Monday, October 26, 2015

Never Give Up! - Miracles Happen - Sandra Embraces The Gospel & Brother Gomez Baptizes His Wife! - Ohio To Paraguay/Team Teaching Alexis With Elder Vario - Alexis Want To Serve A Mission


I got here about 11 weeks ago in Ciudad del Este and one of the very first houses that I visited with my old companion Elder Choez, was the house of the Gomez family. Brother Gomez is a man who was a member his whole life, but really never took the church very seriously. He went every once in a while, but didn't feel it was more important than work. His brother however, who lives with him and his wife Sandra, always faithfully went to church, hoping that one day his brother would start going to church again, and that Sandra might be baptized. When I arrived, the brother, Edi, had lost hope, and told me to not even try, and that it would not be worth the effort because too many other Elders had already tried to teach her, and it just never worked. (Even my companion Elder Choez had taught her with his other companion Elder Rigby, but she refused a second visit).  As I taught her for the first time, I too felt like there wasn't much chance, but time and time again, as we  made our nightly plans for the next day, we felt prompted to make a quick visit to the Gomez family.  As we did so throughout the weeks, Sandra started to soften her heart. We even once, brought her a cake on a day that the family was going through a really hard time. (A lot of the time on the mission, people like to give you food, and we just cant eat all of it!)  One night on divisions with another Elder, we sang, "families can be together forever". We then bore our testimonies of how we knew that because of Christ's sacrifice, we will also be with our families forever, and that they too, the Gomez family, would have the chance to be a forever family, and the first step would be baptism, for Sandra, and become a worthy priesthood holder for Brother Gomez.




Though I really never knew it could be possible, Saturday evening, I watched in a crowd of people, Brother Gomez enter into the baptismal font and take his wife's hand, and say the baptismal prayer, and then put her in the water. The part that made tears come to my eyes was when he pulled her out, and kissed her on the cheek. They both have made incredible changes, and I am forever grateful for the chance I have had to help them.

The lesson in this story is to never give up. Even if someone tells you that it has already been tried, and others have failed, it doesn't mean that YOU are destined to fail. How many people said that it was physically impossible for a human being to break the 4 minute mile? They said the heart would explode. Roger Bannister, (the first man to break the 4 minute mile) didn't care about what others said, he went out and did all he could to do something amazing. Shortly thereafter, if I am not mistaken 7 other men broke the 4 minute mile. This story really helped inspire me to never give up on Sandra and Juan Gomez.


I believe I have already explained a little bit about the next story, but I will continue. Elder Tanner Vario was my companion for a day. Can you believe that? I still am in shock that it actually happened. We got permission and we taught a lesson together. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was sitting at his side listening to Elder Holmes and Elder Thomas teaching Tanner the missionary lessons, but on Saturday, we sat, side by side (through the internet and really thousands of miles apart) and taught a young man named Alexis. As we taught him, Tanner and I, in Spanish, (Tanner's Spanish is remarkable for his short time in the mission) about the importance of reading the scriptures daily. We taught him that this was the way that he could little by little make this really big change that he has to make in his life. 
Tanner expressed his testimony about the atonement of Jesus Christ, and how he slowly became who he is today, through Him. I testified, with my best friend Tanner. My companion.
Tanner taught him that the way that he made changes in his life to keep him on the straight and narrow path was by having the goal to serve a mission. As we testified of what Tanner said about the mission, and goal setting, Alexis said, that after he is baptized, he also desires to serve a mission.  We will be having another lesson with Alexis on Wednesday. 

I have so much more to say, but I only have a half hour today again, but just know everybody that this is the true church. That's why I am here.
 
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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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Video! - Miraculous Experience...Taylor (in Paraguay) Teaches Alexis With Tanner (6,500 miles away in Ohio)! - The Adversary Can't Win If We Chose To Be A Part Of The Winning Team! - Jonas & Sara Baptized - Isaac & His Father Julian To Be Baptized - Continuing To Teach Alexandro

video
 
With every baptism, comes trials. The adversary truly understands the importance of these sacred ordinances that we as missionaries, fight to help happen. As I learned from the last baptism, the key is not getting discouraged, and the result is always as the Lord wishes. I think one of the biggest lessons that I have learned in the mission is that the adversary can't win and won't win, it is all about if we accept the opportunity of being able to be a part of the winning team.


Anyway, this baptism's challenge was that the young boy Isaac got sick. As you can see, only Jonas and Sara were able to be baptized. Isaac has chicken pox - poor guy. But, he is just ecstatic to be baptized this following Saturday. What's more, is that Julian, the father of them all, was not able to attend. He got stuck in a neighboring city, and could not make it to the baptism.


Of course being worried about him, we asked how he was spiritually. He noticed our concern, and told me, "Elder Graves, Whether I have entered into the water or not, isn't what's important right now. I will be baptized, when the divorce is cleared. I have already made a commitment to the Lord to follow this church until the day I die." I was shocked and can truly say that I am grateful that I have allowed God to let me be on the "winning team" as I said before.

