Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 2013 - My heart is full of gratitude for the opportunity to serve!

7 October 2013
It has been such a busy week!
It's been a great learning experience for me though with interviews.  Previously we have held a long zone conference while President has been interviewing all of the missionaries. Because Elder Lambe doesn’t know too many of the missionaries, we decided that we could do some interviewing too. Obviously we aren’t going into their personal life, but we have been sitting down with each companionship for about half an hour each, talking to them about their area and how we can help the to improve it, by identifying the obstacles they may face which would be hindering them in reaching their goals.  Also identifying their resources that they have in their area.  We have been helping them make plans to minimize their obstacles and maximise the use of their resources. It has just been a neat experience for me to work on my face-to-face leadership skills. There truly is an art to quickly building relationships of trust and helping missionaries open up. It really is tiring though!
We boarded the Spirit of Tasmania on Wednesday night.  As nice as the ship is, I was dreading it because I knew it would be crazy on the water.  The days leading up to us boarding there have been powerful wind storms all over Melbourne, with so many trees down all across the city! The winds were still very intense so I knew it would be a bumpy ride.
Once on board the captain informs us that the swells were big. There were 5 metre waves!  Anyways, long story short, we had a jolly old time eating dinner and having a great meeting with the Maxwells till about 10pm.  Around 10pm it quickly became evident that we have sailed out of the harbour and into the open seas. The boat was swaying up and down, left to right.  At first it was hilarious as we would be literally thrown off our feet.  As hard as we tried we couldn’t walk in a straight line!
The fun ended fairly quickly though, by the time we got back to our cabin the seasickness started.  Elder Lambe was fine; he just downed a can on Pepsi and fell right asleep. I was trying to sleep but soon made a quick dash to the toilet bowl. I has forced to stay in the bathroom for hours.  After throwing up 20 – 30 times, I woke Elder Lambe and asked him to give me a blessing at 1am in the morning. It wasn’t too fun but it was amazing to see the hand of the Lord work.  Within 10 minutes of the blessing Elder Lambe gave me, I was asleep. It was such a tender mercy, how privileged are we to have the priesthood among us.
Anyways enough about the boat ride. Tasmania was great, and we flew out  from Launceston later that day.
I was able to go on two exchanges this week. Miracles were witnessed on both. One was with a missionary that was really struggling, I really felt the spirit working through me as I spoke to him, I really felt good about the exchange. He will do great!
The other was with a missionary that is insisting on going home by his own choice. He has already met with President several times, talked to his stake president, parents and all. I was hopeful with the opportunity that I might be able to sway his mind but it was quickly evident on the exchange that he was firm in his mind. I didn’t press it too much, I really felt like I shouldn’t have. Instead I just focused on having an amazing day with him, which we did! He will fly out on Tuesday but we are hopeful he will return, he knows the door is still open.
President asked me to speak at the Mission President fireside last night in which I did. I was asked to speak about one of my favourite topics: ‘Our life on earth and our purpose of being here.’ You really are blessed with so many rich experiences as a missionary, how I love this work!
Well this coming week will be much like the pervious with the only difference of instead of going south to Tasmania we are going up north into the district. In fact because we have so many missionaries up in the district now, we are breaking it up into two days. We will drive up to Shepparton on Thursday night and spend Friday in Shepp, then we are actually going to drive further north to Wagga Wagga!! We will stay there Friday night and will interview in-between the conference sessions on the Saturday! I'm so excited to go back to Wagga with Elder Lambe!
Elder Bennallack

14 October
It has been a full-on week! We have been travelling all over the mission with interviews, with still one week to go.

We have been on a very tight schedule fanning from point A to B.  Thursday night we drove up to Shepparton in preparation for interviews on the FridayFriday arvo we took off to Wagga Wagga.  About 10km out of Wagga at about 10pm we hit a kangaroo that jumped out in front of the car. It did quite a bit of damage to the front of the car by piercing the radiator of the car which meant we wouldn’t be able to drive it back to Melbourne.
We did watch a few sessions of conference in Wagga before driving back down in another car.

I really loved Conference. I was able to receive so much personal revelation from the talks, which I was grateful for. I loved President Utchdorf’s starting off with why would we want to be a member of the church.  (Check out General Conference - October 2012, for yourself on www.lds.org )

I literally spent 95 percent of my time with the Maxwell’s this past week. I truly have a lot of love for them, they will be a couple I will be in contact with for the rest of my life!
Elder Bennallack


