Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sophie's First Christmas

Sophie opening her first Christmas present

Monday, December 22, 2008

The announcements that got away

So last week we canceled Explode, our High School Ministry, because of the snow. I think that will be the only time we cancel church in Las Vegas because of snow. If you have 5 min and want to laugh, watch this ditty its quite the laugh...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Day it Snowed in Vegas

So you may have heard that we got snow here in Vegas. It started snowing on Wed, Dec 17th and snowed until about 11pm that night. I was bummed because we had to cancel invite night, but I was able to go home and see my family. Here are some of the pictures that we have from that night and the next day.

Sophie was chilling, she is so beautiful!

Here is Charity with Sophie outside our condo

Then on Thursday we went out to Red Rock. The whole time was amazing!

Here the Mountains to the west, they looked so amazing!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Update

I have to post this because its Wednesday December 17th @ 1:09pm in Las Vegas, NV. It has been snowing for the last two hours here! That is right, it is snowing in Las Vegas. I grew up in Big Bear Lake, CA and know what real "snowing" looks like. I am shocked, excited, impressed and want to go snowboarding. Too bad its not sticking.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sold my x-box

Yep, that rights. I sold my x-box 360 on eBay yesterday. Charity and I started talking about getting a Wii about 3 weeks ago and asked for one for Christmas. After we asked we started talking about it more and decided that we don't need two game systems. I thought about it more and decided that if my wife will play Wii with me than I will sell my x-box 360.
So right now my x-box is sitting in a box all packed up and waiting to be shipped (the buyer on eBay still needs to pay). Once that happens we are on the look out for a great deal on a Wii. We will probably buy a used one on eBay to save money.
It has been really cool with Charity not working and us having the time to spend together and also to be wiser with our money, we are really seeing God work!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Camp is coming!

The other night at Explode I asked our leaders to pray for winter camp to Brian Head Utah, Jan 23-25. I asked them to pray, either verbally or non-verbally, every time they eat a meal for God to work in our winter camp. I wanted to ask you all if you would be willing to do the same? We did this for Hume Lake and saw God really move.
Yesterday at our student leadership meeting we created a “hit list” of students that we will be praying for them to come to camp. I will do my best to get this out to you all this week. Thanks so much for supporting what God is doing here with your prayers, I am excited to see God move in another camp!
If you are willing to give this your best shot will you please respond to me and just let me know?
Thanks a bunch!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Africa Update #4

Straight from my pastor:

Just a quick update from our team--
First, our team is GREAT. They are hard workers and Jesus lovers. We are almost done with construction on a new church building/Youth Center on the edge of Ouaga. The weather has been the dream of most people— high 80’s during the day—we’re going to come home with great tans!
Yesterday, Chase, Evan Faircloth and I traveled several hours to the home village of Victor (in our church). Victor was Chase’s roommate for quite a while before getting married recently. Victor had us take a bunch of stuff for his family for Christmas. It was amazing to travel to this REALLY African village (and we have been to several villages in our trips here). Wait til you see the pictures. I wish you could have sat with us in the bush taxi and been there when it broke down out in the middle of nowhere! Thanks for your prayers.

We shared Christ with 55 kids two days ago at our work site.
We are leading the Youth Group here in the capitol city for all the English-speaking kids (30-40).
We are thankful for your love, prayers and support. Nobody has been sick at all— well, Connie got car sick this morning! Everyone is in great spirits.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Birthday Card

Today I got my first birthday card in the mail. I was super stoked when I got it, and read it just before I left the house today. After I read it all I could was think how important people are to God and that I am so excited I get to be involved in life change. Here is the card I got from my neighbors that I met back in 2001 when I lived in San Diego. God has changed their lives so much and I am honored to have been able to watch! I love you Martian and Adrianne!

Africa Update #3

Just a quick update this time.
I actually talked with my Pastor today and they are having a great time! We talked using Skype, a free internet program, that has video and voice capability. It is crazy to me that I can talk to someone who is half way across the world now and see them! The team is doing great and they are working on a youth center there in Burkina in the captial city.
Tomorrow some of the team is heading to a guy in our church's village to give some items to his family (God is amazing).
Please pray for Pete Brockop, one of the missionaries there, he got malaria today and is not doing good. Thanks for praying for our team!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Africa Update #2

Another update from our Africa team... (I wish we were there)

Our Africa Team had an incredible experience today at the Dorcas House and all of South Hills Church got thanks and God was praised.

