Thursday, November 28, 2013

MTC Update-Week 3 Letter

Here is the letter that was waiting on me this morning, Thanksgiving Day. Ben has a request at the bottom of this letter. I hope you enjoy what he has shared this time. 

It is Thanksgiving at the CCM. Spanish for MTC--it is Centro de Capacitacion Misional.  At least for the 35 North Americans that are here, haha. 

This last Saturday my district got to go proselyting for the first time. It was horrifying. We were in a super rich part of Buenos Aires (This was rich even by American standards). The houses were beautiful, the dogs were beautiful, the cars were beautiful, and the people were not receptive. 

Every house in Argentina has a giant fence around their 40 sq. ft. yard. So for every house we would ring this intercom thing, wait 20 seconds for them to answer, say a few words, and wait for them to say in a muffled, staticy voice "No, no, no... Soy Católico." (That means that they are Catholic) Then you go on your way to the next mansion. 

The day wasn´t a complete loss. We talked to two people about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. One was simply curious and gave us his phone # and address to have other missionaries come back.

Another lady was far more receptive, she had just been kicked out of her home and was walking down the street crying. (in English, thankfully). She came up to us and asked if we could give her directions. I thought she was simply lost in Buenos Aries, but she meant direction in her life. We prayed with her and she eventually poured out her whole life story to us. Her main question was "Does God hear my prayers" we were able to talk with her for about 25 min about God´s love for us, his plan, and the empathetic nature of Jesus (how he understands everything we go through in life. She gave us a phone number and we gave her the address to and told her to order a Book of Mormon in her own language (some eastern European language), and also gave her a Spanish copy of the Book of Mormon. She was the only real discussion with a person face to face after 4 and a half hours of ringing intercoms. She was an answer to my and my companion´s prayers (she spoke english, she wanted to learn about the gospel, and I know she can realy benefit from having Christ in her life. So, if you have the chance, pray for this sister down in Argentina struggling with her family.
So I thought it might be nice to think of all the things I´m thankful for today.
I´m thankful for Christ´s atonement, His willingness to suffer every affliction and sin on my behalf.
I´m thankful for my family; how much they love me, support me, and that we can be an eternal family.
I´m thankful for my Mom; she taught me to be the person I am, she showed me love, and will always be my best friend.
I´m thankful for my Dad; He taught me to honor my priesthood, my callings, and my Mother.
I´m thankful for my Grandparents; They are what I want to be like when I'm a grandparent. I know they will always love me no matter what.
I´m thankful for my Gram; she practically raised me, and I hope my wife is half as sweet, loving and perfect as my Gram.
I´m thankful for my brothers and sister;Justin for his comedy, Lily for her pure kindness, and William for his cuteness.
I´m thankful for my friends over this last year; you gave me a place where I felt loved and included. I will never forget those nights; watching Firefly and Serenity (for the 7th time over), belting out Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and Les Mis (*aggressively humming all 9 parts of ´Do You Hear the People Sing´*), going to the Art Museum, taking me to my first Gen Con, teaching me to D&D (more or less) I think he means Dungeons & Dragons, blogging, band, drumline, getting icee´s when it´s 20° outside. So many great memories.
 I´m thankful for my extended family; getting to see them one last time this summer was such a blessing.
I´m thankful for some of my friends making the choice to have the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. Just no matter what you choose, your desire to test it out in your life has really impacted me.
I´m thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Uruguay and I hope to share the happy news of Christ´s Atonement
If you would like, send me what you´re thankful for. I would love to hear from you. Don´t forget to look for the hand of God in your life.  
You can email Ben at  
His P-Day is Thursday and his letter arrives by 5:30 am, so if you want him to read your email, send it by Wednesday night. After he leaves the MTC in a few weeks, his P-Day may change. I will keep you updated.
¡Nos Vemos! ¡Los Queremos Mucho!  I think this means "See you later! I love you lots!" but I do not speak Spanish, so it may not be exactly right.
Elder Taylor

