Monday, September 23, 2013

Just working all the day long. :)

Hellooooo. :)
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.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Trekking in the Heat‏

Hello all!
Well, the heat has finally arrived, and boy it's making it's presence known! Today was is in the upper 90s, I believe. As we get hotter and hotter, you guys are getting colder and colder. Oh, I already miss the cold. Do you realize that I will not have seen snow for three years when the next winter hits? That is a wild thought. I am thinking that I will die that winter of hypothermia... yikes. So how is everyone? I am glad to hear you guys got to and from St. George in safety. I hope Grandpa will start improving. I am praying lots for him. Send my love to him and Grandma. I wrote them a letter that is ready to go out in the mail. Keep me updated on his progress.
This was a wild week for me. It has been a rollercoaster for sure. Lately, we have been having problems teaching lots of investigators, as well as finding more investigators. We have had some really great people pop up, and I am excited to start working diligently with them. :) However, we find ourselves walking for the greater part of the day, making contacts, and trying to find new people to teach. While doing this in the noon-day heat, it can be a test of your faith at times. It is good that we have companions in this work, for alone, I don't know if I could ever succeed! It is good having a buddy with you at all times, knowing that you are both in the same situation-- someone to help you out and keep you excited in the more difficult moments. It is always good to be with your entire zone, to talk a little and learn together. This week, we had a Zone Conference with President Lima, and we had the chance to learn many good things to help us out in our areas. One of the principles that was touched on the most was the Doctrine of Christ. The Doctrine of Christ is EVERYTHING in our work. If someone can learn everything there is about the Doctrine of Christ, he would be the best and most effective missionary in the field. As we know from 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 11 and 27, the Doctrine of Christ is based in Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. He who follows these simple five steps will return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. SIMPLE! As missionaries, we have to do our best to help our investigators understand these five steps with the most clarity possible. President spoke that as we understand the Docrtine of Christ more fully, we will work more diligently and effectively, and be more successful as missionaries, and in life! I have been studying these topics a lot lately. :) Anyway, the Conference was very good, and lasted almost all day Thursday.
My testimony was also strengthened greatly this week as we had the chance to put our wits to the test in a special activity set up by President. On Saturday, the entire mission got together as zones (there are 11 zones) and chose a special place, in each zone, to do this activity. My entire zone met in a commercial area, armed with many copies of the Book of Mormon and pass-along cards. For two hours, we were to talk to as many people as possible and find the children of our Heavenly Father who were ready to receive the restored gospel. We talked a little bit about the Book of Mormon and invited everyone to receive a copy of the Book of Mormon free. We noted their addresses to pass later in the week. For all those that didn't want one, we gave a pass-along card showing the number of the church where they could receive a free copy. As you can imagine, it would be a little scary stopping people running to and fro, making purchases, or going to work, just to talk about some strange book that they have never heard of! To be honest, I was a tiny bit scared to begin, but after the first couple contacts, it got much easier and soon, I and my zone, were running around stopping everyone in our sights! Talking with so many people, we received many different responses, some being very good, and some being bad. I had the opportunity to talk to a pastor who was trying to show how the Book of Mormon is false (he couldn't... :)  ) and in the end, accepted to receive a copy and follow the promise of reading, pondering, and praying. I talked to one lady who began screaming in fury at me, and then ran away. However, the best of all was the chance to show those that were truly ready to receive the Book of Mormon, in which I had the chance of inviting them to be baptized on the spot, and they accepted. In total, our zone made almost 1100 contacts, receiving around 100 addresses, and 12 people who accepted baptism on the spot. It was such an amazing experience. As you know, the enemy is always working when the Lord is working. As we began this activity, churches close-by began making signs in protest and offering free Bibles. There was even a pastor that came out preaching and passing out fliers. This just strengthened my testimony even more.
I am so grateful for all that I am learning on the mission. There isn't an experience that compares to this-- moments when you feel more close to our Heavenly Father. I am happy happy happy, even in difficult times. :) I hope all is well at home, and know that I am praying for you guys. Stay strong and do what's right, for the Lord always is close to help us in any situation. Love and miss you all!!! Have a wonderful week! 
Èlder Steven Bennett

