July 21, 2016

Week Two:

Week two has been very interesting.  I have been able to feel the Lord by my side throughout the entire week. God has answered my prayers in so many ways.  I truly am grateful to see how he listens and answers.

Thank you all so much for sending emails. It means so much to me.

Friday. During breakfast the fire alarm went off. Everyone in the cafeteria had to evacuate the building. This was such a pain in the butt because everyone was either just starting their breakfast or they were still in line. We also got the flight plans for departure. There are 20 missionaries heading to Alaska at the same time. We leave the MTC at 2:30am on Tuesday morning. We will leave SLC at 6am, have a layover in Oregon, then arrive to Alaska at noon Alaska time. It is very possible that I could get there and then be on another plane to a small town or island but very unlikely. I am so excited to leave and get in the mission field.  I don't feel quite ready, but I just want to get up there and start serving so bad.

Saturday. It was pretty much a normal day but we finished teaching Reed and Masha.  I was so happy with the way the lessons went with both investigators.  I know that it's really the Holy Ghost speaking to them and teaching them, but it's remarkable to see how the Lord works through you to help others. Reed turned out just alright. We weren't able to teach him all the stuff but he has been turned over to some new missionaries.  Elder Jones, Semadeni, and I were really sad to hand Masha off to new missionaries. We felt that right at the end we began to relate to her and she was understanding the lessons well.  I guess that's what it's like in the mission field though.

Sunday. This was the happiest day and the saddest day.  Luckily I didn't get called on to speak in sacrament meeting.  I was a bit scared because the branch president kept staring at me.  But what made the day so good was that David A. Bednar came and spoke in the Sunday evening devotional. This was a complete shocker because we finished watching his talk "The Character Of Christ" and as we started to sing the closing hymn he walked in. We all stopped singing and then were able to hear from him, his wife, and his son.  Elder Bednar said so many inspirational things but what really stood out to me was one thing.  He said, "Charity is not something we do, it is what we become." During this time Elder Mortenson began feeling anxiety about the mission. When Elder Bednar finished his talk we, the District, rushed to the dorms to help Elder Mortenson.  By the time we got there he was already packed and had made arrangements for his father to pick him up.  About 30 minutes later we all said our goodbyes and the Elders walked with him to the front office.  We got to say one last prayer with him which was humbling.  I felt so sorry for Elder Mortenson but at the same time I realized that he knew what needed to be done.  Later that night we simply got back to the rooms and went to sleep without saying any words or very few.  I know he was a great missionary and brought joy to everyone in the District.  I hope he gets everything taken care of and is able to finish his calling as a missionary.

Monday. Elder Semadeni became companions with elder Dayley so the dynamic trio is no longer a thing.  It's been really fun though because Elder Jones likes to wander off a bit while we go somewhere. When he does this all I have to do is yell his name as if he were a dog and he looks around then rushes back to me like I am his owner.  It's really funny because he's the senior companion now and he still asks me about everything.  I still lead in the lessons too.  I also have been hiding around corners when Elder Jones isn't paying attention.  It's so funny seeing him freak out and start searching for me.  Everyone here is so strict on the companionship rules so that's why he's always running around finding me.  Elder Stoddard and I drew stars all over the board and the teachers flipped out. We literally spent and hour and a half drawing little stars all over the board. It was pretty fun. We went through two markers.

Tuesday. All the older Elders left so we looked through their trash.  In total we found 15 packs of gum, 20 cookies, plenty of chips, a couple cup of noodles, and 50 glow sticks. We also screwed off the metal plates on the walls and looked in the air vents.  People hide stuff in the rooms all over the place. We found all the food in the air vents. When I screwed off a metal plate I found a Christmas tie with an Elder's name on it.  It was so hard to screw off though because you have to use your fingernails. There is no grip for screw drivers or flatheads.  I also slammed my room door on my finger.  No joke close to half my fingernail is black and indented. The doors here are so heavy! We also had Tuesday evening devotional.  Don R. Clark spoke, I learned so much from his talk.  I probably learned more from his talk than I did from Elder Bednar.  Elder Clark shared some amazing stories.  One of them was about an Elder who served in Europe.  At the time the average baptism was 1 or 2. This Elder decided to forget about the statistics and work hard trusting in the Lord.  He would say a prayer before going down main streets and listen to what houses he felt prompted to teach. This Elder baptized 100 investigators. Wow. One of the main things that this Elder did that Elder Clark encouraged us to do is read and live by CH.8 in PMG.  Another thing that he said that hit me hard was "Diligence is more important than Intelligence".

Wednesday. It was pretty normal but we had to say goodbye to our teacher, Brother Holmes.  I showed Wing to him and he flipped out! He thought it was the funniest thing ever.  He told me he's going to show it to all his friends and girlfriend. That was pretty neat.

I love and miss all of you. I can't wait to tell you more.

Elder Ogden

July 15, 2016

Midweek Surprise:

We received this hand written note in our mailbox.  
If you use DearElder, include Bennett's unit #156 
and his departure date July 26th

Hello! I forgot to write this in my first email so hopefully this gets to you before my second one. http://www.dearelder.com is a great way for you to email a written letter to your missionary.  There is no charge and your missionary will receive a printed copy, delivered to his/her mailbox at the MTC the day you write.  Everything is going great.  I miss & love you guys so much.  I want to hear from everyone.  I can't begin to explain how much of the Saviors love I have felt these past three days.  At the same time I can't begin to explain how much I miss all of you. 