I talked about Alexandro in my last letter about how "he found us" on the bus and chased us down so that we could teach him. Unfortunately, he was not able to come to church this week because of some complications with the health of his grandfather, but he is very excited to start this conversion process. He continually says to us that he feels the truth in the Joseph Smith story. In the very same way that I feel the truth when I testify of it.

This is Taylor's Dad.  As background to the following miraculous experience, Taylor baptized Tanner Vario just before he left to serve his full-time mission (See the picture below - for memory's sake).  Taylor, several friends and the full-time missionaries (Elder Adam Holmes and Elder Seth Thomas) taught Tanner over the course of several months during their Senior year in High School.  Taylor was called to serve in Argentina & Paraguay - Spanish Speaking.  About a year after Tanner's baptism, he was called to serve in Ohio - Spanish Speaking.  Through the miracles of a world wide missionary effort, technology, the atonement and many answered prayers, they are now teaching Alexis together over the span of 6,500 miles (with special permission from both of their mission presidents).  

Perhaps the scriptures on the wall behind them (in the picture from Tanner's baptism day)...were a clue that he too would be serving in Spanish :-)

Back to Taylor's letter:
Crazy story about teaching Alexis Fernandez - I felt so strong the need to tell him the story of Elder Tanner Vario, and I didn't know why. I explained to him the things that Tanner had gone through, and told him the incredible change that he made in his life because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. After telling him all of Tanner's story, he told me, "I might want to give this baptism thing a shot, but first, I want to talk to your friend Tanner. How can I talk to him?" I stood their thinking... well... he is a missionary, in the United States of America... you live here in Paraguay... how are we going to do this? But then I remembered, we live in the 21st century! I asked permission from my mission President to be able to write to Tanner during the week so that he would start chatting with Alexis, on-line (benefit of IPADS in USA missions...). He came to church yesterday, and then we later visited his house with his family (a returning less active family, who should be going to the temple, in this upcoming temple trip - to be sealed) and he told me that because of the things that my companion and I taught him, and the things that Tanner taught him, he desires to be baptized.

 Elder Tanner Vario said, " On Thursday I received an email from Elder
Taylor Graves in the Argentina Posadas mission. He told me that they
have an investigator who has a very similar background story as mine.
Alexis is his name. He wants to be baptized... Elder graves felt the impression to share my
conversion story. And afterwards, Alexis asked if there was any way he
could contact me. So I asked my mission president if it was alright if
I contacted him. He basically opened up every option available for me
to be able to help. So, Alexis and I have been emailing and I've been
sharing my experience and the gospel with him as well. It's been
incredible to be able to kinda co-teach with Elder Graves.
Something that sticks in my head is how inspired our mission calls
are. When I first thought about my call, Columbus Ohio, Spanish
speaking. I didn't think there were many people who spoke Spanish in
Columbus. But in all honesty, even if there weren't any, I know that I
would have learned Spanish for this purpose, to be able to talk with
Alexis in South America.

 
And once more, back to Taylor's letter:
I am amazed. I always thought it would be amazing to be able to serve as the companion of Tanner, but now, I am truly doing it. We are companions living 6,500 miles away. Technology is a miracle of God.
If the only reason that Tanner was sent to Ohio - Spanish speaking (instead of Ohio - English speaking), was to be able to teach Alexis with me, it would ALL be worth it. If he had been called to the English mission, this experience would have never happened to us. If he was called to South America speaking Spanish, this experience would have never happened to us. Our mission calls are divine. 

I love this gospel.


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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

Monday, October 12, 2015

Goal To Talk On The Bus Yields Results - Sara & Jonas To Be Baptized (W/Dad Hoping To Follow) - Companion Sick - Hospital, Jump Rope, Study, Blessings, Journal - Burger King In Paraguay! - Zone Trip To Large Paraguayan Dam


I started my mission having decided that I wanted to talk with everyone that I met. Well, actually I think more accurately I developed that desire in the beginning of my mission. When I was in Carlos A. Lopez in my first area of the mission, I realized that I was going to have to travel a lot because we were so far from EVERYTHING. What we could have decided to do would have been sleep, or relax, but I decided that the only way I could learn the language was talking. So, I gave my self a goal to always talk when I was in buses traveling. I know, that the Spirit guided me to make that a goal. During my mission I have often wondered if the hundreds of times that I have talked with people on buses truly was worth it, because many times I had the doubt, that I deserved a little break, and that it wouldn't hurt to just relax for a minute on the bus. But I always try to talk with someone, every time I am on the bus. I am grateful that the Spirit guided me to acquire this attribute. I was truly able to see the fruits of this effort this week. Maybe if this was the only fruit of my whole mission of talking on buses, every moment I have spent talking with people on buses would be worth it. We were traveling to a lesson, and on a bus this Tuesday. I decided to talk with a small group of 3 people about the gospel. I showed them pamphlets about Joseph Smith, and the gospel, but sadly, they didn't show much interest. We got off the bus and went on to our lesson. But a couple of seconds after getting off the bus I heard someone yell, "WAIT!" We turned around, and saw a young man of 23 years running our way! We went and talked to him. He said, "Brother! I heard what you were saying to them. I believe it. Can you come to my house to teach me about what you were teaching them?" I was stunned. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He later went on to tell us, that he actually had to get off the bus quite a bit later, but decided he would walk the extra mile to get off and talk to us and get us to come to his house. He later, during a lesson this week told us that in the moment that I was talking, that he didn't just understand what I was saying, he felt that it was true. He has already accepted a baptismal date, which should be in November if all goes well.

