Monday, October 28, 2013

Endure to the End!

Bom dia!
How is everyone doing on this fine and breezy day? We were attacked with some nice spicy weather this week, but with a prayer asking for rain,  we have entered into a rather cool temperature with lots of rain and wind! It is a great relief, and is really showing that I am unprepared for the summer heat that is arriving. It looks like the next coming week will be more cloudy and relatively cool. Let's hope it stays like that!
I always like to write about the things that I learned throughout the week. I feel that being here on the mission, I have the opportunity to teach the wonderful Brasilian people as well as my own family. For this, I like to send the things I learn to you guys as well, through my good and bad experiences. Unfortunately, this has been a week of learning through more bad experiences than good. It was a rough week to say the least. Throughout the week, I, personally, have had a hard time leading my district in the way it should be led; with love, righteousness, and obedience. This was pushed to the limits through a variety of experiences. As I have said before, I live with some missionaries that, I believe, have so much potential, but don't have the desire to use it. I live with another companionship, and they are very connected to their lives before the mission. They like to listen to music that is not approved here on the mission... the mission rules have no affect to them... Obedience is just another "annoying subject" for them. Being the leader, I have to be patient and teach them the right way. This brought many difficulties for me during the week, to the point of much stress. Why stress? Many times during the week, I was brought to a conflicting feeling in my heart: "Why are things going like this? My area isn't progressing. We aren't having any success with our investigators. We are rejected all the day long. Baptisms are just something we dream about. How is it that the other area is having success? They aren't obedient. They hardly work. Their desires are outside of Rio de Janeiro. How is it that they are baptizing and having such success with references, members, appointments, etc. and we, the ones trying so hard to do what's right, are here suffering... walking all the day long... not having a single lesson... trying everything possible and still nothing happens." I was thinking this a good part of the week. I honestly can say that I don't know why it is happening, but I know things will improve. I have seen improvement in the past, and miracles happen. I know it can happen again. It is a test to see how strong we are. I know that if I keep strong, I will succeed. However, staying strong isn't the only requirement, but really looking at what things didn't go right in the week. What needs to be changed to bring improvement and results more rapidly. Staying strong can't just be a desire or a hope, but needs to be put in action. It is the only way to bring about that success and improvement. Looking back on this week, we were discouraged, we were angry, and this wasn't helping us. 2 Nephi 31: 19-20 teaches us a very important principle: Endure to the End. Enduring to the End isn't just making it to the end of a certain period of time, but really trying to improve and be more perfect until you reach that certain point. We didn't endure to the end. Alrighty good, so that solves some of our problems for the week, but leaves another problem. How is it that our neighboring area is having so much success with so little desire, obedience, and work? The answer comes from a talk I am reading: "The Fourth Missionary". There are four types of missionaries. The first, being a missionary that is very disobedient, doesn't work, focuses on himself, etc. The Fourth, being an obedient missionary, focusing on the work, and helping others. Both can have "success", or baptisms, but really is that where the success is? No. The success is in the CHANGE of that missionary's heart, and the CHANGE he made in other people. Maybe he didn't baptize 1000s of people, but he makes a mark in the few that he did baptize, as well as the mark he leaves in his own heart. This change of heart is the reason we, as young men, are sent on the mission. We need to prepare for the future, including raising an eternal family. This change only comes through dedicating yourself to the work, the Lord, and all that he subjects to you, good and bad. It is through these tests that  we are made more perfect and ready to face the future. So the answer to the question, Why do they have success? The answer is: Don't worry about it! Focus on your work, your area, and what the Lord wants. The Lords knows what we will do on the mission, but we don't. For this, we need His Spirit with us, so that we can be guided. If we do this, it won't matter what happens, or how many we baptize... we will return with the change in our hearts and knowing we did the Lord's will.
This is what I learned this week. It was a hard and stressful week, yes. But, I am filled with a peace and happiness that good times are coming. :) I love you all and hope all is well at home. Count your blessings each and everyday! I hope everyone has a wonderful week. 
Com todo meu amor,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hello. :)

