Thursday, May 22, 2014

Open House in Malvin--A Huge Success!

Hey guys,

How are you guys doing? This last weekend we had the open house in the Church in Malvín (where we are). It was very exciting! 

We have a Missionary couple that go from ward to ward doing open houses. It was awesome! We spent these last three weeks inviting everyone we came in contact with to come. Many of the members did a lot to help. 

Everyone starts in the Chapel where we have a giant cutout of the "Christus" statue. Some of the teachings of Christ are played in the background and everyone listens to them for about 4-5 min. 

Later the Sister missionaries (3 companionship's) took everyone on a tour through the gym where we had various poster boards teaching pretty much all the lessons starting with The Restoration, The Plan of Salvation, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and also about other things like the Temple and Eternal Families. 

The Sisters did an awesome job, were super prepared and taught super well. After the Sisters presentation, were Elder Muñoz and I at the reference table. We shared some scriptures then asked them to fill out the cards. It was really awesome! We received almost 50 referrals with address that live close, and another 15 with just phone numbers. 

After our stand, the Ward Mission Leader took them to the baptismal font, where Elder Gardner and Elder Eraso taught about Baptism more in depth. They also invited all that passed throughout the presentation to be baptized. There were over 10 people who have accepted the challenge to prepare themselves to be baptized by someone who possesses the authority of God in the Church of Jesus Christ.

After that, they all went to the other rooms where the various leaders of each auxiliary and quorum presented something for a few minutes. It was great to have so much participation from all the members. 

I was thinking of how this is something that someone could totally do in our ward, with so many missionaries, awesome members, and great youth. It was super successful down here. It might be something that someone could do as a value project (hint, hint...). I have been serving as a YW leader on a ward and stake level for a number of years. It is funny to see Ben look at things that would be a great goal for Personal Progress. I guess I got him trained well.  It required a lot of organization, hanging posters, and handing out invitations, and coordination from the ward and missionaries, but it was great!

We changed P-Day various times because of the open house, then because there was so much to do yesterday, and now we´ll still be running (quite literally) to the bank after I send this. I loved Skyping with you guys the other day. Thanks for the letters (mom and dad). We read ours today. It was super fun--my companion loved it. We sent Ben and his companion letters in the mail with a favorite talk from conference. Ben's companion doesn't speak much English, so we wrote letters in English and then used Google Translate to convert them to Spanish. We don't know how well it worked, but I it sounds like they got some laughs out of it.

His letter ended there and then a few minutes latter we got this email:

Ps. Love you 

Élder Benjamin Taylor

A Quick Note (in Spanish)--thank goodness for Google Translate!

Saturday came and went with no letter from Ben. We thought that since we got to Skype with him on Mother's Day the week before, that perhaps his P-Day had been moved or that we would not hear from him that week at all. About the time that we were accepting the fact that there might not be a letter, this arrived in our email on Tuesday.

Les escribo mas tarde hoy. Disculpes por haberles esperado.

I had to go to Google Translate to find out what he was saying. Loosely translated it says:  "I will write later today. Sorry for the delay." 

I think that Ben forgot who he was sending this quick note off to and just did what came naturally--he typed it in Spanish. We got a good laugh out of this and were happy to know that his letter would be arriving later that day. I will post his letter next.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers Day and paying rent

This week was probably one of the weirdest I'm gonna have in the mission. 

So, the plumber came this last week and we had to empty the house for a week. We couldn't find any other houses close by where other elders lived to stay at, so we ended up staying in the mission home with President and Hermana Cook. We also went from having several showers for all 6 of us in the morning to having only one.  

It was so nice of the Cook's to receive us into their home. Hermana Cook bought us breakfast foods for the mornings. She made us pancakes for a late dinner (because she knew we had a long day), and just has gone out of her way to help us in so many ways. I felt very comforted to know that I was being cared for  so far away from my family. I also know how thankful my Mother and Grandmother would feel knowing that I am being taken care of. 

This last week I learned a lot. It was the week of rents. Right now we are trying to convert all of the rents that we are paying for the missionaries to be payed  electronically and automatically.  We have to be in contact basically all day with the landlords and the renting companies. I am trying to learn as fast as I can so I can continue being more help in the office and carry my fair share of the work load.

On the non office note:

This week we didn't have as many opportunities to leave as this last week. We had been getting a little down about that. It's been a little harder this week, but fortunately were able to see a few more miracles. We have been preparing for an open house in our chapel (put on by the local stake missionares and the Senior Couple Hermana and Elder Burnett). Any opportunity we have we are inviting people to come, we're putting up flyers all over the town, and putting passalong card invitations on every door. We're hoping for a big turn out. All the members are really excited!

