Monday, January 27, 2014

"Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, Neither Let It Be Afraid" John 14:27

Hello my family and friends,

As I logged into the computer this morning, I was informed of the news of Grandpa. I am saddened by the news, but I know he is in a much better place, and that he isn't suffering with any more health problems. I hope that all of you are comforted with the fact that death is not the end of our lives. I know that this is true-- and in this very moment, this has been made manifest to me even more strongly. I know that Grandpa is happy and living, looking to each and every one of us. His example makes me want to be better. He showed by his example the way we should live and endure to the end. I love Grandpa, and I know he is now on the other side and able to be with me as I work here in Rio, with all of our other relatives that have passed on. Saturday night, we had decided to move our mattresses to the roof of our house because the house was very hot. We slept there on the roof. It was that night that I spent a good time just looking up into the starlit sky and thinking. As I look back on the night, I was woken up in the middle of the night, and looking to the time scale, it would have been about the time that Grandpa passed-- I was woken up about that time. I looked around and then went back to sleep. It just could have been Grandpa passing by to say one last goodbye. I know that he is safe and happy now. My prayer is to all of you, that you can be comforted in this time. This makes me want to work even harder so that, just maybe, one more person, or family, doesn't have to pass a death in the family thinking that that person is lost forever. I know that Grandpa, along with all of our relatives, are separated from us for a moment, but will not be forever. The day will arrive and we will be with them again, all of us, as a happy family. 

This was quick a week, as me and my companion looked to the things we needed to change. We had the opportunity to have an interview with President Lima as well. It is such a great opportunity to have an interview with him, because we have the chance to see what we have been doing wrong, and what we will do to change those things. With the interview, we have the chance to repent and increase our vision here in the mission field. He helped me to see what I was doing wrong and what I will do to change these things. He shared some interesting information with us before he began the interviews with our zone. He told us that a normal adolescent in the church needs to be interviewed by Bishop at least 1 time each year. As a missionary, we need to be interviewed 4 times a year. Now why do you think we need to be interviewed so much? Does it mean that we are better than normal adolescents? No. Aren't we living the commandments 24 hours a day 7 days a week? The answer is simple. As a missionary, we live on a celestial standard of life. Each rule is a serious commandment for us. To have the Spirit to teach and convert others, we need to be pure and clean, being purified of any stain that could be with us. Since the interviews, the whole zone has been working much harder and getting in more results. The Atonement is truly a miracle in our lives. :) 

We have truly seen some miracles in our work, and because of time, I will explain very quickly. I talked about a very special family this last week, Renaldo and Aline. We visited them for the fourth time this last week, and Renaldo has already received a testimony of the church! He wants be baptized! He already is talking to his buddies about the church as well. He accepted to begin the process of marriage with Aline, and here in about a month or so, they will be baptized! This week, we were also able to teach the brother of a member, Marcio. He has been looking into the church and is beginning to receive this testimony of the church as well. He accepted to be baptized on the 8th of February. :) Lastly, the cousin of a member moved here to Rio, and she had been looking into the church. She, as well (YES!), is beginning to see the truthfulness of the church, and will be baptized after we clear up some of her doubts. 

My faith grows each and every day in our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and loves us all. If we keep strong in this path. He has a perfect plan that ends in complete happiness as we follow His commandments. I love this church. I love my mission. I am praying for each and every one of you. Stay strong, and I will too. Love you and miss you all. Have a wonderful week.

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, January 20, 2014

D&C 18:15‏

Hey there!

Wow! This week passed by sooooooo fast! I don't even know how that happens. One second, you are writing your family on P-day, the next second, you are there again on the next Monday. One thing that I have learned a lot recently is that one day passes like a week, and one week passes like a day. It really is true. When we are on the street working, the day passes normal, and sometimes slow, however looking back on the week.... wow. Really fast. 