Elder Ben Taylor standing by the sign for the Argentina MTC or CCM as he refers to it in his letters

Thursday, November 21, 2013

MTC Update-Week 2 Letter

Just got this letter from Ben this morning and we got some pictures as well. It was so exciting! My extra comments are in BLUE

Buen Dia

I got my email time changed today. It´s so fantastic to hear from everyone throughout the week. I am sorry to hear about the adoption though, the Hammonds are in my prayers. 
I´m trying to attach some pictures, its just very difficult and it takes a long time for each picture. We requested some pictures, but since it took so long to upload them, he did not have as much time to write--this letter is still full of a lot of information.

So... Elder Holland. (Ben mentioned in his email last week that Elder Holland was coming to the area for some conferences and was going to be at the MTC) It was such a privilege to hear from him. He spoke about the sacred nature of a missionary. Eventually I will send you a copy of the notes I took.

I´m sorry this response is so short, but there were many technical difficulties. Lets just say power in Argentina is great only 90% of the time.
So what is different about Argentina:

  • The food is fantastic!
  • People drive like Mario Cart
  • The temperature is almost perfect (as of now) They are at the end of spring and the beginning of summer, so not cold weather for Ben for a while
  • Everyone speaks Spanish except for my district
  • All the cars are round and tiny.
  • There is an invisible lane for motorcycle riders (in between the cars driving on the highway)
  • The power surges all the time, so all the computers are backed up on batteries
  • The birds are huge (even the plain small ones are twice as big as the ones back home)
  • The birds are LOUD!!! (one makes the sound of a person being killed.) It has decided to nest right outside of my window
  • The toilet flushes backwards--This was one of Lily's questions
  • We need a bidet
  • There are dogs everywhere, We always end up with like 3 in the back yard of the CCM every morning and the staff sends out the Elders to go coral them out of the fence.
  • Every other car is a Fiat
So the Latino elders in our room have already left on their missions. We still have 4 weeks and will have at least 2 more sets of missionaries in our room.

I am doing fine, learning the language faster than I was expecting. Talking to the Latinos at night and meals has helped so much.

The Buenos Aries Temple is beautiful, its like a Chicago temple (6 spire style) with two additional buildings built off to the side. Its so nice being across the street from the temple.
Tell Will I am so proud of him for dressing like a missionary. The primary program as last Sunday, so William put on his suit jacket & tie. He thought he looked like a prophet and we told him he looked like a missionary.

I appreciate all your prayers and kind notes and thoughts throughout the week. Just know that I love all of you guys.
"God be with you..."
Elder Taylor

Ben at the temple in Argentina

Ben with his companion, Elder Johnson, from South Carolina. Elder Johnson is going to the Paraguay Asuncion Mission

We asked for a picture of his name tag--I guess it is official now that he wears a name tage. He is Elder Taylor!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Letter From MTC-Week 1 Update

We got this letter from Ben on Thursday morning, his P-Day. It was so great to get a real letter from him with real information. This is his first week completed at the MTC.  Enjoy!


So today is my first p-day. I have been sooooooo busy this last week, I honestly never knew there were so many hours in a day.

I love my Companion Elder Johnson (Paraguay Asunción mission). He is a strong spirit and it´s great to see him learning Spanish so quickly. I was not paired up with another elder who knew Spanish like the guy on the phone said. But that’s ok, it´s really fun to help him learn the language.

The American (English) Districts are split up into separate rooms from the Latinos (Spanish speaking) Districts. So I end up learning the most Spanish in the evenings while I talk with the Latinos. I have one roommate from Peru, Elder "G"; and one from Brazil. a little town outside of Sau Paulo. The one from Brazil is learning Spanish too but it will only take him two weeks. 

I have 3 different teachers. Hermano Mirosnikov (born and raised in Argentina, son of Russian parents), Hermano Pederson (born and raised in Argentina, son of Danish Parents), and Hermano Christeche (born and raised in Argentina, Italian in descent). All of them have been really helpful with the language. Half of our district (5) is going to Uruguay, and half (6) are going to Paraguay Asunción.