21 October 2013
A lot of missionaries have been asking me how I feel this past week as my mission comes to a close.  My heart is full of gratitude for the opportunity to serve. Full of gratitude to my brother Jesus Christ who made it possible for me to change and grow as an individual.  What a blessing it is to be aware of this great plan established by our Heavenly Father that allows us to learn and grow.
I have really enjoyed this past week. It may have been the busiest week of my mission thus far, but equally rewarding. We finished off the interviews this week. We truly do have an amazing obedient mission here in Melbourne, miracles flow daily!
We delayed our Wednesday interviews a few hours so we could attend a funeral Wednesday morning. There was a young father killed while riding his bike late last week, leaving behind his young children and wife who has just started investigating.  Although I didn’t personally know them, we accompanied the Maxwell's to the funeral just because of the days schedule that was ahead of us.  There was an amazing spirit felt throughout the whole chapel and cultural hall as friends and family filled both rooms. My testimony of the Plan of Salvation has been strengthened. I know that this life is a mere step in our Fathers great eternal plan.
Friday evening our companionship was joined by a fantastic missionary named Elder Fa’avae from Brisbane.  Elder Fa’avae has been called as the first Samoan assistant in a long time to serve along side Elder Lambe.  He has had a huge influence across the mission with the pacific island missionaries throughout the past year. He played a big role in the positive change that occurred a few months ago. It has been really enjoyable being able to be in a threesome the past few days and being able to learn from Elder Fa’avae.
Elder Fa’avae was bought in just before we started to go through the transfer process. We have met a few times already with President regarding transfers but the majority of that will happen this week. It’s a tricky transfer because we have the departing missionaries leaving on the 30th but we don’t have the new missionaries coming in till the 20th of November, which is mid transfer. So somehow we are going to have twenty plus trainers in limbo for a few weeks while they wait for their 'goldens' to arrive, all will work out though, we have some ideas.
I was able to go on an exchange yesterday with a Vietnamese companionship in Footscray which is west Melbourne. It was so rejuvenating to be out with my boots on the ground, doing missionary work.  We went out 'GQ’ing' for a few hours at the train station before we attended the afternoon sacrament meeting. We were having the time of our lives, I wish I had some footage or something.  We had 5 missionaries at the train station to talk to every single person that came off the train. Combined, we set up over twenty return appointments!
As mentioned above, we trained into the Melbourne CBD to attend the International branch that meets on the second floor of a high rise building on Lonsdale Street. It was a neat experience; the branch is so diverse and different.  Eighty percent of the members that make up the branch have been members less then a year! The branch has baptised 28 people since its creation in March. It’s amazing to see new converts just step up to the plate when given an assignment. Recent converts holding important callings such as counsellors in the branch presidency, branch clerks, Relief Society counsellors etc.  It was a tender sacrament meeting seeing recent converts giving amazing talks, even though I giggled when one lady closed ‘in the name of the Holy Ghost, amen’.  I was asked to bear my testimony too, which was nice.
This week we are locked down with transfers alongside with Mission Leader Council on Tuesday, a mission wide Sisters Conference on Wednesday along with the arrival of five new missionaries. Busy times, the work is truly hastening and moving forward.
Well I hope everyone has an amazing week, my heart is a little tender at the moment as I realise this is the last week of my mission, but I feel closer to my Heavenly Father then I ever have before. This gospel is true!
Elder Bennallack

28 October 2013
So this week has been intense, full of four-hour-nights. We have been so busy with the transfer. Every day this week we have left our flat at 8am and haven’t returned till quite late. Having said that, the result is really satisfying. We have 71 companionships moving on Tuesday, we anticipate over 150 missionaries at the transfer meeting!
It has been a huge blessing being able to be a part of that transfer process, to truly feel inspiration flow as we discuss each missionary. We have some crazy ideas being implemented this transfer including a new key indicator and a 4th quarter goal, its exciting!
Although we worked through our p-day last week, I have been spoilt silly this week. The Cray’s had us over for dinner on Monday night, which was lovely! Sister Maxwell cooked us a dinner Thursday night.  Friday night the Maxwells again took us out to this fancy buffet restaurant. There were chefs behind every counter ready to cook whatever you would like. There was this one chef who was throwing shakers behind his back and catching them in his hat and what not, while he cooked the most amazing steak. It was such a lovely evening!
Saturday night the Tamana family put on a farewell FHE/party for me which was great, we had 5 recent converts there and 1 less active.
Sunday was all go, go, go as well. Sunday morning Elder Lambe and I were actually interviewed for some time by a journalist from the ‘Age Newspaper’ (the biggest newspaper in Melbourne). The Age is doing a huge feature article on Missionary work in one of the upcoming weekend papers. The journalist was actually quite positive, I’m sure it will be a great positive article about the church! I have been working with Nadine (cousin) this past week as she is behind public affairs in Melbourne, it has been great to see her!
I was able to go to the temple on Tuesday night with all of the other departing missionaries, I love the temple it is such a sacred beautiful place. I left feeling peace and clarity. It’s going to be great to go together as a family!
Well, so many people have been asking me ‘how I feel’ this past week.  It has given me a chance to reflect my mission and feelings. I really feel very peaceful. I feel comfortable about the way I have served my mission; it’s a great feeling. I feel like I have tried to serve with my heart, might, mind and strength my whole mission. I have really tried to loose myself in the work. As a result my heart is full of gratitude. The Lord has blessed me so much over the past two years. I am so grateful for the miracle that has occurred in me. I feel converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
How do I feel? I feel at peace and grateful for my mission. A little sad just because I have made so many great friends here, but excited for the challenges that lay ahead, trying to tackle them by applying what I have learnt over the past two years. Faith always points to the future!
Elder Bennallack

30 October 2013 

...And he's home!!  Welcome home Elder Bennallack!

The Bennallack family..(almost complete, Sarah is still in Canada!)  So good to see you again Elder!!

 Well done, our good and faithful son, returned with honour!


Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 2013 - My Cup Runneth Over

2 September 2013

This week has been full of miracles!
Monday night we were able to have a great lesson with our baptismal date, Mercedies. She is all set for this coming weekend and the ward is really supportive and behind it now. It will be a great baptismal service.

Tuesday, we held our Mission Leader Council, which went perfectly to plan. The Leaders are all so excited and supportive of leading and training.

I was able to go on some miracle-filled-exchanges this week. I exchanges with Elder Nicholson which was great. He is a fantastic missionary full of faith. We just saw tender mercies, the first three people we contacted on the street all turned into return appointments. It is so key to find in faith. I know it may not seem like such a big deal but I have just really been noticing the hand of the Lord in the work lately.

Thursday morning I was able to go to the temple. I cannot express how much I love the temple. I was just in a euphoric state overcome by the spirit as I was worshiping in His holy house. I’m looking forward to going to the temple as a family in Adelaide.

I have been in meetings every day this week finishing up zone conferences, MLC, firesides and a 'Golden' review meeting.

Friday morning we woke up to find that our car had been broken into. It was a bit of a shame. Both Elder Bellon’s and my bags were stolen. I lost my camera, Preach my Gospel and my Scriptures. It was a little up setting to have lost my scriptures. I feel the same way that Mum does about her scriptures. I have had them since 2006 and they were so personalised and marked, easily my most valued earthly possession. Regardless I really did feel at peace though. All of these things are just temporal things "where moth and rust doth corrupt and thieves break through and steal". I really feel like I of late have been laying up heavenly treasures, things that really matter. It will be a great opportunity to start marking the scriptures from scratch. I just need to get another set now.