Bennett's companions:  Elder Semadeni & Elder Jones

District Elders:  Mortensen, Dayley, Semadeni, Jones, Ogden, Birth, Stoddard

District highlighting the Provo Temple

One Week Down:

Bennett would love everyone to email him 
any photos you have of him with you! 

Wow. I can't believe it's already been one week. It has felt like a month and just a day all at the same time. I truly do love my district. They have been the best. All the Elders have been getting along so well. We do everything together. It's pretty much like we are all companions. 

This week has been very interesting. I can't describe all the feelings and emotions I have felt. I'm not going to lie, I have cried about everyday this week. The spirit has just been so strong. There are so many great teachers and leaders here with great testimonies. My companions names are Elder Jones and Elder Semadeni. The other Elders are Elder Mortenson, Dayley, Stoddard, and Birth. They are all great guys. I see all the other districts and see how they act and I'm really really glad I got put in the district I'm in. It has been really easy to talk to them, especially Elder Stoddard. 

The fist day was crazy! Things didn't calm down until Sunday. But now that I've gotten into the swing of things, the days go by in a minute. I seriously can't wait to get out to the mission field. 

The second day at the MTC felt like a million years. I had never done so much studying in one day. I'm pretty sure we took eight hours learning about how to teach and personal/companion study. I didn't realize how great PMG (preach my gospel) was until that day. I wish I had read the entire book with a pen and marker before entering the mission. We get right into the role playing the second day and I had to learn what and how to teach as we role play which is really hard. PMG has taught me so much. Later that night Elder Semadeni and I had to switch rooms. We had to be with Elder Jones in his room with these two weirdos. I have some crazy stories about them. 

The third day was so boring. But near the end of the day we shared our testimonies and everyone in the classroom started to cry. 

Saturday Is when I really came to love my district. Elder Dayley has two girlfriends and they are best friends at BYU Idaho. It was so funny because he is this tall, skinny, white, lurpy kid from Idaho. The bathrooms and showers here are interesting. Instead of intalling urinals they just ripped off the doors and the toilets seats. The showers are incredably small and the curtains are two inches too short so they do no good. We had exercise time that day and I felt like I was the biggest sinner because I wasn't wearing my garments. I don't know why but everyone wears garments in the blazing sun while running around. I am the only person who doesn't. Even my shorts are shorter than all the Elder's and Sister's. Some kids even wear hoodies to workout in. It's also interesting to see how the Elders run a round at night going door to door trying to trade ties. It really is a currency here. Every night there are about three Elders who do this and they trade ties for everything. 

Sunday was fantastic. Our teacher challenged us to take upon us the missionary purpose as we partook of the sacrament. It really helped me to more fully understand how the Christ's atonement has played such an incredible role in my life. We also had the chance to walk around the temple and take pictures. Later we watched The Characters Of Christ by Elder Bednar. That is one of my favorite talks now. the story he shared made me realize how I need to be more Christ like in everything I do. At night the water pressure ran out and all the Elders on the floor started screaming. The Elders from the other district that are in my room haven't been taking showers at all and this was the only time they tried. They are disgusting. Every morning we wake up at 6:20 or 6 and they just lay in bed and don't move until 7. 

Elder Liland and Elder Freestone, the people I room with, had me smell their garments. It was nasty. Elder Freestone then told me that he thinks they smell like a new horse. What does that even smell like? And they go on soda pop runs every night before they go to sleep. They also ate all of Elder Jones candy without asking. That day we also got our first real investigators. One of them is Reed Perkins and he is a legit investigator. He is way hard to teach because he wants to know about blacks and the priesthood, garments, polygamy, the Joseph Smith story and our stance on gays. It's really hard teaching him but I can see progress and he tries to have a open heart. We also teach Masha who is this small little woman. One of our lessons went south and we kinda started to Bible bash. It was really hard because she thinks the way she was baptized is the proper way. All we could do was tell her what we believed and asked her to pray about it. 

On Tuesday my district participated in the choir. I really didn't want to go but I was glad I did because it really brought the spirit to the devotional. I've actually started to enjoy singing hymns. I bought a little copy at the store so I can always participate.

Wednesday was great. My teacher told my class that in all the three years of teaching in the MTC she has never seen a class so unifide in the missionary purpose. She also had me share my testimony on the Atonement. The new missionaries arrived and it was so fun seeing how I was. I got to see Elder Hadley and Elder Sontag. 

All around it has been fun and very spiritual. I know my relationship with Heavenly Father has increased through my studying and praying. I love all of you and miss you more than you can understand. I wish to hear from all of you. It means a lot to get emails.

I love you all

-Elder Ogden

July 14, 2016

Saying Goodbye:

Bennett reported to the MTC on Wed. July 6, 2016
(missing Annie - currently in Bolivia with
Humanitarian Especially for Youth)

First Letter:

Hey! yesterday was great. My P-days are Thursdays. This email is supposed to be a short message telling you that I am well. My branch president is Eldon Cannon of branch 45, Brother John Chambers is his 1st counselor and brother Allan Neilsen is his 2nd counselor. My companion is elder Semidain (something like that). One person didn't have a companion so he got put in with us and we are now a trio. I room with my actual companion and four other elders who are also going to Alaska. They all seem to be pretty cool. I kinda got lucky. There's is one from Texas who seems to be the most normal.

my unit number is #156
My address is 2005 North 900 East, Provo, Utah 84604

I cant believe how well the first day went. The spirit is incredibly strong here. I have been able to be in tune with the holy ghost and share my thoughts and comments with the other elders and sisters more than I thought. I love and miss you.

Elder Ogden