Friday, December 31, 2010

December 20 -- last note from Yerington

Yerington in winter.

[Sorry for the delay -- Ben's parents have been traveling.]

We taught Tamara a couple more times, then had her baptism Saturday! It was very good. She is such a strong girl. She is a good example for her mom and grandma. We also got a couple of more really good appointments set up for this coming week along with the usual lessons with less actives and stuff. It was an ok week until it started raining. Cold, cold, cold rain. That’s no fun. It is supposed to continue this week, but it doesn’t matter because we have really good appts set up. We have a lesson tonight with a high school senior who is really interested. It will be at a member’s house so that will be cool. Hopefully we can answer some of his questions. It will be a good week leading up to Christmas, hopefully. We also shared “Joy to the World” with a couple of people which was pretty good. But one of the families we shared it with couldn’t get it into Spanish so it was a little hard for them to understand it really well, but they still could.

[Tuesday, Ben was transferred to Fallon. More next week.]

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 13

This week basically consisted of tracting, people not being home, and zone conference in Reno. Tracting was pretty good. We met about 6 possibles and got 4 return appts, but so far 3 punched. We'll see them at some point though. That’s really about all for the week I think. Oh, we taught Tamara the Plan of Salvation this week too. That girl is pretty dang smart. We taught it simply, but still it can be difficult for a 10-year-old to really understand and she had no problem. That was fun. Plus we got to teach it at Bobby's house. I love that guy.

Zone conference in Reno was pretty fun. We had a good time overall. I hung out with Ryan Matekal the whole time (from BYU) and we got to do a lot of reminiscing. We had some training in the morning from President and Sister Black and the APs. It was a pretty solid one. Not too boring at all. The stake relief society fed us ham and potatoes and rolls and everything. It was pretty good. That’s how you should feed missionaries. We are growing boys. We don’t want soup....that’s what we got the time before. We want hearty food and a lot of it. Then we watched Mr Krugers Christmas and had some people sing songs and some other stuff. President dressed up like Santa and took all of our transfer wishes. I said I just want to go south, which I doubt will happen, but I’ll probably leave here, so I am guessing that I’m headed up to Reno or to Tahoe. Either one would be pretty fun, though very snowy from what I hear. (Sister Black posted some Tahoe pics on her mission blog this week.) It was a pretty good time overall, as it always is hanging with other missionaries.

We are teaching about 5-6 people/families, some of them more so than others. We have 3 who are very likely to get baptized and everyone else is pretty unlikely. One of the 3, Tamara, will be baptized on Saturday, so that will be fun. We teach her again tomorrow night. We are teaching a guy tonight who is pretty sick and has a lot of problems, but is also very cool and already asked to get baptized, so we'll set him with a date tonight. Then we also have one more guy that is back in town named Dustin; he will get baptized soonish. He enjoyed attending priesthood meeting at church a couple of weeks ago and even though we'd been at church with him for a couple of hours, he actually turned to me and said that time was going pretty fast...which I completely disagreed with, but that’s good he thought so. Hopefully we'll do something with him today. He likes to chill with us on p-days sometimes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dec 6

I was sick all week. Good now though. We just didn't get alot done because we didn't want to get anyone else sick, and I lost my voice so I couldn't teach. So, instead of news, I'll tell you funny facts about the area that I have forgotten to tell you.  
So, Yerington is the capitol of PT cruisers. It is absolutely ridiculous. I'd say about 1/10 cars are a PT cruiser. Its pretty funny. I think Ive counted about 30 different ones in town. In a town of about 2000 people. Crazy. 
Yerington also has a "Y" on the mountain.  It trips me out every time I see it.  It is absolutely ridiculous that I get to think of BYU every time I look at that.  It is pretty funny.
Interesting fact about Fallon. Fallon is where Top Gun was filmed.  Everything there is top gun themed. Top Gun Gas Station. Top Gun Car Wash.  Top Gun Speedway. Top Gun everything. Its pretty funny. Its such a small town, but to us it seems like the city. Its super funny. Top Gun is everything to them.
Here's picture of the missionaries in the Fallon zone. Can you find me?

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29

Happy birthday, Tim!

Well, Thanksgiving was way good. We had 2 dinners and it turned out that one of our dinners just happened to invite two Hispanics that go to our English class and are interested in the Book of Mormon. It’s always nice to have good members in the clutch. That was way cool; hopefully soon we will be able to start teaching them. That would be cool. We first went to Bishop Darrington’s house, which was way fun. He is such a cool guy, and his family is so funny. I love them. We have such good times with them. Then we went to the Christiansen’s house. They fed us again and we got to hang out with them too. That was also way good. In the morning we went to the Clifton’s house and played some Blokus and stuff with them. That was also super fun. Then after the dinners we went back to the Clifton's and played monops. I Lost ! ( I disgraced my BYU monops friends. I think it was because it was credit card monops though, and I need straight cash money.) It was a way good day.

We have had snow a few times. It makes things look better. Less brown. I like it a lot, but it does get pretty cold. Thank goodness for a car. I definitely need the coat though. I will be posting pictures that show snow.

We set a girl in Schurz with a baptismal date. She has a super strong testimony already. She has been to church several weeks. She will be baptized in 2 Saturdays. We taught her mom the first lesson.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 22

My new comp, Elder Siebach, is from Naperville, Illinois. (He's the one on the right, shown here earlier this fall, before his transfer from the south.)

He says there is only one Siebach family in the U.S. He’s not sure how he is related to dad’s old roommate with the same name. He is cool. We like similar music. He’s been to Lollapalooza a few times. Anyone that has done that is chill with me, haha. As a missionary, Christmas music is taking the place of other music.

Carson City was fun. It is always fun to chill with the other spanams. Pres Black talked to us and the APs (assistants to the president) helped us out a little bit.

We set up an appointment with a hispanic family for this week. They are super nice. Hopefully that will go well. We also had a couple other lessons. Most importantly we had a girl in Schurz tell us she wants to be taught. She is a friend of Lilly (who we baptized). And hopefully her mom will sit in on the lessons.

