Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week of Miracles

August 29, 2012

Week of Miracles!

We had a blitz which means we had 2 Anziani come work with us in Siena so double the work. I’m short on time so this will be brief. But in the end after losing a baptismal date we gained 2 so now we are preparing 2 investigators for baptism. We also gained 5 new investigators and this doubled our appointments! Crazy and we are having huge success after the blitz!
Today I am on my way to Milano and we stopped in La Spetzia, Cinque Terre, and Genova! We are on our way to Milano where we have a conference.  While there, we are meeting Anziano Sexton my comp from the MTC and his companion Anziano Scheurn who just happened to be Anziano Smiths comp in the MTC.  Hopefully we will get a chance to play some calcio later. I have just seen the most beautiful part in all of Italy. The Sea and Cinque Terre! 300 foot cliffs with towns built right into the rocks! Incredible! Words can’t describe! We did a 2 hour difficult hike right along the cliffs and it was so amazing! Well we are off to buy some focaccia bread in Genova! Love you all and here is a ton of photos from to Palio and today.

Love Anziano Benson

PS good luck with school sisters love you all


 "Words Cannot Describe"
Anziano Smith, Anziano Benson and Matteo

Oca Contrada Flag before the Palio




With the Winning Contrada Flag after the Palio
Our Sweet New Siena Calcio Jerseys
Our Favorite Pizzeria in Siena "Can you Believe this View?"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Win Some Lose Some

August 22, 2012

Palio was awesome!  I’m going to skimp on the details a bit and leave it at that but there are not too many words to describe it haha. I hope you got to see it on the internet! It was a lot of fun but also a little too crazy for my taste. Waiting 4 hours in the hot sun next to a bunch of smokers and shirtless half naked people really isn’t that fun to see 90 seconds of horse race that I couldn’t even see because there were too many people in the way with their ipads and cameras in my face. Almost got trampled by the winning Contrada and lots of other stuff haha, but all in all it made for an amazing pday, and well I’m not on vacation so it’s back to work. Starting to see Dads point of view haha. There’s work, there is play, but there’s always just more work to do and that’s the way life is.

Hot, Hot Hot! We drink more than 4 liters of water in a day easily and the water here is not very good. It’s drinkable but it has high calcium content causing kidney stones in long term so we have to pack bottles of water home on pday... fun! Not haha. But everything is all good and we are finding joy in the work. I’m finally adjusting to life here and the language is always in progress, however I would like to say I have achieved what could be called fluent. I can speak, understand and write most of what I want. Granted I still have tons to learn, and I still don’t know a lot of words, but I have achieved what I didn’t think was possible and the language is no longer a struggle. Now it’s just a matter of finding new ways to say things and learning infinite nouns haha. And yes my spelling is getting worse and worse in English! That’s a good thing though!

Update on the work
Well you win some and you lose some. We’ve lost and gained investigators. We lost an elect last week and we gained one. Our first lesson with our new investigator is today and we now have a baptismal date with a newer investigator-although we are not sure if the baptism will happen. There are a number of ridiculous problems I can’t begin to explain, but we are praying hard and placing it in the Lords hands because it’s past our abilities to help here remain here and we are doing our best. She is elect though and we are continuing to prepare her for baptism! Other than trying to teach a few Catholic Priests about the book of Mormon, we didn’t know they were priest’s haha, and almost getting mugged this week all is good! Wish we could get some rain. Signore Elnebawe moved to Egypt so no more free pizza haha, he was the owner of a pizzeria. I’ll get a picture of him for you all. He’s CRAZY! Haha-Love that guy.

Well I love hearing from all of you and at times I can’t say everything I want, I do read everything and care about everything you guys do. Thank you for the Pictures! Anni already looks older! Good luck on soccer Ellis, and Dad have fun on your century ride in Utah with Uncle Buddy.

Also I might get a Siena calcio jersey because they are half off so watch the bank for me if I buy one ok? They are £40 so not too bad for a long sleeve official jersey. And they are sponsored but Monte dei Paschi di Siena, first and oldest bank in the world as they invented banking in1472 crazy huh?!

 Love you all!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Il Palio!!!


