Monday, December 31, 2012

Feliz Ano Novo!

Hello hello. :) How is everyone since.... five days ago? Six days ago? Hahah its weird to think that I was talking to you guys and i could see you guys! It was so great. I miss you guys so much! My companion said that his first time skyping his family was hard for him. He skyped ALL DAY and afterwards, he couldnt work well because he kept thinking about his family. I dont think i was that extreme, but it was a little difficult to focus in the District Meeting Christmas evening. We had an hour bus ride to Cabo Frio, and truthfully, I thought about you guys a lot for that time, and also throughout the evening. But it also made me want to work harder. I dont know why, but i was motivated to work hard, and so thats what i have been trying to do since then.
So first off, I want to say that I received your package!!! Yesterday, President and Sister Lima came to our area and dropped off a bunch of supplies for us. I received your package along with a nice little stack of letters. :) I think there was about 7 or so. I am grateful for all that have written me up until now. Its nice receiving letters from friends and family. I felt very loved when the President handed them to me. He also thinks you guys (my family) is apostasizing due to the Catholic stickers all over the package. It was a little awkward talking to him... hehe.
The week started out great with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. They were a bit sad, but the members really helped in making us feel a part of their families. I am grateful for that. This Christmas was a Christmas I will never forget (Wade´s words of wisdom ring true!). It was weird that we still had to work as normal: lessons, contacts on the street, be in bed by 10:30, etc. Work was definitely hard though. Many people leave for vacations, or are already partying with their family and friends, so the streets were very sparse, and all our investigators didnt have time for us.
After Chirstmas, the week turned pretty rough. The 26th was especially rough. The temperature continued to rise throughout the week, and the 26th was toasty. All of our appointments fell through. We lost a couple investigating too. They seemed so cool, but they dont agree with many things about our church (ironically they were married in a Mormon church). We also were about to cut Belisario, the husband of Vania. He agrees with all the doctrines of the church, knows everything about the church, and even comes to church every week! But... he doesnt want to be baptized. Our day was bad, and after speaking to him for a little, we were about to cut him off and stop visiting him. However, that night, the Zone Leaders said try one more time.
The week continually got hotter and hotter, and the work didnt improve. Remember how I said that the Coppertone Suncreen stained my shirts yellow? Well, i stopped using it and bought this cleaner that is supposed to help remove the stains. Well, after washing every shirt i had with this cleaner, my shirts came out a dark yellow (not completely, just in areas on the sleeves and collar). To say the least i was angry. Vania has almost all my shirts right now and is working on getting them out. The week continued worsening and toasted us out at 106 F on the 29th. I came down with a bit of heat stroke that day and had a throbbing headache almost the whole day. It was hard to even be in the sun because your skin feels like its cooking. How i got through this day, I dont know, but i decided i need to just push through it. So i did. By the end of the day, we were able to finish the day with teaching 8 lessons and 12 new investigators. :) Vania also gave us a huge chocolate bar to eat as we walked home. That is one day I will never forget. I know that the Lord really does make us strong when we need it. I was feeling absolutely horrible, and we were able to change the day into one of our most productive.
So thats my rollercoaster of a week. Great huh? I will end off by telling a quick story. So remember the Ward Mission Leader you guys saw for a sec on Skype? Well Saturday he was riding his motorcycle and was clotheslined by some kids with kite-string. He crashed his bike but ended up okay. He had some good cuts on his elbows and has a line from the kite-string across his neck. He messed up his arm a little too. He´s a strong fellow. This happened Friday Evening. Sunday, he was up teaching a Training Session to the ward. The members here are strong and awesome. I love working with them. They have such firm testimonies of the Gospel.
Well thats it for now. I hope you are having a great New Years Eve right now! Happy New Year!!!! I love and miss you all very very much! Tchau!
Much love,

Elder Bennett

Ps. Check out the photo I attached. The moon was bright red!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Feliz Natal!

Feliz Natal todo Mundo!
I hope you all survived the end of world a few days ago! Alright, right off the bat i will say that this email will be a bit shorter because my time is super cut short. But this week has been a good week and full of the hustle and bustle of tan brasilians rushing around buying new christmas swimsuits, bikinis, and surfboards. hahaha. :) But really though, its true. Its so weird to think about how different their life and culture is compared to ours during Christmas. We have snow, they have sun. We go skiing, they go tanning/swimming. We eat warm soup, they eat ice cream. Utah is modest right now, Brasil is more immodest than ever (Just wait until Carnival... yikes.). I think you guys get the picture.
Anyway, this week, Elder Fernández and I were trying hard to fulfill our goal of 3 baptisms this week. We were able to mark 3 baptismal dates this month.... but all three fell through. It was a little hard because right now, it looks as if we won't get any for the month of December. However, we do have some great investigators that we are working hard with. We have a couple that was actually married in a Mormon chapel, but weren´t members. We found them doing street contacts. They accepted a visit and we taught them the Restoration. They liked the message! They sure talk a lot. I asked them a question about prophets during our visit, and they went on for... 15 minutes i believe. It was nuts. I like that they are really open though. We also have a family that we found through street contacting. They live in very humble circumstances. They have a one room apartment for 5 people (4 adults). Two of them are very open to our message and visited the church yesterday! It was great. We are focusing on them right now. We also have some other investigators that are very hard to visit because they have work everyday until late. However, we learned that both are reading the Book of Mormon, past the parts we assigned them! Halleluyah!
People, however, are very hard to teach right now. Everyone is focused on Christmas and the New Year. Buying things, decorating the house, cooking, friends, parties, etc. The homes of members are especially nice this time of year. There is a special spirit in these homes. We have lunch with members everyday and sing Christmas hymns to them. It is a wonderful feeling.
Christmas is very special this year. For me, Christmas always meant time spent with the ones you are most close to and love. It was a time of good food, presents, and saying prayer with the words `help us to remember the true spirit of christmas.´ Hahah. However, this year, and next year really, I am living in the true Spirit of Christmas. Its such an amazing experience. I will never forget how much closer i have become to the Savior through this Christmas season. I am grateful for wonderful families that took the place of my beloved family back home. We will be spending Christmas Eve with Vanias family, the family recently baptized. Christmas day will be spent with the family of the Ward mission leader. These two families are really my family away from home. They are the families i have become most close with. I will always remember them.
Alright, the funny experience of the week: Yesterday we were street contacting and started talking to a pastor and his wife. They didn't want to hear our message and said that our teaching was weird. We asked him to explain, and as he did we were able to clarify or explain everything. It got to the point where we were talking about the Bible and he said, ah i dont know the bible like you guys.. and left. A pastor... hahahah. It reminded me of D&C 100:4-8. You will not be confounded before men. This promise rang true yesterday. The Lord said: I have suffered you to come to this place for the salvation of man. With this, He gave us a promise that anything we say will be carried to the hearts of the people by the Holy Ghost and they will know of the truthfulness of our message. This is an important promise, and is something that I want to stay worthy of my entire mission. The Lord sent me here for a reason, as he does with all missionaries.
I love you all and miss you all very very much. Have a wonderful Christmas (even though the best part is gone... jk) and a very Happy New Year. :)
Much love,
Elder Steven Bennett

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Uma Semana da Vida de Seu Missionario

