Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Transferred to the Mission Office-Big Changes!

As you know from the last post, we did not hear from Ben on his regular P-Day and the following day, we got an email saying that Ben had been transferred to the Mission Office to serve as an assistant to the Financial Secretary and that he would email us on Saturday. Needless to say, Saturday came and went and we got another email saying that the elders in the office had to switch their P-Day from Saturday to Monday due to the transfers that occurred. We emailed Ben all kinds of questions about what happened and he has answered some of them below. Hopefully we will find out more in his next letter.

Hey family, 

Sorry it took so long for me to write to you guys. Here is what has happened since the last email.

Last Saturday night (the 19th of April) at 10 pm, I got a call from the Assistants to the President of the Mission. They called me and told me that I had been chosen as one of the new financial secretaries and that I needed to pack my things as soon as possible. They wanted me to arrive Sunday night to receive some training and to help a little with the normal "Transfers" that would be coming the following Wednesday. 

I packed that night because we had church the next day and I wanted to say goodbyes to a few people. I finished packing completely and was able to say goodbye the next day. Then, later Sunday, we got another call saying that my companion was also going to be leaving the area, to go to another area as a zone leader; that´s when things got complicated. Elder Aguilera had about 3 hours to pack everything while I prepared the area book and our records for the next missionaries that were going to come. 

This is who Ben is replacing:
Elder Oliveira

From São Paulo Brasil
After all that craziness, we finally left. It´s sort of fun to have a desk job where I go in at 10 till 9 some days. Haha! I arrived to the church where the mission offices are at about 8 that night. I was given a small introduction as to what I was going to be doing. 

We (the financiers) are in charge of managing: 

  • Rent of all 88 apartments in the mission 
  • Buying and preparing for apartments to be sold 
  • Coordinating contracts with the landlords 
  • Water bills, light bills & phone bills 
  • Missionary Debit Cards/Monthly Allowance 
  • Reimbursement of bus tickets used for proselyting activities 
  • Managing the mission related finances of the President, his Spouse, and Senior Missionaries. 
  • Paying for transportation related expenses during transfers and conferences 
  • Catering/Buying Food for conferences 
  • Paying other random things such as Airline baggage and the furnishing of houses 
This is a photo Elder Muñoz and I took for a presentation we gave to introduce ourselves. We thought it was pretty funny. We had to make an enormous purchase that day (we don't normally handle that much money at at time). Elder Muñoz is my companion. He is from Panama and has been a member for 3 years and serving a mission for 1 year and 2 months. He does not speak any English.
The goal is to leave the offices at 16:00 hrs. So far, because of transfers and other circumstances and conferences that are coming up, we have only been able to leave once on time. 

It's really fun! There is always something super crazy we need to do...always something pressing. I am really enjoying it. The missionaries in the offices are normally here for 4 changes so I should be here for a while (up to 6 months). 

It´s was so fun to hear so much news from back home. Congrats to Trent and Rob! They´ll do great. There are several YM in our Ward who have either gotten their mission calls or are submitting their papers. Rob leaves for his mission the beginning of May and Trent will be going in August or September. We currently have 9 missionaries serving from our ward with several more leaving before any come home. I think we will have at least 11 out by the end of the summer. The wall in the entry way with all of the plaques is quite impressive. I think they will be adding another row for the missionaries who will be leaving this summer. 

My Pdays from now on will be Saturdays, if nothing goes crazy again. I love you guys so much, I miss you but I´m super happy to be here doing what I´m doing. 

Love You!

Elder Taylor

This is Familia De Maria--we did not get any explanation from Ben, but I think this is the same family that has Mateo (8 or 9 years old) and Edgardo,the young man who just had a birthday from Ben's previous letter.

Natalia just recently started going back to church, she quit about 6 yrs ago or so, then she lost her sight because of her diabetes. The missionaries passed by one day and now she is one of the strongest members we had in Lomas. She relied on us a lot to help her get to the church and some activities but now she´s learning to use a cane to be able to get around more independently

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Transferred to Mission Office

We got no email from Ben on Monday and were starting to get worried (as you can imagine).
We just got this message and now we have tons of questions.
When we get his message on Saturday, we will post it.

 Hello John and Shawna,
Elder Benjamin Taylor has recently been moved to the Uruguay Montevideo Mission Offices as one of the Financial Secretaries and has had to miss his original preparation day. This coming Saturday he will be able to respond to your emails. ¡He sends his love!
Elder Oliveira
Financial Secretary
Uruguay Montevideo Mission

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Getting Cold in Uruguay!

Below is the letter from Ben this week. I would also like to encourage you to go to Because of Him, a 2 minute video posted by our church for Easter. It is amazing and I know Ben would love to see it, if he could. Enjoy the video and his letter!


It's cold here all of a sudden. I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden everything just got cold! I can see my breath almost all day from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. We'll break out the space heater when it's more necessary, including in the house. 

It's pretty funny actually. In the summer I was dying of heat. We had like two weeks that were comfortable, then bam. Cold. I broke out the quilt that mom made me and the two other blankets I received from the mission when I arrived. Now when we shower in the morning the entire house fills up with steam. 

I have been thinking of how blessed I was to have a house with heating, carpet, and a clothes dryer. With this cold weather, it is almost impossible to dry our clothes. Elder Aguilera and I put our clothes outside when it's not raining (and its raining a lot more now) and then bring them back in as soon as possible. 

