Monday, January 28, 2013


My family and friends,

I am super short on time this week, so this letter won´t be too long-- im sorry! So this week was a very hard week to say the least. Last week, Elder Fernandez and I were very excited about the work progressing in our area. We had two baptisms lined up for the 27th of January and three for 3 of February. Throughout this week, including up until today, all of these baptisms fell through. Its been really hard and discouraging. These people are so wonderful, and I just want them to be baptized so they can begin to feel the Spirit and happiness of life as members of the church do! The two for the 27th were a mother and her daughter. They have been fulfilling our invitations to come to church, read the Book of Mormon, get to the members, etc. However, they felt that they arent ready. The same situation is happening to another mother and her daughter. They have a baptismal date for the 3rd of February. They fell through this morning. I am a little discouraged, but still very hopeful. All have testified and believe that the Book of Mormon is true and that the church seems different than all the other churchs here. They are all progressing very well. :) President Lima is always telling us that he wants to see some results in our area. It's a bit stressful! For this, we haven't been sleeping very well, and always having this on our minds. As I said last week, we have over 200 references to visit. In a day, we usually visit 5 to 10. However, of those, usually 1 is home or accepts a visit. Its very frustrating at times.

So thats about the summary of my whole week. We also had mission splits this week-- my first real mission split! Thursday morning, we travelled to Macaé and met the Zone Leaders at the bus stop. I was put on a split with Elder Hutching, who is probably the most experienced missionary in the area right now. His mission ends next week. He is a really cool guy! Oh American too. :) We headed back to Rio das Ostras, and I had the opportunity to be the Senior Companion, because I know the area (more or less... with the assistance of a map...), the members, and investigators. I took the lead in almost everything that day. It was really tiring! We contacted many addresses from our giant list, but NONE were home! All day thursday, we tried to find people to teach, and not a single person was home or accepted a visit. I'm on a split with the Zone Leader in my own area, and I couldn't manage to find a single person to teach that day. My confidence was shot that night, and i didnt sleep much. However, he taught me many good techniques and ways to use time wisely. I am grateful for the split.

Funny moment of the week: We visited a lady yesterday that came to check out the church. She wasn't home, but we talked to her husband for a little while. As we were talking to him I felt something hit my back-- I thought it was a big raindrop because after a little while my back felt wet there. After we finished talking to him, I realized that a stupid pigeon had pooped on me! Somehow this pigeon managed to hit Elder Fernandez also, but the majority of it hit me... We headed to the church to clean up. I now have a stain on one of my white shirts.... yuck.

Well, I better get going. I am hoping this coming week will be better. This is my last week being trained as well! Next Tuesday, I will be an official trained missionary, and not a greenie! I sure don't feel ready for this step, but here we go. There is a transfer this next Wednesday too. Chances are I will stay here, but Elder Fernandez will most likely be transferred. There also is the chance that we will have two more missionaries live in our house and work in Rio das Ostras as well. If this happens, Elder Fernadnez and I will be split up, but still live together. We will see what happens!

I love and miss you all. A scripture that we taught many times this last week was Alma 34:32-33. This is the time to prepare to meet God. Always make sure every action you do is in harmony with this. We have limited time on this Earth. This time is just a twinkling of the eye in relation to our eternal time scale, but will decide our future for the rest of eternity. Now that is something to think about!

I am constantly praying for you guys back at home and asking that the blessing of heaven will be DUMPED on you guys. :) Have a wonderful week!

Much love,

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, January 21, 2013

Just another week in Paradise‏

Hello hello!

This week seemed to fly by very fast! I hope that means I was working super hard. :) I am loving this area of Rio das Ostras right now. We have had a bit of a cold spell whip through. Everyday has been cloudy, rainy, and temperatures in the 80s. I could get used to this. :) However, when it rains, it pours, and all the streets flood. That happened one time this week (Its also happening right now as I'm writing!), and luckily we were able to wait out the storm in somebody's house. We didn't even know the people, it was great! Once the rain stopped, we tried making our way to other appointments, but the streets were all flooded to the point that we couldn´t walk anywhere. Some random guy then gave us a ride to dry grounds. That's what is so great about Brazil. People are very friendly and inviting (for the most part. I have stories of times they weren't so nice.). We talk with everybody.... introduce ourselves as missionaries.... they reject us.... but then offer us lunch! Its quite strange, but I like it.