Hello hello!
Ah, I always look forward to the chance to write you guys! I always have so much I want to say. :) This week was a fast one, that's for sure. Even here in the hot, toasty, and humid weather, people are busily bustling around shopping for Christmas and there definitely is Christmas spirit here. It is a different Christmas spirit than the one that I am used to, however. I will not lie, it is a little hard not to think about home during the Christmas Season because to me, Christmas means family, friends, and being together with the ones you love. This year is a little different. Its a little hard, but hey, that´s a mission. This time really makes me grateful for the wonderful blessings i have in my life: A wonderful family, a home, friends, and of course, a loving Heavenly Father who is always there to comfort you when you are down. This is a blessing i always took for granted, and here on a mission, I feel my Savior´s love much more than ever before. These first few months of a mission have been super hard, but I have learned so much. I hit the 3 month mark just a little while ago! That right there is 1/8 of my mission! That is kinda sad that it is moving that fast! You really need to use your time wisely out here, or one day you will wake up and realize you are boarding an airplane for home.
So this week, I did some more travelling. I seem to travel a lot nowadays. After I wrote you guys last week, we hurried off on a bus to Macaé for a P-day with the whole Zone! It was really fun, and we had lunch at a members house. We celebrated a couple birthdays as well. I had a lot of fun, but it was also super hard for me. Everyone in the zone is fluent in Português except me. So, I am rarely talked to, becuase people know i will understand only a little of what they say. They always said speak more and join the conversations! I never knew what their conversations were about, however. So, there was a lot of the time i was quiet. I don´t like not talking! I love to talk! So, it was hard. Hahah, one elder was thoroughly convinced that I was angry or something and too angry to speak. He always asked are you alright? It was a little annoying actually. He just didn't understand that I didn't understand what people were saying. But, the day turned out well. We spent the night in Macaé, and then at 5 am the next morning, we took a van to a place called Niteroi (I think). It was about a 3 hour drive from Macaé. We arrived and had a Christmas Conference with 2 other Zones, and Presidente Lima spoke to us. This meeting started at 9 am, and ended at 4 pm. It was nuts! My butt hurt from sitting so long. We talking about planning, and the importance of it in missionary work. Without planning, the Spirit can´t guide you to help your investigators. You need to have a plan, and the Spirit will guide. We also watched the Thomas S. Monson´s Christmas Session. It made me miss Salt Lake a little... :) We then boarded a van, drove back to Macaé and it was pretty late by then, so we stayed in Macaé another night. Early Thursday morning, I boarded a bus back to Rio das Ostras. Lots and lots of traveling!
This week, we also focused on really trying to find new investigators, preferably families. It´s pretty hard. We contacted one lady and began teaching her the Restoration, but her daughter is Evangelical and is trying to get her to stay in that religion.... little annoying... hahah. Our beloved Belisario (I think i´ve mentioned him before; the father of the family we baptized a while ago) is being as stubborn as ever! He loves everything about the church, but doesnt want to be baptized. Its sad because his family is going to the temple this week, but he has to wait in the Gardens. His spouse, Vania, is growing to love family history a lot, and she is always working on that. She has lots of baptisms set up for the temple. She is such a champ! This is a lady who one month ago stopped smoking after 40 years of smoking, and was baptized. She is amazing. We have also taught some other families, and hopefully we will see progress with them. We taught a family yesterday evening, and we are visiting them again tonight. Wish us luck!
So lastly, I have to tell you about yesterday. 17 December 2012. Such a wild day. Not because of people, but because of the weather. So we begin the day and start the 3 km walk to our lunch appointment. The second we step outside, we´re roasting. Its hot. No clouds in the sky or anything. 40 C, or 104 F. Yikes. After lunch, clouds roll in, and it starts raining, and hard! The thunder and lightning is going crazy as well. Super loud and close. This stops for a little, begins again, stops, and begins. We were talking to this lady on the street, and all of a sudden it starting hailing! Big chunks too! The lady was so excited. She said that the last time is hailed here was when she was a child. She looked about 27. So lets see, we have about everything except snow, which is impossible basically. All of this chaos stopped for a tad, and we found a family and started teaching them. As we said the closing prayer and headed out, the wind started up strong. We braced ourselves for the worst as we headed out. The worst definitely came. All of the above started!! We ran to a members house drenched and with ringing ears from thunder. We waited out the storm, and then headed home safe and sound. We arrive home.... and our house is FLOODED! Not a whole lot, but it a good portion! We spent some time cleaning that up and then headed to bed. Nothing was damaged. We had a box full of Livro de Mormon and the box was completely soaked and sitting in a puddle. We hurried and pulled out all the books and examined them to see if they were damaged. Not a single one was wet or damaged. Miracle? Yes. :)
Well, that sums up the week. I hope everyone is having a fun Christmas Season with all the hustle and bustle that goes along with it. Have a good week. I love and miss you all very much! The Church is true!
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, December 10, 2012


Hello hello!
I love love love love love love love being a missionary! Ah, every day that passes by, I love it more. Everyday is super hard and tiring, but I feel that I am slowly but surely being more accustomed to the missionary life, and it is becoming easier. The main reason for this is the language. I rarely feel that I see my progress, but this week was different. For this, I believe that goals are really powerful. I set some goals this week to improve and it really worked! In missionary work, goals are very important. It gives us something to push ourselves to. We work a little harder than before because we want to meet these goals. Every night, we make goals for the next day. We also call the Zone Leader and tell him how we did with our goals, and our goals for the next day. If we dont meet them, he puts the smack-down on us. :) So, we try to meet our goals! It really wasn´t until this week, though, that I set some personal goals and really stuck to them. I have been in the field for almost four weeks. I felt that I wasn´t contributing to the work enough. So, I made a goal to really try to participate more. This, of course, meant speaking more. So, I made a goal to improve my Português more rapidly by speaking more, taking opportunities to learn, asking questions more, and making more street contacts. Our goal is 20 a day, 140 for a week. I made a goal to personally do 10 of those a day. I stuck to this, and I found that I really could talk more, and understand people more! Of course, my companion still helps me with some of it, but there really was progress made there. We met some new members to the ward yesterday, a mother and her son (19 years old). They moved here and have been members for about a year. They have lived all over Brasil, Portugual, and Morgan, UT.... What the heck? Yeah Morgan, UT. He learned english there too. I was able to talk to them in Porgtuguês for about an hour and understand almost everything they said. It definitely was easier than a normal native, however.
So all in all this week has been good. It has also been HOT. Summer is just around the corner, and it wanted to make a grand entrance. Saturday hit 41 C.... that is about 106 F. That was a fun day to be outside. We had to help someone move into their house that day too. I have never been so sweaty in my life. I basically just got out of the shower, but had clothes on too... yucky... The days leading up to Saturday were gradually hotter as well, starting at about 90 on Monday or Tuesday. However, the heavens gave us mercy today with some cloudy weather. Its really humid though, so its still pretty hot. I really want snow right now! However, I do like that its December and I am about as tan as I ever am in the Summer. :)
Last Wednesday, we had a District Training Meeting in Macaé, which is about an hour or so away. In our district, we have 5 Brasilians, 2 Chileans, and 3 Americans. Its really quite the mix! I will include a picture with the email. I am the newbie of course, so everyone is fluent in Português already. The other two americans, one sister and one elder, have over a year completed in their mission. The Elder said it took him 7 months to really be fluent and understand all of what others said to him. It was a really good meeting though. We worked on street contacts. To be really successful in street contacts, you have to give people a message that is quick and powerful. They have to feel that what you have to share with them is very important. Life-changing important. We worked on different situations as well. For example, a person who says they don´t have time. Another, a person who already has a religion. Lastly, Christmas time! We have tried these new techniques in our street contacting, and have had success. Usually, out of 20 contacts a day, 5-8 accept a visit. Thursday, we had 18 out of 20 accept!
While our street contacting has been really well, we have had trouble finding new investigators. We didn´t teach a whole lot of lessons this week. Our plans feel through about 85% of the week. Its hard to get into the house of investigators, but once you do, and teach them the Restoration, it gets easier. We also have been working on stregnthening the ward a lot, and getting less-active members back to church. This has been really good. Our ward is so great. They all know each other, and are really cool people. We bring investigators to church, and they are always greet with hugs and kisses. This is very important for a new investigator. President Gordon B. Hinkley stated in a conference a while back that a new member of the church needs a friend in the church. Without that feeling of unity, they will not want to come back.
Well that about sums up my week. Just another week living the missionary paradise. :)
Realmente, eu sou muito grato pela oportunidade ser um missionário agora. Estou muito cansado e muito feliz. È verdade que eu sinto falta por Utah e minha família e amigos, mas meu desejo trabalhar aqui é mas forte. Eu estou muito abençoado em minha vida. Tenho uma família e amigos maravilhosos. Tenho um testemunho impermeável que este é o único e verdadeiro Evangelho de Jesus Cristo na Terra. Foi restaurado através Joseph Smith, um profeta verdadeiro de Deus. Temos uma prova disso, O Livro de Mórmon, e com ele, temos a plenitude do Evangelho na Terra, como os tempos antigos quando Jesus Cristo estabeleceu O Evangelho. A Igreja é verdadeiro, e através ela, podemos ter uma felicidade que não vai terminado quando morremos. Sei isto. Sei com todo meu coração. Nossa família é eterna. Eu sou muito grato ser nascido no Evangelho. Sou grato por país que me ensinam viver como nossa Salvador Jesus Cristo. Estou muito abençoado.
Eu amo vocês mutio. :) Espero que traduzirão isto e entenderão. Eu tenho saudade por vocês!
Have a wonderful week in the freezing cold!
Com todo o amor de meu coração,
Elder Steven Bennett

