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