Monday, June 24, 2013

Miracles in Rio de Janeiro!

Hello hello! 
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

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another week in Paradise!

Howdy ya´ll!

How is everyone doing? I sure hope all is well at home and everyone is enjoying the nice sunny weather. It just may be hotter there than here. We are supposedly in the coldest part of the year, but it still seems pretty hot some days. At night, people are wrapped up in coats, hats, blankets, and mittens..... and I am wearing my short-sleeve white shirt sweating... Its a very interesting sight. This was quite an intense week! It passed by sooooo fast! It wasn't until yesterday that P-day was mentioned and I realized that the week was ending. It is amazing that an entire week can pass by unnoticed if you really put yourself to the work and focus.

Anyway, so I am still freaking out about the whole Baby Kai deal, and I am insanely happy all the time. Yes, I am burned a little by my leaders and stuff like that, and it can get a little stressful, but underneath that I am so happy! This whole mission thing is pretty cool. :) I am starting to literally love my mission to the point where I only think about it. I don't have any other life but my mission. I had the opportunity to have a mission split with my Zone Leader this week. As we rode the bus, I asked him how he was feeling about his life right now. He will be heading home here in about three weeks. He told me how he only thinks about the work here in Rio, and that it is kind of stressful to think about home. I could relate to him on that, for I am starting to get to that point. He, Elder Fish, is a very hard worker, and we had a day full of hard work, and funny moments. Many things fell through that day, including a very important appointment with a family we want to baptize. It was super disappointing, but we were able to meet with another investigator, Ana Luiza, and help her see the importance of baptism in her life. She is 17 years old and her parents are recent converts. Throughout the day, we ended up making tons of contacts and knocking doors. One of these doors was a pastor. She told me that she was receiving revelations about me, and that I would be a pastor of my own church someday. ;) I will interpret that as being a bishop someday. I will always remember that lady! We also ran into a man who doesn't like Mormons or Americans. Of course, the two of us being those two things, we got an earful as we tried to share a message with him. It didn't work, but I almost died laughing. There are so many great experiences that come through diligent work. If we were just walking around, how would we have had experiences like that?
We have been working with a really great part-member family, and throughout this week, we were able to visit with them and teach the Plan of Salvation. It was really great, and I got to use the puzzle Mom sent me. :) It is a great compliment to the message, and really helps the investigtors grasp the things we are saying. They are planning on being married legally this week, and hopefully we can baptize them this next week!
I didn't have tons of time to write today, but that was a quick outline of my week. We were able to have a baptismal interview with one of our investigators, Celso, and he passed! He will be baptized this Saturday. I am super happy for him, and I love him tons. I have a huge testimony of this Gospel, and that families really are eternal. I am so grateful to participate in this work and bring more souls to the fold of God. I am doing well out here, and am happier than ever!
I love you all and miss you all very much! I hope all is well. Keep roasting in the Sun while I am "almost" roasting here in Rio. :)
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, June 10, 2013


Hello hello!

I will start out by saying this......   YEAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! Congrats Alisha!!! Last night at 9:09 PM, we were planning our day, and I never would have thought that I was becoming an Uncle at the same time. When I saw that picture, I cried a little (just a couple of tears). I am an Uncle... Yuck, I am old! I cannot wait to see him when I get home. Wow, I was expecting him to come the end of June! I hope all is well, and that Alisha, Wade, and Kai are all doing great. My love and prayers to them always. :)

This has been quite a week! We have been working really diligently, and there are definately miracles happening. We were able to mark a baptismal date with one of my favorite investigators, Celso. He is married to a member as well, so it will be a family to complete! I am so excited. He truly is one of the elect. We visited with him this week to go over some of the last few items for baptism and he is ready to go! We have also been making some good progress with some of our other investigators and less-active families.

Throughout these last few days, I have really strengthened my testimony in the fact that Heavenly Father really does put people in our paths. He does this as long as we are working diligently and being worthy of our callings. Last Thursday, we were out and about contacting addresses of members and references in an area that I had never travelled to. It was way out in the limits of our boundaries. We contacted a couple of homes, and stopped to think about where to go next. It was then that a boy, maybe 19 years old, stopped us and said that he was a member of the church. I didn't recognize him, and later found out he has been inactive for a few years. Anyway, he had just left his home (right next to the church) because he had gotten in a fight with his mother. He said he didn't know what to do, and he had begun thinking about returning to church. It was then, in the middle of who-knows-where, very very far from the church, that he ran into us. He cheered up a little and we planned to see him at church that Sunday. The next day, we had a similar experience. We were walking, contacting addresses again, and we were discussing the plans for the day. We needed to get in contact with a new family that started coming to church. As we were walking, my companion stopped me and pointed to someone carrying groceries, and it was the spouse! We were able to talk and mark a day to come and visit them. We also had a third experience like this last night! Last night, we had a special speaker come to Rio de Janeiro: Elder Robert Gay, of the Seventy. He came to speak at our chapel, because our chapel is basically the headquarters of the church in Rio de Janeiro. Members from the entire state of Rio came to see him speak. More than 1,300 members of the church were in attendance. We, as missionaries, could not attend, but we sure received lots of honks from members (something that would only happen with missionaries in Utah) while we were on the streets. Anyway, there was one instance where we were a bit far from the church. We stopped to think about what to do next. It was then that we heard a scream... Elders! Elders! We looked a little bit off to a car slowing down and  pulling off to the side of the road. We went over to talk to them, and it was a Bishop from Arsenal, a Stake pretty far from us. He and his family was lost, and didn't know how to get to the chapel. We were able to show him and he became very happy. Before leaving, he told us: "I was lost and didn't know where to go. Now, I truly know that you guys are messengers of God placed in the paths of those that need you".