Our team presented gifts of quilts and other cool things to about 15 young ladies.

When I say "Dorcas House" don't think regular house, think African village with women who are being encouraged, loved and discipled in Jesus.

When we visited them today and gave them gifts from our church (THANK YOU QUILTING MINISTRY!!), here is what our missions staff said, "This may be the biggest gift these girls have ever received. You have absolutely no idea what you have just done for them. They will never forget this for the rest of their life."

I'm trying to post a video to YouTube but am having some trouble. I'll send the link later.

Check it out!

More later...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Strip Church

Yep, you read that right. About 3 months ago I met a guy named Brandon Piety from at church and we just got talking. I found out that he is part of a team that moved here from Grand Rapids to start something called Strip Church. This excited me! I was glad that someone was ready to tackle this whole deal with porn head on. Brandon and I started hanging out and I love spending time with him. I remember telling my mom about him and what he is doing here. Her response was so rad, I think she said something like: "WOW, that is a hard job! I will make sure I pray for them everyday" in her concerned mom voice.
About 2 weeks ago Charity and I went to the intro night when the team talked about Strip Church. I am so fired up for what these guys are doing and their passion to reach people in this city. The story got some great press and was even on Night Line. Somehow my face made it on National Television:Here is the link where the video is. After seeing me on there Charity said: "They showed that on National TV! Neal Benson". I didn't do anything bad, just being Neal. You gotta take 7 min and watch this.

Our lil Santa

Is this not the cutest picture you have ever seen? (Ok I know I am a biased dad)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Africa Update #1

Not sure if many of you know that I am helping with missions at our church now. I have a huge heart to see people know Jesus and missions are a secret passion of mine. For the last 5 months I have been working on sending a team to Africa and here is the first update I received from the team:

Friday morning, 7:05 (8 hours ahead of you)

It wasn’t really all that long ago that missionaries had to travel here by boat (2-3 months)....Becky Nehlsen’s parents did that. Now we can get here in just over a day from the west coast! And communicate instantly.

Our team is doing GREAT. We spent our first day getting oriented and getting our bodies somewhat used to the time adjustment— not bad so far. We checked out the city and saw where the work here is progressing and what we can do while here. Our flights over (30 hours of straight travel) went great. My dream of leaving the airport and getting out into a French town came true. We ran up to Senlis and had lunch and looked around the old part of that town — a cathedral dating probably to the 13th century.

Our team will be working this week on a new Youth Center out at the edge of the capital city where the villages are being gobbled up by the growing city.

It is encouraging to see how God is working in this country but the challenges here are great. Islam is being funded by national governments in the middle east. Christianity is funded by individuals from the west.

50% of this country is Muslim. 10% Christian. 30% hang on to traditional tribal beliefs. The battle is on to win the hearts of those 30%. I feel like a spiritual soldier out here.

Pray for our ability to work hard and glorify God and enjoy Him in this place.

We may head out to Victor’s (South Hills) family and give them their gifts from Victor and meet all of them.

We’ll keep in touch.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Leadership Quote

I am working on a paper where I am looking at leadership in Numbers 12, 13-14, and 16. As I have been studying leadership I found this quote from Peter Druker:

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

The Shack

When we go on vacation we have somewhat of a tradition; I do all the driving and Charity reads a book to me. I know that sounds kinda lame, but it provides great conversation and a way for us to do something together. I think I added it up that we spent about 18 hours in the cars on our trip last week. The time was great and I really do enjoy spending that with Charity.
This time she read a very popular book called "The Shack". I don't want to give the book away, but I do have to say that it is amazing. I want to talk about (somehow) this Wednesday night at Explode. The book talks about God in a way that most Christians, that I know, don's view God. I feel the way He is represented in the book was a shock to me, at first, but then it made sense as we kept reading.
I think this book could be a great resource to help people address pain in their life. I think the author does a wonderful job in the way that he portrays the story and the hurt that we all have dealt with.
I hope that you can see how ambiguous I am being and I hope that makes you want to get out and read this book.
I don't think it will take much time, I think you can use this a great way to share Christ in a new way to people and I think they will be open to this story that is sure to grab their heart.