Saturday, December 31, 2011

State College Week 11

So I haven't enough time today to write you back individually to day, so here's a general letter.

Christmas was awesome!! I had so much fun talking to everyone there. I love all of you! Speaking of calls. That makes me sad that I missed Steve's call. (Steve was able to call from the MTC, but it was unexpected on Sat. night)  Guess what else? Apparently the message that Steve left, the beginning of it was just mumbling or something, I don't know, but when Elder Mason heard it, he thought it was something unimportant, so he deleted it right away. So I didn't even get a chance to hear the message that was left. So basically Elder Mason isn't allowed to have the phone this weekend ;) I'm going to talk to Pres. Topham about letting Steve call me this weekend. I'm pretty sure he'll allow it, but I don't know yet. So what I'm going to have to do, I'll talk to president Topham tonight and see what he says. He may allow me to email you again tomorrow and let you know, so you can tell Steve when he calls from the airport, otherwise I have no way of letting him know. If I can't email tomorrow I'll have a member like, Sis. Hulet contact you and let you know.

The rest of Christmas for me was great! The Heidrich's dinner was great. They cooked some really good turkey, green beans, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, rolls, and pie. While we were at dinner the subject of the Book of Mormon came up, and for my very last planner I made it out of gold paper and put some characters from the original book of mormon on there. Heather was studying ancient languages and she pulled out some of her old books with characters from ancient Egyptian, and we compared the characters I had on my planner to the ones, and they are surprisingly similar! There were similar characteristics and even some of the characters were the same. So that was pretty cool!

So I'll be staying in State College for the rest of my mission and I am very excited for it! This place is awesome! I hope that my memory card will work (the last memory card he sent is able to open, George is working on it), there were some awesome pictures on there! It's pretty surreal that there are only 6 weeks left on my mission, but I won't think about that too much. I'm going to use it to accomplish the best. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to have such an awesome experience. I plan on having a successful last Transfer, and a great Birthday to day too! The Church is true. I love this gospel, and I love all of you! Have a great week! Pray for snow. :)

Love,
Elder Benjamin Serrano


Monday, December 26, 2011

A letter to Elder Serrano the younger!


My brother, Elder Serrano,

My goodness I can't believe that it's already here.  You're going to be set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints tomorrow night. I am so excited for you Steve! It sounds like you had a good last week as a Civee. The talk you gave was excellent. I felt like I was reading it from the November Ensign. Well done!

-No you don't need to bring it to the MTC. They will provide a pillow and blanket there. But you will probably not have any when you get to your first area in the field. I didn't, but luckily there was a blanket there waiting for me, I just needed a pillow. I've been using the same blanket ever since! Can you believe it?

-There is so much advice I could give you. But some of the most important pieces of advice I could give you, is
 *always be humble. When you are humble you are obedient. When you are humble you are always seeking advice and continual improvement.
*You are pretty prepared to go on a mission, but don't think that you know how to serve a mission. At least not yet. That will come through time.
*Be patient. Be patient with your companion, with investigators, with members, with the ward, and most importantly with yourself. There are many things to learn as a missionary, and they can't all be learned in the MTC, or even learned in the first 6 months as missionary. I am learning new things every single day.
*The Spirit is there to guide and teach you. Study the 4th chapter in PMG, and find how the Spirit works through you. Learn to recognize it's promptings and you will never feel like you wasted a day.  You will lay down at night knowing that you have done what the Lord wanted you to do, if you learn to recognize the promptings of the Spirit.
*Never give up, because this is a hard Work that you are embarking in, expect to be tired. Expect opposition. Take it in the Strength of the Lord.
*Never get discouraged. If you get discouraged, it will lead to disobedience, which leads to doubt, then to disbelief, then to death of the Spirit. If you get discouraged, Pray.
*Be bold.
*Be loving. Love everyone! If you love the people you serve, you will love the work you work.
*Always work to improve. If you feel like you've reached a good point, and feel like you're plateau-ing, there's something wrong.
*Follow to the Lord's instruction in the scriptures. Follow your Mission President's instruction. Follow the examples of righteous missionaries. If something doesn't fit the standards in the Missionary Handbook, don't do it.
*BE YOURSELF! That's the most important, Steve. Be yourself.

And that's all for now. I'll be happy to give you advice when situations arise. I'll e-mail you every week Bro. I promise! Love you Elder! I'm excited for you to begin the best two years for (not "of") your life. The work is true. The laborer is worth of his hire.

Love,
Elder Serrano

Friday, December 23, 2011

State College Week 10

Thank you so much for the pictures. It seem so unreal that Steve is now a full-time missionary for the Lord. I love the picture where Steve is walking off with his escort with his bags. That was a weird experience when I did it nearly two years ago. I e-mailed him and told him to see if he can call me on Christmas. Usually they don't let MTC missionaries call home but I'll see if he can get special permission to call his missionary brother that won't see him for 4 years.

This past week was a pretty good week.  Wednesday just seemed like a regular day, with another life changing even going on back home. It's weird, it's hard to describe. I think that if missionaries work hard the Lord gives them peace when huge things happen back home, like a brother entering the MTC. This week seemed to go by really fast.

Heather is doing great! She's still ready and excited to get baptized in January! Other investigators this week will have family over or will be out of town so they won't be able to meet with us. That's okay though. The wards over here have a fun thing that they do each Christmas. They make Christmas cards they want to give to their friends and they give them to us to carol to the friend and deliver the card. Often times we get new investigator from it, so we'll see how it goes. It's really fun!

We'll I won't say too much because I want to talk about a lot when I speak with you on Sunday! Merry Christmas!! I love you Mom! Your hair looks great! It reminds me a little about Rogue from X-Men :)

Love,
Benjamin

Sunday, December 18, 2011

State College Week 9

This will be a pretty hard week for me too. It's hard thinking that I won't see Steve for another 2 years. I asked President Topham if it would be okay for Steve to call me in the Airport on his way out to Wisconsin, so we'll see what happens with that. I'll be thinking so much about you all on Wednesday. That maybe all I am thinking about. I'm so excited and sad, just as you are, for Steve. It'll be so great for him. I read his talk, and it was a really really good one. He's going to do great on his mission. As long as he stays humble he'll do great.

So wow, my homecoming address day has been picked out huh? (Feb 19 @9:00) That's pretty surreal!  haha!

Heather, Fei, and Rashid are doing wonderfully! Heather and Fei are still set to be baptized on January the 21st! I'm so excited for them! The Lord keeps blessing them with understanding and a desire to do what's right. We're working with a great guy named Eddie Boal. He's such a humble guy that is willing to learn about the gospel. The past 13 months have been an excruciatingly trying time for him. He went through a bad divorce, and other things and it really humbled him to the point where he's looking for answers. He'll do pretty much anything we invite him to do. A member introduced us to him, and he asked us in our lesson this week if we would consider ourselves happy people, and we all said yes. Then we explained that we are happy because of our faith in Christ and by our keeping the commandments, so basically he wants that.  I'm very excited to be meeting with him.

I have been having lots of great experiences lately. I gave my "departing testimony" in a Zone Conference this past week. It was really weird, because that's the last big meeting I will go to for my mission. This church and Mission has changed my life incredibly. So much that words can't explain. They are true. There is nothing like it.

Love,
Benjamin


State College Week 8


Sounds like a really good week! I am so excited that Steve was able to go through the temple! I wish I was there. Actually, really cool story that happened yesterday for fast and testimony meeting! So, Elder Mason and I go to two church sessions: one at 9 am and one at 12:30. During the 9am session many of the testimonies that were given mentioned the temple, and it struck me that Steve had gone through the temple this past week! I  had totally forgot! Then I felt like I should go up there and bear my testimony. I didn't during the 9am session, but the prompting came again during the 12:30 session. I felt like I should, but I wanted to have the ward members go up. Then guess what happened. There came a long silence. No body was getting up and there was about 15 minutes left in the Sacrament meeting. I closed my eyes, because I was a little tired, and then... I heard the Spirit. Mom, it was the very first time I've ever heard a whisper. It said, "Elder, go up there." I opened my eyes, and walked up to the podium and bore my testimony. And now I know why I received such a special prompting. We all as a family bore our testimony! It's too bad that Nate wasn't there, if he was that would have been so cool to have the entire family bear their testimony! Incredible.

