Monday, June 30, 2014

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50:24)‏

Querida Família,

What a week it has been. Definitely a week of learning and of many feelings. You will notice that I am writing you guys a bit late, and that is because we had our Mission Counsel this morning. This last Friday, Presidente and Sister Lima left Rio de Janeiro, and Presidente and Sister Cabral arrived ready to lead this mission. They were so anxious to follow the prophetic counsels that they received through their training in Salt Lake City, that they called the Counsel to be today and not on any later date. Many wondered why such a meeting would be put on P-day, but we were very blessed by the sweet Spirit that was present in the meeting. I testify to you that each and every Mission President is called of God to lead that part of the world. He knows what the missionaries are needing, and what the mission needs. I have arrived in each of these meetings receiving all of the answers that I was needing for my difficulties in my companionship, area, and/or zone. How wonderful it is to leave these meetings with a new sense of excitement to lead forth the work of the Lord. 

This week leading up to today brought forth many difficulties for me. I believe that there are very few emails that I have sent to you guys talking only about the difficulties that I was passing, and feelings of discouragement. Up until this morning, I truly thought that I would be sending you guys an email like that. However, how I praise the Lord for His love for me. He knows what we need when we need it. He is a God of miracles. I certainly did pass many difficulties this week. We are not having many investigators progressing and many aren't willing to come to church. We have been trying to be diligent, but at time it gets very difficult. My companion and I have been a bit stressed lately. I do not know why, but I always knew that the Lord would test me at the end of my mission to really see if I would be faithful and true to the end. I have had various trials that have tested this, and even now are testing me. I will stay strong. I have a testimony of prayer. This testimony was strengthened even more hearing about the miracle with my dad this week. The Lord performed a miracle and it was an answer to my prayers. Sunday afternoon, the Lord answered my prayers as well. When I felt that I couldn't hold on any longer in a certain trial that has been facing me and my companion, I kneeled in the bathroom, and I prayed. I know that the person who kneeled and the person who rose were two different people. The Lord doesn't always answer your prayers immediately, but my will was lined up with the will of the Lord, and my answer was immediate. I thank the Lord for the love He has for me. 

The Counsel today was very special. It was also completely focused on me. President Cabral began speaking on various subjects, but one was a quick study in D&C 50. I invite you all to study it a little bit more throughout this week. We went verse by verse up until about verse 27. President related these passages to us, the missionaries here in Rio de Janeiro. He focused quite a bit on verse 24, which is a very special verse to me. It is the passage that I put on my mission plaque. After reading, he asked us an interesting question: "Do you want to be part of this group?" "How great is your desire to be a part of this group of people, fully engaged in these attributes?" 
President continued his training speaking many wonderful things. My eyes were opened and my mind soared as many ideas began to connect in my head. I finally understand with such a clarity the things that the Lord wants us to do in His vineyard. Richard G. Scott, recently, was talking on the subject of Rio de Janeiro, and he said some very interesting words: "The greatest leaders of the church will be from Rio de Janeiro. It was for this very reason that Satan is working so hard to blind and bind the people in iniquity". The greatest leaders of the church are in this part of the world. My job is to find these fantastic leaders and bring them to know of their potential. My responsibility is great, as with each and every missionary in the world. We don't baptize just to baptize. This was made very clear today. We baptize to bring people to the TEMPLE. We need to begin the journey with the final result in our minds. This is the vision of President and Sister Cabral for the next three years. I am grateful that I have 8 weeks to serve under his command and continue this work in front.

I must be running, for my time has ended. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. This is His Gospel, and His will for the whole world: Bring His children to the true knowledge of the Gospel and to make covenants with Him in His Holy temple. I know this to be true. I will work my best until my very last day, and I know the Lord will continue to bless me and my family greatly, as He already has, for now and all eternity. I love you all so much. Have a wonderful week.

Elder Steven Bennett 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Moroni 7:42-48‏

Minha querida família,

Wow, so it looks like two more buddies have returned home. It is very strange seeing all of my buddies at home once again. At one time, we were all together, and then separated around the world. Now, little by little, they are returning home and being reunited again. It will be a very happy moment to see them all again and to know that they successfully completed the work that the Lord had for them all around the world. 

