Elder Benson - South Africa Jo-Berg Mission

Elder Benson - South Africa Jo-Berg Mission

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Spiritual Twist

Eta! Hallo! Sanibonani! Lumela!

I hope that this letter finds you happy and healthy.

I'm going to begin this week's letter with a slight twist:

Betty Botta bought some butter;
“But,” said she, “this butter’s bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o’ better butter
Will but make my batter better.”
Then she bought a bit o’ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ’twas better Betty Botta
Bought a bit o’ better butter.

Tongue twisters are an peculiar source of fun, especially when one attempts to recite one in a second language.  Like many of you are aware, in this side of South Africa, the language spoken most frequently, isiZulu, contains a lot of clicks and sounds that would twist your tongue in an everyday conversation.  However, if you journey down to the cape, you'll find yourself among the Xhosa people, whose language is saturated to the brim with a vast arsenal of clicks and sounds.

If you ever find yourself crossing paths with a Xhosa man/woman, I highly recommend that you kindly request from them a Xhosa tongue twister.  But be warned, you will be blown away from what you will hear coming out of their mouth.

Here are a few examples (the 'q' makes the click that sounds like popping a bottle):

1. Ugqirha uligqabhuzile iqhakuva elisemqolo kaqondie qhumfu
2. Iqaqa laqabaleka iqhini latyibalika laqhawula uqhoqhoqho

To any non-native Xhosa, the spectacular play on the Xhosa language in these tongue twisters invokes smiles and applause.  But if they were to investigate the meaning of these twisted tales, one would be left in confusion.

Here are the translations of the previous tongue twisters:

1.  The doctor squeezed the pimple on his back.
2. The polecat crossed the hill, slipped, and broke it's larynx.

Like 'Betty Botta' and her bitter butter, these tongue twisters entertain only the auditory senses, leaving logic and reason less than amused.
Luckily, some tongue twisters can leave us with a more  indelible impression.  In my latest reading of the Book of Mormon in isiZulu, I discovered one such tongue twister hidden deep within its pages:

'Ngalokho-ke, kufanele kube khona ukholo; futhi uma kufanele kube khona ukholo kufanele futhi kube khona ithemba; futhi uma kufanele kube khona ithemba kufanele futhi kube khona isihe.'

After a failed attempt in translating the meaning of this poem with my limited knowledge, I reverted to my English copy of the Book of Mormon.  What I read left a profound imprint on my soul.  Quoting from Moroni 10:20 :

'Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.'

Having read this scripture many times previous, it wasn't until I stumbled across this spiritual tongue twister that I had desired a deeper study of this verse.  As I investigated the scriptures for such understanding, another famous scripture popped out as I read:

'And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.' (1 Cor 13:13)

As I continued to study, I uncovered a more meaningful meaning of charity.  While I could go on for millennia preaching about the benefits of charity and the need one must cultivate in order to attain this divine gift, I believe you would benefit greater from .  This activity won't take more than 30 seconds and will bless you with a more powerful focus towards becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

Read through this inspired list from 'Preach My Gospel'.  Keep a prayer in your heart that the Spirit may assist you in your personal reflection as you honestly seek on how you may more perfectly attain the gift of charity:

I feel a sincere desire for the eternal welfare and happiness of other people. (Mosiah 28:3)
When I pray, I ask for charity—the pure love of Christ. (Moroni 7:47–48)
I try to understand others’ feelings and see their point of view. (Jude 1:22)
I forgive others who have offended or wronged me. (Ephesians 4:32)
I try to help others when they are struggling or discouraged. (Mosiah 18:9)
When appropriate, I tell others that I love them and care about them. (Luke 7:12–15)
I look for opportunities to serve other people. (Mosiah 2:17)
I say positive things about others. (D&C 42:27)
I am kind and patient with others, even when they are hard to get along with. (Moroni 7:45)
I find joy in others’ achievements. (Alma 17:2–4)

That was quick, eh?

From what you felt and what you thought as you peered through this list, I hope you have narrowed out a few points to improve on in your path of discipleship.  I invite you to study out this divine gift of charity.  I benefited much from my studies on this topic, and felt a guiding hand as I read through pages referenced about the topic of charity.  I know the Spirit can help you discover something greater if you will simply open your scriptures and pray in the name of Christ for this gift.

As I've been released as an Assistant this week, I appreciate the moments that armed me with experience to overcome Satan, to exercise charity, and to follow Christ.  I love being a missionary in this consecrated land of South Africa!  With my last 12 weeks of my mission ahead of me, I am looking forward to an eternity in the service of God.

I'll catch you next week in Rustenburg/Phokeng!

