Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's Never Too Late - Antero Panello


Note: The picture above is from a couple of months ago.  Taylor wasn't able to send any pictures this week.  Though unrelated to this letter, I thought I would share a picture with him and Elder Cantino before the last transfers.

Here is Taylor's letter:

There are many stories that I could share this week, but the only one that I feel I am to share is about Antero Panello.

As you all know, we had been teaching this man for quite some time. We learned that he had been quite the sinner, involving himself in thievery and other crimes. He lived a very dark life. However, as he had become sick, he started to see life in a new perspective. He realized he needed God. When he moved into the house of his sister (who is a member) we found him and quickly started teaching him about the restored gospel. He loved the idea of baptism, and washing away his sins. With the fact that  he was very sick, when we would teach him, he would always ask for "a special prayer" or a blessing from us. Many times we gently put our hands over his head as he lay sick in bed and promised him comfort during this time of difficulty.

Never in my whole mission have I prayed with such frequency for one person. I am not quite sure why I felt the need to have him in EVERY prayer, but Antero was always mentioned, in my personal prayers, as well as the ones with my companion. We fasted for him, and I also know that several of you have prayed with regards to this very special man. 

He wasn't getting better, and as I have explained before,  he told us, that though he wasn't yet sure which church was the true church, that when he found out, he would be a missionary of that church and preach repentance, so that he could serve God, because he had learned how much God really served him.

Friday night, as we returned from Agua Blanca (which is a 12 mile bike ride, and obviously quite exhausting after a long days work) my companion felt that it was very necessary that we would go to the house of Antero to read him a scripture. I told my companion that it might not be wise because we might get home  late, and be very exhausted if we did so. He said that he felt very strongly that it was necessary. 

We arrived to his house, and his sister told us to come in quickly. His eyes had rolled back, and was breathing so painfully, that it seemed as if he was breathing through a straw. He was in very bad shape. In my mission I have given many blessings, but none were like this.

I put my hands on his head, as he struggled to breath. I felt the pain he was going through. In the blessing I obviously spoke in Spanish, but in one part, English slipped out, and the Spirit told me to let it be how it came out, or in other words, keep speaking in English. I said "Antero, you are almost finished. You just have to fight a little bit longer. You can do it" and then I continued in Spanish. I will never forget these words, because they were not mine.

We left the house, and rode our bikes home. We later learned that an hour later he passed away.

This experience changed me, and I will never forget the true repentance that this man showed. He now is learning from missionaries on the other side, and is coming to an understanding of the true gospel. I am proud of Antero, and miss him deeply. I wish I had a picture, but I do not. 

I love you all, and am grateful for your support and love.



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Write to Elder Graves in 1 of 3 ways  :

1. E-mail tgraves@myldsmail.net

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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

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

Monday, February 15, 2016

Video & Pics Eating Chicken Heads, Feet, Brains & Other Interesting Paraguayan Treats :-) - Rest Is Not Waste / Adjust Pace & Finish, But Never Give Up - Grateful For A Close/Eternal Family - Benita Is Firm In The Faith - Support From Grandma

Let´s start with the pictures and videos!


1. This is me eating a chicken foot. I am being serious when I say it is actually very good. 



2. Chicken HEAD. Yes this is actually a chicken head. What the people do when they give us lunch out here in Agua Blanca, is they kill one of their countless chickens and they put it ALL in a big pot, and cook. I am proud to say that seeing a chicken head in the food, with all the chicken wings and legs, no longer scares me :) I remember my first lunch in Carlos A. Lopez (my first area of my mission) I noticed that there was something strange in the pot, that looked strangely like a chicken head, and I told my companion, that it looked like a chicken head. He leaned over to take a look, and quickly said to me, "Elder, that IS a chicken head. We are not eating anything in that pot!" 

