Monday, April 29, 2013

Hi. :)

Hello and welcome to one more amazing email from the wonderful life of Elder Bennett in Rio de Janeiro! We had lots of changes happen this week. Well, the results are in and I wasn't transferred, so this is my third transfer here in Andaraí. It is almost my third transfer with Elder Cheshire! The Lord definiately has something that we need to do together, and its looking like we'll be together until we do it! Three transfers is usually the longest to have the same companion. We live with our District Leader, Elder Levi, and he has received a new companion every transfer that I have been here. His first two were pretty... interesting, and he was really hoping and praying for a cool one to finish out his last two transfers. Well, Elder Alves, of Brasilia, Brazil, became his new companion, and boy is he cool! He is the coolest Brasilian I have ever met. Elder Levi is pretty happy about it too. He was trained by Elder Viglioni, a missionary from my district in the CTM. He is doing an amazing job on his mission, and is already a Zone Leader with only 7.5 months on the mission. He is such an example to me. We keep weekly contact and its fun living with someone who was trained by him. Our home is more clean and filled with the Spirit than ever before now as well. I am excited for this transfer. :) Last Tuesday, I had to go prep our chapel to receive the new missionaries that arrived from the CTM. Everytime I do that, it reminds me of the day I arrived here in the field. It was the very chapel that I attend each week in my area. We cleaned, sweeped, arranged tables, and anything else that they needed. We ended up running around doing errands all day for them. We were pleased with a surprise visit to our house by the President and his wife that night too! Luckily, we had cleaned the night before, so the house was reasonably pleaseable. Our house is very old and falling apart, so they came to check out what needed to be fixed, and what they needed to bring. Wednesday, workers came to start fixing the house, but after one day of work, they left a huge mess, and the quality was quite poor. President was called back to our house, and he was quite annoyed. He fired the workers, who turned out to be drunk, and called a company to come fix the house. They should be coming this week to start fixing up the place. Elder Cheshire came down with a random virus close to the end of the week. We are still trying to figure out why we are getting sick on such a consistent rate.
That is a big summary of the week, and I am sorry I don't have more time to write. However, all is well, and the work is progressing. We are working hard with our family, Alexandre and Luciana. We will visit them again tonight and start getting them prepped for the date of baptism, Mother's Day! Also the day I will speak with you guys through Skype! Woo! You better not forget about that. We will work out the detail as the day gets closer. Anyway, we also had some other really great investigators that were progressing. One of which was Mario Fernando. Satan has been working super hard with him since we starting teaching him. He has been passing through some really hard times. He is trying to cut contact with us it seems. We are working hard to fix things with him. We are also working really hard in a program our ward started. The ward members talk to friends, neighbors, collegues, etc. and we take them a DVD of the church. We then leave a message with them, and try to visit them again another day. We are starting to receive lots of references through this, and hopefully we will see some great progress through this program. It is so much better having investigators that have connections and friends in the ward. It is much easier to keep them integrated and to have someone there to help us teach. I will keep you guys updated on that. But, the ward is great here. The members are strong. Elder Cheshire and I are gaining their respect and trust, and hopefully we will continue to see progress and soon have lots being baptized! :)
I have an ever growing testimony of this Gospel and this work. This work is SO hard and SO discouraging at times, but I always find comfort to my problems through prayer and obedience to the commandments and mission rules. I gained a very strong testimony of the phrase "Wickedness was never happiness" this week. To apply it more to a missionary though, its more like "Obedience is always happiness". When I am following all the rules and commandments, and living how I should, I find a protection and a happiness that isn't found anywhere else. When I make a mistake or break a rule, you do not feel good. Truly you don't. It is the same in normal life as well. It is such a simple thing: Be obedient and you will be happy! People always are looking for happiness in life-- things that make them truly content. I can truly testify that you can find this through simply being obedient. :) I am working each day to be better with this.
I love you all lots, and pray for you guys each and every night. I am glad to hear that Lauralee played well on the violin. Congrats! Keep going with it Laura, you really don't know how good you are. I hope everything is well with Wade, Alisha, and Baby Kai. I still haven't seen any photos of how fat you are Lish... why is that? Hahaha. Alrighty, I gotta go, love you all and miss you all lots!
All my love and more,
Elder Bennett

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mais uma semana em Paraíso!

Hello hello!

It is always interesting looking back on another week after it has passed away. It passes so fast, but looking back, TONS of stuff happened, and makes it look like that week was a month. This last week was a very intense week, filled with goods and bads. I don't like to descibe the bads very often, but this week was just kind of funny. We will start with the bads just to get them out of the way quickly. :) So last Monday night, we began working just like the end of every other P-day. I realized that I was feeling really weird... the achy body again and a headache. I began thinking "NO! I am going to get a fever again!". We visited an investigator who had a baptismal date for yesterday, and he was drunk. It was a bummer, and as we taught him, I felt my body getting worse and worse. We finished the night out at Luciana and Alexandre's house (a family that we will baptize this new transfer!). While there, a fever started up. I was so confused because I had had a fever only like a week and a half before. That night, of course, was terrible, tossing and turning all night and feeling sick to my stomach. However, I woke up feeling fine. About twenty minutes into our morning exercises, I became quite sick again and had to go sleep for a while. I didn't want to stop working, so I dragged myself out of bed after an hour and joined the others for Companionship study. That day, I was quite weak and had the achy body all day. I called our Mission doctor and she said that if they don't go away by the next day, you could have Dangue. Do you guys know what Dangue is? I don't know if they have it in the United States. Its carried by a certain type of day mosquito here in Brazil. It's a pretty serious thing here in Brazil and can kill you if not taken care of. Well, the next day, the pains were still there, so off we went to the hospital to go get tested for Dangue! To my luck, the way they test for it is a blood test.... Mom can testify to how freaked out I was during the blood test for my mission papers-- just imagine me here! We got to the hospital and had to wait in this stuffed waiting room for an hour. I was scared to death because the hospital seemed a bit run-down. I definiately wasn't too confident in this hospital. To add to that, I became terrified when the doctors wheeled out a person, wrapped in sheets, obviously dead, on a gerney and just placed him there in the waiting room with us! After a little they took him out and moved him to a random hallway. It was very strange. Finally, I was called in and I had to meet with two different doctors to talk about how I was feeling, symptoms, etc. Then more waiting.... Finally, after some time, I was called in to the blood test and was scared out of my mind! It went well though, and it was better than the first time. :) However, I wasn't allowed to leave the hospital until the results of the test came back. So off we went to wait for another hour and 30 minutes. They then called me in again to tell me that I was completely normal. If the pains continue, come back in three or four days. Well, the pains have basically stopped, and I found out it was just a virus that has been happening to some. So after all this, I am finally feeling a little more normal. :)
As for the work, things are going great. We are starting to really have improvement in our area. It has been a long process, but we are finally starting to see miracles happening. Me and Elder Cheshire were worried about the coming transfer (tomorrow), but turns out both of us are staying here-- he's on his fifth, and I am on my third here. This is really great because we will both be here to baptize a family we've been working hard with, and get some of our other investigators that are really close to baptism. Yesterday, we were introduced to a reference from the ward. She is so elect! She has already been reading the Book of Mormon, and is basically in love with the church! The reference was from a returned missionary that has been inactive, and now he is becoming more active in the church. So we have many many great things going on here, and I am very excited to see what this new transfer brings. We are now at the point where we both know all of our investigators very well, the members really well, and have the trust of the ward. Miracles are in the near future!
This work is absolutely amazing. I would not trade this experience for anything else. In no other work do you help people more, while learning more about the Gospel and about yourself all at the same time. Everyday I am learning something new-- Every minute something new! My testimony is growing ever stronger that we truly have a Loving Heavenly Father, and he truly has a perfect plan of happiness for each of us. As part of this plan, He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to suffer for each and every one of us. He paid the price so that we have the chance to return and live with Heavenly Father one day. How glorious will be that day! But, to have this gift, He asks that we live and pattern our lives as He lived. He asks that we have faith in Him, repent of our sins, and be baptized. Receive the Holy Ghost, and continue in righteousness until the end of our time here on Earth. As I am helping others know these amazing truths, I am engraving them on my heart, never to be forgotten. I hope all you at home can do the same. :)
Well, I better run. We have lots to do today! We have people in our house painting and remaking walls. Our house is basically falling apart, so it's good that we finally got people in to fix it. We were moving stuff around and some lizards popped out from being the cabinet! It was cool. :) Anyway, I love and miss you all tons, and hope all is well. Choose the right!
Com muito amor,
Èlder Steven Bennett

Monday, April 15, 2013


Hello Family and Friends,

Today I really was hit by the fact that I am not the only one growing up as time goes on. I have this thought of family and friends as they were when I left. It is hard to imagine that people are moving on with their lives as well-- growing and progressing in life. This hit me as I received a little more news from friends getting married, going on missions, dating, etc. I feel so far away from it all. It is a little saddening at times. However, I know that being here is where I am needed and I just need to brace myself for the stunning reality of life when I come home. :)

This was a good week for me. We were blessing with some good progress in my zone throughout this week. We had a Zone Meeting last week and set some goals for the month of April. We have a goal of 24 baptisms, consisting of six areas. The week began just so-so with the work.... just chugging on and on, always keeping the thoughts of a temple here in our minds. I had the opportunity of doing a split with my District Leader in his area of Tijuca. It is right up in the mountains (or hills) of Rio de Janeiro and is basically all jungle. We had lunch on top of an 11 story apartment building with some members, and I could see everything! It was amazing. The Mother of the family said that sometimes you can see monkeys running through the trees. Sadly, it was raining and the monkeys weren't out and about. We had an unusually good day there. We were able to find many investigators in their houses and teach lots. I was able to help him, Elder Levi, mark two baptismal dates for a family! It was amazing how easily they accepted. Truly there are people ready and waiting for this Gospel. Fast forwarding a little in the week, I was able to do the same in my area with a man that I had mentioned about a month ago. His name is Mario Fernando. He was a street contact I made back in February. He works a lot, and for that, he stopped going to his church. He was feeling very sorry for this, and took our contact as a sign that he needs to return to church. We were able to direct him to the right church. :) We visited with him once and he came to church, but then lost contact with him for a while.... until last week. We decided to visit him and found out he had time off of work this whole month due to his drivers license being expired. So we taught him and invited him to be baptized. He accepted. :) He is so ready for the Gospel... we just need to rid him of a few worldly church habits. hahah. Also, we were able to find another man, named Samuel. We taught him, quite simply, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he accepted baptism!

This week was ended out very spiritually by a good Sunday in the church. Being the week after General Conference, it was fast Sunday. I was asked to play the piano, but it wasn't working, so I couldn't. However, it is quite strange. I am able to play almost any hymn without even looking at it before. Of course there are some mistakes, but after a verse, its good! Anyway, when the Bishop announced people can come up to bear testimonies, half the congregation got up and ran to the seats on the stand! It was amazing! I have never seen so many people want to bear their testimonies in my life. These amazing Brasilian members of the church were so grateful for the blessing of a temple here in Rio that almost none couldn't get up and not express their gratitude. The testimonies of these members was so strong that I began to tear up on some of them! The ward also had the opportunity to take a plane to the Campinas temple. If members want to attend the temple, they have two options: A caravan, 15 hours of driving; or plane, and expensive tickets. These faithful members drop everything for both of these just to spend a few hours at a temple. I cannot explain the feeling of gratitude that was left in that chapel last Sunday, and the Spirit that was there.

I hope all back in Utah can really appreciate the opportunity you have to have a temple(s) so close to you. I never realilzed how lucky I was until arriving here and not having the opportunity of attending one regularly. Take advantage of the temple. Take advantage of the blessing you can receive through regular temple attendance. It truly is something I miss dearly. Luckily, I am able to help these wonderful people here receive a temple. I have the opportunity of sharing this great joy with all who will hear. :)
Let me know how everything at home is going! I am excited to talk to you guys on May 12th too! I decided with talking to you guys on that day, and having a birthday on May 18th, that will have to be my trunky week. I will have to be very strong. :)

I love and miss you all dearly, and hope that all is well. Its finally warming up yeah? Last night was probably the coldest I have felt here. It was in the low 70s and maybe even high 60s! My feet were so cold.... Anyway, love ya! The church is true and don't forget it!
All my love,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, April 8, 2013

Que Maravilha!!

Hello hello!

WOW!!!! Temple in Rio de Janeiro!!!!!! I just have to start out by saying this because everyone here is going crazy. People have just been waiting and waiting for the day to come when the Prophet would announce a temple here. I was in a room watching it in English, but apparently when the announcement was made, our stake went insane! Everyone jumped up clapping, cheering, hugging, and crying. A tender moment indeed. My Mission President jumped from his seat, got about 2 feet of air in his jump, and looked like a star as he extended all hands and feet. That would have been quite the view right there. :) Up until this point, he has counseled us over and over to work harder than ever before to gain the blessing of having a temple. Now that we have it announced, the counsel has changed to work as hard as you can to help more and more people have the chance to receive the blessing of a temple here in their very own city. This is an exciting time for Rio de Janeiro and all the members here. I have great hopes that the work will explode like never before with this news.

