Monday, July 29, 2013


Hello all!

My oh my, this was a wild week! It definately was quite eventful. As you probably know already, there was the JMJ festival here in Rio, and the Pope was here visiting. There was so many tourists here. So many! I don't know if the news was showing it, but in Copacabana, people were sleeping on the beach! I think 2 million people? That is crazy. You could always tell who was here for the festival because they all have colorful backpacks that say JMJ. It was quite the week! It was also very, very cold. I believe the coldest it hit was 13 C. For all you Americans, that is in the 50s F. I have not experienced temperatures like that since the Winter of 2012, so you can imagine how cold I was. I bought a nice fluffy sweater, and gloves. :) I slept with my USU sweats, a sweater, and gloves during the night. It was so ironic, because I would never do that back at home. People wear shorts in 50 degree weather. Everyone on the streets was wearing huge coats, boots, mittens, hats, ear muffs, etc. It was so funny. :) Even right now, it has warmed up a bit, but my feet are ice cold. It will be such an adventure returning home and experiencing that first winter.
So this week was quite a wild week. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for sure! As this month is ending, we are working very hard to prepare some of our investigators for baptism, and we had a really great experience. About a month and a half ago, we began working with a part-member family that was cut by missionaries about a year ago. We began working with them, and they have been progressing lots. They have to get married first, but after that, the wife will be baptized. :) They have a nephew that came with them to church, and he really liked the church. We invited him to hear our messages and prepare to be baptized, and he accepted. We began teaching him a few times every week, and then one day, his mother told us that she doesn't want him getting baptized. She replied that he needs to know more about the church, get to know "the doctrine", and maybe after three months of searching, he can be baptized. We didn't really like this, but we accepted and moved on. We have been teaching him up until now, and we felt that we should talk to the mother again and ask permission. We planned what we would do, and this last week, we spoke with her. It was a miracle! She accepted, and he will be baptized this coming Sunday. :) We were very happy for him (Euller is his name), and he will be a great add-on to the ward. We have also begun making a friendship with his brother, Lucas. We are actually going to play volleyball with him later today. We are hoping we can start teaching him too! 
Yesterday, President Lima and Sister Lima came to our ward to speak. Sunday morning, we went to the house of a family we are teaching. They always say that they will go to church, but never go. In all my time in this area, they have never come! However, today, we visited and they were actually getting ready! We stayed there waiting by their house until they were ready (to pass time, we talked about the church with a macumbeiro. Google the religious practice macumba and you will know why the conversation was quite interesting!). Anyway, we took the whole family to church, and they met President. President is really funny, and he asked them when they would be baptized (hahah!). They are so great, and I know that they will start progressing. President Lima participated in our Gospel Principles class as well, and thank heavens, we were able to have a good turn out that day! President and Sister Lima spoke in our ward about missionary work, and how the ward needs to wake up and start helping. It was a great little reminder for them, because lately the ward has been a little bit demotivated (is that a word?). I hope we will begin seeing improvements now. :)
One more time, I want to express my growing love for the Gospel in my life. I see people all around me that don't have, or don't accept, the Gospel, and it makes me sad. I want everyone to know the happiness that comes from knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this church is true. I know that we need to try each and every day to be an example to others, to improve ourselves, to try a little harder, be more loving, provide more service, laugh a little more, and share the Gospel a little more. Always pray to Heavenly Father to know when and where you can have this opportunity, and I know that he will give you that opportunity with clarity. Stay strong in what you know is right, and never let your testimony dwindle. Share it often, whether it is at home with your family, with members, or work-buddies. I love you all very much, and unfortunately, I am beginning to realize how much I will miss the mission once I return home.... ;) 

CTR! I love you all! Have a wonderfull week!

Èlder Steven Bennett 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tudo bem??

Opa! Tudo bem?

How is everyone in good old Utah doing? I am glad to hear that everything went well with the family in California. I hope that you guys will send me some photos so that I can see your adventures. :) This week passed quite fast, almost to the point that I wanted time to slow down a little bit. Sometimes, you barely have time to think! But, it is all part of a mission. Boy, I love the mission. I just have to express that really quick. Here and there, i look back on my mission and really see how much I have loved these few (or many) months. It sure has been rough and tiring-- sometimes to the point of almost utter despair-- but it has brought some of the most happiness to me than anything else in my life. I know that it is through obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can find true happiness, no matter our situation in life. If we build our foundation on Christ, it won't matter what happens to us. We will be strong, firm, and faithful (Helaman 5:12). True happiness comes through obedience to the commandments of God. :) 

