Blessed to be sharing the Gospel with the people of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. Grateful for my Heavenly Father, His son Jesus Christ, a wonderful family and amazing friends.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Black squirrels and sufficient faith
Calvin Hung 

We taught Calvin the law of tithing and keeping the Sabbath day holy this week and heavens above it is like he is already a member! He asked the most inspired questions and answering them strengthened my testimony of why the Lord has given us commandments and how much he loves us! Calvin just gets it. He is so innocent and so prepared. His heart is soft and Heavenly Father is just waiting to pour blessings down on him! He is being baptized on Saturday and he is so excited! SO EXCITED! So pray that all goes well this week. He came to church yesterday and you are not gonna believe what he told me. I asked him how school was going and he said he wasn't going to do homework on Sundays because he prayed about it and the Lord told him that he needs to rest and focus on the Savior. Like WUT?! We didn't even talk about homework on Sundays! Like not at all! Then we were talking about the Book of Mormon in a lesson the other day and he said something so profound I about hit the floor. We were at a member's home and he was eating cake and we asked him how he felt reading the Book of Mormon. He paused and looked up at us and then at his cake then back at us and said "It's like eating this cake. Every word I read is a little sweeter, and I just want more." YUP. CALVIN HUNG ERRYONE. What a guy.
Elexis's baptism
Also Elexis, Sharyce's daughter, turned 8 about a week ago and was able to be baptized on Saturday along with another little girl in our ward. Oh my goodness it was so happy! After she received the Holy Ghost she ran over to Sharyce and they just embraced. Sharyce just held her and kissed her. It was as if, for a moment, nothing else in the entire world mattered except the two of them. The spirit just confirmed to me that this is Heavenly Father's work and that this gospel is all about the family, and it always will be. Sharyce's family has been blessed in countless ways, and I know there will be more and more to come!!

Oh and Kenneth (Phoebe and Tim's son) came to church on Sunday! Oh my goodness he loved it so much! He kept saying he felt like he was coming home and that church was just a big old family. The Elders were able to talk to him after and they ended up setting him for baptism on the 17th. WOOHOO! Phoebe and Tim are elated! And I am so excited for them. Kenneth's heart is just changing and it is so incredible to witness, so keep him in your prayers!


Calvin Quotes
 - "Aha! A dog. Does it understand us?"
 - *Walking into the University Library for a lesson "Welcome to my company." *walking into a study room to teach "This is my office."

Oh my! Did you guys know that black squirrels exist?!? Yeah Aubs...I am not even lying. They are vicious. I almost got attacked by one the other day. It was like the size of a small cheetah. Ok maybe like the size of a cheetah sized stuffed animal...but the way it looked at me it might as well have been a cheetah! yeesh.
 painted a house this week! So that was exciting! Almost fell off the latter tho

Oh and also Sister Smith and I have resorted to making up stories about each other in the middle of lessons and now our entire teaching pool and half of our members think I eat honey by the spoonful every evening, used to speak fluent Chinese and was president of my high school's "Asian Persuasion" club, won a hot dog eating contest by eating 16 hot dogs in 6 minutes, and that I hunt squirrels in my spare time at home with my Dad. My poker face is much improved y'all, so look out!

Spiritual thought:

I was reading in Alma chapter 15 this week and I want to focus especially on verses 6-11. In these verses Zeezrom is burdened down with guilt and sin so much so that he is physically ill. He requests Alma and Amulek to come unto him because he knows they are the only ones who can help. Alma asks simply "Believest thou in the power of Christ unto Salvation?...if thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed." Zeezrom answers yea and through the power of Christ Alma and Amulek are able to heal him. The scriptures say "Zeezrom leaped upon his feet and began to walk..." As I was reading this I thought about the fact that before he was healed he had to reflect on his faith. He was asked if he believed Christ could save him, and as a result he was able to confidently answer yes. His faith was sufficient and he truly believed in the power of the Atonement. When things are hard in life I sometimes simply ask for help...but lately I have felt the spirit nudge me and ask, do you have the faith that Christ can help? So that is what I encourage all of you to do this week. When you are asking the Lord for something, or maybe if you are going through something hard stop for just a moment and ask yourself, do I have faith that Christ can help me through this? Or that Christ will give me what I need? We can all work on increasing our faith every day! So pray for more faith and the Lord will help you through.

 Bought some Husker baseball caps cuz FOOTBALL SEASON STARTS THIS WEEK!
LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! Keep on keepin' on.
Sister Bengtzen

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Motorcycle mufflers and more miracles!

