I feel like every week I start my letters exactly the same, so I hope they aren't getting boring to read! However, just up front, I would like to say thank you for telling me you are going to St. George.... NOT! Wow, I am going to be so trunky this week thinking of the adventures you guys will have! Just kidding, I barely have time to think about home anymore. All my thoughts are going towards finding/saving souls na Cidade Maravilhosa de Rio de Janeiro. :) Oh, I guess I could write a quick update on my Portuguese skills-- I haven't done that for a while! So good 'ol Portuguese. I am basically in love with the language. I will be so sad when two years is up, and I won't have a whole city of people to talk to in Portuguese. So heads up all you Portuguese speakers out there.... you guys won't be allowed to speak English to me! I will only accept Portuguese. Anyway, I have progressed a lot. I wouldn't say that I am fluent, but I can talk to anyone, and understand 90% of the things they are saying. I can speak without thinking about it for the most part as well. Portuguese has moved to one of the lowest things I am worried/stressing about, so I feel that is good. I still study lots of vocab and words everyday, because Preach my Gospel (Chapter 7 I believe) states that the better you progress in the language, the more people will focus on the things you're saying and not how or what you're trying to say. The Spirit will then testify to them stronger. I always remember this when I feel too lazy to study the language. My companion is one that doesn't like to study the language, and usually grabs a book and tries to read it until he falls asleep. We were teaching a family this last week, and after I talked for a little, they asked me how much more time I had in the mission than my companion. It got awkward when I said I had less time than him. I thought it was funny, but held in my laughter and smiling because I knew my companion didn't like the comment. He has 11 months in the mission. It really grew my testimony on the power of studying and diligence.
So this week was a big learning experience for me. Well really, every week on my mission has been a huge learning experience. However, each week seems to be a different level of difficulty, and the things I learn is always something different. This week, I learned SO MUCH about being more like Christ, and applying the Christ-like Attributes (Preach My Gospel Chapter 6) in my missionary work and in my life. With the problems our zone has been having lately, we have had some tensions and problems going around in our home, as well as in our separate companionship's. Me and my companion had quite the heated disagreement last Wednesday. As always, we were both a little unmotivated, stressed, tired... times like these, you need to be very careful. Satan works very strong to create contention. Of course, the smallest spark lit the bonfire. We began debating about something very small and very dumb. It became an argument that lasted for quite some time. To resolve the conflict, we had to return home for a bit of time and talk it out before going back on the streets. We both were very prideful in our hearts and said many dumb things. It ended in my companion saying some very personal things as well as with everything that's been happening, he was thinking of calling up President and going home. He said he didn't feel like a missionary. He said he wanted to call President, but the day before this, he broke our cell phone and the screen was broken. He couldn't find Presidents names in the contacts. It was then that the Spirit just punched me very hard and said "end it here and don't say anything more." I did just that, and the Spirit began Spiritually burning the both of us. We both began to cry, and we each went to a room to pray and repent for the things we said. It was then that I realized it was time to make a change. I never want to have a situation like that in my mission, or life, again. So, I began studying the Christ-like attributes, applying them in my day, and fervently praying for opportunities to work on these attributes. Each day, I studied a different one, and had different experiences that helped me to improve in each one. The day after studying "Charity and Love", we had a very hard day. The next morning, my companion didn't get out of bed. I had the thought to make him breakfast and iron his shirt, so I did. He was very happy for it, and thanked me. The whole day, we had peace and love between us, and our day was smooth and successful. This is just one of the many attributes I studied, and I had experiences with each one. I am grateful for the things I have learned, and I believe that with continued practice in these things, I will return home being quite a different person. Someone more happy, more loving, more kind, more charitable, more peace-keeping, more respectful, more patient. More like Christ.
My testimony was strenghtened even more this week through experiences good and bad. I am so so so so grateful for every little moment of my mission. In six months, I feel that I have progressed more in almost every aspect of life physically, emotionally, and spiritually, than in my entire life. :) I am very happy that I still have a year and a half to solidify these things in my life, and bring even more people to a knowledge of our loving Savior Jesus Christ.
I hope all is well, and to my family, be safe on the drive to and from St. George. Tell everyone hi for me, and that I love them all very much (especially the ones that have or will send me letters.... :) ). I love and miss you all very much, and I hope Utah is finally warming up. I think Rio is finally cooling off! Yay! Choose the Right!
Ser Mórmon, é ser feliz!
Elder Steven Bennett