Monday, August 24, 2015

To Trust Self Or Spirit...Lesson Learned...Miracle On The Paraguayan Bus - Watching "The Restoration" With Everyone On The Bus - Teaching Elder Godoy's Mother!

I think I learned another lesson about following the spirit. As I am just arriving here in Paraguay, it is very important that I do my paper work to be legal here. I had to go to Asuncion Paraguay (7 ish hours away in bus) to do all the paper work, along with several other missionaries, including some new missionaries who are from Brazil and they helped me with my Portuguese a little bit. More than anything it was interesting to show them how to speak Spanish, as they, in my brain, look like they should speak better Spanish than me!
As I got on the bus, we were 3 Elders, and 6 Sisters. I was in charge, and had to make sure everything went well. That being said I could chose where everyone would sit. I had in mind that I would sit next to another missionary to help him get excited about the mission. As I got on the bus, I had a VERY distinct impression that I needed to sit by myself. I found this odd, because I felt that I should sit by a younger missionary to help him get excited about the mission. So... I didn't listen to the prompting. I sat next to another missionary, and helped him get excited about the mission life. As we traveled, we slept, (because we were traveling during the night) and when I woke up, we got off the bus.
Now, I am going to take a step back to the night before, when one of our investigators, who I had not yet met, was in her house thinking about the idea of baptism. (She told us this story a couple days later). As she thought, she looked at the Book Of Mormon, grabbed it, and started to read with the question in her mind if this really was the right path to take. She prayed, asked God if this was the true church, and felt quite disappointed as no angel broke out of the heavens to tell her the church was true.
She continued her day (which included going to the bus stop) to get on her way to Asuncion Paraguay. She got on the bus, and was shocked to see 3 sleeping representatives of the very same church that she had recently just prayed about. The seat that was on her bus ticket, was the empty seat to the side of the other Elder who was sitting alone - to the side of the seat where the Spirit told me to sit. As we traveled, she didn't even know who I was, but she felt a shocking feeling that this might have been an answer to her prayer. But we continued our journey without talking because we simply slept until the morning sun came.
We woke up and she explained who she was and that she was learning from another set of missionaries like us. We asked where she was from and she said, 2nd ward Ciudad del Este. I almost had a heart attack, because that is my new ward, and asked who was teaching her. She said, Elder Choez and a new missionary  from Argentina who she had not yet met. (That new missionary from Argentina is me)!
I know the Spirit works. I know that coincidences don't exist, and that we really were an answer to her prayer. God wanted me to have the chance to meet her, and get to know my future investigator,as a bonus blessing, but I didn't "make haste" to the prompting.
She has decided that she will be baptized, largely because of this answer to her prayer, this coming month.
I decided that for the rest of that day I would follow every prompting that came to me. On our way back home, after doing our paper work, and going to the temple grounds, I felt the need to ask the driver of the bus if we could put the Restoration movie on (as very frequently the movies they play very inappropriate). He kindly said yes and we watched with all of the people there in the bus. I was going to leave it at that, but when the movie ended I had a strong feeling that I needed to declare my testimony to the whole bus, everybody in the bus, of Joseph Smith. I stood up, and almost yelling (in order to be heard over the noise), gave my testimony to everyone there and explained our church.
I don't know if anyone will ever be baptized because of that experience, but I can for sure feel at least that I followed the promptings of the Spirit.
I have SO MANY stories this week! I will try to tell this one next week, but I will let you know that, an Elder in my last Zone was serving in this mission waiting for a visa to go to his own mission in Chile. When I got here in Ciudad del Este, I found out that the missionaries (sisters) were teaching his mom! She found out that I was here, and that I was her son's leader, and immediately asked me to come visit her with my companion. What a miracle that I can serve the mom of Elder Godoy. We will be trying to put a baptismal date this week.
Thanks for reading so much! Love you all!
Pictures should come later on today!


Elder Graves
Argentina Posadas Mission

LA IGLESIA DE
JESUCRISTO
DE LOS SANTOS
DE LOS ÚLTIMOS DÍAS

This is Taylor's Dad again: 

We never got another e-mail with pictures like we had hoped for, so...I am including several pictures that I haven't previously shared - from just before he left Argentina (sent to me by friends from his mission):



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----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Write to Elder Graves in 1 of 3 ways  :

1. E-mail tgraves@myldsmail.net

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
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
84130-0150

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. Physical Mailing Address:
 
Elder Taylor Graves
Córdoba 1243
Posadas, Misiones 3300
Casilla 12
Argentina

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Arrived In Paraguay - Learning Portuguese - New Companion Elder Choez Will Complete His Mission With Taylor, They Will Finish Well! - Always A Missionary - Eating At Pizza Hut In Paraguay!

