Monday, May 27, 2013


So as you can tell, this email is coming to you quite late. I don't have tons of time, so it won't be too long-- please forgive me for that. This has been one of the wildest weeks ever. Transfer time always means a change of everything you are used too. New companions, new areas, new responsibilities, etc. As this week began, Elder Cheshire and I knew it would be our last week together. We have been together for three transfers now, and that doesn't normally happen! We tried to work hard this week, and there were some good and hard times. I was really able to see how the Spirit works with us when we truly love our companion and the work. I will speak more about this in the next paragraph, but for now I have to explain the last 24 hours I have had. So today is the day we found out if we are staying in our area, leaving, new companions, etc. 10 am is the normal time we are able to go to an internet place and access the mission site and write our family. However, if you will be training a new missionary or be a Zone Leader, you receive a call from the Assistants on Sunday. So, Elder Cheshire and I were working, and I had been wondering what would happen with this transfer. We have some really great baptisms that will happen this next transfer, but the chances were that one of us would leave. I was praying and accepting that whatever happened would be the will of the Lord. Anyway, 6 PM last night.... the Assistants called asking Elder Cheshire about some of our numbers for the week and our relationship as a companionship. He then passed the phone to me. They wanted to talk to me. They then asked me the same questions. However, afterwards, they told me that I am the new DISTRICT LEADER in a new area, as well as TRAINING a new missionary! It will also be the first time I will be Senior Companion. I almost died when they told me! My heart was going crazy and the nerves were going wild. I didn't know what to think. I still don't. :) Anyway, after this news, we knew Elder Cheshire would be staying and I would leave to the Zone Rio de Janeiro (close to me). We passed by some of our closest investigators, the bishop, and some members. After sharing my gratitude for them and a quick message, we left for home. It was then that we called to confirm all these changes that were happening. It was then that they said "oh no, actually Elder Bennett is staying in Andaraí and Elder Cheshire is going to a new area (still our zone) to be a District Leader there." We were freaking out. We just told everyone I was leaving and that Elder Cheshire was staying! It was quite the situation. Today, me and another Elder, Elder A. Alves from Brasilia, went to a meeting for all the trainers. As we did this, Elder Cheshire and another elder went around to some places to fix the mistake and say goodbye. It is because of this meeting that I am writing so late. Anyway, tomorrow will be the day that I receive my new greenie and become the District Leader! AH! I am excited, but very nervous for the responsibility. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Moral of the story: When transfer comes around, don't pray and say you will be okay with any change. ;) Just kidding.
This week, I had a great experience that really shows the role of the Spirit in our work. Last Wednesday, Elder Cheshire and I woke up and it was just one of those days where you are just really cranky. Well, we both were having a day like that. As study started, everything was fine, but by the time companionship study started, we were snapping a little at each other. We realized what was going on and that the Spirit had left. We needed to plan lessons, but neither of us could think. After a little while, I said: "Alright Elder, it is time to bring the Spirit back." I went over to my bed and kneeled down. I waited for him to come over and kneel as well. After a little, he came over, and we prayed together. Afterwards, the room felt different, and we were able to come up with ideas! We were able to plan a lesson for a less active we have. The lesson was great, and he was so touched that he made us stay until a work buddy of his came over. We then shared a message with him. :) The Spirit is SO important in our work!!! No matter how talented you are as a missionary, you will not have success if you don't work by the Spirit.
Now that responsibilities have been increased, I need to rely on the Spirit much much more! I am excited to develop this skill more as I work to help my District meet our goals and bring more souls to the fold of God. :)
Once again, I am sorry this email is so short, but I just want you guys to know that I am doing so great and that I am happy happy happy. :) Its time to change Rio de Janeiro and get that temple built! I love and miss you all muito muito muito! Never forget it. Alisha, congrats on the Graduation, and I hope all is well with baby Kai. I hope all is well with everyone else as well. Remember the role the Spirit has in our lives, and that he can only reside where there is peace and love. Strive for this! 
Have a wonderful week! This week will be wild for me. :) I will let you guys know about my greenie and everything next week!
Much love,
Èlder Steven Bennett

Monday, May 20, 2013

Amor é tudo!

Òla! How is everyone doing? You are now talking to a new man right here! Yup yup, this guy is twenty years old now. I had a funny experience with the 7 year old son of some of our investigators. The day after my birthday, they invited us over to eat cake, and as he said the prayer, he said "Thank you for Bennett, and all the years he has in his life. Let him continue getting older and smarter." He is such a stud. :) I sure hope I continue to age and get wiser as that happens. So this last week (really 12 May to 19 May), Elder Cheshire and I called this the Trunky Week. Why? Because the week would start with our families, and end with my birthday. We decided that I would be thinking about home the whole time. However, it turned out to be the complete opposite! After last P-day of taking a trip to the other side of the mountains and seeing the true beauty of Rio, I became very trunky of the other side of the mountains! I wasn't expecting to have that happen. However, don't worry, it wasn't enough to affect our work and progress here in Andaraí. :)

So this week really was a learning experience in many ways. As I said in the last letter, we were going to try to do one last shot at baptizing our wonderful family, Luciana and Alexandre, and as we arrived at their house, we were very disappointed to realize that no spiritual message of any sort would work out. We arrived and their house was filled with their 22 year old son's friends, and the house was a riot. We ended up just talking a little bit about the church and then leaving quite disappointed. We haven't had tons of success in this area, and with this combined with hard feelings, things can get out of hand. For some reason, one of us said something that led to a wildfire of comments that ended in both of us angry at one another. We ended up sitting down until we could work out the problem. My companion expressed his feelings that this companionship isn't working out and it'd be good to just call President and get us separated. I remembered that the next day we had a Zone Conference with President, so I gave him the idea that lets pray and go to the Conference with questions in mind of how we can improve our companionship and our work here, and if you don't receive an answer, we can talk to President before he leaves. We arrived at conference and were destroyed with answers in just the first hour! I was so surprised at how fast they came, and how obvious they were! At one point, I looked over at Elder Cheshire, and gave him the look like "Are you feeling the same thing I am feeling?" He gave me the same look in agreement. The answer to all our problems came in one simple, yet powerful word: Amor. Love. We were not showing love between us, and because of that, it was affecting our love for our investigators. Every little thing that we teach needs to be shown in our companionship or it will not touch our investigators as we teach those same topics. As we left the conference, we were pumped and ready to start our work with a new attitude. We talked about what we learned and agreed that showing more love between us would help us show more love for our investigators. Since the Conference on Wednesday, the week has improved a hundred-fold! AH! It has been so much better in every aspect! We have been helping each other, and in turn, helping our investigators more! We have been teaching more, and we even were able to regain contact with a past investigator that we were teaching about a month ago. He was so happy to see us that after I made a small joke, he laughed, hugged me, and said "I am so glad you guys returned and didn't give up on me." It touched me deep. We have been working hard with him lately because he has some time off of work. Once he's back to work, he doesn't have a set hour that he's home. Mario Fernando is his name by the way. :) Last night, we had a cool spiritual experience with him. Because we have been getting along really great lately, the Spirit has been with us quite strong. As we visited Mario Fernando last night, he began saying some things he didn't like about the church. I could see my companion wasn't liking it, and I had an impression to tell him that we'd like to talking to you about all these things in our next visit, and that we had a message prepared for him tonight. That got things back on track, and the lesson went really well! We were able to set some goals for him to stop drinking and gain a testimony of the church. As we left, my companion thanked me. I was confused, so i asked him why he was thanking me. He said because he was about to respond to all his comments, and it would've taken the Spirit away completely, and change our lesson. He had had the impression to just look at me and I will fix it. :) The Spirit sometimes works in funny ways.
But anyway, everything has improved. We are having a lesson with Alexandre and Luciana tonight, and we have a wonderful lesson planned to invite them to be baptized this Sunday. They are completely ready, and Alexandre received an answer that the church is true (something that was impeding progress last week). We have been praying, studying, and fasting for them lots, and this visit tonight could be one of the last times before this transfer ends (28 May). We are going in with faith! I am so grateful for this work-- for the oppoturnity to be a missionary. It has brought me one of the hardest times of my life, but also shown me the most growth that I have ever had. I am learning how to love more, and also many other Christ-like attributes. I truly strengthened my testimony on the power of love. With love, hearts are touched, and people are converted. I am making it a goal to show the most true love I have ever shown, with the only goal of helping my investigators. Last night as we were walking, I was asked what I wanted to do tomorrow for P-day. It was then that I realized that I hadn't even thought about P-day once that week. As we love our investigators, we completely forget about everything but the sincere desire to help these children of God recognize the Savior more fully in their lives. I hope to continue in this attitude for the rest of my mission, and the rest of my life.
I love and miss you all lots, and my birthday was great! I was taken care of by some really great people. :) I received a pindrive, a poster of Rio, and a mousse cake from various investigators! Oh, and for my family, I also talked to Pedro on the phone. :) I hope all is well and that you guys are safe, happy, and ready to enjoy your coming summer... or already came?
Tchau Tchau!
Èlder Steven Bennett

Monday, May 13, 2013


Hey hey hey! Wow it was so great to talk to you guys last night! I was so pumped about it that I completely forgot to have you guys meet the family there and my companion, Elder Cheshire! So sorry about that. I will send a photo to you guys showing him and the family so that you guys can see. I finished and they opened the door, and then I remembered.... ah! But oh well. So as I said last night, I had the chance to go check out all the cool parts in Rio de Janeiro today! Ah it was so great. We left this morning with the Stake President and he drove us around and gave us the grand tour. We stopped in some parts and took photos. I took lots of photos. :) I will try and send some to you guys here in the next little while on email or a letter. I had a chance to check out the Tijuca Forest (Floresta de Tijuca), Barra de Tijuca and the beaches there, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Centro (all the historic stuff), Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açucar), and we passed rather close to the Christ statue! The whole trip was about 4 hours. It was so much stuff to see though. You could easily spend an entire day or two checking out and visiting all those places. But I got to know a little more of one of the most beautiful cities on earth today. :)

As for this week, it was a rather hard week, so I was very glad to have the chance to talk to you guys and get another big boost to work harder and harder. We ran into lots of disappointments really, one of which being the baptism of the family, Alexandre and Luciana. They did our challenge, but only part of the week, and they all didn't come to church. The Assistant was burning us pretty bad during the week, saying that we need to baptize them. We were able to sit down with them and talk, and the consensus came that they want to be baptized together. We then gave them a second challenge to continue reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and find a date for their baptism. They accepted, and it was marked to talk about it in a Family Night after we talked to the family last night. Alexandre didn't come to church, and stayed rather closed while we talked to them. Luciana said that they didn't find a date, and they said they would continue doing these things and give us a date the next Sunday.
Throughout the entire week, we had the majority of our plans fall through, and we ended up walking and doing contacts on the street. After a few days of this, I realized that our contacts were really giving us much success. We began talking about how we could use our time better and more efficiently find people to teach. We are going to start knocking on more doors, but it is hard with so many business and apartment buildings. We need to go kind of far, to the limits of our area, to find houses to knock. I am hopeful that we will find more success doing this. :)
This last Saturday was a very good day though. I found myself being touched by the Spirit throughout the entire day. I learned many things that will help me improve as a missionary, and even a normal member after my mission. Saturday morning, we had a very serious meeting with a man from Santa Maria. We received a call saying that someone was at the church asking for the missionaries, and he wouldn't tell his problem to anyone else. We rushed over and sat down with this guy. Turns out, he was an truck driver, working for Petrobras, one of the leading gasoline companies here in Brazil. He was a member, baptized four years ago. Used to be a strong and devout Catholic, until he met with the missionaries. He was exploring Rio, and was away from his truck (using the bus for transit). Somewhere along the way, he was robbed of everything and was left to walk. He didn't know what to do, so he sought a Mormon church, and found us. He was very angry at what happened to him. We were able to help calm him down and get him help. He left us with a thank you and told us of the courage we have coming to a strange country, learning a language, and leaving all relations behind. He made me realize the importance of my calling, and always to work my hardest, as to magnify my calling. A little bit later, we passed a member that told us a little bit about his mission. He said those two years were the happiest in his entire life, but only when he was working the hardest he could. That helped me too. Then, we visited an inactive member. He is a returned missionary, but has gone way off the path. We were talking to him, and then got on the subject of coming to church tomorrow. He began to explain why he didn't have any desire to return. When he was an active member, he always loved his callings and tried to help as many people as possible in magnifying his calling. He began seeing many people who sometimes didn't take their callings serious, or didn't have the intent of helping others. Sometimes people did their callings for a number. It was really sad as he described that once he left the church, no one ever visited or asked how he was doing. He felt lonely and that no one cared. As he spoke, the Spirit touched me strongly. In my work here as a missionary, I need to do all that is possible to love my investigators and the members-- the help only thinking of them, and not just for some number. As for life after a mission, I feel that can apply to all members in their callings and even jobs.
I am grateful for this week, and I have learned a lot. My testimony is growing ever stronger each and every day I am out here on a mission. I am excited to work hard this week, and find more souls to save! I love and miss you all lots, have a wonderful week! :)
Much love,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tudo bem?

Hello all!

This email will be smaller just because everything has been crazy here lately. I am writing a bit later because we had a random storm fly through Rio and knock out power everywhere. We finally found a place that had power and Internet a bit of a way from our home. It is a bit later, so we will head out here pretty soon. But, I am so excited to talk to you guys over Skype this coming Sunday!!! I sent an email to you with the details, and I hope everything works out. It is my fault for not sending the information sooner. I remember the last time I Skyped you guys-- me and Elder Fernandez left afterward to work, and he said: The next time you skype, you will have 8 months in your mission. I thought: Wow, 8 months?! That is so far away. Literally fast forward time, and it is already here. The next time, I will have 1 year and 3 months. Now that seems weird. It will come so quickly though.

So a quick recap of this week. It was actually a really good week! It sure was difficult though. Last Monday night, we met with the family we are planning on baptizing on the 12th, and they told us that Alexandre (the dad) doesn't feel ready. However, Luciana (the mom), does feel ready, and she wants to be baptized. We don't want to baptize them separate because of the problems that sometimes come up when this happens. Families are always much stronger when baptized together. We explained this concern with them and then left them a challenge: Read the Book of Mormon together as a family every night until next Monday (today), pray, and pay attention to your feelings. We called them every night to make sure they were doing it. They did do it every night! We are planning on visiting them tonight, and they will give us their answer on if they will both be baptized this coming Sunday, or just Luciana. I fasted a couple times this week, prayed tons, and we worked our little bums off, so as to receive the most blessings possible. With this, we were able to make lots of our goals! We are still hoping and praying that tonight will go as we hope.
We also had the opportunity to take one of the young men around for the day so that he could see what its like to be a missionary. He is thinking about a mission, but still hadn't decided. He started the day at 8 am with us; beginning with personal study, followed by companionship study, Weekly planning, and then finally getting out for the day. Just by then he was getting a bit sleepy. It reminded me of my first days. :) We had a good lunch at a members home, and shared a message with them, and then headed out to work. This day turned out to be a pretty bad day in a missionaries eyes: LOTS of walking, all plans falling through, and many rejections. We felt bad because he was seeing almost every bad thing that could happen to a missionary, and none of the good! We finally were able to teach a family at about 7 PM, and by then he was hopping around because his legs hurt so bad. We gave him time to talk and it turned out well. The day ended with more walking and street contacts, and Matthew (the young man) got out of there as fast as can be afterwards! Me and Elder Cheshire were wondering if he would still want to serve a mission after a day like that. However, fast forward a couple days to Fast Sunday, he was one of the many members to get up and bear their testimony (side note: I have not witnessed a single pause in members bearing their testimonies in every Fast Sunday i've attended in Brazil. That is remarkable.). He left a very powerful testimony that touched my heart deep. He got up and talked about the day out with the missionaries. He said that he didnt realize how much we walk, are lied to, rejected, mocked, etc. He never realized how bad his legs would hurt after walking all day. He said he never realized how difficult it really is to be a missionary. He then described how all this was worth it just to visit that family at the end of the day, and testify to them of the true Gospel that they are getting to know. His testimony made me think back on the work I am doing out here. Do I realize how much of a blessing it is to just enter one house and teach in a day? I know I sure wasn't thinking about it at the moment we entered. I was thinking: Wow finally a lesson! It made me really evaluate myself and my work here. I am grateful for the testimony he shared. He ended in saying that that day reinforced his decision in wanting to serve a mission. :)

I truly am grateful for the chance to serve a mission. It is true that we have days where we don't teach a lot, and we are rejected and lied to. You finish the day feeling that you did absoultely nothing, and that you are worthless. But then I remember the name that I wear on my chest each and every day. I wear the name of Jesus Christ. I am a representative of Him. All that happens to me out here is something that I am doing that he has already paid for-- something that I am doing for His sake. For this, I am willing to continue to the ends of this earth preaching the Gospel.
Not only do I wear the name of Jesus Christ, but I wear the name of my Family. I am out here honoring them in my work as well. I am so grateful to wear that name on my chest as well. I love you all and miss you all lots. I hope you all have a wonderful week, and that Alisha continues getting fatter. :) I will talk to you guys sooner than next Monday too! Woo!

Tchau Tchau, muito amor pra vocês.

Èlder Steven Bennett