What exactly are you going to do on your mission?
I have accepted the calling to be a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so that I may share the gospel to those who are yearning to know of the truth of the gospel. I have answers to questions that people don't even know to ask. I am going to tell people where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. I will explain to everyone that will listen why Christ is the center of the Plan of Happiness and why the Atonement that Jesus Christ has provided for us is necessary for our salvation.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Last Monday on the Mission

Due to lack of time, I thought I'd make this email more interesting by including part of what I wrote to my mission president today:

I loved General Conference! I seemed to have a keen ear for hearing things about prayer. I particularly liked Elder McConkie's (of the 70) story similar to Thomas S Monson's story about setting the field on fire. Prayer is so powerful. When we are sincere, God does answer us immediately. Sometimes the answer we get is "you're not ready yet," or "not now," however I would dare say that most of the time, we don't find our answers simply because we don't have enough faith. Does God want to heal us? of course he does! Christ came to the Nephites and healed everybody. While we do frequently learn patience and to put the will of God before our own, God still wants to give us blessings and he will.

I will have the Book of Mormon study finished before I drive up to the mission home next Sunday, I am excited to discuss it with you, I love the Book of Mormon. I really do. I read 3 Nephi 26 today and I found that the plates of Nephi contain most of what the savior taught the people from the "beginning" till the earth shall melt with fervent heat and the heavens and earth shall pass away. Wow! that's amazing. He then taught the children and they taught the people greater things than Jesus spoke and all were forbidden to write those things down: For I will "test the faith" of my servants (3 Nephi 26:9). I've also come to love the chapters of Isaiah. How did he fit so much about the last days in a one page chapter? (3 Nephi 22). Joseph Smith was on a spiritual High for a week straight after the first Vision... The people with Christ were visited "oft" and he broke bread and drank wine with them "oft". What a blessed time they were in. They lived the law of consecration and were very blessed. What a blessed time we live in! I believe a speaker in conference talked about how we were foreordained to be here in this time with the fulness of the gospel available due to our exceeding faith and good works in the pre-existence. And now we get to share it with everybody.

What a great mission I've had, and to end it with General Conference doesn't get much better. Something I am going to do (since I'm a normal member-missionary next week) is take the challenge of reaching out to share the gospel with someone (although I've already got several I'm already planning to share things with) before Christmas. What a joyous time to live on the Earth!

I have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that we have Prophets, Seers, and Revelators today. I love the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true. My mission has meant so much to me. I have learned more than I ever have before about the gospel. I've come to realize the rate of acceleration the Atonement changes me as I am obedient. I love talking about the gospel, I love to emulate the Savior. I love being a missionary! and I plan not to stop being one forever more.

Love you lots President Cottle!
Love you lots Sister Cottle!
I'll see you in a couple days.
~Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

I love sharing the gospel. It is something that I'll never want to stop doing; it fills my soul with joy. President Monson started his last talk with something to the effect of "My heart is full of joy" and I can say the same. I have loved my mission. I thoroughly have enjoyed this experience; It has certainly built a foundation for me in my life that I will look back to for support for the rest of forever. I don't know how anyone could serve a mission such as this and ever fall away. I've also come to learn that Christ arms of mercy are always open, however, and no matter what we may have done or where we may have fallen short no matter how far, we can always come back. We have never drifted away too far. He is always there for us. We just need to have our eyes focused on the savior, and our whole being will be filled with light. Where can we go wrong if our whole being is filled with light? you can't, for all things will be made known unto you where you should go. It is a process, but it's more than doable. If fact everything is in our favor for us to succeed. I particularly liked the talk about being overwhelmed with responsibilities (given in priesthood session focusing of priesthood responsibilities but pertains to all callings and assignments). Sometimes we come to walls where it seems that we need to take two different routes but cannot do them both. He taught us so plainly. I thought it was a wonderful talk! He spoke on the responsibilities and the importance of finding a balance between family, callings, and our job. He gave us the process we should take to find answers to our seemingly impossible situation that we are in. He gave an example of a member that is moving himself and hurt his back mid-saturday and needs to move everything by saturday. He calls his EQP and the EQP already has things planned out for the day with things he promised his children that he would do with them. Knowing the the other Quorum members were probably in similar situations, not being able to help, as it is mid-saturday already, what do you do? I loved that talk.

