Elder Benson - South Africa Jo-Berg Mission

Elder Benson - South Africa Jo-Berg Mission

Monday, December 26, 2016

'Oku ou 'ofa 'ia koe, Elder Latu

Getting a phone call at 11 pm from your Mission President is never a good omen.  But the last thing I was expected was to hear the bitter news of the missionary that I guided and trained, Elder Latu, had tragically died in an accident while enroute to join us for Christmas.  Here's the memoriam from the mission that I've attached:

In Memoriam: Elder Nofo-I-Lelenga Latu (1997-2016) - The outpouring of love and prayers for our dear companion and friend, Elder Latu—who died in a tragic car accident on Thursday—has been overwhelming and so appreciated. It has also been a genuine godsend to our missionaries who have been understandably devastated by this tragedy. Elder Latu was a phenomenal, consecrated missionary who inspired and lifted all he came in contact with. Every day and in every way he was all about doing the work of the Lord. He truly gave "the last full measure of devotion." And his radiance and effervescent spirit will be sorely missed. His unflinching commitment to his God and his religion can be best stated with the words of another similarly committed young person, Joan of Arc: “Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and so they give their lives to little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it…and then it’s gone. But to surrender who you are and to live without belief is more terrible than dying – even more terrible than dying young.” Elder Latu certainly gave his life for what he believed in. And his stellar example will continue to inspire and lift us as we mourn together and work through this painful event. It will no doubt also help us as we collectively rise from our sadness and become even more committed to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ—which gives us the the clarity and certainty of knowing that Elder Latu's spirit indeed lives on. I will never forget the day we met Elder Latu and first saw his ever-present smile on a bright and beautiful morning this past August at the mission home in South Africa. Nor can I ever forget the stirring tribute to him yesterday morning, on Christmas Eve, where every missionary in Johannesburg gathered to reflect on Elder Latu's life, and on the 100-day reading of the Book of Mormon which culminated that same morning.... Elder Latu's last journal entry in this study book reads, "I am so grateful for the joy I find in this work." Please join us as we continue to pray for Elder Latu's family in New Zealand, and for the missionaries who mourn our loss yet celebrate his remarkable life here in South Africa. ‘Oku ou ‘ofa ‘ia koe, Elder Latu.

I took this photo during our first week together in KaNyamazane.  It really captures the energy and commitment he had to the work, holding his arms out ready to take on any challenge to come.  Serving with my 'son' and brother Elder Latu was an experience to be remembered and cherished for eternity.  However much I wish God hadn't called this mini-transfer for him to return to his Heavenly home, I know this is what God has in store for him.

"...Wherefore [Elder Latu] came forth [with Elder Benson]... and began to prophesy unto the people, for [they] could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord with was in [them].  For [they] did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled - Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."  -Ether 12:2-4 (adapted by President Dunn)

Our entire mission coincidentally ended our 100-Day Book of Mormon Challenge, and completed the Book of Mormon together on the 24th.  As Elder Higgs stated, the final verse of the Book of Mormon is as if Elder Latu spoke to us:

"And now I bid unto all, farewell.  I... go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead.  Amen."

Elder Latu: energetic, fun-loving, charitable, and Christ-like.  Your legacy will live on in the SAJM and in our hearts.  May God bless you in your journey onwards until we shall meet again.

Elder Zachary Benson

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Email from Sister Devra Kent


I am Devra Kent. Your missionary boy is currently serving in our ward. Thank you for raising such an outstanding son and letting him go for a while to serve the Lord.

We recently were planning for our ward Christmas programme when we heard in his testimony that he enjoys playing violin. We decided to 'sound him out'. 😁Well, we were blown at by his talent. News soon spread to the stake, and so with permission from his mission president,  he was invited to play with our stake choir at our Christmas fireside. It went so well that we were invited to present it again in another stake this past Sunday. Elder Golden of the Seventy was also there...it was a lovely programme.

I thought I would just send a photo of the evening. The one picture is of him and my boy Zachary. There is an article on our local South Africa Mormon Newsroom too. 

May you have a blessed Christmas.

Kind regards, 

Sister Devra Kent

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Sweet Reunion

Guess who i ran into this week?!  It was a sweet reunion. 

