The Benson's Family

The Benson's Family

Sister Benson and I have been called to serve as the mission president and wife in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar mission.  I served as a missionary in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar mission from 1996-1998.  Before that I grew up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Idaho.  Sister Benson grew up in northern California. She also later served a mission in Mongolia from 1999-2001.

After our missions, we both began working as teachers in the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center.  That is where we met, and were later married in the Logan, Utah temple.  Just after we were married, we spent a year in China, where I completed a Fulbright fellowship, studying Chinese and Chinese history.  Later, I practiced patent law in Southern California for many years before taking a job with a San Diego based Real Estate Company, which transferred our family to Singapore.  We, with our four children (Isabella 9, John 6, Thomas 4, Marianne 2), have come to love Singapore, its beautiful culture and fascinating history.  Singapore has indeed become our home.

Lately, I have been impressed by the words of Jacob, “how great the importance to make these things [even the doctrines of salvation] known unto the inhabitants of the earth…”[1] Joseph Smith answered that rhetorical question when he said, “After all that has been said, our greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel.”[2] I believe the most important place that we are called to preach the Gospel is in our own homes to our own families, especially to our own children.  Next to that is sharing the gospel with those around us no matter where we are, whether it is in Singapore, the US, Mongolia, or elsewhere.  Each of us has a portion of the Lord’s vineyard in which to serve.  Each portion of the vineyard, indeed each soul, is equally important to the Lord.

We, like the Apostle Peter, need to be willing to serve.  The Savior’s first admonition to Peter was at the sea of Galilee when He said, “Come follow me, I will make you [a] fisher[] of men.”[3] And, Peter “straightway left his net” and followed Jesus Christ.[4] Then, one of the last admonitions to Peter by the Savior was, three times, “Feed my sheep”[5] and then upon his ascension to heaven came the admonition: “ye shall be witnesses unto me…unto the utmost parts of the earth.”[6]

That admonition was not just for Peter and his fellow apostles.  In latter day revelation, Christ asked the question:  “For unto what were ye ordained?”  He then answered the question: “to preach my gospel…”[7] This great latter day effort of missionary work has been prophesied of for centuries, even by ancient prophets.[8] The exciting part is that we all get to be a part of fulfilling that prophecy.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said recently, “There might have been a more exciting time to be a missionary in the Church, ‘but I do not know when that would be.’”[9] Our generation is indeed the generation that was foreordained to preach the gospel to the entire world.

Sister Benson and I are both very excited to serve as full-time missionaries again.  One reason that we feel so excited is that we have both tasted of that “great joy” mentioned in D&C 18 of seeing souls come unto Christ.  That is the same joy that Ammon spoke of when praising God for the thousands of souls that were brought unto Christ when he and his brethren labored as missionaries.  He exclaimed, “…my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.”[10]

We both feel that, even though we were called to teach the Mongolian people the gospel, in many respects, we actually learned more from the Mongolian people about living the gospel. For example, the Mongolians showed us what great faith is.  Coming from a Buddhist culture and decades of Communist rule, accepting Christianity was a big change.  It wasn’t just a different religion but really a different way of life.  As missionaries, we depend on the Book of Mormon to testify the truth of what we teach.  But, during each of our missions, the Book of Mormon was not yet translated into Mongolian, and therefore we could not rely heavily on it.  There were only a few select chapters translated into Mongolian, including Lehi’s Dream, 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 11 (Christ’s visit to the Americas).  We would read these select few chapters with each investigator, sometimes more than once.  We would commit our investigators to pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon[11] based on these few chapters.  And, even though we had experienced the Lord’s promise for ourselves, it felt like a miracle every time Heavenly Father answered the humble prayer of an investigator seeking the truth of the Book of Mormon from so few select chapters.  Receiving that answer meant their whole life would change; but with faith, they did it.

Also, the Mongolian members are fantastic member missionaries.  As foreign missionaries, we were not permitted to actively proselyte in Mongolia, meaning that we were not able to actively seek out investigators to hear the gospel. Most of the work came through member referrals. The members take this responsibility very seriously, keeping the missionaries busy with lessons to teach.  Every member is indeed a missionary.

Sister Benson and I have often day dreamed about someday leaving our net as Peter did to return to serve as couple missionaries among the Mongolians — a people and culture we have come to love so much.  We did not expect the call back to the full-time service to come so soon.  But, we are thrilled, even our joy is full that we have this opportunity to serve; and beyond that, to share this experience with our four beloved children.

We humbly pray that the Lord will qualify us for the work.

[1] 2 Nephi 2:8-9

[2] Joseph Smith, TPJS, pg. 113

[3] Matthew 4:19

[4] Matthew 4:20

[5] John 21:15-17

[6] Acts1:8

[7] D&C 50:14

[8] See e.g.,Jacob 5; 1 Nephi 15:18

See e.g.

[9] MTC Jan. 15

[10] Alma 26:11

[11] Moroni 10:3-5