Hey fam and friends and everyone. It's my hump day today and I wanted to jot down a few thoughts concerning my mission and my goals and what has happened thus far in my mission.
I think it's interesting how important timelines in life like this year mark cause us great and serious internal reflection. We look in the mirror and wonder who we truly are and what we can become. We look back in the past and see what we have accomplished. So this little note is going to be a reflection of the past year and how I have grown thus far.
With that being said I would like to go ahead and proceed to write down some of my mission history. This might take a while, so be patient!:)
I remember the MTC, I remember that I didn't exactly enjoy it. It was great and the Spirit was super duper strong, but it was difficult to me. I think that I knew that I needed to only be there for 10 days. I know that God sure knew that, any longer and I don't know if I could've made it. I think it's amazing that the friends that we make in the MTC become some of our greatest friends out here on a mission. Of the MTC District comprised of Elder Malm and I, Elders Blackburn and Goettsche, Elders Hilton and Nielsen, Elders Martinez and Quinones, and Sisters Cooper and Hobbes, from what I know, most of us are still out. Sister Hobbes, as far as I know, is the only one the is home now and she went home when we were in the MTC due to a torn ACL. Elders Hilton and Nielsen and Elders Martinez and Quinones went to OKCM. We don't hear much from them about what happens up there. Sister Cooper is an STL in Baytown right now, she goes home in 6 months. She has trained once, I believe and her greenie is super duper annoying. (Sorry Greenie!) Sister Hobbes never came back out like she said that she was going to, as far as I know. Elder Blackburn is currently training in Tidwell. He seems to be enjoying it, but I don't see or hear from him very much anymore. After Broadway, he kind of dropped off the face of the Earth, other than when an ET went down a while back and he was collateral damage to an Elder who didn't want to stay with his companion. Elder Goettsche is out in Crowley, Louisiana and he seems to enjoy it out there! He is probably the one that I am the closest to down here, I like him a lot. Elder Malm hasn't been seen or heard from in a long time; he seems to fly under the mission radar better than most people. There was another ET a while back, when he and his companion had to switch the Sisters area's and apt's cause the Sisters had someone threaten to do really bad things to them. Other than that, I really don't know too much about his mission.
I on the other hand, haven't really amounted to anything more than just the average missionary, which I like very much! I haven't trained, I don't hold leadership, I am only on my 3rd area and that's just dandy! I have kind of flown under the radar thus far, but my time to open my wings and really give my all has finally surfaced and people are starting to notice, which I think is really dumb. This mission is all about numbers and there are a bunch of idiots here who can't get the numbers... But when you get one of them elite missionaries who isn't a weirdo who'll actually do some missionary work, then things go great! People start to notice and it's bad. We got a call from the APs the other day telling us that we were killing it in this area. This area hasn't baptized since November before I got here. I'm not trying to take credit or anything like that, but I want to point out that when you have faith and when you involve the Lord in stuff, He truly can do wonders. A great missionary decides to involve God. That's the only difference between a good and a great missionary. We have baptized the last two weeks and it's amazing! The Ward is on fire right now; Summerwood has so much potential, all it's needed was to have a missionary companionship who knew what they were doing and that's what Elder Lacusta and I did.
So far on my mission, I have baptized 5 people on my mission. This mission, from what I understand and hear, doesn't baptize too many. It used to baptize all the time, but it's slowed down over the last few years. But it seems to be picking up this year and that's wonderful!
I have had 5 companions to this point. Elder Leftwich was my trainer and I love him very much. I learnt so much from him and I have to give him credit for most of the stuff I have done out here. Without him, I don't know where I would be. Elder Biesinger taught me how to work really hard. I am indebted to him for that. Elder McDonald is probably my BFF on a mission right now. He and I are basically brothers. Elder Lacusta was an interesting one. But looking back on it, he taught me a lot! Next to Elder Leftwich, Elder Lacusta taught me the most. He taught me how to work with the Ward and how to work effectively and efficiently. Elder Hobbs is great! He and I are together right now as I am writing this. We have been working really well together so far. He is the DL and has been out as long as I have. I find that it's interesting that the Lord puts us with certain people depending on what we need. You may not realize it at first, but it's true. With all the companions I have had, I think that the Lord has been able to teach me just about everything that he needs me to know to be a truly effective missionary.
I have lived in 4 apt's and had 3 areas. I spent 6 months in Beaumont, TX and it was wonderful. We had a great time and were able to see results in the first transfer there. After that, things kind of slowed down for the remainder of my time there. We working diligently, but didn't know how to work smartly. Looking back on it, if we had been able to work diligently, we probably would've seen lots more results than we did. I just didn't have the knowledge that I currently have. When I left Beaumont, it felt like I was leaving home. I had learned to love the people and I had learned to love the area. That place still has a lot of my heart, I just wish I could've seen more success come from such a great area. We spent a lot of our time working by ourselves, not getting the members truly involved in the work. Yes, we took them out on lessons and stuff, but that is just the tip of what we can do with members. We spent nearly my entire 6 months there knocking doors and wasting time biking around. There were days when we would just go bike as far as we could, cause we didn't have anything going on. Also there, I met John. John changed my life. He changed the way that I view commitment. Oh, he was just wonderful to talk to and teach! He hasn't ever joined the Church to my knowledge, but he was so great! I taught him for a long time but he never did anything. He always said that he was going to do it, he always talked the talk, but he didn't walk the walk. Now, therein lies the problem with most of us! We don't do it. We try and try and try and we want to so badly, but how many of us just get out and do it? That's the lesson that John taught me. I want him to join the church so badly and keep in touch with him and want to see his conversion all the way through, because I know that he can do it. I know that all of us can do it.
