Saturday, January 2, 2016

Taylor Is Leaving Ciudad Del Este & Is Headed To Katuete - Christmas Celebrations in Paraguay! - Companions Growing Together Becoming Soldiers In The Lord's Army

I am writing today very happy to have been able to celebrate the day of our Savior's birth among lots of other missionaries. It is such a special treat to be among friends who give everything they have for the Lord, just like I am doing. We played soccer (a non-contact version, in our mission we can't play soccer), played lots of volleyball, went on a nice long run, and later found out that the sun had cooked us. :)  President Lapierre decided to give us a free day all of Christmas day, to do fun P-day activities, and it was amazing to take that day to just breath a little bit. We spent the end of the day ice-skating on a very tiny ice skating rink (it made me happy because it made me think a lot of the lake we have behind my house that is always frozen during Christmas time.) After ice-skating we all went to TGI Fridays! I seriously thought I was in the United States again! It was crazy! I loved every moment, and I will be sending pictures later on, I don't think I will be able today. 

Obviously, the best part of Christmas was talking to my family. It was such a special experience. My dad already commented on our family's Skype call, but I just wanted to add a little bit. My companion and I started being a companionship about 4 months ago, and it was actually pretty difficult to start. We had very different teaching styles, and it honestly took quite some time to smooth over our styles of missionary work, but thanks to his amazing humility he helped me and I helped him become what we now are.
For example, I told him at the beginning of our time together that I had made myself a goal that I am going to read and deeply study the scriptures EVERY DAY for my whole life, no matter what. He told me that this was a very crazy and extreme goal. I didn't make any comments. I only prayed and hoped that maybe he could see my example, and want to give it a try.  Without ever telling him what to put that goal, while he was talking with his family on Christmas, he told them that he would never miss a day of reading the scriptures in his whole life because it is now a part of who he is. I am so grateful for my companion Elder Cancino.
At the beginning of our companionship, I felt that, since he was very new in the mission, I had a lot to teach him. I also felt that teaching, is very complicated! I managed teaching him some basic principles of missionary work, but I realized that one thing was missing that I really had no idea how to teach other than by example. It was how to feel love towards investigators, and people in general, and show them that love that you have for them.  I actually had started to wonder if I could ever help him FEEL, if I am properly explaining myself. But then on Christmas Eve, talking to my family, he expressed such a real love towards me, that I never knew he could ever express towards someone. He started bawling as he said that I was a strong, obedient and loving missionary, and worked purely because of the love towards my family. When he finished his words, he was shocked, and the only thing I could utter was, "I have never seen him cry."
I know missions can change people. He started as an amazing missionary, and has become a real soldier in this army of God, and I have had the privilege to watch it.

I will now be leaving Ciudad del Este, and will talk more about my goodbyes next week, but I honestly am very sad to leave this place that I now call home. After a year of working in this position as a leader, I will now have the great opportunity to go to an area where regular missionaries work, and I will get to dedicate all my energies to the people, and will not be as concerned about the daily activities of other missionaries in the zone.  My area is literally the farthest area from Posadas in the whole mission and is called Katuete and I am super excited to go, but sad to leave this family i now have here in CDE.

 Thank you for your support, and pictures might be on there way... haha.

Love you all.

This is Taylor's Dad - Taylor wasn't able to send any pictures this week, so...I have a picture that was sent to me from a friend in Argentina (from a few months ago - not with his current companion or in his current area and has nothing to do with anything from his letter home this week, is fun to include at least one picture with the blog, is a random photo).


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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