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another week in Paradise

Oi minha família!
The weeks are flying by faster and faster out here. I know i only have about three weeks out in the field, but i am gradually feeling more and more secure with everything. I am also a little more secure in my Português as well! This is one thing i am most happy about. Really though, your progress out here on a mission is very dependent on your attitude. When i have a bad day, or lots of people reject us, my attitude is pretty bad, and i notice that I suffer in all aspects! I can´t speak very well, you get all edgy with your companion, and you are filled with contention. Throughout this week, I have had some of these happen because we´ve had some high pressure situations. Me and Elder Fernández had a hard week. We are having some troubles finding more investigators, and many of the ones we have right now aren´t progressing. They don´t read the Book of Mormon like we invite them to! Ahhh! It is so frustrating. Every person is different, but when they aren´t progressing, it almost always is for the same reasons: Not reading the Book of Mormon, or not praying. I will talk more about this a little later.
So this week was pretty intense as well. I have been traveling like crazy! I found out every wednesday, we travel to Cabo Frio for a District meeting. It´s about an hour bus ride. As we boarded a bus for Cabo Frio, the weather was perfect: blue skies, mellow temperatures, the works. Well, we arrived had our meeting, and just as we board the bus for home, clouds rolled in the and we were able to watch a lightning storm that we were in the middle of. The bus was rocking back and forth from the wind and it was raining pretty hard. Lightning was striking all around and the thunder was deafening. Pretty intense stuff! As we got closer to Rio das Ostras, we had to pull over.... the streets were flooded!! People were out pushing their cars out of the water and everything. This rain continued for about two days. That umbrella and rain coat are sure getting used out here.
So Thanksgiving huh? I totally forgot about it! How was it? What´d ya do? Tell me tell me tell me! I hope you guys ate lots of good food, because i sure did! So, there isn´t a Thanksgiving down here, but we had lunch at a members home, and they cooked us BBQ. Here this is called churrasco, and it is amazing. I nearly died with happiness! Meat, rice and beans, and more meat! The Word of Wisdom takes on a slightly different meaning here... But funny story, 30 seconds into the meal, my companion jumps into his food and his plate wasn´t all the way on the table... SPLASH, his plate flips and all the precious food is now covering him! So funny. Just one of many funny stories i have already. :)
Oh so I wanted to tell you guys this before I forget. The world is so small! I was at Stake Conference this last sunday and there was a man asking all the missionaries if they knew an American missionary that lived near Salt Lake City. When we talked to him, i said yes! Me! He proceeded to ask me if i knew the Goughs! Apparent he and his family are good friends with their family. I don´t know his name, but it was super cool to talk to him about it. Also, I talked to a member a while ago. He served in Brasilia with an Elder Bennett. I don´t know his name, and how old he is. Dad, ask your brothers that served in Brasil if they served in Brasilia! That would be so cool if one of them served with him.
As I was saying earlier, we are trying to find new investigators. It is taking some time, and is difficult, but hopefully we start finding some. We have had some come though. One lady named Evenlin. We asked her about where another person in her neighborhood lived. She didn´t know, but she recognized us as missionaries and told us how she had met with missionaries before, and loved the Book of Mormon! Halleluyah! We sat down with her for a while and talked about it with her, and we are going to visit her again soon. We have also been teaching the husband of a lady in the ward. He was talking to a work friend, and he decided to have a visit. He is great. Ah, i could go on forever about the people we´ve encountered and taught, and just so much, but i dont have time to.
I better finish up, my time is running low, but i just want to bear my testimony that this work is amazing, and it is real. Peoples lives are changed through this Gospel. We are preparing the world for the Second Coming! All of us! Wards, members, missionaries, everyone. We need to do all we can to spread the Gospel to any who are willing to hear it. This is probably a little easier for me because i eat, sleep, and breathe the Gospel, but even at home you guys can too. Fulfill your callings in the church, and if you have an opportunity to share your testimony with someone, do it! Ah, I love this Church so much. I wish all the people of Brasil could just see that already!
Have a good week! Happy December! I love and miss you all so much. :)
Much love,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, November 26, 2012

Oi :)

Ola familia!
Eu quero començar esta email com um pouco Português porque eu falo só Português agora. Realmente, as vezes eu falo inglês pra mi mesmo porque eu tenho saudade por inglês. Eu sei que vocês vão traduzir isso, mas me desculpa por meu gramática ruim. Eu amo Rio das Ostras e eu estou sempre animo pelo trabalho agora. Também, eu amo vocês e todas as bençãos em minha vida. Estou muito abençoado.
Okay that´s enough Portugues for now! Hello hello! How is everyone doing? This week was so much better than last week. Still, it was so utterly hard because i still speak like zero Portugues, but it´s getting better little by little. (By the way, please excuse any mistakes, this is a Portugues keyboard and so it doesn´t have some symbols like a normal english one.)
This week was AMAZING. I will tell you why. It was amazing because all the things that I have learned up to this point became very personal. I had the marvelous opportunity to see the Gospel in action and baptize a family into the church. Well, almost a family, the dad is still a little ancy about baptism. :) It is a family of four. Belisario, Vania, Daniela, e Cassandra. I will include a picture. I have become very close to them, and me and my companion baptized them Saturday night. It was the most amazing experience. I felt SO happy. A happiness that i have never felt in my life. A different kind of happiness. This is the Spirit of missionary work. This is what keeps missionaries going even when everything goes wrong. This happiness pushes through all other problems, stresses, and failure. I am one happy guy right now. :)
On other notes, my Portugues is very bad and progressing so slowly that I apparently don't notice a difference.... bleh. But I know I need to be patient. I will continue to study my hardest and take every opportunity available to learn more. My studying has become very efficient. I study only in Portugues. Pretty challenging because everything i study becomes a language study also. Its been much better the last few days though. We have 4 hours to study every morning. 1 hour personal. 2 hours companionship. 1 for language. I really like this schedule now.
This week went by really fast because we were constantly busy! Well, missionaries always are, but more than usual! We have a district goal of a certain number of baptisms for the month, and its basically the end of the month. We were pushing hard to get this goal. We spent a lot of time with the family I talked about earlier and it really took a lot of work to get them baptized. Vania smokes, and boy she sure loves it. I guess i should actually say: smoked. She quit! She was almost balling when we would come over and tell her to keep strong and don´t smoke. She was so strong and never did. She sure liked to joke with us though. We would come by the house and say hello, and she would walk out with a cigarrete in her mouth (unlit). She scared us so many times with things like this! She has a super funny personality. Another time, she ended a prayer ´In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.´ You know, like Catholics. We were so confused, and she just busts out laughing. Shes a character. :)
We also had a fun experience with a Jehovah Witness this week. We were doing our normal study and we hear someone at our gate. He rang to us and said he was a Jehovah Witness, so we hurried and grabbed a Restoration pamphlet and Book of Mormon and went and opened the gate. He was about ready to teach us something when we began teaching him. Once we were done (10 minutes or so), we let him keep the stuff and he handed us some magazines and ran off. He was so confused when he opened the door and saw two missionaries standing there! Ah, funniest thing ever.
Those were the highlights this week. How's everything going at home? Utah? Snow? Any temperature below 80 F? We had a huge heat wave this week. Destruction. It was so hot! Now we're back on a chill stage, and we have had rain for the last 2 days straight. The humidy is what's killer now. Send a picture of the snow please. I really want to see home right now. I miss snow!!!
Well, I hope everything´s going well at home, and everyone's safe and healthy. I am doing well down here and roasting away while preaching the gospel. What could be better? :) Keep me updated!
Ps. Christmas is soon! Guess what? Get the skype working on my laptop, because i am allowed to skype you guys on Christmas. So get to figuring that out, and we will talk about that more later.
Love you all so much. This Gospel is so true, and each day, my testimony grows stronger and stronger. I miss you guys. :)
Much love,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week 1 in the field!

Hello hello!

Well... I just have to begin with this week has been.... rough. This has been probably the roughest week of my life. I am 100% serious when I say this. I have never felt so down and overwhelmed in my life. At the same time, however, I have grown so much from this past week.

Last Wednesday, we arrived at the airport at 6 am. There was no assitants from the CTM to help us through check-in, or with anything. We were on our own. So, I struggled through baggage and what not, trying to speak Portugues to these people who don´t know an ounce of English! We finally got through and found out our plane was cancelled for three hours! This threw everything off. But, it all worked out, and we arrived in Rio de Janeiro just fine. It was a cloudy, rainy day, and the Cristus was hidding behind some low clouds as we flew in. But! For about five seconds, the clouds parted and showed just the statue (looked like it was floating!). The sweetest thing ever. We then took a 45 minute bus ride to a chapel where we had interviews and ate lunch. There´s no english here, and even all the American missionaries that are experienced don´t speak English with us. So my interview was alright, and i tried to figure out what he was saying, and then we received our companions. My companion is Elder Fernandez! Super cool guy, but doesnt speak any English. He is from Chile. Take a guess at how fun it is trying to communicate with him! Anyway, we then had to jump on a crazy bus with all the luggage of 15 new missionaries, and get to our separate places. After 3 hours, of bus rides I arrived in my area. 3 hours! Crazy! I arrived overwhelmed, tired, stinky, and sweaty.

The next day we jumped right into work. We teach about 3 lessons a day (that´s our goal). We make at least 20 contacts a day (thats a goal too, but we actually get about 30 a day. Yesterday we got 45!). We walk A LOT. I have already learned a lot, but at the same time, the language is such a barrier right now. It´s so hard to deal with.

I am so grateful to be here though. So get this. Picture.... Bahamas... you know white sand beaches, palm trees, coconuts, warm weather, kinda run-down buildings.... You have RIO DAS OSTRAS! My area! It´s legit here! It´s definitely a party town though. The people are nice, but also not too interested in hearing about the Gospel. Everyone wears like no clothes too... awkward.

