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, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

I wanted to tell you about one of our investigators... A week ago Saturday we called W. to confirm our appointment for Saturday morning and he dropped us over the phone. He never wanted to see us back at his home again and wasn't interested in the church. I asked him if he had read any of the Book of Mormon or prayed about it at all, his answer was no. I committed him to read something, anything and pray about it and told him that we'd come by in a couple of days to see if he changed his mind. He told us to not come over because he didn't want to see us any more. I told him we'd call him then, he consented and we left it at that. On Wednesday evening, we were on an exchange and our plans ran short and we were near his home so we went over to see him anyway instead of giving him a call. He let us right in, we taught him about the Book of Mormon, he told us he didn't pray or read, but he committed to church (which was one of his big hangups) and committed to be baptized. I tell you I was pretty confused, I was expecting him to not even let us in the door again. Alas, he came to church, and is still committed to be baptized. It was kind of a neat unexpected miracle. Since then, he has started reading the Book of Mormon and now has a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Very interesting. I'm short on time for various reasons, one of which is because we are at a member's home; however, I will talk to you tomorrow. 

I meant to make a bunch of Christmas cards and send them to a variety of people, but all the Walmart photo maker machines are broken thus unfortunatley my Christmas letters aren't going to get sent or made. =( I just don't have time to write everybody.

My time is spent, I love you all,
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, December 17, 2012

Investigators' Micracles

I always enjoy hearing about the things that are happening at home. I have never felt any kind of remorse or discouragement for hearing about what is happening at home while I'm here, so keep the family news coming. I know why I'm on a mission, and nothing is going to distract me from it.

This is and excerpt of what I emailed President Holm:
We had a pretty good week. P. and B. both have outstanding faith. They are our investigators on date for December 29th. I must tell you their miracle display to us of their faith. Here's two of our little miracles for the week:
B. is a person that moved out here to Orangeburg because this is where his parents are and they opened up their home to him to live in for a time. He was just separated from his wife/baby's mother and gets to see his 2 year old daughter every weekend of so. B. came out here having just lost his job and two days later gets a job. His dedication enables him to drive three hours each way (6 hours total) to work every single day. As such, it wore on him pretty fast so he decided that he's going to stay out there for a week so he doesn't need to travel back and forth so often. Last Saturday night is two weeks before his baptism and we needed to teach him the Word of Wisdom so he can start living it before this week is over. B. is such a strong individual; he handed us his cigarettes and lighter and we swapped him for cinnamon toothpaste (which turns out is the same one he's used before and apparently works pretty well). He is a very strong individual and came to church yesterday and brought his two year old daughter. 
P. is in a similar situation-ish. He is leaving for 5 days this week as well, and he's also being baptized the same time B. is. Once again, we hadn't taught him about the Word of Wisdom yet. So, yesterday we saw him (he's out of state by now) and he told us of concerns that had been brought up to him from his old pastor, his friends, and family. They anti'd him. Good ol' P. though knew just what to do when he heard all the anti stuff; he went to mormon.org and read lots about it and watched a bunch of the videos. Problem solved. Then he just wanted to confirm what he understood with us. One of the things that his family/friends told him is that we would trick him into quitting his job so he would be a pastor of his own church for the Mormon church. He said, if that's true, then I'll do it, but I want to start the church back in my home in India. What a great guy... We also taught him the Word of Wisdom which we all know he's struggling with, and committed him to live it over the time that he'll be out of state. They are both so trusting in the Lord; they'll both surely be blessed for it.
I hope the package gets here by Tuesday night. Wednesday is our Christmas Zone Conference and we will receive the packages then. They can forward all mail to us that is "priority mail"; the packages that aren't priority wait till we have some sort of meeting large enough that either the assistants to the President or President himself attends.

We have been having lots of fun here in Orangeburg. The bishop is great, the ward is great, the people are great, our investigators are great. God is great, the Christmas season is great, Elder Gonzalez is great, and y'all great too (<-- that's southern talk for "you all are great as well" with emphasis on "you all").

Oh, by the way I didn't answer your question last week: I did receive the memory card, thank you for it. It's even twice the size of the one that broke. I'm probably going to send some stuff home that I ought not carry around with me, being dead weight, because I'm not going to use it on my mission, but rather after it.

Let Robert know that he would astound me if he reached my height by the end of my mission, and frankly, it's impossible to be my height without being able to grab the basketball rim. So if he wants to be as tall as me, he needs to grow in jumping capability and be able to touch/grab the gym basketball rim. It's a prerequisite to added height.

