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