This was quite the week. I subjected the email this week as "Patience in Afflictions" because this is exactly what I was learning all week. In Preach My Gospel, we have a section called "Christ-like Attributes". At the end of the section, there is a guide to help you apply these attributes in your life and strengthen them. One of these ways is to pray and ask for experiences in your life associated with living these principles. I found myself studying about Patience and Love earlier in the week. Starting with last Monday, I began to notice many instances in my life that were given to help me become more patient and loving. I will describe some of these events, but first, I would like to say that I am not complaining that I had these, but that I am grateful!
Starting last Monday, P-day right? I am very excited for this day because we had had a hard week, and I was very tired. I was so happy to finally rest. We ran off to email family, buy groceries, and then returned to the house. Now our house is literally a death-trap. Its very old, and nothing works really. I am sure the roof will collapse on us some day. Anyway, as we arrived to the house, I tried unlocking the door.... wouldn't unlock... We tried many ways to get in, but it was no use. We arrived at about 3 PM, and P-day ends at 6 PM. We tried for about an hour to get in but it was no use... It was somewhere close to 100 F and we had no shade to sit in and all our food was getting all warm and gross. So much for resting! We tried calling a person to come open it for us, but nothing was working! Finally, one guy said he could, but it'll be about 30 more minutes. He arrived at 5:30 PM and opened it in like 2 minutes. There was part of the lock that wasn't functioning properly. He then proceeded to take 50 reals from us just for that little incident. So, after 2 1/2 hours of sitting and sweating in the sun, it was time to end P-day and go to work. I was so tired, sweaty, and truthfully angry. I wanted to rest and i needed to wash clothes. I didn't have time for either.
Tuesday, I woke up and tried to wash some clothes real quick... but we had no water... Our home is very old and the water shuts off at times. So i couldn't wash any clothes, and we had to take showers with a bucket of water from a well underneath our home (we have been doing this for two weeks up until today, the day I'm writing this email.). We then spent the whole day searching for people to teach, but none of our plans were successful and we ended the day bummed out.
Wednesday, the day was spent very similar to Tuesday with not a whole lot of success. Our street contacts were almost completely rejections. After lunch, we began a fast for a Family, Luciana and Alexandre. We wanted to set a date of marriage for them, so that they can also be baptized. Here in Brazil, many people "live together" but aren't married. To be baptized, they have to get married first, so a date of marriage is a huge step. They had been talking about the end of the year, but we wanted to change that. So, the weather was hot all day and we were walking a lot... sweating a lot... I was very thirsty even after two or three hours into the fast. We ended the night out and got ready for bed. I went to bed still sweating and with a dry mouth. That night was difficult. I didn't sleep much, and it was extremely hot. I couldn't swallow and many times I got up to get water... but something always kept me back and didn't let me drink water. I knew this was a test. I had to show God that I am willing to suffer this night, and that was what kept me from drinking water. All night, I sweated. I don't even know where the sweat was coming from because there was zero water in my body. We woke the next morning weak, tired, and thirsty. We continued to our study time. I prayed for inspiration and a clear head, even though my mind was foggy and dizzy. Astonishingly, I found that I could think really well as we planned our big lesson for the family. After we planned out our lesson for them, we needed to pick a marriage date to invite them. We said a prayer, and then for about 5 minutes, we each stared at a calendar and thought about which date it would be. Afterwards, Elder Cheshire said.... alright, tell me your date. I thought a little bit more... and said March 23. He was very quiet. I stared at him waiting to hear what he had to say. He then looked at me and had tears in his eyes. He then said... that was the date I was thinking too. The Spirit testified to us that this was truly inspired. Fast forward to the end of the night, the lesson went really well. The Bishop came with us as well. The Spirit was strong as we talked about marriage and temples. We ended it by inviting them to be married on that date. Alexandre, who is usually quiet and looks like he isn't listening, he accepted immediately, and right after, Luciana accepted and began to cry. The Spirit was INSANELY STRONG! They held hands and kissed and all that yucky stuff, and we finished up the lesson. It was amazing. We truly reaped the blessing of our patience in afflictions!
I have gained a firm testimony that if we do our part, and be patient in all, God will do His part. Sometimes, His timeline is a little different than ours. We must always be patient. Alma 34:41 helped me so much this week. Patience in afflictions. Have a hope that one day, we will rest from our afflictions. That night, Elder Cheshire and I rested from our afflictions. But as with missionary work in general, the next day brought its new challenges, and we are right back to being patient. :)
I am grateful for this experience. Sometimes, it's hard to stay positive and always see the happy side of life. I know that 2 weeks of showering with just a bucket of water and getting eaten by mosquitoes every night is pretty annoying, but after this experience, I will live like that for the rest of my mission just to have another experience like this one. As with everything, we have the choice to stay patient, or harden our hearts. I was studying a scripture today that helped me clearly understand the consequences of hardening our hearts: Alma 12:36. If you harden your heart, you won't enter the rest of God. You can't be more clear than that!
Wow that was really long, and I know that I could never exactly describe the event through email, but I testify that we have a loving Heavenly Father. He is waiting to pour out blessings on each one of us. However, sometimes He wants us to show a little faith first. I never truly understood this until now. Patience in afflictions. Always be happy. Love everyone! These are the attributes of our Loving Savior. These are the things we need to apply in our lives.
I hope that everyone at home is happy and safe and healthy. :) I love and miss you all very much! Thanks for the letters and the updates from home. I sure feel loved when I receive mail! Do you guys still have snow, or is it warming up yet? Finally, I think its going to start cooling down here soon. FINALLY!
Oh some crazy news about this week. One, The Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission will be divided and the new mission will be called Brazil Juiz de Fora Mission. This will take place July 1. Because I will have about 10 months in the mission, I may be transferred to that mission and be training new missionaries. But who knows. We will see. :) Oh and yesterday, I gave a 20 minute talk on getting the ward excited about Missionary work. I had some people come up and say that they understood my Portuguese really well. However, I had one person tell me: "I didn't understand a word you said, but good job anyway!" She was like 85 years old, so I'm guessing the problem was her and not me. Hahaha. :)
Elder Steven Bennett