Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Hello Family,

Well, I had a few minutes to jump on the computer and use this email for the last time. I can't believe that my time has really come to return home. I will be writing in my journal the whole 13 hour planeride, expressing my feelings and the great experiences of the end of the mission. I sure feel strange, I will not lie. I am feeling so much happiness, but much sadness for have to leave my "second home" here in a couple days. My last official day was yesterday (Sunday), and today (Monday), the new transfers took effect. I am staying in Botafogo, and we are seeing all the sights. I am with five other missionaries... two with whom I arrived here in Brasil... Elder Hawks and Elder Viglione. They will be with us as we go through the temple on Thursday.
I want to leave you guys with just maybe my last testimony as Elder Bennett. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus lives and loves us... that He atoned for our sins and gave us the chance to return to Him. I know that there is no other path to salvation, except faith in Jesus Christ, daily repentance, keeping our baptismal covenants, following the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end. This I have come to know personally. I have a personal testimony of this. I can testify that the Book of Mormon is true and changes the lives of all who humbly and diligently seek to know of its truthfulness. I will come home a changed person. Not because I have learned more key scriptures, or I learned how to work hard, or travel, but because I am returning with a personal testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ. 
We will be seeing each other here in a little, but until then, I wish you all a wonderful week and much happiness. I love and miss you all so much. So much. What a wonderful day it will be to reunite with you guys once again. 

Until Thursday. :)

Com todo meu amor,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fé produz Milagres

Hello hello!

I have little time to write, but I will do my best to tell you all that I want to say. This could possibly be the last email home. Maybe next Monday I will have time, but who knows. If not, we will be seeing each other a week from this Thursday! I am so grateful for all that has happened here on my mission, and for all that is still happening. I can truly see that the Lord is blessing me in this last transfer here on the mission. How I am grateful that I followed my answer and stayed until the end. I passed many difficulties, but now I am seeing many blessings in these last weeks. I have been praying a lot to be able to help many people here in Jardim Maravilha, and to baptize or reactivate at least one  person who will continue strong in the church. I have prayed and fasted a lot. Throughout this transfer, we passed some difficulties as we tried to bring people to church and to reactivate. However, in this process, there has been one man who has been showing progress. His name is Hamilton. He is 52 years old and has a wife and two children. We knocked on his door at 8:45 PM as we tried to fill the last few minutes of the day with success. We began teaching him, who is inactive in the church that he attended. We brought him to church a few Sundays ago and he really liked it. He accepted baptism for the 16th of August but he ended up not going to church two Sundays ago, disqualifying him to be baptized on that day. We had interviews with President Cabral this last week, and he told me that I need to show my faith to the Lord, trusting 200%. I decided to do that. We made plans, put them in action, and with much faith we are seeing progress! Last Thursday, we arrived at his home to teach him some other commandments and invite him to be baptized on the 23rd, my last Saturday. As we arrived, he opened the door, obviously very angry, and drunk. He told us that he was leaving. We decided to follow him! We began talking to him, and we managed to bring him to the church where we could talk to him in private. He was very angry about a fight with his family. We sat him down, and I gave him a blessing. I don't think I have ever put so much faith in a blessing as I did that night. As we said Amen, he became very quiet, and we began to teach him about choices and consequences. He began to cry and say many crazy things, but we managed to help him understand that alcohol was the problem. We managed to bring him back home and put him to bed. The next day, we visited him, and taught the Word of Wisdom, and that we would prepare him to change his life. He accepted baptism for the 23rd of August. Miracles are happening here! Yesterday, we also found a man who is 17 years inactive. We talked about the Book of Mormon and prayer, and as he said the closing prayer, the Holy Ghost touched him strongly. He accepted to return to church this coming Sunday. 

These miracles happen through our faith. My faith is strong and I am working hard to make sure these miracles continue. I can't stop now! I will continue until the end! I love you all so much. We will be in contact soon! If we don't speak next Monday, I will see you all soon! The church is true!

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, August 11, 2014


Hello all. :)
First off, I want to wish Lauralee a HAPPY BIRTHDAY from this last week. Now she is an adult and can't mess with the cops anymore. :) Wow, how the time is flying. This week passed pretty quickly, especially because I was outside of my area for four days of the week. We had our Mission Counsel in Andarai on Lauralee's birthday, and the trip there is 2 hours and 40 minutes! We woke up at 4 AM to get to the bus and luckily, we made it there before 8 AM. It sure was a great meeting. President Cabral is a man of much energy and excitement. He really has his heart in this work. I am glad that I was able to get to know him here at the end of the mission. My faith and vision of this work has been raised even more, and I know that he was called by the Lord to guide this great work. He is very powerful in his words, and as he spoke, many words entered into my heart, teaching me and helping me to improve. We had a special experience as we left Andarai. At the beginning of this trip, I brought 50 reais with me to pay for the trip. There had been a problem with my companion's bank card and I ended up having to pay for him as well. The trip, for the both of us, was 26 reais. As we left Andarai, we stopped in the bank to withdraw my companion's money, which was supposed to be there (the secretaries had "solved" the situation). To our surprise, his money wasn't there.... and I didn't have enough money for the both of us. We began praying that someone could help us. All the missionaries had already left, and it was getting late. Then, out of nowhere, a member from my companion's old ward appeared and began talking to us! We knew it was an answer to our prayers.... until we found out that he didn't have any money with him. So, we began praying more. WE didn't know what to do, but we decided to walk to the bus stop. As we did this, we saw my old companion, Elder M. Souza! We asked them what they were doing here, and he said that they had run into some trouble packing up their zone materials and they were only able to leave now. He then told me, "Hey, I forgot to tell you! Elder Azevedo finally was able to pay you for the haircut razor you gave him." I had lived with this Elder months ago, and I had even forgot that I had given him my haircut razor and trusted him in paying me back. He didn't have money at the time, but I still gave it to him. Well, the money came to me at the right time, and I had enought money to return home with my companion. I will always be grateful for the Lord and His infinite and perfect plan for us. He prepared the way that everything would work out. We finally arrived at our home at 9 PM that night.
Other than that, I gave my last Zone Training last Thursday, and boy was it great. The Spirit touched strong to each and every one of us there. The week ended well, but still, we had to solve a couple problems in another area of the zone. It even involved staying there Saturday night, and a visit from President to this area. But, all was solved and all is well. :) I sure am tired, but it is a good tired. We also did a Service Project this week which destroyed my hands. We built a fence for our Bishop.
Well, I must run. I have much to do. I am thinking that I will have to go through my luggage and sort out the stuff. I will definately be coming home with less than I arrived. :) I love you all. Stay strong and do what is right. This is the Church of Jesus Christ... I know this with all my heart!
Com amor e saudades,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, August 4, 2014


Hello all!

Well, just to update you guys on my canker sores, three of the four have gone away, and a cold sore decided to say hi. Let's just say that my mouth has passed a little bit of pain in these last few weeks! But all is well. :) How is everyone at home? I don't even know if I need to ask anymore, for I will be at home here in a little. In the midst of many emails about my arrival at home, I have not had any side-effects that many call "trunky". I live with three missionaries that all have between one year and one year and three months, and they are more trunky than I am. I am the one telling them to focus. It has even come to the point that the assistants call me just to make jokes about how old I am on the mission (I am older than the two of them... one being my grandson as well. Irony.. ). So basically everyone is trunky.. except me. I love the work, and I am able to focus perfectly, and I will continue until the very end. I am grateful for your help in getting everything organized back at home, and if there is anything I can do, being here 6,000 miles away, just send me an email, and I will do what I can. :)

This week was a good week. We worked hard, and it was not always in our own area. I spent a few days in other areas helping out some of the missionaries with some things going on. It was good helping them out and seeing the difference when the problems were solved. This experience in problem-solving prepares us for many things to come in the future. While there are quite some annoying situations we have to solve in the zone, I am grateful for the chance to help my zone improve and reach their potential. 

At the beginning of this last week, we were given a goal in our zone to bring twenty people to church in each area. This is a really challenging goal, but we took it on with lots of faith. The reason for the goal wasn't to really reach twenty, but to arrive closer to the normal goal, which is six. As we raised our vision, we realized that our work raised as well, and we were to have better results. As we passed a couple on the street, I decided to stop them and invite them to church the coming Sunday. They really did come to church!!! It was amazing. We also found out that a neice that they haven't seen for quite a while, who is member, saw them enter the church, and started to cry. The Lord works in wonderful ways. :) I am grateful for my testimony that was strengthened through our work this week. 

Well, I gotta run. I sure do love you guys. I know that this church is true! Have a wonderful week! Tell Lauralee HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, July 28, 2014


Olá todos!

So, one more week has passed, and with that the goods and bads! We worked hard and saw lots of miracles immediately. Starting Monday night, we visited some references from a recently-baptized member. The first was his grandma, who reluctantly accepted our visit. As we arrived there, there were other relatives who live there, and of those at home, we taught the Restoration to his grandma and his aunt. His grandma, Sebastiana, is quite old, and is very active in the Baptist Church. She sat and listened, but didn't participate very much. However, Vizulva, his aunt, was very interested in the message. She asked many questions, and was very excited to learn more. We had arrived with the purpose of teaching Sebastiana, but the Lord knew that it was really Vizulva that was ready for the message. That very night, we also visited the last reference. We received a certain address ending with the number 33. We arrived on the street and found out that that street listed the addresses by lots and quandrants... meaning that there doesn't exist a home with the number 33... We decided to walk the street just to see. It was about 8:40 PM, and we were thinking about beginning our journey home, but we decided to continue trying. We found a home that said Lot 33, Quandrant 33. We stopped and thought, "could it be here? This may be the closest we will find?" We were searching for a young man of about 20 years. We thought about knocking the door, but at that moment we saw a couple with two children walking up the street.... the only people on the street, excluding us. I decided to ask them if they knew the young man. They said no, but that they live at that very address where we had stopped. We began talking to them, and they were very interested to hear a message about the church. We talked to them for about 15 minutes. The two of them are ex-pastors of a church, and now are inactive. We returned home very happy, knowing that once again, the Lord had put us on the path of this family through a wrong address. 

