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