Wow I cannot believe another week has gone by. Missions are hard but full of miracles. I am glad to hear you are all doing well! And I cannot believe school has already started again...that is just crazy, crazy. Praying for you all!!!


Calvin Kong (Hung) is incredible everyone. I cannot say it enough! We taught him the Word of Wisdom this week and he committed to live it 100%. We asked him to say the closing prayer of our lesson and he spoke so sincerely to our Heavenly Father saying he was sorry for drinking coffee and grateful that the Lord cared about him enough to give him  rules to make him healthy and strong. He is so is amazing.
Then we ended up teaching his friend Frenzy this week and Calvin was present for it! He started explaining things and bearing testimony and it was just so powerful! He has such a desire to come closer to Christ and help others do the same! He could be a missionary tomorrow...I kid you not.
Also Phoebe and Tim's son Kenneth agreed to start taking the lessons! He still lives at home and he is like in his 40's, but he is such a kind guy! We taught him the Restoration and Phoebe and Tim were all over it...bearing testimony left and right! It was so powerful! We asked him how he felt at the baptism and he said "I have really great parents." Any my heart about melted. YES YOU DO KENNETH! YES YOU DO! So keep him in your prayers. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and highlighting it like crazy we will see!

Ok other miracles this week...
Rosa is one of our investigators and we have been teaching her for a little bit but she has not been super progressive. This week we ended up taking a member with us and just starting over with the Restoration. We taught her the Restoration but focused all of it on eternal families and how because of the Priesthood we can be sealed to those we love forever. Sister Toronto (the member we brought) bore a powerful testimony and Rosa's entire countenance changed! She could not believe we could be married for time and all eternity and she was so excited about it! So pray that her heart will continue to change!
Also we were waddling along one evening and we decided to talk to this lady in her driveway. Her name was Katherine. We originally asked her for a referral and she referred us to herself. We sat on her porch and took turns teaching her and entertaining her three spunky daughters. She ended up telling us she had a just made a Mormon friend and he had explained to her how much the church had helped his family. So she had started to think about finding a church! Well BAM! We showed up, being led by the Lord, and she accepted baptism. She kept saying she knew that the Lord was gonna touch her through our message, but she didn't know how. She thought she would get emotional...but in the end she said she just felt overwhelmingly happy and relieved. Sheer joy! The spirit was so strong. I cannot wait to see what blessings come to her and her family as she journeys to come closer to Christ and hear more about the gospel. Keep her in you prayers as well!


We went to this thing called the Big Red Welcome last night and holy smokes I never want to go back to college. SO weird. We were right outside the stadium talking to as many college students as we could about the church and about the singles ward. People thought we were so strange, and way overly excited! But we did not care...these humans need the gospel! Anyway...long story short college kids are intimidating. So we were using all these tactics to try and get a conversation started and it was just a blast. Well I was talking to this one girl about glasses and all of the sudden I heard myself say, "One time a little girl told me I looked ugly in glasses (true happened at church yesterday...haha) but it's ok because I have Jesus Christ." WOW. #desperatemissionarymove But it worked and we left her with a card and a Book of Mormon!

Also the other day Calvin came out of his house dressed in a pinstripe Yankees snapback, adidas, a red and black Michael Jordan t-shirt, and some bright red and black nike basketball shorts. We told him we liked his sudden change of style and his whole face lit up! "Really?! I am trying to look American dang it." Haha it was quite funny.

Oh! Yesterday this motorcycle's muffler went out on the highway right next to where we were parked and Sister Smith went all Mama Bear and grabbed me and was like "get in the car!" I started laughing SO hard and she got so mad....then I explained it was just a motorcycle muffler...not gun shots.

Spiritual thought:
Alma 10:5 - I came upon this verse in my studies the other day and it really got me thinking. "I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never HAD known much of these things: but behold, I mistake, for I HAVE seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people." I think so often we get caught up in daily life and we forget about God and we get held up on the little things and the little details of existence. However, when we take a minute to reflect on what we have become, on how we have grown, on what miracles have been wrought in our life, and on how many blessings we have...then it is impossible not see the hand of the Lord! We are all so blessed in so many ways...and the Lord has preserved the people of his church...he has prospered us, and his work is moving forward! What hope that brings! So I challenge all of you to take a minute and look for the miracles you have know of the mysteries of the Lord and you have seen his marvelous power throughout your own life. Do not ever forget that!