This past week flew by for me! There was I baptism that I played piano at on Saturday. I was given the music for the piece on Wednesday. Luckily it was an easy accompaniment for "Come Thou Fount of Ever Blessing". The Saturday night I did perform a musical number of Carol of The Bells for a Christmas Nativity Program. I recorded separately the piece for you on my camera so you can see/ hear it. It wasn't the live performance, but the same song. Everyone seemed to be pretty impressed, it was fun, and I was super nervous because I had never played a solo piece in front of an audience as big as this one. There was maybe 150-160 people. It was so much fun though!

Heather and Fei Yang have a baptismal date for January the 21st!!! I am so excited to be able to teach them! They are such great people! Heather is super prepared, and Fei is on his was. He has a desire to know God and we are helping him achieve that desire. I love it! I am so happy and blessed to be serving here in State College.

I am having a great time with the advent calendar. The scriptures used are perfect!! I love the tie I got yesterday. It's awesome! I've committed to only wear Red and Green ties for all of December. I'm excited!

Love,
Benjamin

Sunday, December 4, 2011

State College Week 7


The trip to SF sounds like it was a great one! This week was pretty fun for me out in SC. Tuesday I had a Leadership Training Meeting down in Harrisburg, so we spent Monday evening driving down there. It was a great meeting! Although the night before I didn't sleep well at all!! The apartment I was staying at didn't have a lot of sleeping places so I got a "lazy boy" type chair except it didn't recline or have a foot stool thingy. Needless to say it wasn't a good night sleep. Maybe 4 hours or so. Plus my sickness and sore throat didn't help at all. So in summary I spent more time driving than sleeping between Monday and Tuesday haha. I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be at the meeting, so that was nice. There were some blessings there (including Lasagna for lunch).

Thanksgiving was a great day! That morning we spent some time at a ReHab/Alzheimer home, similar to where Lola (his grandmother) lives, or lived, or... the place where I last saw her. Anyway, we went around from room to room, visiting some residents and talking to them about Thanksgiving and other things, just to cheer up their days. Then we went and taught Rashid, who is doing awesome! Then we, with the Sister missionaries, went to a big Thanksgiving feast in the afternoon!! It was great, there were some delicious food. All the common things that go along with a Thanksgiving dinner, except Cranberry sauce, which was a huge bummer! It was great! It was the same family that had us over for a Halloween dinner. I am so "mean" to the sisters sometimes ha ha! You know how some girls eat? Not a lot. For some odd reason they think it's not lady-like to eat a lot. So I usually say something along the lines of this, when the host asks if we want dessert (pie), "Yeah! We all want pie! All the missionaries do!" The sisters object. "Oh no, come one sisters! It's part of the Thanksgiving holiday tradition! You have to have pie. (looking at the host) We would all love some pie. (said with a huge grin on my face)" Then the host gets us all pie. And the sisters all just glare and laugh with me as we eat pie. That was fun. Thanksgiving was a great one this year. I had lots of fun. I sure missed hanging out with family though! Especially with all the cousins and aunts and uncles, and everyone! I sure hope so too, that Lola will stay around long enough for me to see her one more time. But I know that the Lord works in his own way, and it's up to Him.

Heather H......h is doing wonderful! We visited them on Thanksgiving. The H......s are the best! She wasn't able to make it out to church yesterday because she was sick, but that's okay because she's come to every church activity since she and Brendon started coming to church a month ago. She's still going to get baptized in January. Rashid is doing great, he expressed that he would like to get baptized before he leaves State College, which means before May. We're very excited for him!

I got the package that you sent! I'm so excited to do the Advent Calendar! It's so fun. I pulled out the Little Christmas Tree that You sent me last year and put it up. I'll have to send you a picture next week. It's now officially okay to listen to Christmas Music! Hooray! Anyway, I look forward to calling you in a little less than a month!

Love,
Benjamin

State College Week 6


Yeah! Another Transfer is gone! It blows my mind about how fast time seems to go at the point in my mission where I don't want it to end so quickly. It's so crazy! Anyway. Things are going well. I woke up this morning with a sore sinus-passageway-that-goes-to-my-throat, kinda thing. So squeezed some 8 Clementine this morning, and made some uber-vitamin C juice. So hopefully that'll help me out. I'm doing great though overall in the aspects of health. Actually, usually I'm pretty physically exhausted by the end of the day, but I guess that just means that I'm doing Missionary Work right, hopefully that's what it means :)

The work is going very well! Heather H.....h is amazing! And so is Bro. Brenden H......h! They're just awesome! They came to Stake Conference this weekend, went to all the sessions, and loved it. They are so wonderful, the members are doing such a great job hear helping them to feel welcome and loved. She's set for getting baptized in January. She found out I was leaving in February, and was like, oh I'm definitely getting baptized before you go! I don't like to tell investigators that I'm leaving an area, because I don't want them to do anything out of an obligation to me, but for their own desire to come to Christ. So she decided before she found out, so we're good! She's recognizing the Spirit, and really loving everything that she hears and learns. I'm very excited for her!

So lately, within the past few weeks, I have really been feeling the Spirit work through me, and prompt me to do things. I feel like the Lord has been teaching me more, and more lately to have faith, and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Emphasizing the, having faith part. Sometimes the Lord may prompt us to do or say something that might seem hard, or scary to do. But I know now, and continue to learn, that when we follow the promptings of the Spirit fearlessly, and faithfully, we can bring about much good in this world, and in the lives of our loved ones. With the specific instances I've experienced lately, there is no doubt in my mind that God is aware of all our circumstances and that He really does love us. It has been amazing!


Love,
Benjamin

Sunday, November 20, 2011

State College Week 5

I am doing well! Thanks for asking! I am in good health and happy. Actually I got a scale this week from the sister missionaries, because they had an extra one, so I was pretty excited to check my weight! And guess what? I'm at 155!! I was pretty excited because if you remember when I left Johnstown I was at 175, and when I left Avalon I was at 160 and throughout Harrisburg I didn't have a scale but i did gain weight, and now I'm down to 155! I've been working out pretty hard in the mornings and making sure I don't eat too much (which usually fails when I go to member's houses for meals because they expect us to eat like hippos.) and I'm pretty happy with the results.

I will be coming home Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, as for what time, I don't know. We'll have to find out when travel itineraries are made. But it will be that day for sure!

So things that happened this week. We helped the sisters move to a new apartment. I don't think I told you, did I, that my district is made up of 2 sets of sisters, which his cool! They're awesome missionaries. It was kinda weird at first because I didn't really know, and forgot, how to have proper (and by proper I mean, regular/professional) relationships with girls especially as a missionary. But it's cool now! We met with Rashid and Heather. They are both doing incredibly!! Heather is dead set on getting baptized in January. When she introduced herself in gospel Principles class she said, "...and I'm going to convert, or, um, get baptized in January..." She's the best! She has a spiritual testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith now, and she's just great! Rashid is doing well too! We had a great lesson with him, and he basically said that he'll get baptized sometime before he goes back to Sierra Leone, which is next summer. He's a great guy and he taught us some phrases in Pidgin English, which is what they speak in Sierra Leone. " 'ow da bahdee?" (how the body?) is a greeting meaning, "How's your health?" and to respond: "Ah tehl Gah tenki" (I tell God tenki [tenki=thank you]). Anyway both of the investigators we are working with are doing awesome! We're on the look out for more! I love teaching them, and seeing how the Lord prepares His children to receive the Gospel.

So what I'm going to be doing for the final 2 transfers of my mission, I'm setting a goal to read the entire Book of Mormon one more time by the time Feb. 8th comes along. That means at least 6.5-7 pages a day! And I would like to extend that challenge to you, my family! Wuddya say? It'll be tough but it'll be great! I'm going to do it. I love the Book of Mormon. It's one of the greatest books  I've ever read. Probably the greatest in the World! It's true! It brought and brings me closer to God as I read it. Just as the Prophet Joseph Smith said it would.

Love,
Benjamin




NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

State College Week 4


So lots of things to talk about today! This past week sounds like a great one! Happy Birthday to Steve Today!! Wow, he's 19! CARAZZY!

