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. :)
Elder Steven Bennett