Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meet the New District Leader

This is the latest letter from Ben. It came on 11-18-14

Hola Familia,

Congrats on the snow. I honestly miss the snow a lot..

This last week was super crazy. We went to Montevideo to go to the hospital because Elder Rollins had an ingrown toenail. They cut it out (gross) then we stayed the night for the conference we had the folowing day with Elder Craig C. Christensen (First Presidency of the 70). It was a combined Misión Uruguay Montevideo, Misión Uruguay Montevideo Oeste (West) conference.
I learned a lot. It's always amazing to get to listen to any general authority speak, especially in person.

Zone Rocha. 
Top Row left to right: Elder Mendoza (Italia) , Elder Ramirez (El Salvador), Elder Martinez (USA), Elder Hansen (USA), Elder Taylor (USA), Elder Delgado (Ecuador)
Bottom row left to right: Elder Morales (Chile), Elder Gallagher (USA), Elder Florián (Colombia), Elder Guttierrez (Perú), Elder Rollins (USA), Elder Rae (USA)

We came back on the bus with the rest of the zone and went home and since then Élder Rollins has had his foot put up. The doctor told him to take a 5-6 days of only walking within the house then to take it really easy for the following week. They took out a large portion of his toe, so it's still a little tender when he steps on it. But yesterday we got to leave for a little while.

We set a goal to read all of the book of Mormon in Spanish (about 100 pages longer than in English) out loud while we've been stuck in the house. We've almost finished. It's been a great experience and we're probably going to have to take a few hours out of P-day to be able to finish.

Well tomorow are changes. Thankfully I am staying with Elder Rollins for at least one more change. There was one change though. I will be the new District leader over the Companionships of Rocha 1A (Elder Delgado and his new companion) Rocha 1B (The Zone Leaders) and La Paloma (Elder Rae and I).
I've never been district leader before so I'm a little nervious, but excited to do it. Tomorrow, I'm going to Montevideo to receive some training in the Changes Meeting.

We`ve been so blessed here in La Paloma. Long story short: one of the less active's that we've been working with has set a goal to do her family history work and go to the temple. She was baptized in Guaruyá Brasil about 35 years ago, so we asked a few weeks ago to have her records transfered here to La Paloma but they were never found.

It turns out that the first time she has attended a sacrament meeting after her baptism 35 years ago in Brasil, was with us, the first week we arrived. 
So... she was never confirmed leaving her baptism incomplete and for that reason is not found in the  records of the church. We've had a great time teaching her everything (because she had forgotten everything to do with the gospel in these 35 years) and she is now attending church with us and reading the scriptures. She is praying instead of reciting, and doing her family history. We extended her the Baptisimal Commitment the other day and she understood completely that her last baptism was left incomplete by not being confirmed and is now excited to be baptized again.

I now have a strong testimony of Family History and working with less active members to find people to teach. If we had not organized the branch activity to do family history to help the members to be able to bring names to the temple, we would have never thought to look for her Membership ID#, nor realized that she was not a member. It's amazing how the Lord works in such mysterious ways.

Well I love you all so much and I hope everyone is doing great back home.


Élder Benjamin Taylor
Ben and Elder Rollins took some pictures of the lighthouse he wanted to share this week.

This is the spiral staircase on the inside that takes you to the top of the lighthouse. Ben has decided he is not a big fan of spiral staircases after climbing this one to the top.

Ben sure does love Uruguay!
The view of La Paloma from the top of the lighthouse

Elder Rollins on the top of the lighthouse

Baptism & Pancakes

Ben's letter from 11-10-14

Hola Familia,

This was another great week, busy, but great!

We were blessed with the baptism with Yanina Gaúna this last Tuesday. I feel comfortable saying that she is easily one of the best converts I've ever seen. The fellowshipping in the branch has been great with her. She already has done a little family history and has 6 names to take to the temple when we go. She has an amazing testimony, reads, turns to prayer when the times get difficult. She has been finding us people to teach and giving us the references, then goes with us to contact them. 
Preident Trinidad, Elder Rollins, Wully Torres, Yanina Gauna, Elder Taylor

On her way to church she passed by an old widow (who she met in the past weeks at church), that hadn't been planning on going. She waited for her to get ready and helped her walk to church and sat by her during the classes. I just think of the changes she's made in her life, and the person she's become and it just brings tears to my eyes. The gospel of Jesus Christ is such a powerful force of change in peoples lives. I've learned that a lot recently.