We were to finish up our zone conferences in Tasmania on the weekend. Because It was Father's Day, flights were so expensive and limited. After a bit of research we found out it would be cheaper for us to travel via boat. So Friday night we boarded the huge ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ and sailed in style throughout the night to Tasmania. We had such a neat experience being on the ship. We were spoilt so much…

Bass Strait crossing on the 'Spirit of Tasmania'

 Saturday night, President was hungry so he took us out to 'Maccas' at 10:30pm after which we all retired to our suites on full stomaches. It was actually only the 2nd or third time I have had fast food in the past 15 months…
Sunday was Stake Conference. We were actually called up to join the choir and then to bare our testimonies. It was an honour.  We flew back last night in time for the Mission President Fireside.

A busy week, I felt really good about everything we were able to accomplish though!
September is going to be really rewarding for us. We are going to be able to spend a lot more time out under the glorious sun on exchanges as it’s the Temple month which means minimal meetings. Its going to be really nice to knock down some doors and set some baptisimal dates.

Elder Bennallack

9 September 2013         
This week has been much like the previous weeks; we went on some miracle exchanges, picked up a new missionary from the airport and gave some training's in meetings.

We brought in all of the district leaders and zone leaders for a training his week.  A lot of our district leaders are quite young and we hadn’t had a leadership meeting with then in nearly a year so it was time. It went well, we just discussed the basics of being a leader, exchanges and training in meetings.

Mission Leader Conference: Sister Foster is centre front and Elder Bennallack is centre middle.

Another Mission Leader Conference

I was able to do some tracting in the rain this week while on
an exchange in Melton, oh how I loved it. I really appreciate knocking down doors now! Being able to help others feel the spirit as we testify of restored truths, its great! 

We found this amazing man tracting this week who has been searching for a faith led by his burning desire to change his life and come closer to God.  Although it was a simple moment in missionary work, it meant everything to me as I could just feel the spirit speaking through me, I really love this work.

Life as an assistant is a lot different to regular missionary
work, I’m grateful for that though because I feel that it will be a lot easier for me to transition into regular life and still stay missionary focused. Regular members of the church don’t have the opportunity to bang down doors twenty-four seven, neither do I.  But when you are able to do missionary work you just really appreciate the spirit associated with the
work. Missions are not just two years, I am excited to stay missionary minded throughout my life.

We were able to baptise Mercedies on Saturday, what a
privilege! It has been a long time in the running but all worked out perfectly in the end. The ward was very supportive which we felt was important. She shared her testimony with the congregation immediately after
her baptism. She spoke so well all about how she felt like she has been re-born, and the feeling she was feeling. It was a really tender moment for me to be able to see her bear such a sincere testimony. I truly know that
as we turn to the Saviour and become yoked with Him, that our burdens can be made light.

Baptism of Mercedies - What a privilege!

Elder Pearson of the seventy is coming to the mission this
week. He is coming to help orientate the Maxwell's and to see how they are doing.  Although it is not an official mission tour, he has opted that he would love to hold a meeting while here. So this week we will actually be having a mission conference on Thursday and another MLC on Friday, that
will be very uplifting and inspiring.

Elder Bennallack

16 September 2013
 It has been such an uplifting week filled with miracles.

First off: I was travelling in the car with President on the way to the airport on Wednesday when a call came through the Bluetooth in the car asking for Dennis Lifferth. It was the Springvale Police Station. My bag was returned and they had President Lifferth's contact number from a business card I had in my folder. I was so excited! We went down to the police station to find that my bag had been returned but it was evident that the burglar had emptied the content of both back packs and chucked bits in pieces back into mine.

Unfortunately my folder, files and 'PMG' was there alongside with Elder Bellon's scriptures, but mine were still missing. It was bitter sweet. I was very glad that Elder Bellon got his scriptures back. The burglar must have felt guilty. Obviously the cameras and Elder Bellon's wallet were still gone but they returned his scriptures. As Elder Bellon flipped through his scriptures it was evident that they had been handled with care, loose card and even his ministerial certificate were placed carefully in a different slip to where they were originally. It was a huge miracle. I’m still hopeful that my scriptures might turn up somewhere? I have been wearying the Lord in prayer but we will see.

        So in answer to your offer father and mother. That is very kind that you are willing to get me a new set, but as for now I think I'll be ok here on the mission. I have just started a focused study of the Book of Mormon going through a soft cover copy and marking any scripture that could have been of use to any investigator I have met throughout the course of my mission. So many new things are popping out at me, it will keep me busy with studies until I get back.

It has been a huge blessing to be able to spend some time with Elder and Sister Pearson this past week. He is great friends with Uncle Paul, so I was a little spoilt by him which was very nice. He is such a great speaker, I was really able to receive some great personal revelation as he was speaking, my cup runneth over. My batteries feel completely full going into the last six weeks of my mission, I feel like I am sprinting, making a conscience effort to stay focused. I feel like I'm doing really well.

      On that note my release date is confirmed, I had a chat with President yesterday, where we discussed a few of his concerns. In the end we decided that it would be best for me to be released on the 30th of October. Instead of staying back a few week to help the transition of assistants, the last few weeks of my mission President is going to call a third assistant so I can help them both go through the transfer process before I go home, instead of just spending time with them exchanging. 

Things in our area are going really well. We have been a little spoiled this past week as a few members wanted to take Elder Bellon out for ‘farewell dinner’s’.  I have been able to see some great miracles on exchanges of late. One of the most rewarding feeling that lays side by side to helping investigators come unto Christ is really feeling like you have changed and improved a missionaries mission. With the 18 year old's coming in, there has been a lot of Elders coming out that are just not mentally prepared for the task.  Helping them see success and to get over the hurdle of home sickness is so rewarding!

