Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas - Jerez de la Frontera Cadiz

Christmas has arrived. We finally opened Elder Bennett's package that he sent us. It was so thoughtful of him to send goodies and souvenirs all the way from Spain. He's such a wonderful young man. He also included a letter. It just melted our hearts to read from him. Later that afternoon about 1:40pm, he called home. We talked for 10 mns then we were cut off. He called again and the same thing happened. He tried again at 2:10pm and we finally were able to talk longer (about 1 hour). Ahhhhhh, it was so nice hearing his voice again & learning more about his experiences in the Mission field. He had so much to say. It's such a blessing to know how much he's enjoying his mission & how great his love is for the people of Spain. This is one of the best Christmases for us.

Elder Bennett & his companion Elder Waite

Here's Elder Bennett's letter.
Hello & Merry Christmas family!

You will find that I have included in your package some stuff to eat. Most of the goodies are from Switzerland & Germany cause their sweets are just better. I also sent you a lot of "polverones". These are very Spanish and they are good. I sent a plate with a bull picture on it and I wrapped it with a scarf. Linsey can go ahead and keep the scarf. I sent a key chain with a spanish crest and a bull on the back, that's for whoever wants it. I also sent a Ferrar key chain (the one with a horse on it). David, the african we lived with told me "that's for your mother; mother is so nice and very important". I sent some "cherizo" and they are fantastic. The Spanish use it in their eggs, spaghettis and a number of dishes. It's treated meat so it doesn't need refrigeration before initially use. There's a shirt that says Spain on it. Whoever wants that can have it. I think tha's all. Thanks for the gifts and stuff. I hope all is well. I miss home and stuff. Hope you are having fun. Merry Christmas!!!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Jerez de la Frontera Cadiz 12/20/10

I am now in my new assigned area "Jerez de la Frontera de Cadiz'. The transfer was hard, especially having to carry my two overpacked and heavy luggage but I made it. The train ride from Dos Hermanas Sevilla to Jerez de la Frontera Cadiz was only 40 minutes.

Jerez is absolutely gorgeous. It is a breath-taking place. It's a town full of gypsies. Everyone here is part gypsy. They all sing and dance. But, they're almost all pure blood spaniards. There are hardly any Nigerians or South Americans. They're more Analuz here. In church even, they do not shake hands, they just kiss each other on the cheecks. Everybody makes you feel sooo welcome. The ward, is so so so friendly and loving.
By the way, we reached our baptism goal. Yes we did it! We now officially have 200 baptisms and still counting!!! We certainly deserve a little chicken to celebrate our success here. Right?? Hourray for Malaga Spain Mission!!! We also had our Stake Pres and our Stake Mission Leader from Sevilla to join in the fun.

Christmas Zone gatherings. Two awesome looking zone, Sevilla & San Fernando.

The city of Jerez is gorgeous. The architecture is old, and there are hills and killer views to enjoy. This city is giagantic, it's almost as big as Sevilla. It would probably take about 2 hours or a little more to walk from one end to the other. And that's not all. Our area encompasses a ton of other really big cities all around, in about a 2.5 hour bus ride distance.

I love it here!

This is a beautiful city!

I saw the most beautiful city in my life this week. It's called Ubrique and i'ts in our area. Ubrique is a small little pueblo sitting inside a valley. Its 2.5 hours by bus, and 28 euros to get there. It's actually one of the most famous expoters for designer leather in the world. There are a ton of shops selling leather purses, jackets, shoes, belts, wallets and all sorts of designer stuff and, its so green. It's so good to see mountains again. I missed the mountains. We had the oppurtunity to climb the mountains to find a less-active member. It was awesome. So we will mostly be doing heavy work in Jerez.

The people of Jerez are so much more friendly. Maybe it's cuz they drink so much wine...(lol), I am kidding. There are wineries everywhere. Jerez has some of the most famous wine in all of Spain. We even found some in our piso. It was way old. Wine is actually cheaper than beer here. But, everybody is so nice when we contact them on the road. I love it. I love Jerez.
I love the mountains

We did some pretty good work in the few days I have been here. We had three people baptized last Friday. We met Paco who was a brand new convert. He was baptized 2-weeks ago, but you would think he was a strong member for years. On Friday, Paco baptized his wife and I had the opportunity to baptize his niece Virginia and my companion Elder Waite baptized his other niece Esperanza. Paco is so excited about the Gospel and he wants to do missionary work with us. He's refering us to his friends and neighbors, and missionary work is picking up so so well!! The ward is excited with all the recent success and everyone is pitching in and offering help. I just love it.
Elder Bennett, Paco & his wife, elder Waite, Paco's two nieces Virginia & Esperanza.

Christmas is going to be swell!! We get to stay out til midnight on christmas eve and we get all of christmas day as P-day. I have recieved your package and I will open it on Christmas day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I am being transfered! Dos Hermanas Sevilla 12/13/10

This week has probably been the most "el loco" week I´ve had yet on the mission. It was the most succesful, the most busy and the most stressful.
Our area Dos Hermanas is really fantastic. We´re teaching a lot, we're finding tons of new people and we are having great success with some of them.

The Mission President called me last Friday and I´m moving to my next new area this coming wednesday December 15th. We are moving a week early cuz my Mission President doesn´t want us moving too close to the holidays and it's normal for me to go, cuz I´ve been here 6 months. But, I was suprised when my companion Elder Bassurto told me he was moving also. Then I was shocked and a bit upset when I heard that our area (Dos Hermanas) will be temporarely closed. We won't know for how long! We won't be replaced when gone. There will be no more Elders or sisters serving in Dos Hermanas for a while. This is the first time in 40-years! It's because out of the 20-35 missionaries that are supposed to be in Spain recently, only 4 have arrived, 3 Sisters and one Elder. We are supposed to have 120 missionaries and we only have 68. Spain is having huge problem of issuing Visas.

BUT, instead of being discouraged, me and Elder Barsurto have been working really hard. We fixed 6 baptismal dates since Friday. All different families. The first two were in a city called Lebrija, which is a little bit too far from Dos Hermana but still in our ward.
Then Elder Taylor and I set 3 more baptismal dates with some people from Paraguay. Two were a couple and 1 was a girl who lives in the same house. But, the couple came to church yesterday, and the husband said he almost burst into tears cause he felt the spirit so strong. And we set one with a man from Argentina. This guy is crazy cool. We are going to try to organize something with the Church in his country, cuz he runs a school for poor children. He provides, food, clothes and education. But, he wants to provide them with spiritual experiences as well. He used to live in Paris and he would bike from Paris all the way to Sevilla Spain. lol.
Elder Taylor is 6´8 and everywhere we went, people just stared at us! Funny, hein?

Now with 6 upcoming baptims on our list, this sets us appart of having the most potential baptisms in all of the mission. We have so many more investigators about ready to accept baptism and also plenty golden potental investigators who want to hear about the gospel. Unfortunately pretty soon we will have to turn our missionary work over to the Ward. The Ward will be in charge starting this week of making sure the baptims are met and the new investigators are being taught and cared for. The ward seems excited about the future baptisms and the potential investigators. I think the members will be able to do it. The Bishop didn´t want us to reveal to the Ward members about the "Mission being temporarely closed" in the area of Dos Hermanas.

It's been stressful preparing everything. We´ve been doing lots of meetings, and we´re going to have to teach all the ward missionaries a crash course in missionary work. We are also passing on our English classes,(which have been increasingly getting successful,) to the family from England. One of their sons wants to teach English to Spanish people as a living, so this is a perfect oppurtunity. And on top of it, we´re still living with Isabel cuz the new piso isn´t ready for us to move in yet. So it will be ready for the new missionaries, if they ever come. They sure will have a very nice place to live in. I´m also worried about packing, cuz I have a ton of stuff that I have to carry.
I definitely don't want to leave my empty soda cans behind...I've got to find room for them in my suitcases! Can you tell I had too much sodas?

My next area is in Jerez de la Frontera Of the province of Cadiz. It's actually really close to Sevilla. Lebrija is so close, I had permission from the Mission President to continue teaching the two baptismal dates from Lebrija. Our goal is actually 200, and we´re almost there.

That's good to hear that grandpa's Funeral went well. How is everyone in the family? How are you guys taking it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

See you later grandpa! Dos Hermanas Sevilla 12/06/10

I received your Christmas package... kinda. The mission office has it, I have had that confirmed. I just sent yours yesterday. don´t worry about the shipping. it wasn´t expensive at all. cuz i´m shipping it technically from NY, not Spain.

Swiss chocolate is good but it's different than the kind uncle Gilles sends. Cuz, the brands he sends is super super expensive. Just as an example it's like 6 Euroes for 6 of those best chocolates uncle Gilles sends. The small box of white chocolate coconut balls is like 5 or 7 Euros. So I sent you all stuff you haven´t tried and a little cheaper than the ones uncle Gilles sends.
Elder Bennett, couple & Elder Redd

I´ll probably be outta Dos Hermanas before Christmas, but my comp thinks he´ll go and I´ll stay. It's possible we´ll both stay. Afterall, the mission is low on travel money. They haven´t announced that, but I know they are. Spain is cool in Christmas. It's raining all the time, and it's barely above freezing. The government did some lights in all the city squares, and the trees are all dressed up with lights like temple square. Every street has lights. It's sweet. I haven´t really been shopping lately. I would if things are on sale. Diet coke was 24cents a bottle of 2-liter. That was cool.

This week has been absolutely crazy and busy. We didn´t even have time to do normal things like planning in the morning, or night or weekly planning session. We are in the moving process, and we were supposed to be in the new house by Nov. 28. So we packed everything, all the food, books, our stuff, everything, and moved it into the new house. Which still wasn´t ready. We kept enough stuff to last 2 or so days. Except... WE´re still living at Isabel´s house, and the new house needs electricity, all the furnitture moved in, and the bathroom to be remodeled. It's kind of a sketchy situation. But, it's alright. We´re surviving. We´ve been getting fed, once or twice a day. Which is fantastic.

We´re also getting many service oppurtunities. We helped a guy remodel his giagantic house on an olive orchard. We scraped paint, (probably 80 years old and probably lead based) and repainted. I think the house is older than Utah. And one morning, the Bishop called us and asked us to come repair a fence, around the new church lot. That was an adventure cuz we had no clothes. i used flip-flops to make a chain link fence and concrete in the winter. it was an experience, for sure.
No, the car was not part of the service opportunity but it looks good! no?

Its still been raining pretty hard. It hasn´t kept us from sloshing around town.

We´ve been teaching a lot, and getting some new investigators. No baptisms, no real good progressing investigators. We´ve dropped all the bad investigators.
We had splits this week, and we also had a special training meeting. Which was good. I´ve been speaking a lot better Spanish. Its cool that you had the rare occasion to feed the missionaries. We got a training booklet which talks about how to work with members. More of a 20 page case study.

I am so sad to hear about Grandpa's passing. Here's a little thought that you can read at the funeral service today on my behalf:

´Its not goodbye, just see you later.´
Life is a journey and death is part of it. It's sad when loved ones pass on, but it's joyful to know that we will be reunited after this life. God loves us, and he has laid out a wonderful plan. And I am so grateful that this plan has been revealed to us. It makes me sad to hear that my Grandpa is gone, but I am grateful to know that this life is not the end of our journey. This knowledge gives me peace, and happiness to know that families can be together forever.
Grandpa Bennett was a good & dedicated man to the Gospel. I know he will find rest and be exhalted to the Celestial Kingdom.
If there is one thing he understood, that was love. He loved his family. He loved his plants. He loved his neighbors. He loved the Gospel. I am grateful for his example that he has set for everyone. I am grateful for his decisions and his example to me. I´ll always remember as a kid he would always tell stories. I love you grandpa and I will miss you.´

Daryl & grandpa Bennett

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dos Hermanas Sevilla 11/29/10

Wow. Thanks for the Christmas care package. I look forward to receiving it. I really appreciate it. It will be so awesome to read from the ward members.

That's cool to hear about your Disneyland trip. I´m glad you had fun. If you thought the food there was expensive, it wasn´t. Pizza here, can be like 14 Euros for a medium, and Mcdonald´s price is like eating at a real restaurant. It's about $8 for a meal.

This week sucked regarding the weather. It rained all week, and had super cold wind. It was barely above freezing, so it didn´t snow, but it was wet. My legs and feet are always drenched. But, its ok. We´re moving this week. Isabel is making last attempts for us to stay. She is way sad. But, we´re looking forward to our new apartment located in the middle of the city. We´re also gonna have a drier, which only a select few apartments in the mission have. Some members are gonna help us. The bishop and his son, and Fidel. Cuz, when Fidel is serving, he´s not smoking.

