Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day, New Missionaries & New Software in the Office

Day of Nostalgia--gotta love the 80's

Fasting from English

This is the letter we got from Ben on August 16, 2014. It was in Spanish and I took it to google translate in order to post it. I will also include the version in Spanish at the bottom of the post.

Hello Family
This week I am fasting from English . I'll try to write in Spanish because it will be good practice for me. I will surely be grammatically wrong but I hope everyone can understand me .

On Wednesday, I started my English fast. It has been a difficult environment and a real hassle at times. I thank you for your package and also pictures of the scripture covers you have made for me. I feel very loved and very happy to have such a loving family. I hope everyone will improve in health. (we were all suffering from seasonal allergies when we wrote) How strange is the new climate . Here we are in the winter and it's not even cold and there with the very low temperature in the summer, which is odd.

Here, I am working with Elder Galeano to fix some problems we were having with the IMOS system ( the system we use to manage all administrative things). We also continue the mission of teaching Humberto Belka. Our greatest challenge with most of our investigators is to encourage them to go to the Chapel on Sunday. We want to help our investigators to be responsible for their own will (choices).

In the Mission we have introduced something called " Getting to Be a Missionary of Preach My Gospel. " This is a program that is based on personal research activities in Preach My Gospel. We have to do each activity and then take our study journal to President Cook so he can see that we did everything and then he will sign a paper saying we are a Missionary of Preach My Gospel. I'm working on it in my personal studies and am learning a lot. I invite all who can make these practices part of their studies now, because they are the preparation that I was missing before coming to the Mission. There are 110 activities in total (JT should do these) . I will send the list that we use here in the Mission ( in Spanish ). They have strengthened my testimony so much. The list that Ben referred to is an Excel spreadsheet. If anyone wants it, please let me know-email me at and I will send the file to you. It will not be in English, but that might be part of the fun.

I love you,

Elder Benjamin Taylor

Hola Familia,
Esta semana estoy ayunando de Inglés. Yo voy a intentar escribirles en español porque será una buena practica para mi. Seguramente voy a equivocarme gramaticalmente pero espero que todos me puedan entender. 
Este miércoles empecé mi ayuno de Inglés. Ha sido medio difícil y la verdad una molestia a veces. Les agradezco para su paquete y también para las tapas de escrituras que uds me hicieron. Me siento muy amado y muy contento por tener una familia tan amorosa. Espero que todos se mejoren de la salud. Que raro es la clima recién. Acá estamos en el invierno y ni siquiera hace frío y allá con la temperatura tan bajo en el verano, que raro.
Acá estoy trabajando con Élder Galeano en arreglar algunos problemas que estábamos teniendo con la sistema IMOS (la sistema que usamos para manejar todas las cosas administrativas de la misión. Seguimos enseñando a Belka y Humberto; nuestro desafío mayor con la mayoría de nuestros investigadores es animarles ir a la capilla el Domingo. Queremos ayudarles ser agentes responsables por su propio albedrío.
En la Misión hemos introducido algo que se llama "Como Llegar a Ser un Misionero de Predicad Mi Evangelio." Esto es una programa que se basa en las actividades de Estudio personal en Predicad Mi Evangelio. Tenemos que hacer cada actividad y después llevar nuestro diario de estudio a Presidente Cook para que el pueda ver que hicimos todo y después el va a firmar un papel diciendo que somos un Misionero de Predicad Mi Evangelio. Yo estoy trabajando en eso en mis estudios personales y estoy aprendiendo a ful. Les invito a todos que puedan hacer esas practicas porque son la preparación que a mi me faltaba antes de venir a la Misión. Son 110 actividades en total (JT debe hacerlos). Les enviaré la lista que usamos acá en la Misión (en español). Han fortalecido mi testimonio muchísimo
Les amo,
Élder Benjamin Taylor

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Birthday Celebrations and Missionaries in the Projects!

Hey everybody!

So great to hear that school is back in swing. Thank you so much for this letter. 

It was great to hear how everyone is doing. I know Dad will be fine and will give his body the attention it needs. I know also that all of you back home will be of great support for him. John has to change some things in his diet due to some test results. When John diets and exercises, the whole family benefits. This is a change that will be good for our family.

I'm so proud of you Will! Good job on your first day of school. Make sure you study really hard and behave for your teacher. William was nervous about his first day of second grade, but found his classroom all by himself and loves his new teacher.

