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