Hello my fellow Utahns!
I hope that everyone is "chilling" out, having a good old time during this nice Christmas season. This truly is the greatest time of year-- the time that people are the most happy, most generous, and most charitable. Although I love a nice Brasilian Christmas, it does not compare to a nice, cold, wintery Christmas in Utah. For me, it just feels like something is missing... and for sure it is the snow. Christmas can't be Christmas if there isn't a blizzard outside, and if you're not snuggled up inside by the fire, listening to Christmas songs. However, these are the physical aspects of Christmas. Looking to the spiritual aspects of Christmas, nothing will ever compare to these two Christmases here on the mission. I have already passed one, and boy, it seems like that didn't happen that long ago! Now, I am already on the countdown to talk to you guys again! Can you believe it? I can see the time literally flying by my eyes. It is so important for you to use this time wisely. I can't express that enough. As I see these two amazing years passing by, I realize the importance of the continual habit of doing these things here on the mission... pray, read the scriptures, develop the attributes of Christ, follow the Spirit, and endure to the end. They are such small things, but make all the difference. As we read in Alma 37:6-7, by small things, great things are brought about. These great things are brought about by our small actions and decisions day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and second by second. Many times, we make goals on how we can change. We begin working with these goals, but it seems as if we aren't changing at all. However, as we look back a few weeks, months, or maybe a year ago, we see that great difference. But why didn't we see that change day by day? Because it was by the small actions and decisions-- the decision that didn't even catch our attention-- that were changing us. Always remember this. Wow, I really went off in my thoughts there for a moment. Anyway, Christmas here on the mission is really great. I remember last year, and how Strong the Spirit was all the time. Truly, this is the time that we celebrate the true meanings of Christmas-- all of the spiritual aspects of it. The Christmas hymns, stories, activities, testimonies, etc. Everything is so great! We are visiting our investigators, singing hymns, and talking about the true meaning of Christmas. We sing at our lunch appointments, and pass the members to see what everyone is needing. Truly, giving 110% of yourself during the Christmas season is something that you can't explain. The feelings of helping others is undescribable. I will never, ever forget these wonderful times. I invite you all to try to help and serve someone (or many people!) during this great Christmas Season. Bake some cookies for the neighbors you don't recognize. Shovel the sidewalks of someone without asking, or help someone carry groceries at the supermarket. There are so many ways to help others. I hope that each of you can open your eyes to these precious opportunities to help someone during this time of year. :)
So this was a great week, and like I say a lot, it passed by really fast. I have seen the miracles of the Lord in our work, and also learned some great lessons. We found one of the Lord's elects this last week-- really, the Lord blessed us, placing this man in our pathway. His name is Deroncio, and he is about 26 years old. He lives close to the church, and he came to watch the meetings on his own! He accepted our visit and said that he had been invited to church in a street contact, by the missionaries in São Paulo. He accepted to go to church, and went! The missionaries got his address, but never were able to find him at home. His work schedule is very crazy. He then moved to Rio to work as well. We took down his address as well, and were never able to find him at home. On the 6th try passing his home, we found him! We got to know him a little more, and that he works with events. He sets up concerts, fairs, carnivals, etc. He had a very big interest in the church since the first time he saw the name. He expressed his confusion as far as religion is concerned, and in the midst of so many churches, he found one with the true name of our Savior Jesus Christ... We taught him the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, and he understood everything so well. He said the last prayer and expressed to us that he was already feeling in his heart the truthfulness of the message. He accepted baptism on the spot. We were never able to find him again until this last Saturday. He had been reading the Book of Mormon and understood everything! He knew that these things were true. He only had one problem--- his work. He works in very bad situations, and he has a very big desire to serve the Lord. Deroncio wants to leave this work and live with his Family again-- have a life more calm and where he can do what is right. He says that he will be baptized, and he will be when the Lord wants him to. I have strengthened my testimony so much on the power of the Holy Ghost in the conversion of people. He was so ready to receive the Gospel-- he just had to hear it. He is making plans to quit and go back to his home in Bahia. I don't know if he will be baptized here, but I know that we were able to plant that seed and see it grow. :) For just that, my mission has been worth it.
There is no other work like this work, and there never will be. I am so grateful for this Gospel in my life, and I hope you all are able to see the importance of it in your life. Our loving Father in Heaven has shown us the way, and we are to follow if we want to be happy. Truly, it is as simple as that. Have faith; repent of your sins daily; be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost; then, endure to the end in all things! No, it's not easy, but it's worth it. Oh it sure is worth it. :) I love you and miss you all. My fasting and prayers are to you all, for your safety and health. Have a wonderful week and stay happy! :)
Elder Steven Bennett