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, February 25, 2013

Be Bold, New Mission Boundaries

Yesterday was our ward conference. It was amazing. The spirit was very very strong. It had a conference atmosphere in our ward meetinghouse. I felt the "burning of the bosom," "enlighting of my mind," "still, small voice," and "peace to my soul" on several occasions yesterday during the 3 hours of church.... I made a mistake to not make a point to write down my impressions... and I can no longer figure out how to describe the atmosphere of the spirit and the things I was inspired to do I cannot remember, except for wanting to memorize D&C 64:33.

One of the things I am learning very fast with Elder Johnson (have I told you he's from Pleasant Grove, Utah yet?) is to be very bold. That kind of boldness that you had mother with that lesson you took part in over a year ago.
I am going to type up two examples of some conversations I had with some people in the last two days:
(outside in an apartment complex in the dark)
There was this guys we met that wasn't actively interested in learning about the gospel and he said, "I come and go, I'm not always around."
I said, "Great! that'll work perfectly, you can come to church and go after it's over." (I thought it was very clever).

(There is a family (of 2 non-members, 2 active members, 2 recent convers (also active), and other active kids) that we eat dinner at almost every sunday after church.)
One of the non-members has never gone to church and has no excuse to not go. I invited him to come to yesterday's church service last Sunday and he gave a without a doubt "no" response in a sarcastic "yes" answer (he's a jokester). Yesterday, as we were having dinner with them after talking for a couple minutes about him not coming to church when he said he would, his response was that he had something to do (which was to sit on the couch). Somehow in the conversation he brought up that he wanted us to make him dinner and I told him something like "I'd love to, but we don't make time to spend with people that don't keep their committments." He further asked us what day this week we wanted to go out to eat with him at 12pm. We told him a day that would work. (That is a big deal by the way, I don't think he's ever done that before.) He asked us how much time we had to eat and I told him, "Usually we keep our meals under an hour" and my companion added "...but we can spend a little more time afterwards if we teach a lesson to somebody". It was really funny, and he very well may accept to be taught the gospel after the lunch he is taking us out on on Thursday. Unfortunately, I may not be in town because of one of the exchanges that I'm going on.

Oh, I have to say something about the weather here. Almost every other day, or every other two days, for the past 2 weeks have flip flopped from about 70 degrees one sunny, no cloud in sight day -- to raining all day at 40 degrees with no sky in sight the next. That's South Carolina for you.

Robert, I am excited to read your talk. I really am. My heart already warms as I think about what you probably said.

Love you all lots,
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

P.S. We heard an early announcement, because it's affecting out mission, that 48 (I think) new missions are going to be opened up as of July 1st. One of which is the Georgia Macon Mission (it was disolved right before President Holm was the mission president). So there is a possibility that I will be in another mission on July 1st. I don't really want to. But there will probably be a couple missionaries that end up being part of that mission as this one splits. And combines with broken off portions of other missions.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Snow 'til Noon

I forgot to bring my planner where I made some notes of things to say. Of the things I can remember: It snowed yesterday. That was kind of cool. Snow stayed on the ground till about noon, sometime during church. That was fun. About time it snowed on my mission. Apparently everything shuts down when it snows. Nobody knows how to drive on the snow, even with just an inch or two or three, they shut down several schools less than an hour north of us. In Idaho or Utah, I can't imagine school being shut down for anything. I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I've been able to spend with Elder Johnson thus far. He's from Utah somewhere. We are emailing from a member's computer today, and we recently just finished playing basketball with Bishop and his son and a less-active member, whose computer we are using.

I'm glad to hear about my friends back in Modesto that are preparing for a mission. That is awesome. I'm excited that Ryan is now finally on his mission. He's been waiting a while for it now. He's probably long been ready to go. Collin and Jessica will both be great missionaries too. Collin is leaving with the Taylor boys... hmm... who are they again? I don't remember who the Taylor boys are. 
I've had some great studying about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and I am amazed about how much I have learned about it and I've realized that I should use the Gift of the Holy Ghost better as a teaching tool for what investigators should look forward to when they are going to be baptized. It's been a really good study. It's a lot easier to study when you are specifically looking for something when you actually study.

