Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 23, 2007 Letter

I´ve noticed a lot of my e-mails have random junk in my letters... I still consider it my journal-ish kind of writing, but I want to try to focus on those who are reading it too… I am having so many great spiritual experiences, so many moments of learning and spiritual growth. I want to share it all with you, not really possible to share it ALL) so I´ll try to leave some sort of spiritual insight sometimes, instead of just blurting out my chaotic thoughts. ;) Though that will still happen often, just a warning. I can´t even write a fraction of my thoughts, experiences, trials and happiness I´ve had here, in only 6 months... Wow! The days just keep flyin´. I do know though, that sharing all the rest of my experiences after the mission will be that much sweeter. =)

Okay, some news: my sis has constructed a brand new blog just for me and my mission. THANKS MEL!!! LOVE YA TONZ!! so all can check up on my adventures or what not. Be sure to tell your friends and your neighbor´s dog, those who might not have an e-mail. yup. http://juliesmission.blogspot.com

THANKS! to Matthew Vicklund, I´ve got some style and coolness back in my life (the pic attatched) I love it! Laughed my head off. :D Good work Agent V, it´s awesome!!
Hmm... Spanish.- This proces of understanding seems to take so long, but I know the time will come when I will understand every word and speak fluently, and I will be able to feel that I have helped them personally. When I can understand the peoplr and their culture, behaviors, needs, etc., I will better understand how to help them.
I´m STILL learning some basic doctrines, almost like I´ve had to learn everything all over again, like a child... evenso, I still know so little about the gospel. But I have learned SO much more. The mish is just one HUGE learning experience, like a blender. It´s really hard, for a LOT of reasons, but I appreciate every minute I´m here. I´m learning, growing, becoming a better person I thought to have been without a mission... getting stronger, smarter (yay!) so much knowledge being crammed into my brain. So much power of the Spirit in my experiences. Every day I can see the hand of the Lord in my life, in so many ways. Isn´t the Lord great?!? We should all talk our Father more often. Whatýa say, a challenge? Are you all reading your scriptures...DAILY?? (Mosiah 1:5-7) Sharing gospel truths and your tesimonies with your friends and neighbors?? Are you asking yourself: ¨how can I come closer to the Lord today¨? Are you praying fervently for love and guidance of our Heavenly Father?? (2 Ne. 32:8, 9) (Alma 37: 35-37) (2Ne. 27: 28, 29) (D+C 10: 5/ 19:38) Let me know how you feel after taking some bigger spiritual steps...
Once again I know I´ve missed something important, or someone, or an answer to a question...etc. I try to make time for everything, but always miss something. Sorry...my repetition is annoying, I know. :D no time to proof-read... hope I didn´t say any bad words er nuthin´.....
Love and a million thanks to all!!
Hna Julie Benson
¨For the LORD¨ ......
^_^ ....lol

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 16, 2007 Pictures B

1- um... having fun with the fans... these little guys go every where with us. If we study at the desk they´re there. When we sleep at night, they´re right there. when we´re in the kitchen cooking-- etc etc...these fans are our bestest friends. It gets HOT!

2- Look really close... it´s really a truck! Craaaazy stuff goes on in the capital..

3- Who´s turn to say the prayer? Elder Rojas, me, Hna Taylor, and others at a fun charla night with apple juice, plateno fritos (fried platenos, like potatoes) and pollo frito (fried chicken)... I guess everything is fried or cooked with oil... Yum!

4- Dominos! (Possibly the most popular game on the street)...Dominican style. Caught in the act! Gabriel (This guy´s a riot) Hna taylor, drinkin´ Soda, E. Rojas @ right, and Erik @ top: he´s a new member, VERY intelligent, and very nice. He knows all about computers too. He´s a great example to all his buddies.

5- Tito and Guadelupe´s cute little family. The baby girl is Michel, little Justin in middle, and Jordy at right. This was taken after our car ran out of propane (yes, a bomb on wheels) on our ride home after conference. I recall there were 10 people in that car (3 kids, 4 misioneras, Erik, Tito, y Lupe). We had a good time chatting and singing on the side of a really busy highway, and in front of som Evengelist church.

6- Yum!... haven´t eaten chicken feet yet... but I wanted the photo ;D

Love to all, thanks to all who wrote!! BIG smiles!!
Hna Jules Benson

October 16, 2007 Pictures A

Here are those pics I´ve been promising! Enjoy. =)

1- Aneuris and Nawell, a couple of great investigators, still young, but hungry to learn more. We get a lot of random friends and neighbors that join us in our charlas. I think we´ve only contacted maybe 2 times in this area. People come to us. It´s great!

2- Awwww! Perhaps the 2nd best baby shot I´ve taken so far. I HAD to share it. Jordy, the son of Tito and Guadalupe, fantastic couple that´s getting baptized real soon. Tito works for the police, and while at the neighbors´ house he handed his belt to Jordy and told him to walk it back home. I totally captured it. ;D

3- The Primary program last Sunday. Cute little colored capes like a big gospel choir. :) And SO organized they were.

4- Hna Bair (Pres wife), Guadalupe, Hna Taylor and Lupe´s ADORABLE baby... (see last pic, I decided to send it again :D) The Pres. planned a fireside for all those in our area that had a Baptism date. It was so perfect for them all. A great jumpstart to their Spiritual growth in the church. Also, there were cookies and juice ! :D We were filled spiritually AND physically.

5- okay, this was the night I talked about a couple weeks ago, but couldn´t get the pic out in time. It´s when I got to play a few tunes on this man´s beat-up guitar, even for the opening hymn! It was raining, we were sittin´ under a leaky tin patio roof, a cute dominican family... I was in heaven. :)

More comin´ I hope...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

October 9, 2007 Letter

just cuz time flies so fast and next time I can just send pics and explain them... those will be good stories. ;D
*Ahem* so out hear in the Dominican Republic... it´s far away... just thought I´d remind you all. no reason.
Conference!!! I was sooo excited to hear such good words and direction from those holy men. I took so many notes! My hand was flying across the pages, trying not to miss one good word. I especially loved talks by Eyring, Richard G Scott (stars, galaxies, atoms, cool!), and wow, Uchtdorf (¨Have we not reason to rejoice!¨) loved it, and Hales, and Cook (live by faith, not by fear), all so much what I needed to hear! Hope you all listened and took notes too! I even got to watch it in English, YES! I made sure that happened. I was soo grateful. Power went out only a couple times. :)
Tomorrow we get to go to the Temple! I am so in need of a good long time to just sit and pray. I´ve got a lot to talk about with the Lord. With a mission schedule, sure we pray a lot, but never enough time to really express all your feelings, y´know? Yeah. I´m stoked. I love the Temple. It also means we go to the capital. Hna Taylor wants to develope some pics and eat at Wendy´s... I guess I´m in for that too. :)
We´ve gone on a few intercombios, where we split up with a member so we can teach more lessons at one time. I´m frustrated cuz I´m afraid of getting lost... it´s SO easy to get lost here. Anyway, the last one was better and I taught a lot of great lessons on my own. I´m gettin´ better!
Sorry, gotta stop. can´t proof-read. lemme know if anyone wants on my e-mail list or off. I¨ll try to have pics next week.
Some great Scriptures I´ve studied:Moses 6:34 / 7:13, Mosiah 2:20
Love to all, take care
Hermana Julie Benson