President Monson is surely the Lord's prophet today. He speaks with power and authority and so sincerely. Having met several general authorities on my mission thus far (and just barely missed another one coming next week =-( ) they certainly live the gospel and they are happy people. They live happy lives. You can see it in them. They have testimonies of the gospel, their priorities are right and they know that what they are doing helps move the work of the Lord forward. And they all have a good sense of humor. I was amazed at Elder Bednar's and Elder Anderson's sense of humor. You don't see it as much on TV. President Monson's you do sometimes, but not so much the rest of them.

I love you all! I'll see some of you in a week.

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, September 30, 2013

Two Weeks Left

Dear Mom,
now I'm writing to Joshua,
I have lots of things that I could say about how to get along with unmotivated missionaries, however unfortunately I'm not making the time today to respond to that question... I'll do it later, I just made a note to do so.
I will probably not send you another letter while I'm on my mission, because I only have one more Monday to get things ready for an upcoming event. Alas, I promise to send you letters when I get transferred in a couple weeks. (I haven't stayed in an area more than 6 months before, so it'll probably happen.)

Back to mom
I am more than happy to attend seminary when I get back. It will be fun. I do want to make note than the plane will land in Modesto approx 1 or 2 am Georgia time and I have stuff I'm going to do and will not go to sleep during the flights (another note: I don't really care either, I will attend seminary, I'm not even sure why I want to emphasize that). I will need to figure out what the new scripture masteries even are before then somehow (probably morning of the 15th), I haven't seen the new one's yet, I'm probably already familiar with whatever they are though. It sounds like fun, I'm all for it.

20 minute lesson for Family Home Evening? did family home evening get shorter since I left? they used to last hours didn't they? ok, I guess I might be able to prepare a 20 minute lesson, we'll see...

Did I ever tell you about Franky, from the Bible study group that we go to on a nearly weekly basis? The one who read the whole BoM in two weeks? Well, this past week we had him download "lds gospel library" and he read the entire Pearl of Great Price and the first 36 sections of D&C. We gave him and his parents (the Dad is partly anti-mormon) a Church tour. It went wonderfully. They all surely felt the Spirit. Bill, the Bible Study group leader is going to be a Reverend in a couple of weeks and this Thursday we'll be giving him a Church tour. He's a pretty awesome person too, He's seeking for all things of truth. He told the Bible study group (around 15 people yesterday) that somebody asked him about why he had Mormons coming to his Bible study group, Bill responded something to the effect of, "They come to be with us in the Lord, and why aren't you coming too?" To which Bill was responded, "Uh, I don't know". 

There were two baptisms this past 3 days, one child of record and another sister named Samantha Gordon. It is fun to have baptisms. The only stressful part about baptisms is all the preparation that goes into it. However, both of these baptisms went pretty smoothly, and there were plenty of people we introduced the Restoration of the Gospel to during the time the baptismal candidates were getting dressed following the baptism. 

