Wednesday, August 6, 2014

1st Week in Paraguay - Rock paved roads - Language Mistakes/Struggles - Group/Not A Branch or Ward - Gratitude for Home Ward

Hey everybody! I hope this week has been awesome for you! It has been really interesting for me! It has been really hard, fun and has involved a lot of waiting on planes, lines, buses and lots more. There is a lot that has happened and I hope I can properly express how amazing this experience has already been.
When we took off from Atlanta Georgia almost a week ago, leaving the United States, it was really hard for me. I found myself with tears streaming down my face, while at the same time smiling because of how grateful i was to live in that country for my childhood. I was incredibly blessed to live in The United States of America for so long. Because of these tears I had, an old jewish lady noticed me and asked if I was okay, we then talked for a long time about our religions and she was very curious about missions, although she had no interest in reading The Book of Mormon I tried to give her a couple of times, I felt our conversation blessed both of us in some way, if that makes any sense at all... haha.
This is my companion Elder Collins and two other missionaries here in the Posadas Misssion. I was blessed to have an American Companion as my first comp, which is actually reallllllly uncommon especially in this mission. This could make the language more difficult to learn but we speak Spanish whenever we can, and we made a rule for ourselves to always speak in Spanish when we are out walking and not in our Pension. Speaking of walking I will show you a picture of our Roads here. All I can say, is... they are kinda dumb. Haha they are on EVERY road without fail.
Many people here think that we are here as American Spies to steal there road system. I will just say, that I will NEVER want these roads in America! haha they do it this way to help with all the rain, but it really starts to bug your feet after a while because the rocks are so uneven and they poke up and trip you all the time!
One of my real struggles here in this mission is the language. It really is worse than the typical mission as far as languages go! Almost everybody here understands a bit or more of Spanish, but ALL speak Guarani. When we speak Spanish to them, they get a bit annoyed. It is a bit frustrating for me, because I am here trying my hardest to understand how they feel and how I can help them, but they aren't as receptive because I only know about 5 words of Guarani. I am still really positive about everything though! We have a baptism coming up next Saturday for a boy named Fernando, and in 3 weeks for a girl named Laticia! Laticia's story is pretty interesting, but I don't have time to share today sorry! Maybe next week!

These kids are SO fun to be around! Their dad just made this little contraption for them and they were celebrating with all their friends. One of their favorite things to do with me is to try and say my name. I always tell them to just say it how it would be in Spanish, (Grawbes) but when I try to get them to say it in English they can not do it! They always end up saying something along the lines of Groofs or Gres or Groos. For some reason they just can't do it...haha.  Each child here is a member of the church, but there aren't many more unfortunately. Our branch is so small, it is not even called a branch. It is actually just called a group, but despite the small size, the retention is incredible, and that is perhaps more important. Everybody here who is a member goes weekly and is involved with church service and other things daily.

This is my first day, and I loved how jungly this area looked! Haven't seen any monkeys yet but I am remaining hopeful! What I have seen a lot of is dogs. Dogs dogs dogs EVERYWHERE. It is crazy. They aren't ever mean (yet) so that's good.

Okay well I will leave you with a thought.  Many times as we are in America and we have a beautiful ward to go to, we don't realize how blessed we are. I was the same way. Now I realize how blessed I was and I wish I had been more involved with my ward. I hope all of you will take the opportunity to enjoy mutual (I mean cmon you get to talk to people in English!) and be a helper in your ward as much as you can.

Thanks again for reading, It means a lot when I hear from so many of you. I love you all,

Ps I totally forgot to tell say that there is also a lot of Portuguese here. It is crazy because I am always listening for Spanish and then all the sudden I can't understand anything. I actually used to wonder if the gift of tongues had left me when they switch languages but my comp always makes sure, now, that I know they have switch languages. Haha he is a nice guy. Oh and speaking of him I just remembered something else. When he got here, he hadn't studied Spanish at all. He didn't know ANY Spanish coming into the field. He said that he was never a part of the lessons until a few months in. Now only 9 months later, he is perfectly fluent. He amazes me and definitely gives me a sense of hope. He is always telling me how impressed he is with my Spanish already. I have a long way to go but I know I can do it!

Holy cow just had one last thought. As we were walking the streets yesterday I made a pretty big mistake with my language and it was pretty funny... We walked by this group of people and I meant to say Hola todos! Which is supposed to mean, hello everyone! But I accidentally switched the d in todos for an r. Entonces I said, Hola toros! Which actually means hello bulls! They all looked pretty offended... haha oh well! They know I'm a gringo so its all good! 

k that was my last though. Love you all......!"!!

Write to Elder Graves in 1 of 4 ways:
1. Send mail through
They will print and mail it for you at no cost (without a stamp).  This is a free service. Instructions:
Select the "Argentina Posadas Mission"
2. Send letters through the Church Pouch Mail Only postcards or one-page correspondences (no envelopes).

Fold the letter in thirds, secure the long side with tape about one inch in from each end. Do not seal the ends. Stamp and address the blank side as you would an envelope. Use the following mailing address:
Elder Taylor Graves
Argentina Posadas Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City, UT
3. Physical Mailing Address.
Due to exorbitant costs incurred in the country of Argentina by the church, He can not receive packages :-( - not even a bubble envelope. Please refrain from sending anything other than an envelope/letter - anything else will likely be returned to sender.

Elder Taylor Graves
Córdoba 1243
Posadas, Misiones 3300
Casilla 12
4. E-mail - Taylor will only have a very limited amount of time (30-90 minutes - once/week) to access the computer. They travel about 5-6 hours round trip on a bus to access their e-mail and may or may not be able to reach a computer every week.

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