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, 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

Monday, March 18, 2013

Inner Commitment to the Savior

So to answer the question: [The news that missionaries can email more individuals] was a letter sent from the "brethren" to all the mission presidents in the world with those facts in them that we can email "priesthood leaders," "friends," and "recent converts" with all interpretation of those definitions left up to the mission presidents. Time is also left up to the mission presidents. I am allowed 75 minutes of email now.

Mother, I get dessert at every meal too. =-) I still eat till I'm more than full at every meal and am usually always served desert afterwards.

From what it sounds like the "Adam God Theory" that you mentioned mother I think I know what Joshua is talking about. I have actually read a couple pages excerpt in the Journal of Discourses where Brigham Young (I'm pretty sure it was him) went into great detail on some theory about how Adam was actually the person who was Jesus' Father. It was a conversation of sorts and they explained how some other person came to that conclusion and it made sense the way he explained it (but of course it didn't feel right), it was very detailed and specific for how the other people came to that false conclusion, but at the end he denounced the theory as an abomination.

This past week was fun. One of our investigators is going to the Philippines in two days (on Wednesday). But our discussion we had with him really impressed him and he invited us to speak to his security team. He owns a company that does something with a security team. He set it up at the mall of Saturday morning and gave us 5 minutes to speak. We weren't sure how long we'd have to talk until we got there. We figured at worst 5 min and best 2 hours. We ended up taking 10 minutes though. He started his meeting talking about how he's leaving to the Marshal Islands (I guess he's going to both places) in a couple days and he talked about tolerance. He introduced us and told everyone that he was really impressed with us and invited us to speak to them for a few moments. He said that he asked us some "very hard questions" and was "very impressed with the answers". He must have felt the Spirit when we answered, because these were the "very hard questions" he asked us a few days before:
He said something to the effect of: "Is it ok if I ask you some hard questions? You two are great guys and I'm asking sincerely and not trying to offend you. Are there girl missionaries?"
We said "Yes, and there are a lot more coming on the way into the mission too."
His other "hard question" was: "I've never seen a Mormon that is African American, Mexican, or Chinese, are there any?"
This question was particularly humorous as half our ward is Mexican or African American. We answered, "Yes, there are lots of them."
That was the extent of his "Hard questions."
He had 14 employees in attendance in this meeting in some back side room of the mall. It was fun. We left lots of media for them to take freely of with our investigator with a list of our contact info and church time and location.

I recently stumbled upon "josephsmithpapers.org" as I read everything about the new scriptures the church is releasing in august. That is very interesting. I'm going to look into that after my mission a lot more.

This morning I decided to finally start reading some of my family history stuff Grandma and Grandpa left with me. I made it a goal, I'm pretty good a making an effort to act on my goals too. I'm actually interested in learning a little bit more about my extended family now...

I believe one of the greatest measures of my inner commitment to the Savior is doing what is right in whatever circumstance I happen to be in without thinking about it, just out of instinct. I find that in dreams there really is no time to ponder at all, you just go and do. I have also found great purpose driven and uplifting attitudes result from realizing that I made the right decision without thinking about it, such as in a dream, which to me means that it may be part of my second nature self. That is probably comforting, Monica, that you automatically had that desire to find the Savior.

Love you all!
~Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, March 11, 2013

Learn Your Language of the Spirit

I had a point in my life (when I was pretty young I'm pretty sure) where I didn't think meetings could ever be interesting because I became so easily bored. I love meetings now. It is a privilege to hear members of the 70 and Quorum of the 12 speak. They bring the spirit really strongly. The baptism did go well, You'll receive pictures eventually. We forgot to take pictures before the baptism happened so, we're all dressed up in suits.

I find it interesting that Sister Bassett talked about the language of the Spirit. Several months ago I decided to read chapter 7 of Preach My Gospel, which is the language chapter. I read it with the mindset of everytime it said "learn your language" I added "of the spirit." It was a neat study. It gave me good excuse to read the chapter.

Something else I've come to learn while I have been a missionary is that the Lord rewards diligence. I've found that even if we desire something evil, he will eventually reward us with our desire, but there would have always been something better you could have had. The Lord knows best, thus it is a good idea to trust him and seek his will for us.