We play in a mission “turkey bowl” on Thanksgiving. It’s zone vs zone touch football. We play that in Reno on Thursday morning; it will be way fun. We should win. Then we go to bishop’s house for thanksgiving 1 and later to the Clifton’s for thanksgiving 2. It should be a good day with lots of food and games and stuff. It’ll be fun.

By the way, here's my crowd, pre-transfer:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nevada Las Vegas Mission Blog!

Sister Black is doing a blog:
Look for me in "North" interviews and conferences and "second transfer."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 15 -- Transfer week, but ...

Still in Yerington! The pic is the back of where we live. You can see that we gather the recycling to take it when we go to Fallon; there's no place here to recycle.

I wasn’t transferred this week, but Elder Bush has gone south for the winter. My new comp Elder Seebach will be up here later tomorrow [Tuesday]. I hear Elder Seebach is from Chicago and has been out about 20 months. He used to be comps with Elder Bush and he speaks Spanish very well. Hopefully I can learn more, but we still probably won’t be speaking that much in Yerington.

A lot of people just weren’t really around. This whole weekend was state volleyball which Yerington won for the 4th time in the last 5 years so a lot of people were in Reno to watch that. We were able to meet with Richard for the first time. He is a very cool guy, but he is super, super sick. His legs are super messed up and he has pneumonia. We know so many super sick people, it’s crazy. He wants to get baptized, we just have to find times that he isn’t as sick to teach him. It’s going to be hard, but he will be baptized soon and that should help hopefully. We are also working with more less active part member families. We had 3 full less active families at church yesterday and two of them are also part member families. That was super good. We are going to start teaching some of them soon. So that’s pretty exciting. Bingo with the old ladies is always fun at the hospital. That was a good time. There is this one guy who every time B 4 is called says "and after." Its super funny.

We also said all of Elder Bush’s goodbyes in the last couple of days, which was a little tough because he has been there for 6 months. The people will miss him.

Oh, ya – our bishop, Bishop Darington is super funny. He always does this thing when we come over where he yells "Yo soy chupacabra!" and then takes off his shirt and runs at his grown kids. It is super funny; they are a super funny family.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nov. 8 -- still from Yerington

A belated pic with the glasses my mom sent for Halloween.

Well my favorite thing of the week was yesterday [Sunday Nov. 7]. We had an afternoon family home evening with two families. Sarah lived with the other family all through high school and got baptized, but hasn’t been active for a very long time. Her husband Dustin is not a member. They have 3 kids, though not all together. The oldest is 8. Both are great families. We had a lunch, followed by watching the restoration, a discussion, and then we all played Cranium. It was super fun, and of course my team won. Good times. That game is the best.

The members of the Church here really like us and we like them a lot too. There are a lot of super funny members here. Only a few are good missionaries, but some are starting to work on it. It’s hard in this town because a lot of them have tried the same people so many times before, but they are getting a lot better. We got a ton more investigators this week! 5 new ones. We did have 3 investigators at church, which is super good. One investigator that we thought was a member called us and wants to be taught and baptized. We have our first lesson with him today. He is more active than most members. His family are all members but apparently not him. Nobody ever told us. We'll set him with a date today. Probably soon since he doesn’t have to worry about the church attendance requirement. Overall it was a really solid week. Did some good stuff. The work is just starting to warm up a bit here.

Leadership training was way good. We are going to have one almost every month until may because we are going over the new additions to preach my gospel before they start teaching the missionaries in the MTC. There are 8 new sections of chapter 10 being added that will help in missionaries becoming better teachers. The new manual will be out in May. President Black was trained on it my first week in the field at a mission pres conference in Texas. Its point is really to get missionaries completely ready to teach the moment that they leave the MTC and to teach right. It was way sweet. Sister Black also gave a great talk about loving people and how we need to do that. I combined that with some advice from Tim who told me to be honest at all times with everyone, but especially myself, so what I’ve come up with is that I need to always be trying to find ways to love people but to never tell myself that I do when I don’t. That is super important because you can’t change for the better if you don’t believe that you need to be changed, which everyone always needs to be. It is super good advice, and I’m working on that.

Service is going well. We play bingo with the people in the hospital which is fun and we help them out. Most of them can’t read their cards, so we help them with that and putting their pieces on. It’s pretty fun and they really appreciate our being there. The library is going really well. We straighten out their books for them and do other odds and ends. They really like us and the things we do are a big help to them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nov 1 (finally!)

Things went pretty well this week. We finally got in contact with Fidel again this week and got to visit him at his new house. He is such a funny guy. His family is great. His little kid Sammy is super funny. We ended up getting them to go to the trunk or treat/ward party and they had a great time! Brother Fraud is his boss at the dairy farm and he immediately saw Fidel and showed him around and introduced him to people. Fidel isn’t really someone that cares that he doesn’t really speak English that much. He still talks to everyone. After the party he told us that the kids really like us and he does too, and we set up an appointment to teach the whole family tonight.

We had 3 referrals at the ward party, which was great. Sister Clifton here is a great missionary. She knows tons of people and is always finding people for us to teach. She hasn’t had a lot until just recently because she was in Salt Lake for 5 months at the hospital there with her daughter who almost died about 5 times. It was crazy, but now she’s back and can do everything again but walk and can almost do that again. True miracle. For everyday that you’re on the ventilator that she was on you are supposed to lose use of your body parts for a week or something like that...she was on it for 50 days..., but she can already move everything again and her upper body is in perfect strength. The doctors were all blown away. They all thought she would be dead or at least not able to do anything like walk again, but she still might to be able to play college volleyball in a couple years which she had a scholarship for. Don’t really know what happened. Her body just freaked out with some crazy virus. Completely randomly. But anyways, Sister Clifton has another couple referrals for us in addition to the 3 that we met on Friday; 2 of them were at church on Sunday in addition to the activity. We are excited to teach them. We also have set up to start giving service 4 days a week. We will do 2 days for 1 hour at the library and 3 days for 1 hour at the hospital.