Elder Benson

Note: This below video is from our skype visit with Elder Benson last year. He's sharing a tongue twister in Xhosa.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Baba Benson Goes to Swaziland

Busy can't even describe the state that we've been in during the past two weeks!  We held an emergency MLC this Monday to discuss a few items.  We were also joined by our new ZL's out in Swaziland! Because they haven't received visas to allow them entrance to South Africa, they joined us via Skype.

Like previously mentioned, conducting workshops during interviews was a success.  Here are the pictures as promised:

After the workshops, we hit a bittersweet note as we dropped off the Wells at the airport.  Together they served valiantly in the battle against dust, cockroaches, leaks, and unmoved furniture.  Elder Adams and I almost went them on their detour to Paris, but decided it would be better for us to stay because of the big week ahead.

The Blacks, another beloved senior couple, are leaving to return home.  It was a highlight of my mission serving with them out in Mpumalanga.  They treated us elders to zip-lining, elephant riding, Kruger National Park, self-hosted Pickleball Tournaments, and countless meals.  They gave our four-man district  a home when we were four hours from everyone else.  I'll miss them kakhulu!

All the senior couples and office staff joined up at El Rosa, one of the only decent Mexican restaurants in South Africa, to celebrate their honorable release.  (Also pictured in the restaurant are the Duncan's, a couple out in Klerksdorp.  ¡Feliz cumpleaños Sister Duncan!)  The food was almost as great as the people we were with.  Sister Hunt (Mission Office Secretary) dared me to try the hottest salsa on the menu, which I boldly accepted.  Little did I know that, after downing a hefty spoonful of liquid death, I would soon be spitting and sputtering and guzzling any drinks within my reach.

After conquering the salsa, I felt ready to take on another Zone Conference with the staff. This Zone Conference was one of the bigger hurdles to jump, especially since we've needed to add an extra day to accommodate the Swaziland/Mbombela Zone.  Zone Conferences in the SAJM require a lot of preparation, but always turn out to be a highlight of the transfer.  It was bittersweet hearing Elder Zitumane bear his departing testimony.  What an awesome companion he was!

The morning following the two Zone Conferences in Roodeport, we began the long drive to Swaziland.  If you haven't read from the previous weeks, Swaziland has been assigned to our mission.  It was formerly in the Mozambique Maputo Mission (Portuguese speaking), but was given to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission (English speaking) on the account that two of Swaziland's most spoken languages are English and siSwathi (a relative of Zulu).  After heaven's approval, Swaziland joined our borders and twelve elders joined our midst.

Four and a half hours later, we arrived at the Mbabane chapel for interviews. Pictured is Elder Feliciana, giving you a tour of the Employment Center and the Library.

One of the elders I had talked to over the phone prior to our arriving in Swaziland was Elder Alvarado.  Earlier in his mission in Mozambique, while waiting for a new companion to arrive, a conflict between the government and rebels blocked anyone from entering his area, leaving him without a companion!  He continued to teach his area with members for two and a half months until they could vacate him from the area.  His father is Brazilian and his mother is Honduran, he speaks four languages, and loves telling scary stories.

While President got to know the new elders, the ZL's and I hurried to get some food for everyone.  While waiting for the food, we played a contacting game, in which we each took turns approaching people in the mall with a specific word given to us by the other elders (such as elephant, banana, monkey, etc.) that we had to say within the first ten seconds of the conversation.  If we successfully included the word and either handed out a card or gained a referral, a point would be earned. (For prospective elders/sisters: if you are to play this game, remember that the purpose of this game is to invite others to come unto Christ.  Nothing should be done that would interfere with the Spirit of the work.)

After all was said and done, I came up short.  Unfortunately the video is too large to share which shows what the ZL's decided to have me do for losing the game.  Let's just say I wouldn't suggest drinking a raw egg to anyone after this encounter.

All the elders in the zone are either Brazilian or American, and all speak English and Portuguese.  Elder Feliciana helped me to learn a lot of Portuguese this weekend, which was much easier due to my four years of Spanish in school. (¡Gracias Señora Dimas!)  They're also photogenic!

Saturday's Zone Conference was very memorable with these elders.  Their previous mission specifically told them not to bring suits on their mission, which explains all of the white shirts.

Elder Adams and I attended church with the ZL's at the Ezulwini Branch.  I'll be the first to say that these saints know how to sing!  (If you hear a monkey screeching in the background, don't be mistaken; it's me trying to sing.)