Good morning to all my lovely friends and Family in Utah! How is the nice chilly weather coming in? I am missing that kind of weather... It seems like yesterday that I was passing the last summer here on the mission. It was sooo hot. This week, Summer officially started and today welcomed us with a really hot day. Today is also a Holiday, the Commercial Day, or otherwise known as the day when anyone who owns a store... stays home! It was almost hard to find an internet café that was open. There has been lots of holidays lately. Brasil sure has tons! For us, that is a good thing, for more people are at home. However, if the day is extra hot and sunny, everyone goes to the beach. The life of a Carioca. :)
This was quite the week. Unfortunately, it was a week that dragged on very long. As I said in my last letter, we were in Flamengo for the day (last Monday) renewing our visas. We were supposed to bring our old visa confirmation with us. As we got there in Flamengo, the secretary asked us, "Alright, who has the visa confirmation?" Everyone took out their visa confirmation. We have two actually, and as I pulled mine out, it was evident that everyone brought the second one and I brought the first! I began to be nervous. What if they don't accept it?! Well, turns out, I brought the right one, and the other one wasn't needed. Even more, they already had copies of the visa confirmations, so it wasn't needed really. Monday was a day filled with bus rides and little food. I didn't have enough Money with me to buy a good lunch, so I was hungry the entire day. We were on the bus so long that I learned how to do the rubix-cube. Elder Saihg, my Zone Leader can solve the cube in about 30 seconds... He is crazy. After all of the craziness of the day, we finally  headed back home. Our bus was driving very, very fast. We were thinking that something could easily happen if the other drivers weren't paying attention. Unfortunately, that happened. One driver decided to try to jump ahead of the bus, thinking that he was going slower than he really was. Sadly, the car was T-boned and threw the car like a toy. We were in the front of the bus, so we saw everything. The force almost threw us from our chairs. Luckily, the driver wasn't harmed at all, and he left unscathed. The day was a crazy one for sure, and as we finished the trip back home, my body became very achy. The next morning, I woke up with a fever, achy body, and stomach aches. Turns out, I ate something bad and for the next few days, I was weak and achy, but was able to work.
I don't like to stay at home, so working, even if a little sick, is much better. :) We had some good experience this week. My testimony of the power of blessings has grown immensly. That last Tuesday, when I was the most achy, was a hard day. However, we had a Family Night that night, and i was determined to go. It was great because I had the chance to give a blessing to someone who was more sick than I. Finishing the blessing, I as well felt stronger and with more health. At the end of the Family night, Mazé, the member had made soup, and boy was it good. :) The perfect meal for an achy stomach.
Jumping a little bit later this last week, we went to visit a recent convert, and as we passed, we felt that we should visit some members that live close. As we visited, the mother became very happy, saying that our visit was an answer to her prayers. Her Family is passing some hard times, and the parents are planning on separating. We were able to help her out and give her a blessing of comfort. To add on to this, at the end of our visit, her visiting teachers arrived! She began to cry at the love that was shown to her in that day. Truly the Spirit guided us, and her visiting teacher to her house that day.
Well, my time is ending quickly, but I would like to bear my testimony to you all. I know that this church is true. I know that I say this a lot, but I can't stop saying it! Each and every day, I have experiences that confirm to me the truthfulness of the Gospel. There really is no doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He lives! He loves each and every one of us. I know that it is through His perfect love for us, that we can return to live with our Father in Heaven with our families. I know that miracles happen. I know that the Priesthood is the Lords power, and that it is real. I know that we can help others through the Priesthood if we are worthy. Always be worthy to use the Priesthood to bless others and to receive its divine power.
I love you all lots! I miss you all even more! Take advantage of that wonder chilly weather while you have it. :) Have a wonderful week. CTR!
With love,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, October 14, 2013


Hello all!