When I got transferred to Broadway, I didn't want to leave. And I sure as heck didn't want to go to Broadway, cause that's where ........ Well, I got transferred to Broadway And I honestly felt that I was leaving Heaven and going to Hell. My second week there we had a baptism. We then went the rest of the time without seeing success. I ended up spending 2 transfers there. My second transfer there, we had to move apartments down further south and that's when I got the only car I have had my entire mission. I had it for 6 weeks and that's when I put some pounds on. We drove around everywhere. We definitely could've been a lot more diligent in working, but we had a lot of fun down there. Some of my greatest friends have come out of Broadway, Elders Asay and Woodhouse, Elder McDonald, and Hermanas Francis and Rogers. I also met some really great people down there. The Ward was a struggling Ward and we, as missionaries, were the backbone of the Ward. We were the Elders Quorum and that was an interesting occurrence in this Mission. We worked, it was a step up from Beaumont in effectiveness, but we didn't work as hard as I had that last transfer in Beaumont. We went with a whole "No Knocking, Unless we Have to" attitude. We spent a lot of our time going through our AreaBook and grabbing names that looked promising to go out and try to get some more information on. So we stepped up from the whole Knocking Blindly focus and started Knocking with a Name in Mind. We saw more success in that than we did in the whole Knocking Blindly phase of my mission. That was pretty much the best that we could do with that struggling Ward. Member missionary work wasn't the best down there, sure we had lots and lots of names on the records, but most of them didn't live there anymore. Broadway is a bunch of Apt complexes and people come and go all the time. We never knew who is truly in the Ward and who doesn't exist anymore. it was good though! We did well.
After two Transfers, Elder McDonald and I got flushed out of Broadway and our area got shutdown. 2 weeks after transfers, E decided to get baptized and I was able to go back for that. It was a very very sweet experience and she is one that I won't forget anytime soon.
I got transferred to Summerwood for my 7th transfer on the mission and have been here ever since. When I got here, this area was basically in shambles. Elder Lacusta and his previous companion hadn't gotten along at all and it was evident. We ended up liking each other and we kicked off the start of 2 of the best transfers that I have had as a missionary. Yes, we had hard times on and off, but we took this area and brought it to the top. Right now, This area is doing better than it has in probably a year. I am in my 3rd transfer here and we have already baptized. And we have a bunch of promising people that are definitely going somewhere. I am not trying to take credit for any of it, cause I didn't do anything. But I do know that the Lord can help us and that is exactly what He has done.
In Summerwood we tried taking a different approach to missionary work and that approach was this: We weren't going to knock doors at all. We were going to work through the members and through the Gold Mine. And I can honestly say that it truly is the best way to do missionary work. When the members come together, we see miracles and that is exactly what has happened here in Summerwood. I think that if every missionary truly would just open his mouth and follow PMG the way that it was supposed to followed, this mission and all the missionaries in it would be amazing, they would become one of the best missions in the world. This area and the members here have so much potential, all that needs to happen is for the missionary to harness that. And that is what we tried to do to the best of our abilities. Here I had a change of mindset and it's the best thing that could've happened to me or to this area. I have truly come to understand the importance of the work in which we are engaged and I have realized that this is Eternal Salvation! What we are doing here will impact us and those we come in contact with forever, really. This will echo throughout the generations.
So I have described the work and I have described the different areas in some detail, not lots, but I want to switch gears a little bit and switch over to the Spiritual Side of things.
President Rascon really knows the true importance of following the Spirit. It is something that over the last year, I have learned to a small degree and I obey with confidence knowing that He knows better than me and can help me magnify ourselves to my fullest potential. I have come to learn to rely on the Spirit when I find, teach, and invite. I have gained a light and an understanding of Christs Atonement even more so than I ever have before. I understand the little things and can wrap my head around the big things and continually give thanks to the Lord for the capacity to understand things that others can't. I'm not trying to say that I am better than others, but I recognize that the Lord has blessed me with a mind and a body that are amazing. I honestly believe that that is because He expects more out of me. He wants me to be better and to make the most of what He has given me. I have found that I am in tune with the Spirit, meaning that I have an increased capacity and understanding of the Spirit and His promptings.
I have gained so much knowledge in the last year. I have learned so much, both Gospel related and life experience related. I have come to know that our Heavenly Father truly cares about us and is guiding our lives. I know the Jesus is the Christ and I am a living witness that He can take a 19 year old kid and make Him actually useful and give him some meaning in life. But on top of that, I know that this church is the true and living church on the Face of the Earth. I know that because of the good that it does in the world. It has brought forth good fruit and I know that Jesus Christ has told us that by their fruits we shall know them. But on top of that, I have the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift to continuous revelation, and that Gift has told me and confirmed to me in my heart that all of this is true. 100%. I know that the Priesthood is real and I have felt and seen its power through the me. I have given blessings of healing and seen the person be healed. I have given blessings of comfort for a situation that I had never heard before and I was able to tell them exactly what they needed to hear. I have seen the power, but on top of that, I have felt the Holy Ghost confirm to me in my heart and my mind that the Priesthood is the power of God here on Earth.
I know without a doubt that I am the Living Jesus Christ's Servant. I am His emissary and bear His name And His Gospel. I love Him and He loves me. And with Him, anything is possible.
I know that I am here and that the Lord is going to do continue to do wonders through me. I have felt His Spirit work through me and that makes me a successful missionary. I have done what the Lord needs me to do thus far and want to magnify that even further this next year.
I love all of you and wish you all the best of times. See you next year! Sorry for the super duper long essay, but I decided to try to write down some of my mission history all on one page.
I love you all very much! Be awesome and safe! Keep the Spirit with you at all times and you will find out where the Lord needs you to go.
-Elder Benjamin Allen of the Texas Houston East Mission