This week, as i´ve said a ton, was rough. My faith was even tested through this week. I questioned why I was here, is it worth it, and if so many people reject it, how could it be true? This was a few days ago, and I was feeling super down. I had been having the impression to read my patriarchal blessing that day as well. I read it last night, and when I finished, I felt a spiritual smack in the face! I realized... how stupid can I be?! I know these things are true, and just because others don´t believe it, doesn´t mean it isn´t! I was also reminded of a talk given by Elder Holland to the missionaries. He said `You cannot convert others to this Gospel if you yourself is not converted.` I know I am here for a reason, and this work is hard, but I can do it. There´s a quote on our mission packet (we received a bunch of stuff when we got here.), and it said `A mission is for everyone, Persevering is for the valiant, finishing is for the best.`

I will tell you more next week about families and investigators because im not completely familiar with all of them right now. But, the ward is great, and they had me speak for 5 minutes about anything last Sunday. They asked me 10 minutes before! Talk about a scare.

I love you all, and I am loving it here. I am safe and doing well. :) I hope you all are having a great time in that snow! I won´t lie, I kinda miss it....

Much love,

Elder Steven Bennett

Ps. I was gonna send some photos through the computer, but they dont have a slot for my memory card.... dang... I will try next week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Hello all!
So this is an email I wasn't expecting to write today, honestly. I am supposed to be on a plane going to Rio today! But i'm not... I am actually still in the CTM here in Sao Paulo. It's a great little story why! Sooo, there was a mission conference for all the mission presidents this week, so everyone leaving for this field this week wouldn't have a mission president to greet them when they get to their respective missions. So, they let us stay an extra day! Do you know what that means? My district will be most likely the LAST district, here at the Brasil CTM, to be here the LONGEST with the new change in age and time at the CTM. There are many districts here for 9 weeks... but not 9 weeks, and 1 day. :) So that makes us the longest!
Anywho, here's some flight information. I will be packing all day today and I will be jumping on a bus at about 4:30 AM, so about 11:30 PM for you guys. I will go to the airport, where I have a flight at... 7:30 i think? I will arrive in Rio de Janeiro at around 8:30 AM. Pretty wild, eh? AH, I'm so pumped!
So this week's been really crazy with all the preparations to leave and what not. We've had a lot of meetings about health, the language, faith, and other stuff needed to leave the CTM. Many of these meeting happened last Friday.... all day... completely in Portugues. Super tough. My brain was toast after that day. I literally had about enough strength to waddle up to my room, brush my teeth, and flop in bed. Throughout the week, I've started to realize how much i'm going to miss English! English is my go-to language when i don't know a word in Portugues. It's gonna be much harder in the field and the realizations of this hit me over this week.
This Sunday was a pretty wild Sunday! So, for Sacrament, they expect every missionary to have a talk prepared. They will call four random people during Sacrament to get up and give a 5 minute talk. If you are above week 6 at the CTM, you are required to give that talk in Porgtugues! So guess who got called this last Sunday? Any guesses? This guy here. Me! It was actually really fun-- A tad bit scary, but mostly fun. That night during Devotional, I was asked to play the piano too. I was all over the place that day! I guess I should end out the CTM strong, and this is the way I do that!
Oh, this week, we baptized our "investigator" Evelin! It's really my instructor, and she acts out her conversion story. We just teach her throughout our time at the CTM, and all the time has led up to this. Even though it was fake, it was so happy! I just felt really good inside. :) She is an amazing teacher. Mom, she added me on facebook, so you need to get on there and accept her. I think she has some photos or videos she'll tag me in, and you guys will be able to see those. Evelin Jardim is the name. It was super sad saying goodbye to her last Saturday. She has been with us for 9 weeks! She says that she is sure she has the worst job ever. Teach a district everyday for 9 weeks, get really close to them, and then say goodbye to them.
So we did some more proselyting today. We were supposed to go yesterday, but they wouldn't let us because it was raining pretty hard. We were all a little ticked. Today, we jumped on a bus and rode for about 40 minutes to downtown Sao Paulo, Paulista Avenue. The best way to describe it is New York! Big buildings, people running here and there to get to work, and really bad traffic. It's really overwhelming! We didn't have a whole lot of success there because people just have no time to talk to you. We talked to an Atheist who gave us a pretty good debate for a while. Finally, we just cut it off and left. Another homeless Buddist lady took my companion's planner and was writing some weird stuff in it and yelling at us. We showed another brasilian elder and asked him what it said. He ripped it out and said not to worry about it. All in all, not the best day. It really shot my confidence. There were people preaching about the end of the world everywhere. Big signs said: "Venus is going to explode! Hurry and read the Bible and be saved, or you will go to Hell!" Just weird weird stuff.
Well, that's about it in terms of stuff that happened this week. Not a whole bunch. I want to thank everyone who is writing me, and I hope my letters get back to you guys! Mom and Dad, I received your letters this week. They took a bit longer than usual, but they got here. Thank you for the photos! They will be a great add for my photo album in the making. Send a couple here and there every once in a while okay? Also, I need you to check my bank account. There is some purchases I have made, and I want you to make sure i'm being charged correctly and what not. And, like i said earlier, please jump on my Facebook and add any people who have friend requests with me. Namely one with the last name Ramos, and Evelin Jardim. They were my instructors and have photos of me. Thank you so much, love you!
To end out this letter, I want to share a small spiritual message I learned in a video. On our name tags, we have our name, and the next largest words on it are Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is directly over our hearts as well. This is signifying that at this time in our lives, Jesus Christ should be the closest thing to our hearts. We should be doing everything possible to honor His name and preach His Gospel. This is what I will do for the next 22 months. I am happy to do this for the next twenty-two months. :) I love you all so much, and I hope everything is well at home. Keep me updated!
Much love,
Elder Steven Bennett

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

LAST email at the CTM!

Hello Familia!
Can you believe that this is my last week here? Did i not just leave on a mission?! Wow, it's almost been two months, and exactly one week from now, I will be an actual missionary doing real missionary work in the beautiful city of RIO DE JANEIRO! Ayyyy! I'm so pumped. The CTM has been such an amazing experience, as well as one of the hardest things i've ever had to do. I was definitely not ready for it when i got here, and now i'm about to jump into a whole new world and i'm definitely not ready for it either. However, i'm so excited and i know the Lord is watching over me every second of every day, and because of this, I will not fear.
This week has been a pretty good week! One thing that i forgot in last week's email was.... Happy Halloween!!! Geeze how'd i forget? Did you guys do anything cool? I was thinking about home a lot that day and all the partying that is probably going on. They don't celebrate it here, so it was just a normal day. They have Dia de Bruxas (Day of Witches), but i'm not sure when it is. But, they sure have a lot of holidays here! Anyways, yeah, Halloween made me a little home sick and I went to bed that night thinking about all the fun things I was missing, and will miss over the next two years. It was discouraging, but I know it's the best decision with me being out here.
Oh Mom, so I used your FOR number and got more names. I will keep the three extras I have (I used one today), and if by chance I can go to a temple some time, I will use it. If it doesn't look like I will, I will send them home and let you guys use them. Do you realize that one of the names you gave me had to wait 97 years for today?! He was baptized and confirmed in 1915! I looked at that and had to use him today, because he's been waiting forever! I'm so grateful for family history. Keep up the awesome work Mom! Oh, i also noticed you did the Initiatory for him in October! Parabéns on going to the temple still! Keep it up, I hope you guys are feeling the wonderful feeling I have felt doing temple work. Today was a little sad because it is possibly my last temple trip for the next 22 months. I sat in the Celestial Room extra long today and nearly cried at thinking that I may not be in another one for such a long time. Take every opportunity you can to go, because its a privilege I don't have anymore.
Oh fun fact about Rio! The Cristus Statue is 700 tons and 130 feet tall. :) Just saying!
Anyway, Portugues was put to the test this week during my very first experience PROSLYTING! Ahhhh, it was crazy! I have never been so nervous in my life. Proselyting goes against everything i have ever done in life. Going with the flow, looking like everyone else, wanting people to like you. NO. Not anymore. Here it is the opposite. We are the weirdos dressed up, talking to everyone on the street about being Mormon. We are giving a weird book out to people who barely know who God or Jesus Christ is. People give us dirty looks. They crossed the street to avoid us (one lady i was talking to got up and ran away! She stopped a bus that was about to leave and jumped on! That was a heartbreaker right there.... but slightly funny.). People are not that happy to talk to us, and we are rejected 9 times out of 10. THIS is what makes missionary work hard, and THIS is the difficulty I wasn't completely ready for. I don't like being rejected. I am used to it now of course, seeming three hours of proselyting adds up to a lot of rejections! But with these, we had some success. :) We were able to give out 4 copies of the Livro de Mormon! One guy knew absolutely nothing about the Church, and was pretty interested. The second guy wasn't a member but loves religion and loves seeing people out talking about Christ. He accepted to read it. The last two went to a mom and her daughter. They didn't know much about us, but they were pretty happy when we gave them the copies. They were people who seemed like they would be members already. :) I hope that these people are blessed as they read.
My Portugues was also put to the test in this end of CTM assessment we needed to take. If you get too low, they make you stay an extra week! No pressure right? Well it turned out alright. I got 76%. It tests you on all kinds of Portuges... verbs, grammar, blah blah blah.. But only a few got about that, and the highest was 90%. Most got around 50, and I heard the average was 44%... Yikes. So I hope that means my portugues is alright!
One of the biggest things I've learned being here at the CTM is looking and recognizing the Holy Ghost and when He is prompting you. I feel so much more spiritual than ever in my life! This last Sunday was such a wonderful Sunday. I felt like I was being Spiritually poured out upon all day! So amazing. :) We had many great speakers throughout the day. One speaker talked about the stone cut out of the mountain (D&C 65 2), and asked what side of the stone are we going to be on? I thought it was pretty profound. Also, with going out into the field, we are about to get hit with a pretty big culture blast, and Portugues blast. We are all nervous for it. One of my district elders bore his testimony and said "It doesn't matter what we are hit with, as long as we land on our knees."
There were many more things I could say, but time doesn't allow me. I may not be writing an email next week, because I will be flying to Rio, but I will email you guys as soon as I get the chance. Here goes the next step in this crazy adventure. :) I love you all so very much, and I miss you guys with all my heart. Keep doing the things you are supposed to be doing and love each other with all your might, and the Lord will bless you as he has with me. I hope everything at home is going great.
Much love,
Elder Steven Bennett

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 8?

