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

Monday, August 12, 2013

Baptisms and Life

We don't actually have a standardized way that I've ever seen with teaching the LoC to younger baptismal candidates. I definitely would use simplified language though. Here's probably a direction I'd take it:
Do you understand why your parents won't let you watch certain movies? They talk about bad things and they sometimes do bad things, the swearing is part of it, but sometime they show or do other bad stuff too, that's part of the law of chastity. Don't look at bad pictures. I did a quick search of lds.org and came up with this: Chastity and Modesty
Seems to teach it simply pretty well.
It might be something worth while to give the parents to and have them teach their children the LoC (to a greater extent than we do) using that link above as a guide.

Dana and her family are awesome! They are definitely going to be baptized. A lady named Kelly that I found a while ago came to church today and thought it was great. I taught the gospel principles class. I'm more than willing to teach any class any day of the week. I wanted to be called on to give a talk yesterday too, which I didn't get to give. I thought the bishop was going to surprise us on the ward program with the opportunity to speak to the ward. He told us he's going to assign us to speak eventually, but didn't tell us when.

It's fun to go on exchanges we get to organize a lot more of them because of my assignment.

It's fun to help organize the mission meetings we have, and to address my ideas to the mission leadership. As President Hinckley once said to those close around him, "I want a lively debate, but after the decision is made the debate is over." I offer some good debates sometimes.

Steak lunch ($60 slab of meat, provided, we cooked), steak dinner (surely also expensive but provided), 5/6 bowls of cereal for breakfast, then an eating competition to eat a large 3 patty burger, a large drink, and a large plate/tray of fries under an hour, all back to back. I didn't eat the rest of that day. I got my picture taken though and put on the wall. (1/3 of the pictures on the wall are missionaries that served around the area in the past. lol) The next day during lunch time we tracted into somebody moving, we helped, and they happened to own a restaurant, and called and ordered free food for us that we drove over to and ate. Then we were given a large dinner. I weighed myself immediately after the large burger and fries and drink that I ate, and I think I lost weight... The only reason that I can think of is that I'm not riding my bike as much so I'm probably losing muscle. I probably broke the word of wisdom on eating too much and not eating meat scarcely this week, but I still lost weight, that's good right?

Tomorrow we have a zone conference. Should be fun, I helped with a lot of the organizing of it.

Here's a fasting insight for you.

In Isaiah 58:3-11 the lord comes to us and says, "here I am" I'm pretty sure that's the only place in the scriptures it does it that way

Monday, August 5, 2013

Response to Elder J. Walker's Questions

Mom's Advice to her son Elder Joshua Walker:
Joshua, here are the beginnings of answers to your questions, but let me tell you that as you ponder and study, the answers will become more apparent.
To start with: 1) with regards to people going to the Terrestrial Kingdom because they would not receive the testimony of Christ in the flesh. I believe that this refers to people that received a strong witness that Jesus is the Christ and they know what they are supposed to do about it, but for whatever reason, they don't want to let go of their sins (or pride, etc.) so they are unable to go forward. A purposeful choice is made of pride over Christ. They aren't evil per se, just too comfortable to change. Fortunately, it is the Lord who will judge.  We just keep trying.  Food for thought though, it is those who received not the testimony of Christ, . . . it didn't say the Church. That might be something different.
2)What is an intelligence? That could be a fascinating study. Keep your eyes, ears, heart and mind open. We know that before we became spirits we existed as intelligence. Elder Bednar also teaches that as we act in obedience to doctrine our intelligence increases. Is he referring to the same "intelligence"? I think he is. 
Josh, I would suggest that you keep a list of your questions in your journal. Then as you go through your regular course of scripture study you occasionally refer back to the questions so you know what you are looking for. Answers that you discover yourself will always mean more to you than the answers your mother gives you.
Mom's advice is good, Joshua, I recommend you follow it... 
Here's a thought for your first question... It is easier for people to repent when they have forces that try to pull you away (like temptations or discomforts that a physical body presents) that aren't available in the spirit world and that don't happen with a perfected body.
Here's a section to more in depth address your second question. It'll make for a fun study sometime. D&C Section 93.

You were right mother, I didn't keep track of Alexandria's and BJ's anniversary in the least. It flew by unnoticed (sorry Alexandria =-(  ). That can be a good thing though it's kind of weird to have a married sister to a brother-in-law I've hardly met (that's you BJ). I'm sure I'll get to know him someday.

I wrote down the names of the people that the Cooper's mentioned, if I ever make it over there. (Time's a dwindling ever so fast!)

You are super-duper Monica. That blog was an inspired thing to start. I've thought about doing something like that (in a journal), but I keep on convincing myself not to do so, because of my limited time and resources (a keyboard). 

There is "new scripture mastery"? or are you just talking about the book of mormon scripture mastery that hasn't been introduced to the seminary students yet?

School over here starts tomorrow (tues) for just about all of the public schools.

This past week our zone had a ZTM (Zone Training Meeting) I thought it was awesome! It went great! I loved it. Trainings (and those that gave them) were inspired, and all were edified. Dana and her family are most certainly going to be baptized in the near future. I've never seen somebody so excited to accept the invitation to be taught the gospel before. The member fellowshipper asked her if she's still interested in learning about the church from the missionaries immediately following our gospel principle sunday school lesson and she turned from sis dayton and looked directly at me and said, "yes! I'd love to!" How about tues! Bro Dayton said, would it be alright if we joined you at the lesson? Dana quickly replied, "no, you can't come... just kidding =-)" That family will join us all in the celestial kingdom, you'll get to meet them later if not in the next 20-30 years.

Love you all!

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, July 29, 2013

Unique Missionary Experiences

I haven't been losing weight mother... no need to worry... I definitely gained weight since the beginning of my mission. I gain weight every time I get to ride a bike, and I stay the same when I get to ride in a car. I'm pretty sure I came out around 120-130ish; now I'm 155ish.

