I will be set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tonight! This means that I will officially be a missionary and must begin living by missionary standards. So I won’t have my cell phone or access to facebook anymore.

My mom will be keeping up a missionary blog for me which can be found HERE OR by clicking the photo of me to the right.

If any of you would ever like to reach me, my physical addresses can be found on the side bar or on my “My Mission” page. But just for the sake of ease:

Provo MTC Address:
Sister Isabella DiBenedetto-Borges
JAN14 ECU-GUAN
2023 N 900 E Unit 832
Provo UT 84602
*Mailing/package address until Jan 21, 2014*

Mission Home Address:
Sister Isabella DiBenedetto
Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission
Casilla de Correo 16160
Guayaquil
Ecuador

Ecuador Package Mailing:
Sister Isabella DiBenedetto
Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission
Cdla. Kennedy Vieja, Calle G, N° 601
y La 8va. Oeste, Edif. Mallorca 3er Piso
Guayaquil, Guayas
ECUADOR

I am so happy to be able to have this experience and I cannot wait until I get to Ecuador! I’m sure my mission will be full of trials but I know that I’m going to bless other’s lives. Thank you all for reading my posts, I hope you go on to read about my adventures in Ecuador! I hope my words have strengthened your testimonies or strengthened your love for our Father in heaven and His son Jesus Christ!

T Minus 15 Days!

Balancing religion and daily life has proven very difficult for me lately.

Being a student and understanding my obligation to earn an education has been in constant conflict with my desire to serve a mission. Being able to choose for yourself what your priorities are and will be is actually very stressful.

Before I was a member of the church my future seemed simple to me (graduate high school, go to college, have a career). It was just the way that the world functioned and I was by no means opposed to it. In essence, what the church did for me was bring choices into my life. All of a sudden there was much more that I could have! Things that, in the grand scheme of things, meant more than what the world had been able to offer me. Though I knew it would upset some people, I had to make my own priorities.

I hope that my priority will always be to return back to Heavenly Father’s presence having done the best I possibly could in this life to hear His voice and follow His guidance. It is this priority that has given me the courage to serve a mission and that will lead me to be sealed in the temple and to one day start a family.

Choosing what you want in this life may be stressful but I love how the church has shown me just how much I am able to choose. Though some choices are overwhelming at times it’s the knowledge I have that my Father in heaven loves me that gives me the courage and direction to make the right ones.

I know that my call to Ecuador to preach the gospel was divinely inspired and I am so excited to come to understand why I am called to serve there. I know I will grow in knowledge but more than that I will grow to be more compassionate. My experiences and the lessons I learn will prove invaluable not only in my life but also in the lives of the family I will one day have.

Fifteen more days!

T Minus 23 Days!

Okay, I’m going to tell you why life is SO GREAT.

I have been sick, my apartment has (literally) fallen apart, I’ve shed a few tears, and I’ve come to realize that acting like and becoming an adult is much harder than I thought it’d be. But just as I can say those things, I can also say that I’ve never been happier.

There is so much that comes with being obedient and and trying your hardest to keep the covenants you’ve made with Heavenly Father. I know I’m blessed every single day, whether I realize it or not. All of these horrible things have been happening to me, things that should really upset me, just don’t. I’ve gotten to the point where I can see that bad things happen but ultimately you’re the one who chooses how it will affect you.

Life is too short to sit there and brood about every bad thing that has or could happen. A lot of people would say, “make the best of it”. Imagine if we went into every problem with that mentality. Even small problems. Maybe your todler spilt something on the floor – instead of letting frustration take over you pick up your child and you hug them and you kiss them and you show them that they mean more to you than a carpet does.

I don’t understand why some people insist on making life harder for each other. I believe as human beings it’s our duty to help lift one another’s burdens, whatever they may be. A good life, to me, is measured by the people whose lives you touch – the people that go on to help others because they had once been helped.

There are times that I think and even that I feel that I am alone. But when I share what I’ve come to know through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I feel something that lets me know that I’m not. I can’t tell you how much peace that has brought me over these past two years.