Ola Familia e Amigos! Tudo bem?
So, this week has been absolutely amazing. There really is no other way to explain such a week. But the funny thing is that once I tell you, you would think that it's been the worst week ever! I will explain more fully as I go, but let me start from the beginning. :) Ps. I basically count weeks by P-days, so this week really means from last Tuesday to this Tuesday. Annnyyywayyyss, so last Wednesday, I came down with a virus... Yuck. It was a gastro-intestinal virus.. I had to go see the doctor after waking up Wednesday morning with lots of pain and stuff in my abdomen area. He gave me some pills and what not, and it wasn't too serious. I forget the name of it. But my diet was altered a little, and for about two days, well I will let you figure it out on your own about the consequences of having a virus in your intestines... Also, I was playing basketball friday night, and I got smacked in the face by someone jumping for the ball. It gave me a swollen eye and there is a small cut and some bruising on the side of my eye, but nothing too bad. It's basically gone now. The last thing occurred last night. It's been getting really hot around here now, and I haven't been drinking enough water. I came down with a headache last night, but just drank some water and went to bed. About 3 am, I woke up and had this pretty bad one... I can't think of any headache worse than that one. I was super dizzy and threw up and all this stuff. Luckily, I was able to keep down some medicine and get back to sleep. By the morning, I was totally fine!
Not the funnest things to go through right? But this week was still so amazing. I believe that it's because I had a super massive spiritual boost this week. We started praying with our Brasilian roommates and it brought such a strong bond between us all. Most of the time they would say a prayer and we wouldn't understand a whole lot, but the Spirit was strong and testified that they were speaking with the power of the Spirit. These roommates of ours left today for the field. I never thought i'd be so sad. I almost shed some tears because of it. They helped me so much with Portugues. This last Sunday, I gave Elder Avelar (one of the roommates) a Book of Mormon in English with my testimony in it. This was the Book of Mormon I carried with me on the plane and it came to good use! I wrote my testimony in it, and then I started to teach him some English, as well as helped him translate my testimony. I could translate the entire thing to Portugues. The Gift of Tongues has truly been with me this week. After we were done, we switched. We began reading the Book of Mormon in Portugues. He would explain any words i didn't understand... the thing is, he would explain it in Portugues. I wasn't allowed to use a dictionary or the english Book of Mormon. It was rough! But it went really well, and I learned so much that day. I am continuing to read the Book of Mormon in Portugues and right now, I am usually having to look up about two words per verse. So, I basically understand most of it. I still can't believe it. We also had the chance to watch The Legacy last Sunday! Man was it good. They play movies every Sunday, but i've always been tired or something, and didn't want to go. I am going every time now. Also, we've had some really good devotionals this week. I learned some really great things. One was a comment by our choir coach, Sister Steadman. She said: "You guys are the best of the best. The best this world knows. Do you realize that?" I don't think i ever did realize that.
Now, onto some funny stuff that occurred in the wonderful adventures of Elder Bennett! So, we wrote "Dear John's" to English this week. Hopefully you know what that is. We are only allowed to speak Portugues now, but I haven't done so well with that. I definitely am speaking a lot more Portugues though! Oh, we were also investigators again this week for TRC's. We were taught by week 3 people, and it brought back the memories of being nervous and barely speaking. :) You can definitely see the progress you've made when you look back weeks from now. It's day by day that you don't see the progress. My progress was definitely put to the test Saturday night though... So, they have these workshops where you have an investigator and about 10 missionaries teach this one guy. I was asked to be the INVESTIGATOR. Wow, i was sweating bullets! This is being taught by Brasilians and even missionaries more experienced than me! I was super nervous, but it turned out really well. I was taught about the Word of Wisdom. I am so excited to get out in the field.
My stupid moment of the week was a pretty serious one actually. So there is this new craze going around with drawing the Brasil flag in D&C 4 (you know the mission section?). Well, I decided to do it! I pull out my English Quad and draw it in. It looks awesome! So, of course, I pull out my Portugues ones to do the same. I am just about done and my companion walks up and says: "Oh, you're switching it up this time and using purple?" I had just about finished drawing in the blue circle, when i realized I WAS DRAWING IT IN PURPLE. I was so annoyed. I was already annoyed because i had accidentally made the cirlce an oval, so now it just looks like a purple Easter egg!! I did my best to fix the problem, and it's blue now, but still an egg... I will be bitter about this for a while...
Well, that's about all the adventures I had this week. I am much more confident in Portugues now. I was so scared to talk to anyone on the streets last week, but this week I had this desire to talk to everyone! I was saying hi and Good afternoon to everyone, and some little 13 year olds came up and talked to us for a while. One knew a little english too. I took a picture with the little dudes. I am so stoked for Proslyting next Monday! That's right, i'm heading out of here soon! Two weeks or so? But we get to proslyte starting a week early. I am so happy to get out and talk to people and really share this true Restored Gospel.
Oh fun fact, did you know that ever since General Conference, the number of mission papers sent in has increased by 471%?! That's not a typo, 471%. Usually they have around 700 a week. It's up over 4000 now, I believe. The CTM here has 185 missionaries living here at the moment, and it usually stays around that. By January, it'll be 600 they said. 600! This place only holds 647 missionaries! This work is speeding up, and I am so happy to be apart of it. :)
I sent some letters today. One was to you guys, so be looking for that in a few weeks time. I love you all so much, and I am so happy! I cannot even explain to you how great a mission is. It's so utterly hopeless at times, but so amazing at times too. It's stressful, degrading, and tiring, but sooooo worth it. My testimony to you is that this is the true Gospel, and always will be. This work is spreading, and spreading fast. These are the last days, and I am going to do everything I can to preach this Gospel to the people of Brasil. :)
Love and miss you all,
Elder Steven Bennett