October 2, 2007 Letter

just kidding... ha ha.
There have been some really fabulous storms here lately. Wow! And lots of rain too.
Okay, I haven´t been taking notes this week... way too busy! So I¨ll try to remember some good stuff to say... ummm......
Sunday was a long day, we visisted a lot of people, some to check and see why they didn´t come to church, teach them a little something. It was raining hard that night, that´s why I always bring my umbrella with me, cuz it comes and goes unexpectedly. (the rain, ... not the umbrella) Crazy! So it was muddy too...We were on our way home, but decided to stop by an inactive family and teach them about profetas, prophets and the upcoming conference (YEAH!). The dad was playing his guitar and singing to his kids. The guitar was way out of tune, but he made it sound so pretty somehow... I want to learn how to do that. As we were waiting for everyone to come out I played a few tunes. FUN! I was in heaven. Then I played Silent Night for our opening hymn... under a leaky tin shack roof on the patio, with this beat up guitar, singin´ pretty songs with a cute Dominican family... *sigh* Ah, it was so great. Wish you could have all been there to feel the Spirit. I will try so send pictures next time, can`t today, the computer is stupid. =) Anyway, after that last lesson we headed back home in the rain. We had to trudge through more mud and cross like, 9 big lanes of traffic again to catch a carrito on the other side. Why did the hermanas cross the road?! ha jk. No carritos came, we were standing there forever! In the rain. And just guess what I was singin´ in the rain?... yep, you guessed it. :D We were laughing, we were cold wet and shivering... somebody pulls up in a really nice silver Jetta... a bola (ride)! They were really nice people, we didn´t know them, but Hna´s the boss. They asked why were out in the rain and dark alone... we were just tryin´ to get home! But I told them that the Lord´s protecting us. :) Good times, good times. I love the rain. It always makes things fun!
There was a strike today from all the transportation workers so we weren´t alloud to leave our house or at least the neighborhood. I have no idea what strikes are like, we don´t actually see them... Who knows if it´s like a mob with picket signs and smoke bombs in the street... We just hear about it a week before it happens and are told to not leave til it´s ¨over.¨ But we´re here in an internet cafe, I guess it´s over. :) in the house we had lots of time to study and organize, clean. I had a lot of loose ends to tie up. *whew* I still have a lot more to do, but that time really helped. I´m in the house with Hna Taylor, Hna. Garcia (from the DR) she´s a little fireball, love her! and Hna Carr!! Remember her? It´s good to be with her again, we´ve had some good times laughing and talking. She´s really not such a ¨Barbie¨after all. I exhadurated that one time. :D Just cuz she´s so funny.
Hna Taylor has been sick lately... she´s never been sick in her life, and now it happens! Poor girl was crying... hurt so bad in her stomach. I ate the same things she did, but I´m just fine... she´s immune to everything! Why her and not me? She got a blessing, and is slowly recovering.
Well, my stomach is pretty tough too. I´ve noticed one thing so far that will make my stomach turn almost instantly (though has nothing to do with bowels). Chinola, a fruit/juice that I had drunk before and was fine. It´s good. But after Hna Robertson made a juice out of a ton of fresh chinolas, it´s like an acid overload or something... so I´m carful about chinola... even if it tastes so good, my stomach remembers it´s experience and reminds me, even if I can smell it. But there are some darn good jugos (juices) here! mmm, Mango (out of season now) :´( and mmm Lechosa! (papaya)
Lisa!!!!! I got your package!!! I absolutely loved it all! And yes, I´m taking the alfalfa tablets, and sharing them, hehe. I´ve listened to the music, it´s just perfect! And I love all the little useful items, I will definitely use it all. Thank you so much sis! Luv ya! Keep me updated on your thoughts sometime, k?
Again, sorry no pictures. Thanks everyone for all your efforts to send me a little love. It always means so much. :) Sorry if there were questions or something I didn´t answer... I always miss something important...
Ahhh... Life on a mission... always wondered what it was like. Now I´m in the deep end! Bring it on.
Agent Benson, signing out.
*ahem* Hermana Benson... ;D

September 25, 2007 Pictures

Okay, hope these pics make it to all you guys. Enjoy!

1- Tell me that girl (on right in yellow) doesn´t look just like Ellen´s Isabell... she acts and talks like her too! What a cutie. :)

2- The Family Roa, us, and Pres. Bair

3- Us, familia Roa, and Elder and Sister Mask

4- A couple days after they legally married, we celebrated with biscocho! Cake!! Such a fun family. We played games and had such a fun time. They´re Mormons now! ;D

5- We arrived to see Darlin, an investigator, reading his Book of Mormon! Sweet!

6- Olga and her lil boy. ha ha!

7- BABY!!!!!!!!!!!! Lisa! This one´s ESPEcially for you!

8- The friend who greeted us back home last night
9- What Hna Garcia did to our friend... my friend... :´(


September 25, 2007 Letter

We just had 8 whole baptisms this past Sunday, and wow it was amazing! There was a whole family of three girls and a boy, and a couple we just barely married last week. Precious! And two other investigators. They were baptised after the 3hr church block and confirmed members of the church. The Spirit was strong, everyone was so happy! Even more awesomely, Our Pres. of the Mission, Pres. Bair, came and baptised all of them! AND even morely awesome is that Elder Mask and his wife of the 70, the Pres of the entire Carribean, presided over our church meeting. He gave a fantastic talk and stayed to see the baptisimal service right after. He speaks really good Spanish. His grampa is the guy who wrote Himno 88 (Spanish), there´s a really neat story behind it too... maybe it´s on wikipedia.com... doubt it. AND today we had big zone conference with Pres Bair and Pres Mask presiding again. They all gave us great (can I say awesome again?) words of wisdom, and Elder Mask´s was especialy powerful. He spoke twice, cuz we got to get up and stretch, get a bottle of water, a piece of ¨conference bread¨ (yes!!) then we sat down again for more spiritual fulfillment. It´s so good to feel the Spirit so strong again... it´s hard to keep that feeling with you when faced with so many problems. I´m still slow at learning, eventhough I just want to learn so much at one time (there´s not enough time to study in the mornings!) but I have to just do what I can and pray for the Lord to help me... ¨I can do it with the Lord´s help¨ I need to think that more often. Frustrating times come in waves. I feel like I´m not capable of anything, and other times I accomplished something and feel good... but not enough. I need to have confidence in myself and most importantly have more Faith in the Lord to help me. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me!!! I can feel all your support and love every day. :)
So about this point in time I can say I know a great deal of Spanish... still not enough, but I´m being a critic. But no, really, It´s still difficult to have a full conversation with someone...that´s important when we have investigators that need to talk! I want to reach that point where I don´t have to turn to my comp everytime I don´t understand when someone´s talking to me. I listen really carefully...ask them to repeat...still don´t get it. Most aren´t really willing to be patient with me and help me learn... cuz I don´t want to rely on my comp to translate everything. Y´know?? Sometimes it´s funny. They speak so fast, then I ask them to say it slower... they say it fast again, impatiently, and I still dont´get it... I want to hear it again so I can learn, but they give up and it´s just a waste of time. Why am I talking about this... ANyway, scratch all that, I was just venting. So my Spanish is coming. I still can teach a lot in Spanish...my doctrine vocab is pretty good...
Claudia! Thank you for those adorable pics! I also recieved that Spanish book last week, it is so helpful! Vocabulary and pictures, it´s great. I´m very visual so it´s just perfect for me. Woo-hoo! Hugs to the fam too! And the babies!
I´m learning so much out here... SOOO much!! But I just can´t seem to learn enough! I love the Book of Mormon! I can say that now that I´m actually learning more about it. I read in Moses the other day. Wow. About God and how powerful and loving he is. I looved it. I wanted to sit there and read the whole Pearl of Great Price AND the whole Bible all day long. I love deep doctrine. But I gotta stick to the simple stuff for now, until it´s engraven (in silver) into my heart and mind. =) Step by step... *sigh* struggle by struggle...
Today us hermanas were walking to the highway to catch a taxi to the conf. chapel. Out of nowhere I started singing ¨Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters. Never had to have a chapter one, no sir. I oughta keep my eye on her. Caring, sharing, every little thing that we are wearing. When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome: I wore the dress, And I stayed home! All kinds of weather we stick together, the same in the rain and sun. Two different faces but in tight places (?) we think and we act as one. Those who´ve seen us, know that not a thing can come between us. Many men have tried to split us up, but no one can. ;D Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister. And Lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man¨ ... If you know that song, you´ll see how funny it is. Doesn´t it just FIT?? Ha! I was laughing at myself... no one else seemed to think it was that funny... but that´s just me. ;D
Lisa! Hna Taylor, my comp, her home is so close to where you will be living in Vista Dr., Mesa! AND that is close to where Elder Mask lives too! Hna Taylor even made a package to go home cuz E. Mask and his wife were actually gonna visit her parents house! How cool is that? So when you´re down there look for the Taylors in your stake...or was is the other stake... dunno. She even said that she really recognizes your name and thinks you served in her ward!?! This is no coincidence...
Hey Mom, good luck with auditions for King and I! I hope you get the part you wanted. :) Oo! take pics of the house and yard, I´d like to see all the progress that´s been going on, if you´re not sure how to do it, ask someone to help you. Ask and ye shall recieve! Also, you don´t need to worry about rushing your e-mails off to me. It´s more important that you have time to relax and type what you need to, and if it doesn´t get to me right on time, I´d rather wait another week to hear the full story. :) That goes for everyone too. ;D
Marcia! I gave all those dolls away, and they were ADORED! I would love to have some more, big or small dolls, to give to more cute little dominican girls. :) And if you´ve got anything for boys, that´d be good too. Thanks a ton!! I´m trying to get more pics of the kids I already gave them too... in time. I did send one last time. did you see it?...
Okay, now for the good part. Ima gonna send y´all smore pics in the next e-mail, n´kay?? n´kay.
proof reading... k.
Peace out, to all =)
Hermana Julie Benson

September 18, 2007 Pictures

lil' bit of me and stuff!