This week was pretty tough for us here in our District. Last week, we had lots of success in marking many dates for baptism. We were teaching lots, and had lots of people progressing. However, this week, we lost a few of these people, including the two that my area had. It was a little bit disappointing, but you always have to stay positive in hard situations. My Zone Leader, Elder Nethercott (from California) is very good at this. He helps me get excited in every kind of situation. I remember one night specifically, that I was feeling a little bit down, and as I called the Zone Leaders to pass the numbers, he began by being very happy and excited. I became a little excited, but I think that he could tell that something was on my mind as I passed the numbers. At the end, he gave me a lecture how we need to be happy no matter our results. If we are working hard and diligent, we are doing our part, and the Lord will do His in His own due time. Sometimes we have to remember that God works on a different time scale than us. Sometimes, we won't agree with the way things are working out. However, we need to be humble and accept these things, and through our humility and submissiveness, He will bless us more abundantly. Elder Nethercott also burned a little. He said that here on the mission, we are doing the Lord's work! If we aren't happy, there is something wrong with that. The Lord will test us with trials in our lives. He is looking to see how we will react to these things. When something bad happens, we have two decisions: Get sad, stressed, disappointed, unexcited, and work less. OR... we can continue strong and diligent, and work EVEN HARDER! This is something that I am working to improve at this time. It definitely isn't the first option that comes to your mind, or your first desire. But, it needs to be. I am grateful for his words of wisdom, and I know that our area will improve even more as we work hard with a good attitude and being firm in all situations. 
This Sunday, we didn't have very many investigators at Church, and once again, I began feeling these same feelings of disappointment and stress. I know that the Lord knew that would happen, and for that, he inspired one of the speakers to talk on "Doing our Part". This Sister talked about Honey Bees. She talked about how hard a honey bee works. I don't know if you guys have already heard this, but it is quite interesting. In the lifetime of one honeybee, he will work each and everyday, flying around gathering pollen. I don't remember the number exactly, but in the lifetime of one honeybee, he will fly the equivalent of circling the earth twice. However, he will only contribute to 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. However, there are many bees, and through working together, they create lots and lots of honey. Now, applying this to our work as missionaries, sometimes we walk lots... really, LOTS. Some days, we return to the house with small results. However, our work, together with all the missionaries in the world (and the number is growing bigger!), our work is grand. We need to work as honeybees, and pollenate the whole earth (spread the Gospel to all). 

I am so grateful for my mission. I am so grateful to see the work progressing in my area, and in all the areas here in Rio, and the world. Each week, I am hearing of friends that chose to serve a mission, and really, I can say that I have friends that span the Globe. Brazil to the US to Canada to England to the Philippines to Korea to India... etc. This work is amazing, and will continue strong. Satan is working hard, but his work is in vain. He is on the losing team. Always unite with the winning team, and you will always turn out alright. :) I know that this church is true. I know the Gospel was restored to the earth. I know that my family can live together for time and all eternity. I know that this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Have a wonderful week and stick to what is right! :) 

Com muito amor, 
Èlder Steven Bennett

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Moroni 10:3-5

Hello all!
Wow has this week flown by! It seems that each transfer that passes, time speeds up just a little bit. I would like to begin by shouting out a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful Mom and Dad! I hope that all was jolly and well for you guys and that you had a special day. :) If it makes you feel any better, you still have to go through one more of those before I get home... ;) And, I hope you all have a wonderful trip to St. George and Disneyland!
So like I said, this week flew by. This month, really, has been flying by. It was just the beginning of the month, and now it is the 15! What in the world?! Each day that passes, I am reminded of the stunning truth that time passes so very fast here on the mission, and that I need to make use of every second of the day! In terms of work, this was a great week. Our district has been doing lots of splits lately, and for that, I am always going around to different areas. I spent two days this week in the neighboring area, Tijuca, because we are teaching quite an interesting fellow. You wouldn't believe it, but he is Chinese! His name is Ye, and he has been here in Brasil for about 2 weeks now. He only speaks chinese and english... and is working on the portuguese. It is quite funny listening to him speak just because I know that I once sounded like that as well. :) He is here doing research for an international relations company. Two Sundays ago, he came to church to watch the meeting. Afterwards, we talked to him, and he said he was investigating the church. He accepted the visit of the missionaries, but also, he lives in the area of Tijuca... but, he only speaks English. The situation was getting more and more complicated! Luckily, one of the Elders in Tijuca, Elder Perez, speaks almost fluent English (English with quite a bit of errors, but its understandable). Each time we teach him, we have to do a mission split. It is quite the adventure teaching him in English because i never learned to teach the gospel in English, just Portuguese. I find it very fun really... :) He is a really great guy, and you can tell by the questions he asks that he really is trying to research this church with real intent. We visited him last Thursday, and taught the Restoration. He accepted to be baptized on the 21st! We also met with him yesterday, and he had many many questions for us. He views the church how many people nowadays view the church. He sees us as the only ones who are changing the Gospel of Christ. As we taught him that really it's the other way around, my own testimony was being strengthened by my own words. I was beginning to really see the truthfulness of these things. I had the chance to bear my testimony of the Book of Mormon, and afterwards, Ye replied, "Well, i think this meeting can end for today. It seems that all thats left now is to read this book and really see if these things are true." We left that room feeling the Spirit very, very strong.
Back in my own area, Andarai, we had a great experience that happened Friday. All week, we had been talking to ward members and getting them pumped up. The feedback we were getting was in relation to baptisms in the ward. "Where are the baptisms?" and "Why aren't you baptizing more?" were some responses we were getting. I was a bit saddened by these because we are truly working hard, and truly, the ward could do more on their part. Friday, we had lunch with Bishop, and we talked about the ward mission plan. We both agreed that we need to baptize more, and that it will only start happening if the ward helps us out. Bishop started out by giving us a reference from his own apartment building. We decided to pass by that very day. We were welcomed very warmly by a slightly aged woman, Evelin, and her neice, Anara. They were wanting that we do a prayer with them. As they talked about the things they wanted that we ask, I began thinking of inviting them to hear our message as well. They accepted our message. We taught, and the Spirit was strong. They, as well, accepted baptism for the 28th of July.
I know that this is the true church on the face of this earth. The Doctrine of Christ is the only way to return to our Heavenly Father someday. I am grateful for the knowledge of an eternal family. :) My time is short, so I must end now. I hope all is well, and I love and miss you all very much!
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, July 8, 2013

