Monday, March 28, 2016

Corina To Be Married & Baptized! - Teaching In Guarani - Gift Of Tongues - Julia's Baptism


This story should go in the Liahona! Julia Acosta was baptized this past Saturday, and I can not believe the adventure that my companion and I took to help her achieve an understanding of the gospel. We are very happy for her. Again, my companion continues to teach her with his unusual gift of pronouncing the Book of Mormon, and she is understanding very well. I remember thinking that it must be impossible to teach the people that only speak Guarani, but more and more each day I am reminded how NOTHING is impossible when we trust in our Maker.

I am not sure if I have mentioned Corina yet, but she is one of the most incredible investigators we have had here in Katuete, and she is from the little town called Agua Blanca. She read the Book of Mormon and was instantly in love. She asked God in a humble prayer if the book was true, and if this was the church that she should join, and she received a clear answer from the Lord that this is His path.

Ever since that day she has spent her time studying studying and studying the Book of Mormon, and has grown so much in her knowledge. She often teaches me new things that I didn't know! The only problem was that her husband has a very strong catholic tradition in his family.  He didn't like the idea of his wife getting baptized in our church. To be able be baptized she was going to have to marry him, but he did not want to do that for some reason. Finally, unsure what would be the next step for her, we challenged her to fast with us. She agreed and we fasted. Later on in the day we received a call from her and she told us that they had decided to be separated so that she could be baptized. This was very sad for us as well as for her.  Later on in the week, Corina told us that her husband had a change of heart. He came up to her and said, "I don't care what my family says anymore. We are going to get married, you are going to get baptized, and we are going to go to church as a family." I was shocked when I heard this, as he has only agreed to shake my hand one time, let alone come to church.

I know that God answers our fasts and our prayers.

Finally, yesterday was Pascua... or Easter. In South America, it is a very big holiday, and EVERYONE participates. The tradition is... not do anything for the whole week, and then on Sunday everyone has family over.
Here in Paraguay, the people are so nice, that when we contact houses we literally have a probably 8 lessons in every 10 houses that we contact. Yesterday... I felt like I was in the United States, or Great Britain, or Russia or something! Literally no one let us in! It was crazy, but I loved every moment, and my companion and I somehow had a blast getting rejected. That might sound weird, but I have always wondered what it would be like to be rejected a lot like they always say happens in other missions! 

I love the mission that I am serving, and am grateful for the prayers that are uttered for us and for those that we are teaching.


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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


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hospitalized For Dengue - Left Bags/Wallets/Cameras In Taxi/Prayed For A Miracle - Nana's Example - Training A New Companion From Brazil - Speaking/Teaching in English, Spanish, Portuguese & Guarani - Alexis Is Still Strong & Is Preparing To Serve A Mission Himself - Julia To Be Baptized Saturday!

This is Taylor's Dad:
 I am very sorry for the delay in updating Taylor's blog.  I have been swamped...no time.  Many of you have asked about Taylor's condition (regarding the Dengue Fever).  We had actually misunderstood and believed that he had been treated as an outpatient.  He had in fact been hospitalized for 3 nights as he received the medical care that he needed to overcome this illness.  Here is the e-mail that Taylor sent last week followed by the one that he sent this week.

Here is Taylor's letter from last week:  I wanted to start today by saying thank you to all of you for your many prayers. I want you all to know that the Lord has helped me in so many ways.  Together with the many prayers and blessings, i have been made whole. I never thought I would have to go through a sickness like this during my mission.

My grandma, or as I  call her, Nana, is one of the strongest women that I know, and has been a great example for me. Several times during this illness that I had, I thought of her. She along with her Husband, my grandpa, were called to serve a  mission in Hungary, speaking Hungarian.  I am pretty sure it is one of the hardest languages to learn. When they were right around 9 months in, my grandma had a very difficult problem with her heart. She couldn't do all the things that she might have liked to do as a missionary, and has expressed to me that she felt like her service in part was incomplete. She told me this week, that sometimes we are to go through these things to make our sacrifice even more special. So, what I have leaned from my nana is that my being sick, does not make my service any less powerful, in fact, it shows just how important this work is to me.