September 18, 2007 Letter

Wow! We had transfers today and I've moved to Los Alcarrizos! It's been crazy! My new companion is Hermana Taylor, we're gonna have tons of fun! ... and guess what, they've got 8 whole baptisms lined up this month... lucky ducks! It's gonna be awesome to meet all the new investigators and get used to the new area. Los "Alcs" is north of the Capital and I'm in a 4-man house (psh...not really MEN, okay...) but I just know a lot of adventures await me here. :) It's sad to leave Canastica behind...all those awesome investigators. My last lesson taught with Hna Robertson was with Neilson and his wife. He was from Boston (spoke Eng. and Span.) and had an awesome accent. He was born in the DR but lived in Boston most his life. They met online on Myspace (Ha!) and over time and diligence finally met and got married. whoa. Anyway, the point was that Neilson was always looking for the truth, but felt weird about different churches... He wanted to find the truth. :D (These words have such power to bring giant smiles to missionary faces...) We told him he needn't look any further for the truth, because it was right here!! He was so glad we had come by, because for a long time he was tired of trying other churches to find the truth...he just wanted it to come to him... Well!! And there we were. He was very nice and said we were welcome in his house anytime and was excited to learn more. We felt a change in his heart when we taught him of the wonderful blessings him and his family could recieve through this true gospel. ;D Sadly...I won't get to see them progress. But the gospel is still true!!
Hey, sorry if some of you haven't heard from me for a long time... sorry sorry! Really, I'm alive and well! My blood is pumpin'! :D The mission can get really stressful though... if I haven't responded, answered questions or acknwledged my existence, I really really appologise. :) I do want to respond to all of you, but there's just not much time for that... I can't even find time to write snail-mails... bummer... always soo much I want to get done: study more of the Book of Mormon, or Spanish, or church books, notes, or talks etc, or organizing stuff... sometimes I just want to sit down and do absolutely nothing for just a little while... well if I did that I would have to be eating something... cuz I eat when I'm bored... Now ya know! hehe. surprise. or not.
Anyways. Busy busy. As of yet, FYI for those who told me to expect B-day stuff from, I haven't recieved them yet... for quite some weeks now...that's why I haven't thanked you for them yet. :D Although some many weeks ago I did recieve those Eng/Span tapes from Claudia. Thank you so much!! They have been so fun to listen to and I'm learning some great stuff. Such a good idea, music and learning. Yeah! Thanx again. :) Also, FYI for future packages...not that I'm hinting anyone to send me anything...really I'm not... but keep in mind that those big Express envelopes are the cheaper, and much faster way to get stuff to me.
Gah! Time just flies!!
Here are some pics... enjoy! Sorry Mom, dial-up probably can't open these. And Mom: notice that I've sent this e-mail to the list of people I have...don't know why I didn't think to do that earlier... to save you some trouble. let's try a new system. If i'm missing anyone on the list (family or friends...or non-friends...hehe), lemmy know so I can add them and send it all straight to them instead of letting you worry about it. sound good? k. Thanks so much for everything!!
Love to all!... and to all a good night! *nyuk-nyuk*
Hermana Jules

September 12, 2007 Letter

Okay. Como estan??
I´m excited for the CA show! Well, I know it´s over…I guess it was still only one week of shows this year too right? Say hi t the Walls for me, I miss that awesome family. :)
I gave a talk this past Sunday on the Holy Ghost, it was good... in Spanish, yay! Plus it was the first time I forgot my plaque...didn´t realize it until After I sat down. Gah! Luckily I had my spare... it feels weird without a plaque!
Had a baptism!!!! Saturday Sept 8th. His name is Eduar Sepulveda, age 16. It was really exciting to have my first baptism. And for such a strong Spirit too. I remember when we actually found him for the first time. We were on intercambios and I made contacts with two other dominican sisters from the ward. It was getting late and dark, and we came across a house surounded by people, mostly men. It was kind of crazy, people coming and going The other sisters taught…something… I couldn´t understand much, but the one looked at me and I choked. It was my turn. So I blurted out everything I knew, hoping someone would listen and understand… after my testimony I introduced the gospel pamflit (these new pamflits are awesome!) and I gave it to the only person who was listening in the end… Eduar. Ever since then we had been teaching really good, smooth lessons, he was continuing to progress (reading and praying) and that is what makes us missionaries happy! When an investigator is actually making some good changes in their life and in their heart . He has recieved the Spirit the Priesthood, is attending Seminary every morning at 6 am, And he´s already filling out his mission papers. Wow! We can see that he´ll be a wonderful example to his family, and he has so much potential to help build the kingdom of God. Sweet!
Also, yesterday was fun. Well, so was today, we played frisbee in the hot sun (Yes!). anyway, we were looking for Alfred, a boy we´re getting ready to baptize, so we could teach him. He was on the baseball field with a bunch of other little boys. Hna Robertson wanted to play with them, so she ran a couple bases. Then they kids wanted Hna and I to race... I sprinted and totally left her in the dust... in a skirt and sandals. :D Such long legs I have... Then one little boy, who spoke English, said ¨You´re fast! A lot of kids here are weak. And I´m one of them! Wanna race me?¨... I laughed and said Sure! Everyone else wanted to race me too... I gave them a head start... and still left them in the dust. It was so much fun! Those kids were a blast ...only I forgot my camera. oh well!
lovs to all and all
Hermana Benson

August 28, 2007 Letter

Mumzy: some people have told me they haven't heard from me(you) for about a month... have you been busy? Just hope everything is okay and you can get things back on track with all my e-mails. Talk to Ernie or Melanie about the blog... it's a really really good idea. :) Thanks Mom!!... Also, what's Brewer's yeast tablets? Some old guy in Provo told me a long time ago I should take one a day for I don't remember what. Is it really important?

Boy. Being on a Mission, having to be capable of teaching every principle imaginable to people who are spouting with questions is no piece of pie… mmm… pie… Let alone in Spanish. Sheesh! I've had to start all over in English just to get the right doctrine down. I've learned so much, just from all the basics. My testimony has grown so much bigger along with all my studies and experiences.

Oh, yeah, I was gonna tell you about this Jason kid we met a while ago while we were looking for someone that stood us up (what's another word for that?). We found out his dad was a Pastor of a Pentacostle/Evangelical church next door, and his whole family was into it, of course. We've had a few lessons with him so far… He knows this gospel is true… we've seen such a good change in him…(we have all even cried in the middle of a lesson, the Spirit was so strong) but he's afraid to abandon his traditions. He feels like it's a sin to read the Book of Mormon or go to another church etc. But then he just found out his father has had a Book of Mornon for years now. He said his father has read most of it and knows it's true, but refuses to leave his congregation…. wow. Tough stuff like this seems to happen more and more. Jason is willing to read the Book now. Slowly, he will gain his confidence and realize that he really does have his agency to choose good if he wants to. He's a great kid, so bright and eager to learn more. Poor guy's been cooped up in his little Evangelical corner his whole life.
There are some really hard, stiffnecked people here though. I was reading 2 Nephi 25-33! It's just creepy. Everyone should read it carefully… cuz it's exactly what's happening here. ¨A Bible! A Bible!We need no more Bible!¨ I love how Nephi always brings up the fact that his words are so plain and simple that even a child could understand them…no man can err… Wo, wo unto the Dominicans. My testimony grows stronger everyday…everytime it is challenged. A mission puts so much into perspective. We teach these hard-headed religious people, they don´t have any desire to even try to find the truth. We end up caring about their salvation a lot more than they do pretty much. They just don't understand. They sit in their steel bolted boxes wavin´ their big bibles around. It's so so hard to teach them. Usually we try to avoid the for sure tough ones, cuz we won't teach to much if they're not ready to receive… and they are a lot of those. Evangelico women always wear skirts, have messy hair, no earings or baubles, can't pick their eyebrows, and usually walk around with an umbrella, and of course, their Bible.
...I didn´t have much money to start with, and now I´m almost out... what do I do? Mumzy do you have any spare change? Alms for the poor...
Sunday there was a big stake fireside thing. All the wards came together for a program put together by the missionaries in San Cristobal. I got to sing! Yay! It was a neat version of I am a Child of God, and I translated it into Spanish. They also threw me in at the last minute to sing a solo too… I love show biz! Speaking of show biz… How's the CA Show doing?? Send me pics and let me know how crazy stuff is goin´ back stage and on stage. I miss those awesome days. :D Anchors away my boys!...

Well, I won´t proof read this. Too lazy. Sending love and hugs to Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters and buddies!!!
tune in next time... or else... Ha ha ha haa!
Sis. Julie B.