(BYUI Classes) That´s super exciting! The Pathways program is also down here and recently they had a series of firesides about the same program you and Dad are going to do. They're also offering courses to learn English, so lots of young adults and even parents here are thinking about doing it. John and I are going to do the Pathways program the church is offering which will get us credit hours at BYUI and tuition at an amazing rate. We both have several years of college from before we got married, but then life happened and we did not finish. Now we are going to start this path to getting our college degrees together and are excited about this program the church has created. 

This last week was amazing! It was Ben's 20th birthday on August 3rd. Everyone was so amazing! My companion made me a Frozen Custard Cake (he cooks really well). The Burnett family (the senior missionary couple that works here in the offices) invited all of the office missionaries and Sister Training Leaders over for a birthday dinner for me. They made American food: Pork chops and mushrooms served with homemade mashed potatoes, broccoli, cole-slaw, and a white gravy. For the birthday cake, we had a delicious Lemon Cake and ice cream. It was a great time to spend with them. They're always so kind and loving to us. 

I also made a Derby Pie today (What I was going to do last P-day, but we ran out of time) and it was amazing!!! Shared it with everyone in the house and it was something that no one had had before. 

Outside of that, this week was great. We recently found out that our only progressing investigator doesn´t actually live in our area or even in the stake. She is from Belloni (pronounced bay-show-nee) from the stake Maroñas (right next to Libia, my first area). It's a 50 min bus ride that she's apparently been taking every weekend for the last few weeks. She had accepted a baptismal date for today, actually (the 9th of August), but it's going to be pushed back a week or two. That's been a little difficult for us. 

When we leave the offices, it's already dark outside and no one is in the street, making it hard to find many new people to teach. I know she'll still get baptized eventually. She has been prepared more than most people I have met, to receive the gospel at this time in her life. She is planing on attending the ward closer to her home this week with a friend who is a member. We'll keep praying for her.

In happier news we have payed all of the rents for this month without any huge problems!!! Just lots of trips to and from the world trade center. It looks like because of some visa complications I won´t be able to get my licence to drive here. 

Another funny story: apparently we've been paying rent for this house in our mission for a few years. I was reading the contract, and a few of the notices that the missionaries have been getting at their door, and it turns out that we've been renting an apartment from someone who is (illegally) renting out government project housing. So basically, we have missionaries living in the projects. They're nice projects, not dangerous, but legally you can't charge rent to someone else for a house that the government has loaned to you. 

That has been a little bit of a hassle for us to fix and it has made for an interesting story and a good learning experience as to why it is important to review the contracts of all the houses frequently and carefully. I can comfortably say that I understand most housing contracts better than any given native Spanish speaker after having read hundreds by now.

Everything is great back here. I'm very thankful for all of the things you sent. I just got the box yesterday! I wore the t-shirt around the house today.  I'll make sure to send pictures next week since I forgot to bring my camera. We sent Ben a small box of things he requested and a few things he didn't for his birthday. We have to keep the packages small due to the restrictions with customs and the cost to send things to him. We did not want him to go without something from home for his birthday. It is always a relief when the package arrives complete and in a reasonable time frame.

Happy anniversary! (John and I just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary)
Y'all take care!

Élder Benjamin Taylor

Pday last weekend when we played Fútbol with the Uruguay Montevideo West Mission.
Elder Gallagher, Me, Elder Salas, Elder Rodriguez, Elder Eraso, Elder Quezada, Elder Rydalch, Elder Pointer, Elder Galeano, Elder Plautz

Helping Dad & Derby Pie

This is Ben's letter from August 2, 2014

Hola familia,

Hope everything is going well back home. I really miss those kind of projects back home. 

The next thing Ben is going to refer to is about working on a used car we just got. He will reminisce about helping Dad with various projects when he was at home. 
We told him in our letter for the week about the time we were going to spend doing some work on this car we just purchased. The car is a 1999 Chrysler Sebring that my Dad originally purchased earlier in the summer and after doing some work on it, he found one he liked more. It was a great price and we decided it to add it to the other red vehicles that we own. The real reason we got this car was to eventually replaced the minivan Justin has been driving. The Ford Windstar minivan (The Man-Van, as Justin calls it) is dying a slow, painful death and we needed another older vehicle to replace it. The minivan has over 235,000 miles on it and nearly everything has gone wrong with it or is about to.
Justin posing (not so willingly) on the first day of school in front of his favorite vehicle, referred to as the 'Man-Van'. William also wants a minivan when he learns how to drive because Justin has made him think it is so cool.