I prepared a talk on "courage/strength/assurance" using a talk, but I didn't get the talk to take stuff from until Saturday, I read the 5 page talk Saturday night, and didn't start writing the talk (I did jot down notes of things throughout the 2 days prior though) till the first Sacrament meeting on Sunday. I didn't use anything from the talk at all, it was a good talk though, Gordon B Hinkley said some inspirational things about not having fear, I just had a different direction I wanted to take the talk so I didn't use it. I was well prepared before the first speaker finished. I was listening to her talk too, and she gave a good talk. (I made good notes, just had to organize them) I was the last speaker in the second Sacrament meeting and I was expecting to have 20 min left over. There were three speakers, a RC went first, Sister Russell went second (a sister missionary in the ward), and I was to go third. The other two talks together should have taken about 20 minutes. Sacrament meeting should have been finished by the time I got to the pulpit. I asked the bishop as I walked up to the pulpit how long he wanted me to speak being aware of the time, he whispered 2 minutes.. OK. So I gave a 3 or 4 minute talk. I felt super prepared for the talk though. I'm sad I wasn't able to actually give it. I feel like I could have spoken the entire sacrament meeting and everyone would have still been listening intently at the end. Oh well. I'll have to do it again some other time. I feel like my focused studies are getting better and better and I'm becoming more and more acquainted with the scriptures to pull examples from the scriptural events that took place.

I ought to be sending a package home today some time (hopefully). So you ought to receive something of the sort later this week.

I love you all lots!

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, September 23, 2013


Did I say Elder Kato? I meant Elder Sato. He's been studying about the driving stuff for a while. Probably today or Wednesday we will have him take his test. There is a bunch of headache stuff he needs to get in order to get a drivers license because he's from Japan. For instance: a SSN denial letter. Multiple proofs of living in Georgia, etc. All will go well though.

Thank you for the idea about mailing the bike to Alexandria, I will certainly do that.

I'll probably take up Bro Lung on the fun activities of doing some manual labor, sounds like a blast!

Thank you Joshua for the remarks about the Holy Ghost. That is a good scripture to use. That topic has been on my mind a lot lately too. I've used the importance and significance of having the gift of the Holy Ghost vs the influence of the Holy Ghost example in many talks, trainings, and testimonies over the past 5 months. I also have learned that just about all of the things that we do are to help us have the spirit be with us.

I specifically remember thinking before my mission and during the first part of my mission that it would be hard for me to give trainings or talks that last for more than 10 minutes... If I had complete control of things, which I don't, and should share the time anyway, I'd have everybody come together and unload for 3 or so hours with great trainings and spiritually uplifting things. I plan on taking some family home evenings (if that's ok Dad) at home to teach some greatly motivational things (I'll break them down in 40 minutes segments). Thank you for inviting the Lungs to my home-coming talk. I plan to do that same with many other people as well.

I am going to train tomorrow on "Eternal Perspectives" and on "motivating missionaries for missionary work." Should be great! The other trainings will also go great, I'm aware of a few of the trainings and how they are going to do them. Should be awesome!

We have been in a 3 pack temporarily for the past week and possibly till the end of the transfer. We have had lots of fun together in the 3 pack too. We cover 2 wards and get to combine the dinners of the wards (which means there's an averages of 1.3 meals given to us a day including lunches) and get to traverse the whole place. There are 2 particular investigators that are super super smart, kind of like Dad, except w/o the HG. One of them is a quantum physics guy and the other already read the BoM in two weeks. Both are looking "beyond the mark" though. They both flattered me though. One of them gave me a sincere compliment and told me that he thought I was very passionate about the missionary work. While we were teaching the other, his acquaintances told me that I seem to have a lot of the qualities that this guy has of whom they all esteem as super smart. =-) Blessings of being on the Lord's errand I guess.

Love you all! I've run out of time though, ta ta for now!

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Old Friends

Ha! The cardboard missionaries are kind of funny idea.

I would love to give a talk at Colton's baptism! I'm more than happy to do that. (topic: baptism? confirmation? both?) I'll ask you about it later. You can just remind me about it later actually. (Thank you).

I did remember who the Hanson family was the first time Bro Jensen (uncle -ish) mentioned him to me 3 weeks ago. It was fun time spent with them. [The following pictures come from them].