As I said, we have been working super hard, and the weather has been changing quite a bit. The last few days have been windy, cold, and rainy. I have been using my sweater out on  the streets. This week I became quite sick as well. On Wednesday, I woke up with a sore throat and an achy body. I had to go to another area to do some baptismal interviews, and I ended up sleeping there. It sure was a difficult day. Thursday, I woke up with the same symptons, but feeling a tiny bit better. Friday, I woke up with an achy head, and three canker sores in my mouth! My body is going wild... hahah. Anyways, I am pretty good now, except for FOUR canker sores that are so strategically placed in my mouth that it is agony to say anything. Yay for me, right? hahah. :)

Well, I must be running. I sure do love you all. I can't believe that time is going by so fast. My English class is doing very well, and I am learning English (again) together with my class. Everyone thinks I'm a clown, I think. They always leave laughing and smiling. We are working with a real English course that is offering a 75% discount to anyone who wants to continue learning English after the course has ended. I am really liking teaching English. There are also some members that want me to teach them piano. I think that would be a bit harder. Anyways, have a wonderful week. I sure am busy, busy, busy. Keep having fun in the sun. Be happy. :)
Elder Steven Bennett 

Monday, July 21, 2014



Ah, once again, I have only minutes to write and tell you guys of the marvelous things going down here in the middle of nowhere. :) Here in Jardim Maravilha, it is actually very beautiful! Imagine Hunstville and Eden, on the other side of the mountain. That is how it is here in this part of Rio! It is so different from being in the city, with buildings and people running here and there. It sure is more humble here and I can see that the people are more open to our message. The chapel here is so beautiful, and the entire neighborhood uses it as a reference point. I am enjoying working here, and also, the Lord blessed me with a wonderful last companion and housemates (my last companion and I weren't the best together). I wish I could send photos, but this computer doesn't have the capacity of transferring photos from my camera. So yeah, that is a little bit about my life... oh ps. there are wild horses that roam on the streets... hahaha. There exists Brasilian horses in Rio? Yes. :) I also took the responsibility of teaching English to the public. Saturday, I taught my first class and boy was I nervous. There were about 50 people present. I tried to use my personality in teaching, and I was able to make everyone laugh a bit. Everyone left pretty happy, and a member who was present in the class, began telling everyone how great it was. So I am being kept pretty busy, and the Lord isn't letting me relax not one bit. Lately, I have been very, very tired. Not only because I have been on the mission for almost two years, but I haven't had a normal P-day for about 4 weeks. There was always a meeting, or transfer, etc. I have been trying to keep excited and happy, but there were a few times that were pretty difficult. I am excited for today. I will be able to relax a little and rest. :) We are also making a lunch at the chapel with some of the members, and playing volleyball.

I am working hard, and I know that the Lord is blessing me for this. I am not perfect... I am no where near perfect. I know that I still can do much more, but I am striving to improve each and every day. I know that the Lord knows the desires of our hearts, and my desire is to teach the Gospel to all. He gives me strength to do this even when I feel that I don't have the energy. I know that He gives me the capacity of doing this work. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Stay toasty there. Here at night, it gets so cold (60F)!!!! I use a sweater and a huge blanket to sleep. :) I am so Brasilian now. I love you all, have a wonderful week!

Elder Steven Bennett

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Hello Hello!

My time is very short, and as you can see, today isn't Monday. I have had the wildest week, and it seems that once again, everything has changed at the moment that I least expected. Let us start at the beginning. This last week was the last week of the transfer. I never really gave it much thought, for I am beginning my last transfer on the mission. Being in Sulacap for only a few months, I thought that not much would move.... just maybe a change in my companion. However, Sunday, we received word of the transfer. President Cabral transferred me and my companion to new areas! Two new elders will be going to Sulacap. I was transferred to Jardim Maravilha, Campo Grande. I will explain more about this later. We were still at church when we received word, and all of the members began to be very sad at the sudden change of the two of us. I was able to take some photos with some of the members. I was the official pianist in the ward, so they also became very sad for my going. During the day, we visited some of our investigators and members to say goodbye. Sunday night, I packed all of my bags up, and Monday morning, we were off. Usually we meet at a bus terminal in Novo Rio, but President had moved the meeting place to the chapel in Botafogo (you can see Pão de Açucar from the street). We went to the train station to head for Botafogo at 8am. When we arrived, they told us that it wasn't possible to pass our luggage until 10am. We needed to be at the chapel at 9am. We began to think. We tried everything we could, but no one could authorize us to pass our luggage. We had to grab a bus and go to another terminal in Barra de Tijuca, and grab another bus that would go to Botafogo. It was such a long trip, but I was also able to pass through some of my old areas, and also all of the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. We travelled on the coast until Botafogo. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. :) However, we arrived three hours later because of this trip, and missed the training that President gave to the missionaries. But, everything was alright, and we got to eat lunch and head out with our new companions. My new, and last, companion is Elder R. Oliveira, from São Paulo. He is so cool... everything that I was praying for. We made the 3 hour trip to my new area, which is in the Campo Grande Zone, translated Big Field. This name is very literal. Never have I had such an area as this! I passed almost my entire mission in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, and for the last few weeks of the mission, I was transferred to an area, that is, as we would say, "in the middle of nowhere!". hahaha, but I love it here already. It is a wonderful area. As we arrived, the members gave us a welcome BBQ, and the chapel is so beautiful here. I found out that I will be the official pianst as well, and the responsibility of teaching two English Classes of 191 people has fallen upon my shoulders. I am the only American here, so I will have to teach a Beginners class and Advanced class every Saturday morning. I am excited for the responsibilities that the Lord has given me to stay focused until the very end of my mission. I am also continuing my duties as Zone Leader here. As we arrived, I noticed that the house was very dirty and unorganized. Also, our Area Book (once more....) is a complete disaster. Last night and this morning, we were able to clean the house up (it is basically sparkling now), and I am in the process of creating an Area Book that is acceptable to the Lord. I am certain that this will be the best zone that I have passed if we can immediately change these small imperfections. 

I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that this is His work. I am so grateful for the time I have had to preach the gospel to all. I am busier than ever, and there isn't a moment to lose. I know that the Lord will accept my mission if I continue until the end. I love you all so much, and I am grateful for the emails I have been receiving. I hope all is well at home. Have a wonderful week, and don't forget to use sunscreen out in that sun!
Elder Steven Bennett

PS. My "grandson" was called Assistant to the President (Elder Neu, who was trained by Elder M. Souza, who I trained). As Dad taught me, you need to teach your son to be better than you were. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts. (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7)‏


Well hi once again! How is the wonderful Utah summer treating you all? My thoughts were turned to you guys on the 4th of July as I thought about the great traditions that go on. But, don't worry, just a few thoughts went to you guys. I am much too busy and focused on the work here... :) hahaha. Well I hope all is well. So, it looks like from the updates from home, Dad is doing great, Alisha is now a model, and her family is just about the most beautiful family that I have seen! They should be on a magazine or something... Hometown values... hahahah. Wow, Kai grows so fast! I will be getting home and I won't even be able to carry him! 

So this was quite the week. It was one tiring week as well. As I told you guys, we didn't have a P-day last week, so we are now 14 days working. Would you believe that today is not our P-day as well?? Brasil is just dominating in the world cup, and this mixes up our schedule a bit. Tomorrow has a game, so we will be working all day today, and our P-day will be tomorrow. If Brasil wins, they are off to the finals this Sunday. That game will be insane, especially because it will be here in Rio de Janeiro. I am about an hour bus ride from the stadium. That will be one interesting day of work. :) Anyways, as I said, last Monday, we had our Mission Counsel with President Cabral. Tuesday, my companion and I gave our Zone Training, and Wednesday, we had a mini-Zone Conference in Freguesia, about 45 minutes from our area. Many, many, meetings! It sure takes your energy away during these trips, but we are sure blessed with the wonderful feelings of the Spirit in the meetings. On Wednesday, the principles and teachings of the last two meetings were repeated once more so that the vision of the modern-day prophets and apostles are ingrained into our minds and hearts. As Mormon (or Moroni) taught, we learn through repetition. I am so grateful to be on the mission in such a glorious time in history. I am privileged to be a part of this work. A mission is such a valuable thing to me. I know that everything I learn here will help me for all eternity. 

I had a very special experience on Friday. We had received a reference on Thursday night, and Friday morning, we were off to contact this reference. We have been struggling to bring investiagtors to church, and many aren't progressing very well. We have been praying a lot to know what we could do different to have different results. As we contacted this reference, we found out that his name is Mike, and he is 21 years old. He invited us into his home, and we began talking with him and getting to know him. He went to church this last Sunday in another ward, for he was invited by a friend in his college. He loved the church. We taught him the Restoration, and he understood everything so well. The Holy Spirit touched us very strong during the First Vision, even to the point of bringing tears to my companion as he began to testify. In this moment, Mike told us that he was feeling very good, very light, and happy. We invited him to be baptized on the 19th of July, and he accepted. What an answer to our prayers! I know that the Lord looks after us, and blesses us when we are trying to do what's right. 

