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!
Elder Steven Bennett