I went to a branch yesterday in addition to our own sacrament meeting for complications for needing to do an interview for an investigator who all at once decided he needed to be baptized next week. Before Sacrament, Elder Douglas, the elder I was with, was asked to give a short talk about missionary work, and we were both asked to pass the sacrament. (Only the two of us passed to the 25ish members there.) After the intermediate hymn they announced the next speakers: the missionaries, which included me. So I had a grand total of zero seconds (plus how long it took to walk 20 feet away to the pulpit) to prepare a talk. I hadn't come up with anything yet when I reached the pulpit. Kind of interesting experience. Out of it all though, It was the most comfortable talk I've ever given. Usually my pulse skyrockets when I'm in a "struggly" situation or really nervous or put on the spot. I didn't feel any of that, and it went great for the time I had to prepare. I just gave a spiritual thought about missionary work, using 2 Nephi 32:2-4 and paraphrased the parable in the end of Luke ch 16 with insights on both. Fun stuff: be one of two to pass the sacrament, give a talk, and interview a candidate for membership in the church in a branch you don't belong to the first time you ever attend a branch in your entire life. Not very many people get to do that. 

Elder Lang is my new companion here in Evans, GA in the Martinez ward. He's from Utah. Out of the 10 missionaries that go to this meetinghouse church building of ours, I'm the only one not from Utah. 
Miracles are out there! This is the time to declare the gospel more than ever before, For behold, the time is Nigh at hand.

We get to drive to Macon once a month now. That's a 3 hour drive each way...  I'm going to enjoy the meetings. but probably not the drive. I've already made that trip once for transfers. Now I'm going to do it again for Missionary Leadership Council on a monthly basis. That's ok though, Now I get to listen to 6 hours worth of talks tomorrow =-)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Zone Leader and Investigator

I was assigned to be a Zone Leader as of tomorrow (transfers are on Tuesdays now). I'm staying in the Martinez ward and they are splitting the Zone. I must say, I went on exchanges with our Zone Leaders Friday/Saturday and I decided that I didn't want to be a zone leader on my mission because they have a lot of stuff they get to do that can get boring sometimes that I didn't want to deal with. Not ten minutes after our exchange ended President Cottle called and asked if I'd accept the assignment to be a Zone Leader.... I almost choked on "I accept"... right after I decided I didn't want to do it, the Lord sees fit that I need to grow in that area. That seems to happen in life a lot. (Ether 12:27)

We're going to have a Zone Leader and training companionship in our apartment this transfer. That will be fun. It's a 2.5 hour drive to Macon, GA where we will have our transfer meeting. That is a lot further than the 1-1.5 h to get to Columbia, SC.

One of the LA members (leaving out name on purpose) we've been talking to recently has a strong testimony, just some bad habits and doesn't come to church. His best friend he talks to all of the time about the church and the conversation always reaches some road block because his friend doesn't understand the answer that his is given. The LA member has talked him up to us about how hard headed he is and how he can't get through to him and that he wouldn't accept an invitation to hear from us probably. We stopped by to see this LA member and caught him and his friend John on the porch smoking one of their bad habits. We came up and started talking to them and I changed the conversation to be more of a gospel oriented conversation and the LA member said, "Here it goes!" It was so funny how the LA member was reacting about how we taught his friend the gospel. It was certainly divinely inspired both in planning to go see him and in our teaching John. John started with some walls with tea, coffee, and the law of tithing, and those were quickly resolved: "[LA member] it makes a lot more sense why you do that the way they explained it." We spiked interest in the Book of Mormon and the more we told him about it and the more it taught about some of those prominent truths he already knew the more excited he became to read the Book of Mormon. It was a fun night last night, we taught a couple lessons, even though we biked and got wet again. Would you like to swap weather for a couple of days? You'll probably get more rain than the whole year together you normally get in Modesto if you pick the right couple of days over here.

Love you all!
Good day to you

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, July 8, 2013


I heard there is a hear wave on the west of the states. Too bad. It's actually be a rather cooler summer than normal over here. However I literally get drenched due to scattered storms while the sun is shining on average once a day. Most of the time I hear the thunder it's not raining where I'm at. There has been scattered storms on a daily basis for the past two weeks.

I have a recommendation mother for teaching investigators: "The ideal situation is to have the member invite the investigator to be taught then be present for the teaching" ( ~somewhere in PMG) set up a family home evening with the missionaries. Or invite them over for dinner, with the missionaries for the lesson to be taught at "our" home. Talk to the missionaries before hand and ask them what they'd like you to share. My personal opinion is that commitments are best taken and kept when it comes from a friend (missionaries can be friends too, but missionaries come and go.)

Elder Swenson and I made a really good lesson plan to teach to active members of the church this morning. I'll be sure to share it with you when I get home. It's probably the best lesson plan I've made in months. It's pretty member-missionary motivational. Robert will be sure to look back on those experiences he's having with gratitude. Has Robert been in Oregon for a while now? How long is he going to stay there? I don't remember hearing about Robert staying with Grp & Grm Bean for an extended amount of time. Having nearly finished the Book of Mormon again, I continue to be amazed at how powerful it is. How can anyone genuinely read the Book of Mormon and not know that it is true? You can't. Anyone that says they've read the Book of Mormon and doesn't believe it is either lying or didn't genuinely read it (or as many prophets have said "or then you misunderstand them").

I love you all! Keep praying for opportunities to share the gospel, you can do multiple families at a time you know =-)

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, July 1, 2013


I wish every member had your zeal, mother. The work would move along so much faster (that's not a comment to say that you're doing enough, you're just getting started.  =-) With that comes more joy though and you get to be "pretty [more] psyched").

