Monday, May 30, 2016

el 30 de mayo

first off, happy birthday shout out to russell and a nicaraguan happy mother's day to all the mothers on the email list. i love you all. thanks for all you have taught me, and know that you are all part of the reason that i am here on the mission.

this week was an interesting rollercoaster. i have come to find out that when i feel good about the week, i have to double check my pride. after all the things that have happened in the mission, there are few days that my "good feelings" result in actual good things. we started out thinking that all would be okay and that we would finish the week with success, but we didn't. we let our confidence take us to heights we were supported to go to, and we fell hard. from a high of a baptism and seven investigators in church, to a weekend with a baptism and only one investigator, it was a hard pill to swallow. but i have finally learned the lesson, and it won't be repeated.

this week, hermana pastora pulled out the strings with the good food. one day, she made my favorite dish, jalapeƱo chicken, and i was overfilled with joy. (picture attached.) we thought we were going to have to move houses today, but like any smart man, president russell wants to barter the prices down before he accepts the first offer. we have another month in the house of hermana sughey, before we really do have to be out. i look forward to the adventure of moving out, and two weeks later being home!

this week, we had the opportunity to go and look for some old investigators and find out some of their biggest doubts and concerns again. we found out that we were taking something for granted: their religious background. come to find out that several of our investigators have little or no religious background and so all this time we have been spitting information at them and it's had little or no impact or better yet, it's been a turn off. but we changed our game plan, repented, and away we went. 

this week, i had to up my game in the scripture study. i have to the goal to finish the doctrine and convenants before i finish my mission, which means five pages every day. and with only have thirty minutes of study time to dedicate to that, it's been great to see how the studies really have changed. i am also nearing the end of jesus the christ  and it really is a book i recommend to all. it's long, and daunting, but you will not regret it. a favorite comes from doctrine and covenants 58:2-5

::blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand. Remember this, which I tell you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which is to follow.::

the lord does not promise us to take away our trials and tribulations, but yes, he does promise to lift us up. in these moments, the saints were in the process of moving to ohio and moving eastward. there were many more trials and difficulties coming their way, but the crowing glory was given. to be able to see the first modern day temple raised must have been an amazing moment.

today was interesting, we are going to celebrate mother's day with all the family members of the landlord, because she is about the age of my mother, but has never been married or had her own children. we will be her daughters today. :)

hermana vasquez is someone that i get to know better and better each day. there are rare moments were i know the whole story because it's not something that she tells me. you have to listen to every comment and be careful to link it all together. like a big puzzle. she is the youngest of five living siblings on her mother's side. her father has had a rough love life, having had two girlfriends get up one day, take her three children, and move away, never to be seen again. she doesn't like to read, but loved being mischevious in high school. she and her best friend were enemies for two years before they decided to be best friends than best enemies. she worked for a call center type company before coming out and loves, loves, loves button ups. she's the most interesting companion i have had, and i absolutely love her. this is a picture of the district. zls, us, then the other two elders. elder lopez (guatemala), elder carbajal (honduras), me (the only greenga), hermana vasquez (honduras), elder antuna (dominican republic), elder patzan (el salvador).

the older lady, is a crazy one. she's angie's mom, and has been coming back into activity. she made us food, something that i have come to notice as a sign that the members are starting to love you and recognize you as a servant of the lord (please read matthew 10 for all doubters.) this week, she gave me and sister vasquez an engagment type ring, but if worn on the right hand, just looks like a pretty ring. i love the nicas; they are just so crazy sometimes...
love you all! until next week,
hermana graves

Monday, May 23, 2016

el 23 de mayo

this week was full of interesting adventures. first off, we had a baptism of the cutest little rascal ever, moises. of course, the baptismal font was dirty, because we are the only sisters in the zone, so we got to clean the elders' baptismal clothes, and the baptismal font all in the same morning. lots of laundry detergent and some bleach had the font gleaming and smelling like a swimming pool for moises's baptism. 

moises's sister, myself, moises
doctrine and convenants 43:15-16 teaches us...

::hearken ye sisters of my church, whom I have appointed: Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach the children of men the things which I have put into your hands by the power of my Spirit; And ye are to be taught from on high. Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power, that ye may give even as I have spoken.::

we are sent for the preach and teach, not to let others come in our way and teach us. we are to be bold and have a fiery tongue like that of Stephen, Paul, or Peter. testify of Christ at all times, in all things, and in all places, and the words will be given as we speak. what greater blessing is there?

this week several miracles happened. tuesday we worked with the zone leaders in their area, and it was an adventure. lots of ups and downs, hills and mountains and honestly, i almost couldn't do it at one point. but i told myself, that if christ could die on calvary, i could follow my leaders and preach the gospel to every man and creature, whether or not they live five kilometers up the mountain. because we spent the afternoon in their area, there wasn't a lot of time to work in ours, but we have lots of interesting results. sunday, we had seven investigators in church, something that has been a scarce thing for about two months. several closed doors were opened again, and we are finding new investigators where i thought we wouldn't and couldn't. the lord truly is good.

i love you all, and hope that this week is blessed with the little moments. it's something that i hope to treasure in the change to come because it will be my last. changes will be next wednesday, and it's all coming to a close. i made my last agenda this morning, and the outside says "por un tiempo... para la eternidad." for a time, for the eternity. something that came to mind. here, it's only a dedicated time of eighteen months. something that goes by so quickly. but i do it so for the eternities. i go all day, every day to be able to enjoy the eternity with these beloved people. 