August 21, 2007 Letter

==Mom: keep my subject lines on my emails...they´re part of the fun :) Also, how´s the blog comin? It´s an awesome idea to keep a long time memory goin with all my emails attatched etc. Thanks so much for that tape! I actually wish you would have sung the whole ¨trip to the library song¨ so I could memorize it too :D I really liked all those other songs too, and that poem was great Dad! you sure are funny :) big hugs to you all! Mom, I still haven´t gotten your ¨translation¨of my set apart blessing...did it get lost in the mail or did you just not finish it?==
Don´t worry, all is well here, considering the cyclone/hurricane, at least in our area. All we got was a LOT of rain, wish you could have been here to see it... never seen so much rain... We still prapared ourselves for the worst, cuz everyone was freaking out about how bad it could be... but it was just alot of rain and some big wind Sunday night too, just all through the weekend. Good times! Now it means a lot of mud on our feet. :) mm tastey.
Oh, let me remind you all that I´m not all the way ¨here¨ when I write my e-mail. My mind is all scattered and I may repeat things or say something un-interperitable etc... anyway, I´m always rushing through my e.mail , when I would really want to spend 2 hrs on it. XD
Any advice for my big 22nd year?? For my B-day Molly made me some blueberry muffins YAY! and wrote me a really sweet card. We also had been needing food for a while so we went to the big La Sirena store and had a nice big shopping trip, afterward we ate at the little lunch place there, she payed for my meal and we shared some cake. :) It was hot though...hotter-than-monkeys-hot, but it was a good day. We taught a lot of lessons that night.. heh, and later some members actually told Molly they forgot to plan a party for me--hehe, but hey... blueberry muffins!!! :D
Happy birthday to Marcie Greenmun on the 23rd!!!! Wooooopieeeeee!!! I need some pics from you Marski, tell me how things are goin´ with your cute little family :) Luv ya!
When the Elders gave me a blessing when I was sicka while back, they said I would recover quickly (which I did) and they said I would have the gift of tongues and be able to understand the people and their spanish...something like that, but I definately remember the tounges part. Cool huh? I just hope I can study enough so this gift will start workin... Someone tell me how this gift works...
I heard I got some letters, not sure from who yet, but thanks to whoever is thinkin´of me. :)
Hey! 40th Ward! Shouldn´t I be getting some wedding announcements in the mail sometime soon??? Love is in the air!!
I want to tell you all of the hopes we have for baptisms...but you may just get your hopes up. It just takes a lot of time an effort...baptisms don´t just fall from the sky. This mission is hard...and that might just be an understatement. The majority of these people are still living in their rock-hard shells of life and we are doing all we can to ease our way to the center of their hearts and plant a seed of faith in them...with all the help from the Spirit we can get. But we can´t waste our time on too difficult of people, says our president. He says we shouldn´t teach too much to couples who aren´t legally married and don´t have plans to, or to those who have no means of getting their identity papers etc. We can always plant a seed... but for some...baptism might just be out of the question in their lifetime. It´s sad...really sad, and difficult to work with. but there are situations like that here... We keep working though, always working. Ah, remind me to tell you all about our investigator Jason and our experience on Monday...
Hey, but we still have some adventures along the way: On Sunday, we contacted a referenced famliy way out in jungle land... Molly said she got bit on the bum a million times by mosquitos and a huge spider almost landed on my face (cool!) and when we left it was still raining. We headed farther into the jungle and trudged through mud and foliage in our dresses, keeping an I out for big hairy turantulas. Wee! We hiked up some steep hill across an uphill ridge of some houses, up another steep muddy hill to more jungle, down another steep hill, up another one (sheesh!) and finally ended up back in our neighborhood. Our legs were so muddy and scratched from all that hiking... man! This mission is totally an adventure! I feel like Indiana Jones...kinda.
times up, ding! woot! gratz! (teehee) ;D
wave/ catch yall later, Adios!
Hna Benson

August 7, 2007 Letter

Okay, so we found this investigator... actually she found us! She waved us down on the street and she wanted to know how she could become a mormon. !! Wow. This is what all missionaries pray for. Her name is Yaquelin, she´s 22 and has been an Evangelist (Evangelico) for about 8 months. whew! good thing she´s not orthodox... those are scary... We made an appointment and asked her to read a pamphlit, we went back and taught her the first lesson and she was SO excited to hear everything we had to say. Everytime we taught a different principle she would say things like: Oh, that´s beautiful, that´s so true! Wow! She has such a happy spirit and is so eager to learn more. She has such a big joyful smile and is so kind to us, like we were sisters. :) It´s nice to really look foward to lessons when you know they will actually listen! :D We just hope there´s no big catch... for some investigators they can be so diligent until we find out that they don´t have their papers and aren´t declared as a person, or their husband ends up cheating on ém, or someone had an abortion... really really sad things that take a lot more time to heal, and prevent baptism, and we can only help them so much... but we do what we can and try to be patient. And make sure we always teach with the Spirit.
We visited some other Evangelicos the other day and we left with such a horible feeling, Hna Robertson was on the verge of tears. When we come accros those really hard-core people that are grasping onto the Bible with both hands and won´t accept anything else.¨If I have faith I´ll be saved! Gloria a Dios! Aleluja! There is no true church, we worsip God, that´s all that matters.¨ They think that when they feel the Spirit it´s a bunch of ¨booyah¨, like singing loud, banging tamborines, speaking in tounges... wow. We live kind of close to an Evangelico church and we can hear them singin´and praisin´ the Lord (most churches broadcast their meetings with speakers from their building) Once for about a week there were preachers outside at night with their microphones and stage platforms in their nice clothes, telling how they were healed or how God can save us etc... Always repeating the same things like ¨Gloria a Dios! En el nombre de Jesus! Cristo salva!¨ after every sentence. And get this, tell me this is not vain repetitions of men : one night this dude totally went off for 20 minutes on one exhausting rant only saying gloria a Dios like, 50 times, then he´d say Christ saves! 10 times then something else, and then he´d hold the last word out really long and then take a breath... and then keep goin´ ... and going.. and going... gah!! Then he hands the mic to some lady and she does the same thing... Ay-ay-ay. They are so lost... so so lost. It´s so sad! It just pains me that they are so deep in their religions and beliefs that their hearts are so hardened... But, there are people like Yaquelin. Yay! What a relief! *sigh* this work can get pretty frustrating, and difficult... but we´re hangin´ on to very inch of help from the Lord.
Anyway, so I was really sick yesterday, I had all the symptoms of Dengue and it really sucked... I mean, I was almost lifeless in bed with a high fever, headache and aching everything. Me and Hna were like, Nooooooo!!!! we thought we were gonna miss another week of teaching, but I miraculously recovered... after a blessing from the Elders... and a few Tylonol... wow. Priesthood power is amazing! I still listen to my body and try to get plenty of rest... and drink lots of water :) And I am obviously okay, I´m here, doing e-mail, and we´re gonna go shopping after this and enjoy our P-day. :) So it´s alright Mom, I´m doing much better now. I´ll be fine. Whew!
Wasn´t it Ernie´s B-day on the 6th?? It had better be in August, cuz that´s what I remember, eventhough Mom told me it was in September... Well either way, Happy Birthday!!! How old are you?? heh, just kidding. ;D Thanks so much for the update and the pics! What were your B-day plans? That surf camp sounds like so much fun!! Good to hear you´re keepin´ busy. We actually visited a mall the other day in the city when Hna had to go to the dentist, and we stopped at a Guess store. I saw a Swiss Army t-shirt (the brand of your backpack) that I knew you would love. I thought of you. Miss ya tons!
Oh, yeah, so got another ¨blessing¨ yesterday from a Seventh Day Adventist lady who offered to rid me of my headache and body achings. Heh, it was interesting. She had a pot of hot water and one with cold and she started with a prayer, with her hands on my head, and blessed me. Then she put the hot rag on my forehead for 3 min. and then the cold, then the hot... it felt good, but she was gonna keep goin´ until I made some miraculous recovery, so I just waited a while and enjoyed the treatment. I was lucky to be out on the street, teaching a couple of lessons, but we went home early so I could go to bed early and get more rest. And now I´m feeling just peachy.
Hey Mom, to answer some of your questions, Do I iron anything?... heh, well... no. Don´t really need to. Things just seem to straighten out in the humidity. And my laundry? We stick out clothes into a mini washer that spins them around with soap, the machine spins them dry and we hang them up on wires by our front window to dry during the day. The Temperatures? I´m not totally positive on the temperatures here... I just know that it can get dang hot out here. You can always look those things up on the internet. :) Are my toes clean?... heh, actually, right now they´re okay, cuz I just took a shower, but sometimes our feet get pretty dirty and muddy from the streets, blech. Wow, and when it rains...oh, man. It rains hard, and the only things that stay dry are our heads and backbacks cuz we put bags on them. AaaH! but the rain is so much fun!! I don´t care if I get wet, as long as my books are dry. I always carry an umbrella, for rain, or sun. I actually have pretty good tan lines on my feet. Sweet! I will try to send a picture... eventually...
We drink clean water from those big blue ¨Culligan¨ type bottles, never form the tap. And if we eat any fresh foods, like fruits and veggies we dip them in water with clorox to kill anything dangerous. We watch what we eat, and but we eat packaged stuff too. Question for you: what´s my blood type? I forgot. I think it´s A+...not sure. Just curious. Thanks! Really Mom, I had no idea you were planng on starting a kids choir business, or even a tumbling class ?? Wow Mom! I´m so proud of you! Keep me updated. :)
Marcie Greenmun!! ´Ello Love! Hows the family?? I wanted to know where Brian is serving in Spain, cuz we have an investigator who is leaving for Badalona, Barcelona and needs to continue hearing form the missionsaries. His name is Josué Victorino and he´s right on the edge for baptism. He´s been a great investigator, he´s been coming to church everyweek since we met him and is very smart. We don´t want to loose missionary connection with him so we made sure there was a church where he lives in Spain so he can go there and continue discussions and hopefully get baptized soon. :D
Jan Everitt: what did you mean by ¨build a HUGE savings account¨? I don`t earn money here in the field, were you refering to something else? :)
40th Ward! everyone give Josh Bryson a big high five! And offer him rides to church and other activities, cuz I know he really wants to go! Hey Josh! I know you´ll eventually read this, hang in there buddy! I haven´t forgotten you, many people are praying for you and your famliy. If you can, please write me and let me know how you´re doin´ and what you´re doing now-a-days, okay? You´re awesome!!! Keep a list of all those good movies for me. Miss ya!!
Well everyone, I just want to thank you for all your letters and e-mails. You are what makes time go a little bit faster, and not so mundane sometimes. Letters are one of the many things on a mission that become so precious. Thank you!
Okay, I´ll have to save some other stories for next time.
luv ya all!
Hermana Benson