This is how transfers work in my mission. On the Saturday before transfers there are 3 sets of calls. 1st in the morning you are called if you are going to be a trainer. 2nd in the afternoon you get a call if you are going from south to north or north to south. 3rd you get a call at night if you are staying or getting transferred within the north/south. They then call again later to tell you where you are going and who your new companion will be. If you are going south then you get all packed up and go to Fallon on Monday, stay overnight there and then leave in the morning while your companion waits for his new companion to get up here. They meet back at one of the buildings in Fallon at about 4 and then drive back to Yerington/ wherever. It’s crazy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 25

The biggest up of this week was Saturday. We got to go to the Reno Temple (picture below; more info at with a guy named Casey Bohner who goes into the MTC on November 10th, headed to the Lansing Michigan Mission. He has been doing a lot of stuff with us. It was super sweet. We had a really good time. It’s about 1 hour 30 min drive into Reno and its actually fun because there is a real highway. Which is cool.

Sacrament meeting was very good this week. It was the primary program and we had 0 investigators, but we had 5 less active families there. I think 2 of them were just there for the program, but he other 3 we have been working with and had no reason to just come to the program, so that was very exciting.

What do I do on a typical day? Well, I wake up at 6:30 and get ready for exercise. We usually go for a run or play a little basketball now that we are really close to the church and can. Sometimes we'll just stay in the apt and do some pushups and crunches and stuff, but that usually ends up being less productive. After that we take our turns showering and eating breakfast. Which is always delicious. At about 8:00 our personal study starts and we do that until 9:00. Right now I am reading in the Book of Mormon for part and I am starting to read Jesus the Christ for the other part. I already finished Our Search for Happiness and Our Heritage ( I also read Joseph Smith History ( once a week because Elder Pearson's wife asked us to. That is very interesting. There are a lot of different things in there that I’m already starting to notice. Today I highlighted every place where he set a good example. Next week I’m going to highlight everywhere somebody else set a good example. It’s interesting. Then we have comp. study from 9:00 to 10:00. Usually that consists of one chapter from Preach My Gospel and an activity in there and a section from the white handbook. Oh, ya, and sharing whatever we learned in personal study. Then I’ve got language study from 10:00 to 11:00. Usually I do exercises from my practice book and read out loud. We also play games to try to memorize words sometimes. Like I spy or 20 questions in Spanish. That kind of thing is pretty helpful. Then we have lunch from 11:00 to 12:00. I make something good and eat it. Then we go out into the world. Usually we start off the day with either some kind of service (we move a lot of people) or with a visit to somebody who’s less active. There are a decent amount of less active members that are retired, so that is nice. Usually we do one or both of those things until about 2:00. At about 2:00 we usually try to have a lesson or at least contact with one of our couple retired investigators. We usually have a lesson or at least a short visit and that brings us until about 3:00. At 3:00 we start either making member visits or giving lessons to less actives who have kids starting to come home from school, which means we can go into their house because its not just a single mom at home (only if their kids are older though). We can usually do that until about 4:00 or 4:30. At 4:30 a few days a week, we have dinner. We do it then so we can get a full dinner, lesson, and talk about referrals before we have to be at the church for our Spanish class, which we teach at 6:00 but have to be a little early for to unlock the church. Then we teach our class at 6:00. That usually goes until about 7:00 or 7:15 and we usually have an apt. set up either with a member family or an investigator at about that time. So we go teach a lesson or do a family home evening or something until about 8:15. At that point we either go back and talk to the church ESL students, sometimes teaching one of them, or we have another lesson. We always have to work to find lessons for the nighttime because you can’t make visits unannounced after about 7:15 here because everyone is starting to go to bed. It’s weird. I think it’s because there are like 0 lights here, so the moment it gets dark people start thinking that its getting late. It’s definitely funny and a challenge, but we find things to do. Then at 9:00 we go back to the apt and plan for the next day. Usually I grab a snack and do something else and then I’m in bed by 10:00 most nights even though our bed time is 10:30. Then I get up and do it again.

What do I eat? I cook just about everything for breakfast. Almost everyday I have chocolate chip pancakes and sausage with an apple or banana or something for breakfast. I also sometimes scramble, fry, or make an overeasy egg with toast. For lunch I almost always eat pasta roni or rice a roni with good bread with melted cheese or something. I’m eating pretty well. I get creative sometimes too. One time I made a salami, roast beef, avocado, mozzarella, onion and green pepper sandwich toasted under the broiler. It was way good. I'm going to try Ramen stirfry soon from the cookbook I have. I eat pretty well most of the time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 18

This week was interesting overall. Tuesday we had our meeting with Elder Pearson ( It takes about 1 hour 30 mins to get to Reno. It’s a much nicer drive than most of what we do. Mostly because we actually get to be on a 4-lane highway which is just cool now by itself. Going into a city was actually a little weird, but to be honest felt so good. Reno is a nice city. They have trees and buildings and things that block the desert landscape. I didnt get to see a lot of it though. Plus where we were was actually Sparks, not that there is really a difference.

Elder Pearson was probably the best teacher I have ever seen in my life. He is very, very smart and understands his audience very, very well. He drew us lots of graphs and pictures to illustrate his point and they worked extremely well. He was very charismatic and pretty straightforward with us. He talked to us a lot about who we think we are now and who we really are/can become. He talked about we might think that we are a certain way and because of that we don’t want to lose who we really are and become like everyone else, but what we really need to understand is that we have no idea who we really are if we think in that way. That prevents us from changing and progressing, which is what we are supposed to do. He further told us that we existed before this life and made the decision to come here -- something I’ve heard 1000 times, but this time he added that if we existed before this life and can't remember it, then it is kind of judgmental of us to say we know who we are when we don’t even know many of the things that we have done. He talked about a lot of other things too, but his final point was really the most important. He reminded us that we are all literal spirit sons and daughters of God and that if we really understood that, we would not want to do anything except for His will. That doesn’t mean we all have the same personality or the same way of doing things. But it does mean that if we love our heavenly father anywhere close to the amount that he loves us, we will want to do everything that we can to align our will with His. That was how Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. He aligned His will perfectly with that of the Father.