all my love,
hermana graves

Monday, May 16, 2016

el 16 de mayo

this week we had interviews with President Russell, and for all those ex-missionaries, and for that current missionaries as well, know how much anticipation that can come from waiting for the interview. three months of waiting for his words, and it all comes down to about twenty minutes of question and answer. sometimes it's not all pretty. but something that i realized about three months ago is this: the mission president is just trying to help me gain my salvation and correct me along the way so that i can be a faithful and dedicated missionary. my tender mercy moment this week was my twenty minutes with president russell because it helped me realize how much he really does know me, one of the hundreds (almost a thousand) missionaries that he has had in the mission. it was great to have the time to talk about my area, talk about my concerns, and see how i can change. 

a favorite scripture from doctrine and covenants 38:41
::let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.::
every member a missionay, folks.

my favorite person this past week would have to be christ. i have been taking the opportunity during my personal studies to read from jesus the christ, a book that at first was just too daunting. but i starting reading it, and now i almost can't put it down. the love that the world's perfect man showed to die for us, and then humbly and patiently appear to his begriefed friends. these men and women didn't understand the doctrine of the resurrection, and the fact that the tomb was empty was something so big for them that it stopped all other possibly thinking processes. but slowly, one by one, christ helped them see past the empty tomb to the salvation and the light that stood beyond.

the hardest trial this week was seeing the missed opportunities. a small nagging comment in the back of my head had told me that we should go to one of the upper parts of our area. and i just kind of brushed it away. with the time, we found out that the elders success of 15 baptisms last weekend were all from our area. located exactly where the upper part of our area is. fifteen baptisms that counted for the elders, from our area.... it was hard to realize the consequences of ignoring the spiritual impressions.

a favorite food this week, cuajada. it's a super salty, creamy cheese. it's the white clump near the noodles in the food picture. this is something normal for lunch: corn tortilla, rice, and something like spaghetti noodles with cheese. yummmmm.....

i love you all more than words. this is the view from one of the edges of our area. the statue is of agusto sandino, one of the founders of a political parties here, and the arbol de la vida

hermana graves

Monday, May 9, 2016

el 9 de mayo

this week was one of the hardest weeks in my mission. having a close family member die is a little heart wrenching and honestly not something that i had in mind to be able to process. but thanks to some advice from a zone leader how had a similar experience, i was able to give the whole thing over to the lord. i know that i will be able to see him again. the life to come has become something to look forward to now. 

thanks to a loving mission president, i was able to talk with my family twice this week for the above mentioned sudden passing. the first was something awful, out of medical television series, but it was something that i am glad i got to do. the following hour was dedicated to earnest prayer and fervent cries for comfort and help. a voice said, it will be okay. i am here with you. i wrote about the day in my journal and closed the book. thursday was a new day, and i had no time to think of anything more than my investigators. sunday i was able to talk with my family again, and what a joyous moment it really was to hear them. there weren't any tears, and it was better that way. the next couple of weeks can't pass by quick enough.

this week we were able to have four investigators in church. one of our converts, eusebio (an older gentleman who works as a security guard) brought his wife to church, angie and her mother made it time to come to our ward's sacrament meeting, mioses is all ready to go for his baptism the 21st and then denis made it to church. the lord was grinning as we saw 17 confirmations take place during the afternoon ward's sacrament meeting. how wonderful it was to see. 

a scripture that has brought a lot of comfort to me this week is found in alma 40:11-12,

::Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.::

and something that i read in our heritage, by president howard w. hunter,

::if you have troubles at home with children who stray, if you suffer financial reverses and emotional strain that threaten your homes and your happiness, if you must face the loss of life or health, may peace be unto your soul. we will not be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. our detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow path to Him.::

the weather this week was warm, and it rained all day on thursday. we have entered the rainy season now! :)

lots of love, from angie and i
hermana graves

Monday, May 2, 2016

el 2 de mayo

alrighty people, things are getting a little bit more real. but i love you all the same.

After having fasted and prayed to be able to bring  all of our investigators to church, it was a little saddening to see that not a single one came, and it took a lot of humility not to burst out in anger. But the lesson in Relief Society was exactly what I needed to hear. The topic wasn't even about the Atonement, but the teacher asked, "what does the Atonement have to do with missionary work?" and I thought of the video The Atonement and Missionary Work, that my zone leaders showed us in Jinotepe a few months ago. It is a compliation of a few talks given by President Eyring (Act in All Diligence) and Elder Holland (Missionary Work and the Atonement), and video that I highly recommend to all to search on YouTube. The Atonement is why I am here. Without the precious moments in which our Lord and Savior poured out his soul and his strength for each one of us, we would not be able to receive salvation. The entire message that we as missionaries share, the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Commandments, the Laws and Ordinances, would be in vain. It would literally have no purpose. I have always thought that my Gethsemane in my mission was Pancasan, because it never went my way and no matter how much repentance I thought I was doing, it never got better until the very end. But I think yesterday was another Gethsemane moment. And we were honestly ready to drop every single investigator that we have in the vision, or with a baptismal date, and start completely over. But then we visited an investigator, at eight oclock last night, and a miracle happened. Carlos hasn't been a postive investigator since Sister Hussey and I started teaching him. He went to general conference, and we lost contact with him. The weeks went by and we didn't really focus in him. When Sister Vasquez came into the area, the first day, we went and contacted him again, but he still wasn't progressing very well. But then last night, we went and visited him and every thing was different. He had read the Book of Mormon, he told us that he believed in the Restoration, and he was going to complete his baptismal goal of the 21st of May. I know that some times God takes good things away from us to make room for the better. I know that He sent His Son to die for us so that the entire message of the missionaries could ring true in the hearts of the people prepared. This is why I am here, to preach and bring the world His Truth.

moments like these are defining for my testimony. have the faith that the lord knows the bigger plan.

hermana graves

p.s. a picture of the divisions we did with the sister leaders this week. this is sister morales, who came with me to nicaragua, but won't finish her mission until august.

 this week's delicious lunch picture :)