A huge focus of the coming week will e going through the transfer process with President.  This will be the sixth time I have been through this now!  It's always a fun week!

My heart is full of gratitude as I look back over my mission thus far.  Thanks for all of your continued support

Elder Bennallack

PS: Also, Sister Maxwell had her birthday last week. She threw a party and asked us to come. I felt a little guilty because we weren't doing missionary work, but I guess you need to follow your Mission President's counsel.  Anyways, it was a fun night.  Lorin Nicholson was there. Here are a few
photos from the 'penny flour' game.. You know the one right? You have to cut away flour, whoever makes the penny drop has to get it with their mouth...Well as you can see, I lost! 

30 September 2013
 Well, it has been an amazing week for so many different reasons. Transfer meeting on Tuesday and the picking up the new missionaries on Wednesday was crazy just as anticipated. I love those few days though, they really make you stretch as a missionary. The missionaries that have come, sure are young but it is quite evident that they are a marked generation, they are prepared for this!

Thursday and Friday we spent a lot of time with President. We had a long list of things we needed to talk to him about as the interview mission tour starts this coming week. I think he was appreciative of the initiative we took to call the meetings with him. We all feel very settled in our hearts as we are well prepared for the coming month.  We will be travelling with President across the mission for the next three weeks with interviews, then the 4th week is transfer preparation again.  We will be off to Tasmania again this week on the 'Spirit of Tasmania' as we need to take a car down there. We have put Sisters in Tasmania for the first time in over two years this week, all the Sisters were so excited!

Elder Lambe is settling in really well, I knew he would. He is picking up everything very quickly which I’m sure comes as an answer to President Maxwell’s prayers.

It’s a huge advantage that he has been serving in Dandenong for the past six months too, we don’t need to put too much thought into our own area yet, as we are seeing miracles flow.

One thing that was really rewarding has been a less active family we have been working with.  An amazing Peruvian mother of three children ranging from 18 to 6 came to church on Sunday. The ward was so welcoming to them. Its exciting to see real growth take place in the Dandenong ward,  We need to be full purpose missionaries as Elder Oaks puts it and not just focus on who we are going to baptise next.

Shifting gears, to namely football, I was really excited when Sister Maxwell indicated to me she wanted to go to the Grand Final. I guess I have been a subtle bug in their ear when it comes to the AFL. They really wanted to learn the game as it is so embedded into the culture here in Melbourne. President told Elder Lambe and I that we should take our P-day on Saturday and watch the game with them, which we did!  At first they wanted to go to the actual game with us, but we all know how hard tickets are to come by. The next best thing, we rock up to President’s house on Saturday in time for the pre-game commentary. Elder Lambe is actually a passionate Hawks supporter with Hawks merchandise coming out his ears, so he arrives at President’s door step with his Hawks scarf, tie, sock and flag. He then pulled out his Hawks musical birthday card to play the Hawks song as we enter the door, he’s a funny guy, the Maxwell’s were in hysterics! 

Well, as mentioned I did take my P-day on Saturday so I just had permission to email today and then I’m busy, so I must be off. 

Elder Bennallack

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 2013 Strengthening the Mission

5 August 2013
What a great week it has been for me here in Melbourne!
We spent a lot of time with President  including a few dinners with him in his home.  Two new missionaries came into the mission this week, one being with Sister Foster.
Like usual, we were able to go out on lots of short miracle exchanges across the mission which was very satisfying.  The mission is doing really well at the moment, we had 21 baptisms this past week and are right on track to reach our goal of 163.

The big highlight of the week was Wednesday night. I got a call a few days earlier from Dallin, who told me he was recieving his endowments Wednesday night and asked if I would be able to come.  After being granted permission, Elder Bellon and I were able to go to the 8:15 session.  It was one of the best experiences I have ever had in the Temple.  I was among so many of my close friends and the session was packed!  I was in a euphoric state as revelation flowed to my
very alert mind.  It was such a choice moment to be in the Celestial room with Dallin.  I love the Temple!

Transfers are a week away, but we have spent countless hours this week with President sorting it all out.  We're really organised which is great.  Elder Bellon and I were blessed as we played a very big role in the transfer process; the confirming peace of the spirit we felt after several hours was humbling.  We have 24 missionaries coming in, which means it’s going to be a very big transfer.  By the end of September we will be over 270 missionaries!

The baptism of Mercedes didn’t end up happening this past week.  The ward council isn’t completely on board so we held off.  Although the keys don’t lie with the ward members, a recent lesson I have learnt is the importance of aligning with ward leaders.  As a missionary we are only guests to a ward, so it is key that the ward council is behind an investigator being baptised. Otherwise there isn’t that ownership to help them to the Temple after you leave as a missionary.
We were happy to delay the baptism until the ward council is happy. If we are to work with the members we need to be on the same page, I’m confident that the baptism will happen in a few weeks.

I’m really looking forward to the coming week. I’m not sure if you know Brad Wilcox? I love his talks, he has written many books and published many talks through Deseret Books. He is a former Mission President, a professor at BYU and on the General Sunday School Board.  He is a great friend with President Maxwell through some of the things listed above. He is in Australia for the ‘Time Out for Women’ in Sydney this past weekend.  He offered to come down and see President so, he is flying down to Melbourne Tuesday to do a few firesides and a MLC with the leaders of the mission.  We will be going out with President to pick him up from the airport on Tuesday and then we have been asked to be the driver and tour guides for Wednesday during the day, between the firesides, to take the Maxwell's and Wilcox's out to the 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. We have a hard life don’t we! It’s going to be great to get to know him.

Elder Bennallack

12 August 2013 
Weeks seem to be getting shorter and shorter, where do I start?
Well, Monday was full of dramas. Every Monday for the past 6 months we have been playing an AFL match the second half of P-day with all the surrounding missionaries. A lot of missionaries have developed quite a love for the game and everyone loves the weekly game. Because we are missionaries we only play touch though so it is quite modified to comply with the white handbook we abide by.  Regardless, it’s a lot of fun to have a run around and kick the footy.