So my investigators:
Dee-the lady who was going to get baptized this past weekend pretty much stopped contact with us a couple weeks ago. We don't really know what happened, she just stopped returning our calls and setting up appointments. So that was a real bummer. We're having the sisters keep trying to get into touch with her.
Fei: he went to the student brach this week and he loved it there! There are about 6 Chinese members there and from the report he fit right in and joined their little clique. So he's going to probably stay going there, and we're going to hand him off to the sisters to teach. It's a bummer losing him as an investigator, but I know he'll grow so much quicker in the Student Branch than here in the family wards.
Rashid: Came to church again this week! He's doing great! We took a picture with him so that he can send it to his cousin who is a member of the church. He also wants his cousin to e-mail us and talk to us. He's great and he's still considering the joining this church! Rashid is great!
HEATHER H.........H!!!: GOLDEN! She's married to a member and came to church for the third time yesterday. We met with them for the first time on Friday and were blown away by how absolutely gilded she is! She looks and talks like a member. Her and her husband have a goal of getting sealed in the temple, to help re-activate Bro. H.......hs parents that are endowed, and less-active. She's not even baptized and she wants to go to the temple!!!!!!! :D She even bought her very own Quad-set of the scriptures. She wants to take it a little slower and get baptized in Mid to late December-early January. Oh, and she baked us cookies. She is so awesome!!!!

Halloween was pretty fun. I carved the batman pumpkin, and this computer is being stupid and won't let me connect my camera to it!! Dang! I'll have to try another computer after this session is over. Anyway, this week was a great week, and the Lord really blessed us here with people to teach. It fulfilled the teachings in Preach My Gospel: He will lead you to them, or He will lead them to you. In this case He led the H......hs to us. The church is definitely true, there's no doubt about it. I love the opportunity I have to be here serving a mission and thank the Lord everyday!

Love,
Elder Benjamin Serrano


NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

State College Week 3

I am glad that dad was able to recover well from the surgery. It really is amazing what modern-day medicine can do. It really is a blessing! A couple scriptures come to mind. It seems that the Lord is fulfilling his promises he makes to missionaries in D&C 31:5, 100:1 with the quick and good recovery of Dad, and Mel's, surgery and any other sicknesses or things that the fam goes through.

Those pumpkins that you all carved are incredible! We're doing ours today so you'll get pictures of them next week. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do, but I'm sure I'll think of something by the time it rolls around. I'm pretty excited! Thank you so much for the box of goodies!!!!!! Those pumpkin chocolate chip bars were amazing!! My #1 favorite! and the cookies and the goodies! Elder Mason and I are going to rock those mustaches today when we go and carve pumpkins. I love you!!

That's so crazy to think that Mike is home from his mission! My how time flies! I'm glad that you were able to go and hear his talk. He's such a great guy, and I'm positive he's many notches higher than what I remember him to be 2 years ago. Missions change lives. It's changed mine incredibly! I can't wait to have the opportunity to tell you everything that I can't put in e-mails.

Elder Mason is doing great! I'm doing the best I can to teach him about missionary work, and I've found that my example is the biggest thing I can do for him, because he literally will copy things I say and do. Which puts a huge responsibility on me to be the best missionary I can be. He's great though.

So our investigators are doing great! We had an awesome lesson with Fei last night! We brought a member along who spoke Chinese and he was able to explain so many things so that Fei could understand. He served his mission in Taiwan so he knows the lingo of the gospel. It was soooooo cool to watch that. They got along great too! I bet Fei was impressed because an American could speak his language so fluently. Rashid came to church! He's back in town and we're going to continue to meet with him. He's great! The H.....hs (the couple that randomly came to church last week) came again, and we're going to meet with them on Friday. It turns out Bro. H......h works with a member in the ward so they know each other, and Sis. H......h who is not a member, is so awesome! She's going to bake us cookies to bring to the lesson on Friday. All in all things are going really really great here! I love this place!

Thank you for all the love and support you show me Mom. It really means so much to me! When I think about and pray for the family at night, I can't help but thing what a wonderful blessing it is to have the incredible family I do. The family truly is ordained of God, and is the most important social unit in time and eternity. Thank you for being such a great example of the gospel in the home. I love you and miss you!!

Love,
Benjamin


NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some Pictures

Enjoying the history of Harrisburg
Elders Serrano and Killpack.  Waffles..yum!

What a beautiful view near Harrisburg

In State College with his new companion, Elder Mason

State College Week 2

I am having a wonderful day! Our week was great, a lot of cool things happened! I'll have to tell you about them today. Rashid is doing pretty good, he didn't make it to church today because he went on a school trip to Philadelphia, and made it back last night. So we have yet to set up an appointment with him. Our apartment is great, and we are all settled in. Yes, I think you should totally go to Mike's homecoming!!! I can't believe that Mike (Card) is getting home already. Those two years seemed to fly by, it blows my mind! Tell him that he needs to e-mail me too, and you can give him my e-mail address. That would be great! I bet he was such an awesome missionary.

Yes, it is kinda nice being a DL again! I have so much responsibility relieved of me, it's great! But now I have other responsibilities now with training and working with 2 wards. It's good though. I have a lot more time to work in my area, instead of having to go on exchanges every week. I had a fun time being a ZL though. So Elder Taylor and Elder Lee are going home at the end of this transfer! That's so crazy! Two more of my companions are just about done. Before then it was only Elder Page, Elder Zaleski, and Elder Willmore, now two more! And that'll be it until I get home, all the rest of my companions are younger than me.

So I told Dad about this awesome new investigator we found this week, so I'll share what I told him, then add a few more things I forgot to add: "we found an incredible new investigator named Fei Y....! He's from China and had no knowledge or belief in God. We found him on Wednesday, he came to church on Sunday and then on Sunday night to see a baptism and confirmation of some children getting baptized! He kept making comments throughout his church experience that he loved the church, and how much he thinks that God will help him in his life, and how friendly people are, and how this church is much different that the other churches he's been to. We're super excited for him and plan on setting him with a date this week to be baptized next month." He also told us that when he gets back to China in a year he wants to share what he's learning with everyone! We've had one lesson with him and he's already missionary minded. Fei Y.... is the man, and I know that the Lord prepared him. Also through out the church experience, we kept asking him how he was feeling, and he responded positively each time, and so we were able to relate that back to how the Spirit works and teaches us, through our feelings, truth. Oh man! State College Rocks! We have another investigator named Denise M....n. She's has a baptismal date for the 6th of November. She's really excited to have the gift of the Holy Ghost. We inherited her from the sister missionaries when we came into the area. She's so great! She's african american, that was born and raised in Queens, New York, but lived all over the world, and she has a Jamaican accent!

Also this week (this email is long!) Elder W. Craig Zwick from the First Quorum of the Seventy came and did a mission tour Like Elder Gavarret last year. I didn't get interviewed by him, but I was the piano player for the whole meeting. I had to do prelude two times, and play soft background hymns while he shook the hands of all the missionaries. I probably played through 50 hymns that day, it was great! He and his wife thanked me much for my talent on the piano, and I was thinking about that and a response I could have given. Not to thank me, but to thank the Lord, and my mom. The two people who helped me develop my talent. So thanks mom for making do piano lessons until I loved it! He also told me that the music/hymns played in meetings is one of the most important things that happen, to bring the Spirit into the meeting. So that made me feel pretty special how grateful he was. He taught us as missionaries some really important things, and it was a really spiritually edifying meeting.

I love the church! Thanks for all you do for me, and the prayers you send my way. I can feel them.

Have a great week!

Love,
Benjamin




NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

State College Week 1


It is absolutely wonderful here! Yes, the trees are starting to change colors and it looks great! It's been kinda cold lately so some of them are just turning brown and dying, but we are getting a lot of fall changes and colors! I'll try and send some pictures to you next week when I do my e-mails. I sent a box last Monday and I don't know if it made it to you or not. It just has a lot of extra things that I really didn't need, like picture books and t shirts. Anyway, my new companion's name is Elder Mason from Rexburg Idaho. He's a really awesome brand new missionary, that is really prepared. We're going to have a great time here in State College. So Transfers was on Tuesday of last week, and we didn't get to our area until Friday. The reason being that our apartment wasn't ready for us to move in yet. So we stayed over in Pittsburgh and helped out the Office Elders with a few things for those few days previous to Friday. So when we finally got to State College Friday evening it turns out that we didn't have a key to the apartment, and the apartment office was closed by the time we got there. So we had to talk to some random person, ask for a number and have someone come out and let us in. By about 9:30 we got all the stuff into the apartment and set up. Because we were going into a brand new apartment, we got brand new things! New Mattresses and box springs, new desks (plastic tables), new shower curtains, cooking pans/ utensils, and dressers from Ikea! The only thing I forgot was hangers. So all my stuff is sitting on the floor right now. I'll have to get those today.