Well, I must be going. I love you all, and miss you all so much. I sent some videos to you guys because I forgot to send you guys birthday cards. I wish Mom and Dad a very happy birthday! I love you all so much, and I am so grateful for all you guys have done for me. I know that your great parenting helped me get to this point in my life. I am so grateful for you guys. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Steven Bennett

Ps. I don't know exactly how, but I ended up with 3 suits. I have one that will fit Dad! If not, I will just have to become a little bit fatter and it will fit me. :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50:24)‏

Querida Família,

What a week it has been. Definitely a week of learning and of many feelings. You will notice that I am writing you guys a bit late, and that is because we had our Mission Counsel this morning. This last Friday, Presidente and Sister Lima left Rio de Janeiro, and Presidente and Sister Cabral arrived ready to lead this mission. They were so anxious to follow the prophetic counsels that they received through their training in Salt Lake City, that they called the Counsel to be today and not on any later date. Many wondered why such a meeting would be put on P-day, but we were very blessed by the sweet Spirit that was present in the meeting. I testify to you that each and every Mission President is called of God to lead that part of the world. He knows what the missionaries are needing, and what the mission needs. I have arrived in each of these meetings receiving all of the answers that I was needing for my difficulties in my companionship, area, and/or zone. How wonderful it is to leave these meetings with a new sense of excitement to lead forth the work of the Lord. 

This week leading up to today brought forth many difficulties for me. I believe that there are very few emails that I have sent to you guys talking only about the difficulties that I was passing, and feelings of discouragement. Up until this morning, I truly thought that I would be sending you guys an email like that. However, how I praise the Lord for His love for me. He knows what we need when we need it. He is a God of miracles. I certainly did pass many difficulties this week. We are not having many investigators progressing and many aren't willing to come to church. We have been trying to be diligent, but at time it gets very difficult. My companion and I have been a bit stressed lately. I do not know why, but I always knew that the Lord would test me at the end of my mission to really see if I would be faithful and true to the end. I have had various trials that have tested this, and even now are testing me. I will stay strong. I have a testimony of prayer. This testimony was strengthened even more hearing about the miracle with my dad this week. The Lord performed a miracle and it was an answer to my prayers. Sunday afternoon, the Lord answered my prayers as well. When I felt that I couldn't hold on any longer in a certain trial that has been facing me and my companion, I kneeled in the bathroom, and I prayed. I know that the person who kneeled and the person who rose were two different people. The Lord doesn't always answer your prayers immediately, but my will was lined up with the will of the Lord, and my answer was immediate. I thank the Lord for the love He has for me. 

The Counsel today was very special. It was also completely focused on me. President Cabral began speaking on various subjects, but one was a quick study in D&C 50. I invite you all to study it a little bit more throughout this week. We went verse by verse up until about verse 27. President related these passages to us, the missionaries here in Rio de Janeiro. He focused quite a bit on verse 24, which is a very special verse to me. It is the passage that I put on my mission plaque. After reading, he asked us an interesting question: "Do you want to be part of this group?" "How great is your desire to be a part of this group of people, fully engaged in these attributes?" 
President continued his training speaking many wonderful things. My eyes were opened and my mind soared as many ideas began to connect in my head. I finally understand with such a clarity the things that the Lord wants us to do in His vineyard. Richard G. Scott, recently, was talking on the subject of Rio de Janeiro, and he said some very interesting words: "The greatest leaders of the church will be from Rio de Janeiro. It was for this very reason that Satan is working so hard to blind and bind the people in iniquity". The greatest leaders of the church are in this part of the world. My job is to find these fantastic leaders and bring them to know of their potential. My responsibility is great, as with each and every missionary in the world. We don't baptize just to baptize. This was made very clear today. We baptize to bring people to the TEMPLE. We need to begin the journey with the final result in our minds. This is the vision of President and Sister Cabral for the next three years. I am grateful that I have 8 weeks to serve under his command and continue this work in front.

I must be running, for my time has ended. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. This is His Gospel, and His will for the whole world: Bring His children to the true knowledge of the Gospel and to make covenants with Him in His Holy temple. I know this to be true. I will work my best until my very last day, and I know the Lord will continue to bless me and my family greatly, as He already has, for now and all eternity. I love you all so much. Have a wonderful week.

Elder Steven Bennett 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Moroni 7:42-48‏

Minha querida família,

Wow, so it looks like two more buddies have returned home. It is very strange seeing all of my buddies at home once again. At one time, we were all together, and then separated around the world. Now, little by little, they are returning home and being reunited again. It will be a very happy moment to see them all again and to know that they successfully completed the work that the Lord had for them all around the world. 

So how is everything going at home? Is everyone doing well? Is it nice and toasty there in Utah? I am actually kind of scared to return home to the cold winter that awaits me. Here, the weather changes very quickly. One day it is nice and pleasant and the next day is windy and rainy. This brings down the cold in many people. I find myself sleeping and studying with a sweater and coat. :) That seems a bit outrageous, but as you can see, I have really become accustomed to this Brasilian weather. 
To update you guys with the World Cup, it is better to say that the small email my mom sent me about the soccer games is more of an update than I can give you! There isn't too much I can tell you guys about the Cup, except that many people choose to watch the game than hear our message. This is just another difficulty that we will have to overcome. :) Today, there is another Brasil game, so here in a little bit, we are all having to go back home and stick inside the house for the rest of the day. We worked a little bit this morning so that the time we lose tonight won't affect us too much. We were able to teach some great people on the streets and find more of the Lord's elect waiting for us. 

This has been quite a week for me. I have told you this many times before, but I will say it again. I do not like saying "good-byes". I do not like it one bit! When you say good-bye to someone very close to you, it aches a lot. This is the last week of our beloved President and Sister Lima. They have arrived at the end of the mission, and on the 27th they will be leaving Rio de Janeiro, and Presidente Lima will start his duties as an Area Seventy. Last Thursday was our last Conference with President and Sister Lima. I played the prelude music in preparation for the Conference, and as tradition and being my last Conference, I bore my testimony in the conference. It is such a strange moment. I remember every conference up until now. There are always the testimonies of the newbies, and the testimonies of those that will leave before the next conference. I never had the chance to bear my newbie testimony because my zone was 4 hours from the Conference and we had arrived late. From then until the moment I was up there, it is as if a dream has passed. So many memories. It was rather difficult to bear a simple testimony of the many things I have learned on the mission. I had so much that I wanted to say. However, I summarized my words and bore testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ and His perfect Gospel. The Conference was such a wonderful experience. I have never felt the Holy Ghost as strong as it was there than any other moment in my life. How great it was to hear the inspired messages that were prepared for us. As President Lima left his final words and testimony, everyone was trying to hold back the tears. After we sang the last hymn, there was a moment in which we could say goodbye to President and Sister Lima. After this, everyone was crying. As my turn arrived, I went up and hugged President Lima, holding back the tears. He looked at me and said "So you stayed with me until the end.". I replied "Yes, President, until the very end.". His words were once again answers to some of my prayers. When everyone had their chance to say good-bye, we stood and sang "Called to Serve" (President didn't know that we would). To tell the truth, the singing was horrible because everyone was crying while singing. It was the first time on my mission that I saw President Lima cry. The Holy Ghost was so very present in that chapel that night. I will never forget it. As we ended, I ran to be the first one to be interviewed by President to renew my Temple Recommend. I had one last chance to talk to him, and at the end, pray with him, and hug him one last time. It was a very special moment. 

I have a very strong testimony of the love that Heavenly Father has for each and every one of us. I know that everything was done through the love that He has for us. If there is one thing that I have learned on the mission, it is this: that we are here to love the people of the Marvelous City, and bring them to know of the love that Heavenly Father has for them. I know that love is one thing that we all need to develop. A genuine love for all. As I hugged Presidente Lima for the last time, I could really feel the love that he had for me since the moment I arrived on the mission. One of the last things he said to us in the Conference is that we need to be praying each and every night for President and Sister Cabral, so that we can love them, and that they can love us. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that He loves us and wants the best for us. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week, and know that I am happier than ever serving the Lord in His vineyard. 

Elder Steven Bennett

PS. I received the package! Thank you!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Soccer Takes Over


Hello hello! Boy has Brasil changed over the last week. So, the World Cup has finally begun, and I can tell you that never in my life have I seen an entire country be so patriotic to their sports team! I told you guys a little bit the last week that people have been preparing, the streets are being painted, and green, yellow, and blue are flooding the city. Since the cup began, the decorations have gone wild. The Brasilian people really do live, eat, and breathe soccer. The greatest soccer players to date are all over Brasil's many stadiums. Many people have taken off work just to watch the games, and especially when Brasil plays, the city stops running. President has ordered all missionaries to be in their homes during the Brasil soccer games, for the streets become quite crazy. This last Thurday was the first Brasil game, and all missionaries were at home at 2 PM. We were given some tasks to complete, including a nice home cleanover, and our weekly planning session at night. We live next to a bar, and the neighbors on the other side were having a party, so you can imagine at exactly 5PM, the game began and the craziness was released! We don't watch the games, but for my companion and I, it was impossible to not hear the games. Televisions with box speakers connected echoed the commentators voices to all the surroundings. When a goal was made for the Brasilians, fireworks and screams reached the skies as far as the eyes can see (and ears can hear!). Never have I seen an entire country united with the same focus for that 90 minute game. Meanwhile, we did our best to do our tasks in the house and not be startled as the fireworks began. As the game ended (Brasil won), the aftergame festivities took over until much past our bedtime. So, until the World Cup is over, we will be having a few more difficulties in our work schedule than normal. :) 

Our greatest miracle that happened this week was the finding of the family of Celita and George. Celita was a street contact that accepted our visit. We visited her a few times, but never were able to enter the home and teach her. After about four attempts, we were able to enter and meet some of the family. It was at this moment that we found out that there are ELEVEN people living in this home! We were very excited to hear this. :) As we got to know them, many of the members had questions. Celita told us that recently she had had a dream, and in this dream, she was in a certain place, meeting people. She described these people as "different" and "happy". She then told us that we seemed "different". We returned this last week and were able to teach the whole family the Restoration. At the end, everyone accepted to go to church, and Celita told us that her dream was confirmed by our message and that she is wanting to meet the members and get to know the church. As we passed Saturday to confirm them going to church, we found out that this week they wouldn't be able to go, for Celita was called to do some work in her other church. However, they promised to come this next Sunday. 

