Monday, June 27, 2016

el 27 de junio

these are the promised pictures from last week. sorry there are two options for cybers, and one doesn't like to read my camera's memory card.

first, the picture of my two zone leaders. as prescribed in the missionary handbook our zone leaders come and do divisions with us every couple of weeks. small zone, the shorter the cycle in between visits. this time, we went and visited celeste, a recent convert, and we had planned to read the book of mormon with her. now let's think. we are in nicaragua. the nicaraguans speak spanish. and the latin missionaries learn english, and are encouraged to read the book of mormon allowed. so one elder pulls out his english book of mormon, and while we took turns reading, he followed along in english the best he could... it was quite the show, really.

the next two are pictures from cutting down mamones. they are a sour fruit, about the texture of a soft grape. you open the carcuss and then put the whole pinkish/orange seed in your month. you peel away the meaty, juicy part and spit out the seed. yummm... we helped a couple of converts cut them down with huge bamboo stick with a hook on the end. fun!

the last one is a crazy picture of my companion. she fell asleep on the chair, and so she got a picture taken of. fair game.

lots of love
hermana graves

her letter for this week

my favorite scripture this week was something that as a little hard to swallow actually. in this point, the missouri saints are suffering great tribulations from the government and the leadership had traveled to kirkland to inquire of the prophet what the lord would have them do. joseph received these words in response, and they are a level five machete for obedience....

doctrine and covenants 101:2-9
I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, where with they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions; Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels. Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified. Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances. They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me. Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.

i am absolutely in love with hermana paola. every once in a while, as a missionary you reach the need of change in your diet. having changes every three months would be great; a new lunch appointment, new contacts. but since i have been here for four months, and i only have three weeks left... there weren't a lot of options. because we moved houses, we had to find a lunch appointment a little bit closer to the house, and we found a sister willing to do so. paola cooked for the missionaries before, and is sent from heaven. i eat the whole plate every day. there goes the ten pounds i lost since coming here! this plate was probably my favorite, because it reminded me of my mom's potato cheese soup. almost exactly on the nail!

these week was a little temper mental the weather, and i was able to capture the sky before the heavens opened up and it started to pour!

proof for mom and aunt stephanie that i learned how to put my hair up nice. look how light it's gotten too! (ps steph, i will need a layer trim when i get back!)

the worst part about dying as a missionary is your last zone meeting. you get to share your testimony for the last time, and you then get picked on the since i am one of the two sisters in the zone, the elders took their fair swing at all the bad "dying" jokes that you can think of. they made a nice little tomb for me and everything. i also included a picture of the last district... hermana vasquez and i, elder lopez and elder carbajal (zone leaders), elder patzan and elder coc (la borgona). 

the last pictures of little sophia. in each area, i have met a little sophia that has become close to my heart. this little sophia is the granddaughter of my old lunch appointment who is very close to my heart. sophia's mom, juli, is about three years younger than i am, and has become a closer friend. sophia has a fascination with my plaque, and just my plaque!, so we had to take a memorial picture.

sunday we had a sacrament meeting talking about the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy. as missionaries, you get really good a listening and doodling at the same time, so i included yesterday's doodle as well. 

with all my love,
hermana graves

Monday, June 20, 2016

el 20 de junio

i am going to apologize for the lack of pictures. we chose another cyber today instead of the chapel because i have my final interview. (for all you missionary friends, you know what's going on. and for those of you who don't, it's probably better.)

this week was actually full of nightmares that a missionary has. not being able to work in their area, fallen baptismal dates, the works. but let's start with the very beginning....

monday: we moved houses. we wrote really late. and we had to stay up late to organize the house and get it into a sleepable state.

tuesday: get up and organize the house so that we could study. breakfast was limited because we hadn't been able to buy anything to eat. not living in a pulperia really stinks... the zone leaders surprised us with divisions and so we got to work with them. all work and not too many results. but we were able to meet with our "bishop" and organize our work with theirs to retain our converts, help the ward progress. that night, at 10:30, exactly at bedtime, the hermana training leaders called and asked us to come and work with them the next day.