Oh and this cute Less Active couple in our ward made me a cake because they felt bad I wouldn't be spending my birthday in Lincoln...HOW CUTE IS THAT?! They were so excited and saved up so much money just to make me a simple cake. It's crazy how wonderful people are...and how blessed I am to be here!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Phoebe and Tim y'all...they did it!
PHOEBE AND TIM WERE BAPTIZED THIS WEEK! Oh my heavens team, it was the most spiritual and sacred experience I have had thus far on my mission. After some minor setbacks, and some crazy spiritual guidance everything got going, and it was absolutely wonderful. After Tim and Phoebe got dressed they each walked out of the dressing room at the same time. The Elders were behind Tim and Sister Smith and I were behind Phoebe. It was like a little army of righteousness all gearing up to go into battle! Tim took one look at Phoebe and instantly lit up! In his slurred and broken English he said, "Hey good lookin' you look good in white." Now if that isn't enough to melt your heart I do not know what is. I was choking back tears from that moment on. It was one of the most well attended baptisms the ward has supposedly seen. Everyone loves Phoebe and Tim so much and all were excited to see their special day. President and Sister Gardner even came and it was so wonderful to have them there! I wish I could describe to you the day it was...but I don't have the words. Let's just say it is a day I will never forget! Sister Smith and I knelt and watched each of them as they entered the water and we just cried together. What a miraculous work this is, and how blessed we are to be a small, small part of it. Yesterday Phoebe and Tim received the Holy Ghost, and that was also wonderful. They both stood and walked to the front of the chapel with their heads held high and their hearts full. The spirit again was strong, and the love in that room was enough to fill the whole world!
Tim and Phoebe's Baptism

In other news Calvin Hung (Kong) is doing incredible. He also told me that he thinks I have a perfect Chinese accent and should go study in China for the rest of my I might just have to look into that. He came to the baptism this week and is just thrilled for his own! September 4th is the plan! He continues to amaze us each day with his insight and his trust. This week the Elders brought him a Chinese Book of Mormon and a Korean one as well. He texted us and told us that it was a sign God knew him because he wants to learn Korean as his third language! Haha what a guy!!! Last night he sent us a text that just hit me hard. He said "I cannot express words of gratitude for your gospel." To which we reminded him it isn't ours, it is Jesus Christ's. And he simply responded  "thank you". Ahh his heart is so ready. His whole soul is ready! And I cannot wait to see the asset he becomes to this ward and this church!

Another mini miracle of the week came in the form of our Burmese investigator Henry! We met with him Saturday night and testified that if he read the Book of Mormon and prayed sincerely  he would have a desire to come to church on Sunday.  Well Sunday morning came and sure enough he texted us asking for a ride. He has denied coming to church for 3 weeks!!! And he is just progressing and growing. He loved church, and turns out he works with our ward mission leader! Like wut?! God works in incredible ways! Calvin and him became like instant buds, so that was hilarious.


Calvin is the funniest human I have ever met in my existence. No joke. So here are some Calvin quotes for your enjoyment:
"Elder Pacheco and you sisters have taught me a very valuable English word. 'LOL'. I am glad I can now text like an American"
"Ahh ok! I get it. Celestial Kingdom. I will see you there, dang it."
*Henry talking about becoming a billionare and Calvin turns to him, shakes his hand, and says "Do not forget me."
"How does everyone in this church know who I am?? Am I famous?"

Also this week we had zone conference which was incredible by the way, and we played softball after which was a blast! Hehe but I told everyone that Sister Smith was a remarkable softball player and played varsity in high school and almost played college. Hehe they all believed me and she was less than thrilled. "I want Sister Smith on my team!!!!!" Yeah....she is still working on forgiving me for that one.
 Rocking it for softball

Spiritual thought:
So this week we went to see a less active named Starr and we immediately knew something was wrong when we walked into her home. After a minute she proceeded to tell us all of these horrible things that were happening in her family and with her daughter and she started to cry. We sat and we listened and we asked questions and we so eagerly tried to help. Before I knew it 45 minutes had flown by and we had to leave. As we walked outside an overpowering feeling came over me. It was as if during those 45 minutes nothing else on planet earth mattered except for Starr, and quite literally my only purpose was to help her. I thought about that for a minute, and then instantly thought of our Heavenly Father and his love. I knew that what I had felt in that lesson was just a small portion of what he feels for us every moment of every single day. He wants nothing more than to help us, then to encourage us, strengthen us, and see us happy. What a gift it is to know that! Because not many people do. I hope you all know that I love you...but your Heavenly Father loves you millions of times more, and his whole work and glory is to bring you back to Him.
Dinner with President and Sister Gardner... YUM!

Have a wonderful week! I miss you all, but I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be! LOVE YOU ALL SO SO SO SO SO SO MUCH!