Whoa. Ciudad del Este is not Argentina. It is crazy here! I didn't even realize this until recently but i am just a few miles from the border of Brazil and Argentina! So the people here all speak Spanish, Guarani, and Portuguese. There are lots of the Portuguese people that I can hardly understand. It is really funny the way they talk! It is like they are speaking Spanish with there mouth closed! So if there is a language that I will be learning while I am here, it will be Portuguese. I can sort of understand what they say when they speak already, and I can read it pretty fluently already because it is very similar to Spanish.

Another thing that is pretty interesting is that in Argentina if you are going to travel somewhere, you are going to travel in a huge, air conditioned, sofa chair, bus with people who will pass by to give you food occasionally. So that's the luxury I got used to over there, it kinda seemed like I was on a high class airplane every time we got on a bus. Now its another story. The buses are literally the same ones that they had in 1975 and before. They are so crazy, and I really don't know how they keep running and why they don't buy new buses! There are always little kids hanging out the doors to look if anybody needs to get on down the road. 

There are soooo many cars. Everywhere. Everywhere. I can not believe I haven't seen a wreck still. They just go and hope that they don't die. Its crazy! If you want to know what Ciudad Del Este looks like, watch the part of "The Bee Movie" when the main character is walking down the street and little cars are going at full speed in all directions.

The funniest thing for me is the accent of the Paraguayos! They talk so funny! I am so used to the Argentine accent. The people that we teach, when they guess where I am from say that I sound like I am from Argentina. When I tell them that I am from The United States they are always surprised :)

Well, some things that I have learned is that in the mission, there are no "breaks" from mission work. I find myself with a desire to share with everyone very often, and one of those moments was during my travels from Argentina to Ciudad del Este. As we went, I talked and had an hour long conversation or more, about the gospel, with 4 people. Talking with people about these things just makes me happy, and I realized, that sleeping on the bus only makes me want to sleep more, so I share about the gospel, as well as expressed the deep love that I have for my family. Each of them left that bus with something they were not expecting to come away with, and I am grateful that God had me be His tool in that way.

So, I am not really "sick" but the climate here was VERY different from what my body was used to. When I got off the bus, very quickly my throat started to feel kinda funny. Within just a few hours, my head hurt, and my voice was 100 percent gone. It was crazy! So for a whole day we had whispered lessons! It was an experience I wont forget! But all is well now, my voice has already been restored to normal luckily :) This experience really helped me realize that sometimes in life we forget that some of the greatest gifts are the ones we have always had. Vision, the ability to hear, to talk, to taste, to just go out into the air and take a deep breath. This week I learned, that none of these things I would have had without the infinite love of my maker.
 
This is my new companion, and he is from Ecuador! His name is Elder Choez, and I have known him for basically my whole mission.  I am very excited to have another great friend as a companion. He is finishing his mission this transfer, and we plan to end it well for him.

This picture was taken of us in the middle of Ciudad del Este eating at Pizza Hut! Yeah they have Pizza Hut!



Elder Graves
Argentina Posadas Mission

LA IGLESIA DE
JESUCRISTO
DE LOS SANTOS
DE LOS ÚLTIMOS DÍAS
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Write to Elder Graves in 1 of 3 ways  :

1. E-mail tgraves@myldsmail.net

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
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
84130-0150

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. Physical Mailing Address:
 
Elder Taylor Graves
Córdoba 1243
Posadas, Misiones 3300
Casilla 12
Argentina
 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Leaving Argentina Headed to Paraguay! - Hometeaching, Miracles & Baptisms - Hard To Say Goodbye - 8 Mile Run To The Jungle - Missionary In All Times And In All Places


Well on Saturday we had two baptisms - Angelica and Nicole! It was incredible! There were lots of people, and it was just an incredibly wonderful feeling to see the change that was made in the Hermana Angelica and in Nicole.



Angelica's story is an impressive one. I told you all last week that she was found by a man faithfully doing his home-teaching, but I just recently learned, how and why God guided him to her house. She had decided that she needed a change, and that she had to find the true church. She knelt down and prayed to God that he might send heavenly messengers to show her the truth, within the next week, Hermano Lopez, guided by the hand of God showed up to her house, later on allowing us to begin teaching her. I know that this is the true Church, and I know that God answers our prayers. As I baptized her, she closed her eyes, and so peacefully laid down into the waters of baptism, and left being cleaner than she has been in a long time. I know that the power of baptism is real, and is necessary in this life.
Well... again, I just realized my memory card, again, got a virus. You just cant trust any computers down here... but, I think a couple people sent pictures of the baptism to my parents so hopefully they will be able to attach those pictures.

