Here is the letter from Ben we got on June 21st.
So great to hear from you guys. Trek sounded like it was a success this year. I hope everyone had a great time and will remember the experience. I tried to explain what trek was to my companion and a few members and they didn't really get it. They understand the whole pioneer thing, but they don't quite get the whole period clothing. I think if someone could start this down here it would be rather successful. There are lots of just open fields here in Uruguay. Out in the interior of the country you could walk for days and only see cows.
So I'll update you on what we did this last P-day. First is Belka and Humberto.They are one of our favorite families right now. Humberto is a member of the church, was baptized at the age of 14 way up north in the country in Artigas. Then afterward when he was still young moved and couldn't find the Church. Fast forward almost 60 years and by now he has forgotten a large majority of what he had learned when he was a youth.
Élder Muñoz and Élder Oliviera found him in the street one day walking his dog and invited them to come by another day. Now for the first time in almost 60 years he has returned to the church. Getting to know his past. He talked to the ward secretary and asked him to look for his membership records. They sent a request to Salt Lake and about 4 days later they found his records. He was so excited to see the names of the missionaries who taught him, who baptized him, familiar but forgotten names. Now he is having a spiritual rebirth getting reconnected with his own personal history. It turns out that he never received the priesthood so that is his next goal; to have an interview with the bishop and to see what he needs to do to be ordained.
His wifes name is Belka. She is probably one of the nicest people I've met on the mission. She is a nonmember and is currently listening to the charlas. Every time we come over, she stops everything and makes us a steaming, creamy hot chocolate to fight away the cold outside. This last Pday we went to their house to make some lunch and to hang a "hood" above the range in their kitchen. Elder Muñoz cooked fried shrimp and fish Panamanian style with a delicious mango and papaya juice. It was so fun and a great opportunity to get to know them.
Belka is someone who believes a lot in God, but like most people doesn't have any way of showing it outwardly. You must remember that it is not a custom to go to church here. The people just aren't used to it. We're trying to help her understand that her relationship with her Father in Heaven is made so much stronger by the way that we live. By going to church and by making covenants with our Father in Heaven we show him that we are ready to receive more light, knowledge and insight in our lives.I forgot to tell you that story that Édler Muñoz shared. So we were waiting to take the bus (our most common type of transport). There is one bus that is the 64A and the 64B. Flagging it down Élder Muñoz asked me if 64B worked for where we were going. I said I wasn´t sure and figured we would just wait for one of the others that we knew worked.
The bus stopped for someone else and next thing I know Élder Muñoz is half way up the steps to get on the bus. "Ok", I say to myself, "I guess we're taking this bus." I make my way to the door (within arms reach of my companion) put my foot up on the first step and the doors close and I loose my grip on the handle inside of the bus.
So I'm standing in the bus stop, my companion had turned around and was looking at me through the glass with the biggest look of terror. (keep in mind, we are literally in the middle of the city right now full of people, basically chaos and confusion). It took about 3 seconds to register what had just happened, and I started running the 4 blocks to the next bus stop, hoping that my companion could get off in time for the next stop. Thankfully he was able to pay for the bus ticket (22 pesos or about a dollar) then get off in the next stop and run towards me.
It was ridiculous. We just sat down in the street breathing heavy from our sprints and adrenaline rushes, and just started laughing. Who knows how many members that were in that crowd saw me running like a wild man alone through the streets without my companion; But oh well, we did the best we could. And now I have a great memory of taking the bus.well. I love you guys. Thanks for all of your support and love.I love You Guys So Much,Élder Benjamin TaylorP.s. I got the letter from Dad with the first presidency message. Thanks, And by the way. The Open House was not just successful because we are in south america. Montevideo is basicaly the exact same culture as the states. They're no more receptive nor unreceptive than the people back home, it was successful because we had 6 missionaries and all the members inviting people at every opportunity we had for 5 weeks.
If anything it would be easier to get people to go to church back home because they don't need to take a 35 min bus ride and pay 7 dollars to take the bus to get to the church building. If they don't have a car, a member can give them a ride. In our congregation of 150 people, there are probably 6 cars in the parking lot every Sunday. Anyways that's my 2 cents on the subject.