Now, days, as you will see in these coming videos, I welcome all foods that include chicken heads... ;)

video


3. Just watch!

video


4. I honestly now can say that I have eaten a chicken brain. My mom would be so proud.


5. This is a new cow that Benita Ladezma (our recent convert from Agua Blanca) just got. She is such a great convert, and is showing real evidence that she will continue strong to the end in Christ. The other day, she, with a young woman from Agua Blanca, traveled the 12 miles to make it to the 
chapel to clean, and then in the same night, supervised in a stake dance! She is also preparing to be able to go to the temple! She is awesome!...(I am now just realizing that I am talking a lot about her, but I don't have a picture of her... instead a picture of her cow... sorry if that is weird...)


My Grandma Graves is a great woman, and like so many others,  has shown great dedication in support towards me and my mission. In one of her recent letters, I was shocked as I saw a picture of Elder Hammond (a missionary from my zone) in the letter she sent me! He is from her ward and told me that he even had brought the sacrament to her house before when she had been sick. What a small world!

There are so many experiences that happen each day. I wish I could tell each of them to each of you personally. If I did so, I would spend my whole life telling about the things that I had done, and would not be able to progress and DO any more. Time is the most precious thing we have here in this life, as well as the mission, and I hope not to waste a minute. Something, that I have learned over the past few hours, is that rest, and change of pace, is not wasting. It is better to finish a marathon, at a good pace, than to give up because you aren't going to take first place.

I try to always stay positive in these letters  home, and make sure everyone knows how much I love my home here, but today, I want to let everyone know that I AM human. I miss my family. I wish I could give my Mom a hug and a kiss today, and tell her I love her. Go run with my Dad, and my Brother in the mountains, and look down from the top and look at what we would have accomplished together. I would like to lay down in the grass with Amber and Shauna at night and try to count the stars. 

If there is one thing that teaching the people of Agua Blanca and Katuete has done to me, it would be a new love for people. As I teach a Father and a Mother, I think of my parents, and I teach them with my whole heart. When I see youth in the street smoking, I tell them of the good life that my brothers and sisters live because of the teachings of Christ, and what they can become if they too will follow His teachings. When I am tired, and feel down, I imagine my companion is my little brother Jake, and that he needs a good example, and I have to be that for him. 

I do all this for my family. I love them.

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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

Friday, February 12, 2016

1st To Teach In The Outskirts Of Agua Blanca Paraguay - Exhausted, Tested For The Dengue Virus - A Day Of Rest - 11 Investigators In Church



As we ate lunch this Sunday afternoon with a member family in Agua Blanca, I was surprised as the sister who made us lunch told us that we were the first missionaries to try and teach the people of Agua Blanca. The missionaries had been coming to Agua Blanca for about 2 years now, but what the sister said is that they had never tried going further out into the depths of the area to try and find people. With out even knowing it, my companion and I are actually the first missionaries to ever teach this people... now I understand the exaggerated staring from everyone! ;)