This week has been interesting. If I didn't say last week, I started a service project for an investigator and finished it this past week. Elder Swenson and I put together a $1000 Gazebo and it took many hours to accomplish. It took much longer that I anticipated and was a lot easier than I thought it'd be. Immediately after we finished that project (which took a whopping 6 hours to finish including a 30 min meal) we went over to give a Book of Mormon to potential investigators as they had previously requested one, and offered our service there, and she almost didn't believe that we were really offering to help, and we mowed and edged the large lawn. As a result she told us that she promises to read the Book of Mormon. (The Book of Mormon was for her husband, but she promised to read it too.) 

I was drenched a couple times this week. I literally could have jumped in a swimming pool yesterday and not have been more wet. Couple people told us we were crazy for being out in the stormy weather, then didn't want to hear our message.

I really thought that I had a lot to say in this email... I don't know why I'm coming up blank. A lot happened this past week.
I'm at a loss of words...
Love you all!

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, June 24, 2013

Last time in the Columbina South Carolina Mission

I have my last missionary meeting with President Holm tomorrow. I'm sure we'll receive addresses, names, and all other kind of information then; they'll probably forward any other mail. I'll let you know next week.

Joshua, thank you for the notes your mission president gave you on the notes from Elder and Sister Cook; I really do appreciate those kind of things.

The broadcast was pretty awesome. I'm kind of excited to hear how they're going to implement the technology in the missions too. Remember during the early years of my mission I said I wouldn't be surprised if all of the missionaries were given iPads or something of the sort during Joshua's mission and perhaps towards the end of my own? Well, it's now been officially announced that it's happening. I was impressed by how many tools and how much technological preparation went into making that broadcast possible, there were so many short videos and video accompaniments to the music sang and the talks given. That's pretty awesome! What tools we don't use, we'll lose! The fireside was it's own general conference session, except it was the apostles speaking only, and it was in June rather than October or April. I thought it was pretty neat that Elder Anderson and Elder Packer spoke from not the Provo Training Center (that stuck out to me as odd too as they said it.)

We had some crazy lessons this past week. Several (at least 4) back to back over 3 or 4 days super anti-Mormon lessons. Fervent testimony was born, the spirit of contention was rejected and you know what results when that happens: CONFOUNDED! They were kind of fun lessons, I've come to know that I know our doctrine pretty well, (I also don't know it very well at the same time.) One of the Anti guys gave us an anti-Mormon literature packet and I read through it all and it's pretty dumb stuff. There are pretty easy answers for most of the questions. I answered every single one for myself, I have yet to not read anti-literature I'm given (probably not the best of ideas), and I'm yet to find an answer. Every Anti-literature document is taken out of context in one way or another. It really just comes down to knowing if the Book of Mormon is true or not, or if Joseph Smith was truly called to be a prophet or not. Once you receive an answer from the Holy Ghost which is near impossible to forget, then you know it's true, and when you hear or read something supposedly contradictory, you don't think "Oh no! now my entire testimony is at stake!" rather you think, "Oh, that's pretty interesting, if that's true, I wonder how that fits into the gospel Plan." 

Oh, before I forget, here's the scripture I'd like on my new plaque: D&C 42:61

The people here are pretty nice. It's a great couple of neighborhoods that we cover. Similar to where we live. The wealthiness per capita in this Columbia county is the highest in Georgia.

Love you all!

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day Weekend

About 3 weeks into my mission I changed my favorite scripture to: 2 Nephi 28:30. I can't even remember what the other one was, I think it had to do something of the effect of: "with God, all things are possible..." but I don't know the reference.

I was trying to think yesterday what my favorite scripture is. It might have changed again. but for now know that I changed my favorite scripture and if time runs out before I decide, it's 2 Nephi 28:30.

By the way, I did get to see the pictures that Joshua took. You already sent it to me with a different email.

The Aususta Zone Conference was really good a week and a half ago. It probably was the same one. It was an all day event.

Something for the future: sometime in the future look up an address on google maps. We were there the other day and our appointment fell through at this address and as I was leaving a message on the phone I believe the google maps car drove past us. I don't know how often they update the maps, but it probably will be updated within the next year in which you'll then see me at that address.

The sisters in the ward made bread for every 18+ brother in the ward. So I got a small loaf of poppy seed bread yesterday =-). Good ol' sisters.

I really like being asked to give talks or teach lessons. Many of the best studying sessions I've had on my mission have been when I'm preparing to teach about a particular topic to others. It's true, when you're in the service of your fellow beings, you're in the service of your God, and he blesses you profusely. 

I must soon depart from the library. Furthermore I end my sayings thus:

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Georgian Macon Missionary

So it looks like I'm going to be a Georgia Macon missionary as of July 1st. We had our transfer calls last Saturday night, the last one before the transfer and I'm staying here in Evans, GA. I am probably one of few that had a trainer that was part of that mission. That probably doesn't happen very often: Mission dissolves, dissolved missionary trains, trainee joins same mission re-opened two years later.
I have three investigators that I taught in Orangeburg get baptized since I've been here, and more are on the way, is what I've heard. That is wonderful! It lightens up my days.

My companion's b-day: Elder Swenson's 20th birthday was last Saturday. He enjoyed his birthday. We attended another child of record's baptism that day. 

Over the past couple days, be have been soaked through several times. [This would be the Tropical storm Abigail.] The good thing about rain here, is that it's warm rain. I prefer warm rain over freezing cold rain, and I'd rather looked soaked due to rain and sweat, than just sweat. So, overall, rain=good, except when it gets all your stuff wet, or when you feel bad going into people's houses soaked.