Ok, so sorry to say, but we don’t have time to email after the Palio so you will not get any pictures until next week. We don’t live in the contradas unfortunately, the neighborhoods are only divided within the city walls and we live about 5 min outside the city so we don’t belong to a contrada. However, you can be baptized into a contrada for £80 haha but I think I will pass. One of the members in the ward lives in the L'oca Contrada so she has converted us into rooting for them haha. The L'oca Contrada is the most winning neighborhood with 64 wins I think. The Palio happens 2 times a year and it has been going on since the 1600’s.  The contradas are actually like the LDS church. They have young men’s, relief society, and many people take care of the elderly by visiting them each day. The neighbors eat and party together for weeks on end before the Palio and after. Whoever wins eats dinner together however many times they have won. L'oca ate 64 days in a row after they won the last Palio. The sad thing is that L'oca got in a street fight with the rival neighborhood so they got disqualified this year. Oh well. Anyways there are a ton of people here to see it and we are very excited! They live eat and breathe the Palio and it is life and death for them!  Some of them have a blood donation center for each contrada and they do tons of other stuff. I will be sure to let you know how it is! If you want to see Siena go to Google maps and use the street view to give a real life 3D picture of the streets here. Type in my address to see my apartment and we have a palm tree in the back yard haha and a fire pit.

Well it sounds like back to the old grind for all the sisters! I had a good laugh about dad backing into a guy at work; at least it wasn’t mom or Ellis haha. Well I miss you guys and hope you are doing well. I hope Uncle Richard is doing great and tell him Rooster J is out here workin hard! I’ve actually talked to a few Catholic Priests haha-on accident. It was rather awkward and we asked them about the Book of Mormon and then they just said no thanks and left.

Other random news... I get to meet in a personal meeting with Russell M. Nelson. No big deal right? Haha. It’s for the Bishop and Stake President regional training. Like when Elder Anderson came to our stake last year.  Since we are in the Branch Presidency we get to go! We go to Milano again so I’m super excited! And it gets even better. Since we have a car and pday is the day before, we can go to Genova and Chinque Terre on the way to Milano! Score! We are the luckiest missionaries in all of Italy I swear. We also have p-days planned for San Gaminiano, Torrita di Siena, and Firenze again. We visited Castiglione della Pescaia for member visits and we also will see Rocastrada. Look up some of these places on Google images and the satellite maps in the internet and you will see why I’m blabbing about them. I’ve already seen more of Italy than most missionaries see in their entire mission!

Not much to update on the work here. We are losing a few investigators since they are moving to other cities, which is sad but we hope they will talk to the missionaries in the other cities. Anziano Smith gave me a haircut today! I was very nervous but he did a good job! Mom’s was a little better but hey for a free hair cut I give him 10 out of 10, and its companion trust building! I got a letter from Taylor, nd he is doing good- also from Britton and he said he’s training now so I’m happy for him!
Love you guys and I’ll talk to you soon.
Anziano Benson

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Mama Mia, Its Hot Here!"

August 8, 2012

So yes, it is true, they do say “Mamma Mia” here haha. It’s funny, but it does sound bad when the Americans try to copy it. Me being one of those people....

Anyway, the work here has just gotten harder.  President just informed Anziano Smith and me that the car will be taken to another area of the mission where there is a greater need for it in October. Our time in Siena is very critical at the moment-very fragile because come soon we will no longer have easy access to visit all the members, and less actives who all live an hour or more outside of Siena. I’m not certain what the future of the work is here, but now more than ever our focus is to make Siena a strong point and grow it outwards to the people outside of the city. We have changed the focus to working here in the city and making a big impact to increase the awareness of the church here. Many people have never heard of the LDS church but many people are open to change and they agree that there was an apostasy. It’s a matter of helping them have a desire to change. Change is repentance, invitations to be baptized, and reading the book of Mormon. Praying, and going to church are indications of change and repentance.

The work in Siena is coming along great and we are on the search for the elect. Sometimes you have to search where you never thought before. Like the other day we did escalator finding! Haha it was great, but it’s awkward when the person next to you gives you a bidone (rejection) and you’re on the same step as them. Usually you just take 2 steps down so you’re not right next to them haha. But we have found a new elect! Lucratzia is her name and she has soooo many questions. We are doing our best to answer them but it can be difficult. We have taught her the first lesson and have a return appointment. She committed to reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. Our spiritual weapon of choice!

But anyway, this week I was touched by your own story mom. I know how you feel. I feel that on a daily basis, but I promise you all hope is not lost. However I invite you to read preach my gospel chapter 11 if you want to learn how to be a better member missionary, which is what I wanted to focus on. Member missionaries are SO important. I can’t tell you how much I would kill just to have a few referrals but the members will not help you out. President Hinckley said the members could change the church faster than a million missionaries could. It’s so true. The key to the hearts of the people is through members.