The Sebring is a convertible and the top was in bad shape. The previous owner had purchased a new top but never installed it. After 18 man hours to do it ourselves, we can understand why the previous owner hesitated. It now has a new roof and looks pretty good for a 15 year old car. 

I remember standing with my hand on my hips, holding a flashlight while Dad did all the work. Hopefully by the time I'm old (dad's age) I'll be able to fix things while my kids watch/hold the flashlight. That's really fun. I'm sure it will come out great. 

The weather has really improved. the other day it got to like 19°C which is like 66°F. It's just raining a lot and constantly sprinkling. This morning we went to "Punta Carretas" to play soccer (fútbol) with the office elders from Uruguay Montevideo West Mission. It was fun, with a constant light sprinkle along the beach (for that reason I didin´t take my camera out of the car so there aren´t any pictures). 

This afternoon for my birthday I am planing on making Derby Pie. I think it was Aunt Jen who introduced Ben to the only thing better than a Pecan Pie, a Derby Pie, which is basically a pecan pie with chocolate added. He has loved it ever since. I just need to find pecans at a fairly reasonable price. For me, the best P-day activity is almost always cooking closely followed by a nap.

This week has been good, We are almost done with the paying all of the rents for the month. Elder Galeano is learning fast. I put him to work filling out the paperwork and reading the contracts of the houses in order to put the landlords bank accounts in the churches payment system. It's a rather complex and time consuming process.

We heard back from President Cook about changing the time in the offices from 4 changes to 3 changes (24 weeks to 18 weeks). President has changed his mind for now and has decided that it would be too quick of a change and that a lot of things could easily be lost between generations of elders,so for now we're going to keep with the 4 change cycle. Ben told us about the change a while back and it would have shortened the time he was in the office. Now he for sure will be in the office for a total of 6 months.

Love you all so much. I hope you all have a great week.

Élder Benjamin Taylor

Service and Staying Warm

Here is Ben's letter from July 28, 2014

Hola Familia,

It is so exciting to hear back from y´all this week. It sounds like everything seems to be going well with band camp and getting school started.

This week has been great! I´m emailing on Monday because we changed p-day to Monday to be able to do a service activity with the Elders Quorum. We divided up into three groups and did three different service activities. One group helped a Hermana who needed her grass cut really bad. Another group helped a recent convert that had a stroke who lives alone. She needed help doing some deeper cleaning around the house. The third group put some lighting in a dark passageway that leads to another Hermanas house to make it less dangerous at night for her. Overall, it was great and well organized.

This ward is probably closest to a fully functioning ward back in the United States. Everything is done by the book and the numbers are high enough to where everyone doesn't need to have 5 callings. 

This last week was spent preparing the payments for this next round of rents. In other news, me, my companion and Elder Burnett are working on a new larger project for the mission. For everyone to heat their house, they either uses a fireplace or a propane furnace. Ever since I've been here, the mission has only handed out little tiny electric heaters, but no one ever uses them because they're really expensive to use with the price of electricity in Uruguay. So, we are now investing in propane stoves, which are much cheaper and more effective.

We are also getting tanks of propane for the missionaries to be able to actually use heating in their house. The concrete houses maintain themselves at a fairly constant 40°F even when it's a little warmer outside. The mission president had no idea that the missionaries didn't use any kind of heating because they were afraid to raise the electricity bill. This way we'll just contract with the gas company to do refills for the missionaries and everyone will not need to silently suffer through the winter. Surely by next winter, we should have every house loaded with a propane stove. Whoo Hoo!! sometimes it's about the little things.

These last two Sundays were amazing! The first Sunday, we had 2 investigators in church (a real struggle to achieve for us), and this Sunday one of the original two came back. We had President Cook visiting our ward. He came to the Gospel Principles class and there were 3 Recent Converts and 9 Investigators and 2 less actives in the process of reactivating in the class. The work is really accelerating here in Malvín. We recently had a family baptized along with two other people in the last 3 weeks. The ward has really done their part to help them stay active. The ward is just booming with the excitement of growth. It had a small dormant period when the two wards joined and everyone was getting to know each other. It's super exciting! The weekly attendance has gone from about 95 when I first got here to 120 this last week. This has been the goal for the South America South Area: Substantial and Measurable Growth in the Church Attendance. The work is progressing here. I know that it is the same for all of the world, and back home. The Lord is preparing hearts, ours and those that are getting ready to receive the gospel.

I love you all so much!

Élder Benjamin Taylor