Elder Benson - South Africa Jo-Berg Mission

Elder Benson - South Africa Jo-Berg Mission

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lord, Forgive me when I whine.

This is a letter is dedicated to a close friend of mine, who was a pioneer for the Church in South Africa and third grandmother to me: Bobbi Swanepoel.  She has recently passed on from this life and I wish to commemorate her passing by sharing one of her poems.

She was a truly gifted woman.  Her skill in watercolor painting are unsurpassed, her talent as a poet is top-notch, but her testimony of her life is one of legacy, sacrifice, and endurance.  She went through thick and thin, and yet her final words to the world include this amazing poem.  I hope we will all cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and see clearly with the amazing things we have been blessed with.

Lord Forgive Me When I Whine

Today upon the bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair. . . she seemed so gay . . . and I wish I was so fair. When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle. She had one leg and wore a crutch. But as she passed  smile.

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine – I have two legs. The world is mine!!

I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm. I talked with him. He seemed so glad – if I were late it would do no harm. And as I left he said, “I thank you. You have been so kind. It’s nice to talk to folks like you. You see,” he said. “I am blind.”

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine – I have two eyes. The world is mine.

Later while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes so blue. He stood and watched the others play. He did not know what to do. I stopped a moment then I said, Why don’t you join the others dear?” He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he couldn’t hear.

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine – I have two ears. The world is mine.

With feet to take me where I go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow, with ears to hear what I would know . . .

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine. I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!!

Sorry for such a short email this week.  Load shedding and power outages are quite common this side.  More to come next week!

Sale kahle!

-Elder B

Monday, June 13, 2016

I'm in Utah

For those of you who believe Africa to be a blistering hot savannah, where children ride elephants to school and men fight off lions for their evening meal, think again.

Africa is more developed than the world believes it to be, and the stereotypes of underdevelopment are slowrly slipping away.  Dirt roads have been replaced with asphalt lions substituted with dogs; huts upgraded to Burger King.  True, these stereotypes do exist in many places in Africa.  but this new Arfrica is dominant and prevailing, especially here in South Africa.

Much of the world is aware of the rich heritage of Africa within the pages of history, and that heritage is evermore present in this wonderful country.  But there is one fact that history has failed to tell: Africa can and does get freezing cold!  Eish, the weather that I'm experiencing right now is so much like Utah!  Take away the palm trees and add snow, and it's another winter's day in Utah.  I feel right at home here.  If I'm honest, I had to play some Christmas music to make it feel more like a Utah winter.

I'm not sure if it's been in the news in America, but South Africa has been recently targeted by radical terrorists groups.  Their main target is America and their citizens.  As a result, us missionaries have been counseled to stay away from big malls, KFC, McD's, Dominoes, Krispy Kreme, and any other American/crowded location for the next bit.  But what a wonderful feeling to know that the Lord is protecting us, even if we are to be separated from our comfort food for a short season.

Earlier today, we found out that the owner of our apartment is coming to do an inspection.  We were counseled to do a deep cleaning, which involved the oven.  Eish, I really can't describe a more terrible chore to do than to clean a missionary's oven.  But I can say that, after four hours of scrubbing and scraping, I have prevailed!  The oven is sparkly clean, unlike my hands and forearms.  Pray you never have to experience the same.

There's nothing out of the ordinary to share from this week.  I can just share a story told by James E. Faust that I was relayed by my family this week:

[I'd like to relate] the story of a young piano student. His mother, wishing to encourage him, “bought tickets for a performance of the great Polish pianist, Paderewski. The night of the concert arrived and the mother and son found their seats near the front of the concert hall. While the mother visited with friends, the boy slipped quietly away.

“Suddenly, it was time for the performance to begin and a single spotlight cut through the darkness of the concert hall to illuminate the grand piano on stage. Only then did the audience notice the little boy on the bench, innocently picking out ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’

“His mother gasped, but before she could move, Paderewski appeared on stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. He whispered to the boy, ‘Don’t quit. Keep playing.’ And then, leaning over, the master reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized.

“In our lives, unpolished though we may be, it is the Master who surrounds us and whispers in our ear, time and time again, ‘Don’t quit. Keep playing.’ And as we do, He augments and supplements until a work of amazing beauty is created. He is right there with all of us, telling us over and over, ‘Keep playing.’”

I think we can all relate to the young boy, especially when we compare our small and simple works to the wonderful and marvelous works of our Heavenly Father.  But, as always, Heavenly Father makes our simple melodies into a mesmerizing song that capture the hearts of all those around us.  Like the song 'Glorious' states: "It's like a symphony.  Just keep listening, and pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part.  Everyone plays a piece in their own melodies..."  May we all play our small, yet incredibly important part in this work of salvation, that we may be able to have joy with those who we rescue in the next life.

Have a marvelous week!

Elder B

Zizo with her picture of me:

Fun with the camera:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Repeated Robberies and False Doctrines

Sanibonani everyone!

This week was incredible! Nothing here was out of the extraordinary in South Africa.  The majority of this letter will be snippets from the entries in  y journal that I've written in the past week.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2016

I was robbed... again!  What an amazing experience it is to have your home card taken away.  No worries, I'm still in one piece.

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

You know it's going to be a rough day when your companion has to wake you up when you fall asleep while kneeling in prayer.  He said to me, "God doesn't understand your snoring."  Eish, what a way to start the day.

Afer we dropped off the other guys in their area, we went to see Sphiwe and Lerato, two of our investigators on date.  We taught the most epic lesson on the Law of Chastity.  We taught them the doctrines of the law of sexual purity.  In return, they taught it back to us in Zulu!  We both had a blast and a headache from that lesson!  They're on date to be baptized on July 3rd.

Our next appointment was with Peace, another investigator on date for Jun 12th.  When we arrived at his house, there was something off about him.  He was acting very distant and very awkward, a complete opposite to the fun-loving, chill guy that we know.  After a prayer and some persuading, he opened up to us and told us what the matter was.  He said, "I talked to Sister [blah blah] last week, and she told me that I need to get married after I'm baptized.  Do I really have to get married to a girl straight after baptism?  You know the girls around here..."

..... Are you serious?! It is not a requirement to be married after you are baptized!  Eish, miscommunication is a major pain to deal with on your mission, but is a story to laugh at when it's over.  We all had a good laugh about it, and we continued on with the lesson.

As promised, I drove the district to get some McD's.  After we had ordered our food, an young Indian man walked up to the car.  He introduced himself as Zach (funny coincidence, neh?) and that he had recently lost his job.  He had no money, had no interest in our money, but was very hungry.  He kindly and humbly asked us if we would give him some food.  We got our food, and I gave him my order.  After a million thanks and gratitude's, he walked off.  But just before he rounded the corner, I saw him pause and say a prayer of thanks.  He then opened his eyes, and raced around the corner of the restaurant.

Some may identify this as an award-winning act, which it might have been.  Regardless of whether it was or not, which I thought it was, an amazing feeling was in my chest as I drove towards our flat tonight.  This pressure that entered into my heart brought floods of emotion to my mind. ...Although Zach may not have been a close friend, that enormous feeling of love was pressing deeply into the fabrics of my heart as I saw that hapy man run around the corner of McDonalds.

What an amazing feeling to have when one forgets about themselves in the service of others and to their God (Mosiah 2:17).

Fiddler on the Roof (African style)

When in Midrand (AKA Diabetes)