I love you mother, father, sisters, brothers!
Enjoy the new car Dad!
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, December 10, 2012

Final Notes of Missionary Conference with Elder Bednar

Reminder: Elder Walker does not quote Elder Bednar word for word, but rather the message Elder Walker personally received from the conference.

This is what I didn't finish from my other email weeks ago about my notes on Elder Bednar:

Character is revealed in a moment of tremendous crisis because you don't have time to prepare, who you have become shows instantly.

Who you are is much more important that what you say. Don't worry about how we present the message... It's who we have become that makes all the difference.

One of the revelations that I received is to use the technique with the blank copies of the Book of Mormon that Elder Bednar gave me and, while I'm on my mission, use that technique for those things I will be teaching such as: faith, pre-mortal life, repentance, restoration, Godhead character, etc. The other stuff such as priesthood of visions or dreams can wait till after I'm off my mission.

The doctrine to motivate people to do what they are supposed to is the atonement.

Don't try to force any revelations of blessing else a false spirit answers and we can't tell the difference between God and our own emotions.

Concerning Elder Bednar's gift of discernment, heaven orchestrates the sequence of questions

Spirit of discernment:
A lot of the time when we have a thought we don't realize that it was a prompting until after we act of it.

I (Elder Bednar) don't think Nephi would have gone the 3rd time if he didn't learn his lessons he needed to the first 2 times. (concerning getting the brass plates)

You can ask to see yourself as you really are, but don't ask unless you really mean it, because you may see things you don't like.
Scriptural phrase: "see things as they really are" -> they lead to deep real repentance. You can't have improvement through repentance w/o anguish.

I know what Elder Bednar says is true!

If "I" want to have faith so "I" can move a mountain, then it's not going to move if it's not according to God's will. If I am seeking God's will and discern by the spirit that God wants the mountain moved, then the mountain will move by my faith.

Members tend to do things as pendulums. Some general authority focuses on temple work and temple work goes up. 6 months later they focus of food storage and temple work goes down and food storage does up. Don't you think they still want you to remember what they said before?

2 questions to answer from time with Elder Bednar:

Q1 Based upon what I have learned, observed, and felt today, what will I do?
Q2  (same as questions 1 but I -> we, for companionship)

Apostalic promise: work as hard as I can and we'll receive courage..... (There was more to it but I didn't write it down because he asked us to put away our notes so we don't make a ruckus of putting things away during his testimony).

Surprise Talk

Elder Walker's family received a letter from his mission president informing them of his call to serve as a District Leader. He began his service as District Leader when he was transferred to Orangeburg.

I'm glad you opened your letter to me about giving talks. Guess who gave a talk yesterday? I was asked 5 minutes before sacrament meeting if I would give a talk. Among greeting people and being excited for many of our investigators that ended up showing up these were my notes by the time I reached the pulpit that I wrote down on a sticky note:

Amalickiah story
Alma 47:18
1 Ne 4:31 vs 1 Ne 2:16
1 Ne 4:6
overcoming temptation
Hel 3:29
Alma 17:11 -> Alma 26:16
Alma 57:21
Hel 10:4-5 -> 3 Ne 7:18
3 Ne 17:3

I also ended up reading part of Matt chapter 4 right before 3 Ne 17:3 and I announced my talk title at the beginning of my talk as "temptation and trials and how we can overcome them". I ended up giving about a 20 min talk... it was a little sketchy and would have been loads better had I had 30 min preparation, but it was still pretty good.

Bishop Ross is our bishop. He is a very busy bishop but found time to come out with us to two lessons Saturday night (both of which came to Sacrament meeting). The lessons went great and one of them is half on date to be baptized and the other will be baptized. B– is someone we met Thursday and is the person on date to be baptized. The day before he lost his job and drove out to Orangeburg to live with his parents for a little while, the week before he got separated and his 2 year old daughter is stuck in the middle of it. We talked to him Thursday and spoke to him for about 10-15 min standing outside by his truck. When we first saw him he was depressed, when we left he was uplifted and thinks, "This might be the thing I am looking for." He told us Saturday night with Bishop that immediately after we left he "got very very emotional" and "knows that God does care about him" and no longer, if he ever did, believe in coincidences.

