Elder Benson - South Africa Jo-Berg Mission

Elder Benson - South Africa Jo-Berg Mission

Monday, October 31, 2016

Dad's stop in Joburg (heading to Zimbabwe)

Elder Zach,

Dad had such a great experience with President and Sister Dunn this last week (Sister Dunn included it in her blog--dunnsinjoburg.blogspot.com). I bet it’s pretty strange to see your two worlds colliding into one. As Dad spoke with many of the missionaries, they were in awe at how similar you two look.  Another thing Dad shared was pretty cool. As he met with different groups of missionaries, one phrase kept getting repeated, “Elder Benson is legendary!” Son, you are loved by so many. In Dad’s “interview” with President Dunn, he shared with Dad how amazing you are. He said that you have more greatness in your little finger than many have in their whole body. Wowzas.

My hope is that you will begin to understand how amazing you truly are. You are a son of God! Think about that! We are so proud of you and who you are becoming. I know I say that every week, but that still doesn’t seem enough.

Love you! Mom

Monday, October 17, 2016

From Mission Mom, Sister Dunn

"On this first week of the transfer we headed to Nelspruit to conduct interview with our Elders there and also spend some time with them teaching in their respective areas."

"We met them in the Nelspruit church building on Saturday as they were watching conference.  We also joined them on Sunday for both sessions.  It was great to see Elder Carl B. Cook on the screen.  We were so blessed to have him as the SouthEast Africa Area President for two of our three years here."

"During the interviews we met as a district and discussed our impressions of the Book of Mormon.  I felt honored to get the insights fro these great Elders.  We had a really great discussion while President Dunn took them one by one and conducted interviews."

"Elder Hlophe and Elder Eatough serve in Nelspruit--after interviews they took President Dunn out with them."

"It was very impressive to see the love and rapport they have for their investigators and how powerful their teaching is."

"We split up and I went with Elder Benson and Latu to KaNymazane."

"These two great missionaries are on their second transfer together as Elder Benson is training Elder Latu."

"Welcome to KaNymazane.  This is the furthest outpost of our mission and a special place.  The church has purchased property up on this hill and is relocating the branch from the current location.  We all hope it happens soon.  This is a good neighborhood to have the church in and will help getting investigators to come."

"We met Clinton first, a recent convert."

"He has been sick lately and the Elders talked to him about prayer and scripture study and to ask for what you need when you pray...like returning to good health."

"Next, they were able to create a teaching opportunity with Thapo, who officially became a new investigator today.  He has known about the missionaries and his mother encouraged him to talk to them and go to their church. So, this was a special teaching situation, where Thapo was very receptive." 

"Next, we stopped in the home of Malibongwe. This young man is investigatinve the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has been to church and invites all his friends to listen and attend with him. He looks like a missionary to me. He has a spirit about him that is so positive and happy. HIs name means "thank you" in Zulu, so I am told."

"President Dunn met me back at the chapel and we shared about our exchange experiences. It was a great day to be together with the Nelspruit and KaNymazane Elders."

"View of the sunset from the Mpumalanga province is nice wherever you are.  Hope to come back soon!"

(Thank you, Sister Dunn, for taking such good care of Elder Benson. --From one mom to another)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Elephants, Cute kids, and Going to Church...

What better way to celebrate your year mark than to ride an elephant!! 

Eish! Kids are too cute!

"Let's go to church" -- Zionist edition:

Linda, the Golden Investigator


This week is the first highlight of one of our investigators.  In the mission field, there is a term 'golden investigator', meaning an investigator of the restored gospel who has truly been prepared to receive it.  This man is truly a golden investigator.

Meet Linda, the Mr. Golden himself!

How we met Linda was nothing less of a miracle.  I hope I can make it sound as epic as it truly was.

My companion and I had very little success one morning as we ventured through the streets of our area.  All of our scheduled appointments had dropped and canceled, one after another.  The African sun seemed as if it was mocking our fruitless efforts by sending relentless heat waves to overwhelm our physical frame.  In our weakened estate we were left to ourselves without plan and without hope.  In searching for how we could continue to magnify our callings as ambassadors of the Lord, the thought entered into our minds to make a trek to a home of a member by the name of Prince Mashego.

