¡Aloha! ¿Wie geht's? We found out evening who is getting transferred (moved) where. Believe it or not, I'm still in The Dalles! Well, until , that is. I will be transferred to Toppenish 1st and 2nd Spanish East. That's in Toppenish, WA. I'll be in the 1st and 2nd Ward areas, apparently, but we'll be attending and working with the Toppenish Spanish Branch. The Elders who work there are known as the "Top Dogs". I think I'm going to like it. I don't know if we work with the English-speaking wards at all, or if we just do Spanish work. I guess I'll find out.
My new companion will be Elder Rigby! Fun story: When I was with Elder West, Elder Rigby was in Hood River here with Elder Najarian, the other District Leader. I got to work a little with Elder Rigby when our companions were in meetings. Now, I'm going to be with Elder Rigby, and Elder Najarian is going to be companions with Elder West! Funny how that works, huh?
Transfer time is always super bittersweet for me. I hate leaving the people I have grown to love, but I'm excited to change things up and meet more amazing people! I'll get to serve around different missionaries, different members, and work with different investigators. Also, Elder Tapia is going to be one of my Zone Leaders. That'll be fun.
Here's an excerpt from my letter to President Lewis:
So much has changed here. It's honestly amazing when I look back to where The Dalles was when I first arrived. I have said time and time again that it felt like we were tasked with moving a mountain. Over the days, it was sometimes hard to see much progress being made. It sometimes felt like we were banging our heads against a brick wall. It was challenging, rewarding, frustrating, exhilarating, and amazing. It was like a roller coaster, but it was very hard to see where the progress was. It has been easy to think at times, "No one seems to be progressing. What's wrong? Even Abinadi saw Alma progress a little when he stood up for the truth! He may not have seen Alma's complete conversion, but he at least saw something!"
I realize now that the issue was never whether people were progressing here. Rather, looking back, I realize that the entire area has been progressing! It is very slow, yes. It is hard work, yes. It can be discouraging in the moment, yes. However, looking back, I can finally see that the mountain has moved a foot or two. It's still there, and there's still a way to go, but it moved! Noe and Maria, two investigators we found nearly 4 months ago, want to be baptized! They are inviting all their friends to come and see how amazing it is and how much the Gospel has changed their life already! People are noticing the boxes and materials we have put out in various locations, and someone even contacted us to help her change her life for the better! Old friends have been found again. New friends have been made.
The mountain has moved, even if only a little bit. Even though it is hard to see in the moment, and it's even hard to see over a transfer sometimes, I'm so very grateful to be able to look back and see that yes, progress was made. I feel that I, like Abinadi, was able to see a little good come from our efforts, even if I will never see the full end results. I am humbled by it, and pray to be able to continue to do my best together with my future companions until the work is fully done.
I love this work! We have had a few lessons with more people. We've had another lesson with Erica, and she's awesome! She wants to know if it's true, and has great questions! We also had a lesson with Claudia , and it was amazing! The spirit was super strong, and she seemed to really like it. We helped her to pray with us. Noe and Maria have both expressed that they want to be baptized, and we're now working with them towards that. We'll be meeting with them again , where I will have to say goodbye. That's going to be hard.
I love the people here so much, and it's such a beautiful place! I pray that Noe and Maria will be able to make it, and as long as I'm close enough (Toppenish is!) I will come back for their baptism. They are really very good people.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity I've had to serve here! I love you all, and hope that you have a fantastic coming week.
Questions from Editor Mom:
I love you, and I hope you're OK with what this transfer is bringing you! Are you OK with it? - Yes, I'm OK with it. I'll tell you now, I'm going to Toppenish 1st and 2nd Spanish East. I'll be with Elder Rigby, who was actually in Hood River for exactly as long as Elder West was here in The Dalles. Oddly enough, Elder Rigby was with Elder Najarian in Hood River while Elder West was with me. Now, Elder Najarian is going to be companions with Elder West while I'm companions with Elder Rigby. Hehe. Comp switch, anyone?
What did you think of Oregon's stonehenge? (The pictures look fun). - I loved it! It's a really cool idea, and was definitely time well-spent.
I don't want you to think too much about this, but what are you most looking forward to being able to do after your mission? - Hug you. I honestly try not to think about that, though. I'll look forward to playing cello more regularly, having the option to occasionally take naps or sleep in, hugging you, and pretty much anything else.
How are your investigators in The Dalles? - They're doing really great. There are some new investigators who are showing a lot of promise, and Noe and Maria have expressed that they want to be baptized! We're working towards that with them now, though they still have a few things to learn/work through. I'm so glad I had the privilege of meeting them here!
Off the wall question: What landscape do you prefer (high desert, like WY, mountains, ocean, forest, city, suburbs, or something else)? - Landscape? I probably prefer the forest, maybe mixed with a little ocean/suburbs. I'm not the biggest fan of living in a city landscape, but I don't mind visiting. Honestly, to mix it all, I would probably most prefer something like the Alpine regions: Forest, lakes (I like water), smaller-medium (well-kept) suburbs/towns, and the occasional field to break things up a bit. Mountains are also a plus, especially if they are near enough to a coast that I could visit the ocean on occasion. The bigger the better.
That could match Switzerland/the Alps, Norway, the Pacific Northwest (interesting, right?), and New Hampshire/where we are (even though the mountains aren't the best).
From Sis. Lewis's blog:Here are Ben's answers to Sis. Lewis's two questions.
What have you learned lately?
I’ve learned simple teaching. I’ve learned to study better, by topic, by using lesson plans, and by finding answers to questions. I’ve also learned how to keep ties well-secured and not flopping around with the wind.
What scripture are you memorizing lately?
I’m memorizing Alma 7:11-12 “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
Me with Bro. Grow. He likes to fish and gave me the Portland Temple tie. I got him back and gave him a Salmon lure.
Me with Sis. Julie Vanderdosser. She's with the Young Women. She's really nice.
Me with Bro. Hodges (the older one, who's 2nd councilor in the Bishopric). He is a hardcore musician and writes a lot of band music that's pretty widely performed.
Me with the Carters. Martin, their son, left on a mission about 4 weeks ago. Elder Tapia and I worked a lot with them, and they're really, really awesome.
Me with Pres. Kent (Bryan, the younger one). He's the Young Men's President, and is a really great guy. He's fun to be around, and really dedicated to the young men.
Me with Bro. Stewart. He is one of the first members I met here. He's a great guy. He is super dedicated. He owns a small orchard operation and is really helpful.
Me with Bro. Nick Ryder-Bayes. He's working on getting to the temple. He's a great guy, and loves to talk with the missionaries.
Me with the Chavers Family (they run a day care).
Me with Jorge at his taco shop
Elder Jensen and me with Becky, who runs the local food bank (we did a lot of service there)
These are from the quote wall (really a door) in our apartment. If you zoom in, you can read them. There is some overlap, so you could reconstruct the entire door.
Me with my beloved Quesadilla de Alpastor at Jorge's taco shop, La Michoacana Station
Me again at La Michoacana Station, with my lovely Quesadilla in hand, soon to be devoured.
Elder Jensen making a ring out of a dollar coin
The entire quote wall/door