As I look back on the week and the things that I have learned, I can see that to really be a successful missionary, it takes constant effort. It is not something that you can say and not do, or something that is in  your imagination. Miracles can happen to any missionary, and the difference is based on the diligence, faith, and humility of that missionary. Heavenly Father works in marvelous ways-- ways that we as normal human beings, cannot understand. He has a way of doing everything perfect and in order. Even to the way He uses us, as His instruments, His works are perfect. As we follow the mission rules-- as we are diligent, humble, and looking for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in our work, the Lord uses us as instruments in His hands. This is something that I learned through the simple task of making street contacts. We have a goal of 30 each day. If we reach this goal, we are promised many blessing by the Lord and Presidente Lima. The Lord works in many mysterious ways, and many times, we are young men, don't realize the importance of being rejected 20-25 times a day through these contacts. We saw a wonderful blessing through contacts this week. A couple weeks ago, we made some contacts, and with a certain man, he gave his address to us. The next week, we went to visit this man. However, we found out quickly that he had given a false address. We decided to knock some doors around this "address", and in doing this, we found a man named Renaldo. He looked like we had woken him up when he answered the door. We presented ourselves to him and he accepted a visit... with the exception that he wanted his wife there as well. So, we made an appointment to visit them that Saturday. As we got there, they received us very well, and even though they lived in the middle of a favela, they were living quite comfortable. Renaldo, and his wife, Aline, asked many questions, and as we answered them, and taught the Restoration, they understood very well. As we finished, Renaldo told us that this just may be what he is looking for. We invited them to be baptized, and they accepted, but first they need to get married legally. We continued to pass by during the week, but never found them at home. However, one day this week, as we left their home unsuccessful, we found him walking down the street! We marked this last Saturday and he said that they miraculously got work off and would go to church this Sunday (yesterday). The Spirit was strong in our visit yesterday. We answered more questions about the church and the Book of Mormon, and Renaldo is beginning to receive this marvelous answer that the Book of Mormon is true. Yesterday, this marvelous family was with us at church, and their little baby did not make a peep during the meetings! They loved the church, and the members instantly integrated this family, including Bishop personally presenting himself to them. The conversion process of this family is beginning, and I am sure that here in the next few months, they will be baptized and begin the process of sealing their family for all eternity.

There isn't a greater happiness on Earth than helping a family get to know the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for my mission. I love each and every second of it. I love the Book of Mormon and know without doubt of its truthfulness. Read from its pages each and every day! I pray for you all each and every day. Stay safe and do what is right! I love and miss you all! Have a wonderful week. :)
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, January 13, 2014

Alma 30:44

Hello all,
My wonderful family and friends. Oh, I love you guys so much. :) How is everyone doing? Healthy? Cold? Safe? Hahah I sure miss the cold weather. I am sad to hear the news on Grandpa and his health situation. I am fasting and praying for him tons, and I hope that he will be able to improve. I think about him often. He will get better. Everything is according to the will of the Lord. That is something that I have learned here on the mission. Many times, it is hard to understand the Works of the Lord in our lives. Many times we wonder why certain things happen in our lives, even to the very best of people. However, as the scriptures speak, our thoughts are not His thoughts, and He is above all things, and knows all things. I know that whatever happens will be the will of the Lord, according to the plan that He has for Grandpa.
This has been a pretty good week, and as always, i am learning a lot. I love to write in my journal all of the amazing things that happen, but lately, I haven't had ANY time to write! I don't want to forget anything! Well, for all the things I forget, I will have to wait until we have a perfect rememberance of all things. :) This email will be substantially shorter because of time constraints, but I would like to share with you guys some feelings that I have had lately, mainly yesterday night. As I am here on the mission, I am able to truly see the truthfulness of the church, and the importance that this has in my life. Throughout this week, I have been Reading in Alma, and earlier this week, I read through Alma 30... for all you scripture wizzes, Alma 30 talks about Corihor, the anti-Christ, and how Alma was able to stop him in his evil preachings. Corihor talks about how crazy it is to believe in Christ, and that He would come to the Earth to take upon Him our sins, so that one day we could be free from our sins. To these things, Alma asked a very powerful question... What proof, or testimony, do you have that these things are not true? I am here with you, and I am seeing that you only have your word. Nothing else shows that you are correct. However, on my part (Alma), I know that there is a God, and that there will come a Savior to the world. I don't only have my word, but I have the testimonies of all the prophets of old, the scriptures, and even to the planet we live on, the stars, and planets. Everything bears testimony that there exists a great Creator that lives and loves us... who is our Heavenly Father... who sent His son, Jesus Christ, to take upon Him our sins and errors. How can we deny these testimonies. Last night, I was reflecting on these teachings as I looked to the star-lit night with a half-full moon. It was amazing, and I instantly began to feel the greatest feelings that these things are true. I thought about the church, the prophet, the Book of Mormon, and everything that the church teaches. I began to be strengthen EVEN MORE in my testimony that this is the one true church on the Earth. Not just any other church that was created in the last hundred years, or that was started by a pastor, but truly the church of Jesus Christ, restored on the earth by a prophet of God. I know without doubt that these things are true.
I love you all very much, and I am sorry for the shortness of the email, but I hope that all of you Reading can feel the sincerity of my words. I know that the church is true. If you have any shade of doubt in your mind about these things, get on your knees and ask our Heavenly Father, and He will show these things unto you through your sincerity and Faith. I hope all is well at home and that everyone is surviving the harsh cold weather in Utah. :) I cannot wait until next winter, where I will be FREEZING. It is something that I have come to miss! Have a wonderful week, and give my best to all. :) 
Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, January 6, 2014

3 Nephi 27:1-2. :)

Hello meus queridos!