We had an awesome meeting last Tuesday. It was interviews meeting, then a Zone meeting, then a special meeting (due to this stake of missionaries leaving the mission), then a pre-mission fireside meeting, then a fireside. It was a day full of great stuff! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could do that every week. The missionary that was sitting next to me commented to me after all the meetings that she was impressed of my attentiveness throughout the entire block of meetings. Looking back on it, I was pretty aware the entire time what was going on, I never zoned out. That is something that I could not have done at the beginning of my mission. I could probably sit through entire 10 hours of conference back to back and never miss a beat now. That's pretty amazing if you ask me.

Love you all,

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, June 3, 2013


Mother, I really appreciate when you include your different spiritual insights. It's the best part of the emails I get to read. I've told Alexandria several times, and you and others probably a couple, but my favorite kind of present or gift I like to receive is not cookies or candy, or even truffles, it's the spiritual insights from the scriptures, from life experience, and from talks or other conferences that really hit a home run for me.

Yesterday we had two more cool experiences. First of all we attended a baptism of an eight year old child of record. She invited everyone she knew to the baptism and there were almost 100 people there, half of them non-members. She was very excited for her baptism. It was very evident how excited she was for it. When she was actually baptized (the second time, first time she got water up her nose and her foot came out of the water), it was similar to the baptism I told you before when he yelled "I'm home! I did it! I'm finally home! I made it back!" Except little Mekenna's declaration going up the steps of the baptismal font was "I'm baptized!" Same spirit, same excitement. 

Later on in the evening we found a person [with] whom we had a very sincere lesson. The spirit was most certainly testifying of the truth in that lesson, and now he's set a goal to be baptized too! Hurray!
Did I ever tell you about a man in Orangeburg? He was baptized, along with a couple other investigators that I taught in Orangeburg. Also a couple more people I taught there are preparing to be baptized too! Hurray! The gospel is awesome!

I consider myself a professional biker. We probably bike more in the hot humid heat than anyone else in the entire realm of people in a 20 miles radius... and we do it in church clothes, frequently with backpacks on.

I want to tell you about the conversion story of a member I taught with who is actually from around Fresno, CA. She bore her testimony to us in front of her friend she helped us teach this week as she was visiting.

Her first name is Jenelle.
She had taken many anti-Mormon classes growing up in the different churches that she's been in. When she was in the army during basic training (which is apparently really stressful) there was one particular guy that seemed to always be calm and at peace despite the hectic and stressful environment. She mentioned something of that effect to him and he told her that he was "Mormon". She didn't talk to him for another several weeks after that. But it stuck out to her the more how calm and peaceful he looked. One day he was reading a book and she asked him what it was. "It's the Book of Mormon! I can get you one of you want." "sure..." was the response. He said that he'd get it to her in a week. He came by that night and said, "I prayed about it and God told me to give you one right now, so I'll give you mine" (note: the military Book of Mormon is a conveniently really small red book to be able to fit easily in one of their uniform pockets.) That's weird, but ok" Jenelle replied. She then over the rest of basic training would read the book when nobody was looking, she'd slide it partway out of her pocket and read it like she'd be embarrassed if anyone saw her reading it. Afterwards when she was assigned a battle buddie and went somewhere else, someone walked up to her when she wasn't paying attention and asked, "Is that a Book of Mormon?" Jenelle replied, "No, what? No, I wasn't reading the Book of Mormon." He replied, "Yes you were I know what a Book of Mormon is." Jenelle said, "No I wasn't I was ... [and made up an excuse]" He said it's "OK, I'm Mormon too." Then her battle buddie said, "Ya, and I'm Mormon too." They talked about the church for a little bit and her battle buddie told her to read Moroni 10:3-5 and then get on her knees and pray to ask if it was true. Jenelle said she would, so she set an alarm for 3 am so she'd get up when no one else was (this would be in a barracks that she'd be able to do this). She decided that if anyone woke up that she'd pretend that she was looking under her bed for something. She asked sincerely and felt "an overwhelming blanket of peace and love" and knew then that the Book of Mormon was true. She then decided that she should find a church building and attend a service. She went to the library and looked up online for the time that the service started, found the address, but didn't find a time. Her library computer time was almost up. She said to herself, "Well, this prayer thing worked last time, it'll work again right?"

"God, if you really want me to go to your church I need a really specific answer right now!" Nothing came on the computer but when she looked up, two LDS missionaries walked in the door. She scoped them out for several minutes and finally walked up to them and asked, "Are you missionaries?" "Yes" they responded. "I don't want to talk to you all I want is for you to answer my question. When does church start?" They responded, "9am, but may I ask you something else?" Jenelle said, "...Ok, fine what do you want?" Missionary: "We could give you a church tour on Saturday, would you like that?". Jenelle said, "Oh, actually I would, that'd be great."

She was taught every lesson all at once that Saturday and they were going to schedule the baptism the very next day (because she already made preparations to live the Word of Wisdom and the other things you need to do before baptism) The mission president advised them to give her a least a week so that the ward can know who she is. She was baptized 8 days later on the next Sunday. She then became less active then received a calling to be a ward missionary a year before she was active again then for two more years she was a ward missionary. She was just recently released from her calling when I met her this past week. 

Cool conversion story right? I had to type fast.

Love you all

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

God Leads Us

This past week has been a good week. I was able to go on exchanges with Elder Lash (Who was in the same district as I and in the same room in the MTC) about time! We probably biked faster that day than any other on my mission. (I wanted to stretch him as much as possible, I've biked pretty much my whole mission and he hasn't. But he's a really hard worker so I know he gave it all he had to keep up with me =-) )

We found a young man last night that is 17 or 18 years old and we taught him the restoration lesson and he was getting more and more excited about it. "This is finally making sense" "I'm going to start reading the book of Mormon after you leave" etc. unfortunately the lesson ended at about 9:40pm and we were an hour's bike ride home. So we called a wonderful member that drove us back and we got home about 10:10pm. It was worth it. But it did make for pressed time in getting things done last night. We ate with a member family yesterday that had lived in Modesto for about 3 months working for the "Clark Pest Control" company (now the military). The Evanson's lived there 10 years ago. Fun, fun, fun. They made us a good dinner too.