On Friday night, we went to Natalie's uncles house to have dinner with his family and the missionaries happened to be there. 
Elder Walker gave a great message from Alma 5 regarding leading by example and lifting people like Christ does- it was a great Christ centered spiritual thought. We are very proud of Ben, he is a great missionary! It was really nice to see him.
I am pretty sure mother that I've sent you that talk early in my mission... if I didn't send it, then I wrote to you about it, or I told you about it. I think you just forgot, good luck remembering it the second time. =-) (love you mom). I didn't read that article, or even see it, in the Ensign yet. If I were to guess, it was given 10 years ago at some fireside and they finally printed it in the Ensign. (That information can be found at the end of the article.)

Joshua, I'm going to write you a letter today and answer all of your questions from your various letters you sent me in in one letter, including the question from last week about reincarnation. I think it's interesting that I came up with many of the same questions earlier in my mission, but I discovered the answers since then.

I am having so much fun with Elder Sato he is a spectacular missionary! He is a very humble person. We have near daily occurrences where Elder Sato has what I call a "language barrier" where Elder Sato says, "yep...ok...uh huh..." then afterwards I ask him if he understood anything and he says, "uh, no I didn't understand any of it". It is very funny when this takes place. I get to teach elder Sato how to drive this transfer too. He's got a Japanese license but not a american one. It'll be fun to do that.

We had a ZTM (Zone training meeting) meeting a MLC (mission leadership council) and other cool stuff take place this week. They all went very well, and I had lots of fun with them.

Unfortunately for reasons that I'll tell you after my mission, my time is spent today. Love you all! see you later,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Companion and Investigators

First of all, I wanted to comment on Joshua's email... That kind of lesson is actually normal for us, the only difference being that I don't sing in lessons and the investigators usually don't laugh. In fact the last lesson we taught (yesterday) was with a Jehovah's Witness pastor. Our area I live in now is the suburbs of Augusta and a large percentage of the pastors for an 1.5 hour radius live in this area. I've got speculations why, but I shall not say... but I did want to make the note that Joshua's lesson he had is quite normal here. I've got another story for you along the same lines: On Saturday we had another lesson like this one, this particular person was anti-mormon yet is nice at the same time. They were saying some bad things about the beliefs we have and my companion (Elder Sato) bore a powerful testimony, immediately following I ended the lesson and we left. Not ten minutes later they texted us and invited us back for dinner... unfortunately we declined because of other appointments we had, but instead they invited us over next Saturday for dinner. I did not expect them to do that... There is a "sweet spot" in lessons when you hit them with the Spirit really hard then leave them hungry for more. I love to do that. It works better than defending our doctrine or going into unnecessary depth of doctrine every time.

Elder Sato is from Japan. He didn't speak English before he came to the America's. He is a wonderful companion! I really love him lots. Turns out we have 8 different families that can speak Japanese in our ward. How often does that happen? It's probably due to it being a military ward and having had a lot of members go on missions. It is so much fun to help him learn English too. It reminds me a lot of my desire to learn Spanish when I get back home. (He's a year out on his mission, but still gets to have an hour of language study a day. Fluent, not eloquent, and regular grammar problems in speech.) We had dinner with a Japanese family yesterday in our ward. Elder Sato had so much fun, this may have been the only time his whole mission that he'll have an experience like that. Something else interesting, he has his Japanese Bible and Triple Combination and he always looks up the references in Japanese first, then in English. It's funny to watch and it makes for great conversation starters when meeting new people. (I think that's an awesome talent to have.)

Just so I don't forget in the future, our next door neighbor, in the Stevens Creek Ward (we live outside of our ward boundaries with the Steven Creek elders) is an amazing person too, I'll be sure to tell you about him another time.

I think the member G. Jensen in our ward is the uncle of Bro Hanson. We will be eating dinner with Bro Hanson and Bro and Sis Jensen on Friday. That's going to be fun. I bet that doesn't happen very often on missions.

I love the plans you've made with the new house! I think it's brilliant. I've already thought of ways I'm going to request of you that I use it too.