Well last Monday wasn’t so much fun. All the missionaries have purchased boots and so we were having a really fun game in the pouring rain and all was well until the end. Right near the end of the game there were three people running for a ground ball. Elder Williams from Adelaide was one of those missionaries. Two missionaries running from opposite directions cracked heads really hard; you could hear it loud and clear across the oval.  After about 5 seconds Elder Williams fell onto the ground and started having a violent seizure! His eyes rolled to the back of his head and he started frothing from the mouth and nose. Straight away we were on the phone to the ambulance, we protected his head and put him in the emergency side position. His seizure continued for 15 minutes until the ambulance got there. He stopped breathing for 10 to 20 seconds at a time which was quite scary, but the lady on the other line of 000 assured us that it was his brain resetting.

After the ambulance arrived and gave him a few shots and hooked him up to a machine he became conscious again. Even in hospital he would randomly stop breathing but luckily he had a machine hooked up to him measuring his oxygen levels. It was not a good experience at all, but after a night in hospital and a quiet week he is doing ok now. He still has to go in to see the results of his brain scans and what not later this week but were praying for him. Although this could of happened in any sport I think sadly that’s the end of our footy matches!
Elder Bennallack & Elder Bellon

Well on a more positive note, it was such a choice experience being with the Wilcox's this past week! We went down to the airport to pick them up with President, escorted him to all three firesides and went to the Twelve Apostles with them.

The famous 'Twelve Apostles' in the background.

We really do have the best life, who normally gets to even associate with these type of people. I was so grateful to be able to develop a friendship with him and his wife Debbie. Before he left he gave me his new book called ‘The Continuous Atonement’ and wrote me a really nice note inside. (I sent it home because I can’t read it until after the mission.)

Debbie & Brad Wilcox, Elders Bennallack & Bellon

I was able to learn so much from him. Just the love he radiates as he gives 100% attention to those he is speaking to.  I was so impressed with his one on one interactions. He also spent an afternoon with the MLC where he spoke all about the gathering of Israel, the spirit taught me a lot.

One tender miracle I saw this week was in regards to another missionary. Doing transfers with President was a rich experience. As we were looking at whom we would like as trainers, the Spirit collectively touched all our hearts with an impression that a certain missionary should train. We knew this missionary was not the most hardworking, but we felt strongly that training would be that opportunity he needs to step up to the next level. Because we wanting this individual to train, as assistants we went and spent just an hour and a half with that companionship. I was able to exchange with this missionary. I really felt the spirit guiding my works as we spoke. We were able to really talk opening about a lot of things. After breaking the news to him that we would like him to train I left him with a prayer. The spirit was so strong during that prayer, tears filled his eyes. I have complete faith that this missionary will be an amazing trainer. It was just a really fulfilling and humbling experience for me being able to see the Lord work through me.

Elder Bellon only has one transfer left, but President spoke to us both and asked us both if we would finish our missions being his Assistants. We are both more than happy to.  President is such a good man! That will man that I will be with Elder Bellon for 6 months, I have learnt so much from him!  I continue to learn so much in the unique position I am in, I am grateful.

Well Tuesday and Wednesday are big days with the majority of the mission being transferred and then picking up 25 new missionaries on Wednesday.  I am looking forward to it though!

On a side note, you would be proud to know that Sister Foster is doing such a great job on her mission. (Sister Maxwell is always raving about sister Foster.)  Come Tuesday she will be a Sister Trainer Leader over the sisters on the east side of Melbourne with a great companion, she will do great!
Elder Bennallack

Perfect Dream! 'Benallack's Sports'
PS. In my travels I found a sports store near Bendigo called 'Benallack’s Sports' !! It was spelt wrong but I took a picture, I wonder what the relation is?

19 August 2013
 We put a bit of extra effort into planning transfers this past week just because we wanted it to run extra smoothly as it was President Maxwell’s first transfer. We were forced to have a huge transfer as we had to come up with 27 trainers.  Regardless of the huge numbers that came in, it actually ran really smoothly which we were grateful for.

The rest of the week we have spent looking over the Zone Conference agenda that will be kicking off next week and exchanges across the mission.  I’m still loving life doing these mini exchanges. I guess another success was that I have converted the Maxwell's to the ‘Tim-Tam slam’!  haha!

I’m looking forward to zone conference, we're going to be training on working with the Ward Mission Leader, which is a super hard and controversial topic. It's black and white in the handbook what the relationship is between the full-time missionaries, the Ward Mission Leader and the Bishop, but in reality, for some of our Ward Mission leaders, the water isn’t getting to the end of the row… it's that fine line between assuring you have a great relationship with the Ward Council and not treading on the Ward Mission Leaders toes.. Good fun!

Elder Bennallack

26 August 2013
We have had zone conferences every day and after the meetings we have had more meetings with President planning our upcoming meetings.
We are half way through zone conferences; we will be finished by the end of this week.  Friday night we stayed overnight in a really nice hotel in Shepparton, which was nice, then this Friday we fly to Devonport for zone conference in Tasmania.

            We have been able to think a lot about where the mission is over the past few weeks. We really wanted to have a big council this week at our Mission Leader Council (MLC) meeting on where the mission is at.  We have talked a lot about the mission’s strengths and weaknesses and how we can capitalise on our strengths and minimise our weaknesses. We have a great vision on where we can see the mission a year from now.    

The strengths of the mission are the quality of the zone leaders we have at the moment, but also obedience.  There has been such a huge swing happen in the mission over the past 7 months.  During the first year of my mission I could easily say that 70-80% of the missionaries in the mission were disobedient. Now I could easily say that 80+% of the missionaries are obedient with the other 20% only struggling on minor things like sleeping in and unapproved music.  Our mission is really obedient at the moment. That has been our huge focus for a long time. We have strategically done a lot of things to promote this change, one of which has been isolating disobedient missionaries in the ‘bush’ areas to minimise their impact on other missionaries and flood other zones with very obedient missionaries. We have trained all of the new missionaries over the past 7 months in these obedient zones. We have had a lot of young missionaries train new missionaries just because they are very obedient.