The work is progressing, we found lots of more people to teach, that's good. It is amazing how God leads us to find people that are ready to be taught. We knocked into a couple members that aren't on the roster, one of which is a part member family and they're trying to get back involved with the LDS church. There have also been some good missionary motivated lessons we've had with members to be more missionary minded.

We ordered a braille Book of Mormon for a bishop over many non-denominational churches (he sets up churches) over Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. He is 95% blind, and is learning braille, so we downloaded the audio Book of Mormon for him and ordered the other Book of Mormon.

I love you all! Have a happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 20, 2013

I am Blessed to Live in This Dispensation

I have been listening to 8 lectures of the "Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith" over the past week. It continues to amaze me how relevant the revelation he received is today. There were two great talks given this past Sunday and it seemed to me that a lot of the things that one of the speakers said I've heard more than once in the past week. (So I requested a copy of his talk, which he'll give to me next week.) Also, the scripture I've been memorizing I'm keeping memorized; it seems to have more and more relevance as I continue on throughout life. Somebody will say something, and I think to myself, "Didn't such an such scripture teach that same doctrine?" or "Doesn't such and such scriptures expound on the topic that was just mentioned?" or "Doesn't such and such scripture apply to what I'm doing right now and give be a clear direction of how I ought to move forward?"

Word of advice for Monica: Keep the Book of Mormon scripture mastery memorized, review to yourself every so often the scriptures. Also, when you have the scriptures memorized already. It makes a neat study, you take one phrase at a time of the scriptures and write down any insights you have on it (all doing so without looking actually in the scriptures, because you have them memorized that good right? if not, memorize them that good.) Something else that I wasn't quite expecting on my mission is the relevance of using scripture mastery in teaching the gospel. I now understand how to actually use those scriptures in sharing gospel while in seminary it couldn't quite connect the dots on how it would help myself or others grow.

Unfortunately, two of our most solid people we were teaching, as a surprise to us, dropped us. Our first encounter with one of the investigator's mothers didn't ever want to see us again at her house and gave no reason why; the other one missed his appointment and texted us a day later that he doesn't want to change, again without a reason, this being done after they both already had a testimony of the things that we said were true. It doesn't make sense to me. Why would anybody leave the tree of life after having tasted of the fruit? Both were over excited to learn more the couple lessons we had with them, then it's like they jumped off a cliff. It's saddening sometimes.

Since General Conference, I have used the talks that they gave in teaching a lot. How convenient for an apostle to teach about the Law of Chastity with such eloquence. How blessed are we to be able to learn about Obedience from a current Prophet, or the principal of faith from another apostle, or the importance of the family from servant of God. The prophets in the scriptures are great, they do great things, the current prophets give so much more direct and situational guidance. I am blessed to live in a dispensation where we have such things available to us.


Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, May 13, 2013

Last Call Home

You are such a good missionary mom! Way to share the gospel with the neighbors. The hardest part of sharing the gospel is the invitation to learn. The rest is easy, because now that you've planted seeds, others tend to be inquisitive and all the questions and thoughts take care of themselves by the promptings of the spirit; they are headed towards the gate that opens up to the path before they even know it.

Mother, I must say, you had a couple moments of looking defeated when you couldn't call Joshua on Skype and join him in the group 3 way conference skype call. Joshua eventually figured out that he needed to accept us as friends or add us as friends to do so, it's too bad his Skype wasn't up to date either, thus only sound came through in the conference call. I'm glad things eventually worked out.

Yesterday we were given the opportunity to teach all of the YW 12-18 as the Women were doing their Mother's Day RS thing and the Men were filling in in primary and other areas of the ward the sisters usually do. We were told Saturday night that someone heard that we're teaching somebody somewhere on Sunday, then it was confirmed to us 5 minutes before the actual class that we were teaching it. We had a good lesson plan made Sunday morning; I would have been disappointed if I had no been given the opportunity to teach the class. (partly because we brought with us 32 copies of the Book of Mormon and we planned on giving them out to be handed out ... and need I note that we biked to church and didn't want to bike back with them?)

Saturday night I decided (on a whim) that I'm going to have memorized the entire Pearl of Great Price over the next 2 years. It will be quite the challenge. I just finished memorizing D&C 121:34-46 and decided that it wasn't that hard to do so and the whole PoGP ought not be that difficult to keep memorized including individual references (so I can quote singled out scriptures within it). We'll see if I keep this up. You'll have to ask me how much I've memorized by the time I get home.

I know you may wish I would think otherwise Mother, but I did not feel a great desire to Skype home so immediately. It felt like more of a missionary phone call when I talked to you Saturday night to confirm Skyping time on Sunday and it was great to see you all yesterday, but it's no big deal, I mean, I talked to you not that long ago during Christmas. I know why I'm on a mission, and I have not and will not get homesick about it. I've got a purpose in my being where I am and I will not depart from it until I've done what the Lord has required of me to do while I'm here. I'll talk to you again in the Sacramento, CA (that's the one we went to right?) airport next time.

Love you all,
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker
P.S. it was good to meet you BJ

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Companion = Elder Swenson from Kaysville, UT
Now in Evans, GA, in the Martinez ward
Ward = great
People = great
White-washed in, no investigators (still), two potentials, some former investigators, we have a lot of work ahead of us to do.
Ward just called a ward mission leader yesterday, still an awesome ward though.
The Work is moving forward.
I get to bike a lot here (no car) compared to my last area that was huge and a long way from any other missionaries where I drove (I was the designated driver the whole time) at least 7,000 miles over the past 6 months.
Rain is not quite as bad when it's not freezing cold at the same time.
Georgia Macon mission is opening back up July 1st and is taking the Augusta, GA stake that I'm currently in. If I'm still here, then I'll be in a new mission.