This last Sunday, I was the pianist in a special musical number. The choir sang #163- Ide por Todo Mundo. I believe that the number system is different in the English hymn book. It is a challenging song, but I managed to play it with some practice. My desire to play the piano has been growing strong lately. I am finding myself passing whatever freetime I have on P-day on the piano. A member gave me around 60 pages of church music that includes popular church songs, prelude music, and hymns. I am so excited to start practicing them all!

I have such a strong testimony of this work. As my time gets shorter, I feel that each day, my desire to work and share the Gospel grows. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that we are doing His work and representing Him. I hope that all is going great in these hot summer months at home. I will end giving a big shoutout to my buddy Elder Seth Hilton who ended his mission this week. What a stud he is. I know that he was a successful missionary. Have a wonderful week, and I love and miss you all. :)

Elder Steven Bennett  

Monday, June 9, 2014

When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men (2 Nephi 33:1)‏

Hello hello!

So it looks like it finally warmed up there in Utah, eh? Mom said that everyone is going to the pool today and there will be a barbeque! That is nice. Here, it should be cold, but this week warmed up quite a bit... Bleh. I was liking the cold. It will be nice returning home just in time for a nice Logan winter. :) Oh, I will give a shout-out to little Kai who is turning one-year-old tomorrow! I cannot believe that one year has passed since he was born. I remember specifically the 10th of June of 2013. I will be thinking about him. :)

Well this week passed by very fast. I hope everything passed well in Utah. My week was filled with lots travelling, bus tickets, and meetings! However, it is all worth it just to hear the inspiring words of President and Sister Lima. They are truly the inspired and authorized servants of the Lord in this part of the world to lead forth the work of the Lord. Everything that they speak hits you with much power and enters your heart to the point that you cannot forget the words. We had a Counsel with all of the leaders of the mission. It was the last Counsel that President would give before his mission ends. He sure ended with power! He shared something very important that I will never forget. At times, we are so caught up in trying to improve and change the negative things that we don't even realize the good things that we are doing. There is always a part in the Counsel where we take account of our results for the month in our zone. All of us get up and talk about the difficulties and things that went wrong. We need to remember as well the good things that happened and the miracles that the Lord made through us [Habakuk (I am not sure how to spell it in English) Habakkuk 3:17-18].

I have been privileged to see many miracles happening here in Rio de Janeiro. I received word that Reinaldo and Aline, from Meier, are doing very well and have callings in the church now. Yesterday, Reinaldo received the Melquesedic (as well, I don't remember how to write in English) Melchizedek Priesthood. Also, Eva and Franco, a family that we were teaching, recently decided to get married in preparation for baptism. I really can't express the happiness that I feel to know that these people that I love so much are progressing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a strong testemunho testimony that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I hope that you guys can be strengthening your own testimony in this as well. Study the scriptures, for they tell us what we need to do to have happiness in our lives. 

I am sorry that this email is a little short, but my time has ended. I also want to give a shout-out to my wonderful Dad. Father's Day is coming up here, and with this, I remember of how great my Dad is. He has helped in all things, and he is my hero. I hope that I can be as great and successful as he is. I learned from him how I need to raise my own family in the Gospel and how I can have a happy family. I am grateful for all that he has done for me, and even what he does for me. For this, I love my Dad! Love you Dad! Have a wonderful Father's Day!

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, June 2, 2014

Alma 37:6-7‏

Ola! Tudo bem?

Each and every week that I am here to write you guys, I feel that I have grown just a little bit more. I feel that my testimony is just a little bit stronger. I am very grateful for the changes that my mission has made in my life. There really is nothing better than a mission. The Lord's work is the one and only true work that leads us to Eternal Life in His presence. I sure will be sad at the end of my two years, but that doesn't mean that the work stops there. How are you all doing? It must be hot there in Utah now, eh? Here, we have hit the season where the weather is always bouncing around. One day it rains, and the next day it is hot and sunny. This week, I had to use a sweater for some of the days. At night, I am sleeping with a sweater as well. This crazy weather has brought many people down with lots of coughs, stuffy noses, and colds. My companion has been stuffed up since I arrived here one month ago! hahah. :) I am trying to take good care of myself, and until now, I only have a small sore throat. 

This was quite the week. At times, as I am getting ready in the morning, I think: "What kind of experiences are in for me today?" There really is no way to know the things that will happen during the day! Now, you may be thinking positively or negatively at this moment... but just remember, I am talking positively, and I also have divine protection with me if you're still worrying! ;) We had many experiences this week, but I will tell you about two specifically. 
This week, as my companion and I were preparing one morning, I noticed a strange bump on his back. I joked with my companion, and as he realized it, he began to explain that that must be the cause of some back pain he has been having. We called Sister Lima and the Mission Doctor. They sent us to find a doctor who could give us more information on the condition. So, early Wednesday morning, my companion and I, in nice warm sweaters, left in the wind and rain to find a doctor who could give Elder Amorim a consultation. We found one and we were 8th in line. As we waited, we noticed a lady who wasn't looking too well, but was talking with other people. Then, out of nowhere, this woman fainted and almost fell on the floor! Everyone panicked and grabbed her and they sent for a doctor. While the situation seemed horrible, my companion and I found it rather funny as the doctor arrived and began treating her. Her blood pressure dropped and she fainted, but was fine. To help her out, the doctor sent for a coffee. With this, we couldn't help but give a little chuckle. For three and a half hours we waited, and finally Elder Amorim was looked over. We found out that he has to have a small surgery here in the next month. It seems to be a small tumor, but nothing serious. Afterwards, we ate yakisoba and went in search of some other treatments he needed, and finally we were able to get to work around 4PM. The day continued to rain, and was a chilly day. It was this day that made us a little bit sick, but we are fine now. 

The last experience I will tell is one that I will always hold very close to my heart. Really, the Lord blessed me greatly in being able to be a part of such a special moment. About a week and a half ago, I received a call from the Sisters that work in my second area, Andaraí. They were very excited to tell me that Antonia, a lady I had been teaching, had accepted to be baptized, but only I was the one to baptize her! Antonia is someone very close to my heart. Her husband was baptized almost 10 years ago, but has been inactive for most of this time. She also has many members of the church in her distant family. I began teaching her with about five months here on the mission. I taught her all of the seven months that I was in Andaraí, and she never reached the point of wanting to be baptized. I was transferred, and four months later, I returned to Meier (the same stake). I had had a dream that I would baptize her. As I awoke that morning, I recounted this dream to the Sisters in Andaraí. They became very excited and told Antonia about this. Antonia as well became very excited and accepted to be baptized! I had the opportunity to interview her for baptism. For two hours, I was with her in the interview, and as we left, she still wasn't wanting to be baptized. That day was very disappointing to me. I was transferred, and now, about three months later, Antonia has asked me to baptize her. These last couple weeks, the Sisters have been teaching her, and Antonia had some dreams about the temple and the church. She finally saw this as an answer and accepted baptism with certainty. :) On Saturday, the 31st, I travelled to Andaraí once again for her baptism and I was able to baptize Antonia. It was a very special day. I also reunited with many friends from Andaraí and Meier that were at the chapel that night. Many members asked me to send my membership record to Andaraí because I will never leave. It was quite a night. 

I am very grateful for the special moments that I am having here in Rio de Janeiro. It almost seems like a dream that I am here as a representative of Jesus Christ. I know that this is His church, and that we are spreading His gospel to all the world. I know that the Lord still has many things in store for me in these last few months. I will be working as hard as ever, and as happy as ever, until the end. Have a wonderful week!

Muito amor e saudades, 
Elder Steven Bennett

PS. Lauralee already graduated from high school?? 

Monday, May 26, 2014

God Is My Salvation (2 Nephi 22:2)

Minha querida família!

Welcome to one more weekly letter from the Cidade Maravilhosa. This is such a marvelous city. I love the Cariocan people. Here, everyone is getting prepared for the World Cup that will be starting here in June. Everyone is buying costumes, shirts, flags, paint, etc. The streets are being painted yellow, white, green, and blue, and flags and banners are being strung in all places. I am not exactly sure what our work schedule will be like during the World Cup, but it sure will be interesting to work while the whole world is watching soccer. :) 

So what a week I had! Lots of crazy things have been happening. I am glad that I have been able to keep my journal updated, so all of my experiences are written on paper. I was able to do a mission split this last week with a new missionary in our zone, Elder Morris. He is really cool, and for only having 6 months on the mission, he speaks really well. He came to my area and we had the chance to work here. We had a pretty interesting experience as well. The night before, I was doing street contacts with my companion, and we had stopped a man named Luis. He was very receptive to our message and accepted immediately that we go to his home and leave a message with his family. We marked the next day to go over there. As we ended our conversation with him, I told Elder Amorim that he would be baptized for sure. While I was with Elder Morris, we passed his home. As we shouted for him, another man answered. His name was Fernando. He asked us who we were, and we presented ourselves. We asked for Luis. Fernando became very confused and asked us when we had spoken with Luis. We responded that we had spoken with him on the street the night before. Fernando explained to us that he has a brother named Luis, who lived here... but died more than 30 years ago. He didn't know of any other Luis that we could have been mixing him up with. We taught him a bit about the Plan of Salvation, and we will return there another day. Could it have been his brother sending a message to his family to accept the Gospel? It sure was an interesting experience. 