My new companion is from Brazil! He is brand new in the mission and is learning Spanish! He is so great and I love working with him!  Literally in EVERY lesson he challenges the investigator to be baptized!  It is funny, but actually  really has done some really good things. He is very bold and brave, and love seeing him develop.  He also speaks English very well. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we speak English when we are in our house. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays we speak only Portuguese when we are in our house. I have reached the point that I can understand anything any one says to me, and I can kind of hold a normal conversation with someone in Portuguese. As if 3 languages wasn't enough, on Tuesdays and Fridays we go to Agua Blanca where many people only speak Guarani.. I used to be able to let E. Canete teach the whole lesson in Guarani, but now, we don't have any missionary that can speak with them. One sister named Julia, was planning on being baptized this coming 26 of March, and we didn't know what we were going to do to be able to prepare her for her baptism!


New missionaries are seriously so much smarter than old missionaries like me! My companion decided we would try reading and pronouncing the words from the Book of Mormon in Guarani, and teach only with those scriptures, not saying any other words. I didn't think it would would work because guarani is VERY difficult to pronounce. But, my companion - with all the faith in the world tried it, and was able to communicate the message that was needed with Sister Julia. I was shocked.

I know God works miracles. I have seen it many times this week.

I love you all and I love this gospel.

Taylor sent the letter below last Monday 3/21/2016 

This week has been a roller-coaster ride. We got out of the Taxi that had taken us to a lesson this passed Saturday. We walked down the drive way of our investigator's house, and started talking about the lesson we had prepared, when all of the sudden my companion said "ELDER! Our BAGS!" We had left our bags with money cameras, and everything in the back of the Taxi! In that instant, I emptied my pockets to make it more comfortable to run, and started sprinting towards the taxi! I don't think I ever ran so fast in my life! As I reached a certain point, I realized I wasn't going to catch the taxi. Our bags were gone.
I should have felt devastated, but I felt a certain calm in my heart that everything would be okay. Because of other experiences that I have had during this week, I realized that God always provides a way. After trying to figure what we were going to do, and talking for a bit, I sat down and started praying. I prayed that there would be a way that we could somehow be guided to find the house of this taxi driver. 
While my eyes were still closed God answered. I heard his car honk. He had come back to give us our bags. He could have taken off to never have seen us again, but he was touched by the Spirit, and came back.



As you can see, Elder Sampaio and I got to go do a service for the family of Julian and Luisa this week in Agua Blanca. It was really great! 

Today, I was in Ciudad del Este again, and I ran into one of my great friends Alexis! He is still very strong in the church, and is preparing to serve a mission. He makes me feel like all that I have done here during these two years is all worth it.

 
I also showed my companion around CDE a little bit, and took him out to eat in Pizza Hut! I haven't eaten so much pizza in a long time! We loved it.

Just a quick story, that I already told my parents.

To follow up on what I wrote last week about Julia, who is an investigator who only speaks Guarani, we decided that we would prepare the next lesson with a bunch of scriptures and we would just try to pronounce all of the words in Guarani, because last time when my companion did it, she was able to understand. We started the lesson, and I tried pronouncing the words, and she didn't understand anything! How frustrating! I have been in Paraguay for a long time and I should be able to know how the Guarani words should sound! Then my companion gave it a try. He being new, and never having heard Guarani until 2 weeks ago, was able to pronounce very well that he was able to teach her the plan of salvation, just by pronouncing these words by reading! He might not have been aware of what he was saying, but Julia understood.  In reality what is more important is the special Spirit that is there when we teach. There is an earnest effort on all of our parts to try and communicate as well as understand.
Julia will be baptized this coming Saturday and we are very proud of her for her great efforts in learning about the gospel.




A rare package from home!

I always thought the letters would slow down towards the end of the mission... but you guys do such a great job of supporting me. Thank you!