Love you all, sorry for the shorter letter, pressed for time.

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day of Service and Transfer

I also participated in the Day of Service and wore a "Mormon Helping Hands" vest. We did a lot of tractor, painting, digging, re-shingling, pressure washing, cleaning, and hauling work for a Boy's and Girl's Club that use an unmaintained Methodist church building that isn't used for church and is in a run down neighborhood. I tell you what, the Orangeburg ward knows how to find great service projects.

I'm being transferred this Wednesday and I'll be a district Leader in another area. Training was lots of fun, I'd be more than willing to do it again any day of the year.

Out of all of the areas I'm sure to come back to visit, I think I might spend a week in Orangeburg. Joshua, you say that members feed you a lot, this past week we had meals every single day, usually lunch and dinner. I could live on the food they gave us alone, and it's almost always all homemade stuff. We've had more member involvement this week (as far as coming to lessons) than I have ever seen anyone ever do. We had an average of 2 members come out with us every day for 1-5 hours taken of their time each.

I look forward to going to a new area. I would have easily accepted staying in this ward for the rest of my mission. The Lord has other plans for me. I love the Gospel, I love the ward.

And without reservation:
I love all of you.

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stay Strong

To tell you a little more about W. and C., they treated us, and the member we brought out with us, to lunch. W. made a delicious homemade spaghetti sauce, delicious homemade Italian garlic bread, and several other great and delicious foods. (I'm sure the homemade sweet tea tasted good too, too bad it's not healthy for anybody.)

The likelihood of me staying in Orangeburg is minimal. Which means my Sunday schedule will be all mixed up a week from Wednesday when I get to a new area probably. That may enable the massive Skype conversation to work out. I'm sure Joshua will figure out his Skyping schedule before mother's day... it'll all work out.

It is devastating to see so many people come so close to "breaking the cycle" and all they have to do is keep the commitments they said that they would keep. If the only people that ever did anything were the one's that made a solid commitment, let's say, half of the time, then the work would move forward a whole lot faster. I might have said this last week, but, If I had a nickel for every family emergency, I'd be able to pay for my mission just from that and wouldn't have had to save up anything beforehand. That all by itself ought to be a testimony that Satan is trying to thwart this very work from moving forward. If this is what we claim it is, which it is. Then of course this is the focus of Satan's hindrance.

Elder Johnson (my current companion) told me this story:
There was a man having a vision and looked over a city and saw that there was one angel to the devil that was in the city and thought to himself, "Wow, this city must be pretty righteous, there is only one devil in it." The man looked a little further and saw an older man secluded all by himself in his little hut and saw lots and lots of big strong tough angels around him and the man thought to himself, "Wow, this old guy must be really wicked, look at all of these angels around him." His "guide" then pointed out to the man that in fact it was the other way around: The city was so wicked that all it took for them to continue to be wicked was a little "poke" while the old man was so righteous that the devil was throwing everything that he had at the man to try and trip him up. As 1 Nephi 3:7 and 1 Corinthians 10:13 say, "The lord will not allow you to be temped above that you are able to bear". How true that is. Thus if you feel opposition in the work you are about, it probably means you're on the right track as long as you aren't the one that is getting mad/angry/etc.

Love you all!
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, April 15, 2013

New Family to Teach

Here's my thoughts with Skyping on Mother's Day: I have church that starts @10am, so I'll probably need to be finished by 9 am so I can get to church in time and talk with our investigators (However, transfers is coming up the first of may and it is likely I'll be transferred. When is Mother's Day anyway? I apologize that I don't know.) Ideally it'd probably be best for me to do it between 5am-6am (California time) or right after your church service @ 2:30 (California time) because I don't think that we're supposed to Skype after 6pm here. If I choose to do it in the morning I also realize that both Joshua and I would need to get specific permission. Joshua for getting up before 6:30 and out of the apartment and I for choosing to do that instead of study time (I'm sure I'd get permission for it). I would also need permission to Skype after 6pm if we were to do it in the evening which I may not be able to get, but I will ask. Just 30 minutes isn't enough. I'll use my maximum of allowed time instead of just 30 minutes. (It was either 40 min, 45 min, or 50 min, I can't remember, probably 40 minutes.)
As a side note, I thought Mother's Day was the day that we're supposed to serve our Mother in secret? How am I to do so if I am directly contacting my Mother... no no no, rather I will Skype Dad instead and have it indirectly bless Mother without her thinking that I'm actually Skyping Mom. =-)

Dad, do not procrastinate the day of your taxes, for it shall come to pass that they shall be requested of you. For behold, most abominable consequences await those that don't finish their taxes. (If it's the same around the country, the day to turn in all the taxes is today. Hopefully when Mom said, "He's been busy working on taxes." It also implied "and he finished them because he worked so hard on them.")

We found a pretty cool family to teach over the past week. W. and her mother (and W.'s two kids under the age of 3). W. has a background of being an active Jehovah's Witness proselyting (witnessing) for twelve years. Her mother is very doctrinally aware of the teachings of the Bible and choose to be a 7th day Adventists to "keep the sabbath day holy" until she met us and we resolved her Sabbath day concern with a couple things more than "it's the day Christ was resurrected". They are wonderful people and perhaps more sincere and doctrinally in tune than a grand majority of everybody I've met on my mission. I sincerely hope they receive that witness of the Holy Ghost confirm to them the truth of all of these things we have shared with them. They watched part of conference online and attended a ward activity Friday and came to church yesterday. Their road blocks are pre-existence, Authority/Apostasy, then they have questions about Temples and Eternal Marriage from the talks given at church yesterday. She also gave us a home-made loaf of cinnamon craisins (raisin-ed cranberries) bread. They are my favorite investigators right now.