Bishop, then at church, found two other people he didn't recognize at church, one of which came on her own from a recommendation from her co-worker from the Aiken ward and ended up knowing the Relief Society president 40 years ago. The other person was Lee: Lee is a newspaper journalist writer and our investigator. Bishop was so hyped up on the Spirit because of the great missionary work he took part in from the night before that after we introduced him to Lee at church he took it upon himself to give him a church tour during the Sunday School hour. A good number of less-active members came too! If we keep up this rate of progression, then we'll end up being really good servants of the Lord by the end of the transfer: the day Joshua leaves.

Well, I brought my journal, so I'll continue my other entree that has been a draft for a long time now about Elder Bedner, just remember, don't quote me quoting Elder Bednar, in case I didn't quote him verbatim or in the context he intended it to be in.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Recommendations and New Area

First of all, to answer some questions, my GPS was within 3 days of being under warranty  so I was sent a new one, but I don't have it yet because it's wandering around somewhere in the mission as a lost package that I'm sure will show up sometime sooner or later. It's not the first time that happened, it's the second. I just received the book you sent me by Elder Bednar a week and a half ago, I haven't asked about being able to read it, but I'm pretty sure the answer is going to be "no," I'll find out tomorrow.

Secondly, I actually agree, I would say that the weather is worse over in California than it is here, except for the humidity, the once every couple years hurricane, the once every couple years snow, and the occasional tornadoes; none of which I have seen yet. However, when it does get cold, it's a different kind of "cold,"and it is very cold; last year there were only about 10 days worth of it though.

As far as the slacks/shoes/shirts/etc. I'm sure I'll be fine for the rest of my mission. The pants are still brand new except for a couple tears that was caused by the gears of my bike. I haven't used/opened a single new shirt I've been given from you, nor do I think I will, I even bought one for myself right before that that I don't think I'm going to use. One member did give me one shirt that I do use though. It seems that missionaries wear out their clothes fast, mine are hardly worn at all. My old suit is very sun bleached, I'm probably going to throw it away before my mission is over, so I bought another suit jacket from goodwill that is nearly the same color as one of the many pants I have and use that as a suit; I bought it for $5. I recommend that you don't send me any clothes, while other missionaries go through their clothing fast, mine don't wear that much at all. My shoes have been very good to me, they are worn in, but I'm pretty sure they will last great for the rest of my mission, they are still pretty much waterproof too, I just need to remember to polish them. If I receive anything at all, I could probably use 2 pairs of black socks, I think I have 7 pairs of black and two of brown which is plenty for the week, but I have two pairs of socks that are starting to get holes in them.

Oh, recommendation for Joshua: don't buy more than three dress pants for him, he'll probably wear his suit most of the time anyway, especially because it is a lot colder there than here, and we wear suits a lot. Also, I think that he'd like a nice bike too, it ought to last him for a lot of years if he takes care of it. The only hard part will be sending it home after his mission, some missionaries never want to ride a bike again and just pawn their bike off or donate it to the mission or give it to another missionary.

Tell Robert that he is already a missionary and will excel in the field when he's set apart as one. Monica too if she's going to choose to serve.

The area that the Orangeburg ward covers is exactly twice the size of the Salt Lake Valley. There are probably more stakes in the Salt Lake Valley than there are active members here in this area. We also cover another county that has a branch in it and we almost never go over there unless the senior missionaries in that branch find someone to teach, then they come and pick us up for that appointment because it's too far a drive for us to go with our limited miles.

I really like Orangeburg. If I was going to tour Orangeburg, this wouldn't be the place to go, because there is no documentable history that has gone on here in this area, but because I'm here for a different purpose, this is a great place to be.

The new thing the church was inspired with at www.lds.org/youth/learn (click "read" on "Teaching the gospel in the Savior's way") is almost without a doubt greatly inspired by the hand of Elder Bednar, because almost everything on that website I've read about includes some principal that he talked to us about. Once again, I didn't bring my journal, sorry for that, it just might not ever happen now... just kidding, I'll bring it next week.

I know that the church is true, and so do you from your scripture reference at the bottom of your email. (I'm going to get cocky for a moment here:) When I was reading your email, after I read the "Holy Ghost with the tongue of angels" and before I read the reference given" (2 Nephi 31-32) in your email, I was already thinking about the specific scriptures in those two chapters that expound about it.

My time is far spent, sorry I didn't say much today. I can never remember the things I want to say when I'm actually at the library.

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker