Sunday, September 11, 2011

Headaches & Flat Tires!

Elder Bengtzen has had a very hard time the last couple of weeks.  He has had terrible headaches that continue to get worse.  He fought a nasty sinus infection for 2 months before he left. The mission doctor thought maybe his sinus infection was back.  He took another round of antibiotics but the headaches continue and are getting worse.  Prescription migraine pills don't work, saline rinse pump and caffeine don't work either.  I talked with Sister Collins last week.  They think it may be sinus related because the pain is in his forehead and eyes. I made an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor for Monday morning.  Hopefully they can figure something out.  He is miserable but still continues to work as hard as he can.  For Brayden to complain it must be REALLY bad.  He is in good hands but wants to put all of his effort and energy into teaching and is having a hard time doing that. Please keep him in your prayers!!!

Remember that really nice mountain bike Elder Bengtzen was given when he arrived in Indiana.  Well he has a great story to tell. I will recite directly from his journal.  "Aug 20th, I received my 3rd flat tire within 48 hours! INSANE!  Today we had to walk our bikes 5 miles back to the apartment so I could patch it up.  We then went out about another 5 miles when I got another flat.  We got a ride home. Aug 22nd, today my bike was not liking me.  I fixed ANOTHER flat and only rode 1/4 mile before it was flat again.  We walked back to our apartment and I fixed the flat again.  This time we decided to test it so we rode to the mailbox.  It was flat again before we got there.  Came home, fixed the flat.  We needed a bike to get to an 8:00pm appointment. We left at 7:30 to ride approximately 4-5 miles.  Half way up the "Hill" my tire flattened.  This time I was prepared and I had a pump in my bag.  I pumped it up and kept riding to our appointment.  100ft later, flat.  I tried pumping it up but it wouldn't hold this time.  We started on foot.  We locked our bike up and ditched them.  We will go get them tomorrow.  Aug 23rd, we picked up our bikes and went to a bike shop.  I bought 2 high end tubes and a CO2 cartridge bike pump.  OH YEAH!  I fixed the bike and so far so good!"

The weather in Indiana is mid 90's and about 75% humidity.  He says he did not know it was possible for your arms and legs to sweat. He says you know it's hot when you pull your money clip out of your back pocket and all of your money is soaking wet.

The 3 baptisms that were scheduled for Sept 3 have been moved to September 24th.  He is teaching several people and has a lot of neat spiritual experiences. He has also volunteered at the Special Olympics in a softball tournament.  He and Elder Thomas have come up with a new way to better receive referrals from members.  The reason why they need referrals is because 1 in every 900 doors that they knock on will be baptized.  1 in 4 member referrals are baptized.  They call it IRS.  Inspired Referral Seeking!  (Guess we all need to get working on those member referrals!)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"The Greenie" and "The Dog Whisperer"

Elder Bengtzen has had a crazy second week in Indiana. He is officially a "Greenie".  I sent him a box that was full of anything and everything green.  Green slippers, magnets, Kool Aid, paperclips, stapler, tape, envelopes, green stamps, etc....and lets not forget, lots of green candy.  In the middle of the box was a green frog holding a sign that said, "It ain't easy being green".  He said he and his companion, Elder Thomas (from Pocatello, Idaho) laughed for about 5 minutes while going through all the items. 
We received a phone call from Sister Collins letting us know everything is going well for Brayden.  She said he is a delightful man and will make a great missionary.  I know without a doubt that she will take great care of my little boy.  President and Sister Collins are from Bountiful, Utah.  What a small world!

We looked up Brayden's new address on Google earth.  It looks like a decent apartment complex with a large pond in the back yard.  He said it really isn't that great of a place but can't complain because they are only there to sleep.  He really can't complain because how many missionaries get an apartment with beach front property.

Elder Bengtzen had a tornado/earthquake emergency orientation last week.  He really hopes he gets to use what he learned at least once while on his mission.  I think the heat is affecting his thought process.

He has been getting extremely bad headaches.   Sister Collin's used to be a nurse and she has him drinking 100 ounces of water a day.  She has also told him to add a healthy snack into his diet every 2 hours and has him taking Excedrin.  He says it is so hot there that he has to carry a towel around with him all the time.

Elder Bengtzen is trying to get use to the fact that he only gets $33 a week for food and personal items.   Luckily the members feed them dinner every night.  He also has been given a "ghetto brick" cell phone that they get to text with.  It is for mission appropriate business only.

Last Saturday while tracting, someone sent their blood hounds after Elder Bengtzen and Elder Thomas.  While Elder Bengtzen was FREAKING OUT, Elder Thomas casually took out a Book of Mormon from his bag.  He held the book out in front of the dogs and they immediately stopped charging them.  The dogs even let the Elders pet them.  Way Cool!!

Some exciting things are happening in Indiana.  The temple has been approved by the state and city and is now waiting for final approval of the architectual plans by SLC.  They will immediately begin construction the day after ground breaking.  In October the Church is going to launch a new "Why I am a Mormon" campaign in Indiana.  They will advertise on billboards, TV, and radio commercials.  They are asking members of the wards and families there to participate in the filming and recording.  He says it will be huge! He also said they have 3 baptisms scheduled for September 3rd.  His mission is averaging over 1 baptism every day.

I am so proud of Elder Bengtzen!  I know he is where he is suppose to be. I know that he will continue to be an amazing instrument in the Lord's hands.  This is the Lord's Church and I know that nothing will stand in the way of spreading His gospel throughout the world. Keeping the Lord's commandments is the ONLY way to TRUE happiness!  Thank you for being such a great example to us Brayden!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Off to Indy!

Elder Bengtzen woke up at 3:00 am on Tuesday, August 9th to get ready to leave the MTC.  He and about 40 other missionaries arrived at the Salt Lake airport at 5:30 am.  After arriving at his gate he got to call home.  We had set the alarm for 6:00 am and were waiting for the phone to ring.  I got back in bed with the phone in hand.  Then, the long awaited ring.  One ring was all it took for me to answer.  He sounded so good!  He was so excited and anxious to be on his way.  Gregg went to round up the rest of the kids and they all came running with excitement waiting for their turn to talk to Brayden.  After everyone had their turn we reluctantly said goodbye until our next phone call at Christmas.  Then it was time to start getting ready for Brach and Ashley's wedding.  A perfect beginning to a perfect day! We even bought an "Edward" (from Twilight) cut out and put Brayden's face on it so he would be with us all day during the wedding festivities....

Back at the airport our good friend Mike Adams (who works for Delta) arrived to see Elder Bengtzen off.  This made Brayden's day!  He was so excited to see Mike and have someone stay with him until he got on the airplane.  Mike bought him breakfast and video taped Brayden giving advice to Brach and Ashley.  He also took a picture of Brayden and Brayden's airplane and gave them to all the kids later that day.

Elder Bengtzen was the travel leader of 10 missionaries.  They all had a layover in Detroit and then after arriving in Indiana 5 of them were to stay there and 6 were traveling to Baltimore and Maryland.  Brayden had motion sickness on the plane and was so happy to be on the ground again.  President and Sister Collins were waiting for them as they came off the plane.  He says he loves them both and really enjoyed his first home cooked meal in 3 weeks... amazing pork sandwiches. 

After a good night sleep they went to the Stake Center for orientation and to become certified to drive.  Well, due to Brayden's driving record the past couple of years he is on probation for one more month so will probably not be driving for a while.  They went to the chapel for a transfer meeting.  They have 3 Area Presidents there.  Elder Bengtzen was assigned to Elder Thomas in the Indianapolis North Indiana area. Elder Thomas happens to be their district leader. He says it is so beautiful and green there. Not very humid with temperatures in the low 80's and high 70's.

Elder Bengtzen's first lesson was on Wednesday to the Curtis family.  Sister Curtis and her 5 year old daughter are active but Brother Curtis is not a member.  He has a very scientific mind that says emotional feeling is not a viable source.  They challenged him to read Moroni 10:3-5 and pray about it. On Thursday they taught 3 lessons, found 1 investigator and 1 potential.  He was anxious to leave the MTC so that he could get in the field and relax a little bit.  Ha ha, jokes on him!  He says the field is 8 times harder.

He has been given a very nice Diamond Back bike so he didn't have to buy one.  He is assigned to a part-time car area so also does a lot of bike riding.  He says he rode a total of 30 miles on Thursday and that his butt is very sore!  He has lost 10 pounds so far on his mission.  Towards the end of his first full day he said, "This is by far the most mental/physical challenging thing I have ever done. Being a billionaire better not be this hard!!"

Over all Elder Bengtzen has had a wonderful week.  He says the hard work is absolutely worth it!  In his own words he says, "I love Heavenly Father, I love Jesus Christ, I love President and Sister Collins, I love Elder Thomas and I absolutely love this Gospel in Indy!!"

Friday, August 5, 2011

Narnia at the MTC

Well, 2 weeks at the MTC and Brayden has decided it's time to go on a diet.  Him and Elder Webster (from Arizona) are on a chocolate milk  and  100oz  of water liquid diet.  Uh,  let's see how long that lasts!
(Elder Webster)

Elder Bengtzen loves 10 hour church.  He said he enjoyed this Sunday even more than last Sunday.  He said they pray 20-30 times a day and sing 6-10 hymns every day.  He always has a hymn stuck in his head.  He loves communicating with the Lord.  He says his prayers are usually about 25 minutes long and so far his prayers have always been answered.

A week ago Wednesday, (one week after MTC arrival) an announcement came over the intercom during lunch that said "We are running short on hosts today and need about 20 more elders."  Brayden and his companion, Elder Mills ran to the information desk. I can see it now, running as fast as they can, pushing anyone and any thing out of their way. Sweaty and out of breath, they were given their assignments.  I guess  they don't have that church rule of "no running in the halls."  They were so excited to greet all the new missionaries and show them around the MTC.  The rest of Elder Bengtzen's district was upset because they wanted to host as well.  Elder Mills and Brayden set out to see if they could sign up for this Wednesday's drop off.  They said they were full and didn't have any more room.  Later that day, Brayden had a letter in his box from the training department asking him and his district to host on Wednesday. See, all his prayers are being answered!    
Back row - Elders Mills, Elder Hawkins, Elder Dahl, Brother Cope, Elder Hunsaker,
Elder Webster, Elder Bengtzen
Front row - Sister Sneed, Sister Castleton, Sister Flint, Sister Richards, Elder Knowles
One of the teachers, Brother Cope, is Gregg's kind of teacher.  One day during a 7:30am class, Elder Bengtzen started to doze off.  The cool and funny Brother Cope said, "Elder Bengtzen, let us do push-up."  Brayden started laughing and the teacher said "I'm serious, let's do them."  So on the ground the 2 of them went and did 20 push ups together.  The reason I say he is Gregg's kind of teacher is because whenever the boys do something stupid, Gregg says, "drop and give me 20." Brayden said it helped temporarily but made him more tired later on.

Elder Bengtzen has found a Narnia hole in his room.  One day he had a sudden urge to lift up the ceiling tiles???  He found a whole treasure of things.  A basketball hoop, a bunny rabbit, a stocking, Justin Beiber, Easter eggs, toilet paper, candy and so much more!  Wow, do all the rooms have a Narnia hole or is Elder Bengtzen the gate keeper.  He has such a hard decision.....what to take, what to leave there.

Well, it is time for 10 missionaries to head to Indiana on Tuesday, August 9th.  Elder Bengtzen has been called to be the travel leader.  What? He hasn't been on a plane since he was one!  They even have a lay over in Detroit.  I sure hope they make it to Indiana.  He gets to wake up at 3:00am because the bus leaves at 4:00am.  Have fun son....but not too much fun!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All Grown Up!

We got a letter from Elder Bengtzen yesterday. His enthusiasm and energy jumped from the pages.  It made me smile the whole time I read it.  He says his life has never been better!  He has learned more in the past 6 days than in his whole life.  (He shouldn't have slept through all those family home evenings.)  He said that being a district leader is sometimes really hard but absolutely rewarding.  He is over 10 missionaries and gets along with all of them.
His zone is made up of half English speaking missionaries and the other half speak Cantonese. This means half the talks and prayers are in Cantonese.  He loves it when they sing hymns because they all sing aloud together but half are singing in English and half are singing in Cantonese.  What an amazing thing to witness!

Brayden wants Uncle Erik to know how grateful he is for the Book of Mormon Student Manual. He was put in a situation where he had to prepare a 10 minute lesson in about 3 minutes.  He was able to prepare a lesson very quickly thanks to that manual.

Well I know Brayden has truly grown up now because he said, "Sunday here is the best day!  Church starts at 7:30am and ends at 5:45pm."  Wow, 10 hours of church without a cell phone to play "Angry Birds" or "Words With Friends."  He is actually paying attention and learning something.

His first district meeting was Sunday and he was asked to prepare a lesson for his missionaries.  He prayed for Heavenly Father to help him prepare a lesson that He would want Brayden to teach.  About 5 minutes before he was to present, he found out that they were each assigned a topic.  (Guess he missed that part.)  After being "freaked out" he looked at the topic paper and saw that he had actually prepared the exact topic that was assigned to him.  He said it was an AMAZING experience for his testimony.

Grandpa Tom has told Brayden ever since he got his mission call to memorize D&C section 4.  He has asked Brayden several times if he had it memorized.  The answer was always, "not yet".  Even the day he was set apart he still couldn't do it.  I was waiting to see if grandpa Tom was going to tell the Stake President that Brayden wasn't quite ready to go yet.  Well grandpa, Brayden wants you to know that he has all of his district stand and recite D&C section 4 every day!

1. Now behold a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.  2.Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve Him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. 3.Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work; 4. For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; 5. And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. 6. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. 7. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

We Just Got a Letter! We Just Got a Letter!

We arrived home from our Ward Family Reunion Sunday afternoon and had 2 letters waiting for us from Brayden.  I was so happy to hear how he was doing.  He says his companion, Elder Mills is the total opposite of him but they get along very well.  The two of them are rivals in every way.  Elder Mills, is from Riverton and went to Riverton High (Bingham's rival).  He attended BYU for 2 semesters while Brayden attended the UofU.   Brayden says he is a very good spirited kid. They are both going to Indiana so there is time for Brayden to convert him from the dark side.  They both leave the MTC for Indiana on August 9th.  The same day as Brach's wedding, which is ok because we aren't allowed to see him off at the airport. I am glad he will be traveling with someone he knows.

Elder Mills, Elder Knowles, Elder Bengtzen
 He told us his mornings start at 6:15am.  (I don't know if Brayden even knows that is an hour on the clock.) He has asked for food.  Dinner is at 4:30pm so he needs his regular late night snack.  The thing he needs most is Dr. Pepper.  He says there isn't any anywhere on campus and so he "is gonna die!" Don't worry, I sent him with a big bottle of Ibuprofen to ward off the headaches. 

Provo, Utah Temple

He bore his testimony and has challenged all of us to read the Book of Mormon and pray every day.  We are up for the challenge and want you all to do the same.

Day 2 was a very busy day. He said they had 3 hours of personal study, 1 hour of companion study and 3 hours of class.  He also had an interview with his branch president and was asked to be a district leader.  He has accepted the overwhelming task and knows the Lord will bless and guide him. I am so proud of him!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Brayden goes to the Provo Missionary Training Center July 20, 2011

It was a very tearful goodbye as Brayden prepared to leave home around noon on Wednesday.  Not only did he have to say goodbye to the family, but something of greater importance.....the cell phone! After a burial ceremony, (locking up the cell phone) it was time for all his siblings to give him a big hug and kiss goodbye... until it came to Owen.  He has his own way of saying goodbye.  No hug just a quick "bye".  Was he too emotional to say more? I told him to give Brayden a hug because he was going to be gone for a long time. His reply was, "I know!  He is going to be gone for 2 years then coming home and moving out!" No tears of sadness, just simply stating the facts.  The new, more mature Brayden shot back, "I love you too Owen!"
It was an emotional drive up University Boulevard in Provo, Utah. We saw other cars with Elders traveling to the MTC as well.  When we reached our destination and pulled into the MTC parking lot we felt an amazing power and the spirit was so strong.  The sidewalks were lined with Elders in their white shirts and ties waving as we drove by.  These men are definitely part of God's Army! When we arrived at our unloading zone, an Elder opened the door to let Brayden out and welcome him to his new home. I was warned that it would be a quick departure so I quickly started taking pictures. The Elder asked Brayden if he had a cell phone.  Phew, passed that test! Gregg unloaded Brayden's 2 huge suitcases then... it was time for the hugs.  I was trying to be so brave but the second I hugged my little boy I broke down.  Gregg got his bear hug and then we tearfully watched as Brayden and his escort walked away.  It was very hard not to run after them.

While leaving the parking lot we had several Elders waving goodbye to us. I felt such a comfort and peace as we left the MTC.  I knew Brayden was where he was suppose to be. It was an amazing experience I will never forget!

After gaining some composure, we stopped off at a gas station in Provo before getting on the freeway.  We talked with two other families that were dropping their sons off at the MTC as well. So many families making such a huge sacrifice. It is good to know we are not alone in this adventure. We are so proud of Brayden and the steps he has taken this past year to be a full time missionary.  I know he will be blessed!