Helloooo. :)

Hello hello!

One more time, Happy Fourth to all you great Americans back at home! I hope it was festive and warm, and that everyone returned home with some nice sunburns (except Mom-- she would never forget sunscreen.)! It is really weird that I could remember exactly what I was doing one year ago, on the fourth. Soon, I will be getting to the point where I will look back and still be on the mission! Well, I hope all was well and that you guys had a great week.
This week passed by unusually fast for me. Sometimes, fast is good, and sometimes fast is bad. Here on the mission, time passes slowly during the day, but looking back on the week, time passes fast. It is a strange experience really. When I think about my mission as a whole, it passes REALLY fast. This week, I said goodbye to my very first Zone Leader, who is heading home tomorrow. It is weird to think that when I arrived here in the field, he had 1 year and 4 months. He still had plenty of time! But really, it sure passes fast, and I learned quickly that I need to make good use of every second here on the mission. 
At the beginning of this week, our mission received more than 600 references from an English School, called Wizard. The founder of this company is a member of the church, and every once in a while, he passes names and addresses to the mission and asks that we pass by and leave a Book of Mormon with the families. My area received 20 references that were spread out in every part of our area! It is our job as the missionaries to contact these people as soon as possible-- best case senario: 24 hours. With the number of references we received, we were not able to acheive such a feat, especially when our mode of transportation is our feet. Through these references, we were able to find some really great people, and we were able to share the message of the Restoration with them. We also were able to receive a few funny memories, as some of these people were not nice in rejecting such an invitation from two studly men in white shirts and ties. All in all, we were able to find some great people to teach, and we are fasting and praying for success with these people. 
Throughout this week, my testimony was really strengthened on the subject of enduring to the end. We know this topic as being the last topic of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is also the most important of the five topics that are the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can have faith; we can repent of our sins; we can be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; but... if we don't endure to the end, the first four steps were in vain! 2 Nephi 31 teaches us lots about enduring to the end, and I invite all to study this chapter. This week, we were walking lots. Lots and lots of walking. Our results and success were low. Lots of energy used and little results isn't a combination most want in their lives. :) It was in these moments that my mind was directed to the principle "Endure to the End." There will always be hard times in the mission. People will reject us; appointments will fall through; disappointments will arise; but even in all this, we are taught to always look forward, having a perfect hope and faith in all things. When hard moments come, work hard in that moment and show your faith and hope, and you will find that you are being more blessed in your life. Life, is not an easy task, nor will it ever be. We are on this earth to show the Lord that we are willing to do what's necessary to return to live with Him someday. We do this by enduring to the end. 
We were able to emphasize this important topic in a lesson with a less-active member. His name is Ary, and we hadn't had a chance to visit him at all until this last weekend. He is a returned missionary who fell away from the church after being a Ward Mission Leader and Elders Quorum President. As we taught, the Spirit testified strongly that he needed to endure to the end. The lesson was a success.
I am so grateful for all that I am learning on the mission. I hope all is well at home, and everyone is safe and healthy. I love and miss you all. :) The church is true! CTR!
Have a wonderful week. :)
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happiness. :)

Hello hello!