My main goal for this last week was to learn all of the gospel terms I would need to effectively teach, since I already know how to conjugate in the present tense. Another goal was to only think in Spanish. That has been quite difficult, since no one else in my district knows how to speak any Spanish, other than how to introduce themselves and ask someone to be baptized.

When I go a long period of time were I don´t speak English, I have a really hard time forming basic thoughts in English. Since I can only speak in basic, non-compounded sentences in Spanish, I have been simplifying my thoughts to make them easier to translate. If someone asks me a question in English and it requires more than one sentence, I get completely tongue-tied. 

¡The Latinos are amazing! They are all so nice and helpful when I am speaking to them. They always say to me in English that "You're so good at Espanish, Elder."

We have been teaching a fake investigator, His name is Alejandro. He´s 21, his family is going through a divorce, didn´t have a background in religion, and he "parties hard." We have been teaching him completely in Spanish. It´s so exciting to share our knowledge with him, even if he is a fake investigator.

I´m sorry I´m not sending any pictures, we are only allowed to take pictures every other Sunday, I don´t know why, but that’s the rule. So hopefully next week I should have some pictures for you.

We went to the temple today, it’s literally across the street from the CCM, and everything is on a beautiful gated campus.

Oh, and Elder Holland is going to be here. In the CCM, the same building as me, we might shake hands; he might sit in on our class. He is coming to meet with all of the local authorities, and then he is going to address all of us at a local stake center with 800 more missionaries from the Argentina Buenos Aires Mission. Words don´t even describe how excited I am!!!
It´s nice to hear about the family, I hope everyone is doing well and Justin isn´t terrorizing everyone. It´s so great to hear from you.

Just know I am doing well, I´m busy, I´m learning, and I´m feeling so closer to God than I ever have.

P.s. I haven’t received any physical letters from dear elder, I´m sure they´ll show up soon!

P.s. Don´t worry about me, I´m fine.

P.s. Forgive any spelling, the keyboards are different and there is no autocorrect.

¡¡¡¡¡Love You!!!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 Beach Vacation

This is from our Taylor Family Beach Vacation last summer. We were in the Corolla, NC area on the Outer Banks

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Airport Farewells--Saying our Last Good Byes!

We got the kids out of school early on Wednesday to take Ben to the airport.

First, he got checked in, paid for his two bags and got his boarding pass.

Next, he talked with a very nice Delta employee. She had us all smiling and laughing with her comments about how good he looked in his new suit, amazed that he was going to be gone for 2 years and reassuring him that Delta would not lose any of his bags (they are #1 in the last 6 months for bags making it to their destination).

William wanted to be a helper for his big brother, so he assisted with his bag as we made our way to the food court, outside of the security checkpoint.
We found an area where all of the final hugging should begin. William immediately grabbed a hold of Ben and hugged for all he was worth.

That wasn't quite good enough, so Ben picked him up and gave him and even better hug and kiss.
Lily got the next hug. She will really miss her big brother.

It is hard to tell from this angle, but Justin was the next one to hug Ben. This is not something I have seen since they boys were quite a bit younger. They have always been close since they are just 2 years apart in age. They have been much closer since high school, because of marching band and drumline. Ben would drive Justin everywhere, even if it was someplace he did not want to go. Justin will probably not see Ben until Justin comes home from his mission, so this hug had to last them 4 years.
Grandpa Taylor got the next hug. He told Ben to work hard. I know he will.
Grandma Taylor got the next hug. I imagine she was probably promising to make him some amazing meal when he gets home after his mission. 
I got the next hug--what can I say? I will miss my son so much. I am so happy that he has decided to serve a mission and know that he is going to be a great missionary.
Dad got the last hug. I am sure this brought back memories of when he was leaving to serve his mission. 
 As you can see, William is going to miss Ben. He just couldn't stop hugging him and standing by him. Ben has been an awesome big brother!

