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. :)