Once more, I bid all a wonderful good morning, or how I am accustomed... Bom Dia! I am happy to announce that everything is FANTASTIC here in Méier, even to the weather! As you guys begin to warm up, I am finally cooling down here in the Cidade Maravilhosa. It is still hot, but the worst has definitely passed, and we are beginning to have rain more often. This usually would be a good thing, but lately, when it rains, IT POURS. I will be showing you guys many videos after the mission. :) After the rain falls, it gets really really humid, and many times you don't know if you're wet because of the rain, or your sweat. But, all is well and I am happier than ever. I have seen the Lord work miracles in the lives of so many people, and not just investigators, but the whole ward here in Meier. How I am so greatful to be here. My former companion, Elder Frietas, called me this week and told me how he was missing Meier. The ward here is strong, and the leadership and membros help in the missionary work. This is wonderful, for many wards aren't like that. However, the Lord has blessed me with more than a year in the Stake Andaraí. First, seven months in the Andaraí ward, and about 4 months here in Meier. I have gotten to know almost the entire stake. :) I pray that the Lord keeps me here until the end of my mission.
Well, things are beginning to speed up as we get closer to the big day of marriage and baptism for Reinaldo and Aline. This week, we got rid of their coffee and gave them "Cevada", which is translated "Barly." I'm not sure what kind of drink this is in the USA, but it is almost coffee, but different. It is kind of like that one drink Mom likes to make in the winter (Mom's drink is better. Don't tell anyone.). We had a family night with them, as well as another family that lives on the very same street. It is so very important that the new investigators get to know the members. As President Hinckley taught us some time ago, all recent converts need FRIENDS in the church, for they will help in the hard and difficult moments. They need a RESPONSIBILITY... something that helps them feel included and special. Lastly, they need to be NURTURED BY THE GOOD WORD (as it is translated from Portuguese). They need to have that continued spirit that they felt during the visits from the missionaries. This is done by continued visits from the missionaries, but more importantly, by the members and their family home teachers and visiting teachers. These three topics are essential in strengthening less actives as well. Saturday, we visited Reinaldo and Aline with the Bishop, and he explained how the process would be with the marriage and baptism. They are stronger than ever in this decision. Their marriage was announced in Sacrament Meeting yesterday... and they messed up, calling him Paulo, not Reinaldo (I thought about how Mom would react in the situation). But they corrected it. The expected turn-out is 70 people, including many non-members, and our Mission President with his family. We are so excited. :) Now, we are running in all directions making sure that everything is ready before Saturday!
This was a great week, and passed really fast. However, there are always a few moments that show you that Heavenly Father truly loves you, and that the Atonment of His Son is real. Me and my companion had a special experience in this aspect. As I have already told you guys, my companion is from Argentina. He is super cool, but we are also very, very different with different opinions. A certain night this last week, we had a difference in opinions that wasn't being resolved. This brought about many words and feelings that didn't have to happen, and us two being very arrogant people... you can imagine the situation. I pondered profundly the things that happened and were said, in repentance, and decided that to have a change in our companionship, I have to start with myself. The next day, my personal study was centered in the dangers of Arrogance and the blessings of Humility. What a marvelous hour of studying! The Spirit touched me so strong on my weaknesses, and what I am needing to change. In our Companionship Study, as a custom, we share the things that we learned. I explained my part and ended in asking forgiveness, and sharing goals that I have to change, hoping that it would touch his heart to change as well. The Spirit was with us strong... and it worked. :) In that moment, I understood and felt the process of true repentance. We cannot just leave our sins in the past and "forget!". We can't just change without confessing either. Heavenly Father established the pattern of repentance, and this process involves humility. You need to RECOGNIZE your error. You STOP and CONFESS this error to Heavenly Father, and promise to change. You make RESTITUTION for your error, including asking forgiveness. As you do these things sincerely, you will feel the Lord working in your life, and that He truly forgave you of your sin. This is the process, and there is only one process to be forgiven. All of us must take advantage of this amazing blessing in our lives in preparation for the eternities.
I love you all so so much. I miss you all as well. I hope all is going great. Lauralee needs to write me an email and tell me about Prom. She is BEAUTIFUL! She has been changing so much lately. I didn't even realize that she will turn 18 here in a little. How life passes. Please keep praying that everything goes well with Reinaldo and Aline, and you guys will receive lots of photos of them here this next week. :) Never in my life have I felt a love for someone, beyond my family, as much as I feel for this family. I am willing to do anything to help this family be married, baptized, and stay strong in the church. This relationship will not end when I return home, but for all my life. Not only this family, but for all the people I have been blessed in helping unite with the Church of our Savior Jesus Christ. I have a strong testimony of this church. If your testimony is weak, fall on your knees, repent of your sins, and ask our Heavenly Father if these things are true. Find answers to your problems. When you receive counsels from our Heavenly Father, act on these things. As you put your faith in action, you will feel the truthfulness of this Gospel. Have a wonderful week, and know that I am safe, working hard, and very very HAPPY. :)
Elder Steven Bennett
PS. This is the last week of the mission for my companion. He is so homesick. I promise that that won't happen with me. :) Let's see what happens!