Oh, I've got a really funny story that I've got to tell you:
So, the only Japanese speaking members that I new before Elder Sato got here is the Jenkins family. Bro Jenkins is the 1st counselor in the bishopric and served a mission in Japan, and his wife is from Japan and went to school at BYU-Provo and they have 4 kids all of which speak Japanese. They speak Japanese in their home (same family that fed us yesterday). So, right when I got here, 4.5 months ago, we bluetoothed all of the contact information from the sister missionaries phone and deleted everybody that wasn't included on the roster so we had the ward members numbers on our phone without having to put them in ourselves. One of the numbers was under the name of "Bro Jenkins" not on the roster. We called the two numbers for the Jenkins family on the roster, neither answered. We were going to have Elder Sato just speak Japanese to them. We thought it be fun for Elder Sato and Bro or Sis Jenkins. We then proceeded to call the third phone number under the name of Bro Jenkins, The conversation went as follows according to my memory (Elder Sato helped me with the Japanese =-))
Elder Sato: (I have to be on the right computer in order to get Japanese characters, unfortunately, this one doesn't have it)
"Bro Jenkins": Hello?
Elder Sato: 
"Bro Jenkins": Hello?
Elder Sato: 
"Bro Jenkins": Hello?
Elder Sato: Is this Sister Jenkins?
"Bro Jenkins": Hello?
Elder Walker: Hello, is this the Jenkins family?
"Bro Jenkins": No, this isn't
Elder Walker: Oh, if you're not brother Jenkins we don't know who you are
"Bro Jenkins": Hey are you the people that texted me about the bible study?
Elder Walker:   ... yes, I think that was us
(Recollection of us texting this number the week before... this is the text verbatim we sent this number which we never got a response for: Hey Bro Jenkins there is going to be a baptism next week on September 7th  at 10:30. Would it be good for it to be announced at church for opening announcements?)
"Bro Jenkins": Oh ok, I'm <name>, I wanted to come to that. May I bring my daughter, <name>, too?
Elder Walker: Of course, that'd be great, May I text you the time and address?
"Bro Jenkins": Ya that'd be great!
Elder Walker: I'm Elder Walker. We'll see you there!
(I then proceeded to give her the address of the church building and time of service and also for the baptism.)

What makes this whole thing funnier is that Elder Heyland wanted to video Elder Sato speaking in Japanese, so he got the whole thing on video, I'll try to get the video and email it home!

Love you all!
Thanks for the spiritual thought mother!
Love you lots!

I taught the lesson yesterday. It was on the Word of Wisdom and I gave a great analogy using Alma 47 (I think) with Amalickiah.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Missionary Meetings

We had another super awesome last-second meeting, this time only with the ZL's and sister training leaders, and the APs and Pres. and Sis Cottle. It was with Elder Giddens of the 70. Do you recognize that name? That is the same person that I met with Elder Gonzalez of the 70 over a year ago. Elder Giddens came directly from the Atlanta mission conference to us. So this past Saturday we had a meeting with him and drove out to Macon and back. Took pretty much the whole day also. 2.5h drive each way. I am very blessed. He talked all about leadership. It was a very powerful experience. He certainly knows his scriptures and D&C 84:85 was pretty evidently used.

Also I gave a talk yesterday it was going to be 5 minutes, but the main speaker called in sick and they asked me before Sacrament if it could be 15 minutes. I'm pretty good with planning talks on short notice now. They're lots of fun too. I certainly will keep that skill handy for the experiences I'm bound to have. I started my talk with something similar to what Joshua ended his last email letter with, "I'm really excited to give this talk, I just hope it turns out as good as it did in my head..."

Something that they've been doing in our ward is they are having the members of the ward that are preparing for or have their mission call (each out of high school and seminary) become a teacher's aid for the seminary classes. There are two in each class for the seminary classes here. They are only each doing it for a couple months because their calls will send them away, but it seems to be a great experience for those to help teach the gospel by teaching it to seminary with the teachers. Just an idea.