I am so grateful for my mission, especially at this special time. I am quite busy and barely have time to think, but it sure is great to know that last night, there was a new member added to my beloved family. Oh how I love that little guy already! He was instantly and eternally engraven into my heart the second I heard his name. :) I won't count the days until I will see my nephew, but I sure will look forward to the day when I hold the little guy. I know that families are forever. I know that I can live with my family forever. I am here to help these wonderful Brasilians know that they can too.

I love and miss you all so very much. I am grateful for the letters..... and packages! I received your packages this week. It never was sent to the United Arab Emirates. I thought it would've been cool, but oh well. :) So, don't worry about them, Mom! They are safe in my hands. I hope all is well at home and that you guys are getting a nice tan in the sunny sun sun!

Muito amor,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tudo bem??

Hello hello!
Wow this week was innnnsaaannneee! Its hard to believe that last Sunday, I was a nice little missionary with my little missionary experience, and now I have completely changed every aspect of my mission, except my area! So after I received the news of being the District Leader and Trainer, I almost peed my pants, and couldn't sleep for like two days. Tuesday, an Elder I live with,  Elder A. Alves (Brasilia) and I, hitched a ride to a place just outside of my area, called Freguesia. There we met up with some other missionaries that would be training, including my companion in the CTM! I was so happy to see him, and I gave him a huge hug. :) I also saw my Father (trainer), Elder Fernandez! He will be training again.Then we all boarded another bus to another area where we would have a training with Presidente. There we learned some really important basics about being a leader and training a new missionary. During this meeting I had the opportunity to sit next to the very missionary who trained me. :) Anyway, Presidente said that the calling of a trainer is one of the most important responsibilities that a missionary can have. We are helping build the foundation of these new missionaries in the field. They will learn from each and every action and decision we (as trainers) make. Our work and training will determine how well they will be trained, and what they will do once we are gone. Basically, we are building the foundation to everything they will do in their missions! I did not realize this up front. I am grateful for the opportunity to be one of these great trainers. We then boarded our separate buses and headed back to our areas. I received a call that the new missionaries would be arriving at the Chapel in my area, at 10:30 AM. Elder Alves and I spent Tuesday night preparing the chapel and getting everything looking all spiffy. Tuesday night was spent with not a whole lot of sleep. Wednesday came faster than any of us trainers would have liked and soon we were in the chapel with Presidente. All the trainers were sitting on one side, and all the new missionaries on the other side. Both them and us were feeling the exact same feelings of nervousness and insecurity of the future 12 weeks. It was such a weird experience, because six or so months ago, I was sitting on the other side of the chapel, in that very chapel of Andarai. Presidente spoke on the importance of the trainer and the trainee. He said that each trainee can only be trained by one trainer-- no one else can train him. You will see, with time, that your trainer will be perfect for each and every one of you. I found this statement very interesting. It was then that we received our new companions, and I received my Son, Elder Monte de Souza (Recife, BR)!!! Ah he is so great. Throughout these last few days, I have truly gained a testimony of President's words-- that we are put with a certain person for a reason. He is exactly how I was when I arrived in the field! He has the same doubts, stresses, questions, actions, etc.. exactly how I was! I am doing everything to help him learn fast and efficiently in all aspects of missionary work, and he is so easy to love. He truly is like my son, and I want the best for him. Everything good that my trainer did, I am doing for him. Everything that I didn't do right, I am making sure he doesn't do. I want the very best start of a mission that he can have. :) 
So that has been my week. I have some other responsibilities as a District Leader as well. I have to take numbers of our days progress. I have to make some calls each night, and I have to conduct a district meeting each week. As you can see, I am quite busy now, but boy am I loving it now. I am growing a love for my area, my investigators, my companion, and my district that I never felt before! My desire to serve the Lord has doubled as I spend each and every day serving Him. 
From some of your emails, it sounds like all is well at home. Alisha is about to have her baby here in a little! Mom, I think its absolutely hilarious that my package got sent to the United Arab Emirates too. If that package makes it back to me in one piece, I will keep it forever! I love you all so so very much, and time is starting to fly by. By the time I am done training, I will almost have a year on the mission. Woah. Weird. Anyway, stay happy, stay healthy, and continue to do what's right! Mosiah 2:41! Keep reading the Book of Mormon too. :) 
Boa semana!
Com todo meu amor,
Èlder Steven Bennett