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 6

Ola Familia!
Geeze, time is flying by soooo quickly! I am getting ancy to get out in the field. I have been in the CTM now for six full weeks i believe, and we have exactly three more to go! Wow 2/3 of the way done. That's wild. I feel like my Portugues isn't ready for the real world though... Yikes. Oh well, I will be blessed with the gift of tongues. How was your week?! What's been happening? Hopefully many good things. My week was quick, but long at the same time. It was also a kind of a rough week too, but it turned out really well closer to the end. I was remotivated many times in talks and devotionals. I have some good quotes that i will share at the end. :)
So I got Mom's letter and Dad's letter this week. It got here splitting fast! Five days on Dad's and seven on Mom's. I have seen letters taking a month to get here, so that is dang fast! Dad, yours beat Mom's and you sent it two days later. I thought that was ironic. But thank you so much for the letters. They are such a joy to get. And thanks to any other letters I've gotten. Alisha and Wade, I sent you guys a letter last week, so hopefully that arrives soon! My pads of paper are so handy and small. Maybe send a couple of those in a package or something because paper here is kinda expensive. Oh with packages, remember, they get checked and stuff and get stolen, but i heard putting Christ or crosses on them can prevent that. Also, anything of value is a danger. So just a heads up!
So normally as part of our teaching practice, we have TRC's once a week. I have mentioned these once before, but it's the ones where they tape you and then give you feedback. The Apostles can get on and watch them too, i heard. But anyway, I got to the be the investigator for two of those this week! It's kind of hard! But soo soo fun. One was to my roommates, so it was hard to take it serious, and the other was to some Brasileros. That was hard... You can't understand most of what they are saying, but because you pick up on a word or two, you can guess what is going on. It was interesting to say the least. :) But Portugues is coming slowly. I know i say that in probably every email. But I feel that this week was a good progression. A week ago, I started to try to be more obedient. I am obedient, don't get me wrong, but just obedient with exactness. This involved trying to get to bed earlier, not emailing friends here the CTM (I will reply back to any emails once in the field, promise), and other things that are small. I feel the Spirit more often actually, and I think progress is more rapid now. Plus, I focus more. I sit with Brasileros at lunch a lot, and I am able to communicate for the most part. My companion is definitely able to say almost anything to them, which is a bummer for me hahaha. He also found a Brasilian Sister that he's falling for, and I honestly think that there could be something there in a couple years! Anyway, I am hopeful though, because I am doing normal for missionaries here, and better than maybe.... half? It's good though, I am happy and not worrying too much. Stress doesn't help anything. :) My confidence was actually raised a little when a couple of Brasilians told me that I don't really have an American accent! I don't know if i believe them though, because what American doesn't have accent here?! I will take it for what it is though. When i learn Portugues, maybe people will think i'm a full-on Brasilian since I already got the look!
Oh we changed our clocks forward an hour this week. I think we're four hours ahead of you guys now. When do you guys change your clocks?
Hey Mom, I have one more temple name and then i will send those off to you, okay? It's so awesome doing family names here. Some of the people had their work done in cool temples! You will have to check them out when you get them. The cards are in Portugues too. :) Ah, I love going to the temple and sitting in the Celestial Room after the session. So just imagine... about... 5 am your time on Tuesdays, Is my favorite time of the week. Absolute favorite. :)
I absolutely love our roommates too! We say nightly prayers with them and we are all really close. Last night was especially cool. Everyone went to bed except me and one of the Brasilian roommates, Elder Avelar. We stayed up and talked about our families and stuff, and he showed me photos of his. I was able to actually have a conversation with him in Portugues (he knows no english, except a little we are teaching him). It was so great. I love all the experiences i have been having, or will have out here.
So some of the cool things that have helped me out this week was from Sunday and a Devotional that night. A girl gave a talk in Sacrament and said this quote: "You cannot rise higher than how you think of yourself." I think this is really great because you can really get down on yourself about the language and your teaching and what not. I will always remember this. Also, our mission president spoke to us that night and said: "There are no shortcuts in the mission field-- You either work hard or you don't." How great is that? So true. I choose to work hard. :)
Well I better get going. Oh I also got one of those cool scripture cases from the dude on the street! It's custom made. R85 for it (40ish bucks). Oh well. I will send a picture of it soon! I love you all, and I love this church and gospel so much. I am so grateful to be out here. Have a wonderful week, and know that I am always praying for all of you back home (#yolo).
Elder Steven Bennett

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oi! Week...5?

Hello hello familia!
How's everyone doing?! How's the North Ogden and such? Sooooo..... basically I am more than half way through the MTC!!! Wow, I can't believe it! This week was relatively quiet except for that little fact! Our district put our ties up halfway to signify that we are halfway through, and the sisters parted their hair down the middle. It's so weird that I'm more than half way through the mtc. I feel like I've learned so much, but not nearly enough! I am sooo sick of the mtc really, but once i leave, I know i will feel kinda nervous to be away from it's safe sanctuary. Today when we went out on the town to do some errands, some old lady was asking me about a screwdriver, and i have no idea what she was saying to me! I'm really nervous that my time is slowly ticking away, but really, the faster I get out in the field the more i will learn.
Everything is going well here though. :) I am happy and definitely used to the schedule now. I enjoy the food here and eat lots of it.... but i don't gain anything! I think I have been at 142 forever (which i guess is a little more than i was at home... but still!). Portgues is muito bom! I love it so much. It's much more fun to speak than English sorry to say! I am stoked for the day i can speak Portugues so well that i will come home and be stressing over learning English again. That will be a hard thing to accomplish, but i know i can do it. It's just making small goals and staying focused day by day. That's really what you have to do here or you will waste your entire time here, and really be in trouble once out in the field. So, i found out that just before we leave, we get to go proselyting out here in Sao Paulo! They take you somewhere random and you and your companion just go wild on preaching and teaching! I'm excited, but nervous, because i can't understand anything people say to me. Here in the mtc I do, but people speak much differently out there! Slang and accents make it crazy to understand!
So there was a Brasilian Holiday on Thursday! Kids day.. now why don't they have one of those in America?! It's such a fun holiday! Basically another Christmas. But no one works on this holiday. NO ONE. It's great! And they have at least one holiday like this a month! Brasilians are party people, and they enjoy not working as many people do. But here, it's always a party. :)
After our sad goodbyes to Elder Manzano and Fernandez last week, we received new roommates that night! They are sooooo cool!!! I will love them just as much, i know it. They are Elder Lima and.... shoot I can't remember, i will tell you next week! But they don't speak English, which is a very good challenge. We teach them english and they teach us portugues! I was actually helping them learn the missionary purpose and first vision since they don't have it memorized yet in their own language. Pretty ironic, eh? But they are really great, and i can see so many friendships arising from just this little time here.
This week was very spiritual for me as well. There were many things that humbled me, strengthened me, and built my testimony. We were re-motivated by this amazing video on the Atonement and Missionary work. It was almost exact to the paper Wade gave me to read during hard times. Basically, missionaries will sometimes ask why it is so hard. The answer is because Salvation was never easy. For anyone. Ever. The Atonement was not an easy thing for Jesus Christ. Being converted to this Gospel was never an easy task for the missionary or the investigator. This is why missionary work is hard. I was stunned by the video, but in a good way. :) Also, we had a district discussion on eternity. That's really broad, but when you think about this life and how small it is in comparison, it's insane. It's mind boggling! Our mortal minds can't comprehend such a thing, but once we move on after this life, we will, and have before in the Pre-mortal life. It's a crazy thing to think about, but so humbling and strengthening too.
This week has been good, and i hope for another great week. I love you Mom, Dad, Alisha, Lauralee, Wade, and the rest of you who read this. I am grateful for all the support i've been given. This is such a great work, and everyday i fall more in love with it. I hope everythings going well at home. Stay healthy and safe, and I will try to do the same. :)
Tem um boa semana!
Com amor,
Elder Stevie Bennett

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 4!

Hello hello!
Wow! What a week!!! This week has been pretty wild, and super fast! I don't even know where time is going. On Saturday, i will be half way through my CTM time!!! What in the world?! How does time fly by so fast?!
General conference was probably the best thing ever this week. The Spirit is so strong while listening! It's probably the first time I've stayed up for all five sessions! I even took notes. :) Maybe it's just the fact that I am a missionary now, so we feel the Spirit super strong with stuff. But wow, what about that news President Monson said at the very beginning?! What?! Craziness!!! Changing the age limit! I am basically part of the last group to go through before the new rules take effect. Did you hear about the new times in the MTC as well? They are cutting them down by a third. If i had left any later, I would've only been here for six weeks. That's intense! But Conference was absolutely wonderful. I hope you guys watched it. I had some good points i wanted to share, but i forgot my notes, so I will have to share those another time. But there was a ton on missionary work if you noticed. I really liked that. :)
So yeah, the week's been wild. I had a pretty crazy experience this last.... Wednesday i think? I was really down on myself because we had just had a pretty bad teaching experience. We didn't do very well. My Portugues was not good, and not improving, and I was missing home a lot. I was also tired too. But I remember that someone told me that you have a letter in the mailbox! I was so excited to find out you guys had sent me a letter. My heart was so full of contention, and then when i opened your letter and read it, I cried like a baby (of course in private!). It softened my heart so much and ever since then, my Portugues has improved so much, and my teaching ability. I am so grateful for that letter. I also wrote you guys back and enclosed some pictures. I found a cool shop that prints pictures off, so i sent you guys a couple. It'll take about 3 weeks for the letter to arrive.
But as i said, Portugues has really improved since then! We had a TRC, which is just some other teaching (my letter explains more), and I just remember my bad grammar, but I was still able to communicate with them, and the Spirit was literally so strong in the room! We took up all the time we were supposed (these are timed), and we were able to get the investigator to make some commitments. I was so pumped after leaving that lesson. We also had an English Fast yesterday... all day! No English from sun up to sun down. Man, it was awesome! I was starting to think in Portugues after a while. I tried reading in English for a little, and the words kept coming up in my head in Portugues. Coolest thing ever!!! And apparently, my companion said i was sleep talking again last night.... in Portugues.... really fast too... :)
Me and Elder Hawks get along really well. Probably a lot better than most companionships in our district. Some have a lot of tension between them, but we are always laughing and having fun. We compliment each other really well; in teaching too. This is for you mom-- we sometimes walk around between classes and lunch saying Clint Eastwood lines! He's such a cool guy, and we've really gotten close. He's going to Rio de Janeiro too, which is AWESOME! Oh man, i've had some brasilians come up and tell me to be careful. It's supposedly one of the most wicked cities in the world. By the time I'm through with them, they will be announcing the newest temple in Rio! That's what's up. :)
Today was also a sad day for me as well. We had some really amazing brasilian roommates leave today... I miss them so much. They were so energetic and loving. They would buy us candy and teach us Portugues. We always had some funny times. They will be great missionaries. I will never forget Elder Manzano and Fernandez. They have forever touched my heart. The other brasilians here are way fun too. For example, over the past week, we've had: mini-golf competitions in the massive hallways of our dorms, fashions shows, and our room had a party and like 15 brasilians were in there playing UNO and chess. Craziest people ever. Brasilians make the most energetic Americans look like their sleeping!
Well that about does it for this week. Progress is coming, and I am absolutely in love with the work. I forget who i heard it from, but this really touched me. A missionary came home and was being congratulated on the huge number of baptisms he had had. He was asked, "how'd you get so many referrals?" He said, "those were all from proselyting". Most of the time proselyting isn't too effective, so the man asked how he did so well with it. The missionary said, "with each person i meet, I picture them clean shaven, in nice clothes, nice hair, and wearing the white baptismal clothing. That, sir, is how I did so well." I am so excited to get out in the field and do the same. I want to bring this gospel to anyone and everyone. I miss you Mom, Dad, Alisha, and Lauralee. :) I love you all so so much.
Oh, how'd the marathon go, dad?!
Elder Steven Bennett