Love you all!
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, April 8, 2013

Conference Weekend

Conference was pretty aweome. I thouroughly enjoyed it. 
To answer your questions: We have a live feed of conference into the building, and we started watching the priesthood session at 8pm. Also, I have never heard of the Slamwich game before.

I have more recently (within the past year) developed a love for Elder Bednar and Elder Holland's talks. I was able to watch this one in a zone conference a couple days ago and thought it was good enough to share with you all if you haven't seen it already: https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/watch/ces-devotionals/2013/01?lang=eng&vid=2201224691001. Hope you enjoy it! (That means you need to watch it.)

Alexandria, we had Hawaiian haystacks for a lunch during our zone conference and I thought of you the whole time.

I thought I'd tell you of some of the things that happened this week. One of the lessons we were had we were coming back for an appointment with John and we knocked on the door and his son, James, answered and said that his dad is sleeping. We told James this message was for everybody and he said, "Oh, OK come on in". His mother saw James letting us in and told him to tell us that John was sleeping. He replied, "They said this message was for everybody" and continued to lead us to sit down on the couch. We taught James and Cierra (his girlfriend) and James was really interested in the message. James' mother eventually joined in the room and proceeded to tell us that she read part of the Book of Mormon before. She would then talk to Cierra after talking to us. Five different times at least. James would then let his mother know that he is learning and that if she wanted to have her conversation, that she would have to go to another room to do so. It was hilarious in a respect. I probably would have laughed several times if I watched the lesson and wasn't in it. James' mother said she supported him, then interrupted the lesson, and James would bring it right back on track. The life of a missionary is a fun one. You see things you'd probably never see in any other way.

Over the next few weeks we are going to be seeking out the preachers of other churches, surely one of the hundreds out here will be converted, and then we'll offer to him that we give a talk at his church (because he has the authority to change the time of his church so it doesn't clash with ours). We'll bear testimony and convert hundreds. You just wait! South Carolina is the place to do it if there is any place in the USA to do it. 

Have a great time back in school, work, and seminary! Love you all,

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, April 1, 2013

To My Little Brother

Dear Robert James Walker,

It's probably really odd to be the only boy in the home. There is only two of you left. Monica and you. Robert, I'm super proud of you. For the longest time I thought you were 12. Turns out you are 13. In this ward, the Orangeburg ward, I am well acquainted with the 12 year olds and I am surprised how grown up they are. I was thinking they were older than you (you were younger than they now are when I left). Upon discovery of your real age, I've come to realize you are a lot more grown up then I remember you being. Both in height and maturity and strength and wisdom and knowledge. Wow. You are probably amazing.

Don't forget to keep up with daily scripture study. Read the Book of Mormon if you haven't read it by yourself yet. Start by prayer to help you understand the scriptures.

You are a leader. Part of the responsibility of being a leader is to figure out how to lead. This is done by prayer and fasting and searching the scriptures. If you ever have any questions about anything I recommend asking Dad; if he, or Mom doesn't know the answer to the question you might pose, ask Monica. If she doesn't know, ask Alexandria... Oh wait... Scratch all that, ask me first (after God). =)
I love you lots Robert. You are super. I look forward to seeing you in October. Hopefully you get this letter before you leave to Idaho... Second thought, I'll mail this letter to Alexandria, then you'll get it for sure. Now that I'm going to do this... are you surprised you got a letter in Idaho? Hahaha.

I read somewhere that one of the biggest sins members of the church will commit is that of ingratitude  We are so very blessed of God. It is amazing how immediately he blesses us (Mosiah 2:24). Be sure to remember what a great son you are of God. You have divine potential. I cannot even fathom what that means. You are developing characteristics unto perfection. Learn the gospel. I promise, Robert, if you learn about the Restoration, about the Plan of Salvation, about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and about the Commandments as given to us in Preach My Gospel chapter 3 well enough to teach the lessons before you are a missionary, you will have much the advantage in the mission field.

Take time from Family Home Evening to practice teaching parts of the lessons to the rest of the family. Teach one principle at a time until you can teach two principles at a time and sooner or later teacher all the gospel in full before you go on a mission. Invite your friends to church. Invite your friends to scout activities. Invite your friends to service projects. I wish I had done this more. It's the same thing as your friends inviting you to go fishing with them or to a birthday party. Except you will be offering a much more important and eternal blessing to your friends. If you really love your friends wouldn't you share with them the most important thing in your entire life that they can get, for free? Bear your testimony. One of my favorite quotes is, "Personal testimony is the strongest arrow in my quiver." Keep the highest expectations for yourself. Mom, Dad, Joshua, Alexandria, Monica and I have really high expectations for you. We've all seen you grown up and we all love you and know where your heart is. But not as well as Heavenly Father. He knows you perfectly, better than you know yourself and He is preparing you to be divine. He has perfect expectations of your. When God says you can do it, He's right, you can do anything with the Lord's help; just remember to ask for help. Develop meekness (great power unter complete control). I feel like that will be part of how Heavenly Father is going to use you in the future. You will be a great tool in his hands due to your meekness.

I would encourage you to write in your journal daily. Ask Alex for one if you don't have one. She's sure to know where to find some. Every day write down in your journal what you are thankful for in that day. I promise you will find strength in this when you go through struggles and need to feel the spirit, if you go back to journal and read those things you have been thankful.

I love you lots Robert,
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

The Power of the Priesthood

Tell Robert, I'm super proud of him =-). Way to go. Now he's getting into more of the Isaiah chapters. It's hard to read those chapters without gaining an understanding the background of them. I'm sure he'll learn to enjoy them once he understands all of the symbolism down the road. (Unless he'll understand it as he reads through it by himself, in which case, I'll be bewildered.)

