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