Sister Bengtzen

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hello to my favorites!
I'm glad you are all busy because that is how it should be! Sometimes I sit here emailing and think to myself "Am I really on a mission right now?" Haha so it's funny to hear that things are just still going on back at home! I am glad life hasn't changed :) 
I hope Grandma and Grandpa and Grandma are also doing well! Give them my love!
This week has been up and down... but we have seen miracles, and the Lord is definitely here with us every moment of every day!

Ok...two words. CALVIN KONG. We were going to see a less active on Tuesday and this Asian young man walked out onto his porch and I eagerly ran up to talk to him...because I mean he is Chinese! Who wouldn't wanna chat with him?! Anyway...he took one look at me and was like "are you from the church?" And I was like "Yes I am a missionary! I have a message for you!" And then he was like "I am looking for a church!" But he was in a rush so I got his information down and then set up a return appointment. (I found out later that when I told him I was a missionary he thought I said military so when I got his information he thought the military was trying to track him down. Oops.) So! We went back to meet with him and oh my heavens he is the most prepared soul I have ever met! He kept telling us that he knew God must be real because he sent the missionaries to him. We taught him the Restoration very simply and he loved it. He asked great questions, and asked us to teach him all of the lessons right then and there. We told him that that would take time, but that he could come to church with us on Sunday and we could start learning more there. He was THRILLED. He downloaded the gospel library app in Chinese and even asked if he could practice praying with us right then and there. We invited him to read Alma 32 and pray to know if the church was true of course and then went on our way. He came to church and after he told us he received an answer! Galatians 5:22-23 He felt peace and joy and temperance and all that jazz at church! He said it must be from God! Then on the car ride home he told us he searched on the internet to see if there was an LDS church in mainland China. He said there wasn't, but that he thinks he could be the one to bring the truth and build a church there. Like what?! I was in literal shock. "I will build dis church in mainland that too ambitious? Anything is possible with the help of the God." Calvin Kong...the man that is going to save China. Haha who knew?? But what hit me so hard is what he said about prayer. We asked how he felt after praying and he said it was like he had a best friend to tell all of his problems to, that finally all of those feelings were no longer bottled up inside, but that someone was finally listening. The simplicity in that idea astonished me. Here is someone who has never known about God, but has found such peace and relief in speaking to him. How much do I take my prayers for granted?
Calvin Kong, investigator from China.
In other news Phoebe and Tim will be coming home this week so their baptism will finally be on Saturday! The whole ward is getting excited, and Phoebe is simply thrilled. No smoking, no coffee for over a month, and no desires to deviate from that course what so ever! She texted us a remarkable scripture this week out of the blue and just how it had brought her comfort while she was struggling. I learn so much more from her than I could ever teach her. She is amazing! We texted her to remind her about going to church yesterday and she just responded, "well yeah! Gotta go to church to keep the faith! We already went last Sunday and have the time and place to gather with the Saints tomorrow." Haha my goodness I cannot wait for her to come home. I miss her! And I cannot wait for her and Tim to be baptized. This church is so true!

Sharyce got really sick, so we couldn't take her to the temple...:( But we are going in just a few weeks! So not to worry! She will get there, and she is still so excited!
 Sharyce's kids with new backpacks

Also we got the chance to go to the temple this week for a session and it was wonderful. I cannot even put it into words. But we are so blessed to have the House of the Lord on earth, for all the blessings that the temple permits! I am so grateful to be serving somewhere where a temple is so close.
President Gardner, Sabrina and Sister Smith
So we accidentally taught Calvin the word "dang it" and he loves to use it. "Dis church is true, dang it!" "I will pray, dang it!" Haha in all honesty it's quite funny....and I do not regret it at all.
Also this Sudanese lady told me I was white as a ghost that was a confidence booster for sure. Hahahahaha

Spiritual thought:
I was reading in the gospels while studying the other day and came upon Mark 5:36. "Be not afraid, only believe." Those 5 simple words hit me so hard. I think sometimes it is so easy to be afraid, to worry about what the future holds, to worry about what we must face, to be afraid of others and what they might say, etc. but the Lord asks us simply to believe. Believe, believe, believe. When we believe and trust in God then we do not have to worry. We do not have to face the future with uncertainty. We can know simply that everything will be done in his time and according to his will....and the best part is that he wants us to be HAPPY. The purpose of this life is for us to have joy. So when we believe and when we trust him we will be happier than we can even imagine. I know this isn't anything new, or anything real deep, but sometimes the most simple truths of the gospel are what stick with me and hit me hardest, so I hope this does the same for someone else.

Have a great week, love you all.

