Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Super Busy Week-Another Baptism!

Hola familia,

This week was fantastic. We were super busy... Like I had no idea how busy a person could be. Wow... 

We participated in another baptism this week. Her name is Nobelia. She has been taking the charlas for about 3 months and has only really been waiting to get married so she could get baptized. She got married this Thursday, then was baptized Sunday in the morning. We were afraid that no one was going to show up since it was so early, but we actually had to move the congregation to the chapel for all the talks because there were more than 30 people. She said she felt very welcome to have so many people there. I was extremely proud of my ward for all they did to help. 

They pronounce Nobelia like Novelia, in case you were wondering.
                   Her and her Husband (member) Hector Re
 Then Élder Ve'e had to give 3 other baptismal interviews so we were on the bus at least 2 hrs almost every day. Then the branch in our district (Prosperidad) had a minor emergency; their church didn't have water to fill the baptismal font. We had just finished draining our font in our building after church when we got a call from the other branch president asking us to fill the font for them because they have a baptism planned in 5 hrs. Because of the water pressure it can take about 8 hrs to fill the pila (font). We ran over to the church and began filling it. The family that was getting baptized arrived for the baptism and the font had sufficiend (cold) water to baptize. It was a super awesome experience and we were able to invite some of our members and investigators and we almost doubled the attendance of the baptismal service. It was a super stressful experience. Thankfully we had the members there to help.

One thing I've learned since I've been out here is that missionaries without the ward members behind them; finding them people to teach, opportunities to serve, taking them to less actives, etc... are destined to wander the street, talking to people who don't want to talk to them. 

On the newsletter that the mission sends out every week it has a list of the baptisms for the week and month. 78% of the baptisms that we had this last week were references from members, 13% were part member families, and the rest were street contacts. I don't mean to say that those people found in street contacts aren't valuable, that's not where the success comes from. Not to mention, the probability of retention of these converts is far higher than that of someone joining the church without a friend. 

We had a broadcast from Argentina with President Ballard, from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He talked about member missionary work, with respect to the missionaries. One quote that I think he quoted from someone else was "If we do what we've always done, we'll get what we always got." He related this to the large surge in missionary service to 86,000 missionaries. That means that what we were doing to support the missionaries before the influx of missionaries, will only yield the same results as before the influx of missionaries. 

I love you guys. I loved your emails this week. Record breaking snow, that's awesome. I hope everyone stays safe. Love you guys so much!!!!!

Élder Taylor

We had intercambios
I went with Elder Torres, the missionary on the far left

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures--the new camera works!!!

So, it´s P-day again. I received the package with the camera and fudge. 
Ben at the Internet Cafe with his companion next to him and the other Elders he lives with on the computers behind him. His camera works! His comment on the computer he was using was that it was as old as he was and this picture took 7 minutes to upload. He sent us 10 pictures this week, so it must have taken most of his time. He also reassured me that he would be getting a haircut today but has been unable to get one for the last week due to street fairs that were going on that caused many places to be closed.

Thank you guys so much. Now that I have a camera I'm gonna send some pictures of some of the stuff that's a little different with Uruguay that I've been waiting to share. 

SoInline image 1, lets start with the money.  

In the picture I have the 1,000, 200, 100, 50 and 20 peso bills. There is a 500 peso bill, but I didn't have one. They're really colorful and look really cool (20 pesos is about a dollar here).

Then there are the coins.  

The biggest coin that I normally have is 10 pesos. We take the bus at least 3 times a day, and it cost's from 12-21 pesos depending on where you go. Thankfully it's reimbursable.

Next is a picture of our keys. 

Everything here is behind 3-4 locks and all the keys look like these. They're really big. When I first saw them I didn't think they were real. So, our house has 4 locks you need to undo to enter. One for the outer gates, two for the gate outside the door and one for the door. Don't worry, it doesn't mean I live in a dangerous part of town, everyone is just very cautious. One time our keys got taken while at a coat check in our supermarket so we had to run home and wait for a locksmith to change the combination on all of our locks. That was a crazy day!

Next we have milk in a bag. 

It's something I don't think I'll ever understand. You cannot simply buy milk in a carton, bottle, can... It's in a plastic bag. Then you have to put the bag in a tiny pitcher thing to pour it out. That was probably one of the first big culture shocks, the milk.

Next we have our house. 

It's one of the nicest houses in the mission, except for the the sister's houses. It has an upstairs room, a bedroom, study room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, a tiny lawn, and  garage-shelter place where we hang up our laundry to dry. 
The other elders that I live with: Elder Ve´e from California (the left), Elder Romero from Ecuador (the right), and Elder Melgarejo Paraguay (Bottom)

We are currently fighting a wicked case of cockroaches. (This should be interesting--obviously we have never had them in our home and I am sure this is a new experience for Ben) We have taken all of our food that isn't in the fridge and put them in big ziplock bags and put them in a tote in the other room. We clean every dish twice-before we eat and after we eat. We've gone through almost 2 full cans of spray; I'm proud to say the worst is almost over.

So, this week was pretty awesome. We have a baptism planned for this coming Sunday. Her name is Nobelia. She is getting married to another member this coming Thursday, so she can get baptized. It´s been awesome to see her desire to get baptized. She's gonna be a great addition to the congregation. The baptism has changed dates 3 times because the stake keeps calling different meetings after we plan her baptism, and we need members of the bishopric there at the baptism. She's been a good sport about all the changes, and is rather unaffected, and keeps saying "Ni importa, Si todavía puedo bautizar me" when we change the date. (Doesn't matter as long as I can get baptized)
Libia Ward building

I hope you enjoy the pictures. Send me any question you have about the culture, my life, so on... (

I love you guys so much, thanks for all your support!

