This was quite the week! Many interesting things have been happening. I hope I can remember them all. I will start off by saying that I am a bit sunburned.... Yikes this entire week was BLAZING hot. One member said the temperature range this week was 37 C - 41 C. I dont remember exactly, but I think that is like 98-105 F. Sunscreen is basically useless here because after you apply it and go outside, you instantly sweat it all off. You cant reapply it because you're basically soaked. The only saving grace right now is that many streets are tree-lined, so I am able to stick to the shade a lot. Nights aren't very pleasant either. The sun goes down, but its still just as hot. We have some fans we use, so that's another saving grace for us. :)
Carnival finished up this week.... I think Wednesday. Our Zone Leaders received word from Presient Lima that we are to continue working unless we feel that we need to return to our houses. My thoughts of Carnival were definately different than what I was expecting. I always thought every street was going to be a party and people everywhere dressed with almost nothing and wearing funny costumes like in the movie "Rio". Most of that was correct, but there are specific areas that have parties, and everyone in the city gathers in these places. They have these areas all over Rio, but the craziest ones are in Copacabana and Ipanema... aka the area that is represented in the movie Rio. In our area, we had about three or four of these spots, so we just had to stick far from them and we were fine for the most part. The city, normally very busy, was a ghost town during carnival. We were lucky to talk to 10 people on the streets in a day! Everyone was at these other locations, drunk, or sleeping. It was quite the adventure finding new ways to use our time. Many investigators were travelling or at these parties, unfortunately. Wednesday night was the craziest night of all. Up until Wednesday, these different party locations have competitions of who has the craziest parties. Wednesday night, a member called us up to give a blessing, so we ran off to their apartment. We gave the blessing on a 7th story balcony overlooking all of Rio. While up there, it struck me once again that I am in Rio de Janeiro serving a mission. How awesome is that? I felt the Spirit testify to me strongly that I am here for a reason. The blessing went well and afterwards we ate a little snack on the balcony. It was night, and the sights up there were amazing. You could see the lighted areas of each of these parties. The member explained to us that Brasil stops during carnival. Literally stops. And he was right. All week, every store, shop, pharmacy, etc. was closed. We returned to our home and got ready for bed. I woke up in the middle of night to the sound of drums coming from a party just down the street from us. It was an interesting week!
After Carnival, all went back to normal. Shops opened back up and people began living and working normally again. The work began to progress a little more. We have been having problems finding new investigators, but the people we have right now are really great. They are so nice. It reminds me that there still is friendly, warm people here (But really though, i love the people here! They are pretty cold sometimes, but it always is an adventure talking to them.) We have been teaching a young lady whose parents were recently baptized. She is really great. She went to a church retreat (Intent to take all the young members of the church to a safer, cleaner place during carnival) and she made some good friends in the ward. She is reading the Book of Mormon also. We also have been teaching a man who is living at a construction site. He misses his family a lot, which gave way to the Plan of Salvation just nicely. We are hoping to baptize him soon. :) We are also looking forward to teaching many families this week. We have a list of 15 families that we are looking to Baptize, Complete, or Reactivate.
We had a Zone Conference in Andaraí Thursday. It was really good. The president and his wife spoke to us about having more love for the people here. I needed their message so bad! Sometimes I am tempted to feel angry towards some of the people that reject us or are mean to us. I have been doing much better with that lately. Also with my companions, I have been trying to apply this with them. We have been having some problems with some of the missionaries we live with. Its been interesting for sure. But, with the Zone Conference, I was asked to learn Called to Serve for it, as well as play prelude, and the other hymns they chose. In the middle of the Conference, we had a musical number, and I was asked to play a hymn I didnt know about. Luckily, I knew the song alright, so it was fine. I am grateful for my experience with piano for sure, and I really miss it some days. Each P-day, I go to the church and play a little, and I am teaching Elder Cheshire how to play as well.
Yesterday I was supposed to give a talk during Sacrament Meeting. I planned this sweet 20 minute talk, but then we arrived and he had four speakers assigned. He said I had to cut it to ten minutes. The third speaker clearly wanted to continue speaking over her time limit, and at 11:55 she finished. Bishop moved me to next week. I will be speaking on getting the ward excited to help in the Missionary Work. It'll be awesome. :) Oh, sunday, the clocks moved behind one hour. We didnt know and arrived at the church at 7:30 AM... The only day in the year that missionaries can sleep an extra hour.... and we missed it... bleh. But it was good because Bishop randomly assigned us to teach the Gospel Principles class, so we had a little bit of time to prepare.
Well that is about it for this week. I hope everything is well at home and the weather is warming up a bit. If you guys want, you can take some of the heat from here... :) Oh..... CONGRATULATIONS LISH!!!! BABY BOY! Ah, I knew it'd be a boy. That's so great! And I am so trunky right now because of this news! :) I am glad to hear that he is doing well and that everyone else is well. Thursday, I received all the letters from Dec., Jan., and Feb. up until now. I am grateful for all the friends that wrote me and the news from home! Dad, you have an Iphone5???!!! I am jealous. Get a screen protector for it and a case! The screens are glass and will shatter if you drop it! With a screen protector, it will hold all the pieces together and still function if you drop it.
Also, for the ward:
Thank you for all the letters I received, as well as the scripture highlighter. I felt very loved with these gifts and that I am remembered 6,000 miles away! I love and miss you all, and hope that everyone is doing well and living faithful and worthy to the ward and their callings. Continue strong! The Church is true!
I love and miss you all. :)
Elder Steven Bennett