OH! And we had dinner with a less active Cambodian family tonight! Ahh it was so delicious!!!! So here is a picture with them. They had the Olympics on in the background the entire time we were that was the most distracting thing of my entire life. Hope the USA is doing well! LOL.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Proud to be an Amurican! hehe
Miracles! Always miracles!
Sharyce had an interview on Sunday to receive her limited time use recommend! We are taking her to do baptisms for the dead this Saturday!!! Oh I have never seen anyone so excited to go to the temple. After she got the paper she ran over to show it to us and then excitedly searched her bag to find a black pen with which to sign it. She held the recommend in her hand the entirety of Relief society and just stared at it. I cannot believe her faith. She wants to receive absolutely every blessing she possible can, and she is willing to make any sacrifice to receive it! Oh and then the missionary meal calendar got passed around and she turned to Sister Smith and was like "Is this the sign up to feed you?" and then Sister Smith told her yes and she immediately put down her name. She can hardly feed her 7 children and wants to have us over too! She is one of the most Christ-like people I have ever met! I don't know why I got so lucky as to meet her, but you better believe I thank my Father in Heaven every single night for her. Please keep her in your prayers and pray that the temple trip goes forward without a hitch!

In other news we have this investigator from Burma named Henry and we had the most incredible lesson with him last night! We have been talking a lot about receiving answers and he has such a desire to know if this church is true, but he doesn't think he has felt anything yet. He just refuses to move forward until he knows. Well last night we taught him the Plan of Salvation and he asked SO MANY questions. It was one of the coolest lessons I have been a part of yet! He wanted to understand every principle, and he picked apart every verse of scripture we read. He has REAL intent and a REAL desire! After the lesson we asked him how he felt and this huge smile came across his face. He just stared at us in awe and said "I feel something! thins answers like half my question, and I must know if it is truth!!" Ahh the spirit was overwhelming. And the joy in his eyes made me absolutely giddy! Then on top of all that he said the closing prayer and I almost screamed midway through out of pure excitement! He just wants to know the truth so badly! And I know he will get an answer.
Also! We taught this guy named Jorge on the street the other day and we went to his apartment complex this week to see him but realized he didn't give us an apartment number. We just went for it and turns out the first door we knocked on was his. MIRACLE! We taught him and his 18 year old sister who has a little baby and she was so interested. Turns out she met with missionaries in California before and she really does want to know if this church is right for her! She is trying to figure her life out and wants to raise her baby the right way. Heavenly Father has such a way of leading us to those who are prepared and helping us say exactly what they need to hear. Missionary work is remarkable. It is like having a front row seat to the greatest show on earth! We simply watch it all unfold!

Fun Facts:
Ok so because we teach so many different people from all over planet earth it seems I have started to see so many funny little clashes of culture in the homes we go into. I have started to call them "Murica" moments and they just make me so happy! So "Murica" moments for the week.
1) While we were teaching Henry this little Burmese girl in the home was eating like some fish chunks and after her mom fed her the first one she spit it out and started yelling "sauce!" She ran into the kitchen and pulled out this huge bottle of ketchup like the size of her head. Then she proceeded to dip her delicious Burmese fish heads into the ketchup and eat them like French fries. I about died.
2) We have a less active Cambodian guy in our ward...(RIGHT?!?!) and we finally got to see him the other day. Me and him hit it off right away talking about all of these funny Cambodian things and it was awesome. Anyway his house is decked out in Cambodian stuff. I walked in and honestly it felt like I was back in Cambodia...but then I turned and saw just a tub of popeyes chicken in the kitchen amongst all the weird statues and Cambodian curry boxes. Again I about died. #MURICA
Also this week we helped this family moved and chased around a goose. I would like to have a pet goose someday...
Oh and I tried this delicious new food this week! BLUEBERRIES!! I love them. Who knew??

Spiritual thought:
Alma 58:10-11
I was reading this today in my personal study and it hit me hard. I think so often I pray that my trials or my hardships will just be taken away, and I expect my Father in Heaven to answer my prayers by doing just that, but this scripture explains otherwise. Sometimes the answer to our prayers comes in the form of increased hope or faith. Increased understanding or assurance from the Lord that trials are for our good and that if we endure it well we will be blessed in the eternities. Sometimes the Lord gives us more faith to withstand the trial, more hope that it really will be worth it in the end, and more encouragement to endure on the path to receive Celestial Glory. Sometimes the Lord just gives us reassurance that what we are going through is difficult, but that because we are His we can do hard things. It reminded me of what President Monson said, sometimes courage is just that little voice at the end of the day saying "I will try again tomorrow." Sometimes the answer to our most earnest prayer is "try again tomorrow".

Also tell Kylie Johnson Happy Birthday tomorrow! Love that little weirdo! And hope she is doing well!

Sister Bengtzen