Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ben didn't say a bunch this week. He has a church issued debit card and he has his own debit card and we noticed that he takes money out from an ATM  monthly and asked him why he does it that way and if it was safe to carry around cash. Cash was his Christmas present via his account as well.  He said he does as few ATM transactions as possible to avoid fees for multiple transactions. The church card is Bank of America, which doesn't charge a fee but the bank owner of the ATM does. Likewise his personal debit card from a local bank here doesn't charge a fee, so he does minimize the fees. He usually pays a $1 or $2 ATM fee plus 1% exchange fee. From talking to other missionary parents, he's doing pretty well in that respect as fees can easily be $10 per transaction. His words regarding safety of his money: 

I always carry money in the Kanga Pouch.  In reality, we are pretty safe from getting pick-pocketed here.  I still carry my wallet with a copy of my passport and I've never had a problem and I haven't met a missionary that has been pick-pocketed but I would rather play it safe.

We had asked us to tell us about people he was teaching:

We don't really have investigators yet but we do have inactive members that are progressing. A reactivation is equal to a baptism.  In both instances, we are helping others on the path to salvation.

Last week Ben told us he hadn't received any letters from us in three weeks.  We do write to him every week. We also sent him a package because he needed contacts and we had to wait for the new flex spending year. The package included a box of brownie mix and some M&Ms:

Oh and can you send me recipes for cookies and brownies from scratch? I had a zone conference on Thursday so I got my package (and six letters!!!!) on that day. We made the brownies and remembered how superior desserts from the United States are so we want to try and bake some.

The most recent letter he got was three weeks ago, so some of those letters were from late November. The postal system there is not the greatest, but we're also not sure some of the hold up might not have been from the mission office.  His former companion (recuperating in the office) said he gathered stuff for Ben.

We're hoping to start getting Ben's own updates for the blog and pictures soon. We'll post as soon as we do.

Monday, January 20, 2014

As Ben said last week, he intends to send future blog posts via regular mail. That will delay things significantly, but we are very willing to share the things that aren't private that he sends us in email.  Stuff he sends us seems to make it here faster than stuff we send him.  He hasn't received a letter from us for three weeks, even though we write him weekly. He only gets mail once a week because items are mailed to the office and they distribute it at weekly zone meetings. 

Ben mentioned that it rained there this week, only the second time it has rained since he got there.  The other time was during the night.  He also said his house is smaller than his old one (which we thought was pretty small as it was). 

Regarding last week's surprise transfer we had asked him how it worked logistically:

I got the call on Friday, but I didn't find out where I was going until Monday.  President doesn't want us to be distracted.  Everyone getting transferred took their luggage to the office.  I took it via taxi.  It looks like transfers will always be on Mondays. I guess that means we won't take time out of proselyting.

We asked about his new companion:

My companion is Elder Mateus from Colombia.  He is great.  He works like a machine and we study better and plan better than I did before.  I work really hard with him.  He has a really good attitude as well.  He is always happy.  I like him a lot.  I really like my roommates too.  Elder Bert from Massachusetts who was in the MTC with me and a Brazilian.  They are both good fun loving guys who work hard.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Surprise Transfer

First a note from the parents:

You might recall that Ben previously mentioned his companion resting his hurt foot and spending lots of time at home.  Last Monday his companion went to the doctor and it turns out his foot is broken in two places. His companion has been reassigned to the office (desk work), and Ben got a surprise transfer to a new area with a new companion.  Usually missionaries spend two transfer cycles, which equates to about 12 weeks, with their trainers in his mission. Ben is still considered a trainee, and will finish his training with his new companion. The transfer just occurred today, so he doesn't know a great deal about his new area yet and he didn't tell us much except that his new home is similar to his old one and neither were as nice as any of the other missionary homes he has seen.  He didn't tell us his new companion's name, but he did say he is Latino and had been out 19 months and that he speaks better English than his previous companion.

Here's what Ben sent for the blog:

According to the mission rules, we are only supposed to use the computers for one hour every Monday.  Between writing my friends and family, the Mission President, and posts for the blog, this isn't very much time and I am rushed.  In an effort to be more obedient to the mission rules, I have decided that I am going to send the posts home via snail mail, so it might be a while before my next post.  I hope my posts will be more inclusive and more organized that way too.  So until then, ¡Èxito a todos! 

Not to worry, we will keep you updated. Ben has only sent us one thing from Chile and it came relatively fast compared to what we have sent him. He also intends to send us pictures on an SD card instead of trying to download them. He has two cards now so we can exchange them.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ye Shall Know Them By Their Fruits

On New Year’s Eve, all of the missionaries had to be in their houses by 6:00 in the evening for safety reasons*.  That gave us time to celebrate for ourselves though.  We got some bricks and a grate, bought some charcoal, and two kilos of fresh beef from the meat market around the corner.  We rubbed it with merkèn (which I have heard is a spice from the Mapuche Indians native to Chile), oregano and salt.  It was some of the most delicious beef I have had in my life.  It was amazing.  At midnight, fireworks went off throughout the streets.  It was a fun time. 

Besides the New Year, there isn't a whole lot to include this week and I am running low on time.  I would like to share a scripture though. 

 Matthew 7:15-20 says:

15¶Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep ’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves .

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits . Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit ; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

There are many false prophets in the world today, but not many have tangible fruit like the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Don't dismiss him as a prophet before you have examined his fruit, the Book of Mormon.  In order to know if the fruit is good, read the Book of Mormon, and ask God if it is true through sincere prayer and you will receive an answer.  God always answers the prayers of the faithful.  I have read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know of its truth.  I have received an answer .  It wasn't a great manifestation from God, but a simple, sincere feeling of testimony.  Read it. Try the fruit and know for yourself if Joseph Smith was a prophet.  This is my invitation in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Have a great year of 2014 everyone! ¡Èxito!
*I don't think Ben knows we get the mission newsletter. They were supposed to use the time to thoroughly clean their house. But the beef sounds good!