And now I come unto you again, in the evening of the day, to rehearse unto you the things I have learned from my Father in Heaven. I have searched continually by study and also by prayer that the Lord would give unto me the secrets of kingdom regarding faith. I have read the book long and hard that I might receive even a witness of the governing principle of faith. I have a work to do in the book which holds the secrets of Godliness. I have established a firm foundation in the words of the book; my works have reached that of Jacob chapter 7. I am pressing forward feasting upon the words of Christ and will endure to the end of the month in finishing the book with a constant battle of more than 9 chapters per day. The 20 chapters behind cannot stop this work from progressing, though persecution may rage and mobs may combine; with God all things are possible. I will firm up my foundation of faith, even in Christ, when those earthquakes come upon me, even the mighty winds; they shall have no power over me to drag me down because of the faith in which I will have. The spirit maketh all things known unto me. Wherefore, I shall not fail.

Hmh, I remember that Joshua asked me something in the last email I received as a letter... I don't remember what it was. Maybe I'll write you a letter today Josh to answer your concern. It's lots more fun to add all the scripture references anyway.

As far as your teaching with seminary, mother, I too have come to realize, because of the new way they are teaching the Sunday school classes, that information isn't the goal. Rather participation and the teaching them how to fish for themselves is the goal. Sounds like you are doing a good job though. Praying with all the energies of your soul will bring you the answers for your seminary class that you need. Promise. I've seen it happen a couple of times in other ways for teachers and leaders seeking for what they should share with the people they have responsibilities over.

Love you all!
Elder Benjamin Ray Walker

Monday, March 4, 2013

"I Know He Will Be Ok"

There will be a baptism this Saturday, it will be great. He's made quite a change in his life, and he's going to be an awesome member.

The lesson I didn't end up attending [mentioned last week], I really wished I was there before it happened and afterwards too. Apparently he wasn't very receptive, but that's not going to stop us from having dinner with him on Sundays.

I have some friends from South Jordan too. Missionary companions (2 or 3 of them I think) Elder R. Scott Cahoon & Elder Trevor Peterson. They both finished their missions recently. If you ever run into them Joshua, tell them you're my brother. Actually, the missionary in Modesto Ward might know one of them too.

[The following is an insert from Elder B. Walker's mother's email to give you context of what Elder B. Walker talks about following the insert.]
The other day Monica and I were speaking about a myriad of topics and the subject of your leaving on your mission came up. She told me about an experience that she had which she had not shared before with me. Reminder of the background. The Sunday before you left you spoke in both our ward and the Singles' Branch. We were all excited to hear you speak and so proud of the decision and preparations you had made to serve the Lord. Early that Sunday morning, we received a phone call from your Uncle informing us that his 37 year old daughter, Natalie, a mother of three small children, had passed away in the night. Although she had had a physical only one week prior, she died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Dad and I were shocked, and sad. Dad kept thinking of the tiny niece he had seen grow from a baby to Young Adult. It was just hard to believe. Monica was sad, especially when she thought of the three little children, but Natalie was in a generation that she didn't really get to know. A few hours later, I received a phone call informing me that two girls formerly of our stake had been hit by a train in Utah. I was asked to go through my pictures and put together a video for the family. (Turns out I had over 300 of them from over the years.) One of the girls was Monica's age. So, with all of that going on, you leave for your mission. Monica tells me that when you left she felt she was being torn apart. (Her eyes teared up again as she shared this with me.) On an emotional level, she felt as if she might never see you again. It felt to her as if you were dying too. As she carried this burden with her for a few days she found herself praying. Praying for you, pleading with the Lord that he would protect you so she could see you again (in this life.) I don't know if she received her answer right then, or if it was later as she pondered, but at some point a feeling of peace, calmness, and assurance overcame her as the Spirit testified to her that you would have the Lord's protection. She was promised that you would return.  As she told me this, we were both crying of course, but then her eyes dried and she firmly stated. "And Mom, I don't worry anymore. I know he will be OK."
You know what that story you told me of that discussion you had with Monica reminded me of? King Mosiah's promise he received that his sons would be ok. Then that later account of looking back on it after Ammon cut off all the arms of the Lamanites and it is written that the Lamanites didn't know that the Lord promised that Ammon would be ok and wouldn't be able to end his life as he desired. I don't know if Ammon knew that at the time when he went forward cutting off all the arms of those who opposed him if he was protected or not, but if he did, that may have been that assurance of his actions to go forward with trust in the Lord. That is very comforting to me that I will make it home safely. I imagine that Monica wouldn't be comforted if she found out that I came home as a result of being arrested or false charges. Maybe this is my opportunity to be arrested for only one night then because that's not going to happen. (Although the other sons of King Mosiah, such as Aaron, were arrested, though and they had that promise for them as well, but they still finished their missions over the next 14 or so years.)