July 31, 2007 Letter

...it´s cool to think that the moon´s the same anywhere you go in the world... and always a beautiful sight. =) it makes you stop... and mezmorizes you with it´s brilliant glow... and with a clear starry sky makes you want to breathe in the whole galaxy... yup yup.
We´re back to work and Hna Robertson has slowly recovered fully from Dengue... like I said, it´s unpredictable. The recovery time is different for others, we were at the mission home for about a week, from Friday 20 to Sat 28, but she´s up and runnin´ now! Always on the go. She couldn´t stand to sit in that bed everyday and not be able to eat real food. Although she did recieve 2 fat packages while she was in bed and that made her really happy. :D I guess for me it was like living in a hotel, but with no chance to get out... and no pool... but fantastic food! yay! But of course it didn´t last. :) We are glad to be back to work and checking up on our great investigators. But Ugh... I slept horribly Sunday night... it´s back to those cursed roosters again... last night I slept okay, I just need to cover my ears. I need earplugs! ...why didn´t I think about that before?? ah, julie julie... Also, randomly, I had a horrifying nightmare last night... Hna heard me trying to talk, or scream, or whatever... my bad dreams are so vivid and exauhsting... always running from the evil creatures at my heels...
Lisa!! Thanks for your awesome long letter!! I was laughing with you so hard, I´m so glad you´re my sister! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reminding me how great Heavenly Father is. I´ll remember to be specific in my prayers... as well as I can in Spanish... For I know that he answers!! And sorry, I ´don´t think I´m good enough at Spanish to quiz you... I´m just not there yet... I dunno. Maybe if you had gospel questions and I could answer in spanish... try that. You can write me all you want sis, tell me all about how crazy life is. Luv ya tonz!
Ernesto my hero, cut you hair pleez... Love you too! ;D
JR! My Only brother!! How art thou?? I want to know which mission you had in Porto Alegre, Brazil, cuz Hna Robertson´s lil bro is flying at this moment to the Porto Alegre South Mission. Is that not cool?? Tell me some experiences you had in your mission sometime... it would be great to hear it from your perspective. :)
Claudia - Thanks for the family news, it´s always good to hear. eat some babies for me! ;D I can´t look up that webite you mentioned, but I think those tapes would be wonderful to have, for my own learning and also for some Dominicans as well. we are planning to schedule a regular English class to teach some simple English and that music may be a wonderful help. =) Thanks!
Connie! I totally agree on your views on funerals and receptions!... so you can totally help me plan my reception (FAR fAR into the galactical futures of time...) and when I die I´ll have you make sure everyone´s wearing white, looking at pics and remembering memories, and partying to my favorite music. And I´ll do the same for you sis. =D Hugs for the fam! And say hi to that old man next door :)
Hey Mom, that kids choir business sounds really awesome and fun! Good luck with that, I´m sure it will turn out just great. Children´s songs always has a special spirit to it. We packed my bags pretty good, DI sure paid off! I already have everything I need, and most of the shopping we do is just for food. THANKS! we make a great team =) eventhough we started packing the night before and into the morning... yes, I know. I´m the Princess of procrastination... but it all worked out just right! The heat of stress has worn off. Speaking of heat, the heat here is pretty much unavoidable. So I love my drilux garmies, they keep me dry. *I´m a big kid now!* well Mom and Dad, have a great time on all those fun trips! Be sure to take pictures. you knowwho to ask to find out how to print digital pics, right? Love you all!
Traci Fergus! I finally got those pics! Ah, what memories from the MTC. Thank you thank you. I´m so excited for your new calling!!! Have an awesome mission!!
Wazzzaaaaaaap 40th ward! I got all you fun little notes a while ago, haha!, they made me laugh and smile. Thanks! Make sure veryone gets to ward prayer at 8:33 Sunday night okay??? 8:33!! send pics! haha
Okay, so eventhough these Dominicans are very accepting and receptive to the Gospel, some still have a hard time living it... up to a certain point anyway. Because there are so many different churches and religions (even literally in the same block from their houses) they grow up living a good natured gospel, so naturally they believe our mesage is good and true. Everyone loves God..¨aleluja!¨ But it´s hard to help them understand that there is more responsibility involved in the one true gospsel... Life isn´t not just baseball, bachata, and Presidentes (beer)... we have met a few of those people so far. It takes more work, more prayer and personal thought. May the Spirit guide us.
okay, times up. Happy trails!
Hna Jules

July 24, 2007 Letter

Subject: It's a kitty!!!
... There was a cute little kitten wandering around in the middle of one of our lessons and it kept mewing and mewing, like it was so sad and just wanted to be loved... I wanted to pick it up and comfort it... :'(
So, did I say Hna Roberston was awesome? Yeah, she has a life full of awesomeness, full of accomplishments and talents by the dozen! Amazing. Rock climbing, skiing, artwork, her own art shows, camp guide, ski instructor, dancing and more dancing... cool cool stuff! ...oh... then I look at my life and feel like I haven't accomplished a darn thing... :P But hey, no need to compare, Julie! I love myself... but there's always room for improvement, right?...
So our Prez wants us to find a new Bishop for our ward... Awesome Obispo Polanco has served very very faithfully for about 9 years now and we can tell he's gettin' pretty worn out. They're planning on splitting the ward too, so he may still continue his calling. It's our challenge now to find a worthy candidate. (Dragon Ball Z: "Are you asking for a CHALLENGE?!?") Hey Andrew Pound: here's his e-mail: Polancoro@hotmail.com you can send him a Hello :) Also, Elder Skyler Sampson here says he has a tie with your name on it, heh, along with lots of other names too. Silly ol' tradition... ;D The Hermanas have hymn books they sign and pass down to their first "daughters", I got mine from Hna Robertson. :)
Well, onto the biggest news, Hna Robertson has Dengae and we're here at the President's house. She's slowly recovering...it's a process that is unpredictable and decieving at times... but we're thankful we're here and not in that hot little house of ours. All she can do is lie in bed cuz she's too sick and achy to do much else. As for me...well... I have lots of time on my hands. If I'm not helping Hna Bair or tending to Hna Robertson I have lots of quality time to study, and that's really good for my brain. Because everyone should take care of their brain. *singing**your brain is your best friend!**do-do-do-duh-doo*
So far I've played music on the beautiful (expensive) piano, sang a lot of songs, studied, helped Hna Bair with cooking or cleaning, watering plants, or certain projects like organizing paperwork, or organizing all the Elder's suits that come in and have to be stored, or even cooking a huge pot of taco soup for tonight's reunion. During all these I put on classical music and I could work on my project alone for hours at a time. I wouldn't mind getting paid to do something like that someday... If I have my music I could do just about anything. I think I've gone through all of their CD's by now... Then I have more time to read and study Spanish etc. While the Bairs are gone to a meeting or something I could even turn on the music and waltz around the house while nobody was looking... but that's just between you and me. ;) This house is really cool, and big, and gorgeous too. It has many beds for group stays, and Hna Robertson has the best Queen in the house, better even than the Pres's bed *gasp!*, she deserves it though. :) I sleep on a nice matress on the floor. :) Yay! No roosters!! And hot showers! We even watched a couple Tab Choir broadcasts, oh, how I love music!!
I didn't get to go to church though... :'( needed to stay home with Hna Robertson, make sure she's okay and has ice water and maybe some juice or a little snack. Most of her food hasn't been staying... poor girl, bless her heart. Dengae isn't fun. But it does go away. :)
It really is very nice here. The Bairs are fun to talk with, when they have time to, we have lots in common... good ol' Loganites. ^_^
We missed a Baptism on Saturday. Rufino, he was the previous Elder's investigator, but we just hope things are still rolling without us there. He has a good spirit, and a great family, and he's willing to learn more.
Not much else has happened though... sorry, this is as spiritual as it gets right now. ;D But for all my 40th Ward fans, ... If Sadaam can do it, anyone can. ;D
Hna Julie Benson
ps- Thanks to all who wrote, yay!
sorry...no more time, these things are limited y'know... until next time! =)