How is everyone doing on this nice, spicy morning? Wow, was this a hot week or what... It was SO hot! I hit a new heat record here on the mission. On Thursday, I survived walking in 45C weather... I think that is around 113F. Everything is just so hot. This whole week, we had to take hot showers (for the sun roasted even the water tanks), the house was hot, we walked in the sun, and when you lie down to sleep, your bed it hot. EVERYTHING. It is truly uncomfortable... haha. But it is okay, I survived, and I will continue to survive. Today, is a little cooler, and we have some clouds in the sky. It is truly a blessing for us here with the white shirts and ties. I am missing that nice cool weather and snow. Truly, I am! This coming winter will be quite glorious! On a side note, many people have been asking me in what part of Brazil I was born. People don't even think I am American! Even to the members of the church that know where Utah is, they tell me that I don't look like I am from Utah. It is quite strange, but I like it. I hope this also means that my Portuguese is pretty dang good! 

This has been a great week for me, even though it was so hot and that my skin has been a little burned (yes yes Mom, I am using the sunscreen..). It has been a week of goods and bads that in the end taught me a good lesson in obedience and diligence. As Zone Leaders, we have a few more responsibilities that sometimes take away a little of our proselyting and teaching time. This can be something very dangerous for a Zone Leader. Many times, I have seen ZLs become a little bit lazy with these responsibilities and take more time than needed to do these extra tasks. If you aren't careful, you can find your time dwindling away, and at the end of the week, you realize that your time was lost in the mix. This was a week where we began to see this happen between my companion and I, but fortunately, we realized it quickly and corrected what we needed to. I have a personal testimony that the Lord blesses us through our diligence and obedience to every single one of the rules. I saw, very clearly, the days when we were doing everything right, and the Lord blessed us with many opportunities to teach, and miracles in our work. Unfortunately, I also passed a couple days when we left a few of our obligations to the side, and the Lord "forgot" about us for a little. With that, I would like to say that He did not forget about us, but did not pour His blessings upon us as abundantly as before. These are lessons that go beyond the mission as well. When we are doing what we should, we are blessed. In our normal lives, this can be the smallest things, such as reading the scriptures, saying your prayers in the morning and night, going to church on Sunday, fasting once a month, paying your tithing, etc. Many things that really don't sacrifice much of us can bring us the greatest blessings. This week, I had the privilege of fasting Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. As I began this fast, I had in mind some of the words of my companion, Elder Freitas. We had been teaching a recently baptized family about fasting, and he had said something very interesting. When we go about our lives, we have with us our worldly body and our spiritual body. Each day, we do things to feed our worldly body, like food, drinks, exercises, etc. However, how do we feed our spiritual body? We read the scriptures, pray, go to church, etc. One of the most powerful ways to feed our spiritual body is to fast. And why is fasting such a powerful way to feed our spiritual bodies? When we sacrifice worldly things for our worldly bodies, they become weak and needy, but when this happens and this space is filled with spiritual food, our spiritual body increases substantially! We are open to receive divine inspiration and blessings in our own lives and for others. Many times, when we fast and stay focused on our fast, we don't even feel thirst or hunger. I had a wonderful experience with this yesterday... inspiration for me, for my area, and for others. It was a powerful answer to me that the Lord is with us and loves us. His power is manifest through our sacrifices and fasts. 

Before I end, I would like to share one more experience. As I have said already, I have already served in this Zone, and I have been having some good experiences that truly show me that the Lord places us in the right area for that very moment. This week, I had another experience like that. We received a call from the Sister in Tijuca, and they said that there is a recent-convert, Bruna, that was interviewed by me. She has a niece that has been going to church for a while now, and she is wanting to be baptized. With this, she asked that I interview her, for I had the opportunity to interview Bruna and her family for their baptisms. This brought me much joy, for if I weren't here in this very moment, none of that would have worked out like that. It was one more answer to me that we are truly where we  should be. I love my mission. I really do. I love you all so much, and miss you all tons. Keep up what is right, and always look for the blessings of the Lord in your lives. :) Have a wonderful week!

Elder Steven Bennett