I have been called to serve for 2 years in the Costa Rica San Jose Mission as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy New Year

Christmas Day with the Branch President's Family

This is my Planner. This is why I want stickers...

Hey there. I don’t have a ton to say since I just talked to everyone 2 days ago. But Christmas was good. It wasn’t as hard as I was expecting it to be. I thought it was great. Just great to be able to hear all your voices.

And I have been fiddling with that camera a ton and last night I plugged it in and it turned on! So that was a major relief. And nick said that it was waterproof? I definately hope so. This next Monday my mission leader for la Rita is taking us to this waterfall that he said is like 100 feet high but said it’s a nuts hike to get to it. We have to scale smaller waterfalls and swash buckle our way through the jungle! I’m so jacked. This is what I’ve been waiting to see. He said there’s monkeys and everything there. It’s in Siquirres if you want to look it up on a map. And he said that everything will get soaking wet so I’m hoping the camera you sent will be ok. But be excited for sick videos and pictures next week!

Christmas night we went and had some normal lessons then went to the branch president’s house and had dinner. It was all pretty fantastic. They celebrate it at midnight so it was nuts that night but it’s (Christmas) just not nearly as big as in the states. Everyone eats tamales for Christmas which are delicious. I will send a few pics of my Christmas...

Did someone say happy birthday to Bernie for me? I just realized he’s got 4 years now!

What are you guys doing for new years? I don’t really know what they do here to celebrate, but it’s approved we’re going to go to Puerto Viejo and stay the night with the district and just play games and stuff since p day is Saturday

Alright well tell everyone I love them. I’ve gotta head out. Happy new year to all. I love you. Thanks for everything you do

Elder Graham

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Stable and Nativity
Baby Jesus was played by the turtle

Elder Graham's "Christmas Tree" and presents from home

Heyy there. Sorry I didn’t e mail Friday but we didn’t have time. Today isn’t p day because we have zone conference on Wednesday and our “preparation day” will be spent traveling to San Jose, so we get to email today.

We got a call on Wednesday night saying that Elder Felipe had changes. So we spent Thursday going around to everyone just so he could say goodbye. It was a little sad. Hermana Pacita and Jose and his family were all crying and so was Elder Felipe. It was really hard but made me realize that I really didn’t want to leave yet. It would be tough to say goodbye to them.

Elder Felipe always talked about how bad he wanted to go to Guanacaste which is out on the peninsula and I told him that he would be the zone leader there. Sure enough he was sent to be zone leader in Guanacaste. It was pretty nuts. Then it was my turn to see my new companion. Elder Bernuy. He’s from Virginia and goes home in June. He’s the new district leader.

But no worries I got the Christmas package! And I opened her up and have been going to town on the goodies :) thank you very much.

When Elder feline left we traded scarves. I gave him my timbers scarf and he gave me one from his team in Mexico. Soo maybe for my birthday I could get a new timbers scarf :)

ohh and for the call. I’m gonna call you Christmas eve just for like a minute so that you can call back on that number and I’ll tell you at what time to call back the next day

As far as baptisms coming up we have Marita whose daughter is a member in la Rita and she has already read all the way to Alma in like 2 weeks. She will be baptized Jan 1st.

Every day this week I’ll be doing divisions with someone else! Since Elder Bernuy is district leader he has to do all the baptismal interviews. Right now I’m here with a different Elder and every day this week will be with someone else!

Alright mother. Well it’s time to say farewell. I love you very much. Thank you for everything and I will call you Friday at like 10ish my time, which I’m pretty sure is 2 hours different. I love you. I love the ducks. I love Jesus. Merry Christmas.
Elder Graham

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cariari Week 12

Hellooo mother. Today we had a commutations with the President today in Guapiles with the zone. It was pretty sweet. We broke up into teams and played basketball, soccer, flew kites, and had relay races. It was all pretty good and then we went in and had a training with President Galves. He explained how all of that relates to how we work as missionaries. I thought that that was definitely something dad would do in his activities. Something fun that he knows everyone would love then somehow tie it into a lesson. I always love these conference thingies we have and President Galvez and how genuine he is. The zone leaders always freak out about numbers and don’t seem to care about anything else. President Galvez teaches us how we need to love the investigators and the numbers will come. I didn’t come here to get numbers I came here to change lives. And President Galvez understands that and helps us do that. I just wish a lot of the other missionaries did. I always love zone stuff because elder miller is seriously my best friend we are always the happiest kids ever when we see each other.