July 17, 2007 Letter

Once again!
Hey peoples, so I got back from an awesome time at the Presidents house with the whole zone. We ate burgers and dogs, played games, some people took nice hot showers, I stayed and sang music by the piano. Ahhhh it meant the world to me to sing some great music while Elder Lee played amazingly, or Sister Bair. We sang some hymns and Fiddler on the Roof songs. I was sooo happy! We should do that again... Yay P-Day! This week actually went by fast... so it starts. :)
ah, well sometime I will get to the point where I will only have a couple great experiences to share after Ive shared all the little stuff. Oh, like Mom asked- Are there big bugs??- Yes, there are big bugs... like cocroaches, big moths (like in Thailand), spiders, turantulas, big wasps, ... umm chickens. Yup. chickens. And lots of little lizards. :D I like bugs! They like me!
Wasn't it Lisa's B-Day?? Happy Birthday Lisa!! I Love you!!! And Mom and Dad's Anniversery is coming up too right? Yay Mom and Dad!! I Love you!!! Take a day off and go... fishing! Yay!
Heh, so I totally watched Transformers Last week. HA! I never thought it would happen... YOU never thought it would happen, did ya. ;D Some weeks they approve a movie or two... only sometimes they're in Spanish... and it was totally illegally copied... but it was still way cool! Can't wait to see it in English...
Thanks Mel and Marty, and Marty's Mom for the Luggage! It has been very helpful and awesome to use. It's perfect. ;) Thanks!
==Mom, How was the rehearsal? I bet JD showed up huh... was the whole family there too? How was the holiday stuff? Tell me lots :D .. If you told me in an email just now I prolly won't have time to read it yet, but keep me updated... or send me a tape... Yeah! send me a cassette tape :D Those big envalopes that are about 10 dollars are Priority Mail and can be stuffed with anything and it gets here in about two weeks... cool. ==
Oh, yeah, I would LOVE to get some music for my B-day too... um...I don't have much music...it's kind of limited. So yeah, music, pictures, and even a cassette tape of peoples voices and stuff, that would be awesome! Sing to me, tell me stories, tell me the latest news, fill it up and send it my way... if you want to, I would love you forever, well, I already do. That's just a heads up for some other options other than email or snail mail... since I'll be here for, well... this is my home now. Just tryin' to start a good system. But keep in mind that the pictures and tapes can keep coming after my Birthday too... Don't worry, I'm well into the work here, definately keeping busy, AND having some fun, because that's what we're here for: to bring happiness to others. It takes a lot of work, but everyone is happy in the end! We're Happifiers!
The Pres made a new rule at the last Zone conference and said No more maids... I never had one yet so I won't know the difference, but it will dissapoint a lot of missionaries and especially the maids that were making a living... It's because nobody can enter into our house unless it's another (female) missionary... it's in the white rule book... and they just figured that out I guess. We'll be just fine on our own though. oh yeah mom, I live in a 2 level house/apt thing some people live below us and we walk up the stairs and live up top. Did I mention we have a rooftop view? The stars are sooooo Beautiful at night!! AHHH and I LOVE the Storms here...LOVE them!! (can I say that again?... okay, I won't) So much rain and Thunder to shake the soul...a mi me encanta las tormentas!!
So I've been to the church a few times and it's so funny (no offense) to hear these people sing! the whole congregation, is , well, off. Just can't sing, And they sing so so slow. Ha ha! It's great. This country is so alive! People always in the streets, blaring music at every corner, kids, cars and motors, Dominos!, roosters crowing at all hours of the day just, stuff happening all the time... it might just be a little too quiet when I get home. ;) I always have the urge to just start dancing... there's always music somewhere... and instinctively want to dance... it's in the very fíbers of my being!... and it's almost torture to stand there on the corner...twiddling my thumbs, do-de-do. Gah! Even now, here in the cafe, I'm 'dancing' in my chair... woo-hoo!
We have found some awesome families that are so prepared to hear the gospel. I'm teaching more and more in Spanish and understanding even the most basic principles of the gospel over again and in much more detail. Little by little, it will all come together. I'm always willing to learn more, as long as I have time. My testimony grows stronger all the time. Investigators are coming to church and loving it. Our Zone leader, Elder Jake Lee, is amazed at the success we're having after the monotone of Elders in the past in canasticas... heh, who knows... I'm having a great time here. The people are so so nice, always offering their own chair or making jugo, juice, that's the main refreshment here... always making a jugo for the missioneras. MMM jugo de mango is so delish! Such loving, generous, happy people. We even have a couple, or more, people preparing for baptism... how 'bout that!?? booyah!
So one family we taught said I looked like miss Universe ...just out of nowhere... how funny is that?? You and me Lisa, we've got it made! Luv ya sis!
;D I want to rule this mission by the time I'm done, but I have to be a peasant first... if that makes any sense... Well, keep me updated from the States! =D Thanks for all those that e-mailed! I can only print them out and read them on the way home... so if you ever have a question, make the subject URGENT and I will read it and reply in the same day's email.
Okely dokely, time to zippit for Julie. Gotta make it to a cita or appointment with some great investigators. ;D
May the Spirit be with you all...
Hermana Julie Benson


July 10, 2007 Letter

...so did I mention I broke our toilet?... but we have a shower curtain now! :D yippy!
==Hey Mom, these marks == or these << will be my ¨note to mom¨ marks okay? :) see if you can get Dan and April Anthony´s e-mail on the list if it isn´t already... also add rieck.m.f.mexmonw@myldsmail.net and nickwest@cc.usu.edu to the list. Also, I hope you haven´t bought any shoes, cuz I discovered that I only wear my black ones for conferences and Sundays, and if I walk in them too much I can get blisters...yeah. But, man, I love my Tiva sandals! They just might last me my whole mission. Hna Robertson has used her pair of chacos for proselyting for her whole 11 months and they still look new. She says my Tivas will last a long time. So if for some reason I have an emergency with shoes I could probably just buy something cheap here and if I REALLY need some good shoes I´ll let you know. But for now I think I´ll be just fine. :) Thanks!! I take a Vit. C once a day, is that good? what´s Vit. C for? I also take about two Calcium a day. Oh,yeah, who´s Brad Christensen in the ward? I have forgotten so many things already... I don´t think I want mesh garments... I sweat through to my clothes to quickly... I figure if I´m gonna be hot anyways I might as well be dry. So don´t worry about garments either. :) ==

I think I´m getting a tan... I haven´t even touched my sunscreen yet and I´m in the sun a lot, no sunburns whatsoever... maybe my skin is happy. :)
So let me tell you about my first door... I was still confused about everything, what to do, what not to do, remember this and that...I was like a little puppy (Yay puppies!!) tagging along behind Hna Robertson keeping my eyes on the ground to make sure I don´t trip into a muddy garbage pit or fall on my face. I had no Idea where we were going or what was goin´ on, with no time to even breathe, but out of nowhere we stopped at this tiny little pink house. ¨*Gulp* already?!¨ I thought. Alright, just say what you know. Inside were two families hangin´out, we taught them a little about the gospel, everything went smoothly... we´ve been back a few times more and the one family that actually lives in the house are sucking up the gospel like sponge Bob... :D So far the Mom and their little boy have gone to church (the dad has to work) and they are progressing very well. Is this not a golden family?? And my first. How awesome! We have had other neat experiences with contacts and investigators. The members of our awesome ward have helped us a lot too, it´s good to have them come to discussions and share their testimony. We had a ward fireside and they did a fun activity to show how easy and important it is to share the gospel with neighbors and friends. It was really cool, it will be a great encouragement to all of them. This work has only just begun!
Thanks for all your prayers, they do help a ton! I KNOW I couldn´t do any of this work without the help of the Spirit and faith in the Lord.
When we leave Canasticas sometimes, we take the local transportation buses ´´Gua-guas´´... those are interestingly fun. ;) It´s almost a game to see how many people they can fit into a mini-mini van... inside and out... hold on everyone!! XD
I do walk in jungle parts sometimes... almost all of the roads are dirt and rocks or pavement-practically-dirt, and yes the roads get muddy... we practically live in the mtns and there is jungle all around (it´s so pretty!) the place we live is just partially civilized and paved-ish. :)
I remembered I have tapes and a recorder, but I don´t think I can send anything out but letters, so alas, I know you all want to hear my beautiful voice, but I will have to stick with e-mail and pouch... ;D I do love getting letters in the mail! They make me smile sooo big!! Thank you!
Mom and Dad, I got the typed letter from you, it was the one I didn´t open last week :)
Thanks Viki for the faithful encouragement! :)
Hey Ernie!!!! So what´s next for the ol´ adventurer??? Keep me updated... ;D
Thanks Dad for your news of retirement life. Sounds great! Catch some fish for me too ;D I´m excited to see how Farrell Edward´s invention works out in 6 months, it´s so fascinating! Science rules!!
Ah, dear Lisa, I know you would LOVE it here! Little black babies and old wrinkly people everywhere! We totally have to come back so I can show you around to meet these wonderful happy people! ;D
During our lessons Hna Robertson has an awesome system, as we SING a hymn and pray before each and every discission. :D yay! I love singing, and I swear I get the chills every time we sing, cuz I know how quickly it brings the Spirit... despite the noise around us...
Ha ha!! I just about lost it the other day...we were shopping at a big store, La Sirena, and got a bunch of supplies and at the checkout stand there was a little kid (that´s so illegal) bagging stuff...and seriously, almost every item had its own bag... seriolusly! I could not stop laughing ...ice tray, clorox... water jug... paper... we had like a million bags!!! The legend is so true...
It´s interesting to teach people here that are of another religion, and ther are a lot... just down the street are catholic churches and evangelicos that sing loud and beat their tamborines cuz they feel the spirit, and speakerphone preachers on the street...mm...we´ve got a lot of work do do.
Hna Robertson is so funny sometimes, she kind of reminds me of April Anthony, just her manerisms and how she talks and stuff... funny girl. :) She´s a major multitasker and it drives her nuts sometimes. She used to ski/teach ski a lot and work as a camp guide (that´s why she never gets lost out here!) and she likes to run every morning... which means I go runniung too. We´ve got 12 weeks together... I just hope I don´t drive her crazy. ;) Nah, things will be great, we´re havin´a blast!
As for my Spanish, I´m teaching a lot, I just jumped right into it, and I try to learn a little bit each day to expand my length of teaching knowledge...after I´ve said all I know, Hna takes over. My part gets a little longer each time. :) But as for speaking... ...um.... nope. Not gettin´very far there... All I know is Gospel... although I do understand words here and there as people are talking... just gotta take a little bit at a time so I don´t freak out about the language. ;D But like I said, your prayers do help! :)
Those of you who e-mail me, since I check mail on Tuesdays, your last chance to write will be Mondays or even Tues mornings... just so the timing is right. Thanks. :)
okay okay... that´s all for now
This has been another episode of... *click*
Love to all!
Hna Julie Benson