We have been pretty busy lately. Last Wednesday, we organized all the addresses and references that we picked up from contacts, Open House, Dedication, and Sunday Meetings with the new chapel. We have over 200. We have LOTS of work to do! We began with contacts of people that are most interested in the church: those who actually attended one or more of the events with the new chapel. We are also filling the rest of our time with contacts that were extra special. Just with this, we have truly found some miracles in this area! One lady came to the church two Sundays ago. She described an experience about how she was praying to find guidance in her life, and then randomly was contacted by two missionaries that gave her an invite for the new chapel (remember, before the open house, 12 pairs of missionaries were here talking to everyone on the streets about the church). She checked out the church and really liked it. We met with her last Tuesday and she asked us if she could be baptized!!! It was great, but..... she isn't married to her spouse, just living together... She doesn't qualify for baptism unless she is married legally. This is a problem in Brasil. Many people just live together and aren't married. So, we talked to her about getting married legally and she said she really wants to. She is working on that right now. She also gave us a reference, a friend of hers that she thought would really like the church. We visited this reference, which turned out to be a mother, Doce, and her daughter, Nicole. Our first visit with them went well and we learned that Nicole is in the process of finding a religion. After the first lesson, we invited them to be baptized on the 27th. They accepted. :) Since then, we have been visiting them every day almost. Nicole loves the Book of Mormon and has received an answer to her prayers! She is fulfilling every invitation we give her, and accepted to live all the commandments after baptism. Doce, however, needs a bit of work. We also contacted another person that was interested in the church, and actually came to the Open House, Dedication, and Church meetings the next day! Madalena and her daughter, Fernanda. They are really great. We met with them Saturday, and after the first lesson accepted baptism for the 3rd of February. :) They are really great. It´ll take some time with them, because they are super busy all the time, and they are 110% addicted to coffee.

Those are the happy stories of the week. We also have had some sad stories. Its so hard to let go of a person that seems so perfect and needs the church in their lives! We met this one lady, probably late 60s, that absolutely loved the visit to the chapel. She described that she felt something different there.... a peace, a happiness she hasn't felt before. She seemed perfect! We began teaching her, and for two visits, everything was great. She was really open and loved our messages. However, we visited her for the third time, and she told us that her pastor doesn't think she should attend the church, and that members of her church are being mean to her (shes been Baptist for 40 years.), so she wont let us visit her anymore. We tried everything to help her and let us keep visiting her, but she was firm. We also found a cool family that we taught last Thursday. They liked our message of the Restoration, and the dad has been really looking for the right religion for a long time. Our second visit with him, he began telling us about this huge search he made in the Bible and Book of Mormon and that the Book of Mormon isn't needed for salvation... blah blah blah. He began talking about Albert Einstein and Newton as well. I'm sure if I understood Portuguese, it would´ve made a little more sense. :) Anyway, he began criticizing the Book of Mormon and saying that it doesn't have any prophecies that are coming true (he only read to 1 Nephi 3). We left him with 2 Nephi 29 to read and left.. If you are unfamiliar with this chapter, find it and read it. You will find this situation very ironic and slightly funny.

Well that is about it with the week. I have one last story to end with. It happened yesterday at church. Elder Fernandez and I were spending church like normal, running around helping people, making sure investigators and visitors were in the right class rooms and what not. As Sacrament Meeting began, we were looking for an investigator that showed up late. 10 minutes in to Sacrament, she showed up, we helped her to a seat, and then a member of the Presidency pulled Elder Fernandez and I aside. He said that they didn't have any speakers for that days meeting and that we are going to be the speakers for the day. In my mind, I'm basically crying wondering how this is going to turn out. I had about one hymn and the Sacrament to prepare a talk. I decided to speak about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I began speaking, everything was going well. My Portuguese was alright, and I found it a little easier than I thought it would be. However, as I began talking about faith, I noticed people in the congregation laughing and smiling. I instantly thought... oh no, what did i say wrong... The rest of the talk went well. Afterwards, one of the young men who knows English came up to me and was congratulating me. I asked him what I said wrong that made everyone laugh. Turns out this is what happened.... I said "Quando nós assamos com fé....". I should´ve said "Quando nós agimos com fé....". Literally translated, I meant to say "When we act in faith....", but i said "When we bake with faith...". I wonder how many times i do this in my speaking, and people just aren´t telling me.... Oh well!

Well, I love you all and miss you all dearly. I am loving every minute out here even though its super hard and tiring. I think I will take advantage of this rainy P-day and go take a nap. :)

All my love,

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, January 14, 2013

Oi. :)

Hola todo mundo!
Hello family and friends, how are you?? Ah, I can´t believe I have 4 months of my mission down already. I feel like I just left. Time flies. That right there is 1/6 of my mission to put it in perspective.

Anyway, I have truly seen miracles in my area this week!!! Ah its been a good week. Its all been very very tiring and stressful. I believe I talked a little bit about our new chapel here in Rio das Ostras in my last email. So, in preparation for the dedication of the chapel, we had two other sets of missionaries travel here last Thursday. We each loaded up our backpacks with invitations to check out the new chapel, and headed off to the most high traffic areas of Rio das Ostras to invite each and every person to the Open House and Dedication. We had the two Assistants to the President (the head honcho missionaries of the Mission), and two others from our Zone, and then my companion and I. The six of us spent all day Thursday contacting everyone we could and talking about the church. I was put on a split with one of the Assistants. Elder Kirkpatrick from Montana. He is such a cool guy. He is leaving in about three weeks, so he is the most experienced our mission has. It was really great to get to know him a little, as well as hear how it was for him learning Portuguese, how he progressed in the early months of his mission, etc. He says that I am ahead of what he was at when he arrived. I hope that he´s telling the truth and not just making me feel good. :) Him and I went to an area right near the beach and contacted for hours. Up until this point in my mission, I had not made a contact by myself. Usually, I will speak.... they will respond... I will have no idea what they said.... Elder Fernández takes over. However, when we began, I witnessed a miracle. The miracle of the gift of tongues!!! By the end of the day, I had made close to 180 contacts alone. 180 people that I was able to talk to, respond to questions and doubts, describe the church, where its at, why i am a goofy American in Brazil, and so forth. I still dont know how i did it. When I arrived back home, I was so tired I went straight to bed.
Friday was very similar to Thursday, except this day, we had the President of the Mission back in our area, and three more sets of missionaries arrived! We spent the morning having a Zone Training with the President. He is such a spiritual giant. He makes me want to be so much better in every aspect! During the training, I had to get up and teach about the Book of Mormon to 10 other missionaries and the President. Talk about nerve-racking! I am the newest, greeniest, and know the least Portuguese. But I think I did alright. We also had interviews with the President. It´s like an interview with 10 Bishops and Stake Presidents! Scary stuff! But really he is a nice guy. He really cares for his missionaries. The rest of the day was spent knocking doors, making contacts, inviting people, etc. The Open House was Friday evening and Saturday, and we had some really cool people come through.
Friday to Saturday, 8 missionaries slept at my house! It was nuts. Early Saturday morning, we got ready for the day, and headed out to the church. Members were helping out with taking people through, explaining all about the church. The Dedication Saturday evening was amazing! The chapel was filled to the brim with members, friends, family, and investigators. It was such a spiritual meeting. We had a choir that sang as well. They did great. Brasilians are very special. Generally, they arent too experienced in singing, so they are off-key. However, they sing with such enthusiasm and such power that you know that they are truly singing praises to our Lord. It is something i will always remember. After the dedication, I stood in front of the church for a little and just looked at how full it was. People everywhere smiling, laughing, hugging. The Spirit touched me strongly. There are some amazing people here in Brasil.
Now things have calmed down a little, and all missionaries have left for their own areas. I am very grateful for all the things i learned and the experiences I have gained through all this.
Now the work begins. We accumulated over 100 addresses of people interested in the visits from the missionaries. We are very busy now. The ward is also very excited with all this work as well. We are working a lot with them to welcome investigators into the ward and to reach out to neighbors and friends, and talk about the church. Many members are coming to us needing Book of Mormons and asking for guidance on what to say to them about it. Its very very exciting here right now. We are working hard to bring many the happiness that we have.
I will keep you updated on the progress. I am excited for all this work. Our area needs it. :) Like i said before i left, there will be a temple in Rio by the time im done here!
I love and miss you all very much! Thank you for the letters and everything too. Stay warm and cozy with your chilly weather!
All my love,
Elder Stevey Boy Bennett