This whole month has been really tough. All our investigators are falling and we have been busting it to find people but there’s nothing. Friday night Dionisio said he just doesn’t feel ready so we gotta wait a little more... It’s the most frustrating thing. When I came here I thought everything would be a lot easier... What we’re teaching is true... so why doesn’t everyone just run up to us in the street begging to be baptized?? That’s what I don’t get.

That’s so sweet Tate and Cletus came! That makes me so happy. I was so surprised to see that pic Luke sent! I saw it before I read your e mail. It’s so sweet that Tate’s so amped to get out into the field as soon as possible. I’ll write Pres Monson and let him know that Tate needs to come to Costa Rica and I’ll be his trainer.
Transfers are Friday and that’s P day too. Pres just told us we could e mail today because it would be so long without e mailing. And then my next p day is that day of my zone conference which is next Wednesday, but I think I’m e mailing again Monday but I’m not positive.

That’s so weird that dad had his talk yesterday! Yesterday the branch president asked me 30 seconds before sacrament meeting if I’d give a talk on whatever I wanted. I had been studying a lot about the atonement last week so I gave a talk about the true meaning of Christmas and talked about the atonement. I read a few scriptures in 2 Nephi 9 and Alma 7 about the infinite sacrifice and how kind and loving our heavenly father was to make this plan so that we could be happy. He didn’t have to do it and Jesus didn’t have to do what he did. But they did because they love us. It would be interesting to compare notes between our talks.

Attendance in Cariari has plateaued at 40 which is pretty good if we can hold that because that’s doubling the average. La Rita’s cruisin at 50.
I’ll try and open and give Elder Felipe’s present to him at the transfer meeting. We got mail today and your Christmas package wasn’t there. Hopefully it comes before Friday!
I didn’t know I was coming straight to use internet so I didn’t bring my stuff to send pics unfortunately so this will have to be a picture free week sorry!
I gotta go. I love you and I miss you very much. Tell everyone I love them and that they’re great!

Elder Graham

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 11 Really wanted those Plantains....

The Story of the Plantains
We stayed in Guapilies with 2 other companionships. We were STARVING and had nothing to eat so they told us that there was this plantain tree in their neighbors’ yard but the wall is about 15 feet high, just a cement wall. I was the only one with the guts to go get em so I scaled the wall and I felt super sick doing it. I climbed like 30 feet along a wall that was about 6 inches wide and it was so freaking scary. I reached over and cut off a fatty bushel of em with a machete but they were soo heavy that they fell and I almost fell but I got caught on the tree. I didn’t even think. I jumped down into their yard to get the bananas and I hurled them up to Elder Malan who was waiting on the fence and as the house of the yard I was in turned their light on I scaled the wall and dropped. I was soo proud when I got those. I felt so sick because everyone was afraid to get em. These are the spoils.

Hellooo Mother, congrats on finishing up your classes! I know how good it feels to be done! It probably would have made me homesick to hear you went to get a Christmas tree but you said you went in the daytime and it was nice and sunny, and I don’t know if I have any memories of cutting down a Christmas tree in those conditions in my whole life so there’s really nothing to reminisce. That’s kinda why I think I’m not feeling as homesick as I thought I would this time of year because it’s not even Christmas. Christmas time is cold and raining and trips to the mountain and I’m very far from any of that so I don’t really feel like there’s anything to miss. It’s hard to picture a place that cold.

I have been soooooooooo worried about the ducks! Friday night I had a dream that the ducks lost in overtime 15-18 and I was shaking as I got on the computer today to read the news! But I can’t explain how a national championship feels to me... All I can say is I love my ducks!

