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