This week was a very fast week! I am thinking that this is because we are working very very hard out here. It was a bit easier to work because we have been having lots of storms come through. Storms mean clouds, and clouds mean cooler weather! Yay! We definately made good use of the time while we had it, because now its back to being really hot and sunny. This week was a bit slow in terms of crazy things that happened. As I told you last week, we had a family accept a marriage date. We learned a bit later, that the legal system is a bit slow, and to be married legally, takes about 30 to 40 days. This made it so we had to change the marriage date. They will now be married April 20th, the day they began living together 20 years ago! It is crazy to see the change that has taken place in the hearts of this family. They are all so much happier and are more close to each other. There is Alexander and Luciana, with two kids, Fernando (22) and Gostavo (7). Fernando is a bit of a partier and drinker, so he has been a little bit harder to work with than the others. They are beginning to come to church a lot and become more involved in the ward, and making friends.
Other than them, we have been working really hard to strengthen the ward and gain their trust. This has really been progressing since the lesson with Luciana and Alexandre when they accepted marriage. Bishop was at that lesson, so we gained his trust immediately! He has been much more helpful and is making plans with the counselors to progress the work and involve members more. My talk also got some of the members excited, so I hope we will start seeing more success with them. This last sunday, we had the highest attendance for quite some time :173. Usually, this is about 140, or 150. We were able to bring in some new investigators, as well as some less-actives or inactives! I really believe we are gaining the trust of the ward now. Its been a working progress for sure. Members aren't giving us very many references, but we are optimistic for this coming week.
This week, I had the opportunity of having a Split with the other elders we live with. I was the Senior Companion in my area. It was a great experience as I got to know my area better, as well as using my own decisions to guide us through the day. We were able to teach a part-member family, and I for once, was able to take the lead on the lesson, and do all the work almost! It was really fun actually. The elder i was with is an interesting one for sure. He has been giving us some problems back at the house, so I was a little scared to work with him all day. He doesnt like to work a lot, and gets angry easy. However, the day of the split, he was perfectly fine and when I gave him instructions, he listened and we were able to work together really well. He worked really hard, and to seal this good friendship we had made through the day, I offered to buy him açai before we returned home for the night. It was a great learning experience, as well as feeling the Spirit really guide me through the day with what to say and what to do.
Yesterday was Elder Cheshire's birthday, and he was spoiled with many treats, cakes, and presents from members and investigators. I, being the companion, was able to partake in all these festivities, as well as help him eat all the good stuff. :) The family who accepted marriage, Alexandre and Luciana, they are very rich. They bought us Outback Steakhouse food early in the week, gave him a giant cake, 4 big pretzels with different toppings, 2 liters of juice, as well as a t-shirt, flip-flops, a book about Rio, and a tie. I was a little jealous... But oh well. I still got to eat all his stuff. :)
Well that about wraps up this week. Not a whole lot happened. However, I did make a contact with a man last week, and we visited him this week. He was very excited to see us (almost as excited as we were to finally have someone accept us into their house!). We taught him the Restoration, and he threw a bunch of scriptures at us in Revelations... aka the part of the Bible people love to throw at us the most... We explained a few scriptures he gave us, and he accepted what we said surprisingly easy! He accepted to come to church Sunday, and at church, he was very attentive and participated a lot. The Gospel principles teacher didnt come again, and so we had to teach again. During the lesson, he was very helpful and read lots, and ended up telling us his feelings. He called us "angels". Through his words, the Spirit became very strong in the room, and I knew many people were feeling His influence. For me, my testimony was being strengthened on the fact that we are where we're needed, and at the time we're needed. This work that we do is so amazing, and sometimes I forget about that fact. We are here to change lives. As he continued to speak, I pictured this man being a Bishop, or a Stake President... maybe even more. All I know is, I love him so much, and I want the best for him. I want to protect him from all the evil in the world. I want to baptize him. He is truly prepared in his heart to receive the true Gospel, and I believe that he will be baptized soon. We are going to meet with him again tomorrow. I pray all is well with him and that my prayers for him are being answered.
Oh, Sunday, I gave a visitor a blessing. He was from Argentina. He spoke English and Spanish, and parts of Portuguese. It was really cool because I was able to understand his Spanish. I am thinking that I will learn Spanish when I get home and become trilingual! Wooo!
Time is flying by fast. I barely have time to think about home. I know that is the way it should be, but at times I still miss you guys a lot. Can you believe I already have almost 6 months?! That is half of HALF of my mission. Okay, that makes it seem a bit longer, but you get the point. :)
Funny things that happened this week: I accidentally ran into a phone booth. A lady laughed at me. Also, we cleaned out the fridge this morning. It was worse than my college fridge! Yuck... Lots of moldy food.
I love and miss you all lots.
Elder Steven Bennett
Elder Steven Bennett