One of the people that we have found and have been able to help make it to church for the past 3 weeks is a woman named Corina and her two children. She told us that the Catholic church just didn't fill the hole in her heart that she had had for such a long time. We talked to her about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and she was enchanted by the idea of all of it, but still had many doubts that she needed to resolve. We told her that if she asked God with real intent if the Book of Mormon was true, God, through the Spirit would show her the truth. As I am writing this, I think I might have already mentioned this part of the story last week, sorry if I am repeating some things.
She prayed, and told us that she asked God to show her if this church was true or not, and that she would open the Book of Mormon to a random verse and read. She opened to Mosiah 27:13, where it states that the true church of Christ had been established, in that Book of Mormon time. For her, that was a good enough answer.
When I heard that, I kinda pounced at her and said "Will you be baptized then???!" I think I scared her because I probably said it really loud ;) She said "I want to try and ask God, and see what happens again."  I thought that was a wonderful idea. 
The next day my companion woke up and told me that he had had a dream, about Moroni 7:5, 6. I thought it was interesting that he had a dream about a specific scripture. Two days later, we had to head out to Agua Blanca again on bike. I got on the bike and rode for about 4 miles, when all of a sudden, just couldn't go anymore. There was no more energy in my body. I almost fell asleep while riding my bike! As we were far away, with out anywhere to rest, we didn't know what to do. We stayed there and rested for a while, and finally a very good man took us home in his truck. 
This day and the next day, I spent sleeping. I have never slept so much in my life, but the mission nurse said my body was just physically spent, and needed a break. She also was nervous I might have a really bad virus that is going around here in Paraguay called Dengue. I went to get tested for it, and it was negative luckily. 
During this time of my little rest, I felt horrible. I really felt like I had failed the people of Agua Blanca, and those here in Katuate, and felt like I wasn't the servant of God that I needed to be. I remembered a scripture that Brother Christensen recently shared with me. D&C 10:4 (Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided ...but be diligent unto the end). My companion also shared with me 1 Timoteo 2 3. I realized that I had done everything that I physically could do to help these investigators, and the Lord was happy with my work, even though I am not invincible. 
Sunday came, and honestly my thoughts were pretty negative, thinking that the investigators wouldn't come because we hadn't visited them. I was proven wrong.
11 investigators should up, and I was shown, that sometimes it is okay to leave the seed we plant to grow for a time, to allow the Spirit to work.
Sunday, we went to Agua Blanca again and the 2nd to last visit we made was to Corina. She told us that she had prayed again, and had asked to be shown what to do, and if she should be baptized. She opened up to Moroni 7:5, 6. My companion was shocked (the same scripture that he had dreamed about). She said that she would be baptized, and knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that this is the path that her family is to take.

I too know that this is the true church. There are many churches, but not a single other contains the full truth that the Book of Mormon contains.

This week I learned, that even though I am not perfect, God, through the atonement of Christ, is pleased with my imperfect efforts.

I love you all :)


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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, February 1, 2016

Rufina Dreamt Of The Missionaries The Night Before They Showed Up At Her Door - South American People Are A People Of Faith - Antero Continues His Search For Truth & His Battles With Health


Antero came back and is at home resting. He is actually in pretty bad shape, but has expressed to us that he has felt the prayers from all around the world.  He is thankful to all of you for praying for him. He was very happy to hear that there are people from the United States who are thinking about his well being. He has expressed to us that his only desire is to spend the rest of his life, even if it is a short time, serving the Lord.
Unfortunately, while he was in the hospital, several other religious denominations contacted him and started talking to him about his need to be baptized. He now feels that it might be better for him to be baptized in a different church, as he feels uneasy about the Book of Mormon. We will be having a Family Home Evening with him and his family this Wednesday to help him gain a testimony of that special book, that in reality is the proof that the man who died on the cross, was not just a man, but truly our Savior.

The people here of South America are a people of faith. Faith is what produces miracles. God wants to work miracles, but sometimes, for our lack of faith, we don't allow him. The people here, truly BELIEVE. 
In the same day, 2 women from Agua Blanca told us of something very interesting. One being Rufina (who is coming to church regularly now) told us that before we got there, the night before, she had felt lonely, and that she needed Jesus. She prayed and prayed that she could meet Jesus. As she prayed she felt a special peace, and went to sleep. As she slept, she told us that she dreamt that two Priests of other churches came to her door, and quickly left. Then several minutes later, 2 Mormon Missionaries showed up, and they stayed and talked to her. That was the end of the dream. The very next day, she was astonished to see that we showed up to her front door step.

I know the Spirit guides us missionaries. He wants us to be instruments to answer the prayers of others, and every time I realize that I do just that, my joy is so full.

I am out of time, and was going to tell you more about the other woman, who also dreamed that we would come, and we came, but time does not permit.

Thank you for all you do for me. I love being here, and couldn't feel more blessed than I am now.


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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