Hello my wonderful family and friends,
My heart is very full during this time of year. I love you all so very much. This time of year was already my favorite time of the year, but it has taken a whole new meaning since I arrived here on the mission. These last two Christmas' that I have passed have given me some of the most sacred and spiritual experiences of my entire life. I would also like to thank everyone who sent me letters and emails wishing me a Merry Christmas and New Year, and for all that I haven't responded, email or letter, you have my word that I am getting on that. My time is short, but I wish to make good use of it to write you all back. :) Also, it was so amazing to talk to my family again... all you cuties! I loved it. I am so happy that I was allowed to talk to everyone this time. I love you all so much! Ah, this is just a wonderful time for me. Life truly is amazing. The family is doing pretty well, I had the chance to talk to you guys, and here on the mission, we are having some success. Many things have changed, as I was able to explain very briefly in the last letter and through Skype this week. However, I will try to give you guys a good update of what is going on.
So in these last few weeks, as I have said before many times, my mission completely changed. Receiving word of the transfer, I was saddened, but happy to return to Andaraí. I was saddened by the thought of leaving behind the wonderful people that I was teaching, and the great ward that I had gotten to know. I had the chance to give a talk in the last Sacrament Meeting there, and while I hadn't prepared a thing, the Holy Ghost guided my words and it became a very spiritual and touching moment for me. Leaving Curicica, I received a calming confirmation that all would be well, and that I would be able to find the same success in my new area, Méier. Méier is a great area. It has a strong ward, great members, and amazing people that live in that area. It is a little bit more humble than Andaraí, making it a little bit more easy to find people ready for the Gospel. I had the chance to come to Méier while I was serving in Andaraí in mission splits and baptismal interviews, so I already knew a little bit about the area, ward, and people. I have already had some great experiences of running into members that I know here in Méier and also in Andaraí. I am seeing people that I once taught now baptized and members of the church. I am seeing others that are still being taught, and now I have the chance to help them out a second time. For example, these last few week, I met a young man who is a recent convert, Jean. After having this strange feeling that I knew him, we realized that I was present in the very first lesson that was taught to him. I was there on a mission split. Now, he is a strong member, dating the bishop's daughter, and planning to go on a mission. This last week in Andaraí, I had the chance to do a baptismal interview of an investigator that I taught many months ago. These experiences are priceless. Even to the moment of seeing the Bishop of Andaraí and giving him a big hug.... seeing Celso, a man I baptized that is planning to go to the temple.... seeing the Ward Secretary on the street and even being far from him, he still recognized me and called me by name... these experiences bring a very big joy to you, for you really feel that people got to know you, and they didn't forget about you. Really, experiences that make your mission worth it. :) For these moments, and just for the sheer fact of being back in this zone, I thank my Heavenly Father each and every day.
My first week, I had the opportunity to continue the work of many missionaries in the past, and help teach and plan the wedding/baptism of a family, Felipe and Geciane. It was a very hurried week, and we were always running from one place to the other getting things together, calling people, and setting everything up perfectly. It got to the point where a lady from the ward called us and said that it wouldn't be possible to get flowers and decorations for the wedding. We were stuck in a crisis. No one knew somebody that could help with such little time until the wedding. It was in that moment that I began to realize that Heavenly Father knows all things. He knows what people we are to teach, baptize, and help, in such a moment that only you can be that person to help. It was in this moment that a very special person came into my head... someone who also loved decorations and flowers.... Celso, the man that I baptized back in June in Andaraí. We found his number and gave him a call. He was so happy to hear from me! We told him that we needed his help, and he immediately dropped everything to help us out. He helped us pick flowers, and carry everything to the chapel on the very day of the wedding. No one else could of helped us in this occasion. We were so grateful for him and his help. Truly, Heavenly Father knows all things. :) So, two Saturdays ago (the 21st?), this wonderful family had a beautiful wedding in the chapel, and was followed by their baptism that night. Everything worked out perfectly. The next day, we had the chance to complete a family, baptizing Rodrigo. Rodrigo is a wonderful guy, and very focused on the family. He was a Jehovah Witness in the past, and even to the point of being a missionary for them. He went inactive and got married to a member of the church, thus starting his conversion story. He is great, and he bore a powerful testimony after his baptism.
Really, I have had so many great experiences these last few weeks. I feel my connection to Heavenly Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost strengthening through each and everyday. I am so very grateful for the things I am learning here on the mission. I truly know, without doubt, that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, the church with His proper authority to save all mankind. I know that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us. He invites all to come unto HIm and partake in the happiness that He has in store for us. As a goal for this New Year, do exactly this... come unto our Heavenly Father and partake in this happiness and His blessings. It is only through Him that we can stay together with our families forever in the presence of Him. Make a goal to know Him even more this coming year. Make this the best year of your lives. I know that I am. :) I love you all so much and I miss you all tons. I hope you all have a wonderful New Years 2014!!! Make it a year of miracles!
Elder Steven Bennett