So how is everything going at home? Is everyone doing well? Is it nice and toasty there in Utah? I am actually kind of scared to return home to the cold winter that awaits me. Here, the weather changes very quickly. One day it is nice and pleasant and the next day is windy and rainy. This brings down the cold in many people. I find myself sleeping and studying with a sweater and coat. :) That seems a bit outrageous, but as you can see, I have really become accustomed to this Brasilian weather. 
To update you guys with the World Cup, it is better to say that the small email my mom sent me about the soccer games is more of an update than I can give you! There isn't too much I can tell you guys about the Cup, except that many people choose to watch the game than hear our message. This is just another difficulty that we will have to overcome. :) Today, there is another Brasil game, so here in a little bit, we are all having to go back home and stick inside the house for the rest of the day. We worked a little bit this morning so that the time we lose tonight won't affect us too much. We were able to teach some great people on the streets and find more of the Lord's elect waiting for us. 

This has been quite a week for me. I have told you this many times before, but I will say it again. I do not like saying "good-byes". I do not like it one bit! When you say good-bye to someone very close to you, it aches a lot. This is the last week of our beloved President and Sister Lima. They have arrived at the end of the mission, and on the 27th they will be leaving Rio de Janeiro, and Presidente Lima will start his duties as an Area Seventy. Last Thursday was our last Conference with President and Sister Lima. I played the prelude music in preparation for the Conference, and as tradition and being my last Conference, I bore my testimony in the conference. It is such a strange moment. I remember every conference up until now. There are always the testimonies of the newbies, and the testimonies of those that will leave before the next conference. I never had the chance to bear my newbie testimony because my zone was 4 hours from the Conference and we had arrived late. From then until the moment I was up there, it is as if a dream has passed. So many memories. It was rather difficult to bear a simple testimony of the many things I have learned on the mission. I had so much that I wanted to say. However, I summarized my words and bore testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ and His perfect Gospel. The Conference was such a wonderful experience. I have never felt the Holy Ghost as strong as it was there than any other moment in my life. How great it was to hear the inspired messages that were prepared for us. As President Lima left his final words and testimony, everyone was trying to hold back the tears. After we sang the last hymn, there was a moment in which we could say goodbye to President and Sister Lima. After this, everyone was crying. As my turn arrived, I went up and hugged President Lima, holding back the tears. He looked at me and said "So you stayed with me until the end.". I replied "Yes, President, until the very end.". His words were once again answers to some of my prayers. When everyone had their chance to say good-bye, we stood and sang "Called to Serve" (President didn't know that we would). To tell the truth, the singing was horrible because everyone was crying while singing. It was the first time on my mission that I saw President Lima cry. The Holy Ghost was so very present in that chapel that night. I will never forget it. As we ended, I ran to be the first one to be interviewed by President to renew my Temple Recommend. I had one last chance to talk to him, and at the end, pray with him, and hug him one last time. It was a very special moment. 

I have a very strong testimony of the love that Heavenly Father has for each and every one of us. I know that everything was done through the love that He has for us. If there is one thing that I have learned on the mission, it is this: that we are here to love the people of the Marvelous City, and bring them to know of the love that Heavenly Father has for them. I know that love is one thing that we all need to develop. A genuine love for all. As I hugged Presidente Lima for the last time, I could really feel the love that he had for me since the moment I arrived on the mission. One of the last things he said to us in the Conference is that we need to be praying each and every night for President and Sister Cabral, so that we can love them, and that they can love us. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that He loves us and wants the best for us. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week, and know that I am happier than ever serving the Lord in His vineyard. 

Elder Steven Bennett

PS. I received the package! Thank you!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Soccer Takes Over


Hello hello! Boy has Brasil changed over the last week. So, the World Cup has finally begun, and I can tell you that never in my life have I seen an entire country be so patriotic to their sports team! I told you guys a little bit the last week that people have been preparing, the streets are being painted, and green, yellow, and blue are flooding the city. Since the cup began, the decorations have gone wild. The Brasilian people really do live, eat, and breathe soccer. The greatest soccer players to date are all over Brasil's many stadiums. Many people have taken off work just to watch the games, and especially when Brasil plays, the city stops running. President has ordered all missionaries to be in their homes during the Brasil soccer games, for the streets become quite crazy. This last Thurday was the first Brasil game, and all missionaries were at home at 2 PM. We were given some tasks to complete, including a nice home cleanover, and our weekly planning session at night. We live next to a bar, and the neighbors on the other side were having a party, so you can imagine at exactly 5PM, the game began and the craziness was released! We don't watch the games, but for my companion and I, it was impossible to not hear the games. Televisions with box speakers connected echoed the commentators voices to all the surroundings. When a goal was made for the Brasilians, fireworks and screams reached the skies as far as the eyes can see (and ears can hear!). Never have I seen an entire country united with the same focus for that 90 minute game. Meanwhile, we did our best to do our tasks in the house and not be startled as the fireworks began. As the game ended (Brasil won), the aftergame festivities took over until much past our bedtime. So, until the World Cup is over, we will be having a few more difficulties in our work schedule than normal. :) 

