The subject of this weekly email is "Changes. BIG changes." This is because almost everything is changing or about to change. To start off, I am no longer a "greenie" missionary! I have finished my first 12 weeks in which I am trained by another missionary. Now it is time to put all this to the test, refine my skills, and become the best missionary possible! With this change, companionship study is reduced to 1 hour (instead of 2 hours), and I have more of a responsiblity to uphold. I am a bit nervous because I still feel that I dont know a whole lot, and everything is still pretty rusty. Along with this, I will be saying goodbye to my beloved first area, Rio das Ostras.... I am a bit sad for this. This area is very beautiful, and the people are so nice and friendly. The members are strong and help a lot in the missionary work. We have wonderful lunches with members, and sometimes, members bring us food.
Tomorrow I am being transferred to an area called Andaraí. It's basically in the middle of Rio de Janeiro. My zone (Zona Andaraí) is the zone that has the Cristus Statue. I am excited for this, but also nervous. My new zone contains the Assistants to the President, the President, and the Secretaries of the Mission. This area is very fancy from what i'm told, but also parts are a bit of a favela. Truthfully, this area will be a bit harder than Rio das Ostras. The people aren't as nice, and its a tad bit more dangerous (Mom, don't worry too much about me.. :)..). My new companion will be Elder Cheshire. He is American. I hope my Português will still increase rapidly. Hahah my Português is a bit messed up. First, I learned with a São Paulo accent. Next, got thrown into the Rio-Carioca Accent, and my first companion was Chilean, so there is a little spanish accent mixed in as well. I dont know if this is a good thing, but I understand a surprising amount of Spanish as well... Anyway, these are the new changes. Here I go. :)
Here in Rio das Ostras, we've had some changes as well. We've been having trouble having baptisms in this area, but lately, we've had lots of progress. We have about six investigators that are really progressing. One in particular is a girl that is 13 years old (However, she looks 16.). She is independently looking for a religion... at 13! We met her during the open-house of the chapel. This week we taught her the Restoration, and during our return visit, she had read the booklet we left her about the Restoration, the chapter in the Book of Mormon we left her, as well as studied more, and understood everything almost exactly! She went farther than that and got her whole family involved and they are going to come to church. She went one more step farther, and invited friends to come to church as well, AND receive the missionaries! Truly, she is ready for baptism already.
We also have been teaching Newton, a 60 year old man, with diabetes. He is really cool! We've been meeting with him almost everyday. He is reading the Book of Mormon everyday, following through with every challenge we give him, and is progressing in his fight to quit smoking. He smokes a pack of 20 cigarettes a day, and right now he is down to less than 5 a day. He is coming to church as well. He is just about ready for baptism as well!
It is people like these that makes it sad to leave this area. I hope that they will continue strong and be baptized. I won't be around to see if it really happens. I was telling Elder Fernández that he better baptize them. :)
Well that's about it for this week. Tomorrow, my new home will be Rio de Janeiro. Do you know what that means? Carnival is Friday.... Im being transferred to the heart of Rio just before Carnival. This will be interesting! Looks like I will be staying inside for an entire week straight.
Love you and miss you all! I pray for you always. Have a wonderful week. :)
All my love and more,
Elder Steven Bennett