That’s great that dad is giving a talk on the atonement! I would like it if he could send me a copy of his talk to read. That’s a great and very intense topic.

I don’t really want to talk about what’s happening with our investigators... Dionisio is doing really well though. He let us know that he didn’t get baptized because he was having a girl stay the night with him. But he cut that off and is looking like he should be good to go this Sunday at 8 before church! And Jaisons family.... His dad I think is a little offff. He really is bipolar. One day he loves us and the next he has crazy doubts. The last lesson ended with him telling us that we shouldn’t come over anymore because we can’t help his family because we are too young to understand his problems. I didn’t really handle it very well and kind of freaked out on him and got really mad.

But Jose and Carlos really are the greatest kids! They went to the temple last week and they’ve been the ones blessing the sacrament. They have given us a ton of references and keep asking for pamphlets to hand out to their friends and they write their testimony in them. The last time we had a lesson with José, in his prayer he said how he wants us to be proud of him and through him we can see the fruits of our labor. What he said doesn’t really translate but it’s something to that affect. I have loved seeing what they have done with their lives. Not what we´ve done.. but what they’ve done, especially for being so young.

Yeah there are two Puerto Viejo’s. The one I go to is the north one called Sarapique. Doing those crazy exchanges is the biggest headache. We’ve got to always travel with someone and it gets really confusing to explain how we do it, but we have to travel way far to drop people off and pick them up and it takes a long time and a lot of money. Its because the district leader and zone leaders need to meet and interview all our baptismal candidates, so that’s why last week was so crazy because everyone had baptisms and I had to go all over. Its crazy but I like it because I love seeing all of Costa Rica.

Last week for P Day I finished up the Christmas package and sent it out last Wednesday. Biggest headache to get it sent out! It was raining ridiculously hard and we had to try and keep it dry and it was just a headache. When I asked the lady at the post office how much it was she just kept saying that it was really expensive to send and wouldn’t give me a number and just kept saying REALLY expensive. I tried to explain I didn’t care I needed to send it, but eventually I did and it came to like 80ish dollars which is what I was expecting. I sent a bunch of my clothes in it. On one side is the presents for everyone and the other side are my clothes. You need to be very careful to not look under my clothes. That’s for you!

Last week when it was raining suuuperr hard everyone’s houses were flooding and were surrounded with like a foot of water. The draining system here for being so rainy isn’t very good. Our next door neighbor is Hermana Pasitas daughter whose family I love! Anyway Wednesday morning she called us freaking out saying we needed to come over and help her. We went over and her house was flooding like crazy. There are cracks in her house in the floor and they were spurting out water and her house was filling up. We had to take literally every single thing out of her house. Furniture, beds, cloths, kitchen stuff EVERYTHING because she was moving anyway. We changed into regular clothes and had to take everything to Hermana Pasitas house down the road. It took about 4 hours to do and when we were done there was about 8 inches of water in every room in her house. It was crazy and we were so wet. I can’t explain how hard it was raining.

Did you see the First Presidency Christmas Devotional? I loved it. I don’t know if I had a favorite part really, but just them testifying of Jesus and thinking that men so great that understand so much of the gospel and in the end it’s all centered around Jesus Christ. And I love to hear their testimonies of that.

For birthday treats… honestly they don’t have anything here that we have in the states. There is not one thing that you can get in the stores here that you can get in the stores in the states. So anything is perfect. What you sent last time was soooo perfect. Lots of sour patch watermelons and it was all good. And I would love some Nike custom shoes that are Oregon ones, green and yellow, some that say a little something like nc 2010 or something. I understand if they don’t get here by my birthday because it takes so long but I really want them. I had to sell my Rip City shoes to Elder Felipe (WHAT!?!!?) so I am in dire need of some hometown pride shoes. He doesn’t have any shoes and he loves them. I felt bad so I let him borrow them and he fell in love.

Alright I think this is goodbye... I love you and tell people to write more hand written letters so I can send them hand written responses. And did dad get his birthday card?

