I would like to thank all those who sent me a 'Happy Birthday' this last week. I am so grateful for having such great friends and family near me. I am bumped up to 21 years now. I really do feel old, but that is alright. I have very little time to write so please give me a couple weeks to get a reply email out to everyone. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you guys! I love you all so much. My birthday was a very special day. I was a bit sad to leave my last area, for I knew everyone there! I came to an area knowing no one, and passing a birthday with people you don't know is a bit sad. However, I was able to get to know many people in these first few weeks here, and my birthday was quite memorable. I will always remember those that made this day such a special one. A little bit later on in the letter, I will talk about what happened. :)
So this week was a really great one. Our President is really an inspired man. He gave us a challenge this week for each and every area to complete our weekly goal of 210 street contacts. It really isn't that hard of a goal, but lately, the mission has been having troubles doing these street contacts. Talking with people on the streets is one of the simplest ways we show our personal diligence to the Lord. In many aspects, we depend on others... for example, entering homes and teaching, teaching with members present in the lesson, receiving references, etc. However, street contacts only depend on us. It is up to us if we do them or not. This week was "the week that no one lacked 210 contacts". We kept up with our zone each and every day, motivating them to make this goal. We really saw many miracles that happened through this week. As yesterday ended, we were able to successfully complete the end of the week with the goal met in each area of our zone. :) Only 4/11 zones were able to complete this challenge.
The week passed by very fast, and soon Sunday arrived. :) Saturday night, around 8 PM, Bishop called me and asked me to do a 15 minute talk in Sacrament meeting... what a great birthday present right? I accepted gladly, and I chose to speak on the Atonement. I have a great love and a growing understanding of the Atonement. The last few weeks, I have been studying only the Atonement, and my testimony has grown so much. I have a great love for the Atonement, and the opportunity and potential I have for what Jesus Christ suffered. I did not write a talk-- but simply wrote down a few bullet points. I used five bullet points in my talk. I believe that a talk becomes a little more personal if you aren't reading a paper. Well, the talk went great! I also was the pianist in Sacrament Meeting, so I was running all over the place. I was sure kept busy! It sure was a great meeting. In the middle of Gospel Principles, I had another present.... Julio Cesar, a young man I was teaching, came to visit me. He lives in Meier, and came to see me. He didn't know that it was my birthday, but boy was it a special present. I hadn't had the opportunity to say good-bye to him, so it was a very special moment. After church, we were privileged to have a special Birthday BBQ. We are teaching a less-active family, and after passing a few hours in their home moving some things around, they invited us to a BBQ the next day. Beyond this, they bought an amazing cake! I will send you guys some photos of all this. A little bit later, another family invited us over to sing Happy Birthday to me and their little nephew. :) I was truly blessed with an amazing birthday. Ps. I still didn't receive the package, Mom. Maybe it is in the mission office.
To end my birthday, we also had quite an experience, but more on the spiritual side of things. We were called to help a less-active lady who was passing some very hard difficulties. I won't go into details about her difficulties, but suffice to say that she has an ex-husband who is doing some very bad things to her, as far as abuse (mental and physical). It was sad to hear her story and what has been going on in her life. Her ex-husband also is into some different spiritual traditions, and we were able to feel this as we entered her home at 8PM last night with a member. It was obvious that something was very wrong in the home. I was weighed down with a very heavy, bad feeling that lingered in the home. She told us that many other pastors and bishops of many churches had already passed to help her, and everyone said she was a lost cause. We had a very great lesson with her, and as we were led by the Spirit in our words, we were able to help her. Through the power of the Priesthood, we left her home with a completely different feeling, and even the lady expressed that she was feeling much better than she has in years. We gave her goals to help her improve her situation. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a worthy Priesthood holder, and in helping someone who was rendered "crazy" to all others that tried. She is much better now, and the member is staying up with her progress.
Well, that is about it. I must be running. We are here in the chapel having a BBQ with the zone. :) I am so very blessed with an amazing family and friends. I love my mission. I love this Gospel. I know that it is the way of true happiness. Have a wonderful week. I love and miss you all!
Elder Steven Bennett