As an update to Raphaella, who was to be baptized this last week... Unfortunately, the baptism fell through. The 22nd arrived, and she wasn't feeling ready. We made an appointment to meet her at the chapel, and she never went. We called her and she put on some boy who prentended to be her father. We had already gone to her home, and no one was there, so when the boy said that it was her father at home, we knew he was lying to us. We were never able to speak anymore with her after this incident. It was very disappointing to us. She really was ready to be baptized. It is sad to see people so close to following our Savior Jesus Christ, and for one reason or another, Satan puts his grasp on things. Never in my mission have I realized the importance of Jesus Christ in our lives. In these days, many people have many beliefs on God and Jesus Christ. People think that God lets us worship Him in the way that we want, and that all pathways lead to salvation. Sadly, this is a lie that Satan wants everyone to believe. Jesus Christ is the path, and there only exists one path. He suffered and died for us, and only through faithfulness to ALL of the commandments that He gave us, we can be ready to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. The Church of Jesus Christ exists in these last days. The same organization that Jesus Christ set up in the first days. It is only through His path that we are saved. This I know. How grateful I am to be a representative of Jesus Christ in this part of the world. For all those who have doubts of these things, pray to our Heavenly Father. Ask if this is true. Then, follow this answer and visit the Church that Jesus Christ organized. What a privilege it is to know that these things are true. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that He is our Savior. I know that He restored His church on the earth through a living prophet. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Stay strong, and stay safe! I love you all so much!

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, May 19, 2014

:) Felicidade‏

Hello to all,

I would like to thank all those who sent me a 'Happy Birthday' this last week. I am so grateful for having such great friends and family near me. I am bumped up to 21 years now. I really do feel old, but that is alright. I have very little time to write so please give me a couple weeks to get a reply email out to everyone. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you guys! I love you all so much. My birthday was a very special day. I was a bit sad to leave my last area, for I knew everyone there! I came to an area knowing no one, and passing a birthday with people you don't know is a bit sad. However, I was able to get to know many people in these first few weeks here, and my birthday was quite memorable. I will always remember those that made this day such a special one. A little bit later on in the letter, I will talk about what happened. :)

So this week was a really great one. Our President is really an inspired man. He gave us a challenge this week for each and every area to complete our weekly goal of 210 street contacts. It really isn't that hard of a goal, but lately, the mission has been having troubles doing these street contacts. Talking with people on the streets is one of the simplest ways we show our personal diligence to the Lord. In many aspects, we depend on others... for example, entering homes and teaching, teaching with members present in the lesson, receiving references, etc. However, street contacts only depend on us. It is up to us if we do them or not. This week was "the week that no one lacked 210 contacts". We kept up with our zone each and every day, motivating them to make this goal. We really saw many miracles that happened through this week. As yesterday ended, we were able to successfully complete the end of the week with the goal met in each area of our zone. :) Only 4/11 zones were able to complete this challenge. 

The week passed by very fast, and soon Sunday arrived. :) Saturday night, around 8 PM, Bishop called me and asked me to do a 15 minute talk in Sacrament meeting... what a great birthday present right? I accepted gladly, and I chose to speak on the Atonement. I have a great love and a growing understanding of the Atonement. The last few weeks, I have been studying only the Atonement, and my testimony has grown so much. I have a great love for the Atonement, and the opportunity and potential I have for what Jesus Christ suffered. I did not write a talk-- but simply wrote down a few bullet points. I used five bullet points in my talk. I believe that a talk becomes a little more personal if you aren't reading a paper. Well, the talk went great! I also was the pianist in Sacrament Meeting, so I was running all over the place. I was sure kept busy! It sure was a great meeting. In the middle of Gospel Principles, I had another present.... Julio Cesar, a young man I was teaching, came to visit me. He lives in Meier, and came to see me. He didn't know that it was my birthday, but boy was it a special present. I hadn't had the opportunity to say good-bye to him, so it was a very special moment. After church, we were privileged to have a special Birthday BBQ. We are teaching a less-active family, and after passing a few hours in their home moving some things around, they invited us to a BBQ the next day. Beyond this, they bought an amazing cake! I will send you guys some photos of all this. A little bit later, another family invited us over to sing Happy Birthday to me and their little nephew. :) I was truly blessed with an amazing birthday. Ps. I still didn't receive the package, Mom. Maybe it is in the mission office. 

To end my birthday, we also had quite an experience, but more on the spiritual side of things. We were called to help a less-active lady who was passing some very hard difficulties. I won't go into details about her difficulties, but suffice to say that she has an ex-husband who is doing some very bad things to her, as far as abuse (mental and physical). It was sad to hear her story and what has been going on in her life. Her ex-husband also is into some different spiritual traditions, and we were able to feel this as we entered her home at 8PM last night with a member. It was obvious that something was very wrong in the home. I was weighed down with a very heavy, bad feeling that lingered in the home. She told us that many other pastors and bishops of many churches had already passed to help her, and everyone said she was a lost cause. We had a very great lesson with her, and as we were led by the Spirit in our words, we were able to help her. Through the power of the Priesthood, we left her home with a completely different feeling, and even the lady expressed that she was feeling much better than she has in years. We gave her goals to help her improve her situation. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a worthy Priesthood holder, and in helping someone who was rendered "crazy" to all others that tried. She is much better now, and the member is staying up with her progress. 

Well, that is about it. I must be running. We are here in the chapel having a BBQ with the zone. :) I am so very blessed with an amazing family and friends. I love my mission. I love this Gospel. I know that it is the way of true happiness. Have a wonderful week. I love and miss you all! 

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, May 12, 2014

Morôni 7:3‏


Well hello there once again! It seems like yesterday that I was talking to you guys!... oh wait, it was yesterday. :) How great it was to talk to you guys again. I feel that it has been a while, but at the same time, it was very fast. I know that time will continue to pass by even  faster until the day we are together again. I am so grateful for my wonderful family... My awesome dad who is such an example to me to work hard and do things with quality. I am grateful for my beautiful mom who never quits in anything. She is so diligent and does things for the love she has for others. I am grateful for Alisha who has shown her example to me by the choices she has made in her own family now. Of course, I am grateful for Wade, who is such an example of someone who respects his family and spouse... someone who also served a mission with honor. Don't forget about baby Kai, who I love so much even though I have never seen him! And last but not least, Lorks. I am so grateful for Lorks and to see her growing and developing into a wonderful and beautiful young lady. I hope she knows how much I love her and how much the Lord wants her to serve a mission. :) While I am at it, I am also very very grateful for my church leaders through the years, my friends, and other relatives who have helped me up until now. I am GRATEFUL for everyone!!! It is for this reason that I put up Moroni 7:3 as the subject, because of the love I have for all of you, and the prayers that go out to you guys from the Cidade Maravilhosa each and every night.
This was a week of much learning. I am grateful for the experiences that I have each and every day. It is these experiences that mold us into the person we want to become. The Lord gives each and every one of us certain circumstances and situations so that we can learn and grow. This week, we faced lots of fatigue and lack of excitment as we faced opposition. It was a bit challenging to keep going, but we kept strong. Things are improving here in Sulacap, but we sure have plenty of work to do in front of us. We are making goals to improve in all aspects, beginning with us. I always will remember some of the words that President Lima spoke to us in our interviews this last Tuesday: "If you want to see a difference in your zone, be the first to change, starting with yourself." It is truly this that needs to happen. We cannot change anything if we don't change ourselves. I am very excited to start this next week with lots of excitement and motivation. I am grateful for the chance to have talked with you guys yesterday. Many missionaries would become trunky talking to the family, but I don't feel that at all. My motivation to work harder has increased through talking with you guys. I have been reminded once again of my purpose here in Rio: Bring happiness to other families that my family already has. I know that through my hard work, I will bless the lives of my own family, and the lives of many others. There is no greater happiness than this-- to know that I have the chance to help others know the true, Resored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and bless my own family back at home. For that, I will stay focused and work hard until my last minute of being a missionary.
I will end with my simple testimony of the truthfulness of this Gospel. I read Elder Randall's (now being Dustin!) last letter as a full-time missionary, and exactly as he said, one of the greatest things I am gaining here on the mission is my own testimony of this Gospel. I really do know that we are part of the true church of our Savior Jesus Christ. There doesn't exist any other church that can bring us closer to Christ than through His own church. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon, and the opportunity to read its sacred pages each and every morning, and to pray to our Heavenly Father, receiving an answer of his truthfulness and divinity. I know that the Holy Ghost works with us in this work. I have grown to know its prompting and counsels. I have grown to know when He is with me and when He is guiding me. I know that there doesn't exist anything better on this earth than the opportunity to live with our families forever. Mom and Dad, for your presentation of my mission, make sure each and every person who is listening knows that the greatest thing you will gain through serving a mission is your own, personal testimony of this church... a testimony that will guide you for the eternities. A mission is difficult, but there is nothing in the world that could give you such an experience, knowledge, and development as a mission gives you. It doesn't matter how someone feels in respect to serving a mission... they need to know that they will NEVER regret for serving.
I have an immense love for you all and this work. Have a marvelous week!
Elder Steven Bennett 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Que semana!

