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!!!!