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible

Hello Family!!!!
Ah! I can't believe how long I've been out here already! Time flies by fast nowadays. It's already October!!! Geeze. How's everyone doing? How's lorks? She needs to email me. :) What's going on in the world and at home?? I sure do miss home but Brasil is pretty sweet. :) I am getting used to all the culture here and the people. Portugues is coming little by little, and sometimes it's weird to say things in English! Weird right? I still can't believe I would ever say anything like that in my lifetime..
So this week has been pretty slow except for a couple of things. Lots of studying and practicing. Teaching investigators and going to devotionals. All the days become a blur really just because of the consistency of the schedule from day to day. The only days i really remember are P-days and Sundays, which are DEFINITELY the best days of the week!
I'm not too sick anymore, except for random coughing spasms at night because my throat itches. I hate them because they keep me up until about midnight every night! But they are going away. My throats just always itchy... But one guy in our district, Elder DeYoung, who's actually from Ogden, came down with a bad fever of 102.5. he was quarantined for two days and now he has strep throat. Sickness spreads fast around here. I wash my hands like every hour, if not more! Lots of people are sick in our district, but most are almost better. So good news right there.
The CTM is pretty rough on me even though I love being here. I am having trouble with getting down Portugues and also teaching investigators. My companion is basically fluent because he was already basically fluent in Spanish. He takes the reigns in our lessons a lot of the time, and sometimes talks the whole time. We always get chastised for doing that, but he kinda forgets sometimes, so i always end up not saying much in the lessons. Yesterday was a little better during our first lesson to our newest investigator, so hopefully things will turn around. I am loving learning a new language though. I am making new goals everyday to learn more and more. Today I bought a couple small notebooks that I carry with me. I write words in them that I hear and don't know, and then look them up later. Yeah, I'm basically a genius. :)
Oh speaking of buying stuff today, I also went to this AMAZING restaurant today. I forget the name, but it's basically rodizio grill, but BETTER. It was about the same price though, 25 Reals (Hey-eyes). The exchange rate is R1.75 to $1, so you can do the math and see it's pretty similar. It had so much delicious meat and they kept bringing more and more!!! I was in heaven. I also had a pepsi with it. Pepsi isn't too common where I'm at, so it was DELICIOUS!
So funny story, I'm sitting in my room Sunday afternoon during some downtime we have, and without warning, One of the branch presidents walks in! I was thinking, "What the heck?!" He wakes up one of my brasilian roommates and pulls him outta bed because he has to talk to him. Everyones in their garments basically, so it was pretty embarrassing. Then all is quiet. Five minutes later, my branch president all of a sudden walks in to our room! What in the world?! He had to talk to one of my roommates, Elder Viglione, and turns out, he is the new AP (assistant to the president).
So each district has two teachers, one for the morning and one for the afternoon. One hasn't been showing up lately, and we were always wondering why. Yesterday, one of the head honchos at the CTM told us she had been in the hospital. She was pregnant, so we figured she was just having her baby! Turns out, the sac the babies in had ripped, and the baby had to be born five months early. It was a still-born. We felt so bad for her... We are going to write her a nice letter here pretty soon.
Well that's about all with this week. Not a whole lot of exciting stuff happened. Oh i did see a homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk today.... but that's kinda sad too-- not exciting. Well anyway, I better get going. I love you all so much! I am so happy to be a missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ. It's hard out here, but it's amazing work. Portugues will come with time. A scripture that helped me this week was Luke 1:37. It says something like, "With the Lord, nothing is impossible." And that is true, nothing is impossible when we're out on the Lord's errand. I am stoked to leave the CTM in about six weeks. It's really like a jail cell here. :)
Loves, hugs, and kisses!
Elder Bennett
P.S. Letters are very much welcomed. Everyday its a surprise to open that mailbox as a district and see who has letters. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Ola toda a familia!
 I took a quick look at everyones emails, and if i finish this one quick enough, i will email back to the other ones! I loved all the emails i got thank you! I miss you guys so much, and I can't believe I am on a mission!! How is this possible?! It's so great though. :)
So this week has gone by SUPER fast! I am pretty used to the work load now, and concentrating is pretty easy. A normal day consists of: (we are three hours ahead of you) 6:30 wake up, 7 breakfast, 730 personal study, 830 to 1230 is mixed with instructors teaching us portugues or we are learning how to teach investigators and stuff like that. Until 1:15 is lunch, and then back to teaching investigators or the language until 445! Dinner unil 515 and then back to studying on our own for a few hours. Some days we have gym at 8, and somedays, we just study until about 9. They have a small snack, and you go to bed by 10:30. The days go by so quick now!
So this week, a promise that was made to us "greenies" came true. you will get sick pretty soon coming here because of the different germs here. True story.... I got sick starting last Friday or so! I was pretty stressed and stuff and my muscles started getting super sore and stuff. That night i couldn't sleep and I took my temperature 101.5! Ah! I was freaking out. And i kept having to pee all night... weird. But The next day it was down to 100 and i was feeling a tad bit better. Since then, I've had a sore throat, stuffy nose, and today i am close to losing my voice... bleh... oh well, i'll be blessed!
Oh, so this is for Mom before i forget! We get to go to the Sao Paulo Temple every P-day!!! Ah its so great. I'm mad i forgot to tell you last week in the email. But yes, send me some cards! By the time they get here, I may be able to do two or three at the most, so if you have any names to spare (endowment only), I can do those! Send those puppies on up! I love you so much Mom. :) I love all your emails. Your letter came to me yesterday, so about 10 days it looks like. For me, i send stuff from here priority and it takes about 2 to 4 weeks. Oh there's also an airforce base close by here Mom. There are always planes flying REALLY low and stuff. They are soooo loud! They always remind me of Grandpa!  (WWII  B-29 Superfortress Bomber Pilot.)
And this part goes to dad! They have this awesome drink here called guarana that I am addicted to. :) It is basically ginger ale, but super concentrated and about 30% natural caffeine. YUM! I'm so bad, but I love it! I drink about four cups a day. Soon I'll be as addicted to it as your Dr. Pepper! Love you dad!
Sundays are always great here. Some of our meetings take place in Portugues which is really cool. Everyone is required to join the choir here too. But i also joined one that is voluntary. I also play the Sacrament and Priesthood hymns! The next two weeks i'm the man on those! It's kinda scary with all the missionaries and mission presidents here!
So Dallin H. Oaks grandson is here in the CTM! How cools that?! He's a cool guy, but i don't know him at all. I also had a chance to say hi to the Urries two days ago. They are heading back home this week, so they may say something about me to you! If they say i'm being a "fubeca", say No! That means goof off. And i'm definitiely not. :)
Well that hits about everything for this week. This week has been easier just because last week was such a change of lifestyle and stuff. Portugues is coming along well. My vocabulary is expanding little by little. We got two brasilian roommates this week and they are so cool. They help us with portugues and we help them with english! They are all here for three weeks. We are up to four investigators that we teach weekly, completely in Porgtugues. it is getting easier but definitely a struggle. Elder Hawks is a beast and always knows what to say, so he always dominates on the speaking for the most part. I will get better with time. I also dream in Portugues! How weird is that. Not completely though. For those with facebook access, my companion is Derek Hawks from Moab, UT. he's such a cool guy.
Well I better get going with the rest of my P-day duties. Plus i gotta go explore the town more. :) I love you all so much. I miss you even more. I am grateful for the support and love i feel each day out here. The spirit is always here too, which helps when I am down. This is the true church. I know this with all my heart, and because of this, I am willing to be apart from those i love so much.
Have a wonderful week all!
Elder Steven Bennett

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Steven's Flight and First Day

Dear Family,                                                                                                                             9/12/2012

Hello!!!  I miss you all so much!  I made it to the MTC safe and sound this morning around 8 AM, and since then it's just been busy busy busy!  Sao Paulo is so dense!  Buildings don't have any space between them and everything is gated.  I guess robbing happens a lot.  It's pretty ghetto, but it's also quite beautiful.  We were able to go out and explore for a little as a group, and it was cool.