Sara Isaac and Jonas will be baptized this Saturday, and we did a family fast with the dad so that he can be baptized soon as well. His only struggle is getting divorced from his ex wife and then get married  with his current spouse, with whom he is not yet married, so that he can worthily be baptized. 
We are amazed with the miracles that are happening here in Ciudad del Este, and it all comes from the obedience we always try to practice.

Now the pictures:

1. I am superman

2.My companion was SUPER sick. He had to go to the hospital, but is a lot better now. I gave him a blessing and he told me that he knew the words were of the Spirit, and not of me. He was 100 percent better within hours. While I was bored out of my mind as he rested, I read about half of the Bible, as well as exercised a lot with the jump rope my incredible mom sent me :)

3.These are sheep we found wandering in the middle of the city. They look kinda lost.

4.My mom sent me a voice recorder with tons and tons of recordings! All of my family, lots of friends and great stuff! I spent a lot of time on our sick day listening to the recordings. I also now use it as my journal and talk into it instead of write. (Mom for Christmas I want another one! The memory will probably be full by January or February and I want to keep doing it!)

5.Burger King what can I say more.

6 We took part of the zone to the dam we visited a while back! They loved it!

I hope you all know that I love you all and am so happy to hear from so many of you still! It shocks me how much support I STILL get. You are amazing people.
Elder Graves
Argentina Posadas Mission

LA IGLESIA DE
JESUCRISTO
DE LOS SANTOS
DE LOS ÚLTIMOS DÍAS


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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

Monday, October 5, 2015

General Conference Live = Missionary Super Bowl! - Sabbath Delight - Sonia's Daughter To Be Baptized - Dahiana & Marcos' Mother To Be Baptized - Ponderizing - Dedicate Life To The Lord's Work


 
Well who loved conference? I remember a long time ago that Elder Thomas and Elder Holmes of Stansbury Park told me that General Conference was like the Super Bowl of missionaries. I didn't understand until now. It truly is. All the missionaries buy tons of food, eat and enjoy, a great time together as we watch, what is, to us, the most exciting entertainment known to man. However, being that the apostles of pressed so much on the Sabbath day, I would suggest finding your own personal super bowl, as I don't know if watching football is the best way to honor that holy day. As I came to listen, write notes and then review my notes, I came away with 24 goals that I will be doing. One of those is making my Sabbath day more of a delight, as well as making sure that when I get back, it will also be a delight.


We got the opportunity to watch conference live in English and enjoy every moment of it. We were so pleased to be a part of this new lineup of spiritual strengths in the church, and know that they were each called of God. How is it, that men so powerful and influential, can be so incredibly humble?

Sonia, the woman who we helped bring to the waters of baptism has been talking to her daughter, and her daughter started to take the lessons from us. We only taught one lesson, and the spirit whispered to us that instead of start with the first lesson, which is the Restoration of the Gospel, we should teach strictly on the principle of the fact that in her now "years of choosing" her need for the gift of the holy ghost is ever so important. She understood the concept perfectly, and plainly expressed to us that she deeply needs that gift. She said that like her mom and her brother, she wants to be baptized. She will be baptized on the 31st of October, along with the mom of Dahiana and Marcos, who were also baptized very recently.
I hope that we can each, use this gift, as President Eyring expressed, that God has granted to us on a daily basis.

Also, sorry I am being a little scramble brained, I would like to re-extend a challenge. It is "Ponderizing". I am going to do it my goal, is to read, ponder, and memorize the meaning and feeling of 1 scripture every week. This was a challenge from one of the seventies, and I feel that it is something that we should do. I feel this could, little by little, change each of our lives.

I really am short on time this week,and have to admit, that I was not properly able to prepare my thoughts of what I was going to write during the week, however, all should know, that the experiences that I have keep pouring in. David A. Bednar said that the 6 apostles that he knew, and saw pass away all had a difficult and grueling course that made them become, who they became. I am in awe at their, amazing dedication and love for the gospel and pray daily that I can somehow have a small portion of that pure devotion, so I can more effectively serve as God's servant. I remember, that I watched a video of Thomas S. Monson when he became an apostle, and he bore his testimony to the world and he said, "I dedicate my life to this work." I remember thinking that was amazing, but that it made sense because he was an apostle and wouldn't be relieved as such, until he died. However, I realized more recently that this statement applies to more than just the apostles. It applies to me and to you. I dedicate my life as well to this work. In fact, I did so when I had 8 years old and was baptized. 

I love you all and hope you look for ways to share, and live this amazing gospel.
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