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