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