Monday, December 21, 2015

My Gift To My Dad & I - Christmas In The Scorching Sun - Challenge Of A Dear Friend "Make This December The Most Amazing Of This 24 Month Mission!" - Enjoying Each Moment Of Each Day Working To Fulfill Specific Goals - Stake Priesthood Leadership Mission Training By The Elders


Today is my dad's birthday! I am very happy for him, and truly grateful for the sacrifices he makes for so many people (especially for me). I don't know how many of you realize how much my dad writes to me, but I honestly feel as if he has been here with me every step of the way. I get to read a letter from him, almost daily. I would be very surprised if there was any father in this whole world who showed more support than my dad.

I had handmade scripture covers made for my scriptures.

This is Taylor's Dad.  I will translate as much as I can read from his beautifully handcrafted scripture covers.

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  John 4:13-14
 Lord, Save me

The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints
 I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God...
1Nephi 11:25 

The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints

The Holy Bible
Doctrine And Covenants, The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price 

For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul

Though I am not 100% sure, I think the picture below must be the picture that Taylor provided to the leather craftsman/artist for this part of his scripture cover. 


 As the Lord liveth, and as I live, I will not go down unto my father in the wilderness until I have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded me.  1 Nephi 3:15

Note: In translating the scripture above, I noticed that for the purpose of Taylor's scripture covers, he personalized this scripture changing the words slightly.  Everywhere that Taylor's scripture covers say "I" the actual verse in the Book of Mormon says "we".  1 Nephi 3:15 quotes Nephi's words (which he spoke on behalf of himself and his brothers).  

Though I am not 100% sure, I think the picture below must be the picture that Taylor provided to the leather craftsman/artist for this part of his scripture cover.


If you have not yet noticed, Taylor is an avid runner and a fantastic athlete.  Because we both love to run, we compare life and running, his mission and running, everything and running.  It is part of who he is.  It is something that we share.

Be Faithful until the end, and behold I will be with you.

This is Taylor's Dad still: It is obvious that the person that made these leather scripture covers for Taylor is very talented.  I found the pictures that Taylor must have given to him to have the covers made.  Taylor and I have spoken about this particular race (2014 Utah Valley Marathon) time and time again over the course of the past 18 months.  Serving a mission is much like running a marathon in that it is a major commitment, requiring great discipline and sacrifice  of those involved.  We ran the marathon above together and though we are 6,000 miles apart physically while he serves the Lord, we are running this "marathon" together.  I am so grateful for his example, commitment, discipline, sacrifice and love of the Lord.  It may only be in thoughts, prayer and through written letters, but I will be with you until you return home Taylor.

 I have fought the good fight.  

I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith  2 Timothy 4:7

Here is the picture of our family that Taylor must have provided the leather craftsman/artist.  The picture was taken only a few weeks before he left for Argentina/Paraguay.

As some of you reading this probably already know, Taylor's missionary service in Argentina Posadas Mission is particularly special to me.  I too served as a full-time missionary in Argentina from January of 1992 to February of 1994.  We have a lot in common and share a very special bond.


My (Taylor's Dad) scripture covers - also handmade during my service as a full-time missionary in Argentina.

Back to Taylor's letter home:

Even though, these scripture covers are for me, I feel like these pictures of the covers are kind of like a little gift that I can give to my Dad on his birthday. I know that probably doesn't make sense, but as I carry these scriptures, my Dad, will kind of be with me. Anyway... I am not explaining myself very well... this design I made, thinking of my Dad.  The pictures of the covers are my gift to him for his birthday.  My favorite is the one that says "Estoy contigo." It means "I am with you."  I really feel like he has been running along my side this whole mission "marathon."

Presidente de Mision & Hermana Lapierre (I mean Santa  :-)  ) & the Elders

This week I only want to share two quick experiences. As Christmas is coming around the corner, instead of little balls of white fluff falling from the sky, we have piercing rays of scorching sun that penetrates all sunscreen this world has to offer! It is wonderful! The only problem is you can't very well make sun angels (instead of snow angels) nor sun men... This Christmas season we decided that we had a big decision. It was, be sad that we are not home... or not be sad, because we are doing the most amazing thing! I realized this was a very clear decision, thanks to a letter from a very dear friend of mine. I made the decision, with my companion, that this December was going to be the most amazing month of our missions. We put a goal to give away 14 Books of Mormon, challenge 14 people to baptism, find 1 part member family, and talk with 70 people in the street (also taking out there address and fixing a return appointment) every week this December (as well as January). Lets just say, we haven't achieved every goal, but our success in finding new investigators has been incredible! We are also seeing that we truly are enjoying each moment of the day. I have learned this month how important it is to set goals, and how they truly help us strive towards SOMETHING.

A week ago I got a call from the stake presidency here in Paraguay, and he told me that he wanted me and my companion, along with two other elders to prepare a presentation of our vision of the mission, in an effort to show the stake what it is that they can do to better support the mission work. At first, it was quite intimidating. We got to the meeting (all the Bishoprics and Elder's Quorum presidents of the whole stake were there) and I was nervous because I knew that we would have to talk for 15 minutes or so in front of a lot of very important people. I prayed and prayed and prayed that the Spirit would guide us in our words and that we would speak in unity. We got up and talked for a good 20 minutes and made all the suggestions that we needed to.  I can honestly say that I have never felt so inspired by the Spirit in words. Every word we said, flowed so well into what the next missionary would say (there were four of us) and all the bishops and branch presidents greatly accepted our advice. Afterwards, what surprised me, is that they continued talking with us. They asked for our opinions, asked us questions, and basically we guided a 3 hour conference, being four, 19 and 20 year old young men, in front of 50 or 60 men who have been part of this church much longer than we have.  Each of them had genuine desires to hear what we had to suggest to better the mission work here. It is amazing how the Lord can use such weak people, as myself, to be his tool. I LOVED that opportunity.

Many more things have happened this week, but I am short on time. I love each of you, and really hope you enjoy this Christmas.


Write to Elder Graves in 1 of 3 ways  :

1. E-mail

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:
Elder Taylor Graves
Córdoba 1243
Posadas, Misiones 3300
Casilla 12

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