We did a lot of service. We put in somewhere around 25 hours of straight service. On Wednesday we helped our investigators who have already moved like 5 times pack up their stuff again. We are now very efficient at packing their things. We can take their tables apart super fast and pack their truck perfectly. Then on Thursday we spent 4 hours in court with our 1 member that only speaks Spanish. He had gotten a ticket for letting somebody without a license drive his car, but he didn’t understand that he was supposed to go to court the first time, so he got arrested and spent a few hours in jail and then we had to go to court with him to translate because nobody in this town speaks Spanish. Once it all got straightened out the judge just had him pay his ticket and court fees and that was it, so he still got $300 back from bail he had to have posted. It was pretty ridiculous. Ended well though, so that’s good. Friday we started the longest move of all time. It was just us, their family, and a couple other people helping and it was completely unorganized. Absolutely everything was super heavy. The worst was the hot tub. That thing was huge. Eventually we got it up onto the trailer with 7 guys lifting. When we got to where it was going we had way too far to go, but thankfully we figured out that if we put 2 X 4s under it that it would be really easy just to slide to where it was going. It was. It took us like 30 seconds after that. We continued the same move again on Saturday, and got it all finished. It was really good for them though and helped them a lot.

We didn't make a whole lot of progress with people this week, but we definitely helped a lot of people, so it's ok. We did teach Tom and Gail. Tom believes that anyone can have the priesthood and that anybody who writes a good book is inspired and that the book is true. He believes all good religious books are given by divine revelation. So, he believes the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but misses how that means that everything else we are teaching them has to be true. Any advice?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 11

We have been doing a lot of service, which is always fun. We helped one family split wood and completely tear everything out of their garden which afterwards made me feel pretty accomplished. We also helped one less active who is starting to come back to church clean up his backyard for prepare for his grandmother to return home from long term care at the hospital. She was roommates with a member there.

Last night we had dinner with Congressmen Heller and his family. They are a super nice family and have a sweet place out in Smith Valley. Definitely nice people.

We have been encouraging Church members to go to the new and check it out and make a profile for themselves. I will probably finish my profile on there today. It’s really cool and I would definitely recommend checking it out if you haven’t. Watch some of the videos and stuff.

Tomorrow Elder Kevin Pearson of the Seventy ( will be having a day long meeting in Reno with all of us, so we are headed up there. Don’t really know what to expect yet, but we did all have to write talks. We'll see what happens. It’s about 1 hour and a half drive up there. We will leave about 6:30 to factor in traffic, which will not be fun, then it will probably end about 4 and after we will have interviews with pres black until 5 or whenever it’s our turn which probably means until 5. Then drive back

Friday, October 8, 2010

October 4

ITS RAINING!!!!!!!!!! Its been raining all day today and a lot of yesterday!!! Even occasional thunder and lightning. Its so awesome. I've broken out my sweaters and the vest. I probably dont need them very much yet, but I love sweaters. Oh, ya and we dont really have to wear our full suits if we wear our sweaters. It just doesnt work, because they cant have us wearing out our suits all of them time when its cold up here, so its all good, which is way awesome. Oh, and its about 60 today with a cooler breeze.

Well, the week started off last Monday with Paintball!!! That was wayyyyy fun. Theres a member of the Church in Fernley who owns a really big tournament paintball course and let all of us missionaries come down and use the course, his equipment, and 500 balls for $15. Super super good deal. Plus he fed us hotdogs and stuff. Hes a super cool guy. We got to play for a couple hours and we could have gone for way longer but we had to get back for an appointment. I got a sweet welt that I think I have a picture of too. It was super fun. Even the sisters came. they were funny. They didn’t care about getting hit at all and just hung with everyone else. I'm definitely going to be a lot better next time if we get permission again this transfer. Its also way sweet just to be able to hang out with other elders a little bit since we never get to.

After paintball we went to an appointment with a recent convert named Nabor. He’s super cool and we hadn’t been able to meet with him in forever because he works the harvest schedule right now so he can't even go to church. He took his one day off of the month and called us and asked us to meet with him, which was super cool of him. We then had a family home evening and another visit, both of which went very well. Really the only other highlight of the week was our lesson with the Sotos. We showed the Elder Holland's talk Safety for the Soul which Brother Hansen got on a DVD in Spanish for us. The spirit was very, very strong, but we haven’t been able to see them since, so we don’t know what’s going on. We'll find out tomorrow night when we have another lesson with them. They didn't make it to conference, but we did have one other investigator go. He enjoyed it, so we'll talk to him about it when he’s back in town on Wednesday. (he went in Fernley.)

As to General Conference, my definite favorite was President Uchtdorf’s talk about slowing down. (,5232,23-1-1298-7,00.html ) He is the best. He’s got jokes too. What a guy. Definitely something you learn on the mission that is super important is to just focus on the simple stuff because nothing else really matters that much.

Between sessions of conference on S
aturday we went over to the Hansen’s for lunch, which was good. They are such a great family and help us out all of the time with things that we need which is way sweet. Brother Hansen is a trapper for Nevada and Sister Hansen is working on getting her sub certificate now that all the kids are in school. On Sunday we just went back to the Apt and ate. Everybody here has Dish, so there were a grand total of 3 people there at the highest point. Kind of funny.

Transfers are this week, but we are both staying here in Yerington for another 6 weeks. They did give us more area to cover though. So things will be interesting. We now cover Silver Springs which means that we cover 2 wards and a branch now. Our area is huge; it goes 30 mins Southeast, 30 mins South West, and 30 mins North. Kind of ridiculous, but we will have to do.

I love getting mail. Its the best. I get super excited when I have some. You can write a short note too. I got a lot of letters about the wedding. That was nice. Sis told me she got homesick for DC when she went back to Vegas. I felt the same way when me and dad went back to Missouri after his case when I was in 8th grade. Weird because I barely remember living there.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

September 27 (finally!)