Btw I am more than happy to help build the fence. I'd love to do that. Sounds like fun.
I received your letters and I thought they were great... unfortunately I'm behind in replying to the letters I'm getting so Mother, I will not be able to send you a happy birthday letter. I hope you know that I love you lots and that I'm thinking of you today. And as I pondered on that this last week I realized that I may not have made any mention of Dad's birthday! oh no... I felt bad for a little bit. I got over it quick, he'll be ok. (Dad has Rhinoceros skin, it's 2 inches think, nothing can get to him!, so I'm sure he's fine.) Odds are that I'm going to be transferred before the family of four we're working with is going to be baptized on the 7th (transfers is on the 3rd). That's the way of the mission sometimes, leaving the field with plenty to harvest.

Note for Joshua:
Elder Tanner Heyland, who lives with me, currently serving in the Stevens Creek Ward, is from Draper Utah, if you happen to be in that area, he's got some friends that he wants you to teach, so let me know if you do or ever are in that area, one of which who he told me about is less-active and thinks that talking with missionaries will help his out. He's from the Draper 4th ward.


Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sone Conference and Investigators

From Elder B. Walker's Mother: Ben, funny thing happened with your new missionary plaque.  It has you returning home in November instead of October.

No problem mother...
and no worries about the plaque, I don't mind at all. Who knows, 25 years down the road I might start thinking I received a transfer extension.

So, some interesting things about the conferences (notice plural) this week.

Zone conference went great. We have them every other transfer (once every 3 months). Ya, I provided a training, it is normal for that to occur. (For the Zone Leaders to provide a training for their zone). I would have been surprised if I wasn't assigned one to do. The theme of the zone conferences had to do with using the Book of Mormon. My training was to use the Book of Mormon to confirm the message of the restoration. The stake president visited for a little bit, President Squires, he's a good stake president. In his stake mission plan he's helping the members bring friends to church, so we, as missionaries, can find new people to teach at church. That's where the four baptisms are coming from in our ward on the 7th of Sept.

So, on Thursday night we received a call from the assistants (to President Cottle) that Elder Anderson (of the quorum of the 12) is going to the Columbus Stake Conference that weekend and that he wants to have a mission conference with our mission on Saturday. It was a last-second mission conference with Elder Anderson. That is pretty cool. I drove the most consecutively I've ever done in my life without switching with somebody else. it was a 4.5 hour drive from where I'm at to Columbus Stake center. That pretty much took up our entire day. Something funny that Elder Anderson told us:
He shook hands with Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin after a talk in his ward he gave (years ago) who shook hands with some old lady (many more years ago) who shook hands with Joseph Smith in the streets. So, let me take that one step further: I shook hands with Elder Anderson who shook hands with Elder Wirthlin who shook hands with some old lady who shook hands with the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. He spoke of patience, he told us that our mission is a difficult one, he told us to memorize 10-15 passages in the New Testament to quote to people, he spoke about how no effort is wasted, and gave some examples, Friday night he visited with a non-member friend he hadn't seen in over 20 years and gave two missionaries an apostle referral to go see them and took his picture with them individually to email his friend to let him know who the two missionaries were that are going to see him. (we also got a group picture with Elder Anderson btw.) It's been fun. 

Dana, and her three kids came to church yesterday for the 3rd or 4th or 5th time (lost count), and they're going to be baptized on the 7th. They are a good family. They are lots of fun to teach too.

We stopped by one of our investigators we hadn't seen in a while and her husband's funeral was that day (he died sometime between the time that we'd seen them before); Italia greatly appreciated us stopping by and sent us home with lots of food. She's got deep roots in Catholicism.

We had a fun exchange with one of the priests in the ward too, we were able to teach a couple of lessons with him.

(hmm, anything else?)
Love you all,

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker