Thursday, December 29, 2011

Week 65 - Senzokuike, Japan

Merry Christmas!
This one is going to be a short one, since I just talked to you this morning! It was so good to talk to you! So strange seeing everyone. You all look so different, but I guess that is what happens after a year and a half! Basically I just wanted to say Merry Christmas again! and send you a few pictures.
 The first is of my new companion Sister Barbour and I. She's from Sacramento CA.
Sister Mano and I in Tokyo Tower. We decided it was our official Christmas Card picture. It says Merry Christmas in Tokyo Tower. I love Japanese English.

our Christmas dinner last night with the Shichijo Family. Which was a lot of fun!

Love you all! Have a good week!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Week 64 - Senzokuike, Japan

Well Hello Fabulous Family!
How's life? It sounds like everyone at this point is getting ready to head back to the Benne Family House at some point this week! Too fun!
Mom and Dad, I got your package! Thank you! Sister Mano and I had fun decorating the tree and the nativity's will be put to good use somehow for Eikaiwa! Thanks, my curiosity is peaked however on what is in the very smashable wrapped package. Alas, I shall wait until Christmas!

Are you even having church on Sunday? Here both are just an hour. That's going to be weird, I'm used to being at church from 8:30am straight until 5pm with both wards. No plans for what we're doing yet though...most likely it will be normal missionary work here.

As for transfers, well,  you might have been able to guess as to where I still am at. Haha, yup, I'm still in good old Senzokuike! It just goes to show you how unpredictable some transfers can be. It's good though, I'm excited to stay! Sister Mano did head up to Kofu though. One of the biggest areas in our mission and completely country. I've always wanted to head out that way, but really I've stayed in the city for the most part. She was excited though and a little nervous, especially after all the members said "It's so cold there!" when she told them where she was going (She's right next to Mt. Fuji).
Anyway as for my new companion, still not decided. I'm training again, so i'll find out on Wednesday, you can meet her through skype on Monday though! I'm with Gantumur Shimai for a few days until our new companions come. Do you remember Gantumur Shimai? She's from Mongolia, and we were in the MTC and Kichijoji together, so it's a lot of fun. And crazy to see how much the two of us have grown and actually know what we are doing since those first days. I don't even want to think about it! Haha!
Anyway LOVE YOU and MISSIONARY WORK LOTS!!! Can't wait to talk to you!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Week 63 - Senzokuike, Japan

Speaking of Christmas, can you believe it, it's that time of year that I get to call home! Because transfers are this week, and I can basically tell you I am transferring from what President Albrecht told Sister Mano and I at interviews.
Highlights of this week: going to a Potential Investigators house for a lesson and instead getting a lesson from her on Japanese tea ceremony (which involves tea we're not allowed to drink). It was really cool, and we got to testify about the Word of Wisdom, but needless to say, she didn't become an investigator.

This week is our Mission Christmas Party! I'm so excited!
Sorry for this being so short!
Love you all!
Sister Erin Benne

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 62, Senzokuike, Japan

It's December and Christmas is in the air! Yay! I love Christmas! Christmas is not nearly as big here, but you still do see lights up in some places and stores are all set up for shopping. Along with singing Christmas songs in church, you get a Christmas feel! It's the best. We have fun talking to people on the streets asking them why we celebrate Christmas (they're all Buddhist, but still all go to Christmas Parties) and very few actually know. So it's a really fun way to teach about Christ, it's something they like and know, but just don't know the point of.
This year, we, as a mission have been working on a goal to bring 300 people unto Christ through baptism. Last year, we had just over 200 people get baptized. We met our goal then, and this year we wanted something that would make us stretch. With the earthquake, we took a big hit. We had been doing so good, but since then we've never been able to make it quite back up to where we were before. With a month left though, something really cool is happening in our mission. We've realized to make our goal we need a miracle. But miracles still exist today, so we know it's possible. Every missionary in the Japan Tokyo Mission is making one final big push. Every ward in the mission has a baptismal service planned for the 25th. Here in Senzokuike we don't have anyone set for baptism yet, but like the lamb sent to Abraham, the Lord will provide. I'm excited to see the hand of Lord taking shape as miracle upon miracle continue to be shown forth.
This week marks my 1 year in Japan. Strange to think it's been that long. How far I've come. Those first few weeks in the field, as I'm sure for any missionary were rough. I'm so grateful that God strengthens and trusts those that are weak. This is a work that without Him you cannot do and I would not even attempt to do. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways highter than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9
I love you all!
Have a great week!
Love Sister Erin Benne

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 61 - Senzokuike, Japan

So how was everyone's Thanksgiving??? Beth ate jellyfish, that's a little gross, luckily I haven't come across that here in Japan, but we're approaching the season where all the really traditional foods come back out in Japan...Japanese New Year, gotta love it. I think the worst thing I've seen so far was baby octopi swimming around in soup. Needless to say, I steered clear of that one as best as I could.
So Thanksgiving here went well. And I did get a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner at the Nagano's that was absolutely delicious. I think it's a good thing that they live a little farther away and we went by bike, on the way home, we were able to work off some of that food!
As with that nothing too much else is happening. We're working on starting up a Kid's Eikaiwa here, so we're just going crazy trying to get a curriculum together, getting publicity out, and making vocab cards, homework etc. It's fun though, and we think we'll really be able to introduce a lot of people to the church through it. In Japan, english classes are huge. With needing english so much in the world today, tons of parents want their kids to learn english. People pay 100's of dollars for just an hour long class with a native english speaker, so with us teaching for free we're able to really help the community and get more people associated with members of the church as well with teaching them about the church. Anyway, we're excited. It starts this week though, and we still have a lot to do.
It's gotten cold again in Japan. Pulled out the gloves, and scarves, once more. I can't believe it's already winter again, let alone a few days until December. Time is going by so fast!
Anyway I hope everyone has a good week!
Love you all!
Sister Erin Benne

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week 60 - Senzokuike, Japan

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 
Is it really even Thanksgiving Week? That seems so strange to me that a holiday could even be coming up! 
In Japan they have a holiday on Wednesday. Japan has a LOT of holidays, it seems like one every 2 weeks, but I'm not complaining, because it means everyone is off of work and out of school, so we're free to teach them. They're always some of our busiest days! 
As for my Thanksgiving celebration, we are headed to my freshman year roommates house on Saturday Night for a Thanksgiving dinner. I'm so excited! It's going to be good and they are inviting 2 nonmember families, so it will be even better! 
Thank you Dad and Mom for sending those Thanksgiving activities for Eikaiwa. It will help a lot and I think it will be a lot of fun! Our students are always wanting to learn more about American culture, so holidays always give a good chance to share part of our American life. And it's fun for us, because we always get to celebrate in some way.
As for other news from this past week, we had a District Conference yesterday with all the English Branches in Tokyo and well, the English Branch I've been working in got dissolved. After the earthquake a lot of foreigners living in Japan went home and with the economy as well, numbers in the District have just been dropping. Really though, they just combined 2 of the branches and took the name of the other, so I still have an English Branch I'll be working in with more people and a lot larger area to cover; I think President Albrecht is trying to figure out what to do, since they meet in our area's building, but over 3/4 of the members live outside our Senzokuike area! Anyway, I'm excited for it. It will be fun having new members come into the ward!
Oh, and my voice has returned! YAY! and I didn't even have to go to the doctor! Thank goodness! It's still not back to normal and I have a cough, but I can actually talk now and I'm just so thankful for that! Thank you for your prayers, I know they helped a lot!
Anyway, I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving, eat lots of yummy food, but remember the true meaning and to really take this time to show your love and appreciation for others by serving them. Because really that's how we ourselves become the happiest, by helping others.
Love you all!
Sister Erin Benne

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Week 59 - Senzokuike, Japan


 I actually might have to go to the hospital as well tomorrow. Don't worry no huge thing. In Japan, they go to the hospital for every little thing because it's free. But anyway, starting last P-day I wasn't feeling to well, and while I feel fine now, I have completely lost my voice. Anyway so for about a week now, I have been completely without a voice, a little difficult when youre a missionary. It's accompanied with a nice cough too. So I talked to the mission doctor, and he said that until I get rid of my cough my voice isn't going to come back, because it's straining my vocal cords everytime I cough. So to get my voice back I will need to get some cough medicine, which In Japan they don't have any over the counter cough medicine so in order to get some I'll have to go to the doctor. He gave me until Tuesday to see if I get better. I don't like going to the doctor, so I'm praying I'll be better before than.
But yeah, life without a voice has been pretty interesting. Mano Shimai has really stepped up, making phone calls, leading lessons and streeting as I take the more quieter route. There isn't much I can do, but I've noticed when I really need to say something, I have voice enough to get it through. It's been a huge miracle. Maybe I needed to learn not to talk so much!
The members have been really cute too. At different activities we've had going on and at church they've all been giving me cough drops and different remedies; aromic oils and well, everyone has their own way that they believe cures different ailments, so I've had the privelegde of seeing how everyone fixes not having a voice. I've really felt people's love and concern through it.
Oh and this is exciting! Did you all celebrate 11-11-11 at 11:11??? It's probably the luckiest minute of the luckiest day of all of our lives!!! So fun!
Anyway, I hope everyone has a good week!
Love you all!
Sister Erin Benne
P.S. The Primary Program was yesterday in both of the wards. The CUTEST thing ever!!! Little Japanese kids singing Primary Songs is so cute! It's amazing to me how I'm half-way around the world in a completely different culture, but the church is exactly the same! It wouldn't be that way if it wasn't true!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 58 - Senzokuike, Japan

Well, Hello!

So transfers came and went and guess what for the first time on my mission I did not get a call! Yeah! Actually since it was Mano Shimai's first transfer, we basically knew we both wouldn't be getting one, almost ALWAYS a trainer and trainee are together for 2 transfers, but it's still exciting.
So Dad you googled Senzokuike? Yeah, I get to see that beautiful lake every single day. You really were actually looking at where I live my life basically everyday. The lake is about a 1 minute walk from the church, 3 minutes from our apartment, and right across from the train station. So we're there talking to people in the park all the time. Mano Shimai and I used to go running around it in the morning, too, until she sprained her ankle. (She's okay, but running is still a little out of the question at the moment.) I've heard it's absolutely gorgeous during cherryblossom season!
Not much else new to report, but I've been thinking a lot about a quote I got back in the MTC. It's by H.D. Thoreau and he said, "As if you could kill time without injurying eternity." It's become a favorite quote of mine, as I've realized how true it is. The time we have right now here on this earth is too precious to be wasting. We have to go out and do things, be proactive in accomplishing our highest priorities in life. We can't just sit around wasting time expecting things to fix themselves or something to occur that will change the course of our lives. I guarantee those things will happen over time, but it is according to what we do that effects the earthly and eternal outcome, whether it be good or bad or whether we be injurying ourselves or the lives of others by omission. Everything in this life ties to our reward in the life to come. It's a good quote. Think about it.
Love you all so much!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week 57 - Senzokuike, Japan

And Happy Halloween!!!
I think it still might be Halloween in good ol' America so technically I am not late! However, I am writing a little bit later than usual! What was everyone for Halloween this year? Beth said she would possible pull out her violin costume...anyone else? I was a witch. Which actually, surprisingly enough, I'm not sure if I ever was. I remember having a witch hat at our house though... No Japanese people don't really celebrate Halloween. I don't think they would find the same joy that we Americans do dressing up and eating candy. But luckily I teach an English class, where we can always have fun with American traditions, and I have an English branch that I work with, so we had both an English class Halloween Party and a branch Halloween activity. The branch party was way fun. We missionaries were in charge of a room and so we picked the activity where you put things like pasta, grapes, hotdogs, etc, into different boxes and without looking you guess what "zombie part" it is. Anyway we rigged one of the boxes so that Sister Mano could hide under the table, put one of her hands through the bottom of the box and when someone reached in she would grab them. Yeah we had a fun time scaring people! That was fun, good old Halloween!
And now we're in November, strange...
Other than that things have been low key here. For the past couple weeks we've been really busy. A lot of activities going on and things to plan for, but with this past Sunday it all died down. It'll be good to get back to the basics this week.
So the CARDS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I can't believe I missed it. Oh well, that just means they will have to win again next year! YES go CARDS!
So Beth you asked if since I've been in Senzokuike for longer than any other place, am I getting restless. Haha yeah, I'll admit, I think I got used to things changing so often that I'm ready for something to happen to mix things up. However, I love actually being able to see things through all the way to the end instead of always just planning and then leaving. It's been a blessing. And with transfers coming up, I still would prefer to stay in Senzokuike rather than head out. I'm actually getting a chance to really get to know the ward members, I love it!
Anyway I love you all! Hope everyone has a good week!
Sister Erin Benne

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 56 - Senzokuike, Japan

So the Cards are in the World Series!?! Wahoo! I'm cheering for them all the way out here in Japan! The other day one of my English Class students found out that I was from St. Louis and a Cardinals fan, and he got so excited and started asking me all these questions on whether or not I ever got to see Sol Taguchi play, he being from Japan and all. He was even more excited when I said that I remember well cheering him on. I'm slowly realizing all the little influences that I've had in my life that had something to do with Japan, but yet I had no idea!
So President Albrecht wrote an article (Epicenter Japan: Leadership in a Natural Disaster) about the earthquake and the after effects. I don't know which two sisters he was talking about in the article. But, I do know who was with me in the Honbu at the time (so it wasn't them) and then just knowing the sisters well, I bet I know who they were. Ah that was a crazy time. I feel like things are just now sort of settling down from all of us leaving and coming back. It's taken a while, but we're getting back into the swing of things here. For the most part all of the areas are back open now. I think the last two will be closed, well, for much longer than I will be around.
Brother Togo
Things here are going really well. I think I mentioned last week that we would be having a baptism on Sunday, and we did! It was so fun! Brother Togo's two sister-in-laws (who really helped teach him the gospel) flew in from the Philippines and Illinois for it. You could just see the happiness and gratitude that he had for them in his face. He was so grateful to them for being the ones to introduce him to the gospel. Honestly, the whole day was just pure happiness. That's what I love about being a missionary. No matter how rough your day was, no matter how many times people slam doors in your face, or how tired you are, by the end of every single day, for some reason you're still happy. There is a joy that comes from talking to people about the gospel that just cannot be explained. And to see someone else embrace that same joy that you feel and realize the happiness that they can have, there is nothing that can replace that. Ah, I love it!!
Chou Shimai
Japanese is okay. I can get along, and feel relatively comfortable with the language. However, I know that my Japanese is nowhere near perfect, and there are many things that I still do not understand when people speak to me. Usually if I just have them say it again to me a second time, I can get it out. I feel I've become an expert at guessing. There is a saying that goes along the lines that people serving in South/ Central Americans come back linguistics. Missionaries serving in Europe become scriptorians. And Missionaries serving in Asia come back humble, because after a year and a half/ 2 years you still don't get the language and you teach only very basic principles. Haha, yeah, I think that sums it up right there!
I love Japan, the culture, and everything except for the fish. Nope still not a fan...
I love you all! And hope you have a good week!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Week 55 - Senzokuike, Japan

We had Chou san's baptism on Saturday! YAY! I'm so happy for her! We did have one problem come up, she's so tiny and the dress was a bit big on her that it kept bubbling up out of the water when she would get baptized (clothes have to be completely immersed under the water too). Anyway we finally found some white string stuff and tied her dress to her and after her going under about 10 times (yeah...) we finally got it to work, she was finally able to be baptized. Bless her though, her faith is so strong, she just kept saying in her english, I've been waiting for this so long, so long, just waiting. She's so cute!
Another amazing thing is though that we have another baptism coming up this Sunday. His name is Togo san. His wife is a member and so we've been teaching him with her. He's so funny and loves this gospel. Before a convert can get baptized they have to have an interview with the district leader. Anyway, he had his interview on Sunday and it took a little longer than usual, so we were a little worried, but it turns out apparently Togo san just spent the first 20/30 minutes bearing his testimony! Awesome! So we're excited for that as well!
So things here are going pretty smooth. Having fun and trying to carry forth God's work! 
I love you all so much! and love hearing from each of you!
Sister Erin Benne

Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 54 - Senzokuike, Japan

Well wasn't General Conference great?! So good, I'm so sad that it is over.... Now I just have to wait for the Liahona to come out with all the talks, so that I can read them all over again!
Crazy though, all the new temples being built, Elder Kikuchi (he's a member in my previous area Nakano) and President Samuelson being realeased from the 70! Who's going to be the next BYU President?
One more difficult thing about conference though is that you see a little bit of Salt Lake City and then a bit of American culture, and well, it makes me miss home a bit more. Quickly remedied though as we jump fully into the work this week. Sister Mano and I have decided to put in a power week, this week. Which means waking up early, taking only a half hour for lunch and dinner, and cutting P-day down to a shorter time, among other things. I'm positive we'll be exhausted come next P-day, but I know there will be a lot of miracles that follow it.
We have a baptism coming up this Saturday! I'm excited! Her name is Chou san, she's Chinese, so teaching her hasn't been the easiest thing, as we teach with Chinese pamphlets and from a Chinese Book of Mormon, and then communicate with all of our broken Japanese! But she's amazing and her faith is strong and she is so excited to be getting baptized. She is a huge blessing to me.
Other than that not too much exciting news...
Oh, I got a Halloween package from the Young Women in the O'Fallon Ward! That was so exciting! Will you thank them for me?! It was so thoughtful and I loved it!
Anyway, I hope you all have a good week! Love you all so much!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week 53 - Senzokuike, Japan

WAH! I loved reading all of your emails of this past week! Everybody had so many cool and interesting things to say! Because it's just easier to write this all in one, I'll reply here!

Before: my doki - the people I was in the MTC with and came to Japan with
My doki now - one year later! My doki is the best!
Thanks for sending clips from the RS Broadcast. Sadly I didn't get to go to that, but I look forward to getting to read those talks when the Conference Liahona comes out here! What President Uchtdorf talked about reminded me about a talk that we heard in the MTC by President Bednar. He said that "a doctrine is simple and fundamental. It is a truth. A doctrine always answers the question of a "why". A principle is a guideline that comes from the doctrine, and it answers the question of "what". Applications answer the question of "how", which is our behavior and actions." He then went on to talk about how often as members we focus too much on the "what" and the "how" when really we should focus on the "why". When we focus on the "why" the "what" and the "how" automatically follow. The answer to all of our questions is ALWAYS in the doctrine. Anyway I thought it was cool that although it was two different apostles, almost a year apart, they both were united in what they were saying.

Anyway so this past week has been good, I got my new companion. Her name is Sister Mano and she is from Draper Utah! haha yeah, somehow I got the one American sister! But it's good, she's an amazing missionary and is working so hard to do everything that I ask her to do. And her japanese is 10 million times better than mine was when I left the MTC! So we're doing okay.
Sister Mano and I and the elders in our area!
And boy, am I learning a lot from her! The training they do in the MTC now seems to be completely different from when I was there, so I'm trying to soak up as much of this new training as I possibly can so that life here in the field and what was learned in the MTC is not too different for her.
We had an all mission conference yesterday, where they so lovingly gave us flu-shots, without even giving us a cool band-aid, but at least now hopefully we are all protected from the flu this winter!

Anyway love you all lots!!!!
SIster Erin Benne

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week 52 - Senzokuike, Japan

SOOOOOOOOO, transfers..... for once I'm staying! Halleighlujah (sp?)! Yeah I'm way excited, I'll actually be in an area for 2 transfers for once! and actually well, I'm basically now guaranteed 3! They've started a new training program for new missionaries, which includes a 2 transfer program, so when you train, you're supposed to be with them for 2 transfers (of course there are some exceptions). Oh yeah, which by the way, I'm training this coming transfer. :) The new missionaries come in tomorrow night, and we meet them on Wednesday. We find out who our next companion is then. Yamada Shimai is also going to be training. She's excited, but sad to be leaving Senzokuike. She only has 2 transfers left, so she was hoping it would be her last area. However, she's whitewashing into a good area. There are 5 Japanese sisters and 1 American sister (who is actually full japanese, but has lived in America her whole life) coming in. So we'll see. I'm excited.
In other interesting news...we had a typhoon here in Japan. Usually in Tokyo they're not too bad, basically, like when a hurricane comes through Missouri, so we just put on our rain gear and still head out. But this past week, the center came right through Nagoya and Tokyo, so we had to stay inside. It was crazy, the wind insane, and we found out there is actually some sort of hole in the wall of our apartment, that when a typhoon that strong comes through water seeps in. So we had a mini flood going on... Really it wasn't bad at all, we just stuck a few towels there and it was okay.
Dad you talked about General Conference coming up this week! I can't believe it's already that time of the year! I'm so excited. It takes a week for translation into Japanese, so here in Japan we'll actually watch it the 8th and 9th. It's going to be way good!
And yeah, even when it starts to get cold we'll be on our bikes. We can use trains if we want, but really if you are traveling within the area, bikes are usually faster and trains get expensive when you go from place to place as much as we do. But it's good, you just pack on layers and I still have plenty of handwarmers from last winter that it's not too bad. I'm just happy it's cooling down now. Its such a relief.

Anyway, I love you all so much!
Hope you have a good week!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 51 - Senzokuike, Japan


Well it seems it FINALLY may have cooled down here in Tokyo! A very welcome relief, when you spend most of your time outside trying to look somewhat presentable, but the constant heat and humidity take away all your hope of looking anything but sweaty! It's starting to get darker early to which means fall is on it's way! Oh how I love fall, and a fall in Japan, what could be better?

We got to go to the temple today! It was so nice; a quieter, slower pace than most days we've had this transfer (which by the way ends on Saturday). We have one more area left to visit: Matsudo. We'll be leaving for there tomorrow night. I've loved being able to visit all the sisters, it's been so fun. But I'm excited for next transfer when we'll be able to once again just focus on one area. Whether that will be in Senzokuike or another area that's the question. Yamada Shimai and I already know that one of us is going (President told us at the beginning of the transfer this would most likely be a 1 transfer only companionship), it's just a 50/50 chance on who goes. So we'll see!

Okay, so I figured it's been a while since I sent here we go!

Welcome to Senzokuike!
As we visit some of the areas, not all of them are equipped to handle 4 people, wo we've found ourselves eating out of random dishes, pots, whatever. This was with the kokan with Sister Adams. Note the portion size on my chopsticks is not usual, just picture appropriate :)
Baskin Robbins---just like in the movies or cartoons, my 2 scoop icecream cone toppled over in the heat of the day :( Luckily however, I caught it in my hand and was able to stick it back on!
Sister Yamada and I today at the temple!

Anyway love you all!
Hope everything is going well!
Sister Erin Benne

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week 50 - Senzokuike, Japan

Well, I think this is going to be a short one this week, honestly, I barely even remeber at all what happened this week...I don't know if that's good or bad, time is just flying so fast this transfer.
We have interviews with President this week on Thursday, so I'm looking forward to that! It's always fun to talk to President and then Sister Albrecht always makes a giant chocolate chip cookie with American ingredients for each of's always a highlight! :)

Other than that things have been pretty smooth. We've got about 5 more sisters areas to visit, 3 this week, 2 next week so that's nice. It's been way fun working with all of them, but the going from place to place wears you out more than I expected! I don't know what next transfer will be like, but I'm pretty sure I'll feel like I'll have so much more extra time!

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary for 9/11 was there much going on in America for that? It was also the 6 month anniversary of the earthquake/ tsunami here in Japan. There were a lot of prayer circles, memorials, and other things going on all over Japan. It's amazing, still 6 months after the earthquake all that the church is doing here in Japan, along with other organizations.
Anyway I love you all!

Hope you have a good week!
Love you!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 49 - Senzokuike, Japan

A fabulous week gone by! So much happened and so many miracles...we had 2 people we weren't expecting to come to church, call us shortly before and say they were coming. Along with the others who we had planned on coming it made for a blessing filled, slightly stressful day! But turned out amazing in the end.

We went to 3 different areas this past week, including Takasaki. It's more in the country part of Tokyo, a good ride from where we are in Senzokuike, but luckily we planned it so that we were going the same day as the AP Elders so we were able to catch a ride in the Mission Home van with them, made the trip a little shorter and a lot less expensive (one way train ticket is about 4000yen). Anyway on the way back I had the interesting experience to learn what happens to a car if you accidentally put regular gasoline in it when it needs diesel. Yup, luckily we were only about 3 miles from the mission home when we filled up for gas! We had just stopped to fill up quickly before getting back. Anyway we had just gotten back on the road when the oil in the car suddenly plummeted, we stopped the car, and then it refused to start again. So in the craziness of Tokyo traffic, I had the lucky experience to get out and push a car! Haha it made for an interesting night. There's a typhoon in Japan right now, so luckily at that moment it wasn't raining, otherwise we would have been soaked! Hopefully they'll be able to siphon all the gasoline out and the van's engine will be okay.

I also this my dying letter...can you believe it...I still have a good six months left! I guess with foreign missionaries the traveling home plans take a little longer to plan out than the japanese missionaries. Yamada shimai, has 2 transfers left after this one (i have 4) and she just got hers a few weeks ago

Anyway that's about all!
Love you all!
Sister Erin Benne

Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 48 - Senzokuike, Japan

Ah, this week seemed so long, went by so fast, but last Monday, was forever ago! And it seemed like there were some eventful things going on back home too!

Allison and Paul, earthquake and hurricane, it seems like you're living a similar life like me; having 24 gallons of water on hand, filling your bathtub with water, staying indoors to ride things out, food storage, yup it all sounds pretty familiar! And Dad says you recently had a Stake Conference talking about what to do if a hurricane comes, amazing. Did you ever hear that just a few days before the Tsunami hit in Tohoku, the Sendai mission had had a conference on emergency procedures, what to do in case there was a big earthquake and a tsunami hit, and then a few days later they had to actually use what they had just been taught. Modern day revelation is an amazing thing, protecting us in so many more ways than just even the physical.

Yamada shimai and I started training this past week. It's fun and I love having the opportunity to work with so many sisters, but I'm realizing I'm going to be just about dead by the end of this transfer! We got back from being gone for only 2 nights, and I realized just how much I love my futon, even if it is just a mat on a floor! Of course part of the reason just might be because, well, when you stick 4 sisters in a normally 2 person apartment, your sleeping space becomes infinitely smaller. For Japanese sisters that's okay, but when you're as tall as me, your feet go in closets, on top of chairs/luggage, or just remained squished up. We've gotten a good laugh out of it.

Other than that things have been pretty normal. We've seen some cool miracles here, as we've been working to build up this area; at the moment it's basically all streeting. God has been good though and given us some cooler days (low 30 degrees Celsius!). The other day we got caught in a huge rainstorm as we were visiting members, we didn't have our bikes that day, and well it turned out the members weren't home, so we couldn't wait it out there. Anyway, the train station was a good bit away, so by the time we got there we were completely soaked from head to foot! At least it made for a good conversation starter piece as we were on the train!

Also this past week Japan just finished it's first EFY! All of the counselors and helpers were volunteers, took time off of work (in Japan that's huge) to help out with it. Everyone was so excited about it! I think in America sometimes we take for granted things like EFY and other activites. I'm so glad that the youth of Japan finally also got to experience a week that helped change my life.

I love you all so much!
Hope everything is going well!
Sister Erin Benne

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 47 - Senzokuike, Japan

Hey there!

It was so good to read your emails this week! It's been a fast one, and well, it's nice to be having P-Day today! I'm sure this transfer though they're just going to start going by even faster! We had so many things going on, since Sister Yamada and I are both new, it's all about getting to know the wards, (but this is crazy, my freshman year roommate, Pica, her family is in my ward, her dad is the Bishop), and the investigators, so among having training for our training and preparing for training, it's been a busy week. We start heading out to different areas tonight, I'm excited, but it's going to be crazy, still carrying an area, but only really being in that area for about 3 days of the week! It'll be good! I've felt so much of the Spirit's guidance as we've been preparing, that I know this is something the Lord wants us to be doing here in the mission. Other than that things have been good, the first half of the week was brutally hot, probably the hottest of the summer by far, but on Friday it started raining and cooled down dramatically to a nice 70's temperature. Perfect weather.

Thanks for the pictures! Benne chips and Jon's Birthday! Two good things! How was your birthday Jon? did you do anything fun? and Kim is that your new apartment in the background? looks nice! I noticed the cake was gooey butter cake! Looked way good, and then I had the sad realization that now I'd probably have a hard time eating it... :( sad. It's weird, I've gotten so used to japanese food and snacks, american food is just way too sweet now... it's good, but I can only eat a little of it at a time!

Anyway I love you all!
And am so thankful for all of you!

Love you!
Sister Erin Benne

ps. yes I did feel the 6.8 earthquake. that one was strange, usually they build up, and then get stronger, but that one just seemed to hit all of a sudden.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 46 - Senzokuike, Japan

Well hello there!

Haha, I guess the news you are all waiting for is where I am this transfer??? Maybe I should make you wait a little longer... Anyway I got my call Saturday morning telling me that I was headed to Senzokuike...the city. So yes, this is probably the most in the city I've ever been! You know how you see pictures of Tokyo, with the giant crosswalk that is always filled with people? (Yes I've been there a few times, it's 10/20 times crazier than Times Square), that's Shibuya (where Sister Derricott is now, which also holds the most expensive missionary apartment in the church, but has a huge cochroach problem...). I'm right south of there now. If that helps give a picture (our apartment also has a cochroach problem, we've already seen 2 in the less than the day that my companion and I came here...but that's missionary life. I think I was spoiled in Fussa with the apartment we had. even though the apartments are more expensive in the city, they get less and less pretty the more you go in) Anyway my new companion is Sister Yamada, she's from Hokkaido Japan, and hilarious! We're whitewashing, so neither of us know the area, so we should have a fun first few weeks here. We also have a fun assignment. We've been called as traveling sisters.

What that means is during this transfer we're going to go to all the sisters areas, do splits with them and give them training. President said we'll basically be Sister AP's because we'll be doing the same thing as the traveling APs that just got called for the same thing, but since sisters can't be AP's we're not APs. So that's really cool, an amazing opportunity. I think more so than the sisters learning from Yamada shimai and I, we'll be learning from them. So yeah for about 2 weeks we'll be out and about travelling the areas of Tokyo. I've heard they did this over a year ago, but it's the first time they haved traveling missionaries since I've been in Tokyo. So it's cool.
Also with the transfer, Utsumi shimai went home. How sad! I've realized, especially over the last transfer, just how amazing a missionary she is. And how lucky I was to have her train me. The mission's definitely at a loss without her.

Anyway so I'm doing good! It was sad to leave Fussa, but Senzokuike is an amazing area I can already feel it. I'm excited to be working here. Thank you for all your prayers over the past two weeks, I know it's helped make the transition easier.

It sounds like everyone is doing well and having fun!

I love you all!
Sister Erin Benne

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week 45 - Fussa, Japan

Well Hello there!

So yeah, I'm coming to you a little later than usual today, but well, our schedule has been upside down and over these past few days. So P-day is finally coming on Wednesday :).

Transfers are this Saturday, so while, like I told you last week, I do know that I'm officially transferring, I have yet to learn where. Thank you so much for all of your prayers, I've felt the Lord really bless me and help lift me up through Sister Derricott and also small miracles that have occured. We've decided to really use these 2 extra weeks of knowing the area is closing as a blessing rather than a curse and the Lord has been blessing us for that, fulfilling promises that He's made. Over the past week we've been able to set 2 baptismal dates and also amazingly 3 of the LA's we've been working with came to church! It doesn't make leaving this area in easier, but I've felt Heaven helping me as I come to a peaceful conclusion to my time in Fussa.
It's good too, as now we're having time to fully swing our investigators over to the elders and had some time to say goodbye to some of our favorite people who we wouldn't have gotten to see if we only knew we were leaving when we usually do.

Haha it's funny the word has slowly started getting out in the wards as well. We decided we weren't going to tell the wards until normal transfers but, well President Albrecht told the Bishop and Branch President, who then told the Councils, and well from there it's history... So even if President Albrecht hadn't have told us the ward members would have!

So it sounds like a lot is going on back in the States with everyone! Kim's moving, Beth restarting school, Mom and Dad, you have Sister Missionaries living with you, So you have to tell me how living with Sister missionaries you share a fridge? where do they study? are you allowed to watch TV when they're in the house? Kind of random questions...

Oh so this is cool. Summer is festival season in Japan, so this past weekend was the Fussa Festival! It was way cool. Our apartment is right by the train station, which is where most everything happens in Fussa, so we got to see the decorations and everything going on for it. Plus on Saturday night we went with a member to the Hamura Festival (a city right next to Fussa, that's in our area) and the city thought it was funny to have 2 Americans who could speak japanese there. So they had us go and dance an おどり, a traditional japanese dance, with the dancers just so they could take pictures. That was fun, especially since we didn't know the dance at all! Luckily it was pretty simple.

Anyway, I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers!
SIster Erin Benne

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week 44 - Fussa, Japan


Thank you all so much for all of the birthday wishes! I felt so special! I even got a few packages (which Sister Derricott unfortunately wouln't let me open until my actual birthday, boy, was that more dfficult than any other birthday!) Haha but it was way fun! My birthday, of course was on Sunday, so it was quite crazy, we were up at church from about 8am to 5pm, with different meetings, but so much fun and there were so many blessings! We had a new investigator come to church who is completely golden and then Ethel was there with her sons after just being baptized on Saturday! It was amazing the baptism. Because she speaks English better than Japanese and her son (who also got baptized) speaks Japanese only, plus members from both the english and japanese wards were coming we had the baptismal service in both english and japanese. One person would speak a sentence during their talk and then the translater would quickly translate it into the other language. It was crazy but way cool! What an amazing birthday present: being able to help someone come unto Christ.

Thank you Mom and Dad and everyone else for the book from members in the ward and friends. I couldn't think of anything more that I would have wanted! It made me so happy to hear from so many people that I love!

You might notice I'm writing a little later in the day today...for Pday today we went and hiked up Mt. Takao! It was absolutely gorgeous! And we got to see some cute monkeys!

Anyway that doesn't leave us with much time tonight. I love you all so much and thank you for all the birthday wishes!
Love you!
Sister Erin Benne

Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 43 - Fussa, Japan

Getting to you early Monday morning today! We have a lot of changes going on in our mission right now, and one of them is that P-days will now be on Mondays, except for Transfer Days and Temple Days (and then they'll still be on Tuesday during that week). Crazy.

So this past week has been a crazy one, last Tuesday, it really was a typhoon that came through. It lasted for a couple days, so we got to mix things up and ride in the rain. Unfortunately though I ended up getting my first flat tire about 1 hour away from where we live. Luckily we found some nice people at a close by Honda who gave us shelter from the storm and also helped fix it.
We also had a conference where we got some training about the computers we'll be getting TOMORROW (at another full days worth of training) and have been preparing for a baptism that is this Saturday!

So yeah, one of our investigators Ethal is getting baptized! She and her son! I'm so excited and happy for her. She was at church yesterday just completely glowing from head to foot, and the transformation that has come over her and her three sons is miraculous! I am consistently stunned by the power of conversion that comes over people as they listen to the gospel and then change their lives accordingly. Ethals dealt with a lot throughout her life, and you can just see that weight being lifted from her shoulders as shes learned knew things and felt God's love and Spirit! So thats this Saturday!

So yes it's finally happening that we're getting computers here in the Japan Tokyo Mission! We've had a few computers in some of the areas already, but they've never had too many of the resources to get it fully swinging with those. You asked a few questions about the computers before so I'll try to answer them. Yes, we will have Skype, so on Christmas, I can Skype you. The main purpose for the computers is to see if it will help in teaching. People are insanely busy here. If they work they usually head into work before we wake up as missionaries and come home after we're asleep, so through Skype we'll be able to email/Skype them during lunch or some other break they have and follow-up or teach lessons to them (of course first priority will be to have those lessons in person). All our area books will now be electronic which will help keep things organized and will allow the bishop and ward mission leader to have access to see the progress of our investigators any time they want. Anyway the list goes on and on about what we'll be able to do. But yes, like you said it is on the dangerous side. They've taken a lot of precautions, building custom computers with security cautions, but in the end they're trusting us. President Albrecht has really stuck his head out on the line in trusting us actually. The First Presidency, Mission Council and others are watching us really closely. So if one person screws up, then they're gone. And we'll be filling out things that will create stats to see if the computers are actually helping more people to come unto Christ. If not then there's no point in having them either.

So those are some exciting things for the week!
Hope you're all having a great day!
Love you
Sister Erin Benne

Here are some pictures!

Mashito san's baptism!!!! Utsumi Shimai and I were both able to come!

Do you not see that thing of fish that I"s head and tail were still on.
Aren't you proud! But yeah, still don't like it...

Sister Derricott and I during filming
Sister Laird and I at our 4th of July Party, well a little before people came

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Week 42 - Fussa, Japan

Well Hello! Another week in, and SO much to tell you!
Where to start? Well, hmm, so this might be an all over email because there is so much to say.

But, last wednesday I had the amazing opportunity along with 7 other missionaries, members of the PBO, and President and Sister Albrecht to go to a Shinto Shrine, Meijingju Shrine, talk to leaders of the Shinto religion, talk about our experience in Tohoku, and cleaning up the jinja, the temple that we helped clean up, and about why we became missionaries and what we do. It was an amazing opportunity and huge step for the church here in Japan. Shinto is the government supported religion here, and the church has been working for years to build the relationship between our church and the Shinto religion. So to have them invite us to talk a little about our church and then also thank us for our efforts in Sendai is amazing, and for me to get to participate in that, so cool! It was awesome too because we got to learn more about Shintoism too. They took us around the shrine and we were able to participate and learn what they do there.

Then the next day, well we, Sister Derricott and I, had been asked by President to be in Kichijoji for pictures, what for we weren't sure, but because we were late getting out Wednesday night and our apartment was 2 hours away, we just ended up staying at the Kichijoji sisters apartment which was closer, without a change of clothes or anything (because we thought we would be going back Wed. night to Fussa. Sorry I'm explaining this very oddly but it's sort of complicated and I dont have time to make it sound fluid). So we're in Kichijoji, wearing the same clothes we had sweated in the day before (because yes it is very hot and humid here), not feeling too clean, but still head to the church for "pictures". Anyway turns out, this is way cool, they wanted to film us, for a video to put up on YouTube about volunteering in Sendai. So I got to be filmed for a youtube video!!! haha I think that"s the video I sent to you, but since this computer is having problems, we can't view it, but if I look gross and dirty, the reason you now know! It was way cool!

Other things: I love Fussa, it's so fun! Plus this is interesting, Sister Derricott's dad is actually really famous here in Japan. So streeting's interesting sometimes because people are like, Kent Derricott? Anyway way fun. And it's really funny because we're finding all these old videos and pamphletts that have her dad on them and usually her as a little kid in them too! Its great! Which may bring up the question if she's lived in Japan. She lived here until she was 7 and then her family moved back to the states, so no she'd basically forgotten all of her japanese when she was called to japan. That's okay though, shes doing great with japanese now!!!
Anyway those are some of the highlights of the week!

Love you all so much!!!
Sister Erin Benne

Erin can be seen at the 2:21 mark

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Week 41 - Fussa, Japan


Well believe it or not, my 4th of July didn't include many 4th of July celebrations. We did have our 4th of July English Class party which was a hit; I wore a red skirt, white shirt, and blue sweater that day, so I looked so festive in my American colors too! And then a few days later I did see a family with 2 little kids playing with sparkles! Haha but that's about it. Mainly I spent my 4th of July moving. Yup, I got transfered again... What are we on now?

It turns out that because of the earthquake they were'nt calling to many people to Japan. Makes sense, but thats hitting us right now (all the people who would have received their calls in March/ April would be coming to the field around now) Anyway that's put us kind of low on Sisters out here, and we had 3 more leave for home yesterday. Because of that, they had to take sisters out of some area, and well because there are so many missionaries in the Honbu (mission home), they decided to pull the sisters out from there. Which means I had to go. It's hard leaving, putting all of our investigators into the elders hands, I know the elders are good, but with everything that is going on in the office right now (Tokyo is will be the first mission to have computers in every apartment as of July 26!!! I guess we're the test group! So the honbu elders are going crazy getting ready for that among other things), some things that Sister Laird and I have been working on are going to have to get dropped. But I trust the elders and know they'll do their best.

My new area though is Fussa! It's great, and guess what I have an English Branch (and a japanese ward too)!!!!! YEAH! It's so weird! There is an American Air Force base right next to the church, so that makes the number of americans in the area, way high! We're not allowed to proselyte on base, but we can work with the members for referrals from them! It's weird have to do missionary work in English. I called the Bishop and Ward Mission Leader last night, and had no idea what to say, kept fumbling over words. My companion Derricott Shimai was just keeling over laughing. And we went grocery shopping today...I had no idea what to do, there was American food and the grocery store was huge (well, the same size as they are in the US, but, huge compared to here), it's blowing my mind! But it should be fun. I feel so strongly that this is were I need to be, a connection I didn't feel as strong in Nakano, this just feels right.

Anyway my companion is Sister Derricott, and she's American too! Before unheard of in the Tokyo Mission and now I've had 2 American companions here! Crazy! She's on her 2nd transfer, so I'm a follow-up trainer, a little scary but it'll be good.
So that's what's going on in my life right now!

Love you all so much!!!!
Sister Erin Benne

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Week 40 - Nakano, Japan

Well, hello!

How's it all going? Guess what? I`m back and alive!!! We were finally able to get back out and start working last Thursday, which was such a relief after being stuck in our apartment for a week! I think we literally went crazy with excitement getting back to working, because by Sunday and Monday, we were completely exhausted, but that's not a horrible thing, right? Haha, we'll rest up a little today. It's been fun though! And we've seen so many miracles occurring from this experience. We had 2 people come up to the church while I was sick and they both now have baptismal dates!! One's a flight attendant though, and with that works a lot on Sundays flying around. Part of the requirements to get baptized is that you have to go to church at least 2 times before you get baptized. Please pray for her that she'll be able to get off at least 2 Sundays before her baptismal date. She's working so hard to be able to!

This Wednesday for our English class, we`re having a 4th of July Party. It's the last day of the `semester` so we thought we would do something fun. and hey, add in a little American culture! It'll be a good time! We're making pies today for a pie eating contest, hehe!

Other than that, transfers are this huh? but I guess with transferring to Kichijoji and then Nakano and then having the chickenpox, this has been a little bit of a different transfer. Haha come to think of it, I haven't had a normal transfer since my 2nd one! I don't really bother thinking about transfers anymore, whatever happens, happens.

So Dad, you asked if we`re still feeling aftershocks, yeah, they`re still going on. Earthquakes have really just become a part of normal life. Luckily, while some have been bigger, from what I've heard, there hasn't been damage. But well, I guess I don`t hear too much.

Anyway that`s about it for today I think. I love you all so much!

Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pictures from Sendai

My companion...
Haha she`s crazy! Sister Laird, she`s from Idaho, this is her 9th transfer so she goes home in 2. Strange because she`s the last foreign sister to have come to Japan before my group, only 4 transfers ahead of me, so slightly scary, how quickly this goes by. But yeah, she`s the most energetic person ever, so she`s hated being inside these past few days. But yeah, its been way nice, because she likes being active and doing sports, so we actually excercise in the morning (japanese sisters NEVER like anything to do with sports, I don`t know why) She wants to be a theater teacher.
Its been way nice having an american as a companion. Its just so different from having a japanese companion. You love them and you have fun, but because of the limitations of the language, and just how japanese people are, they don`t share emotions very well at all, its just a completely different kind of relationship. It`s funny I feel like I have a me and then a Japanese me. And it`s nice to just be me again for a little bit. especially since we`ve been stuck in the apartment, to have a companion you can speak to without opening up a dictionary, that`s nice.

Week 39 - Nakano, Japan

Well, hello!

Haha, so this weeks been a bit different from the rest if you didn`t already realize that... Can you believe I have the chicken pox??? Really of all the things to happen on a mission, I NEVER thought that I would get the chicken pox! Since we're not allowed to go outside, Sister Laird and I have basically been stuck in our apartment for the past 5 days, not really fun. So I don't have much to tell you, except for my story of how I came to realize I had the chicken pox, and how I've possibly infected the WHOLE mission, every single person in it actually.

So I was feeling perfectly fine on Tuesday until the night, when I had a pretty bad headache, not anything horrible, I'm used to headaches and usually can sleep them off at night, but Wednesday morning I woke up and still wasn`t feeling well. We go play basketball or some other game with the elders every morning for excercise, so we decided to skip out on that but continue on with the rest of the day. I was doing fine until language study, when I just became completely exhausted, so we decided to take an early lunch, during which I would sleep a bit and then have language study after, during our usual lunch time. I took a quick nap, and finished language study, but could just feel my body fighting with me. It was then that Laird Shimai made me take my temperature. It was a low 99.9, but enough to make Sister Laird nervous and send me to bed for an hour; I didn't protest too much. After that things just kept getting worse. My temperature went up to 101 and even though it's been way hot here, I was freezing in our apartment, putting on sweatshirts and sweats, piling blankets on top of me, and I'd still be shaking because my insides were just so cooled. With Ibuprofin we were able to get things under a bit more control and though I wasn't in top shape, I was feeling a little bit better, so we headed out that night at 5 for a few appointments that we had along with our english class. I got back that night, and remember thinking, wow, I know the mosquitos have come out, but sheesh, I got a lot of mosquito bites tonight!

Thursday: Thursday was Zone Conference, interviews with President, a day I love and everyone looks forward to like crazy, plus I was singing during it. I woke up that day, got in the shower, looked at my stomach and realized there was no way, a mosquito could have bitten me that many times during the night, and I didn't think it could have been any other bug either. I got out of the shower and went to Sister Laird and was like, "Sister Laird, I know we've been joking about me having west nile and chicken pox (believe it or not it had come up as a joke on Wed), but, um, I think I really do have the chicken pox.." And that's what started it all.

We headed up to the church for conference, went and saw Sister Albrecht and Sister Hobbs, to get their opinions, and the vote came back unanimous. However because we didn't think I was still contagious at that point, I was allowed to stay at the conference. I stayed for a while, for my interview, my song, and for most of the training until I was just so exhausted that I went to the Mission Office and slept on the couch (with Sister Hobbs as my companion and the other Sisters in training as Sister Lairds) there. I was out for most of the day after that, taken some Benadryl that knocked me out pretty well. Anyway I was finally woken up, and sent home with provisions to help me get better. Along with instructions from the mission doctor, and President and Sister Albrecht; turns out chicken pox have an incubation period of 2 weeks, before you show any signs in which you are contagious. And you continue to be contagious until all of your spots have gone through 3 stages: appearing, blistering, and then crusting/scabbing over.

I don't know where I got the chicken pox from, you have to come in direct contact with someone who has it, but with all the moving I've done it could have been while I was in Kanagawa/Kohoku, Kichijoji, or even if mine appeared faster, from Nakano. Last Monday, we had an all mission conference, Thursday we had a Tokyo Zone conference (Tokyo Zone includes about 40 missionaries), I also saw the whole mission when we went up to Sendai. Basically what this means is, in those 2 weeks, where I didn't know I had the chicken pox, I have come in contact with every missionary in our whole mission, and possibly given it to them... I don't even want to think about all the people I`ve talked to as a missionary. I guess there's not really very much I can do though right?

Since Thursday I`ve been doing okay- it's been itchy, but I've been doing everything I can not to scratch them and to help me get better as fast as I can. I think I've had a relatively mild case, maybe having had the shot helped with that! Now I feel perfectly fine, just waiting for all of them to scab over, so we're allowed to go back out and work! We've had the chance every now and then to come up to the office, which has been nice to get out of the apartment. Today's the missionary day at the temple, we were hoping so badly I'd be cleared by today, but with a lot of the mission being there again, President Albrecht doesn't want to take any chances, and well I don't want to get anyone sick either. Anyway, Sister Laird and I figured since nobody would be in the office and we have to come up here to email we would chill here for most of the day, a change of scenery.

I've seen a lot of miracles through this experience though. I've felt an overwhelming feeling that because I have so many people praying for me at home, that I'm getting better faster because of those prayers. It's been miraculous, as I've woken up the past few mornings and just have had spots disappear that were still in their early stages. We've also found 3 new investigators just by calling people up in the area book (a book containing a record of all previous investigators). Finding 3 new people in one week, in any circumstance, for our mission, that's huge! and we had another woman come up to church on friday to ask about eikaiwa and then she ended up hearing the first lesson, and the 2nd, and the third is scheduled for tonight. She wants to be baptized as soon as she can, so we have a date for July 3. Since I can`t teach her at the moment, Sister Laird and 2 elders have been teaching her, while I sit in the office. It's been amazing.
Hard things come, but God always blesses us.

Anyway that`s been my week...this is way long...haha, it seems I have a bit more time on my hands today, for some reason...

Thank you for all your prayers! I love you all so much! And I really am feeling better, I should be able to go back to work soon, I think!!!

Love you all
Sister Erin Benne

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Week 38.5 - Chicken Pox

Hey All!

Bet you are all surprised to hear from me today!

Here`s why:
Remember how I've never had chicken pox? Welll.... That`s not true anymore! Haha, yup, I have chicken pox! I guess I haven't been to the doctor so I'm not officially diagnosed, but the itchy red dots all over are a pretty good indicator, I think. Anyway, I'm fine, just really itchy. Sister Albrecht, the senior missionary couple sister: Sister Hobbs, and my companion are all taking good care of me!

Love you all!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Week 38 - Nakano, Japan

My Wonderful Family,

Well, one week down in Nakano! Bah! haha, it's been good, just getting used to a new area. My companion' name is Sister American, that NEVER happens in the Japan Tokyo Mission for sister missionaries, ever! It's been so much fun though! And there have been so many miracles, I can't believe it. We've been finding people everywhere as we're streeting and talking to everyone. It's insane! It's still hard, but seeing the goodness of God, makes everything else not matter!

We had a Mission Conference was so good, we watched a video of all of us leaving Tokyo, coming back, and then serving up in Sendai, crazy all that's happened. We also had some amazing training on attitude and finding the elect, the pure blood of Israel, and then heard from all the missionaries that will be going home this transfer, always sad, and so many of my good friends are heading back now... that`s okay though, they`ll just get to continue on with missionary work at home!

One of the missionaries shared this scripture during their testimony. Isaiah 64:8. I don`t have my Bible with me right now, but you should read today. We really all are clay in Heavenly Father's hands, being molded and pressed constantly until we can become the person he wants us to be. Our whole life he works with us, never putting us down, smoothing out the scratches and bumps. and only when we`re put through trials, a burning kiln, do we come out beautiful in the end.

This is also cool, I heard yesterday at the conference, that my investigator in Akashi, got baptized on Sunday! I'm so proud of her, sad I didn't get to see it, but really in the end that doesn't matter, all that matters is that she's taken that step through the gate, and she's on her way to salvation! I`m so happy for her!

I love you all!
Love you!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Week 37 - Nakano, Japan


Well, where to begin! So a bit of news:

We went to Sendai this past week. I went to an area called Tadajo with half of the missionaries. I can't explain the experience, We left Thursday night and drove throughout the night for about 6 hours to get up there. In Tadajo, we cleaned the area in and around a Jinja, a Shinto Temple. As we were picking up things, I couldn't help but think about the people who lived there and their lives. You're going through peoples things, seeing books they've read, their dishes, really learning who they were. The Japanese people, they're a simple people, focused on their culture, they love their history and their proud of it. And to see all of that ruined, the beautiful Kanji, artfully decorated shoji screens, everything now unusable. It was a feeling I've never felt before.

We headed up to Sendai after Tadajo, the hardest hit area, to see what's happened to Japan. As missionaries, you don't watch the news, you don't see the pictures, and to now see it first hand... I don't know... Thousands of people lost their lives in both the places we were. Thousands of people now have no homes, they have no where to go. I think about how little I have right now. Missionary's lives are simple. I don't have a car, a computer, my own phone, my apartment is really temporary, but I do have the pictures of you all, I do have my scriptures. How sad I would be if I lost either of those. I have so much because I have the gospel, and many of these people, they lost all of their material things, but they don't have the gospel to rely on. I'm 21 years old, and just now realizing that there is so much in the world going on that doesn't have to do with me. So many people out there who need help much more than me. Why as humans are we so selfish?

Anyway on a completely different note...I'm no longer in Kichijoji. I got emergency transferred today. Found out last night. Yeah, really sudden, it seems that I'm meant to always get suddenly pulled out of Kichijoji. It's okay though, I'm now in Nakano, the area where the mission home is, so it should be fun! I will admit, it's a little difficult. This is my 4th area within a month- most sister missionaries, only have 3 or 4 areas during their whole mission. haha however to all things there is a purpose though right? God always has a plan, I'll trust in Him.

Anyway that's all for today, I love you all so much!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Week 36 - Kichijoji, Japan

Haha! Well I bet youll never guess where I am at now... We had transfers this past week and you might have been able to tell from my last email that I wasn't too worried about them, Saiki shimai and I had both just gotten to Kanagawa and Kohoku, so we were both pretty sure we were staying. I should have learned by now that you never know what the Lord has in store for you! So yes, I transferred and well I am back in Kichijoji! My new companion is Shibata Shimai; Saiki Shimai became a trainer .

Anyway, all the other missionaries have now returned to Tokyo and Sendai!!! [I've heard this is the first time in the history of the church that they evacuated a mission and then sent missionaries back relatively after] Of course not all of the previous areas are still open, but for the most part our mission is back to normal, however more improved with all that we've learned. Anyway, with all the missionaries coming back they were able to reopen the Musashino Zone [Kichijoji's zone]. When the AP called he said, they had prayed really hard and felt like I needed to be there to help reopen it, so here I am! I was excited to come back, but also a little sad to have only been in Kanagawa and Kohoku for such a short time, who knows, maybe I'll get to go back there again too! It's been really fun though, coming back. I know everyone and the area already, so it makes transferring and coming in really easy! The members have been amazing too, they deep-cleaned the apartment [which is huge because I'll admit a part of me didn't want to go back to Kichijoji because of the's the oldest in the mission, so its definitely seen better days, but now its SO much better!!!], decorated it with welcome signs, and filled it with food. And it`s been so fun just seeing everyone again, I didn't ever get to say goodbye to them, so this is nice! Plus all of my beloved investigators!!!! I don`t have time really to talk about how all are doing, we'll save that for next week!

Anyway quickly: this weekend was Stake Conference and a member of the 70, Elder Ringwood, who was recently called to supervise over our area, and his wife came. Anyway long story short, the wife of one of the members of the area Presidency and Sister Ringwood, were set to spend the day together while their husbands were in meetings, but the translator was late, so I ended up getting to translate for about 2 hours for Sister Ringwood and Sister Oishi! It was fun. It's nice, I think I've finally gotten to the point that I'm okay with Japanese, obviously I still have so much to learn and I still sometimes get really frustrated when I want to say things and I don't know how, but well I understand so much more than I did when I first came to Kichijoji, and I think I'm just now realizing that.

Also during Stake Conference, I got to sing a solo! Crazy...Shibata Shimai and I were out visiting a less active and I got a call from a member asking us to sing in the choir and to be at church as soon as we could get there, what I didn't realize I was getting myself into was to sing a solo in the middle of that song! It was fun though... and Elder Ringwood told me I needed to tell you about it in my email home, that I sang a solo at stake conference in Japanese, so I figured I should follow a member of the 70, when they tell you to do things!

The time for going up to Sendai changed-hence me writing on my usual day...we're now headed up Thursday night, and will be there on Friday. We're not allowed to take pictures while we're doing service, but the PBO has official photographers who will be there so you can look for those at some point.

Anyway that's a lot of news for now!
Sister Erin Benne

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Week 35 - Kanagawa Japan

Well Hello!
So some big news...found out last night! I'm going to Sendai! Well, not just me, our whole mission is! Next Tuesday (so my P-day will be on that Monday, but that's not what's important)! I'm not exactly sure what we will be doing, but something service related I presume. Since we just found out about it the details are still sort of blurry, but I`m excited to be able to go and help the people of Sendai for a day (We'll head up there Monday night, drive through the night and then come home after a day, I believe). And the cool thing is it really will be our whole mission, because the last half of the Tokyo missionaries will be headed back up here this week at transfers! YAY! All together again! The amazing thing that's occured though is that even with only half of the missionaries back here in Tokyo, we've still been able to have the same amount of baptisms as we usually had when all the missionaries are here. This Sunday 20 baptisms are scheduled, how amazing is that! Really the miracles we've been seeing as people have been wanting to come unto Christ are indescribable. In Kobe we reached record numbers and here, with many of us having to start completely from scratch, we've been blessed to find so many new people to teach. When I started my mission, I had no idea what kind of experiences I would have here in Japan, and I still don't know what is to come, but I do know that I was supposed to be here when all of these things occured. If not to just spread hope and love to the people of Japan.

As promised here are some pictures-
Love you all!
Sister Erin Benne

Coming back to the Honbu (Mission Home) in Tokyo, there were signs and posters up everywhere ("Welcome Home", "We love you", "Japan Tokyo Missionaries"....)

Saiki Shimai overlooking our area on a rainy day.

Our zone: meeting on Mothers Day on top of the churchs roof

Me in my cuppa after a days hard work in the rain :)

Helping Hands: doing some volunteer work during a stake activity.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Week 34 - Kanagawa Japan

Whew! I feel like it`s been way longer than just one week, since I last wrote, but oh how time is funny!

Things have been good here, the weather has been absolutely crazy! It started off relatively hot, walking/ riding around all day, you`re just dripping in sweat, and then it rained and it rained and it rained, and you come back all wet (don`t worry I have a cuppa that keeps me relatively dry for a couple of hours :) I meant to bring my camera cord to show you a lovely picture of me in my happy rain get-up, but sorry, I forgot it! next week!). The rain finally stopped, but I can`t figure out which I prefer best: winter, coming home frozen, summer, dripping in sweat, or rainy season, completely soaked! Haha, it`s fun to have things mixed up a bit though!

I have my first sunburn of the season though, don`t worry, it doesn't really hurt, but for a while I was quite the little red tomato! Haha, luckily it will quickly turn to a tan, and from here on out I shouldn't burn really at all! In Japan though, really different from America, they don`t like tan skin at all. In fact they avoid it at all costs basically. Even to the extent that they wear long sleeve shirts, or arm length gloves, giant hats and use pretty sun-protecting umbrellas. Amazing how different cultures can be! Probably a lot healthier though, not so many people getting skin cancer.

I need you to teach me a few Spanish phrases! We have an investigator who is from Peru, and she can speak Japanese and English, but her parents can`t speak either- well the dad speaks a little Japanese, but they came to church and didn't understand very much at all, we're looking to find a translator to teach them, but can you help me- I know "ola, como estas, moi bien" yeah about that much. Just simple things, obviously I won't be able to teach them full lessons, but at least help them feel a little more comfortable in Japan. Thanks!

Oh and this is interesting, I'm learning Shyuwa right now- Japanese sign language! Yeah crazy huh, I'm still trying to get Japanese down! But we have a few deaf people in our ward, including 2 ward missionaries (a couple) so all the missionaries who work in the Kanagawa ward get to learn sign language to communicate with them and others. It's fun and pretty simple- a lot more than spoken Japanese!

Anyway so that is basically my life right now! Transfers would be this week, but their pushing them back until next week, however I'm pretty sure Saiki Shimai and I will stay, we whitewashed (neither of us have been in this area before) so for them to move us is highly unlikely. Also that's when the rest of the Tokyo Missionaries will be coming back! YAY! We'll also be getting the first American sisters to come in since Sister Adams, Lynch, and I, so that's excting! It seems like they have it on an every four transfers pattern for American sisters coming to Tokyo. But who knows!

Anyway Love you all lots!!!!
Sister Erin Benne

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Week 33 - Tokyo, Japan


So I don`t have too much to say I don`t think, most I said on the phone, so this is going to be short I think, others are waiting for the computer today.

Being back in Tokyo, for our first P-day all, we all wanted to go to the temple! What a wonderful opportunity to serve in an area with a temple! What we didn't know is that after the earthquake the temple schedule changed so we have about 2 1/2 hours to wait before the 1st session.That's okay, we found 2 computers in the PBO building close by so that we could all email for at least a little bit! YAY!

My wards had Stake Conference this past weekend, Claudio Costas (Presidency of the 70) and the recently called to the 70 Japanese Elder (this past conference) came to speak to us! It was amazing. Elder Costas said that right now Brasil is the leading country in the church with 40,000 baptisms a year, but that Japan could be greater and it will be. I don't say that very eloquently, but the power of his words you could tell it was a prophecy coming from a man of God. So powerful and so strong!

Anyway I wanted to say I love you all! Hope you have a good week!

Love you!
Sister Erin Benne

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 32 - Tokyo, Japan!

Well hello again from Tokyo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That's right I'm back and so happy to be here! In Japan right now, there is a week long holiday called 'Golden Week' where everyone is off work and school, basically everyone is on holiday except for those who work at restaurants or hotels. Anyway it's called Golden Week because it's always a good week, and let me tell you, I don't think this past week could have been anything but golden!I got the call Friday morning from President McIntyre telling me to pack my bags and send them off because on Monday I would be headed back to Tokyo! You wouldn't believe how happy I was. That day was a great day too, we had two huge activities going on in the stake that as Akashi missionaries we were asked to go to both, one on the island of Sumoto and one up at the Stake Center in Kobe, so by the end of that night though exhausted I was bouncing off the walls!
Anyway, Saturday I spent most of the day packing and getting things in order for leaving- because Megu shimai had only been in the area for a week and a half, there was a lot of information to organize and compile before I went. Sunday was absolutely amazing though, we had quite a few investigators come to church to say goodbye, and the members were the absolutely amazing. I think the best thing of all though was from Ami san, who we met my first week in Akashi. Teaching Ami san has been difficult, she has a lot of her own strong ideas and really doesn't like to be told things, but likes to put them together for herself. It was great because she really thought about the gospel, but then when we would teach she tended not to listen too much. I couldn't really tell if things were sinking in with her or not, how she felt. But Sunday we were talking to her and she told us that she wanted to be baptized, said she'd been thinking a lot about the Word of Wisdom, how much she loved tea and coffee, and that she didn't feel like she could give it up all at once, but she wanted to and she was going to try to little by little! How I loved hearing those words! We went to her house later that night and I've never seen her so happy, she was buzzing around, smiling and laughing, it was a perfect ending to my stay in Akashi.

It's an interesting feeling coming back, leaving an area. I wanted to come back so badly, but I'd grown to love the people I'd been working with. Funny how you can come to love and get to know people so quickly. It's amazing what can happen when you spend your whole life just serving people.
Anyway when I first heard they were going to start sending missionaries back in sets, I was sure I was going to be closer to the end, but as last week wore on I knew it was my time to go. Wednesday and Thursday I just felt that so strongly. Followed by Sunday, I knew the work that I had come to Akashi for was done. I feel like a completely different missionary than I did when I left 6 weeks ago, I've grown and I've learned so much and am so thankful for the opportunity that God gave. me.
So yesterday, Monday we traveled home by bus once more to a waiting, loving pair of parents here in Tokyo. People you might be interested in who came back are: Sisters Adams, Lynch, and Utsumi among others. What a glorious reunion it was! I think that's how heavens going to be, everybody just running into each others arms, well sisters to sisters and elders to elders :).
We stayed at the honbu last night and then had a meeting this morning and then traveled to our new areas! I'm now in Kanagawa and Kohoku (covering 2 once more!), in the Yokohama Zone! It's Sister Lynch's old area, and I already love it! It's absolutely gorgeous and it's famous in the mission for how many hills it has! Yes, I'm going to be one tough mountain biker when I come back I think. They haven't reopened Kichijoji or Suginami yet, but those will definitely come soon I think!

Hope it's a good one!!!
Love you all so much!!!!!
Sister Erin Benne