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, 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