The grass just turned green again, and the weather is abnormal, every other week it's warm, then cold, then warm then cold. This week is supposed to get colder again, just after I thought it was finally warming up. And when it rains (which it does frequently), it pours, but God has been gracious to us and only let it pour rain right at the perfect times when we're driving long distances, or in church, right after we get in for the night, or in the morning when we're studying. It poured rain all last night and the rain stopped for us (literally, from pouring to not raining for about 3 minutes) to get out of the car and into the apartment, when then it resumed almost immediately after. This morning it was also pouring, then when we were all done doing our things for the morning and headed over here to the library, it stopped raining and we haven't got wet yet. God is good to us.

To tell you about the baptisms, I'm going to copy my letter to President Holm because it will be a lot more time efficient:
Howdy president. The baptisms went great! Immediately after CM's baptism itself was probably the strongest I've felt the spirit right after a baptism. (He is the now un-excommunicated member.) He yelled (out of joy) and cried, "I did it! I made it home! Oh thank you Lord Jesus. I'm back!" It was awesome. CA's baptism went good as well. This is a good ward, and I think we're doing a better job at involving the members and presenting them with opportunities to do missionary service and share the gospel. 
Yesterday we took part in exercising a lot of priesthood. With two confirmations, the sacrament blessing and passing, two anointing with oil, and two sealing the anointing, there was a great number of people blessed yesterday. More exciting, one of our new converts passed the sacrament, and another of our new converts went to the temple to do baptisms and confirmations for the dead. This is a wonderful time to be alive, especially where we have the opportunity to witness the work move forward. 
Elder Johnson is doing great. He is a good missionary. Thank you President Holm for giving me the opportunity to be assigned as a trainer. I enjoy it a lot.
Elder Joshua Walker, you sure do have a lot of opportunities to speak to general authorities. That is awesome.

I was contemplating on the power of the priesthood this morning and I find myself thinking things similar to what Nephi says in 2 Nephi 4 in the what's known as "the song of Nephi." God's blessings are incredibly amazing. What reason should I find a lack of commitment in anything? The blessings are enormous. I have the opportunity to use the Melchizedek priesthood! Do I understand what that means? It's an awful lot. That's the same priesthood that was used to organize the entire existence that we barley have gained an understanding of. I ought not to have an excuse for anything at all. There is no reason that I should not devote my entire being for the work of the Lord "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." I continue to be impressed by the great love and trust our Heavenly Father has for me. Can I not show but a little of that trust back to Him?

Being a missionary was/is definitely the right decision to make.

I love you all. Have a great time at the Christensen home.

Elder Benjamin Walker

Monday, March 25, 2013

This Missionary Work

An idea for what to do in Idaho, go to the "Garden Caves" you'll need a GPS and probably a first aid kit. I think it gives you a coordinates to get to it and a suggested place to park to start walking to it. I believe it is in the outskirts of Idaho Falls. It was a worth while trip when I went on it with my friends. There is year around ice in the cave 2-3 feet thick. You'll need flashlights, water, and have to carry food for lunch too. When you get to the end of the inside of the caves you'll see lots of stalagmites and stalactites. You walk several miles on nothing but wavy lava rock until you reach the caves when you then go down into one of the crevasses (certainly there will be lots of ice around the entrance, I went in July I believe and there was a lot of snow in the entrance then.) You're sure to want to bring something like a sweater or coat for when you actually reach the caves. ... Just an idea ...

The baptism went great... and to make a longer story short, I missed the confirmation my companion was a part of... super sad... I baptized though. That was fun. The baptism on the 30th will still be followed through on, and an excommunicated member I've been working with since I've been here had his council yesterday with the stake leaders and the bishop called to tell us that he'll be re-baptized and that he has a 'soft spot' for missionaries.

Member work certainly makes things easier in all areas of teaching. They have a friend to go to to ask any questions about the church. They have an example. More people are on top of helping them receive an assignment. They know about all the activities and are invited to them more than once. They have many more visits than just by the missionaries. etc. It's much better that was too for non-members to feel the spirit, I think, from somebody that knows them and loves them a lot more than the missionaries probably do (because we're ever so imperfect) right off the get-go.

This is something that we are putting a larger emphasis on. It is hard to work with members (especially because a majority of the active one's live 30 min away). We are really trying to make that a focus this week.

Missionary work would be so much easier if people had integrity... So many times people tell us to come back at certain times and they aren't home. Then when you finally do contact them again they ask you to come back at another time and it continues until they finally tell you they aren't interested. Honesty is the only answer 100% of the time.

The gospel is awesome. It truly is. I have been making quite a list of things I want to apply when I am home again. It's so much easier than I've made it seem. It just takes a little dedicated time for prayer and time for pondering and studying then re-praying and re-analyzing plans and goals to find out how to apply these principals.

I have recently been in awe of how much God is true on his promise :"Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." It is said 120 times in all of holy writ that we have, the most common phrase in the scriptures (longer than "and it came to pass"). He certainly means it. He answers us in the fullest extent that we ask him piece by piece; we just can't stop to be comfortable where we are at else we cut off that continuing revelation that we are receiving. There is never a bad time to ask "anything else?", "where do I go?", "what do I do?", "This is a solution I've come up with, is it right? enlighten me to improve it?" In reading the March Ensign this morning I came across a paragraph that stuck out to me that said something to the effect of, "We feel bad when we don't go to the Savior for help, when we see the results that come from our lack of understanding and trust in Christ. He feels bad too, that we don't trust ourselves in His hands. He has them extended to us; When others don't accept our help when we know we can help, doesn't that make us sad for them? I'm sure the Savior is the same way with us."

Love you all,
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker