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?
Èlder Steven Bennett