This is Taylor's Dad:  
As you can see in the blog, we did receive multiple photos from different people.  I have only included a few of them.  I am truly grateful for the good people in Argentina that have watched over Taylor and his companions.  They invite them into their homes, feed them, build them up, work with them, encourage them...they are great people.  Special thanks to Martin Figueredo who has been a special friend to me over the past few months as he has kept in frequent contact with me providing brief glimpses into the work that Taylor and his companions are being guided to do.  One father to another, Thank you Martin!  

Pictures below are with Martin and his family.  Taylor has just told them that he is being transferred out of Argentina and is saying goodbye to a dear friend.



Mensaje para Martin Figueredo (del Papa de el Elder Graves):
Martin, Muchisimas gracias por cuidarle a mi hijo y a sus companeros.  No puedes saber cuan importante me ha sido el saber que Uds han cuidadoles a ellos, que los han invitado a visitarles a uds en tu casa, que los han dado de comer y que siempre tenian donde ir cuando simplemente necesitaban lugar donde podian descansar de sus labores.  Has sido respuesta a mis oraciones y te doy muchisimas gracias.  Tu Amigo, Bryce Graves

Back to Taylor's letter: 
I just found out some sad news. As you all know, this area started out very difficult to be in. But it has become the best place in the world for me. I don't know how it happened, but I now love it here, and wish I could stay more, but I have been assigned to go to Ciudad del Este (City of the East) Paraguay. It is the biggest city in the whole mission. I will also have to rerun into the very difficult language of Guarani. That should be fun :) I am excited, but really more than anything sad to leave my home Argentina. I also do know that God will again make me love my new home, Paraguay.

Well to celebrate our awesome companionship and the success we have felt together, Elder Gardner and I decided to again go to the Cruz de Santa Ana. It is the biggest building, in this province, and it is in the middle of the jungle! It is so cool! We took a bus to get to the entrance, and we were waiting for another bus to take us to where the cross is, sitting on the only "mountain" there is out here. Well as we waited, someone told us, that there were not going to be anymore buses... so... we ran :) 4 miles there, and 4 miles back :) I loved it. We got there again, but this time it was just us, and we just enjoyed the pure peace that is there. The jungle, the birds, the trees, the silence that I haven't heard in months because of living in the city for so long. I loved it, and being there, felt close to God. As we were on the top of that impressive building, another man came up with us. He started talking to us about our church and what we do. We, at an impressive height, with nausea from being standing on an invisible ground, taught him about the Restoration. He might not ever be baptized, but at least I learned something, I am a missionary and a representative of Christ, in all time and in all places.

I love being a missionary, and wish that all could understand the incredible worth of going on a mission.

Love you all.


Elder Graves
Argentina Posadas Mission
LA IGLESIA DE
JESUCRISTO
DE LOS SANTOS
DE LOS ÚLTIMOS DÍAS


This is Taylor's Dad again.   
As an added bonus, I have decided to include a video that Martin Figueredo just sent to me of Taylor (as he was saying goodbye to Argentina and specifically to the Figueredo family).  This was a short but personal message to me that most of you will not understand as he is speaking in Spanish, but I thought some of you might enjoy just hearing him speak: 
video

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Write to Elder Graves in 1 of 3 ways  :

1. E-mail tgraves@myldsmail.net

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
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
84130-0150

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. Physical Mailing Address:
 
Elder Taylor Graves
Córdoba 1243
Posadas, Misiones 3300
Casilla 12
Argentina

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dream Trip Back To Tacuari Argentina! - Fire=Disposal System - Service/Building Another House In Obera - Juancito Finds Joy In A New Home In-spite of Leaning Walls & A Leaky Roof - Missionary Success Through A Home Teacher - Victor To Be Married Friday With Baptism To Follow - Visited Enrique - Planting Seeds Everywhere!

