Flashback to June 2015
Sweaty palms, twisted stomach, frazzled mind; electricity had descended upon my every being. I buttoned my graphite jacket, fastened my shoe laces, I styled my hair to perfection. I needed to look good for when my life of youth was to meet the destiny of my future. I descended the curved staircase leading to a hall filled to the brim with the figures of friends, family, and familiar faces. Smiles and laughs were plastered on every face present, all sharing a similar energy for the impending event. The air cracked with excitement simultaneous to the arrival of the envelope that hid away my future.
The crowd scrambled to find a seat on the couches, chairs, or carpeted floor. On cue, I made my way to the front of the room. My hands started to shake from the pressure that was quickly entering into my body as my pulse sped faster and faster. I quickly opened the envelope and took out the papers, leaving the text to face the floor as I inhaled what felt like my last breath. As I exhaled, a set of papers fell from my grasp. All quickly peered at the text on the page: 'American Visa and Passport Information'. Screams ensued from the front and back of the room as the secret spread person to person. Time was frozen, cameras were recording, this was the moment we had all been waiting for.
After nearly swallowing my tongue, I read aloud my call:
"Dear Elder Zachary Benson:
You are called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor....."
I saw it. I saw it! The destination of my home for the next two years of my life! I stopped mid-sentance as I soaked it the feeling of the moment. Screams pleading me to continue brought me back to reality. I repeated aloud:
"You are assigned to labour in the SOUTH AFRICA JOHANNESBURG MISSION."
Later reports from next-door neighbors would confirm the air for hundreds of feet was filled with shouts of joy. The sound would have been deafening if not for the fact that I was seemingly out of my own body. When I came to myself again, I was in the embrace of friends as we all smiled and rejoiced together. Before the majority of the ensemble stood, my father yelled,"What language?! What language?" We all quickly gathered ourselves together to await my destined tongue.
"You will prepare to preach the gospel in the English language."
Surprise seethed through the room at a pace nearly as quick as the discovery of my call to serve on the African continent. No one was more surprised than myself, as I had expressed the highest level of interest to learn a foreign language whilst filling out my mission papers. Nonetheless, all our joy was fulfilled as the cameras stopped and the people stood. Again surrounded with friends, family, and familiar faces, I began to savor the sweet feeling of home.
Now flash forward to the present. I have found another home here in the land of Mzansi aka South Africa. I have preached the gospel in English, all the while learning over eight languages. I have completed two thirds of my missionary service in this blessed land. There have been heart-aches, joys, hardships, and rejoicings. Throughout it all, there has never been a more fulfilling time in my life than by representing my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "He is my master and has chosen me to represent him; to stand in his place; to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He were personally ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. (Bruce R. McConkie)"
Highlights of the week:
When I read 'The Book of Mormon' in Zulu during my talk in sacrament meeting, I apparently did better than most native speakers, besides the fact that I sounded like a Spaniard when I spoke.
I get to pass the Soweto Towers every day while going to the area:):)
I realized that (excuse my mission lingo) I am in a district with myself, my son, my step-son, and my grandson. #Bensonfam #takeoverSoweto
Please appreciate these "Gems in the Charcoal"