It's time to depart. love you all!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Baptism, Soon to be Training, Testimony

The baptism of Abigail went well. She's nine years old and I am super impressed with her commitment to Heavenly Father. There was great nurturing of her seed of the Word of God and her faith is unmistakably devoted to God's will for her. She probably knows more about the gospel for going to church for the last 3 or 4 months than I did at that time when I was nine. I'm very impressed with her.

Since I've discovered that you'll probably find out anyway because there is probably a letter like the last one you got that is going to come to you, I'm training a new missionary as of Wednesday Feb 13th here in Orangeburg; and I'm really excited for the opportunity to do so. (So Joshua, if you have any questions or suggestions about training a new missionary, I'd love to hear from you.) I probably won't have time to write any letters today. There is a lot of stuff to do... members always want to take us out to eat or make us dinner and with the time crunch with Elder Gonzalez leaving, it includes lunch too.

We are doing a pretty good job at involving/inviting members to do missionary work with us. The ward has developed a great relationship with the missionaries and they are praying regularly for "the missionaries" in our ward and for missionary opportunities for themselves.

Side note: next week is some sort of holiday, the library will be closed then. So expect a delayed email or perhaps an email sent on Tues.
I don't know why I'm all of a sudden out of things to say. I always have so much I want to tell you about right up until I start typing it all, then I forget everything or sum it up in a single sentence.

The work is definitely hastening. That I've been a witness to even in my isolated location of Orangeburg, South Carolina. It's a good thing the Lord's in charge concerning his work; you'd have to be a pretty good planner to figure out who goes on a mission or receives a calling when and where in the entire world to be the most effective about spreading the gospel to all nations, kindred, tongues, and people.

You are a good missionary mother! Keep it up.

I had previously always thought it was odd that sometimes that you (Dad) wait till the last minute to start packing for your week trip to Albuquerque. I have since learned that it really doesn't take that long to pack. If you do it enough times, you know exactly what you need where to get it and how to pack it.

I don't know why I'm out of things to say, but I am.

I'll just bear my testimony then:
I have come to realize in my life that the spirit influences righteous actions as long as I'm striving to do my best. Whether it is in planning for the next day, tracting, making phone calls, or visiting LA, former investigators, or presenting ideas to the ward council, etc, as long as it persuadeth men to believe in Christ and inviteth men to do good, it is from God (thanks to Joshua: Moroni 7:16 and surrounding verses). I know that this work is divinely orchestrated for our benefit. I have gained a testimony that no matter the circumstance, honesty is right 100% of the time and being a good example in difficult circumstances is always the right thing to do. I'm very grateful that the gospel blesses my life so much. Blessings are predicated upon the obedience of the law that God has established. It doesn't matter if you're living in a cardboard box eating bugs. When positive changes in life are yearned, pray earnestly for direction, then follow through with that direction, such as being worthy of a temple recommend including paying tithing. I know the gospel is true. Or I would have figured out I'm wasting my time and left the mission already. Ha! The Holy Ghost has manifested to me these things and witnessed to me of their truthfulness.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dog Bite & Most Spiritual, Motivational Week

Written by Elder B. Walker's mother: "We received a notice from the Orangeburg Safety Patrol advising you of your rights as a victim of a crime.  I was somewhat confused. (Thought at first it was from Modesto.)  Went through a whole series of unlikely scenarios even though I KNEW you were fine.  Took the opportunity to speak with President and Sister Holms anyway.  What wonderful and kind people they are, and they had very, very, very kind things to say about you.  He told me a great story about his mission when he was bit by a dog -- policies were a little different back then, and his mission President told him to quit complaining and get back to work!  (I think he said that the dog took a whole chunk out of his behind, and that even the memory of the pain is still excruciating.)  Sounds like you will be fine and that everything is taken care of.  Actually, I was impressed that you didn't tell us, but you know your mom, she likes a good story.  (But she also worries -- probably best not to tell until later.)"
Just a small bit of advice.  Make sure that the owners of the dog are OK.  Forgiveness can go a long ways."

I think that is interesting that they sent something home for me about that. I was never going to tell you about it, just send you some pictures that I took of it after it doesn't hinder me any more.
First of all, president told me to tell you to not worry... don't worry Mom, I'm fine.