July 9, 2007 Letter

Yo! Man...This week flew! ...Another great day in the temple, we went early for initiatories again. Nice and peaceful..until ya walk out and there's 5 jack hammers tearing up the nice new parking lot again (everyday). All over the 2 big parking lots are random cement rectangles hammered to bits...???I found out it was because there was "something wrong" withit. Like a crack or whatever:P I think they're just tryin' to gie people jobs...3-4 guys sit on buckets and hammer at the cement.
Thanks Dave, I got the memory card safe and sound
Thanx so much to all who wrote me, family and friends, it's way awesome to hear from you! Thanx for your words of encouragement and your testimonies and stories, I love you all! I am so greatful to be on this mision. The fact that it's all for the Lo4d and His children makes me that much more greatful and willing to serve Him. Nothing will make me happier than the chance to bring another soul to Christ!
I'm sore from sitting down for so long..I fidget all the time cuz my circulation cuts off..no bueno. Not for long though..We're all really busy though (of course!) There is always something to improve on or learn. I feel like a child learning a new language. We started with hard gospel. I know I know...the language will come . That's what's so cool about a mission! Taught the people in the park, crowded, more garbage but opportunities to teach. I know I made a difference by sharing our message. Pres. Goodrich taught us that the Lord will help us but added....you will suffer!. I laughed! I'm not afraid. Because fear does not come from the Lord.
At the end of the day we get a snack and I go outside and dance. It feels like Thailand...same climate. Someday I'll travel the world. Who's with me?
I've been to my companion's home town in CA. Ernie she totally knows Stick, Julian, Iron Mtn. Ernie is my cousin. Andrew Pound: Is "Sobrino" the stuff you're looking for? How much you want? Hey Thanks for writing. No. I haven't been to the new institute, and yes music helps alot with my Spanish. Danny Price: Hiya buddy! Congrats on the new job, sounds like yer workin hard. Say Hi to Darci for me and give her a big hug too. Happy Birthday Jordanne!! Glad you had a fun breakfast bash. Brigadoon rocks! Send my hello's to the ward..what is the mail address for the ward? Eric! Yay! You go man, find yourself a wife!.I'm rootin for ya! Are you gonna live in Utah for a while? Sure miss ya. Thanks for all the fun and laughs!....luv, rabbitgirl.
Everyone...we can send pics and cards in the pouch system now, no stamps
Claudia suggests the more you relax the better the language comes..It's working for me. Thanks claudia. Thank yoiu all for all the news and for being there for me. You have no idea how good I feel to hear from those I love. I wish I could reply to everyone but my time is gone.. DO REMEMBER THAT MY MOM IS SUMMARIZING:) AND IT WILL LOSE SOME IN TRANSLATION:)
June 22 -
Happy Birthday to Doris and Robby!!! on the 25th. Love you and miss you! Hoope you find joy and happiness in the days to come. I wish you the best!! Has anyone heard about Jon Bryson's new baby yet? Please tell me how everything goes with the baby!! Send pictures! (you can send pics through pouch now (mom says it has to be printed on paper) It's my last chance to look pretty...air condintioning...hair stays nice all day, sitting down, no strenuous work..That will all change DUH DUH DUMMMM! But really, I don't care. Yay! I just won't have to care about "doing" my hair. Can't care about lookin' good. Just survivin'!;
Monday Elder David Johnson of the 70 spoke at a fireside. I got to sing "When I feel his love" I took lots of notes..great experience to meet him. He would pause, shake your hand and say your name and stare in your eyes...soul to soul
Waking up is not a problem as I have purpose. Last time teaching at the Universtiy was the best yet. Placed a BofM with a girl who felt the spirit. Yay! we can always make a difference!
Wow, this is the longest I've been away from home. Before that I spent 3 weeks in Thailand. Ah DR is my home now:)
Peace! (wish me luck in the field!)
Hna Julie Benson

July 3, 2007 Letter

ay-ay-AY!!... This may have been the longest week of my life...go ahead, laf it up. But we shall see what happens next...
geez where do I start!
okay...so here´s the shpeel...
Bucket showers. Yay! i pour water onto myself with a pitcher of water that comes from a bucket... pretty self explainitory... I sleep with a net over my bed, and the windows aren´t windows really, and they´re always open. we wash our clothes with a little machine that spins our clothes around and we have to line dry them. Sometimes we have water...sometimes we don´t... sometimes we don´t have power either... we just deal with it. but at night we usually have power. We don´t have a maid yet, we could use some help though to clean our little abode and help with laundry so we can have more time to study important stuff. (This keyboard is way quacky and the buttons are all mixed up... I want to do smileys, but I haven´t figured it out yet.. :D ah! there we go. ;)
okay. so our apartment is...cute. it needs a good cloro scrubbing... there are little tiny ants all over our kitchen. ;P say bye bye-- hahaha!! *ahem*... We clorox our fruit and rags and eggs and veggies and stuff that we will eat directly... yum. It doesn´t taste any different. There are lots of mangos and bananas and other fruits here. :D There are colmados, or little shops on just about every corner of the little dirt streets of Canasticas. Blech they all smell the same, but we can stop at one of those and get stuff we need, and some candy too :) Ha. yeah. I wasn´t expecting a constant stench like this...I can´t imagine a tropical paradise when i smell the stink of everything on the streets. I have learned to ignore most of it. What gets me the most are the motor bikes. I hate them all!! Am I alowed to complain? Man, I swear they´ve never heard of mufflers. Everyone owns a motor bike. they´re all the same, really LOUD and they´re everywhere!! When we teach a lesson we´re usually on someone´s porch, or there´s always a window open and those stupid bikes make it so hard to teach without distraction...bikes...always those cursed bikes. But I´m sure the Dominicans are so used to it, they´re not even phased. I got a little sick one night because we walked so much around this main highway. It´s just one big long river of exhaust and noise and stink and cat calls (Pssst! novia! princesa! Americanas! etc. etc. all of which I learned to ignore the first day here ;) My brain was fried already from everything I´m learning and trying to remember and my body just gave up after all the poison from the streets. blech! oh well, I guess. Don´t worry Mom! I´ll be fine. :)
It´s really fascinating to see how these people live here... with almost nothing... pretty depressing. Our house is a dump, but it´s pretty nice compared to block, cement walls, wood or tin roofs etc... wow. Every time I walk by these houses I think... how in the world....???... I guess they just make do with what they have. Everyone just makes do... So I call Canasticas ¨The Land of Make-Do¨...very humbling...and pretty funny at times.
Yes. It´s hot. And sweaty and sticky. always sticky. Every missionary get´s their own personal fan. It is my best friend now. But I stopped noticing that it´s actually ¨humid¨. I just get ¨hot¨. Then I realize that when I get home it will be right in the winter season and I will certainly freeze my booty... so save some warm blankets and hot chocolate for me! Anyway. There are dogs everywhere..mangy dogs...I saw one missing an ear (I aim´t seen nothin´yet) and LOTS of chickens. I hate chickens now. I have learned to ignore the roosters...because we live RIGHT next to a bunch that crow all the time... even in the mornings... *cringe* ay-ay. whatever. THere are cats here too, but even if house animals look clean and kept, we don´t touch ém. I saw this one sweet kitty in a member´s house and I wanted to pet it soo bad... big green eyes and soft-looking fur... dang. Not for 16 more months. AAahhh! 16 months! ...gah, don´t think about it Julie, don´t think about it...it will make you more crazy than a banshee... Ah! I discovered that a chupacabra isn´t just a random ZIM creature. It´s actually mexican legendary little demon thing that eats goats. Cool huh? yup. Hail to all my Zim fans, Hey'O :D
Hna. Robertson says the DR is probably the most unique country in the world and on top of that...the biggest garbage hole around... it´s seriously a garbage hole. Do they think their trash is gonna dissapear?? I haven´t been to every city, but there really are some clean, beautiful places in the DR... I just got the crowded, noisy, stinky one. But hey! The people are great!
The ward here is really awesome. They are very strong and aparently they have been doing all the missionary work for a while... some missionaries haven´t been doing their job... The fact that they haven´t had sister missionaries in Canasticas since 2001 might be a little clue... ;D but we´re just doing what we need to and we´ve had great success already. in one week! Sunday we had 3-4 investigators join us and it made a great impression on their seeds of faith.
Hey Melanie, I am getting your e-mails, thanks! Marty!! we stopped by the MTC and met on sister there that is from Jamaica and will return there after some training. Her name is Ann Marie Ford and she lived in Maypen. Did you serve in that area? She says she knows you!! I guess if you remember her that would be really cool. :D She´s a really sweet happy sister and will certainly to awesome on her mission in Jamaica. :) Also, I heard Texas was ¨under water¨... are yáll okay over there?? I don´t remember where you´re living now but I hope everything is okay... luvya!
ugh... my brain is seriously fried...
Just a reminder, my birthday is Aug 15th... I would love to recieve some pictures!!... and I really need a good supply of stamps...
Mom I recieved a letter from the bensons just now, I haven´t opened it yet, but I did get it. :) Fortress, your letter did come, and yes, I could read it, thanks :) I have recieved some great letters from a lot of you THANK YOU THANKYOU! Such wonderful blessings can come from accross the ocean! So yes, I do eventually get them. ;D All your e-mails too!
If anyone happens to send me a package ever, let me know when, or even before hand, so I can estimate when to expect it...
==Mom, see if you can figure out a way to make a blog (maybe mel can help) of my e-mails and stuff... it will be neat, cuz some people don´t have e-mails... like Josh Bryson or Shaun fornoff, or Chad Truman, y´know. it would help. :) just an idea. don´t stress over it though. I can´t buy mesh garments here and I would really like some more tops...don´t remember my size, but I´ll let you know next time==
I may be able to just print out some pictures and send them home, cuz I may not be able to send my memory card home, prolly too risky. But I am getting some great pics. :)
Ahh, I have nooo more time, gotta go... I always forget something important, always... I´m freakin´out--I want to break this keybaord, it´s giving me so many problems!!! GAH!
so Thank you all again, sorry I can´t reply to all, I will try to be LESS insane next time. Yay!
This Gospel is true!
until next week...
Hna Julie Benson