After the block meeting, we rejoined with the staff and began the long commute back to Roodeport.  The wasn't so long as it was when we first drove in, mainly because I zonked out after crossing the border.  I loved this weekend in Swaziland!
Pictured is E Brown, Mina, and E Feliciana

Other highlights of the week:
Birthday Package from Mom😊

Finding a Hidden Room in the Roodeport Chapel ('Adventure is out there!')

Dropping of Elder Eki at the Airport

Just Juice and Spot It👌

Cool Quote Wall in Swaziland

Showing President How To #selfie with a Selfie Stick😂

Monday, July 17, 2017

Up and Down with SA Children

In case you can't see the above video, try clicking this link.  It's worth a watch--super cute!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Big Averments


I've been in the dark for over a month, but I aver to ameliorate!  The gospel is rolling forth here in Africa, and it's never been quicker!  The Johannesburg Mission has just been given Swaziland to further the work with the Swazi people!!  I've spoken to a handful of the missionaries that side and they are more than excited to become part of the Joburg Mission.  They are a mix of Brazilians, Hondurans, and Americans whose ages vary from a month left to six months out, yet all prepared to kick it into the next gear.

We've finished missionary interviews workshops today President Leavitt interviewed 120 missionaries in four days!  That man is remarkable!  We are holding two Zone Conferences tomorrow and Thursday, and we are traveling to Swaziland for their Zone Conference this weekend!  We're always busy, which is to be expected when you're on the Lord's errand, and we are exhausted, which is to be predicted when you're on the Lord's errand, but we've never been happier, which is guranteed when you're on the Lord's errand.

BTW:  97 days 16 hours 14 minutes and 09 seconds left until I depart this great land of South Africa (but who's counting, right?).  It's such a long time, but I know it's going to go by so quick, as have the past three months.

As I've looked over the times in my mission that have flown by the quickest, there's no time that has passed quicker than during my study!  I honestly wish that the alloted personal study time would be two hours!  During various exchanges and splits with other missionaries, I've seen that when a missionary spends their studying time focused on others, they are never left with any spare time to study for themselves.  As we lose ourselves (and our study time) in the service of others, the Spirit will aid us in both our studying and our teaching.

We watched a video during MLC this week that can aid all of us in how we study for others.  It was a Elder Renlund's talk from the recent Mission President's Training.  (Fun fact: Elder Renlund was the Area President here in the Africa South East Area just a few years ago!  He was much loved of the people here, almost as much as he loved them.)  His aim was to encourage Mission Presidents and missionaries alike to 'treasure up' the simple doctrines and principles of the gospel.  In this sermon, he revealed three questions that can aid us in our studying of the gospel in preparation for various teaching scenarios.  These are the three quesions:
  1. What is the invitation that will be extended?
  2. What doctrinecorrectly understood, will motivate the investigator to accept the invitation?
  3. What blessings has God promised for accepting and keeping that invitation?
Stick to these questions, and I know you will be given inspiration to aid you in what to study, how long to study it, and why it applies to those of whom you are studying for.

There's another apostle of the Lord that has suggested a wonderful subject of study.  Elder Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has repeatedly exhorted all of us to study all 'Jesus Christ' subtopics in the Topical Guide.  These are his words to us concerining this study:

“To those of you who feel you don’t have time, if you will make a sacrifice, you will be well rewarded and very, very grateful for the change of perspective, increased knowledge, and improved depth of your conversion.

“…In a coming day, you will present yourself before the Savior. You will be overwhelmed to the point of tears to be in His holy presence. You will struggle to find words to thank Him for paying for your sins, for forgiving you of any unkindness toward others, for healing you from the injuries and injustices of this life.  You will thank Him for strengthening you to do the impossible, for turning your weaknesses into strengths, and for making it possible for you to live with Him and your family forever. His identity, His Atonement, and His attributes will become personal and real to you.

“But you don’t have to wait until then. Choose to be one of His true disciples now. Be one who truly loves Him, who truly wants to serve and lead as He did. I promise you that if you will study His words, your ability to be more like Him will increase. I know this is true.”

I also know that his words are true.  As I have undertaken to become a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ by treasuring up his words, my love for him has escalated, my prayers more sincere, my faith uplifted in my Savior.  I challenge everyone reading this letter to take on this challenge, if you haven't already done so, beginning this Sunday!  Download this study help that will aid you in your study of the Savior of the world!  It will change your life!  Note: the study aid is for 90 days and begins Sunday, 16 of July.

Love you all loads!  I aver to amerliorate my weekly letters for the remaining months!!

-Elder Benson

Four generations of wildcats in the SAJM:
(Found this gem in the Fourways Area Flat)
Elder Farnes: 2013-2015
Elder Benson: 2015-2017
Elder Marsden: 2016-2018
Elder Papenfuss: 2017-2019