Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 24, 2013 Massillon, Ohio

Friends and Familia,
I hope that all of you are having a delightful summer! I am minorly jealous of those of you who can jump in pools when it gets hot. It is definitely hot here! I am really enjoying the Ohio summer, though. It's so green and beautiful! One thing that I don't think that I have said already is that the houses here are gorgeous. Most of them are historical brick houses or colonial style with shutters and beautiful flowers. It wouldn't be that bad to live in Ohio (humidity......).
This week went really well. Sister O'Driscoll and I decided at the beginning of the week to write our goals on our whiteboard and fill them in as we go along. (Option 2 was a sticker chart. Did I mention I love stickers?) The most amazing experience of my week was on Friday. Everyone kept cancelling their appointments with us and no one had signed up for dinner. We were pretty bummed out when we got a phone call from one of the ward members. She was calling to confirm dinner (dinner? we thought no one signed up!) and said that she invited one of her neighbors to come and have dinner with us (she knew that we were going to be there and she still said yes??). She also said that she wanted to talk to us about the gospel, etc. (yayy!!!!! *cheers and high fives*). This woman was one of the single most incredible people that I have ever met in my life! She overcame so many challenges. She fell one day and messed up her knee. She had surgery trying to fix it, which made it worse. She then spent 3 years in and out of hospitals (over 300 total days) and eventually had to have her right leg amputated. The worst part is that she found out that the orignial surgery was not even necessary. During that time, she decided that she wanted to become "Better, not Bitter." She prayed and asked for help to know how she could inspire others in a way that she could not have with both legs. Her result was what she called a "Cross Walk." She walked around the entire permiter of the country (amputee, remember??) over the course of 9 years, dropping a cross at each mile, with a note saying to either keep the cross or pass it on to someone else who needs hope in their life. She is such an amazing woman. Long story short. She kept asking questions and wanted to know more and more. So many times during dinner she said "That's exactly what I believe!!" She also said that she really wanted to go to a church where they made her feel welcome and like family (*ahem* families are center to God's plan for us---> http://mormon.org/family) because she has no family. What an amazing, incredible, inspiring woman. I can't wait to continue meeting with her! (Let's take a step back for a minute and remember that we didn't even have a dinner planned!)
The other highlight of my week was meeting twice with our investigators from Cuba. They are teaching us Spanish (hence the "Familia" at the beginning... I'm pro) and we are teaching them some English. It is so awesome! The son came to church yesterday. He was so worried that his ride wasn't going to pick him up! He was so excited and happy to be there. We are so happy for him and so excited to see his testimony growing. His baptism date is set for July 20th. It is awesome to see people gain so much happiness in their lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I love you all and appreciate your support and encouragement!
-Sista Heather Benson
PS Did anyone see that missionary broadcast last night? We LOVED it. It was amazing. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-lmissionary-work-worldwide-broadcast?CID=HPL2P01W01032

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013 Massillon, Ohio

Friends and Familia!
Things are going good in the Ohio! It is slowly getting hotter and more humid here- always a good time. (The strangest thing ever is when you go outside and can literally see the rain droplets in the air. Crazy.) This last week was good and bad. Sister O'Driscoll was really sick at the beginning of the week and I wasn't feeling so hot either. So we couldn't go out and work very much. When we finally got over that, almost all of our appointments cancelled on us. Lame! We had a trainer's meeting in Kirtland on Friday. That was really, really good. It gave us the extra boost of encouragement that we really needed. On Saturday we were absolutely determined to find someone who actually wanted to hear what we have to say. By the end of the day, we were so tired, but it was so worth it! We did find a new investigator. She was actually a former investigator from a few years ago who only met with the missionaries probably once. We left a mormon.org card on her door on Friday and then went back again on Saturday. She was sitting outside on a chair (waiting for us to come? duh! ;)) watching her son bike with the neighbor kids. We talked to her about how our message can help her have more peace in her life and help her overcome whatever challenges she may be having. She then said, "It is so interesting that you guys came now, because I have been having a really hard time lately." It always amazes me when people say that. It just further confirms to me that the Lord's timing is perfect. It was such a great moment and I am so, so grateful that we were able to find her. I can't wait to go back and talk to her later this week. I am loving my mission and I am so happy to be here! The gospel is true! :)
Thank you to all of you who have written me! I'll try and write back soon!
-Sista Heather Benson

PS Later today we are going to play sand volleyball with the Elders. Yay, P-Day. Last P-Day we found a really cute cupcake shop and got delicious cupcakes (not as good as the Cocoa Bean though....). I also learned what a buckeye is! Everyone here thinks that we're crazy. It's fine.
Pictures of half of our district at trainer's meeting! The other half had a different mtg for the other half of the state...:(
Fun, though!

Random cut off deer head!