wednesday: five fifteen am, get up and get out the door before the six thirty alarm. we worked with the hermana leaders in their area, and it was kind of interesting to work in a trio again. it's not something i enjoy because there is always a third wheel in the situation, no matter how hard to try not to. we enjoyed chatting about the mission from the viewpoint of a veteran, a leader and a newbie. o how the tables have turned.

thursday: was seminormal. get up, get back to the house and attempt to think straight. by this time, i was exhausted and i didn't have a lot of patience for anything out of the ordinary. we found some new investigators, and had a really neat experience. macelino, our only progressing investigator, lives with his sister and their father. macelino sr had a raging temperature and his sister had asked us to pray for him earlier in the week. we went in on thursday with the intent to help him spiritually and maybe physically so we taught the family the word of wisdom. word came out that macelino sr has a renal infection which is causing the major fever. a commitment to stop drinking coffee was well placed, and a commitment to be baptized. he said he'd pray.

friday: we were out of the house all day, working and verifying and finding, and working. all was normal.

saturday: is always crazy and we spent all day getting ready for sunday. the primary song has a new meaning guys. 

sunday: long day. one in church, but he's a little miracle. go macelino go. i just hope that this week never repeats.

i love you all. this week was rough, and i am sorry if it's a little downer. 

doctrine and covenants 90:24

hermana graves

Monday, June 13, 2016

el 13 de junio

a new haircut for hermana vasquez, courtesy of hermana estelvina... she's a little stubborn and you have to do as she says, or you loose your head.

this is the after effects of walking in a pair of shoes for the first time after washing them... they stain through your socks and stain your feet! all afternoon in wet shoes and then all day too, there wasn't a lot of options... but it's all part of the adventure!

greatest success.. i made it through one of the first goodbyes without bawling my eyes out. every three months we reunite as several zones (groups of pairs of missionaries, for those that don't speak missionary.) and we have a conference. with president and sister russell finishing their mission at the end of this month, they went big. it was fun, but it was kind of bittersweet. hermana russell shared a beautiful testimony of the book of mormon and president russell helped me reanimate myself. i have recently gone a little trunky, almost finishing your mission does that to you, but i have recommited myself to work until the last day. no regrets.

i have really had a hard time thinking about the vision of my work here. starting this week, i will be preparing investigators for baptisms that i will not even be in the country for. but it's not an excuse, and i really need your prayers to help me stay focused until the end. 

this week, we had a neat experience with a new investigator, macelino. he was a referral from his neighbor who didn't want anything to do with us, who had originally refered us to his sister, reyna. reyna of course passed the referral over to her brother, who was a little occupied but took a moment to talk with us. he was a little hestitant to come to church yesterday, but he completed his commitment and came! all his rumbly tumblies stopped and was able to really enjoy church.

my favorite person this week is hermana pastora. she always tries to put a smile on our faces, especially when it's raining, ie almost every day. this last week she was really stressed about her daughter, was going into labor. it was great to have the opportunity to serve her on thursday night and make dinner. gallo pinto, plantains, and eggs. a delicious nica dinner!

a favorite scripture of hermana vasquez alma 31:35
::Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.::

one of the most important things that i have learned in my mission is that you cannot leave the church. it is a scary world out there, and when you live the gospel standards, you live on a higher plane. you aren't in the middle of the all the hustle and bustle of the world. but when you leave the ol' ship zion like elder ballard said, you enter a sea of darkness, turbulent and destructive and it's hard to return. so, it's better not to leave.

my favorite thing about serving in nicaragua is that there is never a dull moment. rarely does a day go by when you don't think the words, :what are we to do with this one?: it just really doesn't happen. something normal, doesn't play out. a baptismal possibility falls after five weeks of teaching thirty minutes after the baptismal service was supposed to start. but then come the miracles, and that's the most beautiful part. an investigator finds you and tells you that she knows that joseph smith was a prophet and that the book of mormon is true, and you just have to take a step back and humble yourself first.

