First off, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Carnival and that Babylon is raging here in Brasil. Also, I hope that you are finally beginning to warm up a little bit as Spring comes nearer and nearer. Wow, this week has felt like a year. This week passed very very slow. Many good and bad things happened that helped me become a better missionary.
So, as I said in the last letter, I was being transferred from Rio das Ostras (which I will now refer to as the "Utah" or "Bubble" for missionaries serving in RJ) to Andaraí. Andaraí is an area in Rio de Janeiro. The city of RJ is massive and covers quite a bit of space. I am in a part that is more inland and is snuggled up near the mountains. If you go to the outskirts of my area, you can see the Christ Statue.
After I found out about the news of the transfer, Elder Fernandez and I went home and I spent the day packing and cleaning up all my stuff. I see why missionaries live out of their suitcases during a mission... its really annoying packing! Tuesday night, we visited different people in the ward and said good-bye. We also visited Vania and Family. Everyone was shocked that I was the one to leave. Elder Fernandez has 6 months in that area, and usually you dont stay much longer than that in one area. I also found out just before leaving that some of the Young Women were in love with my eyes. Apparently, the whole ward knew.... except the missionaries... Yikes. Wednesday morning, we headed to the bus station at about 5:45 AM and waited for our 6 AM bus to Rio. As we sat, Vania and Daniella (daughter) appeared and wanted to say good-bye to me one more time! They woke up early and walked to the bus station just to say bye to me! I felt very loved. :) They are so great and I will miss them. I snapped a photo with them and headed off. 4 hours and 20 minutes later, we arrived in Rio de Janeiro! We met up with the other 40 missionaries and talked a little, and I met my new companion, Elder Cheshire. He is my age and left on the mission in May. We are almost the same age, and he is from Layton! He speaks Portuguese really well and I am slightly grateful that i have someone to communicate with in English now! We are living with two others as well.... Elder Levi and Elder Mademan. Mademan is Brasilian, and Levi is American. Its quite fun. :) So, we arrived home and unloaded all of our stuff. Boy this home is pretty bad. The roofs leak water super bad and its filled with mosquitos! The whole house is super run down, but its alright since we only use it to sleep and study. After we put our bags away, we planned a little and headed out for the day. This area is definitely different. People are very closed here and dont like to talk as much. People yell and curse at us and reject us a lot. It was hard at first because I was used to the people of Rio das Ostras who will talk to you all day, any day. That first day of contacts was hard. That night (Wed. Night), a massive rain storm rolled in. We werent ready for it and got drenched. We continued to try to enter a house to pass the rain and teach a lesson, but no one let us in. I was tired, unmotivated, and wet. Just before going home that night, the power was knocked out on our street. As we were about to enter, Elder Cheshire stopped and was a little hesitant. He then said "Alright, once we enter this street, walk fast and dont stop." I was scared to death... what is he talking about?! Once we arrived in our house safe and sound, he told me that when the power goes out, people hide in the shadows and rob people. It was quite a scary moment. So we arrived in our house safe and sound, and began planning out the next day by candle-light. It was then as well, that I found out that my backpack was completely drenched.... as well as everything inside. I was carrying my new Portuguese Book of Mormon and Bible. As I reached in and pulled them out, I was devastated. They were soaked. We finished planning, unpacked, and I did what i could to help them get dry as quick as possible. However, its very humid here... even now they are still a bit wet. I didnt sleep that night as well. That sums up my first day in Andaraí. The good news is that everyday got better from there. :) Now, its actually quite fun making street contacts. You never know what somebody will say or do to you! I knocked on a door a couple days ago, and all these dogs started barking inside. I was then chewed out by an old guy about bothering him. I didnt understand anything he said, but Elder Cheshire said that he was using some pretty bad language with me. During our study time, we've been thinking and practicing different ways to improve our contacting skills. We found that with most people here, we need to speak very direct and harsh.
I have learned many things through this week. I have learned to endure afflictions better, and to be more positive even when everything around you is falling down. I found that I can teach better than i thought... all i had to do was open my mouth a little bit more. :)
I am expecting this week to fly by a little more quickly, but I am also ready to work hard, all day, everyday.
I love you all and miss you all dearly! Let me know how everybody and everything is back at home. :) Have a wonderful week!
Elder Steven Bennett