There is a certainty that was always told to me before my mission. Returned missionaries always told me that "these next two years will be very hard, but you will have a happiness that you can't describe." I have come to know the true meaning of this phrase. So, to begin, I would like to say that I am SO tired, but SO happy. :) This was a tiring week, but many great things are happening in the Lord's Brasilian Vineyard here in Rio de Janeiro. 

I do not know why, but we always have cool experiences on Monday night, and like most of my letters in the past, I will start with a cool story from last Monday. We received a reference from our Mission office, and we called up a man, named Cessa, and marked Monday night to visit. He is a professor of philosophy, so of course the visit will be interesting! We passed by and called him on the interphone. He said we would have our visit down in the lobby of his apartment complex. So we entered and waited there until the elevator opened and an aged man, maybe 65, said hi to us. He came with two other men-- very muscular... and slightly creepy..... He brought security with him! He later explained that they were his sons, and he didn't know if he could trust us. So we taught this man a little about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon (with two angry guys looking down at us with folded arms at the chest), and he said he is interested in reading the Book of Mormon and getting to know the church. He was quite the guy. :)  
Tuesday was a very stressful day, for we had to get up early to catch a bus to another area in Rio. We had a training with President, and he wanted to see how well we were training our greenies. :) So, 7:30 am, we boarded a bus and off we went to an area called Freguesia. We don't live very far from there-- only about 20 minutes by car. However, we finally realized after a little that we boarded the wrong bus! Yes, this bus passed Freguesia, but only after 2 hours... Long story short, we ended up arriving very late to the meeting, and it was really embarassing... but the meeting was really good, and President gave us many good insights as to improving our training. 
Up until Friday, our week was normal, and we just worked worked worked. We decided to try some different tactics in finding new investigators. So, we  decided to try proselytizing in some different areas... some of which being the favelas in our area. :) Now I know this probably sounds dangerous, but I can assure you that the favelas in my area are very chill. If I were to enter them thirty years ago, I wouldn't be writing now. :) Anyway, we began making contacts there and contacting some past street contacts, and through our efforts, we were able to find an amazing family! This family, Serlegy and Gerson, have never heard of the church, and we were able to sit down and teach a little bit about the church, missionary work, and invite them to church. We also had a Stake activity this week that we invited them to attend. We plan to work hard and baptize this amazing family. :) Friday night, we had the Stake activity, and boy was there a lot of people. We were able to get our ward really excited, because we were expecting 20 investigators or visitors to come to the activity. We were able to get the members to bring some families, and turn-out was really good. 11 of these visitors showed up, and it really got the ward excited. While at the party, the members kept offering us food, even though there was a small price to eat. We ended up taking a bag of goodies home. Around 8:45 PM, President Lima came to the party just to see if we were there helping out and if we had any visitors. He became very happy with our work when he heard of our success. 
I know that through our hard work, the Lord is blessing us with much more success than I could have ever imagined in the last three transfers being in this area. Andaraí is beginning to blossom, and Elder Monte de Souza and I are working hard to do our part. This last Sunday, we received three references from our ward. In the past our ward never gave references, only Bishop! We are very excited to continue working doing everything possible to leave this area much stronger and fruitful than when we arrived. 
My time is short, but I would like to end with a spiritual experience that I had this last Saturday. Bishop called us around 7:45 AM. A member of our ward passed away Friday night, and he wanted us to be at the funeral service at 9 AM. We agreed and saw this as an opportunity to pay our respects and help the family, who were non-members. We arrived in the chapel and sat with the others there. It was very peaceful in the chapel, and the casket of the deceased member was there opened for us to see. As I sat there, I began thinking about the Plan of Salvation. As a missionary, I have taught the Plan of Salvation many times, and I began to think about the importance of this plan and the steps that this beloved member is taking at this time. It was in that moment of thinking-- about what the future would hold for her-- that I was touched with the indescribable feeling of knowing that the Plan of Salvation is true. The only way to describe this feeling was that of when I read and prayed about the Book of Mormon. I can know testify with certainty, that I know this is the plan of our Heavenly Father. He knows us individually, and he loves each and every one of us. He gave us a plan, centralized in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that shows how we can return to live with him someday, together with families. Oh how I am grateful for this plan. 

I love you all so much, and I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July. I definately don't miss fireworks, because I get enough of them here. Last night, Brasil won the Confederations Cup, against Spain, 3 to 1. Around 7 PM, no one was on the streets. No one! After every goal, people went crazy, throwing fireworks out the window-- one of which landed and exploded 20 feet in front of us, making me almost pee my pants. Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful week. I love and miss you all!  

Boa Semana. :)

Elder Bennett