This week Lilly (the little 10 year old girl from Schurz) was baptized and confirmed yesterday with her entire family there. Packed the Relief Society room. It was really cool. She has such a strong testimony and is a good example to those in her family that aren't members or very active...though most are. We didn't get any investigators to show up unfortunately, but we invited absolutely everyone we could. A few said they would, but things came up. A lot of our investigators are out of town on the weekends and for long periods of time during the week, which makes things hard, but I can’t really blame them. There’s just not much to do here. Then, those that aren't have to work.

Our number one investigator now is Brandi. She is definitely progressing, but she will have to get her work schedule changed a little before she can come to church. She told us that she has actually been to a baptism before, which is way cool. We have another lesson with her tomorrow, so I'll know more about how that’s going then. Also this week we were much better at making contact with our investigators and less actives. We have been doing really well on miles too, so we were able to take a trip out to Wellington this week

and talk to some members and potentials out there. It was kind of a trek and we got lost. Its about 30 mins out there, so it takes a lot of miles, so it was good we had a lot. It was really taunting because we were about another 30 mins from California which I really want to check off my state list, but it’s out of our area. We got to see some longhorns while we were out there. Not much else happened this week, but this next week looks like it will be pretty busy, which is always good.

The onion fields are crazy. There are just onions on top of onions and they have tons of workers just out picking them and putting them in those bags. I also have a video of driving past that field. The video is 30 seconds and the field isn’t done yet. We're driving about 55. There are just so many onions. The crazy thing is that that is one of the smaller fields. They are harvesting another one now that I hope I can get a pic of because it is massive. The onions are the reason that we cant get workers to come to church though. They require so much manual labor its ridiculous. Absolutely crazy.

We have one investigator who is a worker and his name is Miguel. He is a really, really great guy. Super chill. Hes about 25 and in Mexico he has a wife and 2 little girls. I think they are like 3 and maybe 1. He is going to visit for a while as soon as harvest is over, but then come back and work some more. There just isn’t work in Mexico right now. Things are super messed up. Other than Miguel there are a few new workers starting to go to the English class, but we haven't had a ton of contact with them yet. We're working on that. Hopefully we can get to teach some of them.

I have a recipe book that I have been using it for ideas. The other day I made a hogie. It had roast beef, salami, onions, green peppers, and mozzarella, on a hogie roll with olive oil and avocado toasted under the broiler. It was sooooo good. I’ve done some other stuff like that too. This morning I actually made myself an omelet with mozzarella, onions, and green peppers. That was way good too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

September 20

This week not a whole ton happened overall. There is one lady that we are teaching who we think could possibly do really well. Her name is Brandi and we taught her again this week. She started out really down when we first met her, but is doing much better now. She’s a great lady and I think that she wants to be better. It’s kind of fun teaching her. Oh, there is one member here who has never really been active since he was a teenager and even then it was only because he had to, He is now about 70 or somewhere around there. His wife died a couple years ago and since then has started to remember his childhood in the church a little bit. Now he is reading the Book of Mormon and each Sunday that he’s in town we go to his house and answer all of his questions about that he has written down about passages he has read throughout the week. They are super interesting questions and it’s actually really fun to do. He’s a really cool guy too. Super relaxed and easy to talk to. This week he told us that it’s definitely not made up, so he’s making a lot of progress. That's been a pretty good time.

So, I finally got a wedding invitation from Tim and Ashley today, which personally I think was intended to arrive here after the wedding to make sure that I couldn't go. Oh well. It looks good though and I like the picture for sure. Mostly because Tim is not clean shaven.

Let's see....other things that have happened this week. We helped a lady get a table and chairs from the thrift store and into her house. She’s actually from South Central Missouri. I don’t remember what town. Just that its east of Branson. Her husband just got home from the hospital and we talked to him for a bit about the church. He’s an Episcopalian pastor, but very open to all religions. That was pretty interesting too. Let’s see, we also had another lesson with the Soto family. I think they’re really doing well, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. It was good though. We went over Ether 12 and talked about how you need to have a trial of your faith before you can get something. So in other words you gotta give a little bit before you are given. I think we'll do some service for them soon. They need some firewood for the winter, so we'll probably help them cut some up or something.

Oh ya! I forgot. this week we had one of the worst nights ever. At 2 am our carbon monoxide alarm went off with a screech that was absolutely unbearable. It was so loud! We got kind of worried, so we opened up windows and turned fans on and stuff to make sure we were good before we realized it was the battery. The thing was just messing up. It took is so long to realize it was the battery because it was plugged in. Which doesn't make any sense at all. But the battery light was on, so whatever. Anyway, we went back to sleep by 2:30. Then our window couldn't hold itself up after about 3:10, so it crashed down super loud and woke us up yet again. So, all in all we lost a couple hours sleep that night and just felt terrible the next day and really the day after that too. It was just not a good week for sleep until like last night.

I did get the package. It was like Christmas before Halloween. Such a great package. Elder Bush took one bite of the cookies and said, “Thats a cookie.” The cookies went fast. They were super good. I like the sweaters a lot. They are exactly what I needed.

Here are a couple of pics from Yerington: onions:

and apartment:

And my MTC district:

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13

Highlights of my week:

We contacted a Salt Lake referral out in Wellington on Saturday. It was a 70-year-old man and his 91-year-old mother who had spent the last month living with their Mormon relatives in Utah and Idaho – I guess his cousin and her nephew. He is the one who sculpted the statues of Jesse Knight at the MTC and at one of the high schools in Salt Lake. Crazy the random people you meet. They seem pretty promising, especially the Mom. She is very sincere, and they both want to start coming to church. It might be a while though because they are out of town a ton. Hopefully they make it sometime this month or early next month but their schedule is crazy. They would be very good too.

But anyway, Fidel (another one of our investigators) invited us to his daughter’s quinceaƱera ( on Saturday, so we got some way good food there. Oh, and they also gave us a little pepper which I knew was going to be hot, but which we were obligated to take a bite out of. Just a small one, but everyone was looking at us so I figured it’d be kind of bad. I had no Idea. It was sooooooooooooo hot. My mouth was so on fire I couldn’t even understand how on fire it was. That was ridiculous! Thank goodness that they had some horchata ( there to calm the mouth until we got home and were able to subdue the pain with milk and bread, though it still burned a little after that.

