Opa! Tudo bem!
Hello hello to the fellow people in the USA! This was quite a week. It is interesting-- the first week in a new area always seems to last forever. I remember when I arrived in Andarai more than six months ago; I felt that that week was eternity. As for this last week, it was quite the same. Change is always good though. Early Tuesday morning, we boarded a bus toward the "Rodoviaria" (Sorry, i don't know that word in English) in the center of Rio de Janeiro to meet up with all the other missionaries. It was so funny seeing more than 50 missionaries talking, hugging, and laughing with friends and, for some, family! The rodoviaria is where all missionaries meet to switch areas, or to end out your mission. I met up with all of my MTC district and we shared some good experiences. None of us can believe that we will be hitting the halfway mark here in a little. It was great seeing them.... and finding out that Elder Viglione, one of my best buddies from my CTM district, will be my Zone Leader! I was so happy. :) Anyway, we said our goodbyes and then headed off. My new companion is Elder Rocha, from Brasilia. Rocha means rock. He has 4 months on the mission, so he just finished being trained. He has a big desire to keep going forward with the work. So, on our way to Curicica, we took a wrong bus, and ended up taking four different buses in order to get to where we wanted. The whole time I was just following my companion, hoping and praying that he knew what he was doing. But, we arrived safe and sound... but sadly, as we were walking towards the house, two wheels on my baggage (one on each bag) MELTED. How it happened, I don't know. it wasn't very hot out. However, the bags did weigh a lot, so friction may have caused some of that. Anyway, now I am down to three wheels on my luggage, so we'll see how that goes. :)
Arriving here, I was blasted with many changes... Changes in missionaries, changes in my home, the conditions, and the amount of food... personalities... bed (maybe the most important...)... etc. However, the changes that effected me the most was the changes in the quality of the work. Here, I was brought to the realization that we don't have very many investigators. Many missionaries in the past didn't like to make records, so our Area Book is empty, except for a few records dating back to 2010. As a missionary, your most valuable tool is the Area Book. As I was organizing, I came across more than 20 baptismal records that weren't sent to the church or mission... dating back to 2010. So, I came to the conclusion that from about 2010 until now, the work hasn't been very organized or done in the quality that it deserves. It was in this time that I started to make goals on how I am going to change my district. This is a very good area, but a good area needs good, diligent missionaries as well. For this reason, me and Elder Rocha sat down and had a chat about what we are going to do to change this area for the better. Yesterday, we had the chance to have a meeting with the leader of every organization in the ward. We had some time to talk to everyone and explain exactly what we need from them, and what our plans are to improve the work in this area. I loved the meeting, and the ward is responding very good to the changes.
I know that this week will be very good. I know that we are going to change many things for the better. My first goal is to fix my bed, however... :) My bed is giving me lots of back pain. But, I want to express to you guys the importance of this work to me. This is the work of the Lord! For this, we should all be doing our part to progress this work. I am so grateful for the church in my life-- for the gospel and its teachings. I know that it is the only way to true happiness in our lives, and in the eternities to come. Keep to what you know is true. If you don't have a surety of these things, do what you need to do to have a surety. Read the Book of Mormon each and everyday! Within each page is divine truths to lead and guide our lives. I am so grateful for my mission, and am extremely sad that half of it is almost passed away. I hope that all is well at home, and I pray that you guys have a great start with the new school year, and the fall. Are you guys going to run the St. George marathon here in a little?
Love you all! Miss you lots. :)
Elder Steven Bennett