I  don't have much time and I'll tell you more tomorrow...we will get to Skype with Ben for Mothers Day and we are very excited to see his face and hear his voice at the same time. We are hoping for a great connection like we had for the call last Christmas. 

Thank you so much for writing with my companion. His companion does not have much support from his family since he joined the church three years ago. We are attempting to write him in Spanish which I am sure gives them lots of laughs. I love you so much!!!

Élder Benjamin Taylor

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Life at the Mission Office & Miracles

So great to hear from you! It's so fun to be here in the offices. It's a lot of work, a little stressful, but way worth it. I feel I've learned so much just in these few short weeks. 

We work a lot of times as one big companionship between us and the secretaries. We still have our proselyting commitments and lots of times we will have to go on splits between the two companionship's. I've gotten to know pretty well the other two missionaries that work here. Elder Gallagher (California) and Elder Hansen (Utah). They´re both super awesome, super intelligent and spiritual people.

Something funny actually happened this morning. We found out that in our apartment (where 6 missionaries live) something went wrong with the pipes and now the land lord had to turn off our water until the plumber can fix it. That could be in 12 days or more! So right now, we are trying to find a place to bathe ourselves in the morning. It's sorta a crazy situation.

Congrats Lily for being the first of us to be good at sports. (Lily loves playing basketball and hopes to try out for the 7th grade team next year. She also has been setting records regularly on the rowing machine at school for 6th grade girls. She is getting to be very strong. We have always joked about how uncoordinated Ben is--he has the height and size to play basketball but not the coordination to do it well. He can blame dear old mom for the that, but hopefully he can blame me for his musical skill as well. It is a good trade off.)
And William: I´m already counting down the days, haha! Happy early birthday! (William typed a few lines in the letter we sent to Ben and the main focus was his 7th birthday which will be on June 4th. He expects that everyone else is counting down the days like he is.)

So you asked me what my normal schedule is like:
6.30 awake and exercise
7.00 breakfast and bathe
8.00 Personal Study (I am basing my studies on the Gospel Principles book, daily scripture study, and Preach my Gospel; I study exclusively in Spanish)
9.00 Companion Study (Hymn {all 6 missionaries}, white hand book, back cover of Preach my Gospel ("Remember This:"). We also share what we studied, coordinate plans and lessons for the day, practice teaching)
10.00-4.00 Work at the Office and lunch
4.00 We leave if everything goes well and we don't need to finish anything else
9.00 in the house

Ben's desk

The office where Ben spends so much of his time

These last two week we only got to leave a few times. Sunday we always get to leave because we don't do office work Sundays.

This last week I went to the airport two times on interchanges with the secretaries. It's super weird to be there. I didn't have any desires or thoughts of going home, but to see people going was super weird. It has gotten me thinking that in 18 months, the same thing would be happening to me. I also found out that more likely than not, I will be arriving home the 23rd or 24th of October 2015 because of the transfer schedule. (Just a fun fact)

This week we also had intercambios (exchanges-companionship's get switched around just for that time period) as a zone. It was super stressful because there was a lot of work to be done at the offices. I knew that we had already given it all we could that day and that we needed to do the intercambio. 

So I left the desk, with a pile of stuff to do, but I just left it. I left my area (called Malvín by the way). I sent you a picture of the chapel a while ago. It's super big and pretty. That is where the offices are located, by the way. 

I went to Barrio 9 with Elder Hobbs. He is from Idaho. I couldn't help but keep thinking of all the work sitting on my desk, but I eventually got over it and just tried to have a good time. And the truth is, I had a blast! We saw a lot of miracles! 

One was a woman that I contacted by giving her a pass along card. She was not interested at first. We eventually taught her all about the restoration of the Gospel. She listened to all of it! and really wanted to know more. We set up another charla (appointment or discussion) for Elder Hobbs to go to. I think she will be awesome, and she said that her family and her have been looking for a church to attend for a while.. 

Another experience happened this morning. I went with Elder Gallagher and Elder Eraso to get our hair cut and the lady that owns the hair shop has had a lot of contact with missionaries and the church before. Her parents were investigators years ago, but it just never called her attention. She told us that she's very interested right now in her life and that she has been waiting to get in contact with us. She asked for a Book of Mormon and now wants us to pas by Monday.

So many miracles every day!

I love you guys so much!

Love you

Élder Benjamin Taylor