Since the beans have been spilled, I might as well tell you about it. In fact just this morning, a bruise from it finally showed up on part of my arm that has caused the most torment from the bite two weeks and two days ago. It seems to me, when deep puncture wounds take place, (the other one being the bike pictures you saw that jabbed my leg,) when the bruise finally shows up, it finally makes it to the downward slope of annoyance and pain and means it's pretty close to being healed now. Anyway, that particular home is a less-active's home that is a fairly new move-in and we've been trying to see them for months, but the roster has no phone # and they have three mean dogs that have an invisible fence that they can't pass that won't let us to the door. Well, one of the days we went to go see them and the dogs were probably behind the back of the house asleep, because they didn't wake up until we were almost at the house. We never were able to contact the member at the home, and the owner of the dog isn't the member at the house... so we decided that we are going to send them a letter today in the mail, maybe that will entice them to do something. There was also a big hassle to make sure the dog that bit me was quarantined for 10 days. Which the safety patrol police people didn't make sure happened from the get-go. So there was an annoying hassle with figuring out all that stuff out near the end of the 10 days (and they were closed over the weekend). They closed at 5pm Friday and open at 8am Monday... I called 4:59 Friday and they were already closed. and Tuesday the following week was the ten day limit. That was messy. I only called about everybody on Monday. Every person I talked to forwarded me or gave me another number to call because they said they don't deal with that stuff. I probably talked to 15 people last Monday trying to get somebody to do anything other than give me another number to call or send me to the phone book. It all got situated out eventually though. No rabies. If you are curious where it hurts, the muscle that you use for pullups hurts, I can't do a single pullup because of it, even hanging hurts... however, pushups & handstands apparently don't use that muscle because those don't hurt it at all. So whatever that muscle is, that's where the dog pucture bit me a couple weeks ago.

So, now that that story is out of the way. I want to let you know that these past two days have been among the most spiritual of my entire mission. My motivation and commitment, and drive to do missionary work has peaked very high (I don't want to say "peaked" because that sounds like it is now going to fall, which it isn't, I'm going to maintain this progression.) I have seen a lot of miracles and I am very very impressed with all that the Lord has in store for those. "The Lord requires so little, and in return gives so much." Just being obedient with all of the little things makes an enormous difference in missionary work. Our ward had a fireside last night and presented its ward mission plan with a bunch of other stuff. It is very good, and the members are getting all over missionary work too. This is a marvelous ward to be in. ... I intended to say a lot more about this stuff, so I'm just going to copy and paste what I sent President Holm and add it in here. I spent too much time talking about my dog bite that doesn't matter:
"President, the last 2 days have been among the most spiritual and motivational for me for my entire mission. I mean that sincerely. The week started slowly but as of Saturday afternoon blessings have been poured, literally poured into my desire to be an effective missionary. I can sincerely say that out of all my companions I have learned/changed/grown the most while being with Elder G--. We both have a great desire to do the Lord's work, and we're both willing to put all other things aside to do so. Our companionship study as of this morning is going to be tons more effective for teaching and preparing to teach investigators. We are developing a "game plan" that we'll probably share with you down the road assuming we finish it before either of us leave. (Or maybe we'll finish it later, who knows?). I am motivated, I am hungry for the gospel, to learn, to teach, to find, to work with members. I finally have the right mindset for most of the things associated with missionary work.  
I am thoroughly impressed with our Heavenly Father. He literally puts everything out on the table for us to use to be effective missionaries. It just takes the tiniest bit of inspiration for us to figure out how to get it from the paper, into action. Well, just to let you know president, it's being put into action here in Orangeburg; conveniently enough, the ward is being put into action at the same time. I have been very excited to do missionary work. I am very excited to do missionary work.  
"Fast and pray hard for this next transfer president. I caught a glimpse of this work moving exponentially. I know we both have absolutely no authority over the matter, but Elder G--'s and my personal hope is that we both stay here for another transfer. We know you are inspired though, so do what is the best for the Lord! 
"I love being a missionary! I would like to say that again. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! 
~Elder Benjamin Ray Walker
and we love you too president" 
btw: I'm supposed to make sure you send packages "priority mail" or I may not get it for a couple months. The mission office is no longer calling everybody regularly letting them know they have a package they can't forward so we can tell them what meeting to send it to. Apparently it is very time consuming.

Elder Benjamin Ray Walker