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