Since he served in El Salvador, Tim asked what we do during the day here in America. Things are definitely slower during the day. Albino is almost always home, so we see him up a couple times a week. We also go to the hospital here in town a couple times a week to visit a member and her roommate who is kind of an investigator and whose grandson is a less active member. Sister Soto works at the hospital so we try to catch her too so we can set up times to visit their family. Other than that there are a lot of member visits and less active visits. There are a lot of old people here, so that helps, The ward is very cool. They are back and forth on feeding us, but this month is way good. Not quite like in Reno who I hear have people cross out each others’ names on the dinner calendar for a spot, but we do well still.

We also had zone meeting last Tuesday (meeting not conference because President Black doesn’t come, just us and the zone leaders). There are about 25 of us in the zone overall. It was pretty fun to meet all of the other missionaries around. Way better than our 4-person district meetings. We talked about Zion a little bit and made good solid Lord of the Rings references to teach it. It was fun. We talked about how in Zion the people are of one heart and of one mind ( and they are the pure in heart ( It was very good. They referenced a part in the Two Towers where Legalas is talking to Aragorn (yes I can easily name everybody in Lord of the Rings off the top of my head in case you were wondering) and says that they are all going to die and that the battle for Healms Deep is pointless. Everybody stops and stares and we used that to talk about when one person is negative it really brings down the whole group. Definitely fun.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day 2010

Today everybody is just out and about. It’s really nice outside. This week the weather was very moody (temperature wise, it doesn’t rain in Nevada). It was very cool and very hot, but today is perfect. About 75. It’s, not landscape, haha.

It’s extremely rural and slightly green. We like it overall. It is also like the #1 onion growing area in the world (or something like that, I could see that being an exaggeration, but there are a lot of onions). That’s what Perry Farms grows. There’s also a lot of cabbage grown here and some corn, but not much. There are a decent amount of ranches around and a dairy farm, and those are all the major employers. A member of our church actually owns the dairy farm. The area is really weird, because there is water but only in very specific places so there will be nice houses with very green front and back yards, but if you look out their windows across the street you just see desert. It’s pretty goofy.

We moved to an apartment this week – actually in town, which is nice. It’s taken a while to get everything set up right, but now it’s all perfect. We have a small couch, two desks, lamps, bunk beds, and all of our kitchen needs, so life’s pretty good. It’s an interesting place, but we cleaned a ton and kept rearranging until now we are very satisfied.

We have about 4 individuals and 1 family that we are teaching. They have lots of questions, except for the one that we would baptize if he could ever come to church without getting fired and deported. Hopefully we can get over some ruts this week. We also should be starting to teach a new investigator this week whose daughter just got diagnosed with Leukemia like a couple days before we showed up at her door. She said she needed us.

We do not actually teach the English class anymore. We turned it over to one of the members, but we still teach a Spanish class and we still usually go by the English class to try and get appointments with those who are there. It’s still kind of our best option, but people keep taking down our signs for it, which is disappointing, but we just put up new ones.

Things are going well with my companion. We have BYU in common, so usually we swap BYU stories and stuff. It’s fun overall, and he has a really good mission attitude. We usually spend about two transfers [12 weeks] with a companion. He will probably leave after two and I’ll probably be here for one more after that and then get transferred out after Christmas but before New Years. It’s all subject to change though. I wouldn’t be too surprised if we both got transferred and this got made an English area again after our 2 transfers here.

Once a week we get together with other missionaries. It’s good times. We have zone conference in Fallon tomorrow. Junior comps never are the designated drivers here, and I still don’t even have my official driving privilege yet. I hear that it’ll probly be a few weeks still.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First assignment: Yerington

I arrived in Las Vegas on Monday, August 23, and was met by President and Sister Black (in the photo). After some training, I left for Yerington, Nevada. It took 8 hours to get up here from Las Vegas. We drove in a fleet of cars. I think one giant van with a trailer attached and 5 cars. About 25 missionaries came north. I was in a Corolla with two other guys, so not bad. Look up Yerington, NV and you'll probably find it. Google earth it. It’s a cool place, but it’ll take getting used to.

Spanish Americans are split between the North and the South as expected. More in Vegas but not way more. All of us new spanAms came north. There are only 3 small towns that have spanAms in the whole mission and my first area is one, which is fine. Its nice here. Like 70 today. My comp is Elder Bush. He’s been out for 9 months. He is from Maine, which is always fun. He’s a good guy and knows what he’s doing. He’s a solid teacher and knows the area really well. His Spanish is also way solid. Some of the Spanish-speaking people I was talking to spoke super highly of his Spanish but then again any white person that can speak get praise from natives, but seriously he’s good. His comp before me was from Mexico and they spoke all the time. It’s hard for us because everything here is in English.

I am working in the Yerington, NV ward. It is an English ward, but our assignment is to create a Spanish branch. We are teaching Al, who is a pretty interesting guy. He is American Indian that speaks both English and Spanish, but likes being taught in English while reading the scriptures in Spanish. We have la familia Soto who are supposed to be a great family. Their daughter came to mutual on Wednesday so I met her. We have a few others from Mexico we are trying to teach but it’s really busy right now with school starting up again today. Next week will be easier now that people are actually home.

We know there are well over 1000 Mexicans (they are really from Mexico) here. Our English class is really the best bet to get to talk with them. We have been finding new places to put posters for it, so I hope people see it. They are brought in from where they work to shop at very odd times, so we’re trying to figure that out too. We've got one sign on the very front door of one of the stores they frequent most now, so hopefully that will help. Most of our work right now is visiting with people who don’t come to church much (which there are tons of), working with recent converts, visiting with members, and giving service.

I have the bike and have used it. The secretary thought Jason (who brought the bike to the mission office) looked younger than all of us so he couldn’t have been my brother-in-law. I laughed at that. He should have said hey. My area is really big so we have to use bikes to preserve our miles some.

Send mail to the mission office. Everything goes to the mission home first and gets forwarded.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

End of the MTC experience!