Hello hello!

First off, I am writing today because yesterday, we had a Mission Counsel in Andarai, and I didn't have P-day. :) Don't think that I am a bad missionary breaking rules and entering the email when I shouldn't! Wow, what a week this has been. I feel like so much has changed. It was also one of those eternal weeks, if you know what I mean. But before I get explaining, I want to give a shout-out to my buddy Dustin who's ending his mission this week. He is such an example to me. I remember to the very first emails I wrote even when I was at home... and now to this point that he is being released. How time has passed. I love him with all my heart. Now, we will continue the next phase of our lives, still together, living up at Utah State! I am excited to see him again. But, before that happens, I still have plenty of work here in Rio. 

This was quite a week of changes. I arrived in my new area, and as any missionary would say, I was completely lost. I had never stepped foot in this Stake or this part of Rio, so everything was very new to me. I thought that I was very far from my last area, but then realized with a bus ride to Andarai, that I am only 40 minutes from Meier. The first days in a new area are always hard, especially if you loved your other area, ward, and companion. I am missing that area a lot... As I arrived here, I noticed that I will be living in the nicest house yet! It is a cute little house and has been very well-kept. From the testimony of my companion, it sounds like the other missionaries weren't too clean, but he arrived here and cleaned everything up. My companion is Elder Amorim, from Brasilia, Brasil. He is 26-- my oldest companion yet! I already knew him from my second area. We served in the same stake when he arrived on the mission. He is about to hit the one year mark. He is very excited to work and has lots of energy. He arrived in this area two weeks ago, so you can imagine how we are in this area.... we know nothing of this place, and no one of the ward! He got to know a couple of the members, and a few of the streets, but basically we are opening a new area. We will be learning together. It has been a little stressful, and we ended up walking a lot this week, for we didn't know the best routes to arrive on certain streets. As always, I arrived in an area that wasn't very organized as far as the records and Area Book. I know that I already spoke about this at the beginning of my last two areas as well. As this week went on, I did an Area Book "makeover", as I had to do in my last areas. I took the Area Book, cleaned everything, organized the records, etc. Now it is all clean and ready to be used correctly. We also focus a ton in a list of 15 families... 5 to baptize, 5 to complete, and 5 to reactivate. This list didn't exist, and so we had to start from scratch trying to find families to teach. So, as you can see, we have had plenty of work to do to get caught up with the system here in Sulacap. I got to know the ward on Sunday. It is a small ward with about 80 people in attendence. I was put as pianist the second I entered the chapel. It is good to be playing again. I have been missing the piano. I am thinking about buying a keyboard to carry with me to college. Oh, we also had a crazy experience that happened yesterday, but I will wait to tell you guys at home. It will grow the suspense, and keep you from worrying about me. :) 

Well thats about that. I am very happy to be here in Sulacap, but I have been missing Meier a lot. There doesn't exist a ward exactly like Meier. The work was so strong in that ward, and I could really connect with the members. This has been something hard to get over, leaving that area. However, as I entered my email today, I received a simple email from Mom, citing Doctrine and Covenants 100:3-8, 12. What power held this scripture as I read! I was immediately comforted that I am supposed to be here. The Lord has a purpose for me in this area. I will work with all my force to find the reason he put me here.

I have been here in the chapel all day. Since 8 AM, we had interviews with President Lima. He is so great. He gave us some messages and then left us with a training with the Assistants as he took each Elder to interview. I love talking with President one on one. You can truly feel the power that he has in his words. He is truly an authorized servant of the Lord. I believe that I received my answer as I studied the scriptures, prayed, and talked to President. I will stay here until the end. I will use each day that the Lord gave me, and what happens with college will happen. :) I have a strong testimony of this work. I am grateful for the privilege to be here in Rio. I know that there exists nothing in the world more important for me than to be here on the mission. I know that the church is true. I am grateful for such great friends and examples that helped me build my faith to get me here on the mission. I hope that I can continue to help others serve missions as well. I love you all so much, and hope all is going fantastic. I am grateful for the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ that gives each and everyone one of us the opportunity to be cleansed of our sins. Stay strong, and do what's right. You will never be led astray. :)
Com amor e fé,
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, April 28, 2014

Continue Your Journey And Let Your Heart Rejoice (Doctrine and Covenants 100:3-6, 12)‏

Dear Family,

Well, the time has come and one more transfer has ended. Many of the missionaries that I knew since I arrived in Rio have almost all returned home. It is hard to get to know all the newbies arriving. I lost a few more buddies at the end of this transfer, but I know they are going to start the new chapter of theirs lives at home. I received a phone call last night, and the Secretaries told me that I am being transferred to Sulacap, Madureira. I became a bit sad with this news. I really have loved my time here in Meier. I feel closer to this ward than any other ward, and this stake is like my literal home. However, I know that the Lord knows what is best, and He needs me in Sulacap. I don't know very much about Madureira, but it is more in the interior of Rio. It is still the literal city of Rio, but more in the hot valleys. Madureira holds one of the hottest areas in Rio, and in all of Brasil. Luckily, I won't be smack dab in that valley, but I will be close. Thank heavens the hottest part of the year already passed. Anyways, I will spend the day packing up my bags once again and go to the Rodoviaria early tomorrow morning. I am thinking it will be my last area on the mission.

With the transfer ending and being transferred, I have been reflecting on my time here in Meier. It is truly my favorite area in my whole mission. Since I arrived there, I have had wonderful companions and for that, the ward as well has been wonderful. The members here have been so excited to help us out in the work. I got to know this ward very fast. I think that I have almost the whole ward memorized by name. Even to the youth, I have made a good friendship with them all. I will miss this ward a lot. In this ward, I have a "twin" sister and an uncle (There is a member here who looks like Uncle Paul!). When I see him, I call him Uncle. :) I really have loved my time here, and I hope that I can create this kind of connection with the ward there in Sulacap as well. I was privileged with an extra special last Sunday here in Meier. Reinaldo, who recently was baptized, blessed the Sacrament for the first time. Also, Alex, who is a recent convert, passed the Sacrament to me. I began to remember the first moment that I met these great people. They didn't even know that this church existed. With time and some visits, they got to know the true Church of Jesus Christ, and now are serving the Sacrament, and with callings in the church. I was so happy. It is a happiness that you can't find at home, hanging out with your friends. Only through the work of the Lord, we find this type of happiness.
Today, I will be saying goodbye to maybe people, and probably my heart will be broken... again! This always happens when I'm transferred... But, I need to continue on with this work. I am trying to work harder than ever. I am noticing a fatigue that I never had at the beginning of the mission, and at times, it is hard to fight through it. However, I will succeed. I am sorry that this letter is quite short as well, but I love and miss you all. I hope that all is well at home, and that peace and health can be with you all. I have a few interesting days here ahead of me. :) I really know that this is the work of the Lord. I know that this church is true. I have no doubts of this truth.
Have a wonderful week!!!
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hold Up Your Light That It May Shine Unto The World (3 Nephi 18:24)

Olá Família!

When I entered my email today and saw 18 new messages, I had two thoughts: One, everyone loves me; or Two, Mom signed me up at USU. It was the second. :) I won't lie, things are changing, and it is a little stressful to think about going home. After so much time of preaching the gospel, it becomes your way of life. Now that my life here in a few months will be different than my life right now, it is a bit saddening. However, it will be good. I hope that I was able to help you guys with some questions, and thank you for the help.

Basically all my time on the computer went to studying these emails, so I don't have much time to write. This email will be a bit short. This was one more fast week, but it was definitely a hard week. Lately, we have been having some difficulties finding new investigators and investigators that are progressing. It was a hard and hot week, walking in the sun, and being rejected quite a bit. In the midst of this, I was battling fatigue and five canker sores in my mouth. It was a little hard to stay excited, and at times, I felt like the time would never pass. However, the end of the week brought some relief. These last couple of days, we were blessed with some new investigators, and a new family! Douglas and Diara were a street contact that accepted us very well. We marked a day to visit them, and never found them at home. We passed a couple times and never found them. Saturday, as we visited another family, they passed us on the street, and stopped to talk to us. Douglas said "hey, do you remember me?? Come to my house when you finish with this appointment!" We entered our appointment, and as we left about 30 minutes later, we FORGOT about Douglas and Diara. We remembered as we arrived at home... However, we passed their home yesterday and they were home! We taught them the Restoration, and Douglas told us how his life has been a bit difficult (he was in prision for a while), and now he is trying to improve his quality of life. They live in the favela, but they are MARRIED!!! It is a miracle. :) They accepted our baptismal invitation, and now we are in the process of bringing them to church. My canker sores are finally leaving and after a hard week, we are ready to start this week off right. We made some mistakes this last week, but for this, we can repent and do better. :) 

I love this Gospel. Every time I teach the Restoration, I feel the truthfulness of this Gospel in the midst of such spiritual confusion in these last days. We are bringing the light to the world, the light of salvation. How grateful I am for this privilege to bring this message to the Cariocan people. I love you all so much. Keep strong in what you know is right, and never forget the privilege we have to be a part of the Church of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Will Shew Wonders In The Heavens (Joel 2:30-31)

My family and friends,

Last week, two of my letters were posted on my blog.