Well one of the greatest opportunities of my mission happened yesterday. My old companion Elder Hawk, who I also consider one of my greatest friends, is leaving tomorrow, ending his mission. President of the mission decided to let him, and I go to our old area where we served for 3 miraculous months. We got to do a real time travel, and will seriously be forever grateful that we got to do that. It felt like a dream being back in Tacuarí where I really gained many of my talents and testimonies that I so desperately rely on now in the mission. I learned with Elder Hawk that we are here in the mission to give of our time, and that's what we did.
We visited to Enrique. An investigator who has more testimony than most members I know. Because of divorce complications, and the fact that he has not been able to officially get married to his "wife" he is waiting ever so patiently for the divorce to go through, to be able to get baptized. Meanwhile, he goes to church every week, participating in fasts, paying tithing, and doing and having read the Book of Mormon almost 3 times already. Yeah. I´m not even exaggerating. 3!
We arrived at his front porch, clapped his door, and waited and waited, and waited, he was taking a nap. So... I decided to pull out a secret weapon that I have. It is a special talent I have developed over the course of time, "clapping" lots of houses of lots of sleeping people (during the siesta) who I want to stop sleeping and start considering there personal salvation. I call it, "The Thunder Clap". Lets just say he woke up.
He came out the door, and with tears in his eyes he said, "I don´t believe it! I never thought I´d see you two again!" He gave us hugs and we just chatted for a good while. We talked about how much he strengthens our testimony and how we still pray for him. After the chat with him, he said a prayer thanking God for having sent his angels to change his life. 
During the prayer tears came to my eyes, as I realized what a blessing it was to be a tool in God´s hands to bless my fellow brothers and sisters.
Elder Hawk and I decided that if we hadn't been accepted in a single house except for his in our whole 3 months there, it would have been worth the time.
 

Well, I always try to talk a little bit about our investigators, but I really never can get everything across that I would like to, so I only share the very powerful experiences I have. One investigator we ran into is named Angelica Balbuena. We only found her, because a man was doing his Home Teaching.
This man, Hermano Lopez, has done his Home Teaching since the month he was baptized more than 25 years ago. Although, he suffers still from a horrible accident (a severe electric shock that literally stopped his heart for several minutes and caused him to not be able to speak or walk for months, 30 years ago) as well as a week immune system, making him unable to heal quickly, and a very badly wounded foot, he set out 5 weeks ago to do his home teaching. He made the trek of 3 miles to a less active members house. There he converted the heart of her, and the family and they are now attending actively. Whats more, is that she, gave Hermano Lopez a reference. He, without us, went to go teach her the gospel that he loves so much. When he arrived to the house of Angelica Balbuena, she fell in love with the Book of Mormon instantly. She hardly does anything else other than read the book. She along with another little girl of a before less active, now active family, named Nicole will be baptized this Saturday!

Another great success, although the successes are coming slower than we perhaps thought at first is that on Friday, Victor Rodriguez, will be married to allow him to later on be baptized! He has come a long way. 

There are several other people who have blossomed in the gospel and are loving the teachings of the gospel, and I wish I could tell the story of each of them.

Here is a cool picture we took the other day!
 
 Us with the Oberá Elders going to help build a house! (I think I already shared about this)
I didnt do it! Haha, It is very common to see things like this here in Argentina. Fire is the Argentine disposal system. Pretty cool, except for the fact that it makes the world smell bad :(

This is us with a family who struggles financially but does everything they can to provide a lunch for us every other week. This family was living in this nice little house, and were living well, when all of the sudden we got a call from the father, Julio, saying that he needed help moving. We of course got to his house quickly and helped with the move.
We arrived to the neighborhood, and there were a few nice looking houses, and I felt happy that they had been able to upgrade, but then when the moving truck stopped, I realized I was very wrong. The house that they live in now is a tiny shack, with leaning walls, and a leaking roof. I felt sick, and didn't no what to say when I saw the house.
I saw a miracle that day though. This little boy, Juancito, was so full of joy to see his "new" house. He played and jumped up and down, and didn't let any gloominess overcome him. He didn't complain.  In fact, he was grateful to be in such happy and good circumstances.

I know that when we moved from our Texas home, to Utah in an enormous house with air condition, TV, hot water, paved roads, and everything anyone could ever dream of, I complained. I have been humbled by this little boy Juancito.

I hope that each of us can take the time to realize the enormous blessings we have. We live in a promised land, we have amazing families, and we belong to the true church. One could never ask for more.
One more short story. The Spirit whispered to me that I needed to talk to a woman that I was standing next to. I did, and she had no interest. The 7 or 8 young men who were coming back from football practice all wanted to know what it meant to be Mormon. So I explained and gave away my book. Because I talked to her, a seed was planted in them (and dozens of other people in the bus who were also listening).

Love you all.

Elder Graves
Argentina Posadas Mission
LA IGLESIA DE
JESUCRISTO
DE LOS SANTOS
DE LOS ÚLTIMOS DÍAS
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Write to Elder Graves in 1 of 3 ways  :

1. E-mail tgraves@myldsmail.net

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
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
84130-0150

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. Physical Mailing Address:
 
Elder Taylor Graves
Córdoba 1243
Posadas, Misiones 3300
Casilla 12
Argentina