Monday, May 23, 2016

1 WEEK LEFT! - Memory Lane (Saying Goodbye) - Visit To Iguazu Falls! - - Dad Is Like My Companion :-)

video

I have gone through some difficult sicknesses throughout my mission, especially these last few months, but I want all to know, I am doing great, and there are no lingering symptoms left, except that my immune system is weak, so I have to be careful about washing my hands and things like that.

I honestly have so much to share this week, I almost am overwhelmed thinking about how I am going to share everything! I love telling you my stories about the mission. They are all so special to me and I will never forget these experiences.

To make things easier this week I am just going to go by picture.



1. Elder Preece and I spent a week together as companions, as he is also ending the mission. He has been a great friend to me. We were able to go to several areas where we were blessed to serve. He also served in Garupa so we were able to visit several friends of ours that we share


2. You might remember Juliana? We baptized her May 29th 2015. Exactly a year ago. We had heard that she was doing great and being faithful in the church, and we planned to see her and mention the temple. When we got to church (we went to church in her ward) she invited us to lunch and said to me, "Elder Graves! Did you hear? I am going to be endowed in June!" I am so happy for her and am grateful that God let me part of her conversion to the true gospel.



3. I was so privileged to go visit an awesome young man who is considering going on a mission who Elder Hawk, (who now is married, I don't know if I told you that yet) and I baptized a year and a half ago. He was in doubt whether he should go or not, but we could help him rekindle his desires to preach the gospel. With tears in his eyes, he went inside and grabbed and gave me his tie so that I might remember him. I quickly reacted by giving him mine. I will miss him.



4. This family is the Duarte family. They are amazing! Elder Hawk, if you are reading this, you will be interested to know, that Sister Duarte's husband who we tried so many times to teach, but so insistently did not want to be baptized, has again accepted the lessons, and will be baptized in a few months( he is not in the picture). Rondi (the one who I have my arm around) will be leaving on the same plane as I - to start his mission as I finish mine. After going to the MTC in Buenos Aires Argentina he will go to Columbia for the next two years. I am so proud of the progress he has made.



5. This family was such a blessing to me. They always helped us, and we had many spiritual experiences together. I will never forget their powerful testimony of the gospel. They will always hold a special place in my heart.



6. Do you remember Enrique? We taught him and he was instantly a "golden investigator". His problem was that he was not able to get married to his "wife" because of problems with his ex-wife and the divorce. He has been earnestly trying to work on this divorce, and it has slowly but surely started to move forward. He will be baptized within a few months. In the year and a half that I have been away from him, he has been fasting weekly, paying his tithing and his fast offering, going to church each week, has read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, the story of the church (this book is huge. If you haven't seen it... just think of... a really huge book... :-) )




7 y 8. We had the awesome blessing of having a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with Angelica. If you remember, while I was in Garupa, Elder Gardner and I were able to baptize her. Being with her again was so special, and she told me how happy it makes her to be able to talk to my dad, through Facebook, about the gospel. My dad is like my companion! He has helped me so much in little things like that. Just like the last time I saw her, she was overjoyed to see me, and while last time she went straight for the hug, this time she kissed me on the cheek! I couldn't believe it and didn't know how to react! Anyway... she is amazing, but I think someone will soon need to show her the missionary manual with all of our rules!



9. Cynthia Arrigada has wanted to be baptized and has been listening to the missionaries ever since I started to teach her with Elder Gardner. Her testimony is strong. Her problem is that her husband does not agree with her being baptized. Her time will come, and I will continue to pray that his heart will be softened.



10. During this week, Elder Preece and I were talking about the converts that we had had in our missions and how we feel such a love for each of them. He mentioned a woman that he baptized with Elder Gardner in Garupa, named Maria. She sounded familiar, and he told me that he thought that I had been the missionary to find her. I told him that I wasn't sure. As we went to her house, I saw her, and I instantly recognized her! I only taught her one time, but because of that lesson, the future Elders were able to continue teaching her and baptize her. This helps me realize that all of our efforts are worth it.



11. Some of my greatest friends. We are in the house of the mission getting ready to "sleep" to go to Iguazu falls. (We had to wake up at 1:30 in the morning) I have grown to love each of the people in this picture. They each will be ending the mission with me.


I am going to just send some pictures of Iguazu. All I can say is that this place was amazing.









I know this is the true church. I have been guided by the Spirit in so many circumstances that I can say that I know that He lives. It is too plainly obvious to ever deny. It all starts with prayer, and little by little, our faith begins to grow.


I will be able to go to Ciudad Del Este one last time on Saturday to say goodbye to Sonia Carolina and Fernando, and hopefully a few other dear friends.


I cant believe it is all coming to an end. It is so bitter sweet. I gave my goodbye talk this week, and the tears in the eyes of the humble people of Katuete made me realize the love that I have for them, and the love they have for me. I will not forget them.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Write to Elder Graves via e-mail by May 29 to reach him before he comes home!!!
  E-mail tgraves@myldsmail.net

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2 Weeks Left! - Saying Goodbye In Barrio Garupa - Recovering From Dengue Through Priesthood Blessings


video

video

video


As the time passes by, it seems like the time we have to write gets shorter and shorter. However the need to write seems less and less important as we are closer and closer to the coming back home.
This week I will not be able to send pictures, but their are lots the should be coming your way this coming week.