The Wards here are awesome! They are very big, and supportive! They have had sisters in the ward for about 4 years now, so they are very excited for the change, mostly because the priesthood can be more involved in the work now. And we get fed nearly every single night because the wards here rock!

We were also able to find a new investigator for us! His name is R....d I....l T...y, and he is from Sierra Leon, Africa. He's here on some student thing for Penn State. He has some family that are members of the church back in Africa, and one on a mission, so he's somewhat familiar with the church. We found him on Saturday (our first full day in State College), and he came to church yesterday! He's really cool and we are excited to teach him in the future.

I love it here and I look forward to serving here for the next few months, or even the final months of my mission.


Love,
Elder Benjamin Luis Serrano

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Harrisburg Week 18

So today I will be sending a mass e-mail to you all because of the lack of time I have today. Don't worry I didn't e-mail anyone else and take forever, I just have a lot I need to do today. So here's the lo-down on what is happening in my mission life. Yesterday I got a call from President Topham and he said, "this is the call that you've been dreading to get huh?" At that point, I was thought, uh-oh. I thought that I was just going to get released as zone leader and then go to another area but there's a whole lot more to it. He told me that:
-I will be a district leader.
-I will be training another new missionary.
-I will be opening a new area in State College, PA (where Penn State
University is).
-Therefore doubling-in or in other words white-washing.
-And The new area I will be in will cover 2 wards, yes, 2 wards.

This all means as well that I need to leave for Pittsburgh today at around 4 pm. Yeah, that's why I have a lot to get done today. I was packing until about midnight last night, the set my alarm for 5:30am so I could continue and get it all done. Now it's done. So I was expecting to have some burdens lifted by being released as a ZL, but in reality a whole bunch more responsibility just got packed on to me haha. It will be a great new experience for me, because I've never opened a new area before, or covered 2 wards. So we'll see what
happens. I know that the Lord will bless me and help my companion and I out. Also because of this, I don't know if I'll be in State College for the rest of my mission or not. I hope so, but we'll see. I just realized that in the course of my mission I have been in a leadership position for 15 months of my mission. It's crazy to think about. But I've loved it so much! I have learned  a lot, needless to say. And I thank the Lord for it.

Conference this past time was amazing! I though President Monson was rather goofy this time around as well! Haha, God bless our Prophet dear! He truly is the Prophet of God for our day and time! I absolutely love the talk that a member of the Seventy gave about how the Church is fulfilling many old testament prophesies (A stone cut without hands, that rolled until it filled the earth, etc.), I also loved Elder Scott's talk about the Standard Works. I love hearing about the scriptures! They're the most important and sacred thing I own. Something though, that really stuck out to me this week, and during conference is the power of prayer. It's amazing and I KNOW that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. I love Him for it. And owe my life to Him.

I'll e-mail again on Wednesday I think, and let you know of my new apartment address and a few more things. I LOVE YOU FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!! (He did not get a chance to e-mail Wednesday-S)

Love,
Benjamin

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Harrisburg Week 17

Hey Mom!
My week out here was a pretty good week! We actually do have a couple people with a baptismal date and these people area absolutely solid and ready! One is Kaylee Y......r, who you know about, she's still set for the 29 of October. Her dad gets home from Germany this weekend so we'll see what happens with that, if he approves or not. Sis. Y......r assures that there will be no problems, which I believe! So I'm super excited for that family, because I love them so much! The other one with a date is a young man named Colby H........n. He lives in a branch north of Harrisburg that we cover. He's a way solid kid! His uncle is a member and he really looks up to that uncle. He was introduced to the church through him and was taught a few times in Virginia. He's super solid and already has his sights set on getting to the Celestial Kingdom! He said, "I'm going to do everything I can to get there!" Did I mention that he's only 16? He's already got those awesome mind sets and goals and it was the first time I've met him, second time being taught. He is super awesome! And yes, the Holy Ghost is testifying to them the truth. Whether they know it or not, they're receiving it. Now it's our job to help them recognize and understand those promptings.

So yes, this probably will be my last week here in Harrisburg. Change is good, but I love this place and the people in it so much! It'll be hard to leave. It's also crazy to think that my next area will be my last. It's surreal, it's weird, but I am committed to not let that get to me and I will work hard to the last day of my mission! I've made a pact with a couple missionaries here that that won't happen, and we're going to be Legends! There are a couple missionaries that have gone home a couple years ago that missionaries still talk about. We want to be one of those!

Isn't it great? You're going shopping for another missionary! I still have most of the stuff we went shopping for, with the exception of one pair of shoes. The South Side killed them. Oh and that piece of luggage. I've acquired another suit, and probably an additional 40 ties. Yeah, I'm not exaggerating. They're our only source of personality in uniform, can you blame me?! :)

Love,
Benjamin


NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Harrisburg Week 16


So first off I want to answer your question about noisy kids and lazy parents in sacrament meeting. It is pretty different out here in the mission field! Since we do have investigators coming often for their first time, we do want the experience to be a good one and with a minimal noise level. So the bishop and ward council do discuss about people being prompt and taking their kids out of the chapel if they start acting up. I think it's 1. because of investigators, and 2. I think there are more naggy, and complaining old people out here so they definitely speak up to the bishopric if the noise is out of hand haha. Of course kids are kids, and every once in a while you get those parents that let their kids run around the cultural hall and make ruckus, but the majority of the wards are good about being noise conscious. It's funny to because there aren't nearly as many families with a lot of little kids as you would find out West. So that helps. Do you remember David K...s? His comments after his very first sacrament meeting were, "I felt like I was in a Chuck-e-Cheeses.", he ended up getting baptized, but you better believe that the Bishopric quickly addressed that!

Anyway, I am doing quite well and things area going pretty good! This week was a relatively slow, but some really good things happened! I had a chance to go on an exchange down to a place called New Holland, or Ephrata. That place is really cool because there are lots of Amish/ Mennonite people! They were riding their bikes, horse and buggies, push scooters, everything! I guess we get that kind of attention too when we walk around in our white shirt and ties. So that was fun! I ate some delicious Amish donuts! It was awesome!

5- hours later....
Sorry this letter has taken so long to get to you! The libraries today are closed because of some staff meeting for all the library people, so then we came here to  HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College) to do our emails and about 45 minutes in, the library people asked all that aren't doing academic work to give up the computers to people that were waiting to use them for such. And that meant us, so we got kicked out. We decided to go to this pizza place, and it was INCREDIBLE!! Then we went bowling for free, then we went and hung out at the church and played wall ball with a dodgeball. Now I'm back and ready to finish up this e-mail before the Pday is over.
Things are pretty much back to normal weather wise, as normal as central PA weather gets. They say over here, "If you don't like the weather in central PA, wait 5 minutes. It'll change." That reminds me of UT!
So in about an hour we're going to go and visit Obed C.....!! He's so awesome! He actually called us and made sure we were still coming over! What a good guy. I'm way excited to be teaching him the gospel, it'll be great. I don't know if I'll get to stick around to see his baptism ;) but I know that he'll progress as the Lord helps us help him.
So this week at Zone Conference, I learned something completely awesome that has changed my life forever! It is about recognizing promptings from the Holy Ghost. Often times I ask, is it just me thinking, or is it the Holy Ghost. I don't know if you have had that question or not, but I got an awesome answer of how to tell if it's the Spirit. Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy actually did a surprise visit to the mission and only a few missionaries got to speak with him. Elder Nielsen (one of the Assistants to the President) asked him about recognizing the Spirit and Elder Jensen gave him this: he called it, "Revelation, the First Presidency does it." There are three scriptures, all in the Doctrine and Covenants:
1. DC 6:23 "Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?"
     -The holy ghost gives us peace when we ask for an answer. Peace is something we can all recognize, and is an answer to prayers for guidance. Peace is the Comforter, not ourselves.
2. DC 128:1 " As I stated to you in my letter before I left my place, that I would write to you from time to time and give you information in relation to many subjects, I now resume the subject of the baptism for the dead, as that subject seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest, since I have been pursued by my enemies."
    - When we are receiving a prompting from the  Holy Ghost, often it will be something that we keep thinking about or something that we really feel strongly to do, or say. This happened to me just last week where I kept feeling like I needed to go see someone that was kinda far away and out of the way. I put it off once, and it came back so I went. And that person needed a blessing and was praying that we would come. Incredible.
3. DC 11:12,13 "12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. 13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; "
    - I think that these are pretty self-explanatory. The Spirit, when it prompts us, will invite us to do all the highlighted. If what we feel we need to do, and think it is a prompting, falls under these categories, than it is of the Spirit.