I finished an amazingly large project (to me) in an amazingly small amount of time from Wednesday to yesterday. Especially because the days were packed full of appointments and I didn't work on it when I wasn't supposed to anyway. (I didn't take time away from proselyting in other words.) I'll be sure to tell you about it sometime. I mentioned it in my journal, and I more thoroughly mentioned it to President Holm in my email today. I'm sure you'll read about it someday.

We had a meeting with Elder Marcus B. Nash last Wednesday: Feb 27, 2013 (did I already tell you that I was going to have that?) I cannot remember. It was a really good meeting, all five hours of it. I started out tired, and gradually became less tired. By the end of which I was not tired at all. Members of the 70 have such good trainings and insights on the scriptures. I'm glad that missionaries get to have these kind of meetings. It's lots of fun.

Several people came to church yesterday too. The people that were supposed to be baptized in a couple weeks didn't, but we still had 7 investigators show up.

A mission could never be the wrong

Friday, March 1, 2013

5 Things I Love about Orangeburg

The following is part of a letter Elder B. Walker wrote to his sister on Monday 25 February 2013
  1. The area we (just the two of us right now) cover is large. The ward boundaries are exactly twice the size of the Salt Lake Valley. There's plenty of people to talk to.
  2. The ward members are very welcoming and willing to serve. (They feed us a lot too.) Many of the ward members have years and years of experience. (Experience in construction, callings, business management, spirituality, etc). We have very inspired leadership too; they take the time to pray and ponder for inspiration of what they can do to fulfill their callings.
  3. It's really easy to keep a positive attitude when you have a great companion that doesn't get discouraged easily.
  4. I'm humbled by the blessings that the Lord gives. There is a stark contrast in the lives of the active outgoing members compared to those that piddle in the communities and don't have much of a desire to forgo and leave behind their bad habits. They are astoundingly happier and much more productive.
  5. I have learned how, why, and what to do as a member in the wards I will live in to make it a loving prosperous place, as far as bringing souls to Christ.
Saturday 23 February and Sunday 24 February, we had 13 appointments with people. Every single one fell through. However, we both sustained our positive attitudes and God blessed us because of it. Sunday, the first door we knocked on let us right in. It was a very long lesson. He talked about the struggles he's been going through. We taught the restoration (first lesson in Chapter 3 of Peach My Gospel) and I used a lot of scriptures. He told us we were scaring him because every single scripture we read he had pondered on semi-recently.

Also, there was a piece of paper that had phone numbers and names and looked like at some sort of even these names were collected from interested individuals. It didn't have a date and I found it right after I got to Orangeburg and my companion didn't know what it was. I almost threw it away a lot of times over the past three months but kept telling myself no matter how old it was (expectancy was 2+ years ago) it wouldn't hurt to call them anyway. One of the names had an associated address too. We called them all, none answered. Yesterday, we visited one of them, the only one that had an address. We were let right in but it turned out the person we were looking for wasn't home. As we were leaving, she got home and she was surprised to find out we were there for her. We found out it was an event from last summer that she had written her information down and nobody every followed up. We started to talk about how prophets need authority to do things like to baptize and she interrupted us to tell us she's been dreaming lately about going back to church and singing and that she has felt a great desire recently to be baptized again. We then invited her to be baptized and she told us how excited she is and described the Spirit to us and that was how she was feeling. Cool!

Saturday, the first person that opened the door (while knocking around our fallen through appointment) let us right in. He told us that he loved the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We taught him a little bit, described what a church service is like and he said, "Wow! Every church should be like that." (Did I mention he's a reverend?) He's all for coming to church next week with his wife too. (He's got to be a retired reverend).

The Lord blessed his obedient children. I promise, keeping the commandments is the answer 100% of the time. When we put God first, all else falls into place.
Elder Benjamin Walker