On this nice cold rainy day, I am writing to you guys. How is everyone? I have glad that the trip went well and that you guys returned home in safety. How is the family there in Arizona? I really liked the photos as well. Lauralee looks so much older now. What happened to the little "eighth grader"? ;) hahaha just kidding. Here, everything is all wet and cold, but it only started yesterday. This whole week was pretty hot. Actually, the "hot" now is much cooler than before. Instead of 100+ degrees, we are getting 90+ degrees. Now, it is down in the 70s or 80s I think. I hope it stays like this. The weather looks like it won't clear up until the end of the week, so I won't be able to see that Blood Moon Eclipse. We are still planning on waking up to see it! Lets see what happens. 

Wow, this week flew by. I am seeing these weeks fly by like nothing! Everyone likes to kid with me now that I have passed the 1 year and 7 month point. I try to tell everyone that I am still not ready to go home, and they think I am lying. It's great, huh? Anyway, things are going really well. I have to ask you guys a question.... Does the news there in the USA talk about Rio de Janeiro on a frequent basis? I am curious to know with all the crazy things that happen here. If the answer is no, don't bother on asking 'Why?" because you will just have to wait until after the mission to hear all the crazy stories. :) 

So, to give you guys a follow-up on the progress here in Meier, yesterday, Reinaldo and Alex received the Aaronic Priesthood. What a great moment it was to see these two, and even Aline (wife of Reinaldo) asking about the Priesthood, authority, and all the subjects that pertain to this. It is amazing to see these recent-converts so strong in the church. Reinaldo and Aline, and Alex haven't missed a single Sunday, and even watched General Conference. If you guys remember Celso, from Andaraí, he was there in the Stake Center to watch all the sessions, even to the Priesthood Session. These people have such a strong testimony of the Gospel. Lucas, another recent-convert from my time in Andaraí, who is preparing to serve a mission, is leaving with the Sisters to teach other investigators, AND is helping his parents get married, so that they as well can be baptized. It is for this reason that this work will continue to grow forever. You plant one seed, and many others have the opportunity to get to know the Gospel through that seed. I had a special experience this last Saturday as we began visiting our appointments. Nothing was working out. Everyone wasn't home, or they were rejecting our visits. After four hours of walking with little success, I was a bit bummed, annoyed, and sunburned. We tried one last appointment... and it didn't work out. In that moment, I remembered that we were close to Reinaldo and Aline. We decided to visit them. As we arrived, they were about to start a Family Home Evening with a neighbor of theirs. They invited us in and they were about to show some youtube videos of the church to this neighbor. I forgot her name, but this neighbor was from another religion, and one that doesn't like "the Mormons". As Reinaldo and Aline began telling her about the true facts of the church, she began to open up and ask more questions. My companion and I hardly said a word the whole time! Reinaldo and Aline were teaching her, not us. Aline said a prayer in the beginning that almost blew me away. It has been two weeks since we were able to find her at home, but based on the prayer that she said and the Spirit that touched my heart, I knew that she is truly progressing. At the end, this neighbor left with a new vision of the church. I am grateful that the Lord led us to their home (we hadn't planned to visit them that day) at that moment to build our own testimonies along with theirs and of this neighbor. Reinaldo and Aline are sharing the gospel with everyone! They arrived at church Sunday morning, and told us that they were "evangelizing" until 4 am! They are two very special people, and a very special family. 

Well, that is some of the cool things going on in the Cidade Maravilhosa. I am loving each and every minute that passes. My time has ended so I need to run. Mom, start looking into the school stuff! Sadly, that time is getting nearer. I have a strong testimony of this work and of the Church. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I love and miss you all. I hope you all have an amazing week. Give a solid "HEY!" to everyone in the ward. :)

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, April 7, 2014

Be Ye Doers Of The Word, And Not Hearers Only (James 1:22)

Caro Família Querida,

Two letters have been posted today on my blog, one from last week (3-31-14), and one from today (4-7-14), so make sure you read them both!

Wow, what a wild week! It sure passed by really fast as well. I hope all is well at home. Was this last weekend Easter? I am so lost on the US Holidays. It will be super weird to return to the USA with all the cultures there. I can truly say that I have grown to love the Brasilian people very much. Even more than that, the Cariocan people (Those of Rio de Janeiro). Things are very different here, but I have noticed that as I speak, I think more that here is my home, and that now the USA is the strange place with strange traditions! Ha! Sorry about that family. I feel that I will return home and the first few purchases I will make will be rice and beans. I have come to love every aspect of my mission and even to my areas. I truly feel that I had to be in the areas that I passed, and that it would not work out any other way. I can relate to the members, and get along with them. I really feel that I have a family here. Everyone treats you so well. Did I already tell you guys that I have a twin here in Meier? The entire stake asks me if we are siblings. I believe that it is on facebook, but if not, I will snap a photo to show you guys. It is very strange! But this stake has truly helped me so much. I have now been serving here for a year. Many would be tired of the same zone or area for such a long time, but for me, I am willing to stay here until the very last minute. 

So how was General Conference this weekend? Did you guys get a chance to watch it all? Boy, was it amazing. I watched it in English. I understand everything in Portuguese, but I like to here the actual voices of the speakers, and the emotions they use. This is something that the translators can't mimic. I don't know if you guys noticed, but my mission president, Geraldo Lima, was called an Area Seventy. If you want, look back in the Second Session: Saturday Afternoon. We went wild! I also really liked that many of the messages are being focused to the youth. This is very important, for we are in the last days. We have no doubt about this! The signs are happening and we know the Second Coming is near. We need to be prepared, and the youth need the most preparation. The Lord was really wanting the youth to know of the preparation they are needing. Many talks were centered on the dangers of the world, addictions, spending time and money in useless things, being blinded of our eternal potential. It is so very important that the youth know these things (Yes, Lauralee! Listen up!). The first session of conference was chocked-full of these youth-centered messages. If you didn't have the chance to watch... WATCH! As Neil L. Anderson said in the Saturday Morning session, the youth of today are the last preparations for the return of the Lord. I really liked what President Monson said at the very beginning of conference. He said that we need to HEAR the messages that will be presented and LEARN from these things. To learn, we need to be taking notes and see what things we need to change in our lives. Learn requires ACTION on our part. Without action, we learned nothing. As James in the New Testement said, we need to be "Doers" of the word. I was so happy to spend these last two days in Andaraí as a stake. So many faces that I now recognize, and others that I am still getting to know. Many people came to welcome me back to the stake, and even to the point that the youth wanted to take some photos with us. I am so grateful for the time I have had in this stake. I am grateful for the friendships that I have made. I know that the 28th of August will not be the last day I walk in Rio de Janeiro. :) 

This week, my companion and I had a very good experience of "change". We started the week having a Counsel with President Lima and the other Zone Leaders to discuss and learn what we could do to have a wonderful month. Many good teachings were passed to us, and we then passed these teachings to our zone the next day in our Zone Training. It was great to see the goals that our zone was setting to change our performance. I am very pleased with this zone. Never have I seen missionaries as dedicated as these. The Sisters work so hard (much more than the Elders!), and for this, my companion and I had a very high goal to reach. One of our most important goals that reflects our dedication to the work is our street contacts. We have a goal to stop at least 210 people and talk about the church and invite them to hear our messages. This goal is 15 people per day, per missionary. We have been having some hard times reaching this goal, and it has been some time since we have reached 210. However, Saturday arrived, and we only had around 80. We needed to be better examples for our zone, and for this, we chose to meet our goal this week. It took so much effort, especially because of General Conference. However, Saturday and Sunday, we were able to reach our goal, and we ended the week with 212 contacts. The feelings of success on our part were marvelous, and beyond this, we found some amazing families that are ready to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness. Now, I can say that we are being examples for our zone, and now the work repeats. We are now starting a new week, and it is our responsibility to do it again! :) I hope that I can be a better example to this zone so that the missionaries can meet their own potential. 

I love this work. I can't say anything more. I love my mission. I love the people and I love Brasil. I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and for the privilege to serve and represent Him in these last days. As Jacob teaches in the Book of Mormon, we are working in the vineyard of the Lord for the last time. I hope that I can do my part to the fullest to continue this great work in these great last days. I love General Conference. I love President Thomas S. Monson, and I know he is the authorized prophet of God here on earth. I invite you all to study more fully these talks, as well as Preach My Gospel like M. Russell Ballard spoke. My family doesn't have any excuses, for I left a Preach My Gospel in my room. :) I love and I miss you all. Stay strong and stay happy. :)

Elder Steven Bennett

Helaman 5:18‏

Hello hello!

Here in the beautiful Cidade Maravilhosa, the weather has finally started to cool down. We caught a bunch of rain at the beginning of this week, and I even had to use a blanket to sleep a few of the nights. Now, the rain has passed, and the temperature hasn't risen as much like before. I believe that the worst has already passed. So, as you guys warm up, we are cooling down now. :) How is everyone doing? I am not trunky... and definitely not counting down, but seeing that I am the oldest missionary living in our home (there are three others living with me... all Brasilians!), the others like to give me a hard time that I have less than five months until I get home. As I entered my email this morning, my buddy Colton had sent a photo of all the guys who have returned home up until now. More than half are home now! I did not believe my eyes! It is crazy how time is flying. Dustin sent me an email this week talking about how he is down to less than a transfer (six weeks). That blew my mind! He will be home before we know it. I can't even believe how two years has passed so quickly. 

This has been a great week, and not only for me, but for all the missionaries in our zone. Each and every day, I thank my Heavenly Father for putting me in this certain part of Rio de Janeiro. Many missionaries would say that it is a hard area, that no one wants to hear our message, and many other things, but looking past the difficulties, This stake has the highest retention of recent converts and is ready to do some splitting and construction of more chapels. I can also relate to many of the members here. I haven't always had this on the mission. I look back to February of 2013, when I very first arrived in Andaraí. Yes, it was EXTREMELY hard in the beginning. However, the progess that Andaraí has made since that point is marvelous, and I am grateful for the opportunity I had to serve in the area, and now to still be here helping all the missionaries in this area. When I was in Andaraí, the normal attendance in a Sacrament Meeting was 140. Lately, the normal attendance is 180-200. Yesterday, the Sisters, together with the ward did an activity, and the attendance bumped up to 366. It was UNBELIEVABLE. The ward basically doubled this last Sunday. 