These scriptures have been amazing to me and my growth in the gospel. I love it! It is the favorite thing that I've learned lately. I hope that these will help you as well. I think I better finish this one up, it's a pretty long one. Thank you so much for your support, love, testimony, and encouragement. It means a lot to me! Have a great week!
Love,
Benjamin


NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Harrisburg Week 15

Yes we were a little more than wet. :) But we were all safe! With all the flooding we were instructed to park the cars and not drive through puddles. Since we're zone leaders though and we have a truck we were allowed to drive around. Quite a few basements got flooded and in one part an entire street and neighborhood was sitting in a puddle that was probably a foot deep. There were a few stores that were by a creek that flooded quite majorly. The Creek rose probably 8-10 feet and became a river and it completely soaked and flooded out many streets and stores. Hershey PA, which is only 20 minutes away got hit pretty badly. Nearly all the roads leading into Hershey were flooded and sink holes appeared on some of the roads. It was pretty crazy! Luckily we were far enough away from the river we didn't have to get evacuated, and none of the missionaries in my zone had to either. So that was a blessing. We live on a 1st floor apartment so we didn't have any problems. I was thinking during all of this that missionary moms must be freaking out right now. Why? Week 1: an earthquake, week 2: a hurricane, week 3: Major Flooding. I wonder what will happen this week!
I'm glad that there was a blessing recognized this week! Indeed it was a blessing. I really love being a missionary because blessings seem to flow in all directions. For me, for people I'm teaching, for my family (yinz)! It is incredible to see the Mercy of the Lord poured out on everyone. I love it! The Church and Gospel are true! Keep reading the Book of Mormon, it is our keystone.
Love,
Benjamin


NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pictures of Harrisburgh

Elder Serrano and the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside

Elder Serrano, Elder Killpack and an unknown Elder

Elder Serrano visits Hershey World

Harrisburg Week 14

This week was kind of a slow/fast week. Slow teaching wise, and fast time wise. It was Zone Leader Council week! And Exchanges with the Assistants too. We started the exchange on Tuesday and went to Friday. We had to drive a couple hours to a city called Bedford to meet the assistants coming from Pittsburgh. Then on Thursday we drove out to Pittsburgh which is a 3.5-4 hour drive. That was fun! ZLC was great, we were able to discuss the roles and responsibilities of Zone Leaders, it was very good to learn, and affirm responsibilities. But the moral of the story is, I have done a lot of driving this past week, and I was pretty much defecated by the time Sunday came around. Elder Barry is doing great! He's a really nice kid! The thought occurred to me that he reminds me of Jared Lunt. We'll have a good transfer together though. And Yes, he is a Zone Leader, a brand new one! An awesome thing that happened! Kaylee Y.....r, the youngest of the Y.....r family has a baptismal date of the 29th of October!!!! We are so excited! I don't know if I'll be here for it though... I really hope I'll be able to be in the area for it because they asked me if I would do the Baptizing... it broke my heart to tell them that I probably wouldn't be able to be there for it. I did ask President today to possibly transfer me to a nearby area in the zone. There are 3 areas that will have need for openings that are not far away at all! So I'm crossing my fingers for those.
That's really exciting how dad was ordained a High Priest! He gets to hang out with all the old dudes now! It's funny, do you remember Mr. Clark, my geology/physics teacher? He call the High Priest group the "geriatrics group" where they put "all the old guys to die", haha, that made me chuckle to think that Dad is part of it now. Anyway, I'm glad that you had a good week this week, and everything went well! I love you! Have a great week!
love,
Benjamin


NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harrisburg Week 13

8/29/11
Yes, this week was a busy one! It always is when it's transfer week. I got my new companion! His name is Elder Barry from all over the place, but more recently, Utah. He's an "airforce brat", so he's been all over
the place! Japan, England, then many places in the US. He's pretty cool,kinda antsy, but has a great reputation. This is his 4th area, and he's been out just about 14 months. Sounds kinda like me!

So the Storm... It was somewhatofa bust! It really didn't rain all that hard but there was some good gusts of wind. The major of the storm came Saturday night and I was asleep by then so I really didn't hear much of
the storm. When we stopped by the apartment Saturday afternoon our neighbor was outside and he stopped us a gave us a walkie-talkie with the weather broadcast on it so we could find out what was going on. It
was kinda funny because when he walked up to give it to us, in his other hand he was smoking something he called "sage", it looked like some leaf rolled up around a straw, so I asked him if he was smoking weed, and he said no! And said that sage was legal to smoke. Anyway he was really nice! I don't know if it was the "sage" or what but it was nice of him.There were quite a few trees that were knocked down in the storm and we lost power for about 12 hours Sunday morning. And the bishopric canceledchurch because there was a weather advisory that instructed people to stay indoors until noon. I was watching outside the window and the wind wasn't blowing that hard, but we decided to play it safe. It was cool!

This week there was an earthquake too! I was sitting in the car on transfer day and it all of the sudden started rocking back and forth!The elders that were in the car weren't moving and there was no oneoutside the car shaking it. Then while we were knocking on some doors a lady asked if we felt the earth quake and it made sense! So it was a week of natural occurrences! Yeah!

The Y......s are doing great, we didn't get to set her with a baptismal date yet because her mom wanted her to know more about it, so we gave her a pamphlet to study and we plan on setting her with a date this Saturday when we meet with them. We're pretty excited! When we met with the S........s they seemed like they were at the same point as they were in the past. They got some information about Joseph Smith off of the History Channel Website, and it was very misleading. So now they have all these bad assumptions about the reliability of Joseph Smith. Which kinda is a bummer. We're still meeting with them so we'll be able towork with them more. We keep encouraging them to read and pray.

Well I best be going now. I'm having a wonderful time out here in Harrisburg, and I love being here to serve the people and in turn serve the Lord! The Church is true! The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ! He is our Savior!

Love,
Benjamin

Harrisburg Week 12

8/15/11
I'm totally going to surprise you when I come home! I'm guessing that Taylor's (Otteson) mom was under the impression that he was coming home on a different date, and Taylor and his dad were in kahoots, so they were able to fool her and bring him home. I think that's what I'll do. I'm coming home on..... February 15th...... haha! Nah I don't think I could fool you. Anyway, that's pretty exciting that Christian is home too. I was wondering when that time would be.

Well another transfer has come to and end and sure enough, Elder Killpack is going to another area and  I'm staying. I am happy and healthy, I'm very excited on finding out who will be my new companion, I'll find out tomorrow, or later tonight, which ever. So with this coming to pass, it is assuring the future of my mission more. It probably means that I'll stay in Harrisburg for one more transfer, then go to my last area where I'll be there for 3 transfers. Pretty exciting!!!