So how is everybody doing? I hope you all had a good week, free of sickness and stress. As for me, I am finally getting over my sickness and stress! Yay! Last Monday, around 3 PM, I began feeling really achy, which continued the later it got. I was coming down with a fever. We tried to work once six o clock came, and boy was it hard. Luckily, we had a dinner scheduled with a family later that night, so we didn't have to exert lots of energy walking. That night I took my temperature. 102.6 F. Yikes. I thought: Wow, this is just like that night in the CTM. This is going to be fun. Well, I will tell you, it was the most fun I have had in a long time. :) I spent the night fighting with my body to cool down and get better, waking up more exhausted than when I layed down. Luckily, my companion had gotten sick as well, so we were both able to spend Tuesday resting and recooperating. By Wednesday, I was feeling a tiny bit better, but then got really sick after waking up, so I was forced to go back to bed. It cleared though, and by the Wednesday evening, I was able to work a little. However, Thursday, I woke up with Tonsillitis, as well as a sweet sore throat. In the midst of all this, I somehow received six canker sores in my mouth! I have no idea why, but eating, drinking, and talking became almost impossible. As of now, I am finally free of all these except the canker sores, so i am grateful. :) I will put up with these little buggers for a little while longer.

Because of the lack of work we were able to do with being sick, and having the week ended out with General Conference, I lack a sweet spiritual story for you guys this week. I hope you will forgive me for that. But did you guys like Conference? I was really sad when it ended. I had the opportunity to watch parts of it in Portuguese, but it was kind of annoying hearing a translators voice. Plus, you aren't able to understand the emotion in the voices of the Prophet and Apostles. Elder Holland was probably my favorite this Conference. I liked how he sprinted to the pulpit, and then just burned the world and left. :) Elder Oaks, afterwards, was really great as well.

My time is gone for now, but I hope everyone had a wonderful General Conference weekend, and that Spring is treating you guys nicely. The temperature here has finally become nice and perfect. I need to take advantage of this time to work harder than ever before! Do you realize that this week, I will hit my 7 month mark?! Time is super fast!

Alrighty, I love you and miss you all so much! Have a wonderful week!
All my love,
Elder Steven Bennett

PS. How is Alisha and her big belly doing?! I want pictures. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter. :)

Hello and Happy Easter! (Yesterday...)... oh and Happy April Fools Day!
So I had a super funny April Fools Day joke, but we couldn't get it organized in time. I wanted to take a photo of like 20 member of the church in baptismal clothing and send it to you guys talking about our MIRACLE OF THE WEEK!!! Sadly, it didn't work out.
How was St. George? I hope you guys made it home safe and sound and that all is well with the family there. What did you do for Easter?
Because I literally have like five minutes, I would like to quickly share with you guys my testimony of the things that were especially powerful for me this week. As you can probably guess, it is centered in our Beloved Savior Jesus Christ, and all that He did for us. We had a Training from Presidente Lima this week, and he spoke many powerful things to us about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What is our purpose here as missionaries? To invite others to come unto Christ by receiving the Restored Gospel through Faith in Jesus Christ and His ATONEMENT. Repentance. Baptism. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. I am here to help the people of Rio de Janeiro come unto Christ by helping them understand the blessing they can receive throught the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we, as natural men, forget the things that Christ did for us. The pain He went through so that we could return to our Heavenly Father one day. Sometimes we sin and don't realize who already paid for that sin many years ago. Jesus Christ came to this earth. He had a purpose coming here... a very special and loving purpose. John 3:16-17 speaks about this purpose. He came to this Earth so that through Him, all men can be saved. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. He lived knowing the end was coming, and He willingly submitted Himself to the desires of the Lord. In an expression of infinite love, He willing kneeled in the Garden of Getsemani. He took the sins of every person that has ever lived, is living, or will live, upon Himself. He took upon him these sins, as well as every sadness, pain, or suffering, that each and every one of us was to endure. As He kneeled pleading with the Father, bleeding from every pore--- being even an ounce of that pain enough to kill any other human being--- He thought of each of us. You. Me. Everyone. He thought of our lives and the things we would do. He showed the ultimate sign of love by suffering for us. This wasn't even the end. Jesus Christ went on to be spitten upon, cast down, ridiculed, yelled at, whipped, smacked, and to endure every kind of physical and emotional kind of pain. Even after all this, Jesus Christ willingly allowed that He would be nailed to the cross to suffer even more pain. He once again remembered each and every one of us. When the time came, He gave up his soul to the Father, and completed the Atonement. Why did He do all this for us? Because He loves us. What does He ask in return? To love Him back. Have faith in Him. Remember what He did for us, and truly believe that He layed down His life for us. Repent of our sins, and be clean as He is. Be baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Lastly, He asks that we follow Him, being disciples of Him in all our actions and thoughts, until the end of our lives. He completed His mission here on earth. Will we complete ours?
This is my testimony. Jesus Christ lives. He suffered and died for our many sins so that we may return to the presence of our Father one day. I am grateful for this.
I hope all is well at home, and that everyone had a Happy Easter. :) Have a wonderful week! I love and miss you all!!!!
Much love,
Elder Steven Bennett