Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 2013 God, is a God of Miracles!!

3 June 2013
Well winter is definitely here in Melbourne but I sort of like the cold weather as a missionary. The cold is much better then the hot weather in a shirt and tie.  It rained so much over the weekend, it was nice listening to the crazy thunder as I was laying under my electric blanket in bed.
Well it has actually been one amazing week!  Because it is the 'Temple month' this month it means we don't have to travel to interviews or zone conferences or anything which means that we get to spend 4 or 5 days in our area each week, what a blessing!  The exchanges we go on when we are outside our area with the zone leaders are always so much fun too, so its just a win-win month.
We taught a lot of lessons this week, and lots of them were with inspired fellowship.  We went out on our fist 'splits night' during the week which went really well. Six missionaries in the ward meant that we needed six members to come out each week which allows us to visit up to 12 less active/  recent converts or just general members from the MLS list each week, what a blessing.  I had the opportunity to go out with Bishop Lavaka, he's a good hard working man!
Uri was baptised by her husband
Everything seems to be falling into place which is really nice. We found some great part-member families and investigators while on the other side of the teaching pool, we finished the week with a baptism.  Uringavai  was baptised by her husband on Saturday at 11am. The spirit was very strong during the service.
We actually had two confirmations on Sunday. Uri was confirmed, but Seliyan was also confirmed. Seliyan was a man we baptised back in April but it was the week of General Conference so there was no sacrament meeting following his baptism, which meant he has to wait a week to receive the Holy Ghost. During that week of waiting, his stomach decided to be silly and he had to end up having surgery on his stomach which left him bed ridden. Long story short after some crazy drama he was finally able to be confirmed a member of the church which was a huge relief!
Our companionship goal is to baptise five people in June, we're on track with another set for this weekend.  There is a Sri Lankan man being baptised this weekend named Damian.  He has been coming to church for some time now so all should go well.  He has kept the 'word of wisdom' for a week now so we are just praying that he won't relapse during this coming week.
Know that I am loving life here in Melbourne!
Elder Bennallack


10 June 2013

This week has been awesome for me, we were able to teach lots and lots of lessons which is always good. We have made some great progress with the ward council and also with the Tamil community at church.  We now have translation material for the Tamils on Sunday, but just need to fix one little thing with it before we can use it.


We had some new missionaries come in mid transfer so we greeted them and made them feel welcome.  We also had all the new missionaries back for a follow up meeting that went really well!


My companion and I were asked to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday which was a great opportunity.  We were both given the topic of a conference talk by Elder Hawk entitled ‘Come Unto Me oh ye House of Israel.’ It really angled it towards missionary work as you would as a missionary. It was a great opportunity though. I felt like I spoke more naturally compared to previous talks form the pulpit.

This morning we pulled all the zone leaders in for a meeting at 10:30am. The purpose of the surprise meeting was to discuss the past few weeks.  As a mission we have an opportunity to look at ourselves and ask how can we better help our brothers? We can also ask ourselves what we can do to become a more consecrated missionary.
We have a few exchanges on the agenda this week, we will also have to start looking at transfers as they are next week.
 This morning I was studying the dedicatory prayers of Solomon’s Temple alongside the dedicatory prayer of the Kirkland Temple.  What beautiful prayers offered!  As I was reading through D&C 9, I was caught in thought at how so many of the things prayed for have, and are being fulfilled. The gospel is truly filling the whole earth, what a miracle. I’m really looking forward to going to the temple later this month; it will be a choice experience.
Again thank you for your constant support.
Elder Bennallack

17 June 2013
It has been another great week over here in Melbourne. It’s truly getting cold over here but I love it. I do need a light rain jacket though, so I'll be off to the opp shops today. Opp shops are missionaries favourite stores. I love shopping at them! You can go pick up a suit for $10 dollars, then spend $50 dollars at the tailors and for $60 dollars or less you have a tailored suit looking amazing…. Just one of those missionary tricks. I bought a new suit the other day when I found my blue one. I got it for $79 though, so that’s a buy and a half.
We really have been able to make some progress in our area this week. We have a baptism coming up this weekend of a 9 year old boy named Iotia. (Pronounced Yo-tia). We have been able to bring back the whole family which is a blessing. Real growth.
The highlight for us in our area this week was a miracle that happened yesterday. As I have mentioned previously we have been going through the endless ward list really focusing on real growth.  We have been working with this lady named Julia over the past weeks.  She was baptized a few years ago and has 5 children.  Two of her children haven’t been baptized.  We have been working with her to come back to church but there are a few awkward circumstances at church which had been holding her back from coming ,but after a spiritual lesson on Saturday night she decided to forget others and focus on her relationship with her Heavenly Father.  She came to church for the first time yesterday and absolutely loved it.  The ward did a great job with making her feel welcomed.  As a result of this, we will be hopeful of teaching her un-baptised children.
My stomach is getting a work over in this area! We had a triple Polynesian feed on Friday night which made me feel so sick followed by 5 huge Polynesian feeds on Saturday.  I put on 2kg within 24 hours.  We have to be so gracious to everyone though and although you don’t want to eat, we still really appreciate the sacrifice these people go through to cook for us.  We don’t set ourselves up for this, it's just every set appointment we have with any Polynesian, there is always food associated, they are too kind. 
Well transfers are all sorted and we are ready go for tomorrow.  We actually have the whole mission driving in to transfer meeting with the exception of Tasmania.  It will be a little bit of a farewell for the Lifferth's.  We have organised for the mission to be seated early so when the Lifferth's come in the whole mission can stand and sing 'Called to Serve'. They have mentioned in passing comments that this happened when they first entered the mission and the power that was behind that song.  It will be a great way to end their service by re-singing 'Called to Serve' with double the mission force.
We also have a slide show put together for them. I have organised a really nice camera and tripod to take a mission photo together and there will be a farewell Hakka performed for them.  The Hakka is always so powerful and a great tradition we have in our mission every transfer as we say farewell to departing missionaries. This one is going to be extra big though because a lot of us palangies (white people) are taking time to learn it too. (I’m learning it today). We will miss them!
Well it’s going to be an exciting week. We have 'goldens' coming in on Wednesday alongside with Elder Watson which will be good. And then in early August Elder Pearson will be visiting again.
Elder Bennallack