Elder Benson with Elder Golden of the Seventy

Monday, December 19, 2016

Email from Sister Larson

Here's your darling son Elder Benson! He performed beautifully at a devotional in Centurion last night. Him with his violin and the choir  with their voices were absolutely fabulous! It was one of the best Christmas devotionals I have ever attended. Thanks for giving your son to us for Christmas and allowing him to share his talents with us. Happy Holidays!

-Sister Larson

South Africa Johannesburg Mission

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Missionary Christmas

This Christmas in Johannesburg has been one for the books!  After Skyping home, I can honestly say, "I'm going home this year".  It's a pretty strange feeling to have 10 months left on my mission.  Time has ceased to exist in such a drastic sense that continues to amaze me.  The members in Springs and Selcourt do a magnificent job in making us feel at home (pictures would come if I hadn't sent home my SD Card.  There's no chance I'm risking my pics getting stolen😊)

Well, in the Spirit of Christmas, I've attached a wonderful poem dedicated to the Benson clan, especially to my beautiful Mother Jennifer.  It captures the feelings felt, the tears shed, and the joy captured in the sacrifice of the absence of a son in the service of the Lord.  I hope you may all enjoy the holidays with your families, whether they be near or far, and that CHRISTmas can take a whole new meaning for all of us as we commemorate the commencement of the coming of Christ into the world.

A Missionary Christmas:

I skipped the sales after Thanksgiving. The thrill just wasn’t there.
No pictures taken with Santa Claus. My decorating has no flair.
His presents are shoes, shirts, and ties, two suits and socks… no fun.
I’ve bought him all white clothes because this year I’m giving Christ my son.

I’ve spent more time in the temple, my testimony stirred.
I’ve re-read November’s Ensign, felt strength come from His words.
Our family prays more frequently. My tears are quick to run.
Abraham seems closer because this year I’m giving Christ my son.

I wonder how those Lamanite mothers gave their sons to war?
Or how the pioneers chose Zion—their sacrifice was so much more.
My loss will be his presence. I’ll miss his smile a ton.
For two years we will pray for him. I’m giving Christ my son.

I stare at his face when he’s not looking. I memorize his eyes, their shine.
He’s always hungered for the part of him, that makes his soul divine.
The stories and lessons he always heard. His choice and mine are one.
I’ll put my faith in God’s hand. This year, I’m giving Him my son.

Past gifts have lost their glitter. I think I finally understand
Christ’s birth should be celebrated by giving Him a hand.
It’s because I know Christ lives and reigns that all his packing’s done.
My gift has taken years to make. This year I’m giving Christ my son.

I know there’s One who understands the sacrifice I’m making.
Who knows the gift I willingly give, the toll it will be taking.
For He has done it all before. Greater love — there could be none.
For years ago God gave to me His only begotten son.

The hands I washed, the hands I held, the hands I taught to pray—
Now knock on doors to find the ones who will listen to what he’ll say.
Because I know Christ needs him until all the gathering’s done.
My gift has taken years to make. This year I’m giving Christ my son.
— Author Unknown

Love you all!  Stay safe, and stay well!

-Elder Benson

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Benoni Zone

Benoni Zone:

Back Row: Elder Benson, Elder Magesi, Elder Kwhela, Elder Mikhize, Elder Grame, Elder Shava, Elder Daki, Elder Lefthand, Elder West, Elder Chingomanje, Elder Engrom, Elder Reynolds, Elder Tima, Elder Shamanga

Front Row:  Elder Austin, Elder Randriananadrasana, Elder Figuereo, Elder Rouse, Sister and Elder Ellis, President and Sister Dunn, Elder Mkhize, Elder Turauskiis, Elder Jangao, Elder A'homohe

Monday, December 5, 2016

Benoni Stake Christmas Devotional

The past two weeks have been a journey for sure!  The adjustment to Zone Leader life was a less-than-smooth transition with acquiring parasites coupled with the ulcers and stress, but I feel like I'm back on my feet.  My strength and endurance will still be down for another week but the fire within is lit and it's growing.  I'm grateful that Elder Shamanga has been patient in my recovery.

The Benoni Stake had a devotional that was so amazing! The devotional was completely through music and the word, celebrating the Christmas Season.  They asked me to play the violin with the choir, and the experience was so spiritual and soul-changing that I can't even put it to words.  President and Sister Dunn also joined forces and gave some amazing talks.  I enjoy consecrating my talents to the building of the kingdom, especially when it comes to music.  I'm looking forward to the Mission Tour on Thursday as well.