I don't have a whole lot of time to write today because my time was cut short due to computer problems. This was really a week of miracles. We saw the work of the Lord through our efforts to bring others unto Christ! This was also a week of learning by the Spirit.
Everything started last Monday. A nice, relaxing P-day; doing whatever we please. :) Then 6 PM arrives and we get all dressed in our church clothes, and off we go for another week in the work of the Lord. We received some references through a language school called Wizard. The owner of Wizard is a member of the church. We decided to pass by the house of one of these references to leave a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet on the Restoration. This lady lives out in the limits of our area-- about a 40 minute walk. We began the walk, doing contacts on the way, and practicing how we are going to contact this lady. Finally we arrived at the apartment... very very far from everything. We knocked on the door, and an elderly man looked out the window, obviously taken back by our appearance, almost to the point of being scared. He asked who we were, and we heard a voice from inside say "oh its the friends from wizard! Let them in." So we were let in, and the apartment was very neat, clean, and obviously a family earning a comfortable living. We presented ourselves, and they were quite interested in our words. They turned off the tv and let us sit down to talk more about the Book of Mormon we had brought. We asked them if they knew anything about the church, and they had never ever heard about the church! Not even the name Mormon! The mother, Catia, then showed a magazine that she had, asking if this was our church. She was holding the Liahona. Turns out, she had received it while at the Wizard. Her daughter is taking an English course there. This family was so nice to us, and accepted to hear our message! We taught, and they were so receptive to our words. They accepted to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. This family is so elect, and I know that they would be wonderful members of the Church. The Spirit was so strong as we taught. As we left, we felt very happy, and the daughter stared at us until we were out of sight. :) A few days later, we had the opportunity to pass by again and explain a little bit more about the church, the Restoration, and follow-up on our challenge to read and pray. They have some different beliefs on praying, but we will help them with that. I know that the Lord placed this family in our path because they truly are ready to join the church.
This week, we also had the opportunity to find another family that was investigating the church in the past. We started a really good friendship with them, and taught the Restoration again. We were able to get them to come to the baptism of Celso this week (don't worry I will talk more about this later!), and they were very touched during the baptism. They had goosebumps, and accepted to be taught more about baptism this coming week. Turns out that many missionaries tried to teach this family, but for some reason, they always rejected them-- until now.
Lastly, of course, I have to talk about the biggest miracle of all.... the baptism of my eternal friend, Celso! My second Sunday here in Andarai, I met this amazing guy. He had some very different beliefs, but through weekly visits, we were able to help him receive a testimony of the Restoration of the Church. He is so great, and I have seen such a change in him. We have been working hard with him for months, through the thick and thin, good and bad. He was baptized this last Saturday. :) The happiness felt by all present was amazing. The Spirit was so strong. Celso looks like he could be a Bishop someday! I also had the opportunity to be part of the confirmation of Celso yesterday.
This amazing week ended with the broadcasting of 'The Work of Salvation.' Boy was the Spirit strong as thousands of missionaries sang those hymns! I was touched to the heart in so many occasions while watching the broadcast. It was a bit different because I couldn't hear their normal voices-- just the voices of the translators. But, I still understood it all and received many insights as to become a better missionary, and to improve my work. I hope that all had a chance to watch that; and if not, find it on the internet! It was amazing and really shows that missionary work isn't just for the boys and girls wearing the badge. Missionary work is more successful through the help of each and every member. Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel, even if it is in the smallest gesture of service. When members help in Missionary work, more people are baptized, and stay strong in the church. This is true. I have seen this in my work. Always always always look for opportunities to serve others, and you will have the chance to bring others unto Christ. I know this is true with all my heart.
I hope that all is well with you guys, and as you already know, Brasil is a little bit crazy right now. I can't talk about these things (rule from President Lima), but just know I am fine and all is well. But, I won't tell you if I am long or far from the craziness. ;) I love you all so much and miss your pretty faces. My desire to serve the Lord is stronger than ever right now, and I know that this is the only work that can bring salvation to the souls here in Rio de Janeiro. Always remember, every member is a missionary. Do your part in the work! This work is progressing faster and faster as we are nearing the end. This is the time to sprint the last 100 meters! Do all you can to come out the champion and gain the prize of life eternal with our Loving Father in Heaven. I am so grateful for this. I know that Families are Eternal. I hope everyone is doing everything possible to gain a testimony of these things, and keep that testimony burning bright.
Have a wonderful week. :)
All my love,
Èlder Steven Bennett