I am waking up at 4am on Monday morning [8/23/2010]. I have to be at the travel office with all of my stuff by 5am. Should be at the airport between 7 something and 8 something. Then I fly to Vegas.

This last week in the MTC has been interesting. I hosted again which was way fun. This week I got to host 2 missionaries. That was way good though, over 500 new missionaries came in. Also this week we've had a lot of leaving seminars like about health and safety and about language study. I feel like they waited to tell us a lot of stuff that actually matters until now so that we'll actually remember it.

I would just like to let everybody know that I personally started a revolution at the MTC. Apparently I have the ability to influence. When I arrived here I was literally the only elder with a bouncy ball, but now I can’t walk anywhere without seeing others with them. So, I have officially started my first fad. It feels way good to be honest. I feel like I have all of these other missionaries that look up to my bouncy ball skill...not really, but I think its really funny that it has caught on so crazy. there are so many more elders that want them super badly too. Funny.

I saw Nick Pettit last week I think with his wife (Rebecca?)! That was sweet. I was walking to gym and they pulled up right next to me at the stop light. Super funny. Then yesterday I saw Nicole and Erica who I knew from BYU on MTC campus because they work there sometimes. That was new too.

Oh, I taught a lesson in the TE yesterday that went probably the best ever for us. That was really sweet to feel, and my Spanish was much better. I could actually convey what I wanted to instead of just conveying what I could. Cartas con Kirk was another hit this week. Best part of my day, other than possibly gym. Oh I’ve started to pick up playing zapatos de cabellos (horse shoes) a couple days a week. What a great game. The times I play that are by far my most chill times in the CCM. I’m speaking Spanish more and I found out that I’m officially functionable. There is a scale of 2-7 (ya, no idea why that scale) of how good your language is and me and elder Bullock are 4s, which is good to know. I’ve just got to really, really push in the field to make it to 7 though...which is fully functional. Most missionaries cap out between 6 and 6.5. I need to make it past that. Especially with a vocabulary that allows me to show those I’m teaching how hard I’m working on their language. Hopefully it’s good. I think that’s about all. Love everybody always.

PS: You can still send dear elders if you want, just not for free, and they’ll take longer than to the MTC, but regular mail is good too.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 12 - penultimate message from the MTC

Writing in English is weird. Entonces, I’ve been speaking a lot of Spanish lately, and I’ve been taking a lot of notes in Spanish lately too. Things are good but it is time to leave. I am starting to feel like I have been at the MTC too long. Fortunately they know that and give me new things to do and look forward to now.

This week I got to host the new elders, which was fun. This means that when the new elders come we meet them at the curb grab their bags and start taking them around. We get to be their guide for their first 30 mins in the MTC which is actually way fun. All of the moms crying and often elders and dads just not really caring is pretty funny to watch. Our job is to make them feel more chill about being here, which I feel I did a pretty good job of. Me and another elder got to escort a sister who speaks Spanish natively for a little while. That was sweet because I basically understood everything she said and talked back to her pretty well overall. She was really nervous but tried to slow down her Spanish a little I think so it equaled out to be about regular speed. There was some stuff I missed but nothing that really hurt the conversation. So that was really sweet.

Also me and my friends have started a fantastic tradition where one of my friends reads letters from girls to my other friends out loud...before the person its to reads them. They are really funny. His voice is hilarious. It’s so sweet. We have so much fun with it. I will be getting ready to leave very soon.

Travel plans arrive on Saturday and hopefully I get to be in the airport with Isaac. I’ve just been having a lot of fun with Corey here whenever I can. With our bouncy balls. It’s the best.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 5, 2010

This week was pretty average. Not much different or different at all really. Just tons of studying and work. Just getting bored a little now. We are starting to speak more Spanish as a district now which is nice, because I need to speak to get better at this point. We only have past subjunctive left to learn. It’s just applying from here on out. Teaching is pretty easy and listening is ok, but I get really slow with complex sentences and I still have so much vocab to learn. It'll come, but the rumor is that most missionary’s don’t become fluent until 6 months out when they are stateside. I plan on cutting that down to 4 months. Hopefully, I need to do some work

I got a dearelder from logy today!!! I was super excited. I really wish I could have seen him. I brag about him to my friends sometimes, haha. I’m like, ya, I have a friend who’s fluent and going to Johns Hopkins, that’s right. Hahaha, just kidding, but seriously.
All of your letters and packages are so sweet. Special message to Erin, Kaylyn, and River. You 3 are so funny. That package was fantastic and everybody was sooooooooooooo jealous of my squeeze its lololololololololoolololzzzz. I miss everybody. Pictures of all of you would be nice to have. Just your favorites, send me some. I miss seeing people some times. Also, keep it chill. It’s the life. the chill bump is being spread to the world right now.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mission week of 7-29-10

Ben answered the following questions this week:
How were things this week?
It was an ok week. At times really long, at times pretty quick. I was lazier than I should have been this week, but it’s hard to find some stuff to do sometimes when you don’t go over any Spanish in class that you don’t know. That makes things go really slow. Other than that though, still learning good things. I had a couple hours where I felt sooo good about speaking Spanish. It’s all fun though. Spanish is coming well overall. I just need to talk more. I think some people can finally understand me. That’s way nice, but we've been slacking a bit.
What are you doing for exercise? I play soccer everyday and run on my day off. Also pullups at night. I run around the fields about 3 miles.
Say Hi to everyone for me! Tell them to write to me! I love letters!