I love my life. Through everything that has happened to me and will happen to me, I will continue to love it.

Every negative feeling I’ve recently had is being swallowed up every day by my excitement and my joy over being able to bring to the people of Ecuador what I’ve been brought by missionaries in Connecticut. Missionaries and missionary work changed my life. In the past 2 years many people have touched my life and for that reason I feel the need to bring to others what I’ve been so lucky to receive.

I cannot wait to devote myself to the Lord’s work! Twenty-three more days!

 

Sonia Isabel Andrade Gonzalez

Fast and testimony meeting has been my favorite since I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, fast and testimony meetings are usually held on the first Sunday of the month. Members are invited to fast, or abstain from two consecutive meals and to then give a fast offering or the equivalent cost of those two meals or more to be used for the poor. After the Sacrament is administered, the person conducting this hour of church (usually the Bishop or one of his Counselors) shares their testimony and then invites the members to come up at their discretion and share their testimonies with the congregation. This particular hour of church can be deeply personal and touching. I am a firm believer that Heavenly Father often answers our prayers through other people. In many cases, my prayers have been answered through a testimony of another on one of these fast and testimony days.

Now, as I was saying, these days are my favorite! Today’s fast and testimony meeting being no exception. In fact, today was my absolute favorite one.

It is very easy not  to go up to the podium and share your testimony. In fact, I often don’t. Usually, I like to sit back and let my prayers be answered by others. But today was different. Every testimony that had been shared really touched my heart and led me to feel that I should share mine as well.

I shared it then, and I would like to share it with you now!

Most of you know that my family is from Venezuela. Most of you also know that I was able to visit my relatives in Venezuela this summer! It was such an exciting time in my life and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go. What most of you don’t know is that my mother has not been to Venezuela in about thirteen years.

My grandmother on my mother’s side past away one or two months before I was born. I’ve asked my mother about her sometimes and usually what she tells me is how much my grandmother wanted to meet me. She would also tell me how I was named after her, my grandmother being Isabel and me Isabella.

Unbeknownst to my wonderful mother, I went to Venezuela with intentions of visiting my grandmother’s grave and taking pictures for my mother since she had not been able to do this for many years.

Two or three weeks into my trip to Venezuela I finally got to head over to the cemetery to visit my grandmother’s grave. I was so excited! My aunt and I even made a pit stop at a florist and bought an arrangement of flowers to place on her grave.

I’m not sure what cemeteries are like in the USA but the one my grandmother is buried at in Venezuela is HUGE. Honestly, it looks like acres and acres of land. My aunt didn’t remember where my grandmother was buried so we had to enter into the offices of the cemetery. We realized that there was an online directory for the people who are buried in the cemetery and were helped by a man who input the data for us. For about 20 minutes my aunt and I are standing there telling the man everything we know about my grandmother and HE CANNOT FIND HER FOR THE LIFE OF HIM. “Isabel Andrade”.

I just couldn’t take it anymore, I was so done with the situation, I left the room with the man and my aunt in it and looked for a chair to sit in. I felt so cheated. I bought the flowers, I came with the right intentions, and I got nowhere. I just didn’t get it.

Just as I had been sitting down, a name pops in my head. An extremely specific name.

I automatically get up and walk back into the room with the man and my aunt with a face, I can only imagine, looked like I had just won the lottery. I looked straight at my aunt and said, “Her first name is Sonia, not Isabel!” The gears start turning, my aunt looks at me and can’t believe she forgot that Sonia is my grandmother’s first name. Immediately the man is able to find where my grandmother is buried and my aunt and I went straight to her grave with victory over our shoulders.

I did not know my grandmother’s first name. I had always assumed her first name was Isabel because my mother told me I was named after her.

Heavenly Father loves families SO MUCH. He wants to see them thrive and progress through life. I had been at that cemetery in Venezuela because I knew how much it would mean to my mother and it also meant a lot to me. Although I am the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in my family I know for a fact that our Father in Heaven loves them just as much as He loves me. We are all His children and we each are worth far more than we realize in the eyes of God.

