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!
Elder Steven Bennett