Our greatest miracle that happened this week was the finding of the family of Celita and George. Celita was a street contact that accepted our visit. We visited her a few times, but never were able to enter the home and teach her. After about four attempts, we were able to enter and meet some of the family. It was at this moment that we found out that there are ELEVEN people living in this home! We were very excited to hear this. :) As we got to know them, many of the members had questions. Celita told us that recently she had had a dream, and in this dream, she was in a certain place, meeting people. She described these people as "different" and "happy". She then told us that we seemed "different". We returned this last week and were able to teach the whole family the Restoration. At the end, everyone accepted to go to church, and Celita told us that her dream was confirmed by our message and that she is wanting to meet the members and get to know the church. As we passed Saturday to confirm them going to church, we found out that this week they wouldn't be able to go, for Celita was called to do some work in her other church. However, they promised to come this next Sunday. 

This last Sunday, I was the pianist in a special musical number. The choir sang #163- Ide por Todo Mundo. I believe that the number system is different in the English hymn book. It is a challenging song, but I managed to play it with some practice. My desire to play the piano has been growing strong lately. I am finding myself passing whatever freetime I have on P-day on the piano. A member gave me around 60 pages of church music that includes popular church songs, prelude music, and hymns. I am so excited to start practicing them all!

I have such a strong testimony of this work. As my time gets shorter, I feel that each day, my desire to work and share the Gospel grows. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that we are doing His work and representing Him. I hope that all is going great in these hot summer months at home. I will end giving a big shoutout to my buddy Elder Seth Hilton who ended his mission this week. What a stud he is. I know that he was a successful missionary. Have a wonderful week, and I love and miss you all. :)

Elder Steven Bennett  

Monday, June 9, 2014

When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men (2 Nephi 33:1)‏

Hello hello!

So it looks like it finally warmed up there in Utah, eh? Mom said that everyone is going to the pool today and there will be a barbeque! That is nice. Here, it should be cold, but this week warmed up quite a bit... Bleh. I was liking the cold. It will be nice returning home just in time for a nice Logan winter. :) Oh, I will give a shout-out to little Kai who is turning one-year-old tomorrow! I cannot believe that one year has passed since he was born. I remember specifically the 10th of June of 2013. I will be thinking about him. :)

Well this week passed by very fast. I hope everything passed well in Utah. My week was filled with lots travelling, bus tickets, and meetings! However, it is all worth it just to hear the inspiring words of President and Sister Lima. They are truly the inspired and authorized servants of the Lord in this part of the world to lead forth the work of the Lord. Everything that they speak hits you with much power and enters your heart to the point that you cannot forget the words. We had a Counsel with all of the leaders of the mission. It was the last Counsel that President would give before his mission ends. He sure ended with power! He shared something very important that I will never forget. At times, we are so caught up in trying to improve and change the negative things that we don't even realize the good things that we are doing. There is always a part in the Counsel where we take account of our results for the month in our zone. All of us get up and talk about the difficulties and things that went wrong. We need to remember as well the good things that happened and the miracles that the Lord made through us [Habakuk (I am not sure how to spell it in English) Habakkuk 3:17-18].

I have been privileged to see many miracles happening here in Rio de Janeiro. I received word that Reinaldo and Aline, from Meier, are doing very well and have callings in the church now. Yesterday, Reinaldo received the Melquesedic (as well, I don't remember how to write in English) Melchizedek Priesthood. Also, Eva and Franco, a family that we were teaching, recently decided to get married in preparation for baptism. I really can't express the happiness that I feel to know that these people that I love so much are progressing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a strong testemunho testimony that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I hope that you guys can be strengthening your own testimony in this as well. Study the scriptures, for they tell us what we need to do to have happiness in our lives. 

I am sorry that this email is a little short, but my time has ended. I also want to give a shout-out to my wonderful Dad. Father's Day is coming up here, and with this, I remember of how great my Dad is. He has helped in all things, and he is my hero. I hope that I can be as great and successful as he is. I learned from him how I need to raise my own family in the Gospel and how I can have a happy family. I am grateful for all that he has done for me, and even what he does for me. For this, I love my Dad! Love you Dad! Have a wonderful Father's Day!