My mother was so grateful for what I did for her and I know I was only able to do that with the help of Heavenly Father.

Families are forever, and I know one day we will all be together again.

Called To Serve

collage2Dear Sister DiBenedetto:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, January 1, 2014. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.

It is official! I will be a sister missionary in 2 months!

When I opened my mission call I WAS NOT expecting to be called to serve in South America. I JUST GOT BACK from South America in June. I will admit it was a total shock when I read it. And what’s more I felt something I had never felt since preparing to go…fear. I was literally shaking holding my call in my hands. After all this time preparing to serve a mission, the time finally came to know the details, and I was just FREAKED OUT. Luckily, I have some very good friends who take amazing care of me. A few hours after opening my call I felt much better and a whole lot more excited.

I cannot wait to get to know the people of Ecuador! And I especially cannot wait to brush up on my Spanish and get to know a culture different from that of Venezuela.

I truly believe that there are things only I can bring to the people of Ecuador and I am so excited to find out what those things are. I’m so desirous to bring happiness into their lives and even more, for them to bring happiness into mine. I am going to teach AND learn things in Ecuador that are going to change my life.

These past months I have been trying to take a step back and see all of the good in my life. There are so many things that I have been blessed with. It took me a while but I came to realize that blessings come when we do the things we know we should and I have known for quite some time that I should serve a mission. Though there has been so much good in my life lately, I am more than willing to set those things aside for a while to do what Heavenly Father has asked of me. I know that for this, He will watch over me and bless my life.

I am excited to be a part of this marvelous work and to share it all with you guys! 

Excuses

Lately, I have been extremely distracted. Every time I sign onto my computer with intentions of writing, my attention is somehow diverted to something completely different. Can I blame myself? It’s not my fault Youtube is so hilarious or that there are just too many things to pin on Pinterest. But, the thing is, I find myself distracted at times I set aside to pray and read my scriptures too. It’s not my fault my Bio teacher decided to load my class with homework this weekend…Can I blame myself?…Yes. Because the truth is, there will always be an excuse not to do the things you know you should.

One of my biggest flaws is that I can be very materialistic. When I was in Venezuela this summer, I always found a reason not to pray or read my scriptures. What I replaced that time with was shopping. I would buy and buy and family would buy for me, until one day I realized, surrounded by things, however nice they were, I was not happy. There comes a point in your life when you realize the things you surround yourself with don’t matter as much as people tell you they do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have nice things. But what are nice things if you don’t appreciate them?

I don’t think appreciation is something everyone is born with. I think it’s developed and acquired. In my experience, I am the most grateful and appreciative when my relationship with my Father in Heaven is strong. What could humble a person more than an understanding that everything they’ve come to know and be came through Heavenly Father?

I have been introduced to things in the past two years that I never thought existed, things that have changed my life. At that time, maybe I wasn’t as grateful as I should have been. But as I look back, all I see is a Father who took perfect care of me.

I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe that my Father in Heaven expended a lot of effort over many years to bring me towards something that would bring me more joy than I could ever imagine. Every sad moment of my life seems worth it for having pushed me towards learning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether they were about things that I didn’t get, people who had wronged me, or even people who had passed away, I now know something that makes all of those things okay.

There will always be an excuse not to do the things you should. Maybe that’s not reading your scriptures, maybe that’s ignoring an answer from Heavenly Father. Whatever it be, I find that instead of making excuses to maintain whatever lifestyle you’re living or to maintain however little effort you care to expend, it’s helpful to remember who loves you and why. People are imperfect, they are going to judge and dislike, sometimes, for no reason. But your Father in Heaven is perfect and just every single day. He will not lead you down the wrong path. He will not disown you or abandon you. And He will never advise you wrong.

Unglue your feet from this world and realize that there are some things that only Heavenly Father can supply you with. What you may not be grateful for right now I can promise you will be grateful for later.