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