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Steven Bennett

Monday, June 2, 2014

Alma 37:6-7‏

Ola! Tudo bem?

Each and every week that I am here to write you guys, I feel that I have grown just a little bit more. I feel that my testimony is just a little bit stronger. I am very grateful for the changes that my mission has made in my life. There really is nothing better than a mission. The Lord's work is the one and only true work that leads us to Eternal Life in His presence. I sure will be sad at the end of my two years, but that doesn't mean that the work stops there. How are you all doing? It must be hot there in Utah now, eh? Here, we have hit the season where the weather is always bouncing around. One day it rains, and the next day it is hot and sunny. This week, I had to use a sweater for some of the days. At night, I am sleeping with a sweater as well. This crazy weather has brought many people down with lots of coughs, stuffy noses, and colds. My companion has been stuffed up since I arrived here one month ago! hahah. :) I am trying to take good care of myself, and until now, I only have a small sore throat. 

This was quite the week. At times, as I am getting ready in the morning, I think: "What kind of experiences are in for me today?" There really is no way to know the things that will happen during the day! Now, you may be thinking positively or negatively at this moment... but just remember, I am talking positively, and I also have divine protection with me if you're still worrying! ;) We had many experiences this week, but I will tell you about two specifically. 
This week, as my companion and I were preparing one morning, I noticed a strange bump on his back. I joked with my companion, and as he realized it, he began to explain that that must be the cause of some back pain he has been having. We called Sister Lima and the Mission Doctor. They sent us to find a doctor who could give us more information on the condition. So, early Wednesday morning, my companion and I, in nice warm sweaters, left in the wind and rain to find a doctor who could give Elder Amorim a consultation. We found one and we were 8th in line. As we waited, we noticed a lady who wasn't looking too well, but was talking with other people. Then, out of nowhere, this woman fainted and almost fell on the floor! Everyone panicked and grabbed her and they sent for a doctor. While the situation seemed horrible, my companion and I found it rather funny as the doctor arrived and began treating her. Her blood pressure dropped and she fainted, but was fine. To help her out, the doctor sent for a coffee. With this, we couldn't help but give a little chuckle. For three and a half hours we waited, and finally Elder Amorim was looked over. We found out that he has to have a small surgery here in the next month. It seems to be a small tumor, but nothing serious. Afterwards, we ate yakisoba and went in search of some other treatments he needed, and finally we were able to get to work around 4PM. The day continued to rain, and was a chilly day. It was this day that made us a little bit sick, but we are fine now. 

The last experience I will tell is one that I will always hold very close to my heart. Really, the Lord blessed me greatly in being able to be a part of such a special moment. About a week and a half ago, I received a call from the Sisters that work in my second area, Andaraí. They were very excited to tell me that Antonia, a lady I had been teaching, had accepted to be baptized, but only I was the one to baptize her! Antonia is someone very close to my heart. Her husband was baptized almost 10 years ago, but has been inactive for most of this time. She also has many members of the church in her distant family. I began teaching her with about five months here on the mission. I taught her all of the seven months that I was in Andaraí, and she never reached the point of wanting to be baptized. I was transferred, and four months later, I returned to Meier (the same stake). I had had a dream that I would baptize her. As I awoke that morning, I recounted this dream to the Sisters in Andaraí. They became very excited and told Antonia about this. Antonia as well became very excited and accepted to be baptized! I had the opportunity to interview her for baptism. For two hours, I was with her in the interview, and as we left, she still wasn't wanting to be baptized. That day was very disappointing to me. I was transferred, and now, about three months later, Antonia has asked me to baptize her. These last couple weeks, the Sisters have been teaching her, and Antonia had some dreams about the temple and the church. She finally saw this as an answer and accepted baptism with certainty. :) On Saturday, the 31st, I travelled to Andaraí once again for her baptism and I was able to baptize Antonia. It was a very special day. I also reunited with many friends from Andaraí and Meier that were at the chapel that night. Many members asked me to send my membership record to Andaraí because I will never leave. It was quite a night. 

I am very grateful for the special moments that I am having here in Rio de Janeiro. It almost seems like a dream that I am here as a representative of Jesus Christ. I know that this is His church, and that we are spreading His gospel to all the world. I know that the Lord still has many things in store for me in these last few months. I will be working as hard as ever, and as happy as ever, until the end. Have a wonderful week!

Muito amor e saudades, 
Elder Steven Bennett

PS. Lauralee already graduated from high school??