high schoolers will take the mission more serious. It will be great to have more sister missionaries as well.  

All I can say it that I’m glad that Dad taught me how to work; although I didn’t always follow his example, haha, it is very important. I’m doing my best and holding up to what President Manwaring asked in being exactly obedient. It’s hard and I’m not perfect but I’ve tried my best.  Even though I worked my hardest every day of the mission, I still leave Siena with the same amount of members they had when I got here. I am happy with the work we accomplished here and I have no regrets.  I have met some wonderful people here and I am amazed at the faith of the members in this branch.  We are still working with several people that are progressing, and hopefully the people we taught will remember us and how they felt when we testified of Christ.  I will always remember them, and know that one person in all of this was definately changed, and that was me. 
So has Ellis applied for college? Who took her to the dance? And tell her good luck at State Soccer! Also, we now have a waffle iron so will you please send me a recipe Mom and also Dad's fresh salsa recipe?
Well I’m sick of typing on this piece of junk so I’m really sorry but I can’t take it anymore

Anziano Benson
PS: tell Grandma B that I enjoyed her email haha, but I can’t email back since there are some new email restrictions. Trying to be obedient! I can receive emails from grandparents, but I can only respond to immediate family as in parents and siblings. Love you all.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Looking Forward to Conference

October 3, 2012

So transfers. Nothing. Same. So happy to still be with Anziano Smith.  We are really looking forward to Conference. We will watch as many sessions as we can at the chapel.  They have a projector and everything and they just record the sessions and then we watch them late that night. 
Holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Honestly not a lot going on here, the weather is beautiful, but there are no orange leaves here, they are all still green! I kind of miss the fall colors but hey at least it’s not snowing...yet. Apparently the winters up north are really bad. Even in Torino and Milano it can get nasty so I might catch some of that sometime in the future. Not looking forward to the snow haha. Fun to ski in but not to walk around in a suit. Food is getting old. All we eat is pizza and pasta. It can get really tiresome especially since Anizano Smith and I are the chefs. Kind of lame, but whatever.
We did a cool little trip this week to Pisa and saw the leaning tower! We had some McDonalds and ate it in front of the tower and I’ll get you some pictures. We also had district conference (stake conference) this week in Firenze and we had an area 70 come, Elder Clifford Herbertson, and it was really good. The translator passed out during the conference causing quite a stir but it was all good.

Work is still progressing here and we are teaching people from all walks of life.  Well, I will talk you you all soon!

Anziano Benson

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Working Hard in Siena

September 26, 2012

Well looks like everything is going well back home. Exciting to hear about Cache. Tell him good luck and he’s in for quite the adventure. I’ve talked to some Australian people and didn’t understand a word they said and they were speaking English...  Anziano Smith and I laughed really hard because it was just ridiculous the words they use. I’m sure New Zealand uses quite the diverse vocab as well. Sounds exciting that Pee Wee is going to Europe. If she toughens up she might get to play a lot. She better gain some weight though to play against Helga the Swedish monster haha. Yeah I did hear about the Siena game! Huge deal for them! Hope they keep on winning because otherwise they will get relegated. Forza Siena alla Vittoria! Hard when you start in negative points though. We will see what happens.

As far as the piano goes we actually have a sister in the ward that plays every week. She is not amazing but she loves doing it and she is learning new songs every week and she plays them very well for sacrament. I play when she is not there. Anziano Smith is quite the pianist as well. He played for a jazz group before the mission so he is really good. So we usually just do whatever. To be honest President hasn’t said a word about the car. But I’m almost sure we will lose the car in about 4 weeks. No news yet though... I’ve been seeing a lot of road bikers coming and going through Siena. You really need to ride here haha. Tell the girls good luck with soccer, and yes, send my absentee ballot to Siena, I would love to vote.  
Home of World Gelato Champions!
In San Gaminiano
  Well I’m not sure what to say this week to be honest. I finished the book of Mormon again haha. And I’ve also been reading it in Italian every day, but its taking a lot longer than in English.  I did make it through the words if Isaiah in Italian... barley haha. But now I’m through that, it’s pretty easy to read. I already blew 2 holes in my slacks so I might need a new pair. I’m not sure what to do because I’m only a few weeks away from having to wear a suit every day. Not super excited about that though because it’s still pretty hot for a suit. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing. There are people still to be taught!!