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 22

Well this week was not particularly new until yesterday. We learned lots of Spanish and stuff. Here’s my exact Monday schedule.
Wake up at 6:20, get ready
Personal Study---7:00-8:00
Large Group meeting...kind of motivational speaker every week---8:35-10:15
Class with Hermano Jimenez (native from Mexico)---10:15-1:00
Gym (Mondays are the best cuz we get a little longer...this includes prep to get ready and shower and prep after)---1:45-3:20
Class with Jensen (Utah native but widely considered one of the best non-native speakers here...speaks 2 other languages too)--- 3:20-6:00
Companion study---6:45-8:00
Language Study---8:00-9:00
Yesterday was a big day. It was our first day completely in Spanish for class, but one of our teachers had to switch to English to teach us direct/inderect object pronouns. I needed that review. So far we have learned 1 thing that I had not learned before, passive voice. So, not too hard for me, but speaking is a whole notha ball game. The 8 week guys and above tend to be super solid. I think I can at least make it to as good as them by then. I’m starting to try to speak more and more often
We study sooooo much. We work hard. I’m getting along really well with a few guys in my district and well with everyone else. This week we got another new district, but we don’t really know any of them yet. We get another new one next week, so its unlikely ill learn all of the names. It’s all pretty tough on our brains because its so much, but were learning work ethic and Spanish like crazy. I should be semi-fluent by the time I actually go to Vegas. Slow, but not bad. We are officially half we through as of tomorrow! It’ll be so nice to get out of here. I am not the kind of man who likes to sit in a class room for 6 hours a day. the good teachers do help though. Oh, we taught in all Spanish for the first time this morning. It went ok overall. I had to do almost all of the talking but the other 2 are getting there. I’m slow, but understandable. I’ll be better soon. Keep things interesting. That’s about it this week.
Oh ya, got letters from Matt and Natalie this week. They were sweet. You can post in my blog that they are obviously the best friends that I have....right after Alicia and that nobody can join their status until they equal the letters/package from Alicia. The competition will be stiff, but we'll see who will come out on top.

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 11-15 Report on Ben's Birthday

Hi everyone:
I got packages from you Sarah Alicia and Tim you all are seriously the best. They were such sweet packages. I was pretty happy. There was so much food/still is so much food. My room is like party central. Haha. And thank you grandma and grandpa Hepp for the birthday card. I will write next week - out of time today.

Yes, the popcorn is sooooo good. Oh my goodness, it is perfect for me. I was also very happy to have some things to unwrap. I saved them for my birthday and unwrapped them then. Thank you so much.

Did you get a package from Alisha and Natalie?
Yes, what great girls. They are the best for sure. So much food

It wasn't a bad week. It went pretty quick. Spanish is starting to come better now that others in my district can actually talk to me and understand what I'm saying. That's a big help. We've done a couple of English fasts and we have another one this weekend. Hopefully we can all do well
We had Jenny Oaks Baker come on Sunday. She played violin for us. It was pretty sweet
Oh wait, I got to go to the outside! One of my companion's retainers came loose so we got to go to the orthodontist...
That's about it for this week.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 4 through 7

The 4th was a pretty good day. We talked a little about history and what it meant for the restoration in our classes, and then had a media presentation where they pretty much did the same thing. The fireworks were sweet though.
I got to meet my mission President. He and Sister Black are both super nice, but of course they are. It was a good meeting.
Elder Oaks came and talked to us. It was good and pretty invigorating.

Spanish is coming along fine. I'm way ahead of everybody else in the district. So much so that it is boring. It's hard to keep myself paying attention and awake. I need to start speaking it more with the couple of guys who actually can.

Right now one of my teachers thinks my name is Elder Taylor and we've kind of been having fun with that. We hear some funny stories from our teachers and stuff, but not a lot of funny stuff happens. Oh, we got a new district in our zone yesterday so we are no longer the young ones. It's really hard to say elder all the time. Oh, that's a funny story. I thought I wasn't going to see Travis again before he left, but then I saw him, and yelled "TRAVIS!!!" across a really crowded courtyard full of elders and sisters going into a devotional, they all turned and looked at me and then I realized and quickly shouted, "I MEAN ELDER SELLAND!!!" It was a little embarrassing. Oh, wait, there's another one. I was sitting at a table I always sit at the other day and it was really crowded in the cafeteria when a few other elders come sit by us. One of them sat next to me and I asked where he was from, he said Iowa, I asked where in, he said north of Des Moines, I said where north of Des Moines, He said Ankaney. Turns out he's from Uncle Ray's ward. Uncle Ray saw him when he dropped me off and told him to look for me. That was a surprise. I'm meeting tons of people who know similar people to me though.
Time's up. Must go. See you next week.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

June 23 Pictures

At about 1:15pm on June 23, Ben arrived at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Here he is with his bags and the missionary who helped him get everything to his room. We love that smile!

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Post from the MTC 7-1-10

Hi everyone! My P-day (my day off)is today, thursdays. It has been a long time coming. On P-day we have lunch at 1:00, class after dinner at 6 and some stuff until like 9 am, but other than that we have pretty much nothing. I have two companions. They are Elders Andrews and Feldman. Elder Andrews is from Seattle and Elder Feldman is from Lexington, VA. I like our district a lot, and there are some pretty cool people. There are lots of great Elders that like to have fun. I guess our zone has a bit of a tradition of being pretty chill. We just got new zone leaders today and they are just as cool as the old ones. The other guys in my district are all going stateside. AZ, FL, MS, and a couple other places. Its pretty sweet. So far we have learned tons and are moving super fast. Its crazy, but I'm way ahead in Spanish. I'm just in with like all of the regular people except one or two others that really know it. We are starting from the beginning so its kind of boring a lot of the time. Really easy right now. Im just trying to expand my vocab and brush up on the other tenses that we're not to yet. We are supposed to memorize 25 words and 3 phrases everyday, and I think we're pretty close to that on a lot of days. Its hard to get that many though. Im getting a lot better with that expanded vocab though.I still cant understand anything a native says when they speak quickly even though I know most of the words that they are using. Everday I wake up at 6:15 ish. Then I go to my classroom for personal study followed by breakfast than back to the room for comp study. Then usually about 3-4 hours of spanish and Preach my Gospel training. Then Lunch and then gym. Gym is the best part of the day without a doubt. I love playing soccer. I play everyday that I can. I feel so good when I get to play, then we shower and go back to class for another few hours followed by language study. Thats pretty much my day everyday. Its fun here, and Im advancing a lot, but its really hard too and Im always tired. Im asleep by 10:30 every night. Well, thats about it.
Elder Layton