My family and friends, oh how I miss you guys! However, please don't misinterpret this phrase-- I am not trunky or wanting to return home until September 2014. Truly though, I miss and love you all. I just would like to express that at this moment. One of the things I have learned throughout my mission is to truly love others as Christ loves each and every one of us. I have learned to love the people here in Brasil, especially here in Rio-- Carioca. :) Carioca is a people very crazy and happy, that stress about nothing at all. People that make good use of friends and family, and have parties with lots of food and laughter. Of course, these things sometimes are used in excess here, but the basis is the same. I love the people here. I have come to see the importance of family and friends in my life. Sometimes, my mind is taken back to the mystic memories of home life, college, and the beautiful Utah mountains. I see how much I value these things and the importance they have. I love each and every one of you, and I plan to show this love each and every day in the future. :) I believe these thoughts of home have come about lately because I began reading "Our Legacy", a book on the history of the church, starting with the First Vision. I have learned so much more about the church, and truly the miracles and truthfulness of the church. It is amazing to me at the level of understanding I have now, and what I had when I arrived here on the mission. My testimony has grown so much, and even to the smallest principles of the Gospel, I see, understand, and feel the importance of them in my life as a missionary, and the importance they need to have in my life after the mission. I am grateful for my mission. I truly see why missionaries never forget these short two years, even after 30 or 40 or 50 years. I am also grateful that up to this point, these wonderful moments have been recorded in my journal almost to a daily basis. I don't plan on forgetting these things anytime soon... :)
As for this week, it was a week of learning, and a week of evaluating my progress as a missionary, including the quality of my work, and the efficiency. We always are having transfers and changes, areas and companions, so sometimes its hard to catch a good rhythm and keep on with it. This transfer has done that to me. It has been hard readjusting to an area that is so much different than my last. My companion is much different that those in the past. For this, we have had a bit of a rough time catching that wave of good work and keeping up with it. Yesterday was a day that helped us out a lot with this. Unfortunately, throughout these last few weeks, we haven't had much success or excitement between me and my companion, and our teaching was gradually getting worse. Yesterday, we finally sat and had a talk about how we could fix these problems. As we talked, it was as obvious as a warm breeze on your face, as the Spirit fell upon us and helped us work out our difficulties. We ended up hugging at the end, and we left to work once again filled with a power, courage, and excitement that was missing for a while. I never will forget that little talk we had on that quiet little street as the sun was going down. :) It is amazing how the Spirit works in our lives. I firmly believe that I didn't know much about the Spirit, or how to recognize him, before the mission. As members of the church, we have the opportunity to feel His guidance in our lives, always! We must be worthy of Him, however. Do everything possible in your lives to be worthy of His sweet and loving presence.
I learned many things this week, and I plan to apply these things in my work, making me an efficient missionary, full of love and diligence to the work of the Lord. :) I must be running, for my time has ended, but remember these words. I love you! Make an effort to love each and every person around you. Always look to the positive of that person (this helps lots!), no matter how many negatives they have. It is as we do this that we feel the Spirit of the Lord more in our lives and obey the "first and great commandment": Love the Lord thy God with all they heart, mind, and strength, and the same to thy neighbor. I miss you all lots! Have a wonderful week!!!
Elder Steven Bennett
PS. Did you know Jon gets home in six weeks??? Time passes fast.