We´re about ready to drop Fidel, he really has no interest to do anything we tell him. He fed us like 3 times this week which is good. The past three weeks, we´ve been eating at members homes almost every day.

"Happy Thanksgiving" Dos Hermanas Sevilla 11/23/10

That sounds cool that you're in Disneyland. We´re eating with the Box family today.

We had a lot of contact with Germany this week. A member showed me a ton of maps of Germany and told me a million trucker stories through Brittian. He said it's absolutely gorgeous. I may just have to visit it one of these days. They speak English very well, so i just may.

All the trees on the side of the streets are "orange trees" and they are all in season. The wild oranges aren´t good to eat, they are as acidic as battery acid. The oranges that you can eat are vey very tasty and very very sweet. I´ve tasted both. I´ve been eating so many oranges and mandarins lately. One member gave us 3 bags full from his orchard. I really like them now.

Whats the name of Harry Potter 7 in English? Here in Spain, its "reliquoes de la muerte" Relics of the Dead. I don´t think that's the name of it in English. lol. Is it?

We had an open house for the new chapel over here, kinda like the open house to the temple. We passed many flyers, had publication in the paper, and had a big banner draped on the church. The members set up many booths inside, explaining our role in the community, our beliefs about family and joseph smilth and family history, art, music and stuff like that. The attendance was pretty low, 173 people in 1 week. But it was good. We had one miracle. A lady and her daughter approached me and Elder Barsurto and asked if we belonged to the church, and we replied yes. She expressed a desire to see inside. so we took her to the zone leaders to show inside the building. Now she and her daughter and her mother, (all named Pilar) are going to be baptized. Which is way cool. Just not to our ward.

We finally found María... in the mental hospital. Her kids took her there. She suffers depression. Her kids want nothing to do with the church and they say their mom is crazy. So we can't baptize her but we can visit her. I really don't like the Spanish hospitals... I feel like in a 3rd world country...them and their socialized health care.

I heard the government of North-Korea shot 100 missles at South-Korea, and America might get involved. I´m pretty worried about that. The Spanish papers just totally slammed on the new book of Bush, and made fun of Palin, and honored Obama.

We´ve been having some success with an investigator named Angel. He´s the ex boyfriend of the Bishop's daughter. He´s been praying every night to konw if the church is true. and he still hasn´t had an answer. but he had a dream. He was a great mulitidude in a big and unfamilar city. And it was almost ancient. And the people were talking excitedly that Jesus had come. Kinda like the scene in 3nephi 11. So we got high hopes that he´ll be baptized soon.
We finally had one man come to our english class. He wants to talk agbout the church another day.
We´ve been doing many contacts lately, and almost all of them are old investigators. Which i hear is unheard of. They´ve heard the missionaries, 2 years ago, 20 years ago, and everything in between. We´re teaching some of them.

I´m excited today is Thanksgiving. We´re eating at the Box family's house, and the father said we could bring the whole district. We´re goihg to have turkey, jamon, all sorts of pies. And brittish people will be there. which i find ironic.
Life is good, we´re moving out this week into our new appartement and yeah.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dos Hermanas Sevilla 11/16/10

Thanksgiving will be great this year. An american family has invited us to have a true Thanksgiving dinner with them, with pie, turkey, ham, and all sorts of good stuff you can´t get in Spain. I look so forward to it.

We had a fireside in our ward with our mission president. It was really good. The same american family mentionned above brought brownies, 3 cheesecakes and some cookies. Everything was incridibly good. I was itching to eat real cheese cake again.

We found an apartment that we like but it's being used as an office right now. The guy who will rent it to us is a professional remodeler for buildings, so it should be good. The location is incredible. Probably the best location that any missionary has ever had in this city, and it's just a little more expensive than the one we are living in now.

Anyway, we are staying with Isabell until the end of this month. Elder barsurto had expressed to our mission president how uneasy it is to live with people. Living with people can interrupt our studies. In our case Isabell has 3 TVs and David has a computer.

I was at training last lweek at the mission home in Malaga. It was really good.