Monday, September 9, 2013


First off, I am very sorry that I didn't have a chance to write last week. I don't like skipping a week of writing. I love writing to you guys and telling about all of my brazilian adventures. :) So, these last two weeks have been a little crazy. Time has been passing by really fast. I can't even believe that I will have one year on the mission this week! What happened to time!? I only have one more year to take advantage of every second, helping people come unto Christ. I am making some goals as well for this last year. I am to the point where I can speak fluently to anyone, and I am experienced in basically every aspect. Now is the time to put all this to the test and baptize everyone. :)
These last two weeks have been a bit rough, but also, i have truly seen miracles from the Lord's hand falling upon us. It seems that in the most difficult time, the Lord extends His almighty hand above us and gives a miracle to end out the day happy and grateful. As I have said before, it was pretty rough arriving here. The changes were grand. The missionaries in the past weren't as diligent as they should've been, and for that, we have been working hard to change things around. Here on the mission, we have a book of records called the Area Book. This book contains all the people that were taught in the last year, and sometimes up to three years in the past. Arriving here, the book was almost completely empty! We had NOTHING to build on. We sure have our work cut out for us. As for these last few weeks, we've been able to fill up this book with some records. Unfortunately, the next missionaries are going to arrive here with an ENTIRE area book filled with Elder Bennett and Elder Rocha.... hahaha. :) But I have been learning a lot throughout this period of time. I have had the chance of helping some new missionaries restart with more diligence and motivation. Unfortunately, there exist trainers who don't try to give the newbies the best mission foundation possible. I have had the chance to help my district change a few things around. My companion, Elder Rocha, is a very good missionary, and I am very grateful to work with him. Also, my Zone Leader is Elder Viglione, my blessed friend from the MTC! We arrived in Brasil together, passed the MTC together, and arrived in Rio together. We have seen each others progress from the beginning. Now, I have the opportunity to work with him and talk to him on a daily and weekly basis.
As for our work here in Curicica, it has been a little bit difficult. Sometimes, I feel that I am in the South... the only difference is that we have to persuade these people that there is more than just the Bible.... in the Portuguese lauguage! It's great. I love it, but sometimes it is frustrating. These last couple of weeks, we didn't have tons of success in teaching many people. We were stuck on the street without much to do. However, we always filled our time with something, and Heavenly Father really blessed us for that. Last week, we had a day where nothing worked out. We were very tired, and still had an hour and a half until the night ended. We decided to pass one of our investigators, Watson. It was a shot in the dark, really, for he is rarely at home during the night. We found him there, and he explained to us that he wanted to be baptized! It was such a great moment, and we knew that Heavenly Father was watching over us and our work. He was baptized yesterday. :) I am so grateful for the blessings of the Lord in our work. Truly, without His help, nothing would work out. This is the Lord's work, not ours. We only do what He wants us to do. We have this opportunity to be instruments in His hands. Many other miracles happened, but time not permits that I share them all. For this, we will have to read my journal once I am home. :)
I am so grateful for my mission, and the happiness that it is bringing me. I found out this morning, that Lucas, a young man (19 years old) that we baptized a month ago, received the Priesthood, and yesterday, he passed the Sacrament. He is preparing to serve a mission here after one year of membership. Experiences like this are what power me to work each and everyday... to help others come unto Christ. This is our purpose and our desire, as missionaries. I will work until my very last day. I will come home SO insanely tired. That is my goal. :) I know that this church is true. I know!
Know that my prayers are always being directed towards you all, family and friends. I love and miss you all immensely. Have a wonderful week. :)
Elder Steven Bennett