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10, 2013 - Massillon, Ohio

Hey everyone!
I hope that you are all doing well! Things are going great for me here in Ohio! It is hard for me to believe that I've almost been out for a month! Everyone always says that when you're on a mission that days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. It is definitely true!
The past week has been really great in a lot of ways. The three Sisters that I live with are so funny! We have a good time. Once upon a time the toilet overflowed (too much information?) and the bathroom flooded. It was by far the funniest experience of my life the last month! I will send a picture. Haha. Another funny experience: I rang a doorbell. Then Sister O'Driscoll told me that there was a spider on it. I looked and I had just crushed the legs of one of the BIGGEST, ugliest spiders I have ever seen! I don't do well with spiders. The man came to the door and I was trying not to panic haha. But then we went in and talked to him and his wife for a while. Such nice people!
We have been working on finding people who want to hear about the gospel throughout the last week. We don't have many current or progressing investigators, so we've just been trying to talk to everyone! There are some really nice people here... and then there are some not-so-nice people. One of the nicest people that I have met here was Jewish and wasn't interested in talking about the gospel, but we talked for a while and he gave us water (which is sooo nice when you're tracting in the heat and humidity!). We also have weeded. A lot. Whenever we offer to do service for people that seems to be what they always want us to do. It is fun, though! The ward members here are great. Many of them are very committed to helping us, which is always so nice. People that we are teaching will never actually want to keep coming to church if they don't feel like they have friends at church.
I have learned so much in the last month; I can't wait to see what the next seventeen will hold! Before I left, I thought that I had a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now my testimony is so much stronger. I think that part of this is because I am constantly with other missionaries talking about the gospel, but I think that an even bigger part of this is because of my commitment to learn more about the gospel and to really 'learn it in my heart' so that I can help others. You don't have to be a missionary to have that happen. I have learned so much about the importance of always wanting to follow Jesus Christ and then acting on that. Jesus Christ did so much for us. He suffered for our sins and our pains and He died for us, all because He loves us and wants us to have the chance to return to live with our Heavenly Father someday and to live with our families forever. It is an amazing thing that I still don't fully understand. The way that we can show Him that we love Him and that we appreciate His sacrifice is by having faith and helping others build their faith in Him. He is the ultimate example of love and peace. I know that His gospel is true and that it has been restored on the earth! Through it and through Him we can have so much happiness and joy in our lives! One thing that I have come to understand is that, yes, we can be happy without the gospel in our lives, but by choosing not to follow the gospel, we are cheating ourselves out of our full potential happiness. The word "gospel" means "good news." It is good news and it can bring so much happiness in our lives!
I love you all and hope to hear from you!
-Sister Heather Benson




Monday, June 3, 2013

I'm in Ohio! June 3, 2013 - Massillon, Ohio First Area

June 3, 2013
Hello Friends and Familia!
I'm in Ohio! It's crazy to me that I'm actually here. I am loving it!
We left Tueday morning bright and early! I will attach some pictures of that. It was so fun and such a relief to travel to Ohio with my entire district. (I am attaching pictures!) I sat next to Sister Astle, Elder Anderson, and Elder Bunnel on the planes. It was really fun and we couldn't wait to get to Ohio! We had a lot of meetings and interviews and a very delicious dinner that night at the Mission office in Cleveland. There wasn't enough room for all of us to stay at the mission home that night, so Sister Astle and I stayed with Elder and Sister Jacklin. They were so nice and took good care of us (mom....). We went to the Kirtland temple and sites the next day! That was an amazing experience. When my mom and I went last summer, they didn't let us go up to the third floor of the temple, but they made an exception for our group of missionaries. There is such a peaceful feeling there. We went to the sites after that for just a few minutes. We got our pictures of our companions and our areas after that and then went to meet them at the Stake Center! My companion is Sister McKenna O'Driscoll from Elkridge, Utah. She is so great (and an even greater driver.... ;)). Our area is Massillon North (about an hour and a half south of Cleveland). Another amazing thing- Sister Astle is companions with Sister Chapman. Their area is Massillon (south) so they are in the same apartment as us! When we found out that we are going to be living together for at least the next three months, we were so excited! It has been so nice to have someone who I know and love with me while I am getting to know everyone!
Sister O'Driscoll has been a great trainer so far! I have learned so many things from her and I love her already! We have been working on finding people to do service for and finding people who we can share the gospel of Jesus Christ with. There is one family that we are teaching that the mom only speaks Spanish and the son speaks some English. I thought that it would be so hard to help them understand the things that we are saying, but it has actually been amazing so far! It is crazy to me that they are still able to understand our message and progress and feel the spirit- simply because the spirit is the teacher, not us. It has been amazing. Laszaro is (hopefully) getting baptized on the 22nd. He is so excited and says that he feels ready (Yay!!!!!).
The thing that absolutely has surprised me the most about being on a mission is that I love it. I honestly never thought that I would say that, at least not at the beginning of my mission, but I really do! I feel like being a missionary and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others is something that I am meant to do. I can't believe that this experience and amazing opportunity is something that I very nearly passed up in my life. I am so, so glad that I made this decision and that for the next year and a half that I have the opportunity to share the reason behind my happiness in life and hopefully help others to feel that peace, comfort, and joy, too. I know that this comes from knowing that Jesus Christ is my Savior and the Savior of the world. I love you all very much! Thank you for your support and letters, I really do appreciate it! I hope that you are all doing well, I would love to hear from you!
Sister Heather A. Benson
My address is:
Sister Heather A. Benson
2040 Tennyson Ave. NE #7
Massillon, OH 44646
A few of you have asked about how to send packages- if you send them through USPS, they will come to my apartment. If you send it through UPS or FedEx, it will go to the mission home and I probably won't get it for a long time. Thanks!