Hi America

View from the pool at the mission home in Malaga

The training is over, let's all jump for joy!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dos Hermanas Sevilla 11/15/10

Some of the missionaries attended a 3 days specialized training at the Mission home in Malaga. Elder Bennett and his companion Elder Basurto were among the missionaries being trained.

Elder Basurto & Elder Bullen

On the pic above, Elder Bennett and Elder Masterson are showing off the weight they have lost. They each have lost around 25-30 lbs since they came on their missions. This is a walking mission and could it be the reason of their weight loss?

While all missionaries were looking at the camera, ELder Bennett had his eyes on the delicious dish in front of him and was not a bit interrested in looking at the camera.

This is a great looking group of Elders who work really hard everyday. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn can only help them becoming the best missionaries they can be in the field. They look so happy. (Please click on the pic to see a bigger image)
Balcony: Elder Stowell, Elder Avellar, President Clegg, Elder Redd, Elder Hamilton, Elder Donoskovic

Stairs: Elder Basurto, Edler 2, Elder Masterson, Elder Burdette, Elder West, Elder Wells, Elder Ferguson, Elder Travis, Elder Taylor, Elder Bennett

Are the missionaries jumping for joy because they are the best missionaries serving in the best mission in the world or just because they are happy to have the special training over. What do you all think? (Please click on the pic to see a bigger image)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dos Hermanas Sevilla 11/08/10

Our investigator Maria has turned into a nightmare. She has her anti-depression medication but she just won´t take it. We know she´s always home when we stop by but she pretends not to be there by not opening the door for us. We even caught her doing this.

Town Hall in Sevilla
Transfer happened again and I am staying here in Sevilla with Elder Earsurto for at least the next 6 weeks. We´re moving to a new apartment to the great dismay of our landlord Isabel. Elder Barsurto broke the news to her. Isabel has been crying all week and guilt tripping us everytime she could. But, she shocked me, when I saw her walLking through the chapel doors last Sunday. She hasn´t attended Church in years. It was testimony meeting, and the spirit we felt was particullarly strong cuz the ward temple trip was that week. Isabel asked if she could share her testimony even though she´s not a member. I was like, of course!! So I went up with her and she announced how devasted she was that we were moving, and I was pretty embarrassed. she did say that she felt the spirit super strong when we were staying at her place. That's good that she recognizes that.
I am glad to hear about the changes in the Ward and also thanx for sending me Jacob & Dylan MTC address. I hope more go on missions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dos Hermanas Sevilla 11/01/10

Funny. It rained super hard as well over here on the Saturday before Halloween. But, Halloween wasn´t observed until It's fairly new here, but they all love it. All the people see that I´m an american and ask what halloween is like in the States. They don´t do trick or treating here, they mostly throw big drunken costume parties with many decorations and such. At least the family is all drunk together lol.
Elder Barsuto & Elder Bennett

Satan threw us a low blow for Maria. The day of her baptism, she ran out of anti- depression pills and she was in the low point of her valley of depression. We spent like 5 hrs at her house this weekend. We gave her some pictures as present for her barren walls but mostly to cheer her up. Maria's baptism is reschedule for another time. a view of a spanish street.

Normally, a missionary stays 4 transfers in his first area which equals to about 6 months. I could possibly be moved to another city on the next transfer. I hope I stay. I like it here. We taught 21 lessons last week, and about 8 lessons this week. Next week will suck "numbers wise" because we´ll be in the mission home instead of teaching.
Beautiful city of Sevilla

We´ve been eating like 5 times or more at people´s houses´. We eat a fair amount at the investigator's houses.

Great choice for the new bishopric members. Could you get me the addresses of Josheph, Dylan and Jacob? Yeah, Brazil has worse problem for visa than Spain. Elder Larsen, had a friend who was going to Brazil, and he broke the record for time spent at the Provo MTC. He was there for 6 months. That particular friend was in a large group, and everybody got reasigned except this friend, and this friend´s companion. So this could be fun. They´ll probably serve in the States for a little while.
I´m glad to hear about Dylan.
Enjoy the view of the beautiful city of Sevilla. I love it here.

I´m doing well, I am working hard and stuff. I´m like the most thoughtful companion ever. It's Elder Barsuto's birthday, and I am planning a suprise celebration for him at an american family´s house. It wil be his first time tasting real cake. They don´t have cake here. It will be fun.