Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Week 102: In which Roxana is baptized, I recognize a good storyline, and I board the plane home.

Lift Off

Dearest family and friends,

Today is the last time I will write you as a full-time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. It has been a really crazy adventure! I can't even begin to share all of the things I have learned and experienced in these last two amazing, spiritual, and joyful years. Instead, I'm just going to tell you in person when I see you. :-)

First of all, the highlight of our week was Roxana's baptism and confirmation. It was a really, really, special experience. The spirit was very strong, and she will continue to grow and learn in this marvelous Gospel. For me, Saturday was a sacred day for many reasons. One was Roxana's baptism, but other things that day just proved to me beyond any reasonable doubt how much God is aware of me personally. It was, on the whole, a very sacred experience. To be really honest, I couldn't ask for a better way to end my mission. It is all just too much of a storybook ending.

Seriously, I feel like I'm basically walking into the sunset. It's pretty crazy. Everything just happened in the best way possible. For those who know me, you know that I am pretty much obsessed with a good storyline. I like things to have a good beginning, middle, and end. I love stories. With this last little bit of my mission over, it has made everything else click into place. It truly makes my entire mission a complete story. It really makes me happy.

Regarding the changes I'm about to face personally, I feel like I am about to be decked in the face by a metaphorical champion boxer. Still, change happens, and we must move on. I just pray that I can follow the admonition of Alma and remember what the Lord has done for me.

I know that a lot is about to change as I move on to a new phase in life. However, some things will never change. God will never change. He is Endless and Eternal. His love for us will never change. The Gospel will never change. The truth will never change. I know that this is God's work, and He is intimately involved in the day-to-day interactions we have. He is at the helm. The fulness of Christ's Gospel truly was restored through a young farmboy in upstate New York. It is true. I know it. I know that Christ will always be there for me. He has got my back! As Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." I know that is true. We CAN do all things, but ONLY through Christ, because He strengthens us. It's not a matter of believing in ourselves, but in believing that Christ can do it, and that He can help and strengthen us to be able to do it.

I know that repentance is real, and that the Gospel of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End is really what can bring a true change of heart and desires in us.

It is true. I know it.

Con mucho cariño,

Elder Benjamin Adams


 A random member ran into Ben & his companion at the laundromat on his last day.

Sis. Lewis (the "mission mom") posted many pictures of the departing group at the mission home as they prepared to leave.

They have a tradition of measuring all departing missionaries' heights on the garage wall.

They have a tradition of playing a game called "rhythm sticks" with the departing missionaries.

Sis. Lewis snapped this picture of the departing group as they were going through security in the Yakima airport.

Excerpts from Ben's Facebook Posts

April 30
I don't have a lot of time left... Better make this week the best yet, right?

May 1
"We seek for truth wherever we might find it." - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Woah... I didn't realize I was literally quoting an Apostle every time I have said this on my mission, and there have been many times.

May 3
As a missionary, I have had the privilege of seeing people wonderfully change as they more fully live live the teachings of Christ. It's truly amazing!

May 4
I am excited to announce that Roxana Rodriguez will be baptized tomorrow, May 5th, at 7:00! She has made many changes in her life and has huge desires to follow Jesus Christ. She is very exited to enter into this covenant with God. Anyone is invited to come!

Posted to Ben's feed on May 6

Monday, May 7, 2018

Week 101: In which Roxana presses forward, I look backward, and the time presses on.

(written 30 Apr 2018)

Hello, friends and family! This has been a very eventful, intense, interesting, and revelation-filled week. 

Roxana is doing pretty well. Things are starting to get intense. She is still living with Eladio, and while she wants to kick him out, there is a complicated situation going on that might cause some difficulty if she were to do so. At this point, she could do it, she just lacks the faith to do so. What makes things extra interesting is that she is trying to prepare to be baptized this Saturday. In a different situation, we would usually just move the date back and not worry about it. In fact, we were almost planning on it last week, until something crazy happened.

We went to the Temple this last week, and while we were there, we wanted to know what to do about Roxana's situation. To be honest, I kind of wanted to move the date back, since I don't want to pressure her (especially since she and I and everyone else knows that is the last opportunity I would have to be there). I wanted to be sure we did what God wants us to do. Well, we fasted about it, and we all got the same answer: we should NOT move the date. In fact, we needed to be bold and invite her to have faith and live the commandments, even though it's really scary for her right now. We all felt very strongly that was what was necessary. Since we felt so strongly that we should not move the date, we are pressing forward, even though things are still cloudy and the situation is (as far as we know, as of yet) unresolved. It's going to be a really intense week.