I have had a very interesting experience this week and am very grateful for it. As some might know I was sick some time ago and was not able to work. The illness was called Dengue. Well because of that illness, I have a really weak immune system right now, and was having some problems fighting off an annoying bug. Long story short, I was, again, forced to stay in and rest instead of working. This is the opposite of what I wanted to do at the end of my mission. I was given a blessing that the Lord had some special plans for me in the coming weekend (which would be this past Saturday and Sunday) and that I would be ready to work again on Saturday. I prayed every day that it would turn out that way, and today I can testify that priesthood blessings and unfailing faith are real and powerful.


A good friend from the MTC who will also be going home in 2 weeks, E. Preece and I served a good while in Barrio Garupa, and President Lapierre allowed us to go and say goodbye for the last time to our converts and good friends who we will be leaving here shortly. Their are many stories that I wish I could share with you now, but there is not time today. What I shared with many of them, through tears in my eyes, while they also had tears in theirs, was that it is very difficult to leave home going on a mission, because we know that we won't see our family for two years. But in the back of our mind we know that we will see them in two years. What makes saying goodbye to these people here in Argentina and Paraguay so difficult is that we don't have that assurance that we will be able to come back and be with them again. I will miss these people deeply. They are a new part of my family.

Just so my parents know... Iguazu Falls trip got moved to tomorrow! So I will be sending pictures about the trip next week!



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Write to Elder Graves via e-mail by May 29 to reach him before he comes home!!!

  E-mail tgraves@myldsmail.net

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

3 Weeks Left!!! - Grateful For A Faithful Family


Elder Sampaio made Lasagna!

I feel very blessed to have been able to talk to my family yesterday. For my blog today, I will only be writing a short experience, that I tried to explain to my family last night, but really was unable to (mostly because I don't speak English very well under pressure anymore!! ;) 

We decided to end our conversation with a prayer, and they asked me to chose who I wanted to pray. I felt that it would be nice to hear my sister Amber say the prayer. She prayed, and the Spirit touched my heart and testified to me how so truly blessed I am.

I spend hour after hour day after day, looking for those who really seek Jesus Christ. They want to find him. They want their families to be happy. They just don't know where to find this long searched for happiness. As I heard my sister pray, I realized how incredible it is that she, along with my whole family, knows how to turn to the Lord in time of need. They know what a temple is and how incredible it is to have one near. They understand the power of fasting. They know the importance of daily scripture study.

My family is not perfect, but talking to them yesterday made me realize something. I am not the only one developing spiritually during this time that I am here on the mission. They too are becoming closer to the Savior. I think that I mentally have it in my head that when I return home, everything will be exactly the same as I left it, but I now realize, that is not the case, but that the Lord has been working in the hearts of each of my family members, whether they realize the incredible spiritual growths that have happened or not. If they cant see it, at least I can.

Sorry for not giving much of an update on the area this week, but I just want all to know about the love I have for my family.

Have a great week everyone!


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cold Weather - An Unexpected Ride Home - Tithing...An Investment

What happened to the heat?? Seriously, last Sunday (8 days ago) my companion and I decided for the first time that we would not bring our suit coats to church because it was just unbearably hot, but all of the sudden the temperature dropped without warning! It is crazy! Working in the cold, is very different from working in the heat, but I like it just as much :)


This is us right before a lesson. The family was so nice to allow us to wait for the investigators to arrive, and we sat around the fire to warm up.

Just so you all know, my area is called Katuete... but I think almost all of the stories that I come I tell come from my miraculous experiences of Agua Blanca. The other city that we are blessed to visit twice a week. I think we see so many miracles there because we really have to have faith in the Lord for everything to work out. 

It was getting late at night on Friday as my companion and I were walking in Agua Blanca.  We were already exhausted. We could barely keep moving! We had one more lesson to do before going home, but in all honesty we had a sense of dread for what was to come after our lesson, the reason being that our ride home had canceled on us, meaning that we would be forced to walk somewhere around 10 miles in the cold, late at night, to be able to arrive home after our lesson. I kept telling my companion that we just needed to focus on the lesson and the Lord would provide the way. (Realizing very well that "the way" might be our legs).
As we finished our long walk towards our last investigator's home, there was a man standing in the middle of the road. He called to us, and because it was dark, we thought it was a bit strange, but we kept walking towards him and asked him what he needed. He asked us where we were headed, we explained our situation, and he offered us a ride home once we had finished our last lesson of the night.
It is incredible how often miracles like this happen to us when we are in Agua Blanca, mostly because we go out not really knowing exactly how everything will turn out, but that the Lord will surely provide the way. My hope is to continue relying on Him in this way for the rest of my life.
Another great testimony that I have received recently is about tithing. I know it is a true principle. If we pay it we are blessed. Not only this, but it should be our highest priority of "investments". A sister from Agua Blanca explained to us, how they try so hard to earn just a little bit of money, just so they can pay their tithing. You see, they live on a farm, and literally do not use money (occasionally it is necessary of course but  they use very little money). However, their desires to receive the blessings that are promised to us in the scriptures are so great, that they work, just so that they can have the opportunity to pay their tithing. I hope that we can all look at tithing in such a way.

I love the mission, and have spent much time wondering how life will be when I am no longer a missionary. It scares me. It excites me.  Even though I don't really know how everything is going to turn out, I do know that the Lord will again provide the way.

 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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