We began the journey in our Nissan Hardbody truck, riding over the familiar slopes of KaNyamazane, traveling by means of uneven dirt roads eroded by intense African rainstorms, sheltered from the sun by the overreaching mango trees with their outstretched limbs.  As we rounded the final corner to arrive at our desired destination, we were welcomed by a depressing scene.  Our dear friend Prince was sitting on the road with a distraught young men, obviously on the brim of losing control of his emotions.  We quickly parked our vehicle on the side of the street and returned to this sad scene.

As we listened in on the confessions of this young lad, an aura of hopelessness hung in the air, suffocating to the paradisaical feel of the environment surrounding us.  As the man concluded his epic of distress, the Spirit of the Lord extended the help of heaven as to open our utterances.  We told him of a similar tale of a young boy in the woods of New York, visited with divine assurances by the Father and the Son of a bright future to go before him.  We described to him the restored gospel, brought back through the gift and power of God through Joseph Smith, and of the hope that this miraculous gift from God could bring to his soul.

The result of such a visit lead our youthful friend to learn of this the Lord's gospel in full.  His life changed in the matter of weeks, with every visit bringing new vigor and courage into the frame of our friend.  His progression is leading to the waters of baptism, to enter into a divine covenant with his God.  His own words on his conversion are an ensign to those who seek for a fresh start, a blank page: "It is easy to change if you have the right reasons."

For Linda, what was the right reason?  I can only offer up one possible solution: Christ.  The Lord Jesus Christ is 'the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)', 'the beginning and the end (D+C 35:1)', 'Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8)'.  He is all-knowing, and his hand is all-reaching to those who seek him.  He is the reason for the remarkable changes for the better, and sometimes for the worse, but is always wroughts 'a mighty change of heart (Alma 5:23)' within us.  Truly Linda can sing the song of redeeming love, for he is now a devout saint in the Lord Jesus.

There's a few lessons I've taken away from Linda's story.  One: spiritual promptings always lead us to where we need to be.  Two, the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us light and happiness, no matter the background or experiences.  Three, it is easy to change if you have the right reasons.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Through Small and Simple

Early last week, we wanted to get the Young Men in KaNyamazane to get fired up about missionary work.  With a little thought, and a LOT of planning, we put together a Young Men's Missionary Week!  It involved all of the young men taking turns with the missionaries through splits.  Each companionship was either in the truck or on bikes, and various activities from teaching lessons to door-to-door contacting was the strategy.  The result?  An amazing spiritual feast that benefited everyone therein.

An important moment which made it so successful was when we allowed the young men to make this week their own and allowed them to lead the area in the work.  They put their whole heart and soul into the work and it's they who deserve a lot of the credit.  Elder Latu's progress really shined through as he led the efforts in planning his day, finding new investigators and inviting people to be baptized.

Here's the statistics: combined we taught nearly 90 investigator lessons, introduced the gospel to nearly 100 people, and put 4 people on date for baptism.  It's pretty disappointing that we maintained our average Investigators at sacrament (6), mainly due to circumstances that were out of our control.

The highlight for me of this week was hearing the young men bear their testimony during fast and testimony meeting.  They shared miracle moments, spiritual experiences, and pure testimony of the work of salvation.  You've got to tip your hat to these stalwart young men who are preparing to give their time and talents to the Lord.

Putting aside the awesome numbers for the week, the split was an effective catalyst for introducing many to the gospel, improving relationships with the members, allowing Elder Latu to lead the area, and for the Lord Jesus Christ to enter into the heart of everyone involved.

I may share that I have a firm testimony of this work; that it is led by the Almighty through the small and simple; that the field is white, already to harvest; and that this is the true church of Jesus Christ.  I know he loves us all, and wants us to have peace in this life, and in the life to come.  I do bear witness of it!

I love you all!  Thank you for your continual support to me, which I am eternally grateful for.  Until next week!

-Elder Benson