Because we have had younger missionaries training and what not, we now have a lack of skill in the mission. 70% of our mission is under a year.  We have been doing a lot to build the skill of the mission but something else we are going to do this next transfer is to get every Zone Leader to train. We need to capitalise on our strengths. The Zone Leaders are obedient and have a lot of skill. We are going to have every Zone Leader work in a threesome with a new missionary. There are a few logistics we need to work through, even though we would have a maximum amount of companionships working in the mission it will be so beneficial. We are hoping to do this just for a few transfers with the desired outcome of increasing the skill levels across the mission. These skills will naturally spread as transfers occur over the coming year. We are excited!

Well the dust surrounding my release date is starting to settle. It's locked in that my intake is now going home on the 30th of October… It will be likely that I will be coming home then. President is still deciding if I should extend or go home with the rest of my intake. Although I a more then happy to stay, I don’t feel a need to. I would feel very comfortable accounting to the Lord on the mission I have served. I have worked hard my whole mission, striving to be exactly obedient.  I have not slept in past 6:30am once my whole mission. It has been my goal to be able to say that at the end of my mission. 

I still have a few months left yet though. President is just a little worried to leave the mission in the hands of a young and brand new Assistant while he is in New Zealand for a week for a Mission President Seminar at the start of November. The new assistants will be fine though. There wont be a need for me to third wheel the new assistants for that week, I'll be more than happy to though if that’s what he would like me to do. We'll see, I will keep you posted.

My role as an assistant has changed dramatically with the transition of Mission Presidents. I am spending a lot more time in the office now, my area is really non-existent but that’s ok. There are many things I am learning with the responsibilities I carry at the moment.

 Elder Bennallack

Friday, July 5, 2013

July 2013 Build Faith, Skill & Increase Urgency

1 July 2013

Farewell President & Sister Lifferth
Well a few of my heart strings have been tugged on this past week. We drove President and Sister Lifferth to the airport last night and dropped them off. Honestly, I have come to love them so much!  It was a little sad to see them go (but I'll see them in a few months!).
Sunday morning we were down at the airport to pick up the Maxwell's.  They are great! I already love them.  They had a big day yesterday concluding with a big Fireside last night.  It felt a little weird sitting up on the stand with Elder Dudfield and Elder O'Reirdon from the Seventy on one side and the two Misson Presidents on the other side, with all of the Stake Presidents from the Melbourne region in the congragation. A very important formal meeting, but it went really well!
We have been doing our exchanges all week. I was so tired by the end of the week! But, it was highly productive!  We'll see how long we can sustain these exchanges.  The schedule is just intense.  We don't really have time to eat during them so we just carry a bit of light food in the car.  Our three fold purpose of the exchanges is to build faith, skill and increase urgency.  Because this is our purpose, we are going into every exchange with such purpose and energy (ie. running in between doors) so it takes a toll a bit but the results are amazing!

One exchange we had 20 minutes to tract. We knelt and prayed about where to tract. We went to the street and received two return appointments from the two doors we knocked and our 20 minutes were up.  I felt great though. I loved that conference quote: 'don't die with music still in your radio'.  I'm trying to apply this quote and give everything I have to other missionaries.  What an opportunity!

Well, all is well in our area.  We still want to baptise monthly so well work on that.  I'm excited about the 'Work of Salvation' Broadcast, it is so evident that this work is hastening!  I am grateful to be apart of it!

8 July 2013
Well it has been such a different week this week but many valuable lessons have been learnt.  The whole week we have been joined at the hip with the Maxwell’s, which has been a huge privilege for me.  Tuesday they met all of the Zone Leaders and later in the week they met all the missionaries in two big meetings divided geographically as those serving in the east and those in the west.

Sister Maxwell & President Maxwell

It has been a big learning curve for me but I have loved it. There are lots of things that I didn’t anticipate but looking back at it, I should have.  I was expecting President Maxwell to come in guns blazing saying "jump" and me responding "how high?"  He is a very wise man though, he has come in completely contrary.  I know he has a vision he wants to implement, but he first wants to analyse where we are at.
He recognises the success that we are having at the moment and is all for learning the current culture and practices of the Mission.

There are over 250 missionaries here in Melbourne, alongside with many members, expecting Elder Maxwell to know everything as they wait for profound responses to questions.  The fact that his father was an Apostle just adds to that pressure.  The reality is that he has never been on this side of the world before and hasn’t served a mission for 30+ years.
You could imagine the pressure he is under as a Mission President all while they are just trying to wrap their heads around driving on the other side of the road, locating the shops etc.

We have been spending nearly every minute with the Maxwell's this week with the sole purpose of being able to get them up to speed as quickly as possible and really want to make them look as impressive as we can.  We have been helping them with things from getting a curling iron with Sister Maxwell to going through the basic rules and culture of the Mission.  I have been the driver this past week which has been great.  We have really been utilising every minute we have to inform them about the Mission.

It has been a huge success!  They have spoken so well in all their countless meetings, and we have been endorsing them to all we see.  All missionaries are so excited and have such a positive feeling about them, which is so important. 

One huge risk whenever leadership changes is that those who lie under the stewardship of the leader have a natural tendency to test the waters of the new leader, ‘what and what can’t I do?’ ‘Have any rules changed?’  One of our highest priorities has been to minimise any of these feelings some missionaries may have.   Strategically, the Mission President in opening remarks to the missionaries made it very clear that he has reviewed the mission culture and rules and completely endorses and supports them alongside with the current leaders.  He is such a wise man!

Honestly it has been such a privilege to be able to spend so much time with the two of them this past week. They are both such Christlike, inspired and smart servants of the Lord. We are so privileged as a missionary to be under their inspired leadership.