The activity we planned to plan the temple trip ended up falling through because no one could come. We had made 24 pancakes for the 12 people we were expecting and just us, one sister, and presidente Trinidad came. So we ended up with a ton of pancakes to eat between the four of us.
American Pancakes
Uruguayan Pancakes

In the pictures you can see the difference between an American pancake and an Uruguayan pancake. Everyone is always really surprised by how fluffy and delicate and yummy they are, and that we use sweet toppings, they use meats and other savory things on their pancakes.

So... we introduced the concept of going to the temple to everyone during the second hour on Sunday and everyone was extremely excited. We have already quite a few people that are planning on going with us.

Elder Rollins is doing great other than his ingrown toenail, which should be getting fixed on Wednesday when we go to Montevideo. 

All the things Ben uses to make homemade Empanadas

Elder Rollins eating his first empanada

This is the meal of fried foods Ben made

I love you all so much,

Élder Benjamin Taylor

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Baptism & Halloween

Ben's letter from November 3, 2014

Hola Presidente,

This was a great week, despite the constant drizzle these last few days.
Elder Rollins and I had our first baptism. It was of a small girl named Victoria. Her parents are both members (sealed in the temple). The father is inactive (until last week, when he came) and her mother in the process of reactivating. When Victoria was 8, her parents were going through a time of inactivity. Missionaries made contact with her and began to reactivate the mother. Her mother was extremely touched when her daughter was finally baptized, Victoria was as happy as could be, and her father came to church for the first time about 7 years and the district president invited him to stand in on the confirmation of Victoria. It was such a tender moment. The father later commented to us "hay pocas cosas en la vida que no se olvidan." We hope this will be a good experience for this family, and that may be a stepping stone in the conversion of her father.

Yanina (getting baptized this Tuesday in Rocha cause we don't have a baptismal font) is doing amazingly. She is extremely excited and has made great friends with so many members already. She has unknowingly/accidentally taken upon herself the responsibility of Visiting Teacher to some of the older widows in the branch. She goes by and visits them because in her own words, "if we're all brothers and sisters, we should act like it, and [she] needs some sisterly love." We're already working on getting her assignment right after her baptism to leave with another sister and do visiting teaching on a regular basis. She already started her family history and wants to go to the temple as soon as possible to be baptized for her mother. She also fasted with us this weekend and was super excited to be able to bear her testimony on Sunday.

These have been the first baptisms this branch has had in over a year and 3 months, so there's a lot of new excitement being generated and we want to keep it going.

We were blessed with great attendance this week despite the rain. There were 25 people and our little sacrament/living room, it was full. We had great participation in the testimony meeting.

We have been working with Presidente Trinidad on a "Vision" for the branch. We felt strongly that the branch should go to the temple before the end of the year. And get the branch started on family history to be able to bring 5 names to the temple for each person before the end of the year [we have 3 less actives and 1 recent convert that are very interested in family history]. We are going to be reinstituting Wednesday night activities to work on this together to as a branch, to have unity in something, all with the goal of getting to the temple as a branch before the end of the year. Some members have expressed that they feel like the organization of the branch is dead and that it's slowly letting some of the members fall into spiritual decay.

We're doing really well and are super excited to get this ball rollin', bring some excitement to La Paloma. Have them all working on and helping each other in a common cause.

This is our new 2014 Chevy Sonic.
I love the car. but, will we ever not have a red car, haha. (The minivan was burgundy, the Explorer was dark red, the Sebring is red and the Suburban is red. We were going to get another color if we ordered a 2015, but it was too good of a deal to take a 2014 that was on the lot. Maybe our next vehicle will not be red.)

Congrats On Qualifying For State Plainfield Marching Band!!!

Things are going great here, In case you were wondering: Halloween down here is new [started 6 years ago] and the kids don't go door to door, they go from store to store. It's just the businesses that give out candy, and not even every business does it. It's really sad...

Justin, Lily and Will on Halloween

Well I love you all so much. Take care.

Élder Benjamin Taylor