Monday, January 7, 2013

Seu Missionário‏

Hello all!
Happy 2013!!! How is everyone doing up in Utah right now? Just ´chilling´? Alisha sent me a picture of the weather in Logan, and I wanted to jump on a plane right now and visit! Really, I miss that chilly weather. But I can´t complain too much about the weather here this week. It was fairly nice... I think low to mid 90´s all week, plus clouds and rain.
So, this week was pretty great. I had some really good experiences that I want to share. The first of which occurred on the first of January. We have an investigator named Belisario, the spouse of Vania (remember her?). He is a toughy to say the least. We have been meeting with him my entire time here, plus three weeks before i arrived here. His family is baptized, but he doesnt want to be. He has received a testimony of the church, believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. He knows everything there is to know about the missionary lessons. Everyday, Elder Fernandez and I crack our heads open trying to figure out what to teach him, and what can help him to accept baptism. So, the morning of January 1, we began our personal study. I prayed for inspiration on what to study. I began reading 1 Nephi 20, some Isaiah chapter. I learned after two verses that im not learning much right now. Then, as i kept thinking, i had the idea to study the Plan of Salvation. I open Preach My Gospel and start studying that. I had the idea to look at the many scripture references at the beginning of that section. So i do this. I look at Enos 1. I begin studying this. When personal study was over, i shared what i learned with Elder Fernandez. He began thinking... and writing... after a little he said that we should use this with Belisario. We began planning what we would say. When we finished planning, we both had this feeling inside. A really really good feeling. Today was the day he would accept baptism. When the time came to share the lesson with him, all went well. At the end, we invited him to be baptized. For the past forever, he has always flat-out said NO. But this time, he sat.... thought about it a little.... and said.. ah, maybe. We were literally stunned. Ever since then, he´s been really receptive to our messages, and we are working hard to get him to give a solid YES and be batized the 12th of January.
The next experience is more of a serious one. We had a lesson with an investigating family Friday night. They live pretty far away from our house. We got our Ward Mission Leader to accompany us as well. We taught the family and all went well, but it was gettng pretty late. We need to be in our house by 9... 9:30 at the latest if you are teaching a lesson. We left their house about 9:45. Our Mission Leader gave us a ride home.... luckily. As we got near our house, I saw skimpy dressed people at almost every street corner. I then realized who these people were. I think you can guess as well. We always walked past these same street corners at 9:00 and sometimes up until 9:30. If we had walked home this night, there could´ve been some problems. I am grateful for the rules we have. They literally keep you out of harms way. I am also very grateful that the member gave us a ride home!
The last two experiences happened yesterday! So, yesterday was a bit odd. Every shop was closed and there was no one on the streets. We, as missionaries, dont like this. :) We needed 20 contacts for the day, but there was no one out. We also needed lessons. As we walked down a street, I began praying that we would find someone who would accept our message. As I finished, we passed a house in which a man had just walked to the front to clean chairs. We began talking to him. He accepted to hear a message. We taught him the Plan of Salvation. He lives in Rio de Janeiro and was only here for the holidays, so i will most likely never see him again. I wish him the best.
Just after that lesson, we ran off to a family night with a member. We were to visit a inactive member who is married to a non-member. We wanted to center our message on Eternal Families, but didnt have anything planned. As we arrived we entered and talked with them a little. They were really nice. The wife (non-member) tried to greet Elder Fernandez (tradition in Brazil that you greet by kissing both cheeks of the person. Missionaries aren´t allowed to do this.). As she leaned in he freaked out a little and said ´no you cant!` She was startled and jumped back. I couldnt help but laugh my face off. We then explained more about the rules of missionaries. As we began the family night, the father delegated Elder Fernandez to say the prayer, and me to give a message. I was thinking `oh no... i have no idea what to share!´ We began singing i am a child of God. I had the three verses of this song to come up with something in my head. As we sang, a scripture popped in my head... Alma 30:44. I decided to use it. I talked about our Father in Heaven, and tied it in to Eternal Families. It worked out perfect. We then went on to talk more about it. They were very attentive and the Spirit was strong. It was a great moment. :)
I am grateful for experiences like these here in the mission field.
So, news for you guys! This week we will be dedicating a BRAND NEW Chapel in Rio das Ostras!!! The church has existed for 5 years here in a rented house (I will include pictures). The members are super excited. All the missionaries in our area plus the Assistants to the President will stay at our place Wednesday to Saturday, the day of the dedication. In these days, we will invite everyone we see to come check out the chapel and the dedication. We will invite 10,000 people to visit the chapel. Yup, that´s right, 8 missionaries, 10,000 people.
This week will be exciting. I love you and miss you all. I hope everything is well and you are staying nice and warm. I know I am. The church is true, and never forget it!
Much love,
Elder Steven Bennett