June 26, 2007

So I got a new e-mail, you can use this one from now on, but I will still check my other one. Aaah! So I´m here in Canasticas, my Zone is San Cristopal, my new Conpañera is Hna Robertson :D She is awesome! She sings and is really excited to have her first ´Gringo companion haha. It´s gonna be great down here in the heat and the stink. yay! I did get all your e-mails but I only had time to copy them out so I could read them later. sorry! not time to reply, but the biggest news is just that I´m here. Yay! There is a letter heading your way that says what happened yesterday in more detail. Also a map and a pic of my comp. :) Things are good, I just need some time to ge used to things...theres´no time to breathe! just need to eventually collect my thoughts that are scattered all on the floor :D woo-hoo! sure is a roller-coaster. I will try to keep you informed on everything goin´ on here, eventually... in time my routine will be as smooth as buttuh... ;D
Thanks to all for your e-mails, sorry I can´t get to them yet, but it will be a joy to read them this week! no time to proofread... gotta split! I´m havin a great time! ;D
Hna Benson
Love you Mom and Dad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 7, 2007 Letter

Hola Hola! Once again, another P-day! It literally feels like we just had P-day..that week went by so darn fast! Wow. Last night I didn't sleep great..but the nights before have been really nice. Good sleep is very important!! I love my black sketcher shoes. Send me more. I should have bought them before:( So Dad, how's the retired life? You fishing some more? How's the basement coming? Is my car working well? How's the fam and grandkids? Big hugs and kisses for you and Mom. Thanx for all your help and love! So about those Haitians. did I tell you how wonderful their testimonies were? Indeed they were.:) We actually had a new district of missionaries come in today. Elders from the DR here for 3 weeks. We leave at the same time EEP! I can't speak Spanish yet! It's really hard to bond with investigators when I'm butchering my Spanish..I may just resort to singing Spanish hymns when I've lost my mind Went to a Spanish session and understood alot. The temple and CCm have filtered water running through the pipes. Lucky us! I am having a blast with Sis. Carr. We get tired at the end of the day and laugh about everything...esp. our elders and the experiences we have in class...well, we do spend ALL day sitting in class. One of our teachers uses the markers dramatically and another teacher has been trying for years to find out who ruins the markers. We helped him to figure it out and we all laughted Ha ha ha!....you had to be there. The elders in our district have all noticed calluses on their knees...from praying so much! sisters don't kneel like they do, but we all do pray a lot, naturally.:) My district can't really sing and they keep apologizing ha ha...and we sing alot. I just try to keep them above water. Hna Carr wants me to teach her to sing. I weigh a little more cuz I'm eating full course meals every day...all day...we still eat, sit and sleep..oh and walk 3 feet to class. Ha Ha! EVERY lunch time is rice, beans, chicken, bread, salad, fruit (pineapple and papaya) and juice. "Good rice, good curry, good Ghandi let's hurry!":) We practice teaching daily. We're in the middle of lesson 3 (great book Preach My Gospel) New MTC Pres, Perkins', from AZ. LOVE you all! talk to ya later. From Your far away missionary, Hna. Julie Benson

May 22, 2007

I sang a solo in RS at MTC. I wasn't too nervous. I almost had to give a talk in Spanish. They choose someone last minute. I sang after The Spoken Word and tried not to cry. Will be glad to not wear nylons at the DR!!! Tired of sitting down and crossing my legs!!!:( Soon I'll complain about walkin:)
Aaah! It's really weird to think that I'll be spending my next Sunday in the DR...!!! Freaky. I'm not nervous at all though. It's just the next incredible phase of my Mission, and I'm so excited! Perfect weather at the MTC. Friends and smiles! Every day seems like it's Sunday (we all get confused which day it really is)! The only things different on Sunday are that the Bookstore is closed, we take the sacrament, and the mail doesn't come...:) Ha Ha! My ipod works great. I wake up to pretty music just in time to cover my ears before the other sisters' alarms go off... BEEP BEEP BEEP!!! cringe...I am so grateful for music. Good times. lots of the spirit and lots of food!:) Those who like the sub sandwiches call them "clestial subs" others..."subs of perdition" waka waka waka Julie

Mom's Report - May 20, 2007

Julie landed in Dominican Republic the evening of the 17th. She got to call home twice that morning. Her news was that some elders in her district passed a sign that said "Do not enter or you will be sent home" and....they were. It was sad for all. Her companion had surgery issues and Julie was busy accompanying her so packed all night to be ready at 3am. When her email gets up and going I will forward parts on to you unless you request otherwise. Her last written letter contained a few things you may enjoy:

May 8, 2007

Hi ya Mom and Dad?:)

Woah, I was just told that the DR MTC will only have 30-40 missionaries...!....and only Spanish from then on! It will certainly help but it's scary! My Spanish is coming very very slowly. Hard and confusing. I know how to pray and bear testimony and maaaybe a couple of lesson phrases.

first P day (wed) We helped Hermana christiansen pack for Peru. she was so excited! Three sisters have no companions so we hang out together. I filled up the photo memory card already. the 3 "solo" sisters hiked to the temple and did sealings. I found stuff to buy that I needed. Please do not crash the computer!!!
Take good care of it!
Yesterday I auditioned for a solo just for fun and now I'll be singing on Mother's Day in RS in the huge gym with cameras and big screens..urp! at the temple grounds there were bees licking my hands and others took pictures of me. I must taste good:) My bees were very fuzzy and cute!:) going shopping in the outside world soon!! *GASP* Got flight plans...early May 17th and I'm the travel leader for 10 others EEEEK I hope I don't screw things up...may the spirit guide me. No worries, all is well and great!:) Love You All Hna Julie Benson

May 2, 2007 Letter

Hey fam!!

...Whew! Intense. Looks like I'm gonna get used to everything...pretty quick!
My companion is Hermana Naomi Sheppard..the one I was emailing back and forth to. she is a sweet, black, Southern bell :)
First day was crazy. I get lost everywhere. There's no time for anything but...well...anything. It will take a long time befoe anything registers. I just have to ignore a lot of things just so I can concentrate on the important things...but there's too many of those...so my brains gonna explode...yeah, explode.
I never knew my good learning system...so I hope I find it very soon.
302 missionaries reported on 4/25. Still haven't organized my stuff..no time for that yet. I had to switch rooms just when I got comfy. The food is good! muy Bueno! They recently remodeled the cafeteria so they're more lines and more food options.
In my spanish class it's me and 5 elders. We studied outside. It was beautiful. I was kinda their momma duck...keeping them in line..our teacher was gone so I led them through Spanish repitition and lesson reading etc. Good times. So I'm a solo sister for now...Surrounded by male escorts...guess nothing has changed..ha ha. Won't be for long. I want to try out for choir too.
Weeeeird. This day seemed like a week of activities. I practice eating with my left hand to write this letter. can't believe it's only been one day.
Like usual I enjoy my time meeting new people, talking, laughing, learning, and don't wanna go home until I'm exhausted..but it's only been one day!....sheesh:)
Love you all! Hermana J. Benson