Yesterday evening there was a crazy rain and lightning storm! It was intense! We  had just gotten into an appointment when it started torrentially down pouring and lightening was cracking all throughout the sky. It was great! I really wanted to just run out there and get completely soaked but, that wouldn't have been too good. Anyway, our investigators are doing pretty good. We just got a hold of Jim and Elizabeth S.....n today and were able to set up an appointment with them! Elizabeth said they still wanted to meet with us so hopefully everything goes well on Thursday! The Y.....s are doing great! They came out to church yesterday and I heard Sis. Y.....r say, to someone who said to her that they hope to see her back again, "Oh I plan on being back for a long time." YEAH!!!! I'm so happy to see the Spirit of the Lord work in their lives! She started reading the Book of Mormon again, and soon enough her daughter will be baptized! She doesn't have a date, but I hope to report next week that she does.
Things are going great here in Harrisburg and I love the area! I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me this next transfer.
The church is indeed true!
Love,
Benjamin

Harrisburg Week 11

18 Months I know! I just made my planner today that begins my 14th of 17 transfer which means that I only make 3 more after it. What I mean by making a planner is I put some gospel pictures on the front and back covers of it, just to give it a little more character.
So I have some exciting news!! The C..... kids(from the Avalon area), Armond and Jade, got baptized and confirmed this past weekend!!!!! Jeremy was able to get the priesthood last Sunday so he was able to baptize his children yesterday. Elder Taylor gave me a call to tell me that the baptism went well (yes, he's still in Avalon) and it was a great day for the family. I wrote them a letter this past week because I knew it was coming up, and they were able to get it I think the day of the baptism or the day before. I love that family and I'm waiting on a picture that Elder Taylor will be sending me today. It is so wonderful that that family has been united in the gospel! So Awesome!!
So our investigators... I really haven't seen any of them since last week or even 2 weeks, but apparently they're doing great! I've been gone, when the appointments are, on exchanges. We haven't been able to meet with the T......s family this week, or with Connie R.....e, both canceled appointments. We haven't seen or heard from Verna for the last 4 weeks or so. Jim and Elizabeth S.....n were gone to Vacation Bible School then they called us (!) and said they were going to a wedding for a week in Maine, hopefully we'll be able to see them this week. But! the Y.....s are doing amazing! Sis. Y.....r is super committed on coming more often now! She wasn't able to come yesterday because she works every other Sunday, but we are so excited for them. We plan on setting the 10 year old with a date so that she can get baptized! Please keep the Y.....s in your prayers because the dad of other family, who remained, that was involved in the mishap, is still pretty angry about the whole situation even though it's been 4-5 years since. So pray that nothing happens.

The work is doing okay, we're back finding a lot again, which is fine! We're praying and having faith that the Lord will lead us to those He's preparing. I am so happy to be a missionary at this time, and be in the service of God. I know that I'm in the last part of my mission and I look forward to working as hard as possible to bring about much good, and hopefully see more of God's children accept the fullness of the gospel. The Church is true. The Gospel brings true and lasting happiness. And most importantly, He Lives!
Love,
Benjamin

Harrisburg Week 10

8/8/11
I had to ask what these terms meant-Sheryl
White Wash or Double In: When 2 missionaries get sent to an area at the same time, so when they get there they know nothing about the area, the ward, the investigator, and in some cases the bus systems.
My Exchange over in Pittsburgh was great I really enjoyed it! I was somewhat long but it really made this week go by really fast because of the driving and not really knowing where I am. As well, we had zone leader council, so that makes things go by really fast. The days were packed with things to do and we always stayed busy, so that was nice. It turns out that while I was over in Pittsburgh they were filming some parts of the New batman movie that's coming out next year. A couple missionaries that were in the south side said that they saw the bat mobile parked on the side of the road with a couple cops standing guard by it. And they saw Christian Bale and a couple of his stunt doubles talking on the side of the street.
There was this family that we have been working with for the past 3 months and that missionaries have been working with for a long time that finally came out to church! They are the Y....r family that has a 10 year old girl that hasn't been baptized that wants to. I think I told you about this ward and that they have gone through a lot of stuff that offended a few families? Anyway, this family was a victim of an incident. They had a really good reason not to come back to church because of the gravity of how bad  of what happened, but sure enough the Lord was able to soften their hearts and the hearts of others, so that she could make it out.
So, Missy(our 16 year old dog) died. Those words jumped out at me right when I opened the e-mail. When I saw those I was in shock, so I just began at the beginning of the letter so I could see what happened. Even though I'm sad inside, I'm smiling. She was the best. It was a wonderful blessing having her in the family.  I can't help but smile when I think of great memories with Missy, and those memories will be forever cherished memories of my childhood. The Lord comforts us in all times of sorrow by means of his Comforter. I feel him now. And I thank God for this Gospel that is true. I hope this week is a good week, I'm sure it will be. Remember, Everyday might not be good, but there's good in everyday.
Love,
Benjamin

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Harrisburg Weeks 7, 8 & 9

7/18
The work over here in Harrisburg is chugging along. Verna is doing good, we were unable to meet with her this week because of some work issues coming up, but we look forward to meeting with her this week! She's absolutely amazed on how simple the Book of Mormon is to her, compared to how confusing the Bible seemingly is to her. It's the true spirit of the Book of Mormon, and the wisdom of Nephi that makes it so understandable! The Stevensons are going to be out of town for the next couple weeks at a Vacation Bible School.  Elizabeth is flying through the Book of Mormon; she's in Alma! I hope that she'll feel the Spirit as she reads. She will if she has an open heart! We're hoping to get a couple new investigators this week that we have appointments with. Finding lately has been pretty successful lately. We're finding a lot of nice people and some that are open to the message of the Restoration.
We had a great experience yesterday to go and give some blessings to a family. There is this lady that is visiting from Virginia, and she's staying with her elderly parents and helping to take care of her father that is terminally ill due to a couple strokes within the past couple months. The lady is a member and her parents are not. She requested that we come and give her a blessing of comfort and counsel. When we arrived we saw her father in bed asleep hooked up to a couple machines. There was a truly humble and meek spirit in that room. After we chatted for a little bit we gave the good sister a blessing and offered one to her mother. We blessed her. She then requested that we give her sleeping father a blessing as well. It was a truly humbling experience to minister in a home where one will soon be expected to slip to the other side of the veil. The Spirit was so immensely present there as blessings were pronounced and an experience I won't soon forget. Seeing the comfort, peace, and thankfulness in the tears of the good sister were priceless. I am so grateful to be a missionary at this time and to have the opportunity to serve others, and be there as the Lord would.

7/25
I couldn't believe it when Steve got his call to Wisconsin!! I thought he was kidding when he was reading it, but I guess not(Ben got to be on the phone when his brother Stephen opened his call). You know what's funny? I guessed Wisconsin mostly because I thought it would be funny if he went there because it's kind of a random place, but hey I guess it's the Lords will. I like to think that I had some sort of influence in where he was going when it was decided in the Pre-mortalitly. I imagine my conversation with God went something like this, "You know what would be funny? If Steve served his mission for You in Wisconsin!", "You know, it wouldn't be funny Benjamin, it would be perfect." And thus, Steve got his mission call to Wisconsin, the land flowing with milk and cheese, and Packer Country (the team that beat my Steelers in the SuperBowl!).
My week here was pretty good. Not too much happened, but there were a few exciting things. One: It was SUPER hot this week! The highs were usually 95-100 during the day and it "cooled" down to about 85 at night. Now you may think, that's not bad, but there are a couple factors like, the humidity, a white shirt and tie, and slacks. It was pretty bad but we drank lots of water so we could survive. While we were tracting a couple days ago it was one of those 98 degree days and I think it was about 3 or 4 o'clock. Some people opened the door but really didn't want to talk because it was so hot, so they would say "We already belong to a church, we're not interested. Try and keep cool!" then close their doors on us (see James 2:14-17). Then we came to this one door where there was this really nice man that invited us in out of the heat, and allowed us to tell him a little about the restoration. He wasn't interested, but he saw that my water bottle was empty and asked if he could fill it back up for me. He was one of the only practicing Christians we came across that day.
Verna is doing okay I guess, we haven't been able to get into contact with her for the past week, so I don't really know what's going on. I think the Stevensons are still out at their bible school so I don't know about them either. Right now we're looking for new investigators and some that will be a little more committable.

Well I best be closing the e-mail. Happy Christmas in July!!!! Love you!!

8/1
I am doing very well on this summer day! P-day is always a good day. Nichelle will be a great missionary, I'm very excited for her! And I had no Idea that Audrey had even put in her papers! That's way exciting that she'll be in the neighboring PA mission. You'll have to tell her congrats for me next time you see her.

So this week a couple exciting things happened! One: The round of interviews with President Topham happened this week. My interview with him was pretty cool in which he basically told me what the rest of my mission was going to look like. I won't be finishing my mission as a Zone Leader, but I'll be released and then I'll train another new missionary. Since trainers are now required to spend 2 transfers with their trainees I'll be spending my last 2 training. President Topham said as well that he doesn't want to "white-wash" or "double" me into an area (like what happened in the South Side) so I'll be transferred to a different area after this one and spend my last 3 transfers there. So in simple terms, I will spend one more transfer here, when Elder Killpack leaves, with another companion, then I'll go to my next, and last, area where I'll have 1 transfer with another companion, then I'll train for 2 transfers (my last 2) with a greenie. And that's it.