We had a good week, but the rain and cold wind yesterday destroyed our church attendance. Remember, everyone walks 30 min more or less to get to church and almost no one has a car and few have motorcycles. We had two people who had dates to get baptized this next Sunday but didn't come to church this week, along with half of the congregation. We'll just keep working with them and try even harder to make sure they'll attend church.

Yesterday we had a birthday with Familia De Maria. They are our recent converts from a few weeks ago. Yesterday was the birthday of Edgardo and they invited us over for lunch to celebrate. We don't have much to give as a gift as missionaries, so we made a packet. 

It had an autographed tie, a tie tack of one of the sons of Helaman soldier with an explanation to the story, a For the Strength of Youth, some photos, and some American candies. 

Edgardo reading about Helaman--and enjoying his presents from us

It was an awesome time! They are still following firm in the gospel; and we're planning on teaching the brother of Ana Laura. 

We ate Asado. Elder Aguilera, Edgardo (Bday boy) and Ana Laura (la mama)

Birthday party of Edgardo--behind me is his grandma (Olga) and brother (Mateo)

What I Learned This Week!!!:  

  • As a companionship I really felt that we have grown in our teaching.
  •  Something that I have really struggled with since the beginning of my mission has been simply opening my mouth. I've always been a quite person and always struggled to open up to people I wasn't already very close with. Then in another language that I've only spoken for 5 months, it makes it even worse--at least that has been my excuse for staying so quiet. 
  • We're very different personality-wise, me and my companion. This is a good thing, in my opinion. He is, in his own palabras (words), "Bien Chileno," (he is from Chile and like many from this country, has a very outgoing personality, according to previous letters from Ben). He loves to talk to everyone and just has this natural gift of befriending everyone. 
  • This week he decided to help me more with this; and put my talking as one of our companionship goals. 
  • To have this small constant push to keep talking in the charlas, with members and with our investigators, I really feel like I am starting to develop a relationship with them. They trust me more and I'm actually participating a lot more in the charlas, instead of just testifying of the teachings of my companion.

Anyways, that's what I learned this week. Recently, the idea of my companion being transferred out of this area has really stressed me out; before I had any relationship with the people. Now, I am still a little nervous as to how I would react, but now I feel better and am planning on continuing this throughout the rest of my mission.

List of things to send next time, no rush.

Things that are big it might just be easier to buy here, like thermal socks and stuff like that.

I would like one of those pink gel things that we bought in Utah where you flex the metal chip and it makes heat.

A couple thumb drives to save pictures

Other than that, I think I'm good

Love you guys,

I hope everything goes well at home, Don't worry about me being cold. I know you are going to. I prefer it to the hot. At least for now... haha!

Your Son,

Élder Benjamin Taylor

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

El Aguila, another wedding and General Conference

This week was awesome! I`ll start from the beginning.

So after I emailed you guys last week we had an activity as a zone. We went to this one place call El Aguila.

It's an old house in the shape of an Eagle head. It's interesting. It's located in a town called Atlantida. We got to go, lots of the elders played rugby, the others went exploring in the eagle head and on the beach. It was an awesome relaxing P-day.

The view on top from inside the head!!!
Then something else super exciting was a wedding that one of our future baptism's had. 

His name is Rubén. He married a less active member who has recently been activated again in the church. He has had a lot of contact with members of the church as of late. His wife, two or three co-workers, neighbors, and his little sister Melany recently was baptized. 

He has definitely been prepared by the Lord in his life. Right now he is our main focus, it might take a while, but He`ll get here!!

Prohibited to Throw Rice in the Ceremonial Hall

I just thought this sign was really funny for some reason. This place is like a BMV/DMV and has a wedding every 15 min on the hour. It's the only way that people get married down here (90% of the people anyways)

And of course...  General Conference!!!!!! It was absolutely amazing. I loved it. I learned so much, and... I got to listen to it in English. It was Me, Elder Reynolds (Zone Leader), Hermana Hickman (New Missionary from Texas), and Hermana Chin (New Missionary from Taipei Taewan) that watched it in English. We watched all of conference in a closet.

 It was super funny looking back. We all loved the messages shared. I really loved the talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks on Priesthood Authority in the priesthood session. 

The whole stake had to fit into our tiny little chapel because not many people have internet, or satellite TV, and the stake center is under construction. They had another room with a TV set up, so the English speakers were in a closet, haha. It`s (the chapel) smaller than the smallest one third of  the gym in our building
Conference served as an awesome opportunity to introduce our recent converts to who the prophets and apostles are. We had two investigators tell us they were going to come. We ended up calling to confirm with no answer. Then we passed by their house a few times to no avail and the last time we passed by they had decided that they didn't want to come. I know it's something small, but it's sad/frustrating when you have faith that someone is going to do something; and in the end they just don't do it.

But for the recent converts that came it was really awesome. One of our converts, Ana Laura, shared with us her testimony of the prophets; that she felt the spirit testifying to her when the brethren and sisters were speaking. I don't know why, but whenever we have a meeting that is different than the normal Sundays, I always worry about how the recent converts and investigators will feel or what they`ll think. I'm always surprised to find that the Investigators and Recent Converts are able to look past the fact that English speaking strangers that live in a different country on a projector screen are talking to them; they look past all the ¨different¨ things and really can feel the spirit testifying to them that these men are Prophets of God.

I love you guys, I miss you guys & I'm super happy to be here. I wish everyone the best.

Élder Benjamin Taylor

I made platanos 3 times this week. They were really cheap at the supermarket, and in my last house, the Elder from Ecuador made them all the time and I sort of missed them.