Anziano Smith and I have been working so hard these last 11 weeks and we have this last week to finish strong then we find out if he is leaving or not. We have just been searching for that 1 who will be baptized and unfortunately that one person we haven’t been able to find, teach, and progress them through making commitments to read the book of Mormon every day, come to church every week, and pray every day. That’s the key. If they don’t do those things they don’t get baptized. Hmmm if that’s what you need to get baptized then shouldn’t we as members be doing the same things consistently??? Sure hope you all are because if you were an investigator you wouldn’t get baptized. Not only that but as members who have entered the baptismal covenant we promised at baptism that we would come to church for the rest of our lives till the day we die. If we are not doing that we can’t repent because we are not renewing our baptismal covenant every week by partaking of the sacrament. Sacramental renewal= forgiveness for sins=blessings and happiness. I’ve learned to be a lot more blunt on the mission too haha so I apologize in advance mom if I say it the way it is when I get home. It’s just that If you don’t say it the way it is to people they can’t change and repent because they didn’t know what the truth is if you didn’t directly state it.

As I’ve finished the Book of Mormon yet another time, I’ve learned that the entire story of the book of Mormon is a choice. There is a choice to follow Christ and keep the commandments or not. It’s YES or NO. There is no between. We either keep the commandments or don’t. As a result, there is either blessings or we become subjective to the captivity of the will of Satan. There is not one SINGLE example ever in the entire history of this earth where the people chose to follow God and were not blessed. It makes me think that it is just ridiculous to not choose to follow Christ. It will only lead to unhappiness and sorrow when we deny this truth. You make your choice. For every choice there is a consequence. Good or bad. Whose on the Lords side who? Now is the time to show, for thus the Savior soon come. Those who are righteous will be numbered among his disciples, those who are not; he shall proclaim I know thee not. Such sorrow I feel for those who denied the truth, for in that day they shall truly have sorrow. Don’t let that be YOU.

Anzianio Benson

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tante Belle Cose (Many Beautiful Things)

September 19, 2012
Well before I forget to answer your question, most people think we are Americans but that’s just because Anziano Smith and I are the 2 Mormon missionaries walking around in Siena with super white skin and white shirts and ties haha. But many think we are from Italy because we sound like natives when we speak. Pretty cool!

Well this week was full of random events! We went out and found an unknown less active and it was awesome to talk to her and help her out, especially since she is pretty lonely out living alone in a really small town. Also we did companion exchanges and I got to go to Prato (just outside of Firenze) for a day which is the China town of Italy and is way awesome! haha I loved it, it was crazy! But now I’m back in Siena. We got bible bashed a few times..normal and also talked to some crazy people... it happens, and had a lot of fun as well.

We have had some good times here in Siena and every day I learn more and more about the gospel, in what way I can improve, and also how to work in unity with my purpose as a missionary and the will of Del Signore Gesù Cristo.
Transferimenti are coming up soon and I will let you know what happens. Anziano Smith and I are just working as hard as we can for 2 more weeks and waiting to see what will happen. He’s been an awesome companion and I have learned a lot from him. I know I was placed with him because I needed him to help me out. He’s a great example and has the most positive loving attitude about this work. I could not have had a better trainer. I think we will find out soon if we are keeping the car but nothing yet from president. What a blessing it was to have a car though. I got to see many more things that most missionaries never ever get to see, not only that but also tante belle cose that the tourist never see either. We got to see the pure raw untouched countryside’s of Toscana of endless grapes and wheat all because we had the opportunity to visit these members who sacrifice a lot to come to church every week. I converted the gas prices and the gas here is about $6.50 a gallon. It costs like 80 euro to fill up with 10 gallons its crazy! Makes it really hard on the members to drive an hour to church and back but they do it anyway regardless because they know they get blessings for it.  
P.S. Sorry mom but mission rules we don’t eat dinner. No one eats dinner because lunch is 2 hours Long. If you didn’t know every store, restaurant, shop closes at like 11:30 for lunch and they all reopen at like 3:30. All the Italians stuff down a massive lunch and then take a nap haha. It’s a ghost town at lunch time, so president modified the schedule where all missionaries don’t eat dinner. Surprising I know but that’s what it is. At least it keeps me from getting fat. I’m really jealous about you all eating fresh salsa haha. To be honest the Tomatoes are good here but the home grown garden tomatoes can’t be beat. Plus I’m not dining every week at the 30 Euro restaurant down the street or at the local markets. We just go to the grocery store because everything here costs A TON. So we just go the local Cheap-Co and eat the normal produce. Food here is amazing....if your here on vacation and eat out every day, which is not us.

Oh also I found a suit! Anziano Smith found one in the closet and it happens to be my exact size! Super nice and its bullet proof! Brand new, never worn so that was super exciting that I won’t have to buy any suites if I wear one out. Well that’s the randomness of this week haha. Love you all!