This was one more week that passed by really fast. I was once again hit by how fast time passes as I received that today, during P-day, I would have to go to the mission office and meet up with all the Americans with whom I arrived here in Rio. We will be going to the Federal Police Station to renew our visas. So, I am here in Flamengo, basically under the Christ Statue with all my great buddies. The difference in everyone is great. Everyone is speaking Portuguese as well. It is amazing how fast time flies. As we waited in the mission office, we were notified of our DEPARTURE DATE.... I was thinking "Seriously??!". How is it possible that they are telling me this already? Well, I will let you guys in on this little secret... the magic date is.... August 28, 2014. I will be boarding a plane, and flying on home. But don't worry, knowing this crazy information won't distract me... I still have plenty of time to work here. :) 

This was an alright week for me. I will not lie that this part of my mission has truly been the hardest for me. This area has been a rough one, and the biggest change has been with the missionaries. I feel that the missionaries that arrived before me and with me are a good bunch. They are willing to work hard to give it all they got. However, lately there has been many missionaries arriving that don't have this same desire, and I am the District Leader of three of them. It has been a rough week, for they are very wild and the mission rules and obedience doesn't mean much for them. I try to work hard and show my example to them, but as for now, it doesn't have much of an effect. I know that I will succeed with time and patience and continued obedience. Everyday brings a new challenge to overcome. I like it though.. challenges are better than passing the time in peace and luxury... :) As for our work, we had troubles in teaching our most valuable investigators this week. We are trying to see what we can do differently. It's like they say, if your work is going right, change it! In the spirit of prayer and fasting, we will know what to do and how to do it. We ended this week learning a good lesson on faith and perseverance. Saturday night, we had a family night with a recently-baptized family. The daughter still isn't baptized, and her cousin is interested in the church. We were feeling very well about the thought of them being baptized this next week. We planned a good lesson, and followed the Spirit. The lesson ended in success... the daughter and cousin accepted to be baptized this next Sunday! We are praying that all will continue well and that we can work even harder to be worthy of these great blessings and miracles.

My time is very short today, for we will be grabbing a taxi here in a little and going to the Federal Police Station. I love and miss you all, and hope the best for you guys. I am praying for each and every one of you! Continue in what you know is right, and never be swayed from this path. In all that I have learned on my mission, the most important thing is the love that Heavenly Father has for us, in that He sent His Son to suffer and die for us. His Atonement is our salvation. Take advantage of this blessing daily. I hope you all have a wonderful week! Think of me under the Cristo Rendentor. :)

Com MUITO amor e saudades,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, October 7, 2013


Hello hello!