Amo este evangelio


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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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sick With Dengue Fever :-(

There are a few weeks when I get to the computer and am SO excited to write home because I have so many things I want to tell you all.  I am a little sorry to say that this week, it is pretty obvious what I will write, and has not been a tough decision given that there is only 1 thing to write about.  During the baptism of Dario and Luis last week, I started to feel a bit weak.  I thought nothing of it, because I though I was just tired.  So I shrugged it off and went to church the next day.  Unfortunately, it was getting worse and I had to take the day off again.  On P-day, we also spent the whole day resting (that's why I didn't write on Monday last week.  Sorry.)  I felt that it had to get better eventually, but on Tuesday, it was still really bad.  So we went to the doctor.  Unfortunately, I found out that I have Dengue.  (okay, let's take a break really quick before my mom passes out...).........

This is Taylor's Dad:

The last sentence of Taylor's letter was meant to encourage his Mom (and I :-) ) not to overreact to the news of him having Dengue Fever.  He obviously had intended to send us another e-mail with more information about his condition (he actually said he would write again in 30 minutes) but we never received his other e-mail.  So, at this point, all we know is that Taylor is pretty sick.  We have been informed that about 25 of the missionaries serving in the Posadas Argentina mission have come down with Dengue Fever.  It can be a very bad illness, causing miserable symptoms similar to the flu virus, but we have hope that Taylor is on the mend now.  Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.  Hopefully, when we hear from him next, he will be feeling much better.

 I don't know anything about the picture below (when it was taken, where they are or anything else), but Taylor looks happy and healthy in this picture. 
 

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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

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Wrestling With A Turkey :-) - The Mother Pig - Teaching Through Language Barriers (I Guarani) Results In Finding A New Family - Dario & Luis Baptized - Trials Yield Blessings

I think at the end of each week, I usually have more stories about Agua Blanca, than I do about Katuete... I always seem to have my bike helmet on in my pictures lately! But its because there are always crazy things that happen when we go there!


 
video


This turkey, who is of the Hermana Benita, got mad at me the other day, and seriously attacked me! I don't know if any of you have seen a Turkey attack, but they seriously are so crazy and fast, and I had to hide behind my bike, so it wouldn't get me.  I think I told my companion that Turkey is really tasty thinking that this specific turkey didn't speak Spanish, but I think I was wrong. So me and the turkey ended up wrestling as you can see in this picture. Luckily I still had my helmet on.
Some of the greatest things we can do in the mission work is invite our friends to ward activities. This is not something that happens too often out here because of the distance that has to be traveled, and the lack of members, but In other places, there are frequent activities, and we should always try to invite friends so that they can come to know the church. It is always a lot easier to come to the church building for the first time when it is a simple activity. Later on they will feel desires to return. President Lapierre, gave us permission to play volley ball with the investigators and members, and we had a blast this past week!

Right around when Elder Cancino and I started to really start working hard in Agua Blanca, when we recognized the potential, that it truly has, we were teaching a woman named Rufina. She really can't hear at all, and what makes things even more difficult, is that she speaks no Spanish.  She only speaks Guarani. So in the lessons, Elder Cañete speaks in Guarani, and I try to listen and understand the conversation, and usually can understand where they are going, but in all honesty, I cannot pronounce the words in Guarani, so I really am no help when we teach in pure Guarani. 
One day as Elder Cañete was teaching her, I was pretty sure that he was talking about repentance and baptism, and when he stopped talking, I kind of made them stop there conversation and said to him "Wait wait wait, Elder, you are talking about baptism right?" He said "yes" I continued, "Do you think you are going to challenge her to be baptized?" As if we had just taken a time out from the discussion, he said " I don't know. Do you think I should?" I said, "Sure! Good luck bud!" and then the "game-time" continued... In the end she rejected the invitation, but gave us a reference to someone who lived close to her, who she thought would be interested. It was Julian, Luisa, Dario, and Luis. Within the very first moments of meeting them, we challenged them to be baptized and they quickly accepted. They have done ALL they can to become true converts to this true church, and continue to do so. Dario and Luis, were baptized this week, and their parents will be baptized later on. They are not yet married, and will have to wait for some paper work to pass to be able to get married, and then be baptized.



Sometimes trials come! But if there is one thing I have learned, it is that if a trial comes, we better be ready to receive an even bigger blessing.

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