Con Cariño (With Love)

Élder Taylor

Last week Ben was able to attend the temple with the Elders and Sisters from his Zone. It was a great day. Here is all of them from the Maronas Zone. Ben is in the back row, 2nd from the left.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hola Familia. I didn´t die. Don't worry--Letter 2 Days Late!

Ben's letter did not arrive until Wednesday this week. John and I were both checking our emails frequently Monday and Tuesday anxious for his letter. I am happy he had the opportunity to go to the temple and think that is a great excuse for his PDay being delayed.

Hola familia,

Sorry it took so long to email you. We found out last Friday that we were going to the Temple today. Today was super awesome! We woke up about 30 minutes early to catch the omnibus, to take another omnibus, to take another omnibus, to bring us to the Temple, which is in a part of Montevideo called Carasco, so we could catch the 9:00 am endowment session. It was super awesome and relaxing. But now P-day is Today (Wednesday) for this week. 

I received your package. I actually just got it about 30 minutes ago and haven't had the opportunity to open it. But it looks completely intact. (This is the package with peanut butter fudge, drink mixes and most importantly his replacement camera. I hope we will have more pictures soon!)

I have really enjoyed this last week. It has rained every single day and the members say it could rain another 5 days or so. It's sorta funny, when it rains, since that almost no one has a car you can walk on the street for 30 minutes and only see one person. 

This week we have been working with someone who has been investigating the church for almost a year and a half. His name is Juan Carlos; He is about 45-50 ish and lives in the fondo (back of a house; almost all houses here go back 2 or 3 more from the front) of his sister´s house (her and her husband are members). They´re awesome and are always willing to sit in on our charlas. He tells us that he has the desire to be baptized, and he has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ, but his lack of confidence is keeping him from "Pulling the Trigger." We are praying so much for him, and passing by him every night to leave him something to read and to remind him to pray. If everything continues like this, I think that he will arive to his decision soon.

One thing that we have been doing with all the members that we pass by is sharing some scriptures about prayer or missionary work, and then we leave them with a list of 2 or 3 names of investigators. We share that praying for our investigators is a way that all members can be contributing to the missionary work in their own ward. We tell them a little of the people's background, what their main need is and ask them to include these people in their prayers. This has been the most successful forms of animating the members to do missionary work. We have already had a few members call us back a few days later and ask how "So and so is", "Is there anything more I can do to help", "I have a friend that I would like for you to pass by to see if you could help her."

I wish I would have understood the power of prayer better before I got on my mission. I've really been trying to make my prayers more sincere, more focused, and less selfish; It has completely changed my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Thanking more has made me a lot more aware of my blessings, and when I do ask, asking more about our investigators has made a huge difference.

Well sorry if you guys worried a lot. I love you guys a lot.

¡Les Amo!
-Élder Taylor

Ben in front of the Montevideo Temple

Ben & Elder Ve'e at the Montevideo Temple

Montevideo Temple

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cambios--New Trainer Elder Ve'e

Ben has a new companion this week. He also shares a new favorite scripture I have included at the bottom of the email. Ben will mention his cousin Dallin, who is serving a mission right now too. I have included a link to his blog if you would like to read some of the recent posts that Ben refers to in this letter. I have also figured out how to allow comments (Ben would be so proud of me). Feel free to post comments--hopefully it really works!

Hi Dad, Mom, Justin, Lily, Will, Lucy, & Spike

So this week was absolutely crazy. We had cambios (transfers or exchanges) this week and now I have a new trainer. His name is Elder Ve'e (pronounced vey-ey). 

Just to clear up some misinformation from my previous email, he is from California. Both of his parents are from Samoa. He was raised speaking Samoan, but now only understands a little. He has been in the mission a little under a year, and all the locals say he has almost no accent. I agree, his castellano (pronounced cas-ti-shaw-no--the word they use here for Español) is fantastic. 

Since he is the new one in the area, I am the only one with any experience in the area. I've had to make all the plans, find our way around the town, point out members. It's been really stressful. I can't wait until I'm familiar enough with the area I don't get us lost every 30 minutes. It certainly has been a learining experience. 

I was reading those letters from Dallin and immediately thought of how nervous Aunt Jen probably is. (Ben's cousin is serving a mission in the Marshall Islands and has recently arrived in country after several days of travel to get to his destination. Shortly after arriving, he found out his first area will be in another ward on another island about 2000 miles away, so much more travel to come. He has gotten very sick from the water and other issues they have to deal with. There is also much poverty in the islands and he described his first impressions with much honesty. I know that it will be an eye opening experience for him and a lot different than how he has been raised. I look forward to following him as his mission progresses. If you would like to see more about Dallin, go to his blog here. )Mom, don´t worry. Montevideo is only like that in this respect; some houses are 4 cement walls with corrugated metal as a roof. But for the majority of the other things he talked about, No. 

Elder Seguine is tough and will be fine, I´m sure. What an experience!

In other news, Spanish just started clicking recently. I can confidently say that I understand probably 97% of everything. My speaking is probably about 40% there.

I love you guys!! I wish you guys the best.

Elder Taylor

P.S. My new favorite scripture to share with people

2 Nephi 33:6,10,11

6 I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.
10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye--for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.