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....
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.