my testimony of the reality of a god has been strengthened so much. if there was not a god, i would not be here, living, writing this letter. i would have been hurt, robbed, or worse a long time ago. but the promises that the lord makes to his missionaries are true. there really is a divine company that is at our side. my testimony is small, but i have seen how my little testimony really has allowed god's children to make changes in their lives. this is no time for the preparations, the seeding. this is the time of the harvest, and i really have seen how many we can really bring to god and how white the field still is for future generations.

i would encourage all young women to seriously think about serving a mission. pray, and read the book of mormon with the question in front of you at every moment, ::should i go on a mission?::  the lord will answer your question. pay attention to what your young women leaders say and the advice that your parents have. there will be something that they say that will be "your answer". i will tell you that it is not for the weak of heart, and surely not for the weak of stomach. the mission is beautiful, but in order to be extraordinarily beautiful it has to have it's dark moments. i know that the lord will support and guide every willing hand in the harvest. like it says in doctrine and covenants four, Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work. put your shoulder to the wheel, and push along.

love you all,
hermana graves 

Monday, June 6, 2016

el 6 de junio

let's just be real here. we started june. that means there are less than six weeks until i will be home. calming down now...

this week was actually really smooth. tuesday we got the news that sister vasquez and i will be together another change, ie sister vasquez will have the honor of killing the tennessee hermana. about half of my missionary friends finished their missions on wednesday, and it was a huge eye opener that i will a part of the next group. ten american and three latin elders and then four sisters will be the grand going away part on the thirteenth of july... can you believe it will be here so soon?!

thursday and friday were kind of fun because we went out in a trio with some laurels. here in the mission, the sisters have to be eighteen years old to go out on splits with the sister missionaries, but we are allowed to go out and visit with the laurels if we got out in three. it was interesting to see how the home of a teenager opens up when you walk in with someone they know. i think it's less threatening. but we had good experiences, and one actually went to church with us this weekend, so go friendshipping!

saturday was kind of a day full of miracles. we went out to visit an investigator that we had let pass from tuesday to saturday without a visit. (here, we usually don't let an investigator who is progressing go two days without at least a phone call.) with the rains that have been nonstop since monday evening, it's been difficult to make it all the way out where to her. but we found her and her coworker in a good place. marta and wilber had gone a whole week without drinking coffee, but friday afternoon a friend came over and asked marta to make a pot for all. they partook, and friday night couldn't sleep until one am, and woke up at three am. it's kind of fun sometimes to see how God chastizes the wicked. but He has also been working some miracles in their lives the last couple of weeks, too. a steady job for wilber, and some help in some property issues for marta. god is good, that's all i am going to say. 

this week, i took the chance one morning to study about the atonement and repentance. something that i came to recognize is this:
repentance is not an :all-at-once: type of change. it's a process that requires our effort and our faith that hte Lord will use His mercy to forgive us. when we truly understand the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, we understand the amazing price at which repentance comes. Christ bled from every pore. He suffered hours of torture in order to more perfectly know how to succor the children of God. the only thing that impeads us from escaping, leaving, our garden of gethsemane is understanding and recognizing that someone before you already has suffered there.
alma 7:11-14

then, we got to explain to several investigators just exactly how it is that man can receive wisdom from god, and it came out something like this:
our father in heaven knows you. he loves you and wants you to have success. there is no greater joy than to see his sons and daughters acting and preparing for an eternal life with him. for that reason, he sent his son, so that it all could be remotely possible. the atonement is a bleach for all our scarlet sins. all may be removed, forgotten, overcome. as we search daily to come closer to god, we can receive guidance from on high to know what we should do. answers to prayesr will come with more frecuency. impressions from the spirit will come with great power and you will know that what you are doing is or is not pleasing to our god.
isaiah 1:18

this week, we probably walked at least forty miles. all on foot too, because the buses here don't help us too much. good old feet, and some sturdy shoes!

because of aforementioned rain, every little ray of sunshine has to be taken advantage of, or your clothes don't get dry. i took advantage of some early morning sunshine to wash some clothes and a towel that badly needed to be washed, but the rain soon moved in and i forgot about said towel... these are the results...

lots of love, with a crazy picture from the compa!
hermana graves