24 June 2013
Well it has been one amazing week with mixed emotions. Tuesdays transfer meeting went perfectly. We had all of the missionaries minus Tasmania and some senior couples in for the meeting.  We had a small meeting before transfers for those who would be training.  After the meeting we stalled President and Sister Lifferth with a few transfer questions so by the time we made our way into the chapel everyone was on their feet waiting.  As they entered everyone started to sing 'Called to Serve' with such power.  We were standing next to President on the stand and he was weeping, it meant a lot to him.  I conducted the big meeting and everything ran flawless. After the transfers were made, we watched a slide show which had a farewell theme with great memories and we also presented a scrap book to them full of short messages from all the missionaries on how President and Sister Lifferth have changed their life forever.   It was done really well.  The meeting concluded with President and Sister Lifferth's closing remarks and testimonies with a closing hymn ‘God be with you till we meet again’.
Following the transfer meeting to Presidents surprise I organised a mission photo on the stage which looks fantastic, I’ve included the picture into this email. Then we had 50+ missionaries all perform the Hakka to President and Sister Lifferth. It was the biggest and most impressive one I have ever seen, they loved it.  We had it recorded on a HD camera and I have a copy, I’ll have to show you when I get home. 
Australia Melbourne Missionaries
Elder Bennallack centre front, & Sister Foster second row, 8th from the left!
I’ve been out to the airport three times this past week picking up new missionaries. On Wednesday we were down there with President to pick up 13, we picked another up on Thursday who missed his plane and another on Sunday who was delayed due to his visa. We're grateful to have them all in the mission though, they are a great group of missionaries.
Wednesday night I ate dinner with Elder F. Michael Watson who was down to set apart a Stake President as a General Authority. He is a good man.  He and his wife are good friends with Uncle Paul. The Bennallack name truly has a great reputation, what a blessing. They finish their service here in the Pacific next week.
We have been blessed so much in our own area this week. We actually were only there for two days but still managed to have 9 at church yesterday, such blessings. Iotia was baptised on Saturday. I’m grateful we have been able to be a part of the re-activation of this amazing family. The whole family was over the moon.
I was reading a report of the missions in the pacific area just this morning with President Lifferth. He is very happy with the progress we have made of late. A few interesting statistics follow:
We have had the biggest growth in missionaries out of all the missions within Australia. Our mission has gone from 142 to over 150 in the five months. The Melbourne mission has baptised as of the end of May 204 people, right behind Brisbane at 237. Adelaide and Perth are not doing quite as well.
The biggest statistic that we're really excited about though is one that shows that within the past 12 months each missionary within our mission is baptising on average 0.6 more people than previously. We are the only mission in Australia that has an increase in this area with each other mission down -0.7 – 0.9.  We are being blessed in this mission!
But we still have a long way to go though. We have a very young mission at the moment which is naturally resulting in a lack of skill.  We have been discussing options with President and we have decided to change our role as Assistants.  We are now going to be ‘traveling Assistants’.  Although we are having much success in Dandenong we believe most missionaries can have similar success in this area as it is very multi-cultural.  We feel like our time could be better spent.  As of this week we are only going to spend Thursday night, and Sunday for church in our area.  The rest of the time we are going to be driving around the mission trialing our new 4 hour exchanges. 
When I was down in Tasmania last time we averaged 4 hour exchanges with the companionships and we felt it was the best use of our time. I feel that the same benefits can be achieved within 4 hours compared to our standard 12 hour exchanges we have going at the moment.  In 4 hours you can have 20 minutes to go over the plans for the day, 20 minutes to teach skill out of 'PMG' that you would like to focus on throughout the exchange, 20 minutes for a review at the end of the exchange, 20 minutes to go tracting, 20 minutes to go Gq’ing, travel time plus 2 hours for a few lessons.  Everything can be achieved in the space of 4 hours.
The benefits are that you can go into an exchange with greater urgency; greater faith is required to find someone in 20 minutes etc.  You also eliminate the 5 hours of tracting that is often what is resorted to.  By doing 4 hour exchanges we hope to exchange with three people per day.  We are really going to try and develop some basic skills that we feel have been lost a little like setting dates on a first lesson etc., We are excited.  We are going to have to live out of our car a little but it will keep us extremely busy. Now is the time to sprint!
Well tonight we have been invited to President's for dinner where we are going to watch the Missionary Broadcast together. There are some great changes coming which we are so excited about such as: Every missionary receiving an Ipad, the chapel being open 24 hours of the day for chapel tours etc.
Well, know that all is well on my end.  I really am loving life at the moment.  When I reflect the past six months, the one word that would describe it is 'Leadership'. I am so grateful to have been able to learn from amazing leaders during he past 6 months, what a blessing.  I’m all about maximizing my seconds and minutes at the moment. Delegation is key. The work is moving forward. We are looking forward to 25-30 baptisms in our mission this coming weekend. God, is a God of Miracles - that I know!
Elder Bennallack