Wow, this whole trip so far is a dream really.  I feel like I should be going home or something.  It's pretty stressful right now trying to jump into this whole new language and culture, and I'm definitely feeling very overwhelmed.

The plane rides went well.  I found some Elders to talk to but none were on my flight.  However, as I was sitting in my seat, a Sister Harrison boarded and sat next to me!  I was happy to talk to someone who was feeling how I was.  During my layover, we met up with a bunch of other Elders.  There was like 8 of us, and one Sister.  4 were going to Rio!  Here in the MTC, my companion is Elder Hawks from Moab.  He's in my mission too.  Hardly any of my district knows Portuguese, but all have Spanish experience.

We were supposed to write on this paper so that you also have my address and some other information.  That's my exact MTC address (on the front).

Well, I'm running out of paper and time, but I miss you all, and love you all dearly.  It's really hard here, but its amazing too.  I'm optimistic for things to get better.  Tell everyone hi and that I'm fine.  The church is true!

Elder Steven Bennett

P.S.  I'll email or write again (more) on my P-day!  I'm here for nine weeks!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Oh my i miss you all so much!!!! I made it here safely and everything last Wednesday! My P-day is on Tuesdays so this is the day i will be emailing you guys. I saw the emails you sent me, and since I'm only allowed thirty minutes on here, i just skimmed through them. I hope you can forward this email to anyone who wants to read it, because my time is too short to do it.
Oh my word, Brazil is crazy!!!! I will start with the plane ride though. So after i left all you guys, I was pretty bummed out, kinda crying, and just feeling really alone, but optimistic for the adventure ahead. I was kinda stressed too with the whole flight stuff too. Well, i finally found a bunch of missionaries, but after talking to them, I found out i wouldn't be flying over with any of them! So i board my plane and sit down. All of a sudden a sister missionary walks on-- a Sister Harrision. She is assigned to sit next to me! I was so happy! So we talked the whole flight over. It was kinda weird because I felt awkward talking to Sister missionaries. But it turned out fine. Once over in Atlanta, we found a bite to eat, and some more missionaries met us there! There was four of us when there was about 5 hours left until our flight. Three were going to Rio!!! By the end of the layover, we had about 9 missionaries with us, going all over. it was a really fun group, and we took some pictures. The flight over to Brazil was LONG. I couldn't really sleep because of nervousness, stress, excitement, and everything. I was really happy when that plane landed too. I also sat next to Sister Harrison on that one. So 5:15 am your time, I landed in Sao Paulo.
We boarded a bus that took us to the CTM (Centro de treinamento missionario), and immediately got us going into all the work going on there. Orientations, unpacking, classes, lunch, etc. Wow that day was so stressful. We actually forgot to bring my CDC card for Yellow Fever. You're not really supposed to enter the country without it, but my other records showed me with it so it was alright. That night, I had already been thrown into a little Portugues and gospel study. With the jet lag and overall tiredness, I was destroyed and basically overwhelmed.
The city of Sao Paulo is sooooo ghetto, but it's almost a pretty ghetto. I love it. There is spray paint graffiti everywhere, and everyone locks their houses and cars up every night. We are safe inside gates with guards too. :) The CTM is massive too. But the city uses every inch of space they have. The buildings don't have spaces between them. They just start building with the adjacent walls! The city really is beautiful. My room is on the Fifth floor, so i overlook the whole city. The scenery is beautiful. i wish i could sent pictures home, but the CTM doesn't let me upload pictures on these computers, so i have to wait until im gone. sorry.... but yeah, and the food here is pretty good. TONS of protein! Lots of rice and beans, and weird textured desserts.... But I love the meat and stuff! My companion is Elder Hawks, and he is from Moab, and my other roommates are Elder Viglione and Tibbetts. They are all so cool.
I told everyone about my little hand and they love it! hahahah it's so funny. We are planning on scaring the sisters in my district with it because they don't know yet. There are 12 people in my district, and 2 are sister missionaries, many of which i flew over with.
Wow there's so much i want to write, but my time is so limited.
The workload we're under now is massive. 16 hours of non-stop work really. Portugues is such a good language. I love it. After one week, I have learned to pray, bear my testimony, and many common uses for it. I can communicate with Brasileros now sorta, but it's hard. All my prayers are in Portugues now. How crazy is that! I sometimes find myself using portugues words in my head. The work here is definitely sped up by the hand of the Lord. No denying that.
We were able to explore some of the city today earlier. I bought a couple things here. It's pretty cheap.... except deodorant!!! So expensive. And people steal your deodorant and sell it. Stupids... but other than that, every things good.
I'm doing well here, and getting used to it. I miss the home, and all you family, and my friends. I'm sorry the house is empty now... :( I will be home soon and can liven it up for you! I wish i could send pictures, but that may be a while from now... maybe two months.
Yeah, send those letters to me and anything else. I also wrote you guys a letter that should be arriving sometime soon. Another will be coming about something called Check it out and let me know what you think. It's about sending letters faster, but i don't know if its worth it since i just email you guys.
Well, I better get going before my time runs out. It's hard out here right now without you guys, and i'm really struggling with the language. But with the Lord's help, and many many prayers, and lots of study, it'll get easier. Oh, i have already taught an investigator in complete Portugues. What the heck right?! How's that even possible?!
I love you Mom, Dad, Alisha, Lauralee, Wade, and anyone else who reads this. I hope you find out how to post this on the blog, Mom. :)
I love you guys so so much. Be expecting my emails anytime on Tuesdays from 10 to 2 PM your time.
Eu amo meu familia e amigos muito!!
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, September 10, 2012

Adeus meus amigos!

Wow, here I am 12 hours away from being set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!  This is insane!!!  I am so pumped.  It has definitely been a great summer being home, but I am definitely ready to join my elder friends in the mission field. 

It has been a very stressful few weeks lately with getting all the mission stuff together, replacing carpet, visiting friends a few more times, etc.  We finished the carpet and the house by Friday, and I was able drive up to Logan one last time and go to one more AGGIE FOOTBALL game!  Man, what a game to be at.  I stormed the field as well.  Great great great last game to go to.  That will hold me for two years.  I was also able to visit some of my best friends and hang with them most of the night (literally!).  It almost felt like the old days of Freshman year up at USU.  Those were some great times, and I will never forget those who made it great.

Yesterday, I had my farewell, and I would say that it turned out a success!  My talk went well, and was timed beautifully to end right when sacrament ended.  We also had a good turnout at the luncheon after.  I was able to see some of my good friends one last time, and see some relatives that I haven't seen for a while.  I am grateful for everyone who came out and supported me.  You guys made yesterday very special.  I hope to see many of those people after my mission.

I am going to be set apart at 9 PM tonight.  Wow.   This will be the last post from me personally, but hopefully my mom will continue to put my letters up on here so anyone can read up on how I'm doing.

Well I love you all-- see ya in two!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Post!

Hello there everybody!

Well, this is my first post on my mission blog! I am actually pretty pumped out this blog and the chance for people to read my week emails and cool experiences that will make my best two years in Brazil. I have ONE WEEK until I will be IN BRAZIL and learning the Gospel in the SAO PAULO MTC!!! And in Portuguese! I am very excited for this new adventure in life, and I am so pumped to make the best of mission for me as possible.

The stress levels in my house have definitely increased over the past week or so. We are in the process of replacing a new carpet, planning a farewell, and finalizing on all purchases for my mission stuff. Boy, I know I am stressed! I am also beginning to write my farewell talk, which, according to my Dad, at least 50 relatives will be attending... no pressure though, right?

The true reason that I wanted to write a post on here at this time was because I way impressed to share an experience that happened to me last night. Last night was my final night using my cell phone and Facebook, as most already know from my mass text. My bishop had asked me to quit using them one week before my mission to more fully prepare and focus for what is in the short future. So, about 12:30 AM last night, I switched off my phone. Leading up to it, I had some mixed feelings about doing this task. Some were good and some were bad. I was thinking, "What is the point of this? I'm can easily give up my phone the night before. Why do I have to now?" Most of my feelings were that of annoyance and maybe a little nervousness because of the fact that I would be cut off from so many friends. My bishop said it would be hard, but I never thought it would be. But, I obeyed his request. Once I turned it off, I had a peace come over me. A warm, gentle peace. I went to bed that night slightly dazed at why I was feeling this way, but I liked it! I fell asleep pretty quick and awoke the next morning and have gone the whole day without my phone. You wouldn't think that such a weird task would impact someone really. But, I can truly say that it made me a little stronger.

I am grateful for the task my bishop asked me to do. It was hard, but I know that it's nothing compared to the difficulties I will face on my mission. However, I do know that I will be able to complete my mission, with it's hardships and happiness. You don't come by your best two years just by having peace and blissful times. Your hard times help you see how great the happy times are, and as I grow closer to my Heavenly Father and the Spirit, I know the me and my future companions really will have the best two years of our lives. The church is true!

Well, I better get to writing that talk. Here we go!