That is by far the main thing we have been dealing with this last week. We gave Roxana a blessing to help her, and she also talked briefly with the Branch President for counsel. We're not quite sure what is happening, but all we know is what God has told us to do, which is have faith and press forward, trusting in Him to provide a solution, somehow. We're not sure how it is going to happen, but we know what we need to do. If I've learned anything on my mission so far, it's that if God wants you to do something, no matter how crazy, just do it. That's where we're at right now. It's going to be an adventure!

I also went on exchanges this last week with Elder Memmott in our area. It was a really good exchange, and we got some good things done. Our focus was on being one with our use of smartphones, and while I still sometimes forgot to tell him what texts to read BEFORE I sent them, I usually remembered to at least tell him afterwards. Progress, right? With regards to technology use, we also had a really productive time using Facebook. We said a prayer before, just as we would with any other experience, and it made a huge difference! Both of us found really productive ways to still be ourselves while trying to strengthen others.

Sunday, I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting about what I've learned on my mission. I may have rambled on a little bit, but I felt the Spirit, so it's okay, right? No, seriously, I talked about how each area in my mission has helped me learn something about the Doctrine of Christ. In Wenatchee, I learned a lot about faith and the principles of what to apply. In Othello, I learned that applying the principles we know is not always easy in different situations, so I learned how to repent and adapt. I also learned a lot from Elder Fordham about how to humble myself instead of always being compelled to be humble. I mean, I always wanted to do that, I just didn't really know how. As for The Dalles, it was a baptism of fire. I learned a lot about the importance of making and keeping commitments, both for myself and for others. In Toppenish, I really had a lot of experiences with learning to follow the Spirit, to refine myself, and to be more consecrated. I also learned a lot there about the Spirit World, the Priesthood, and exercising our faith to see miracles. I saw a lot of those in Toppenish.

Finally, in Moses Lake, I've seen more or less a review of everything else. I've had to apply the lessons I have learned throughout the rest of my mission, in each of my areas. I've had to exercise my faith, repent (and I'm seeing the fruits of it!), make and keep covenants, and follow the Spirit more than really any other time. Also, as the end to my mission fast approaches (I still can't believe I only have a week left!), I have had to put my shoulder to the wheel and push along. I've learned here about how to truly endure well.

If you pay attention, each of my areas has taught me something about each one of the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel: Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. 5 areas, 5 principles. It's kind of poetic, isn't it?

Well, I love you all, and I'm looking forward to a week never to be forgotten!


Elder Ben Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

How was your week? - This last week was really great! It's REALLY weird how fast the time is going... 😲

What was the best part of your temple trip? - Getting answers to several questions was by far the best part. Also, since then, I've felt a little bit (not a lot, but still a little bit) more at peace about going home. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see everyone again, but it's really weird. Also, it's kind of terrifying/sad/pretty much everything at once. I honestly feel like the last little bit preparing to go back home is a LOT worse than actually being home. There's just SO much suspense. However, going to the Temple was like a breath of fresh air that filled me up and helped me feel more peaceful about the whole thing.
Glad to know SOMETHING is worse than being home. (Trying not to laugh at that statement). :-)
Well, you know what I mean :-)

What part of having a cell phone are you happiest about? - I honestly don't know. There are several things that are really nice about it. For one, the Area Book Planner is really, really, good. It improves our efficiency by a LOT. As for having them when I do, though, I'm really grateful to get a little bit of a "training course" for how to use technology. To be honest, I had almost completely forgotten about how to use a phone. Now, however, I'm more in practice, and I'm also getting a lot more comfortable with using my phone/facebook/everything to share the Gospel. I'm really glad I get this little refresher course.

What does this next week look like for you? - Intense. It looks really intense. We'll be having a bunch of lessons with Roxana, and we'll also be having a District Meeting. After that, we've got Weekly Planning, packing, and a lot of crazy preparation to help Roxana as well as to prepare to go to the Mission Home in a week.

What do you most love about Moses Lake? Your companion? Missionary work in general? - I've got to say that the members here in Moses Lake are absolutely fantastic. As for Elder Kopp, he's a really solid guy. He is really good at keeping me in line. 😝 He's also really fun to be around, and we are good friends. As for missionary work, honestly, I don't even know where to begin. All I can do is point you to the promise at the end of the First Presidency message in the front of Preach My Gospel. Truly, more happiness comes as we labor among God's children than ever before. It is true. Seeing the Gospel work in peoples' lives has got to be one of the sweetest experiences anyone can have. Also, as a missionary, you can often feel pretty epic as you exercise the Priesthood in righteous ways. Seriously, the things that have happened... let's just say I've learned a lot about the Spirit World, faith, and miracles while here.