We also found an awesome Peruvian family!! We tracted into them late last Monday night. The Parents want us to teach their 13 year old kid about God and Jesus Christ so that he will have something to believe in. They are Christians but haven't really taught their kids anything. They are such a wonderful family, and are very open kind, and receptive! I think we're going to see good things happen with the Torres Family. They've heard of the church when they lived in Peru, but never learned about it. When we taught them the Restoration and about Joseph Smith's first vision, the Spirit was so strong there! Even when we first walked into their home and during the entire conversation and lesson. God sure is blessing us here! It's wonderful!

Things are going great here in Harrisburg, Tomorrow I'm leaving to go on a week long (from Tuesday to Friday) exchange with the one of the Assistants to the President in Pittsburgh, so I'll be out of my area for a long time, and I'll miss a lesson with the Torres family! Oh well, Elder Lee will have a great opportunity to teach them, that'll be cool since he speaks Spanish.

Well, The church is true and always will be! Have a great week!

Love,
Benjamin


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harrisburg Week 6

I'm so glad that everything went well for Mel's surgery, except for the elongated periods of waiting time. That's no fun. I guess Hospitals are notorious for that. I'm glad her pain is minimal and she's adjusting to the eating styles now! That would be no fun!  She's been in my prayers constantly, and I have such a good companion; he prays for her too! I didn't ask him to do it, he just did one night in our companionship prayer.
So I'm super excited for Steve to get his mission call!! And guess what? President Topham gave me permission to be able to call home when it comes! I'm pretty pumped! I'm pretty excited for it! Two weeks from now!! I'm also glad that you were able to meet President Summerhays! He's such an amazing man isn't he? I'm guessing he'll be some kind of General Authority one of these days. I was expecting the church to be completely full too! I guess I was right if there were that many people there! That's impressive! Elder Killpack and I were thinking about how many people would be: his family, all the missionaries, their parents/families, and the main ward. It's pretty intense!
So this week was a pretty average week I think. Another Transfer has come and gone, and now I'm starting 13 of 17 transfer of my mission! Elder Killpack and I are staying together another transfer! YAY! Our investigators are doing fine. There's not much new with them. Did I tell you about a new investigator named Verna A....? She's a really neat lady that we found a couple weeks ago. She said that she would be baptized as soon as she found out that the church was true! We don't have a date for her yet because she still has to come to church and read some more out of the Book of Mormon. Oh and this week we came across some Anti material about the church, particularly Joseph Smith. It was ridiculous! It made me laugh a few times because of how ridiculous it was, but it did a good job on making the church, and our doctrines look outrageous. If someone knew nothing about the church and came across that stuff, they would become totally opposed to everything that has to do with the church. Anyway, the Church is true, and "no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing". So I take comfort in that!
Well I guess that's it for now! Have a great week!
love,
Benjamin

Harrisburg Week 5

Happy Independence day (Yesterday)!!!! The New mission president is so awesome!! I had the opportunity to be able to meet him on Friday for our Zone Leader Council over in Pittsburgh! Yes, I had to endure another 4 hour drive back over. It'll be a monthly thing as long as I'm a ZL, and as long as I'm over in HBG. But it's fun because it's a beautiful drive, and it's a time where I can just relax :) You don't get too many of those opportunities on the mission. President Topham will be, and is, a great mission president! I'm so excited to be able to work with him. And guess what? He didn't serve a mission when he was a young man, he just got married right out of HS! But he told us when he spoke to Elder Anderson of the Twelve, and President Eyring (yeah, cool I know) the it wasn't that important that he didn't because the form and style of missionary work the he would have performed, is much different nowadays. During his training in the MTC, Elder Perry said to all the mission presidents, that they needed to take the way of missionary work that they had learned during their missions and to put it in the back of a drawer, close it, lock it with a key, and throw away the key. Pres. Topham is a very spiritual man and has a great vision of the future of this mission. It's been a great transition. And No, there haven't been any rule changes.... yet. :)

The missionary work is going pretty good so far! This past Sunday our investigators Jim and Elizabeth S...... came to church when they said that they weren't able to make it! So that threw us for a loop and caught us off guard. But all went well. They stayed for all 3 meetings and seemed to enjoy it. Elizabeth, I think, bonded well with the sisters of the ward because she has an 11 month old baby girl, and of course, there are lots of mothers with children here. We were able to find a couple new investigators this week which is awesome! We're very excited that the Lord is blessing us with people to teach. And when we go finding, we find.

This 4th of July was a pretty good one! In order to ensure the safety of all the missionaries in the mission, we were instructed that we needed to be in our apartments by 6pm. And guess what? P-day is from 10am to 6pm! So we practically got the "day off" haha! It was fun. We met up with the walking elders here in Hbg, and went to Walmart, bought all the things necessary to have a grill out session, and we grilled! Last weekend we were able to obtain a grill for free from someone who was having a garage sale. So all we needed was charcoal, and a new grate for the grill. So we were also given a couple gift cards to Walmart so we were able to obtain needed things at minimal costs! We had grilled burgers, chicken, and pineapple! IT was great! The only thing was that a couple pieces of the chicken was a little undercooked... not raw, but undercooked. Everyone is healthy today so I have no worries about it.

There are some pretty exciting things going on back home! Steve is now an Elder, Mel is going in for surgery, Steve will soon be getting his mission call! I am pretty sure that I'll be able to call home when he get's his mission call. I know that President Summerhays allowed it, I guess I'll have to ask President Topham and see what his take on it will be. I sure hope that I'll be able to. I think what will have to happen if I get to call, you'll have to call me the day it comes in, and then call before he opens it. That would be best. But, we'll see what President Topham says.

It was great to hear from you today! I love you Mom! Have a great week! I look forward to hearing from you next week!

Love,
Benjamin



Harrisburg Weeks 3 & 4

6/20/11
 Life in Harrisburg is pretty awesome! It is so pretty out here, I will send a couple pictures.  The people here are really nice and the areas I cover are nice too! The Ward is great! Not as awesome as the last one I was in, but who's comparing? There are walking Elders that cover downtown HBG and they live real close and often times we have to give them a ride, which is okay but it tends to take up our time some days too. Which I don't like. Anyway, I love it here! There are so many fireflies!!! The other day we were driving through a farmy part of our area and we looked out over the fields and there were thousands of them all lighting up and flashing! It was incredible!! I love it!
We had an investigator come to church for the first time yesterday! Her name is Danesha H..... and she seems really committed! Her husband isn't really interested but he is supportive of her investigating. We'll get him to come one day! He's a really good guy. I think that Danesha will progress nicely, we have another appointment with her this coming weekend.
Love,
Benjamin

6/27/11
So I wrote this big long letter just barely and was working on it for the past 30 minutes then all of the sudden, right before I clicked the save as a draft button the computer ended my session and kicked me out! Therefore I lost a huge long letter. Anyway so I'll try to get all the important parts in it.

So this week was a long and tiresome week. The main thing that made it so tiresome is because I did a lot of driving. There was a missionary that had to go home due to some medical problems (he had a herniated disk in is back. Painful.) so Elder Killpack and I had to drive a long way to pick him up then take him to the airport the next day. This
happend from Thursday to Friday. Anyway, I never realized how tiring driving actually is. It's crazy! So for a lack of better words, I was completely pooped by Saturday and Sunday. I fell asleep in elders quorum, and then had a massive twitch which woke me up and caused a few pairs of eyes to fall on me. It was funny!

We found a great young couple tracting! They are awesome! Their names are Jim and Elizabeth S....... They are currently baptists and we have a few things to overcome with them, but they are open nonetheless, and somewhat hardheaded. But the power of the Book of Mormon, if they read it, will soften their hearts on a few points of the gospel.

President Topham is officially my new mission president today! He flies in and once he and President Summerhays look at eachother in the eyes, the keys of the mission go directly to President Topham. I'm pretty excited to meet him this weekend at Zone leader Council!

Hershey world was pretty good. It smelled wonderful! The tour was a nice, a little kiddish but hey, It's the experience. Then I bought some Extra Long Twizzlers! They measured at 18"! It was awesome!