Alrighty, so I really have no idea what happened last week. I wrote you guys an email and sent it off. About a minute later, I received an email saying that it didn't send, and that some fatal error occurred. I looked in the drafts and sent mail, and it wasn't there. Somehow, it got erased... So, sorry about that! Let's hope that doesn't happen again. I will recap some of the things that happened two weeks ago, as well as this week. :)
The transfer ended this last Monday, 30 September. That last week (23/09 -29/09) was a very good week for Elder Rocha and I. We had lots of success with our appointments, and in the progress of some of our investigators. It was also a week of learning from our weaknesses and errors. The week before the 23rd, we had been teaching very poorly, and it was then that we began looking at how we were working, and made plans to improve. We took our goals and really looked at the importance of them, and through paying more attention to them, we were able to end out the week with much higher results. It was in this week that we found two amazing families, Maria + Iran and Romildo+Danielle. These families were references of an activity that we did at the beginning of September. We had been praying mightly that the Lord could put all of His elects on a certain street that we had planned. The day arrived and we went out and spoke with everyone! The fruits of this work brought forth these two families. Maria and Iran have four children, and they already learned a little bit about the church before they moved to Rio. Romildo and Danielle are around 25 and have a cute little boy. They are so humble and willing to learn and do what is right. They received us very happily in their homes and we taught them the Restoration. The two families accepted baptism. These families are wonderful, and truly are ready to receive the Restored Gospel. We have been trying really hard to involve the members with our visits, and this has helped so much. Missionary work truly is better with the help of the members. We truly saw miracles in our work this week.
This brings us to this last week (30/09-07/10). We wanted to continue with this renewed power and faith, and as the week worked, we ran into many obstacles... We had trouble finding our investigators at their homes, or that would accept a visit. We didn't teach very much for this. We also lost some really great investigators who don't want to learn more about the church. Unfortunately, everything started from a bad first impression of the church. Last month, we received the reference of a really great family (a different family than the ones I mentioned above). We visited, and taught them the Restoration. They really liked it, and were reading the Book of Mormon. We invited them to come to church, and they accepted. That next Sunday, we never found them at church. We visited them the next day to see why they didn't go to church. They answered the door a little bit hesitantly, and explained to us how they don't think the church gave them a good first impression. The whole family had gone to church that Sunday. However, they had gone with normal clothing, and were too embarrassed to enter. They stood at the door deciding, and didn't know what to do. We weren't around because church had started about 40 minutes before. There were some members of the church that passed by them and looked at them, but never gave them a "good morning" or "let me help you!". For this, they decided to leave and go to another church. It was a very sad and disappointing experience for us. This family was so great, and through small and simple acts like saying "hi", they now have a bad impression on the church. Always remember this story, and never let that member be you-- the one that passes these precious children of God without saying a word. I hope that some day in the future, they will have a better opportunity to get to know the happiness that is in this church. However, on the flip-side, we are very very grateful for a member who is helping us LOTS with the family of Maria and Iran. This member, Ytailândia, left with us to visit this family, and she, being the Primary President, instantly began integrating this family and their Primary aged children. She helped us lots in that lesson, which turned into one of the most powerful lessons I have had on my mission. Ytailândia then planned a Family Night in her home and made cakes and cookies. It was amazing, and the kids loved it as well. I am so grateful for her help, and the help that members give us. It is one more testimony that members need to be involved just as much as the missionaries! Always look to do your part as a member of the church in helping the missionary work where you are living. There are always people around us, and these people are waiting to hear the true, restored gospel!
This week ended with General Conference, where we watched with our stake. It was out of our area, so we stayed at the home of other missionaries Saturday and Sunday. These days consisted of watching Conference, leaving the chapel and inviting everyone on the street to watch the next session, and then repeat. It was great! :) I love being a missionary. It was amazing. I also had the chance to watch conference, sitting next to Elder Viglione, my Zone Leader and also my best friend with whom I arrived on the mission and lived with in the MTC. One year ago, we were sitting next to each other in the MTC, watching Conference, and trying to learn Portuguese. One year later, we were next to each other again, watching and understanding every word in Portuguese. So much has happened in a year. It is amazing to think back and see all that we have done, and even more amazing to look forward at all that is to come still. I am so grateful for the mission and all that is happening. Truly, I see the hand of our Heavenly Father leading and guiding this work and the Church. He lives, and He loves each one of us. He restored this church to the earth, and there is no doubt in my mind that this work is true. The Church is growing rapidly, and Heavenly Father is accelerating this work. We are up to more than 80,000 missionaries in the world!!!! What an army! What a privledge it is to be a part of this number, teaching and bringing these souls unto Christ! This work will not be hindered. This work will never stop... until the day that each and every soul has heard of this marvelous gospel. I have a quote on my missionary planner:
      "Every time they persecute and try to overcome this people, they elevate us, weaken their own hands, and strengthen the hands and arms of this people. And every time they undertake to lessen our number, they increase it. And when they try to destroy the faith and virtue of this people, the Lord strengthens the feeble knees, and confirms the wavering in faith and power in God, in light, and intelligence. Righteousness and power with God increase in this people in proportion as the Devil struggles to destroy it." -- Brigham Young
I know that this is true. I know with all my heart. This is the true, restored Gospel, and nothing will stop this work until the great and last day when all shall know of its truthfulness. I love and miss you all, and until that great day of returning home, my sacred duty is to help our Heavenly Father find the lost sheep and bring them back to the fold. This I will do until my last minute on the mission. :)
Have a wonderful and safe week. Tell Alisha happy birthday for me, and that I am sending her a card. I hope all is well, and that the nice cold season is coming in nicely! I love you all so much! Choose the right! It is the only way to be happy. Kick Satan in the bum-bum and tell him to leave and take his temptations with him. :) 
Com amor e saudades,
Èlder Steven Bennett