Talk to you soon.
Anziano Benson

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

La Mia Testamonianza Italiano

September 12, 2012 

 Hello la mia Bella Piccola Sorellas! Come Stai? Grazie for the pictures. To answer some of your questions: we usually eat granola for breakfast, or nutella on bread sometimes.  Although I am in Italy and the food is good, I still have to cook and I’m not a good cook so I am missing Mom’s food. We eat pasta everyday and it gets a little old but better than actually cooking something time consuming. Unfortunately there is zero Mexican food here. Beans don’t even exist which is really annoying. I would kill for some Mexican food right now. We don’t eat dinner here in Italy. The mission as a whole works through dinner so we just eat a really big lunch and then go and work till 9:30 at night. At times I get super hungry but at least all the pizza and pasta isn’t making me gain a ton of weight.  I’ve actually lost weight since the MTC. 
Anziano Benson In Siena
Ok some random details. You will like this. haha. Ok we have a palm tree in our back yard and its awesome because I’ve never seen one before and there are about 10 lizards living in the back yard and I love to see them in the afternoon. Ah man Grandma and Grandpa are really close to Italy.  It sounds like they will have a good time in Germany and Switzerland.
It finally has cooled off here! It’s been pouring rain and I’m loving it! I don’t like the heat! I’m from Idaho! I am loving Siena. Time is starting to go fast.  I’ve been out for four months already. Crazy! I’ve got 3 weeks left untill transfers which will be done the same week as conference. They usually call 3 days before the transfers and then you’re gone. I’m hoping I can stay another transfer with Anziano Smith.  He is a good missionary and we get along well.
Siena Duomo
The work has picked back up again and we are having some very good success! There are Atheists who love to tell us God doesn’t exist and others say that what we are trying to accomplish is impossible, but I am here to tell you none of those things are true. The work in Italy is just great. Nothing can stop the work from progressing and I know that is true. There are many other religions here too. We all have our agency but at the end of the day we have taught them in their streets, taught them in their cities, and in their homes and I say unto you “are the fruits of our labors few? I say nay they are not!” (Alma 26:29-31) Yes it’s hard but our labors are not few.
Well there are lots of change ups in the investigators but we haven’t found that one who has committed to progress all the way to baptism. We have lots of hope and it really is possible. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many people you baptize because it’s not my baptism anyway, it’s the Lords. He gave us the opportunity to find these people and change their lives. When he leads us to the right person at the right time they will be ready for baptism. For now we must continue to teach and invite people to make commitments.

Inside Siena Duomo

This church is true.  This Church is so True!  If you ever doubt, question, have objection or think this is not the one and only church; only way to salvation, then all you need to do is ask if the Book of Mormon is true.  For if it is true, then Joseph Smith was a true prophet and also in these days we have a living prophet who still leads and guides us.  Everything we now know has come from prophets so if you are not sure about your testimony, I would “exhort you like Moroni to ask God the Father if these things are not true(Moroni 10:3-5) This is your salvation, your agency and your time here on the earth so choose what you may and do what you may, but one day we will all be held accountable with what time God has given us.  For now is not the time for spiritual weaklings! We are as the Army of Helaman.

La Mia Testamonianza in Italiano
Io so che Gesù Cristo vive ancora, e che lui è il Figlio di Dio. Lo scopo di Cristo era che lui sofera  i nostri peccati cosa possiamo entrare nel regnio di Dio. C’ era un'apostasia renda necessario di avere un restorazione, tipo in questi giorni, abbiamo un profeta,  il solo vero profeta che guida la sola vera chiesa. La prova di questo è nel Libro di Mormon.  Lo e’ la prova di queste cose. Se facciamo uha pregnira possiamo sapere queste cose per certo.  In queste cose ho ricevuto una  testimonianza in , nel nome di Gesù Cristo,  il hostro salvatore, e redentora. Amen.

I know Jesus Christ lives and that he really is the Son of God.  His purpose was to suffer for our sins so we can enter the kingdom of God. There was an apostasy making it necessary to have a restoration.  In these days, we have a prophet, and one true prophet to guide the one true church.  The proof of all this is in the Book of Mormon.  Through a testimony of the Book of Mormon we can know these things for certain.  Through these things I have received my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Great to see all the pictures! You all are such a great family and it makes me happy to know that at the end of the day my family is preparing for eternal life. Well love you guys and hope everything is going good. For now here are some pics. Of the Siena Duomo! Just amazing isn’t it?
Anziano Benson