How's the weather? - It's getting pretty warm, actually. It's almost uncomfortably warm, but it's okay. We've got A/C.

Love you bunches! - Right back at you!


Elder Ben Adams


Trip to the Columbia River Temple

Selections from Ben's Facebook posts

April 24:

April 25:
This week we had the awesome opportunity to go to the Columbia River Temple. It was truly inspiring. I'm super grateful we got to go; I was able to get some inspiration about how to be a better missionary, as well as how to continue on to the next phase of life.

After going to the Temple this morning, we got to enjoy some delicious burritos.

April 27:

April 28:
I'm spending the day with awesome missionary Elder Memmott. ¡Vamanos!

April 29:
Today I felt super blessed to be able to share in church some of the experiences that I've had on my mission so far. Preparing to give that talk helped me remember just how many things I've learned and how many miracles I've seen. Honestly, the time I've had on my mission has really helped me learn so much.

April 30:
Sometimes people have asked me why we knock on their doors and try to talk with them. The answer? I think this scripture about captures it:
Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble. - Mosiah 28:3, the Book of Mormon


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Week 100: In which we have planners on our phones, we have scriptures on our phones, and we use Facebook on our phones

(written 23 Apr 2018)

Holy cow, everyone. This week has most certainly been eventful! 

We've been working with Roxana, and the ride situation is resolved! She's now working on getting a job so she can finally be independent / cut herself free from her boyfriend. Everything is going well, but she wasn't able to make church. We were pretty sad about that, but we'll continue pressing forward. We're working on finding more people, but we haven't found anyone new this last week.

However, the craziest change this week came on Friday at a day-long zone conference. It lasted from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm, with lunch and dinner. What happened, though, was pretty historic for the Washington Yakima Mission: we got smartphones!

Honestly, there are a lot of really nice things about smartphones. The best by far is the improvements in the record-keeping system. We now have an app called "Area Book Planner". It is really, really, good. Now, whenever we find someone, we can report how it went there. We report all of our lessons there. It creates a record for ward/branch leaders that can be accessed in LDS tools telling them about how they can help the people we're working with. There is a map in-app that is connected to the unit directory and all of our own records, so it makes it easy to find people and navigate our area.

The other great thing is sending texts/inputting records/everything else is a lot easier, thanks to both speech recognition and a swifkey keyboard.

Another really useful thing is being able to access scriptures, videos, and everything else all on the phone. I no longer need to carry around all of the standard works (in both languages!) just to be able to share a scripture with someone. We no longer need to carry anything with us except for the materials we pass out to people. It's radically different.

Our experience during Sunday meeting with the local leaders of the branch was amazing! It was a very productive and spiritual meeting. We were able to help much better, and President Jones was super excited about all of the new tools we now have available to help hasten the work here in the branch. 

Having Facebook is definitely a surreal experience. It almost feels as if we're breaking every mission rule by being online on our phones! Elder Kopp and I have set some goals and made a few plans to avoid distraction or derailment caused by being online, while still being able to interact and fulfill our purpose there as well. For us at least, it has proved really effective!

The Lord is most definitely hastening his work, so we'd better all work to keep up! Love you all!

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

What pun do you think of when you look at the subject line ("Just Questions")? - Well, I think that's a pretty just question. I'll let you know when I think of some.

How's life in the Prophet's Puddle? - Life is wonderful and getting very sunny! Things got really crazy as soon as we got smartphones. Also, everyone in our apartment is convinced that you two must either be psychic or have an "in" with Church HQ, since you sent me a lens kit for smartphones almost a full week before anyone knew we were getting smartphones. President Lewis said he told the parents about it on Friday, but I opened my package on my birthday, which was a day earlier (Thursday). Okay, you got us. How did you know? 🤔

I know your mission has some materials you are supposed to work on to make your next transfer go smoothly. What are they? What do you have to do? - It's called "MyPlan". It's an online course that missionaries take for their last 6 weeks, and covers a lot of different topics. The first week is more-or-less introductory, and goes over the general concept of making a plan for what to do after being released. Week 2 is focused on setting goals and making plans in general. Week 3 is about setting goals and making plans to continue on the path of discipleship. Week 4 is about self-reliance. Week 5 (which I will do tomorrow) is about dating and marriage (it's infamous). Week 6 is a general review of the goals and plans you've made over the previous weeks, adjusting them all and perfecting the plan to best fit your needs. It takes about 1-2 hours once a week. I've been doing it on Tuesday mornings.