For all of you who are members get a hold of a Preach My Gospel and read chapters 3, 10, 11! We need your help to assist others in coming to a knowledge of what we have! Such joy and happiness we have because of the restored gospel. I know that this is the restored church of Jesus Christ and that it contains the only way to eternal salvation. I know that the proper keys and authority were given to the prophet Joseph Smith and that President Monson now holds those keys in these days. We have an obligation and responsibility and that is to be member missionaries and invite others to come unto Christ and receive the restored gospel.

I am short on time but I love you family.  I did get your letters today! I was so happy and I will write back! Dad sorry for overspending but it was all for the mission not food! haha.

Anziano Benson

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Towers Built in 1300's and Lamborghini Tractors

Our View of Siena from Tower
August 1, 2012
Salve di nuovo!
Last week was finally a normal week and we stayed in Siena the whole time so we managed to get some more work done. It has been ridiculously hot here. At times I wish I had the Idaho wind, not only is it strong but it is not humid!!
The work has been tough. We have success talking to many people, but we can’t seem to get anyone to stay in Siena long enough to teach them. We meet a lot of tourists and if we do meet someone they are leaving Italy for all of August. August in Italy is like national travel month I swear ha-ha. Everyone and their dog are going on vacation for the month. This is pretty much the update on the work for now.
We have 2 new investigators so we are now teaching three people! Kellan our Chinese friend who we are still having a hard time with because we don’t know Chinese, Singore El Nebawe an awesome guy from Egypt who owns a pizzeria in Siena, and Aldrin a French and Italian and English speaking African from Gabon Africa. We have quite the diverse group here ha-ha. I love it though we meet many people and I’ve met probably half the world here literally.

We are looking for someone who can speak Chinese and Italian to help us translate and we found a ton of people who can translate, but no one has time to do it. Most of them are students at the university and this week is finals week or studying for all the students so it has been difficult to help that situation, but the Lord is aware of our obstacles and there will be a way to overcome them.

Lamborghini Tractor
 "Grandpa Dance is this Awesome or What?"
In the last week we had a chance to do member visits! Most of the members live outside of Siena by at least an hour sooooo that’s why we have a car! I absolutely loved driving through Toscana. Literally the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Olive trees as far as the eye can see, rolling green hills, and it’s all perfect. One of the members owns an olive farm!! So when we visited her mansion out in the middle of nowhere it was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. I sure hope she hooks us up with olives I haven’t had any yet ha-ha. In addition she has, yes a real, Lamborghini tractor!!! Straight up saw it with my own eyes! I have a picture to prove it! Anziano Smith laughed when we saw it because it was the coolest thing ever. 
Torre del Mangia Tower in Siena
Today in Siena we had the opportunity to finally tour around our own city. We got to go into the tower in IL Campo where they have the Palio Horse Race. Not only that but because one of the BYU study abroad students works for the museum we got in for free and skipped the 2 hour line to get into the tower called Torre del Mangia. It was built in 1348.  When it was built it was one of the tallest towers in medieval Italy. I’m not sure how tall it is but it was the most amazing thing ever. Also we got to go inside the building that was built in 900 AD and see all the artwork and medieval rooms and all sorts of cool stuff once again for free ha-ha. I feel like the luckiest person in the world, I’ve probably said that twice but I’m saying it again. Not only am I in Italy, but I’m a missionary in Italy declaring the restored gospel! How lucky we are to have this knowledge! The happiness even of just knowing the purpose of this life. I’ve gone and entire day and found that not a single person knows why they are here on this earth. Wow my friends, there is some serious work to do on the earth. The work isn’t done until the gospel has reached every nation and sounded in every ear! Impossible things become possible here every day. The truth is that no one knows what they are doing here as far as the missionary work goes, that’s a good thing! The Lord knows how to direct his work here, preach my gospel teaches us how listen to the spirit and be a good teacher, but it doesn’t tell you everything and it isn’t the key to every answer. The answer to everything is through the spirit and prayer. It’s the small things everyday like that prompting to go here, or knock on that door, or talk to that person, and we share a message with person that lets me know time and time again that I am nothing without the Lord. He knows everything and knows who is ready to hear the message of the restored gospel. I literally would be lost without him. Like lost in more ways than one, really, it took me a week to learn where I live here in Siena! Every house looks the same ha-ha.

Thanks for everything family and I love hearing about my little sisters! I miss you all and look forward to your letters. 
Ciao e ci vediamo
Anziano Benson 
View of City of Siena from Tower

Ecco! Anziano Benson sonno arrivato in Siena! Il vangelo di Gesù Cristo sarà proclamato!
(Behold! Anziano Benson has arrived in Siena the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be Proclaimed!)