All in all this week was great! I love you and I hope you have a great week this coming week!

Love,
Benjamin

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Harrisburg Week 2

Harrisburg is great! The ward here is pretty cool. There are some characters here, but you get that everywhere. It's not as awesome as my last ward, but I think I'll like it here a lot. Guess how long the Bishop has been a member of the church? How about 4 years!!!! Can you believe it! How about being Bishop that quickly after you've been baptized. But I'll tell you what, you couldn't tell it. He's such an awesome, stellar, spiritual guy! He was one of those guys that went to every single christian denomination looking for the church that was in the New Testament. And when he walked into the church and started investigating, he knew it was the one, and happily joined! We don't get fed as much here but it's still more than we were fed in South Side.

We have a few good investigators. None really "solid"... yet! We found an older interracial couple that's cool! Tommy and Barb. They're nice people and will allow us to come and teach them. I wasn't able to be at the last teaching appointment because I was sick. Yeah, I got sick again... I got signs of it Friday, was sick Saturday and Sunday and woke up feeling a lot better today. I got an irritation in my throat, a headache, and an all around "out-of-it" feeling. But I'm better now, I just have a little bit of a stuffy nose left over. There is another companionship that lives about a mile away from us and they cover the downtown part of Harrisburg. So we help them out a lot with rides, and they went with Elder Killpack to teach our investigators while one of them stayed with me while I slept. I slept for 3 hours on Saturday, from a little before 5 to a little before 8. It was great :) It was terrible being sick but it felt good to rest, and relax. Maybe I need to start taking multi-vitamins in the morning... I think so.
That's about it for this week! It was a good one!
Love,
Benjamin 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Harrisburg Week 1

Things are going great in my new area! It's really cool, and very flat. Over in Pittsburgh there are hills everywhere and not a flat place in sight! But here it's flat and there are farms and what not in the outer parts of the area. I love it. It's really fun being able to serve with Elder Killpack again, we are much better missionaries than we were a year ago! I thought I would have trouble treating Elder Killpack as an experienced missionary but it's not that bad at all. He's a great missionary and we're working hard together. The apartment is pretty
nice. It's bigger than my last one, but doesn't have AC. We do however have an AC unit that is in the wall.

We don't have that many active investigators. We did however pick up a couple new ones this past weeked! It was awesome! The week has been a crazy one for us. We didn't get much time to do proselytizing because of meetings we had to go to. On Thursday we drove back out to Pittsburgh to go to a Zone leader meeting and then we had to drive back the next day. Each trip was about 4 hours. It was pretty intense and I was dog tired after each one. Then we went to a wedding of a recent convert on Saturday. That was pretty fun to see a couple being married and setting a goal to go to the temple in a year.

Not much else has happened this week since Wednesday. We have a tripanionship set of missionaries that are in the same ward as us and live less then a mile from us so we get to see them a lot and hang out with them on P-day. All 3 are spanish speaking missionaries because there are a lot of Puerto Ricans here for some reason! I've never seen so many in my life! One missionary is from Peru, one is from Utah, one is from Idaho. All great missionaries. I have a feeling that I'm going to love it here!

Love,
Benjamin

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Harrisburg Week .5

So you may find it a little odd that you're getting an e-mail from me on a Wednesday afternoon but right now I'm at the library with my new companion typing up some information for a meeting with the Stake president here in a couple hours while a guy right next to me is totally rocking out. At anyrate, I'm in my brand new area!!! And guess where I am..... Harrisburg baby!! I'm now officially on the other side of the mission. It's a first for me. I always wanted to come over to the east side, and the request was granted to serve in the Capitol City of Harrisburg. It's way cool! The capitol building looks like it has an Angel Moroni on it, it's great you should look it up.

My new address is:
4209 Catalina Ln.
Harrisburg, PA 17109

And guess what my neighbor's last name is..... Serrano!! I got to meet Mrs. Serrano this morning. She's way nice! Her husband is actually from Mexico so there's no relation there unless some branch of Serrano migrated to the PI, but it was really cool to see our last name on the neighbor's mailbox. I'll be talking to them more for sure.

I bet right now you're wondering who my new companion is. You'll never guess. Elder Killpack! My baby boy is my companion once again, except we're Zone Leaders together! It's pretty awesome! I really look forward to serving with him again.

The trek over to Harrisburg from Pittsburgh was a doozie. First off, I get to drive a truck, and the U-Haul trailer we had was too small to fit all the luggage for the many missionaries that are heading over that direction, so we had to do a switch of trailers with another truck to be able to fit all the stuff in it. Once that was completed I was assigned to drive the truck and trailer (a 6' x 12') all the way out to HBG. Now, the only kind of trailer towing experience was with our little utility trailer that had 2 tandem bikes on it. The drive from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg is about 4.5-5 hours. It was pretty intense! But there were no troubles. Luckily I had some former training on how to back a trailer. All in all it was a first for me to, 1. Tow a huge trailer and 2. Drive that far! I had a good time, Elder Hurley and Elder Willmore were with me, and a couple other relatively new missionaries.

Twas a blast driving through Amish country. Oh! We saw a horse and buggy ridingat night with headlights and taillights with blinkers!! How crazy is that?! I accidentally blinded them with my brights.... oops! Oh, and we had no phones with us so if something went wrong we had no communication. God was with us so everything went smoothly and the GPS directed us.

We finally arrived at Harrisburg at 11:45pm (way late for a missionary) and unloaded the trailer speedily so everyone could disperse to their areas. Since Elder Killpack and I are the ZLs we had to stay until everyone had everything and left, and we ended up getting home at around 1am. Needless to say we took an extra bit of time in the morning to sleep in ;) It has been a pretty intense past 24 hours. I just thought you would like a little update since I had the time today to be able to do it.

Love,
Benjamin

Avalon Week 24

Hello Everybody!!

Sorry but this Monday the libraries are closed so I'm currently at the Mac Store in the mall doing my e-mail. so I gotta make this quick before I get kicked out of here.... just kidding!

Well I'm getting transferred! I'm getting ousted after my 6 month spree here in Wexford. I absolutely loved this area and had so many good experiences. I feel so blessed to be able to have gotten to know the people I know and to teach the people I taught. This area has probably been the best and favorite on my mission so far, even though it's only been the third. The ward was absolutely awesome! The area was great! There was everything you could ask for in this area and all classes of life. It has been a great experience. Elder Taylor is staying in the area. Elder Willmore is getting transferred with me. I'm still staying a Zone leader, and I really look forward to my next area! All the Zone leaders are great.

David Kraus is doing awesome! Same with Jeremy. Hao (How) Gu (goo) is doing awesome! Did I tell you about him? He's a Chinese man with NO religious background. He came to church and I think he had a good time. He really doesn't show much emotion but he thanked me for the help for him and his family. He'll be baptized eventually. I'm sure that it won't be too soon but eventually. 

I feel that my testimony has grown so much in this area, and my desire to do what is right. I love the gospel and the knowledge it brings to our lives. This has been the best decision of my life. I love you all and I miss you too! I'll let you know of my address as soon as possible for my new area! Have a great week! I enjoyed reading your letters!

Love,
Elder Benjamin Serrano

Avalon Week 23

May 23, 2011

Things are going great out here! I'm having a blast serving with Elder Taylor and Elder Willmore.

This week for us was an alright week. We were able to teach all of our investigators, but sadly this week we weren't able to find any new investigators. This is a first for a long time for us so it was a little disappointing. We do however have a few awesome appointments set up for this week that we are really looking forward to.

David Kraus is doing great! He attended the Singles ward yesterday and he really enjoyed it. He said that he feels like he should be down there but really likes the 4th ward. We determined that his records would be moved down to the singles ward and he would attend the 4th ward once a month to keep in contact with all of his friends in the church. He is such an awesome new convert and we are teaching him a little about the priesthood now to prepare him. He's such a great friend of mine! Jeremy Crippin is doing great as well and he's preparing for the priesthood as well. I absolutely love serving in this area.

So next Tuesday is transfer day. And I am pretty sure that I will be getting transferred. I've been here for almost 6 month and with Elder Taylor for nearly 4.5. So I'm guessing my time is almost up for being in
Avalon. But hey I'm excited to go to another area and have a great time there!

Have a great week!
Love,
Benjamin!