What's the best thing about having a smart phone now? - Honestly, there are a lot of really nice things about smartphones. The best by far is the improvements in the record-keeping system. We now have an app called "area book planner". It is really, really, good. Now, whenever we find someone, we report it there. We report all of our lessons there. It creates a record for ward/branch leaders that can be accessed in LDS tools telling them about who we're working with. There is a map in-app that is connected to the unit directory and all of our own records. Once the information for any one of our potential investigators, progressing investigators, other investigators, and everyone else we are working with is digitized, we can see and access all of that on our phones, connected to our daily planners. We can see where EVERYONE lives, since they all have a little point on the map.

The other great thing is sending texts/inputting records/everything else is a lot easier, thanks to both speech recognition and a swifkey keyboard.

Another thing is being able to access scriptures, videos, and everything else all on the phone. I no longer need to carry around all of the standard works (in both languages!) just to be able to share a scripture with someone. We no longer need to carry anything with us except for the materials we pass out to people.

It's radically different.

What are your goals for the rest of this transfer? - I'm working on being the best I can be, esp. the most obedient and spirit-led I can be. I also want to be as mentally and emotionally prepared as I can be to go home. My problem is not so much being trunky as it is not being trunky enough, if you know what I mean.

What are you doing for service these days? - We haven't had a lot of time recently to do a ton of service, and the next few weeks are crazy, as well. However, we have been able to go to a weekly service that most of the missionaries in the zone participate in, which is singing at nursing homes. We rotate between only 3 or 4, and we don't have a lot of songs we can all sing, so whoever arranged it was very wise and arranged to sing at special nursing homes. Specifically, we sing in Alzheimer wings.

Have you gotten to love any foods over the past few years that you didn't know about before your mission? - I am IN LOVE with quesadillas de alpastor (alpastor is a delicious type of marinated pork meat mixed with pineapple). They are divine. I also have learned to love posole and, of course, tacos. I never realized it before my mission, since I never actually had a REAL taco, but authentic Mexican tacos are absolutely DELICIOUS!!! Okay, that's enough exclamation marks for a single paragraph.

What are you doing/have you done for P-Day today? - Today was crazy... We had a housing inspection this morning, so we cleaned for that, took a giant box of random stuff missionaries left behind to Goodwill, dropped off some pants to be mended, shopped, did laundry (we no longer have our own washer/dryer in our apartment, so we have to use a laundromat on P-Day). We then spent a TON of time mailing about 7 boxes of things home. Buena suerte! 😁 It cost a LOT of money, since not all my stuff fit into priority mail boxes. It stinks, but I am now %100 positive I won't have any weight problems... with my bags, that is.

Any luck helping your investigators resolve their problems? - Yes! Roxana is still looking for a job, but the other things in the way have now been resolved. She just needs to actually find the job and then put the nail on the coffin, as it were.
So, where did you get the cello [you played at Zone Conference]? - There is a member here, Sister Daniels-Brown, who has had one since Christmas. She also has a friend, Haven Villarreal, who is a member but doesn't go to church a lot. I contacted Sister Villarreal (with help from Sister Daniels-Brown) a little while ago, and gave her some tips for playing cello (she's in a local community orchestra). We then contacted her again before Zone Conference 

Do you still have it? - No, but I have easy access to it. Both Sister Daniels-Brown and Sister Villarreal have said I can borrow their instruments whenever I need to. They mainly need them on Wednesday nights, since they both play in the same community orchestra.

Will you be playing anything for your ward? - I already have, actually! It was on a different cello, though (actually, the one belonging to Sister Daniels-Brown). I don't remember what I played, though. It was a hymn arranged in my classic style (adapted for solo cello instead of cello/piano).

Love y'all!

Elder Adams

Pictures from Zone Conference

Excerpts from Ben's Facebook Posts [link]

April 21:

April 22:
Hello everyone! In case you were wondering, no, I didn't run away from my mission. What happened is we got smartphones here! Since I'm now on Facebook, if you have any questions about what I'm doing as a missionary or what we talk about, feel free to send me a message and I'd be more than happy to help answer your questions! ¡Les quiero mucho!

April 23:
Just spent all day cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, shopping, going to a routine doctor's visit, emailing, and sending home half a dozen packages just to find there wasn't really time for anything else.