Our third quarter goal has been very inspired by the leadership broadcast.  Something I have a very strong testimony about is that 'success is achieved as we align with the brethren'.  For that reason our third quarter goal is ‘Members are the key 163’. I have attached a poster of this slogan that every missionary should now has stuck on their wall above their study desks.  Collectively as a Mission we are united in faith and excitement as we move forward to achieve this goal.

This coming week interviews start.  Every day for the next few weeks we will be escorting the Maxwell's to interviews where we will have a choice opportunity to train 'skill on working with members'.  This skill will be so vital to develop and act on as missionaries and members, while we are still on such a high off the wings of the ‘Work of Salvation’ broadcast.

After discussion with my companion, the Zone Leaders and approval from the President, our prioritised key focus for the next few months will be to develop greater skill, faith and urgency.  Our ‘4 hour exchanges’ are designed to target these three points.

Well, all is well on my end. T here is not a day that goes by where I don’t express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for giving me such a precious opportunity to grow as a individual as I try to loose myself in helping others.  It does not go unrecognised that I am the luckiest missionary in the Mission.

I know the church is true, It is so evident that the prophecy that Joseph Smith made back in 1832 in Ohio, recorded in the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants also known as the section of the ‘olive leaf’ is now being fulfilled.  ‘The Lord will hasten His work in His time.’  Now is that time!  We have received greater counsel and vision as mentioned would happen.  We are living our lives in such a pivotal part of the earth and churches history, what a privilege!  Shall we not go on in such great a course!

Elder Bennallack



15 July 2013
This week has been one of the busiest weeks of my mission. We have been doing interviews all week with different zones. We are 4 down with 6 to go.
Because President is new, he is taking a long time with each interview, he is averaging 17 minutes an interview which quickly adds up when you're interviewing whole zones. Friday he went through 46 interviews from 9am in the morning till 8pm at night! He must be tired!
The missionaries are so lucky to have the Maxwell’s. I think during the course of my mission I have only been interviewed twice and the extent was as follows:
“Elder Bennallack how you doing?”
“Great!" I would reply.
“Hows the family doing?"
"Really good."
"That’s great! Well Elder Bennallack, we sure do appreciate ya! Lets have a word of prayer."
Obviously I was able to have such an amazing relationship with the Lifferth's, I’m sure President Maxwell must be tired!
While the missionaries are being interviewed, we have jumped on the opportunity to train the missionaries and skill is one of the main things lacking at the moment as a natural result of such a young mission.  Elder Bellon and I have been presenting an hour and a half training, which is good fun all about members.
When you're having 4 hour meetings, it is so key to keep everyone interactive which I feel we have done a great job doing, lots of role plays.
We have really been trying to align with the brethren with their vision on ‘member missionary work.’
A lot of our missionaries just don’t know how to work with the members, skill is lacking.  To kick-start it at our meetings last week, I made 250 copies of a case study that Jonny sent me when he was serving.  It was given to everyone in his Mission.  We did the same here. I handed it out to everyone. They all read through it once while they were waiting to meet President Maxwell and we committed them to read it through as a companionship again looking for what they did well and to record impressions that come to mind on what we can do in our area’s to build the members trust.
When I read through this in Wantirna South we decided to actually buy $1 cards from the ‘Reject Shop’ and wish every member in the ward a happy birthday on their birthday. This was only possible in our ward because our ward list was small with only 15 percent less active. There are so many things you can do to let the members know that we care. We expect so much from the members yet we don’t put in the effort ourselves to build that relationship of trust. This is something I’m quite passionate about. My past three baptisms have been through member referrals, members are so key.
Anyways back to our training that we have been giving. We have introduced a new statistic into the mission. '30-minute programs taught over member referrals received.'
We have introduced a ’30 minute program' into the mission which entails teaching a lesson for 30 minutes to a member of the ward regardless of them being active, less-active or a recent convert.  The missionaries have been instructed to go in, leave a promise that a name will come to every family members mind as they teach, and then to teach a doctrine from the 'Preach my Gospel' lessons. They will discuss that name that comes to mind after their message and help the family member make the next step with inviting this name to come closer to Christ and to introduce them to the missionaries.  We have been doing these all week and without fail, referrals always come.  We have instructed the missionaries to teach seven of these lessons a week.
There are huge benefits that have prompted this new statistic we will record.  First off, it's going to help build that trust with members. Friendships will develop, members will gain assurance that the missionary can teach and carries the light of Christ.  The faith and excitement of the members will increase, which will result in members offering their homes as a teaching environment, offering to fellowship, give rides and the number of member referrals will increase.
Joseph Smith said that a religion that doesn’t require sacrifice will not endure. As the members sacrifice their time they will become more deeply interested and invested to this great cause.
That is one huge reason for instructing missionaries to teach these lessons, but the other side of it is the benefits that the missionaries will have. As mentioned earlier, this mission is lacking in skill, especially teaching skill.  The Area Presidency has instructed that missionaries within Australia should be teaching a minimum of 20 lessons a week. At the moment the mission is averaging 13, with some companionships teaching left, right and centre while others are only teaching one or two a week.  For teaching skill to improve, missionaries need to teach.  As the missionaries teach these seven lessons a week, that average will rise to 20, missionaries will teach with greater unity and practice following the spirit.
Anyways in a few paragraphs I have tried to explain our training and vision, but we have faith and confidence it is what our mission needs at this time.
On another note I was also able to conduct five four-hour-exchanges this past week, which were so beneficial. I have a rewarding, fulfilling calling!
This coming week as mentioned interviews will continue. Friday I’ll be flying down to Tasmania with President for interviews. He will be coming back on Saturday night but we will be staying down there till Wednesday 24th. Were going to exchange with every missionary in Tasmania, it's going to be great!  We'll fly back Wednesday and that same evening we'll drive up with President to Wangaratta for interviews in the bush.
Well miracles happen everyday in our mission, how grateful I am to be a part of them!
Elder Bennallack

22 July 2013
This week has been full on but it's been good!

I flew down to Tasmania on Friday and am currently typing from an ipad belonging to a senior couple up here in Deloraine.
It has been a crazy few days. (I'll attach lots of pictures because I only have until tea is ready to type).
It was Elder Bellon's 21st on Friday. The zone leaders and I, alongside with a member, organised and painted him that huge banner wishing him a 'Happy 21st'.  We tied it to a bridge over a main road and then I drove past it with him when it was up. It was priceless seeing his reaction in the car as he noticed it was for him...
He had a great birthday, another is just of our office being decorated.

