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!


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