Monday, June 16, 2014

Cool Picture!

This is a picture Ben sent a few weeks ago. I love it!

It is graffiti that Ben found and got his picture taken in front of. The funny thing is that the word "Barrio" can mean neighborhood, but they use that word to mean "Ward" (the way we organize congregations in our church based on geographic boundaries). 

This is a great picture of Ben and you can see how much he loves Montevideo and being on his mission.

Found Uruguayan Gram--Very Short Letter

I am finally caught up!!!
This is the letter we just got from Ben on June 14, 2014. I felt bad because we did not have the ability to send Ben a nice long letter like usual due to Youth Conference the end of the week. This year was Trek (pushing handcarts in pioneer clothing and sleeping outdoors for 3 days). As Stake Young Women President, I was busy with making sure things went well and John came as support for the Logistics person. It looks like he did not have time this week to do a long letter either, so it all worked out. We will both send longer letters next week.

Send me pictures of trek

I was at an investigators house all day so we didn't get to email the full time. I'm gonna email better next week.

I found the Uruguayan version of Gram. She cooks amazingly and acts the exact same way, and is about the same height. 

Her name is Belka and she is investigating the church. Her husband is a member and we had lunch with them, and did some service all day today. 

It was super fun. 

Love you guys!!!

Élder Benjamin Taylor

Changed Jobs in the Office & Transfers--Busy Week!

This is the letter we got from Ben on June 7, 2014. This was another letter I did not get posted in a timely manner. Enjoy!

¡¡Hola Familia!!

This week has been fantastic... ly busy. This last week was the week of cambios or transfers (where all of the missionaries come here to go to their new areas). This week we only had 6 Oros arrive (what we call the new missionaries) and 7 Valientes head back home (what we call the missionaries in their last 6 weeks).

Ben and Elder Munoz on the day they picked up the Oros (new missionaries) 

Elder Muñoz and I also changed responsibilities in the offices. I was the Tarjetero (card manager) and mainly was in charge of all basic missionary funds like the
-Missionary Cards
-Monthly Allowance
-Reimbursements to missionaries for travel expenses (City Bus mainly)
-Cell phones
-Medical Insurance Solicitations
-Vehicle Gas and basic maintenance purchasing
-And the Cards of the adult missionaries to purchase mission related expenses

Now as the Chequero (Check Maker) and Housing Coordinator I:
-Pay the rent of all 88 missionary Apartments
-Pay the Water and Light Bills of each House
-Manage all city taxes (the houses in Montevideo all have specialized taxes to pay for various public works)
-Buy/Order Food for conferences
-Rent Bus charter companies to bring the missionaries to and from conferences/changes
-Prepare a monthly report of all spending in the mission and meet with President Cook to control the mission budget
-Make/Cash Checks for various large mission related expenses
-Control the Petty Cash fund (extra 25,000 Uruguayan Pesos used for emergency and unforeseen expenditures)

So now I'm starting to adjust to my new responsibilities. I spend a large majority of my time calling the land lords and reading the contracts to fix any kind of dispute the land lord and reality companies have with us. It's probably one of the most stressful things I've ever done, yet I find it very fulfilling. 

I thought I was a fairly patient person before the mission, but that has been tried lately. I've been praying  for patience and help with more frequency than I think I ever have. I can honestly say that my Father in Heaven is hearing my prayers. He is providing me with people to help, problems that were huge at one point are just fixing themselves. I can't be thankful enough for the help that I've received.

We were also blessed to have been able to pay all of the rents for the month of June almost 5 days earlier than the deadline, with almost 90% less problems than what we had this last month. 

And having everything done early we were able to leave the offices and work (like a real missionary) almost 3 full days (after 4 in the afternoon) this week. We have been having great lessons talking with everyone we see. So many people have been prepared by the Lord to hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

After this week I know that I have a loving Heavenly Father who loves me, that helps me with the seemingly small and insignificant things.

I Love You All More Than You'll Ever Know,

Élder Benjamin Taylor

Better Late then Never-Letter and Pictures from May 31, 2014

First, I must apologize for how long it took me to post this letter. This is a letter and pictures we received on May 31, 2014. Life has been a little hectic, so it took me a while to get everything done. I am very sorry for the delay. I hope you enjoy his letter and all of the pictures we got this time.

Hola Familia,

I'm so glad to hear that things are going well back home. I know I've said it a few times (still not enough), but you guys are amazing! Thank you Mom and Dad for all of your sacrifices on behalf of us, your kids. It means so much. I realize now how ungrateful/unobservant I was before the mission. 

Every time I look back to any moment in my childhood, I see the difficult things you had to do, the hard times you persevered through, the sacrifice; but it never affected my happiness or the love that you showed to me. I was so blessed to have an easy childhood. Being here "in the real world" (or at least the closest I've been to it) on my own and far away; I've seen other families, home situations, and the lack of a stable parental environment and it has been very hard to see honestly. It has made me think a lot recently about what does it meant to have two loving dedicated parents. 

This week we (I, Elder Gallagher, Elder Muñoz, and Elder Hansen) went to the house of an investigator of Elder Gallagher and Elder Hansen, named Roberto. He is 73ish yrs old, living with his 6 yr old  grandson Alex. They have passed through alot of trials in life. 

Roberto & Alex

Roberto was married to a member of the church, but about 10 years ago she died. After that, one of his children had Alex then stepped out of the picture leaving him with the grandpa Roberto. Recently, in the last two years, Roberto had a stroke leaving the left part of his body severely affected. And all this time caring for Alex (he reminds me alot of Will). 

Now he's a lot better health-wise, can walk to a point, but it is still a struggle to do lots of the basic household tasks. Now he is listening to the lessons and wants to eventually be sealed to his wife (a faithful member while she was living) in the temple. 

Roberto is a great man, but it was very obvious that he was in need of a lot of help. So the other Elders organized a service activity with the Elders Quorum to help him do some deep cleaning in his house. The activity was great. He was in need of a lot of help.

The ward is being very helpful in making him feel loved. I think the Relief Society will also be playing a fairly large part in the future in helping this lovely family. 

About the Pictures:

So this last p-day we went to Ciudad Vieja to go see some of the most popular sights in Montevideo. 

It's not a huge city but it has a beautiful older neighborhood.

A lot of the spanish and Italian Influence is seen in the buildings and in the streets.

This is a cool building in Montevideo--Ben did not know the name of the building but liked the way it looked

This is the most touristy area in Montevideo. 

The Feria (fair) is where you can purchase many items. These are gourds that are for sale in the Feria
José Gervasio Artigas Arnal (June 19, 1764 – September 23, 1850) is a national hero of Uruguay, sometimes called "the father of Uruguayan nationhood"

This is the monument of Artigas

Ben by the monument of Artigas in the Plaza Independencia

According to Wikipedia, Artigas was exiled to Paraguay in 1820 and he died in 1850, at age 86. It is said that Artigas, feeling himself to be near death, asked for a horse and died in the saddle, as a gaucho. His remains were buried and then re-interned at the Panteón Nacional in 1855. On the 19th of June, 1977, his remains were transferred to the Artigas Mausoleum in the centre of the Plaza Independencia. 

From the plaza with the Artigas statue you're about a 3 min walk away from the beach. This is technicaly out of our mission but because we always have to come here to go to the bank or to deal with card problems President Cook lets us go on p-day if we want because it's practically our area.

Well, I love you guys so much!

With Love Élder Taylor

Here are some other pictures Ben sent this week to show us where he is living.

This is a look down the street in his neighborhood
This is the view towards the ocean from Ben's apartment window

This is his apartment building (the tall one)