Ben was anxious to get through Security and to his gate, so he did not prolong his goodbyes. William ran after him to hold his hand as long as possible before Ben left.
If you look real close, William has tears running down his cheeks. He will miss his big brother, Ben. At this point, our whole group was pretty emotional (except for Justin who doesn't like to cry). 
Here is my missionary son, Elder Taylor, ready to go to Argentina for 6 weeks of training at the MTC and then on to Uruguay, Montevideo for 24 months. We love you Ben!


We just got our first email from Ben. It came the next morning after he had left Indiana, once he arrived in Argentina. It was extremely short, but we were not expecting any contact until he had been there for a little while. Here is his message:

Hey Mom and Dad, I just got to the MTC (Argentina is beautiful). Just a quick update: Everything worked out with the flight and I'm safe. My P-Day is Thursday, so email me on or before if you want a response to any questions.

I made the font bigger so you could appreciate the short message even more 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Open House-Goodbye Ben!

We held Ben's Open House on Saturday, November 2nd. We appreciate all who came by to wish Ben well on his mission.

We will miss Ben here at home for the next 24 months, but know that he is where the Lord wants him to be, doing what the Lord wants him to do.
We love you Ben!

Tech Support-Last Chance

Ben got set apart as an Elder by President Cowley last night. While waiting for President Cowley to arrive, Ben helped his Grandma Kathy with some last chance technical support on her iPhone and Kindle Fire. Justin is going to have some big shoes to fill to keep us all up and going on our phones and computers.

Helping his Grammy one last time

Spring Break 2013

Over Spring Break this year, we decided to do college visits and site seeing. Ben will be leaving on his mission November 2013 and Justin will be leaving summer of 2015, possibly before Ben gets home. This was our last opportunity to take both boys at the same time.
We took the I-80 route on the way to Salt Lake City. It was a long drive--especially Nebraska. We have some lovely panoramic shots of the endless fields.
Nebraska-in all it's glory
We did find an amazing truckstop on our way west with 5 semi's inside the building and several had trailers attached just for display purposes. It was enormous!

Once we arrived in Salt Lake City, we went exploring.

On Sunday, we were able to attend Music and the Spoken Word, which was held in the tabernacle. It was amazing!

We went to church in the Joseph Smith Memorial building with my Uncle Edgar and his wife Kathy who were serving a mission in the Church Office building doing genealogy research.

Chapel of Joseph Smith Memorial Building

We were able to tour BYU in Provo with Reid Taylor as our tour guide and host. We were also able to go to Rexburg and visit BYU Idaho as well as spend some time with Jacob & Nia Turner.

On our way back home, we took I-90. We stopped in the mountains of Wyoming, the Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Devil's Peak Devil's Tower and more on our way home.

It was quite the adventure for our family and a great way to spend time with our two oldest boys.

Ben will be attending BYU Idaho when he gets home from his mission.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Christmas Traditions-One Last Time With Ben

It is our family tradition each year to put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Ben is leaving on November 6th, so we had an early Thanksgiving with the Taylor's on Sunday. In keeping with tradition and because Monday was the day after our Thanksgiving, we put up the Christmas tree one last time with Ben.

About 10 years ago, Ben and I added to this tradition--we started watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding while setting up and decorating the tree. The first time we did this, we had just gotten the movie and wanted to watch it, but somehow this tradition carried on year after year. This movie has nothing to do with Christmas but it is just a good, funny movie where our entire family can practice our Greek accent, we get to yell "Opa" and laugh about how many ways you can use Windex.

Here is the result of our efforts:

I am so glad that we were able to do this with Ben before he left. Although we did not exchange any gifts--those will be sent to the mission office since he will be arriving from the Argentina MTC to Uruguay a few days before Christmas--it was a fun and relaxing evening with the entire family.

Ben has great confidence in my blogging abilities, so hopefully I will be able to make it work right for the duration of his mission. I hope you enjoy the next 24 months!
Shawna Taylor