Saturday, Alex was baptized, and boy was it a special moment. :) We continued to pass the whole week, and he was prepared to be baptized. His father, who has been passing many health problems and was bed-ridden for weeks, miraculously was able to walk and see his son be baptized. The Lord truly helped him be there. Alex bore a strong testimony at the end of the service, and I could truly feel the truthfulness of the church through his simple words. How I am so grateful to be here on the mission. Nothing compares to these experiences.

Because of the time, I must go. However, I love you all sooooooooo much! I hope all is well, and that the vacation went well. Send me photos of it all! I will be expecting these photos. I have no doubt of the truthfulness of this church, and I will make good use of this little time I have left. :)
Com muito amor e saudades,
Elder Steven Bennett 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Changes. :)

Olá minha querida família e amigos,

Hello!!! How are you guys? One more week has passed. Wow. Today is the coldest day we've had this whole year. A cold front arrived yesterday, and it has dropped to like 70 degrees... I think. So cold. I slept so good last night! It is pretty hard to sleep well in the heat. Wow, each and every week that passes, I feel that time is speeding up... and I can honestly tell you guys that I am not wanting that to happen. I have come to the point that I love everything about my mission. I love Brasil, the people, the work, the culture, the food, the traditions, the language... EVERYTHING! I love the members who live here. Some of the strongest members that I have met in my life live here, particularly here in Meier. I have never felt so good as I have here in this ward. I hope that my time is prolonged in this area and this ward. The members love the missionaries, and the missionaries love the members. There are so many strong members that help in the work. I thank my Heavenly Father for the opportunity to be here in this ward, and to get to know these members with such faith and love for our Savior Jesus Christ. 

So, as you all know, last week was a transfer, and I received word that I would continue here in Meier, Zone Andaraí. I was so happy for this. My new companion is from São Paulo. His name is Elder Medeiros. Everyone was so surprised to hear that he only has 9 months on the mission. Meier is a ward known for the amount of missionaries that end their mission here. He is the youngest missionary that has arrived in this area for quite some time. He is a great companion and we get along really great. He likes music, and has played piano as long as I have. We like many of the same things, and it is really easy to work and stay excited with him around. We are doing great, and I have some good feelings about this transfer. I hope that I can stay at least until June with him. He came from one of the most distant places in our mission, even to the point that he was closer to São Paulo than Rio de Janeiro. The trip was long and tiring, and as he arrived here, we were given a great task from the Area Seventy. All of the wards were given a list of twenty addresses of members that are less-active or that disappeared off the map in the last ten or fifteen years. The Area Seventy wanted this list contacted by Saturday, but our Bishop, being extremely efficient, wanted us to contact everyone by Wednesday. Receiving the list on Tuesday, we set out to visit everyone. We began to notice that many of the addresses were up in the favelas and communities.... very very high up. As we tried to reach some of the addresses, I began to wonder how the missionaries ever were able to baptize someone so high up on the mountain and so far away from the church. We were very, very far from the church. We were able to see all of Rio de Janeiro, for we were truly at the peak of the mountains (almost). Everything turned out well and we were able to contact everyone. Many of these people had no interest to return to church, but we were able to find some others that were humbled and ready to hear our message a second time. 

Lately, we have been teaching a man named Alex. He is 34 years old and came to church to get to see what it was like. He has been prepared to receive the Gospel as well. Immediately, he was hugged by the members and made many good friends. He expressed to us how it was so great to have such an environment to learn and live the gospel. He accepted our messages, and we began visiting him and his father. This last Wednesday, he accepted a baptismal date for this coming Saturday, and since then, we have been bringing him to lots of Family Nights, and bringing members to his home to teach with us. It was been amazing. Alex came to church yesterday and a member took him by the arm, inviting everyone to his baptism this Saturday. It will be around 11:00 our time. Pray that everything goes well! 

Because of the time, I must end. I love my mission. I wouldn't trade this knowledge and these blessings for anything. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I have no doubt about this. I know that the Book of Mormon helps us draw closer to Heavenly Father, and through prayer, we can know of his truthfulness. I know that prayer is communication with our Heavenly Father. I hope that you all know these things with certainty in your hearts. If you don't, do what is necessary to receive this testimony. I love you all and miss you tons. Have a wonderful vacation, and send me photos of everything!
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, March 17, 2014

Felicidade :)

My wonderful Family and friends,
How wonderful it is to be here on the mission, and not only to be on the mission, but to be here in Rio de Janeiro. I know that each and every missionary has a specific place where they need to be. Each and every missionary was preordained to go to this place, at a certain moment in time, to help certain people in the moment that they are needing help. This isn't just some fancy story or fable that someone made up. It is the plan of our Heavenly Father-- a complete and perfect plan. I have no doubt in my mind of the infinite power that our Heavenly Father has and He truly does use this power "to bring about immortality and eternal life to man". He uses His sons and daughters here on Earth to do His work, and I am so grateful for the chance to be one of His servants twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There is nothing that would bring such happiness to me at this point in my life than this.
What a week I have had. Never have I had so many things to do or to think about at one time! As I have been telling you guys for the past forever, Reinaldo and Aline finally arrived at the week of their wedding and baptismal service. We passed by each day, visiting them, and making sure that all was well and that nothing would happen to interfere with the 15th of March. Each day, we did a Family night, or brought members with us to get to know the Family and strengthen them through their testimonies. We even brought President Lima with us last Wednesday. It was quite a funny experience. We hadn't set a certain time to arrive, and when we arrived with President, Reinaldo was sleeping. His mother, who lives close, entered and woke him up. When he came out to say hi, he grabbed a massive paintball gun that was left on the sofa. He was messing around, telling us that he would shoot us, and President walked in. Until this point, he hadn't seen or heard President Lima with us, so when he walked in, you can imagine the shock and embarassment. It was hilarious! He hid the gun and sat down all nice and good-mannered. :) After our visit with President, Reinaldo asked us if we would be bringing over an Apostle or President Monson in the next visit. Reinaldo really likes President! On Friday, we headed over there with our District Leader and they were interviewed. They passed, and all was ready to go for the wedding and baptismal service. Friday night, a member wanted to take us out to a BBQ because my companion is ending his mission soon. With my luck, I caught some kind of stomach bug and you can imagine how the rest of the night went. As Saturday arrived, we were up and running to get everything ready for the wedding... calling everyone, confirming the food, cake, decorations, cleaning and organizing the chapel, cleaning and filling the baptismal font, etc. The whole day, my stomach was killing, even to the point that I couldn't walk normal. It was hard, but during lunch, a member gave me some medicine, which helped a little. As 5 PM got closer, I got more and more anxious, still feeling very sick. Luckily, the members were helping us out a ton, and this took some of the weight off my shoulders. When 5 PM arrived, the planned hour of the wedding, nobody had arrived! The first visitors arrived around 5:15 PM (Mom probably loves this part), and even at 6 PM, we were waiting for many of the visitors and Reinaldo and Aline. However, many people were arriving... many more than we expected. We had around 20-25 members present, and 75-80 visitors! I couldn't believe my eyes. It was so packed! We finally started the wedding around 7 PM. We had invited President and Sister Lima as well, and they were present to watch the wedding. It was great, and everything worked out very well. It was a very special night. :) After the ceremony, I was running around serving drinks and snacks to everyone. In the midst of all this, my stomach had stopped hurting, but a big headache had started. Elder Freitas, my old companion who helped teach Reinaldo and Aline was also present. I was very happy to see him. He was probably my favorite companion up until now. After many photos and food, we brought everyone to the chapel to start the baptismal service. President Lima left some words for the couple, as well as the people visiting. A children's choir sang "I like to look for rainbows", which brought tears to everyone's eyes. Then, Reinaldo and Aline were baptized. :) The moment that I was dreaming of since the first day we met them. I nearly started crying. My companion baptized Aline, and Elder Freitas baptized Reinaldo. It was decided like that because my companion is leaving for Argentina tomorrow, Elder Freitas isn't serving here anymore, and I will be here to continue the work with them. :) For this, I was calm and happy with everything. All of the activities ended around 9 PM, the visitors left, members helped us clean up, and by 9:45 PM, we were at home, ready to hit the hay.
The Lord hasn't stopped in doing miracles here on Earth. I am a special witness that these miracles have existed since the beginning of time, exist today, and will Always exist until the end of time. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this great work of salvation to all of the Lord's children. The time has arrived to start the work with other families, and we are already in the process of starting the process of marrying one more Family. They are a bit more reluctant, but with time, they will come to know that it is the Lord's will. Their names are Franco and Eva. :) Also, this transfer has come to an end. My companion is already packed and ready to go back to Argentina. I am glad that he was able to experience such a wonderful wedding and baptism in the last days of his mission. I am receiving another companion tomorrow. His name is Elder Merdeiro, from São Paulo. Let the work continue here in the Zone Andaraí. My zone has also become the largest zone in the mission, and also having the most Sisters (eight). Here in a little, there will only be Sisters in Rio! hahah. :)
I love you all so much. I hope that this week goes well, and that everyone is safe and healthy. I am still waiting for an email or letter from Lorks... Tell her to write me! hahah. :) Have a wonderful week! 
Elder Steven Bennett