Next are a few photos of Tasmania that I took through the window on the way in. its a beautiful place.
We stayed in this fancy as hotel Friday night overlooking the harbour in Hobart. There was a beautiful view from the 16th floor of the Grand Chandler Hotel.

Derwent River, Hobart
Saturday morning before the interviews, we got up before sun light and watched the sun rise at the top of Mount Wellington with the Maxwell's.  There was still a little snow up there.
Early morning from the summit of Mt Wellington, Hobart.
Anyways after a fancy cooked breakfast in the restaurant later that morning, we were off to do some proper missionary work. Interviews went really well, we really felt like we have changed the way they will do things over here now. Everyone is so excited about working with the members.
Across the mission there has been hundreds of member referrals come through as a result of these 30 minute lessons, its exciting.
We attended Glen Huon ward on Sunday, they are so 'okka' down there. Even though I'm a Australian I felt out of place! The church is huge in Tasmania compared to the rest of Australia if you look at the amount of members per capitor.
Elder Bennallack

29 July 2013

What a week, where do I start?
Well Tasmania was so beneficial, we left feeling so good about what we were able to do for the missionaries. It felt like a bit of a holiday at the start just because we stayed in a hotel with President the first night and we had our P-day on Monday, but it was a really great trip.  We put a thousand kilometres on the car in four days!  We were able to exchange with every companionship in Tasmania down south and up north.  We started with Glen Huon and Glenorchy, moved then to Rosny and Hobart then drove up North on our P-day in preparation for our exchanges in Burnie, Devonport, Deloraine and Launceston.

We nearly missed our flight out from Launceston because we were just trying to make the most of our exchange in the morning. Our flight left at 13:05, I didn’t get out of a lesson until 12:15, baggage check in closed thirty minutes before the flight at 12:35. We came racing into the airport at 12:32 and checked in with thirty seconds to spare. By the time we went through security we walked straight onto the plane, perfect timing!

We were able to see so many miracles down in Tasmania. We really focused on faith, urgency and skill while we were  there. It was rewarding to look at a few of the results from our exchange in the form of statistics this morning.  The zone went from averaging 82 lessons taught a week to 127 this past week and they were able to receive 33 member referrals amongst the seven companionships!  How exciting!

We really are excited to watch the fruits of these member-lessons roll in. Every one we have taught we have been given referrals (even from much older couples.) Elder Bellon taught a funny lesson the other day. He taught one of these member lessons to a 90 year old couple. At the end of the lesson the name that came to their mind was the lady that comes once a week to change the husband's special socks that helps his circulation in his legs.

Honestly we are getting all of the members across Melbourne inviting their friends. Over the past few weeks that the missionaries have been teaching these lessons, as of this morning ,there have already been 423 member referrals given!  Referrals given by members are gold, keeping in mind the statistic that on average it takes a thousand doors knocked to find a baptism as a result of your own efforts, in contrast to the every one in five member referrals given resulting in a baptism!  Baptism dates are being set left right and centre as a result.
The average lessons taught per companionship per week has jumped from 11.3 to 14.6 with a high of 175 baptismal dates set mission wide, were excited!
We flew into Melbourne at 3pm Wednesday and left for Shepparton at 5pm for a training the following day. Although we are keeping super busy my heart if full of gratitude for the tender mercies the Lord is blessing us with in our own area.

We on average are only in Dandenong for a precious few hours each week allowing us only to be able to teach a few lessons. Despite the minimal time in our own area, we are blessed to have a baptism of our own this coming weekend. Mercedes from New Zealand is getting baptised on Saturday straight after her wedding ceremony to her fiancĂ© Kryger who has returned to full activity in the gospel, we're so excited! I have been working with these two beautiful people for the whole time I have been in Dandenong, there has definitely been some mountains they have had to climb to get to where they are now.  Oh what a privilege it has been to be apart of this journey with them, I have a lot of love for both of them!

Speaking of those I have love for, a man named Doug who I was working very closely with in Wantirna South finally made the decision to enter into a covenant with the Lord Saturday evening. It was such a privilege to be there and watch that ordinance take place, then be invited to be involved in confirming him a member of the church.

Although I'm sure it’s not 'kosher' with the church handbook, a very inspired Bishop invited Doug as then a non-member to give a talk in sacrament meeting last week.  During his talk he expressed his love for the Saviour after which announcing his decision to be baptised the following weekend being this past Saturday just gone.   Doug is a very smart Lawyer by profession; he will make a great Bishop one day!
As I was saying how much the Lord is blessing us despite the lack of time in our area, on Sunday we had an investigator bring his friend to the Sunday service. After sacrament meeting this non-member whom we just met ,expressed his desire to be taught and baptised!  My heart is tender and full of gratitude now just thinking of this tender mercy performed by the hand of my God.
I really feel His love and influence guide my life.  My mission is my everything.  It has changed and shaped my life over and over throughout the past 21 months.  Although I can't comprehend why I am so lucky to be brought up in a loving family teaching me my true identity and potential as a son of a Heavenly Father, I am grateful.
Thank you for all that you do for me. I constantly pray that you may be able to have everyday missionary moments so that you may be able to catch a glimpse of the joy I feel in my life everyday.
Elder Bennallack, Your son, your brother, your friend.