Elder Graham

Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 10 in Cariari...what a crazy week!

Baptism of Kimberly and her mother Idalia
Elder Graham, Kimberly, Elder Felipe, Idalia, Kevin

Wedding of Kimberly and Jaison

Limon, sweetest little town

Helloo. This past week was nuts. We had divisions almost every day. Tuesday the zone leaders came and I went out with one of them and Elder Felipe went to Guapiles. Wednesday I went to Puerto Viejo, Thursday we spent the day in Guapiles and Friday don’t ask how but somehow with all the divisions I ended up in Limon! It was sooo sweet! I loved it! It’s such a sweet beach town with sweet little beachside shops. The missionary’s house there is right on the beach and so we walked up and down it all day. There was a million kids playing soccer on the beach and there are about a million soccer goals every 100 yards or so on the beach.

Then Saturday I came back home but didn’t make it back in time for the wedding which was unfortunate but we went to their house for the party thing. The weddings here are nothing like in the states. They’re just no big deal. And they were excited when they saw I had a camera because I could take a few pics of them on their wedding day. If I didn’t have a camera they wouldn’t have had any pictures. And the ones they have are just at their house after, so I got a few pics with them.

Miguel and Gissel didn’t get off work last Sunday so they didn’t get baptized. You have to go to church first. But their son Jaison went and was all good to go to be baptized but come Sunday morning(we had to change the day to Sunday before church) he didn’t come. We ran to his house and he wasn’t there so he didn’t show up to his own baptism which was retardedly frustrating.

Saturday night we went over to talk to Dionisio and he said he needed one more week to prepare... We had a long lesson just trying to convince him that Sunday was his day but he is convinced that he will be more prepared next week... He’s been acting really weird and he’s had his girlfriend at his house every night and I’m pretty sure she has something to do with it.

So Sunday morning Idalia and Kimberly showed up for their baptism. I was very frustrated before but when they finally showed up and were so happy and excited and I got to see them baptized it was a great experience. We have worked very hard with them and the missionaries have worked hard before I got here. And I confirmed Kimberly which was a tad scary but I’m glad I got to do it. It’s great that we had the baptisms, but it’s hard because I don’t really see the ones we got, I see the ones we lost...

So the zone leaders told Elder Felipe that his going to be transferred and become a zone leader the next transfer so we’re 90% sure he’s going so hopefully his present from you can be gifted to whoever is my companion then. I don’t know how I feel about getting a new comp. I want a cool gringo that I can be friends with. Like Malan. We get along way well and it would be super fun to have a comp like that.

Thanksgiving was alright. It was set up by an American lady in Guapiles. It was really nice of her to feed all of us and everything and she made it all like the American thanksgiving food but it made me a tad homesick. I wish we just didn’t do anything for thanksgiving because in all honesty I wouldn’t have remembered if it wasn’t for that and for you telling me it was thanksgiving.

Christmas I still don’t really know about yet. But it’s a Saturday so were going to try and have some baptisms that day so that will help me get through it. We will just go visit investigators and members. Its really just going to be a normal day..

When I was in Limon we were walking by this store and this HAGGARD drunk lady runs out and grabs my arm hard and tells me I need to go to her house and save her family. I’m not going to say she only had one tooth because I can’t judge. She may have had more that I didn’t see but for now, well, say she had only one. She was foaming in her mouth and honestly the grossest lady I’ve ever seen. We told her that we were busy right now but maybe we could go by her house later and she was furious and grabbing my face and explaining that I’m an angel and I have the power to save her family. We tried to write down her address so she would let us go but she was just screaming in my face about how I need to go and do some kind of magic that she thinks I possess because I’m an angel. She was grabbing my hand and my face and tried to kiss me and I was like “alright let’s go,” so we just started walking and she was using all her drunken force to stop us from moving. She finally pulled her chest out of her shirt and grabbed my hand and tried to put my hand on her chest. I’ve never been more grossed and weirded out in my life. I just started running for my life. I had no idea where I was running but I just started going and the Elder I was with was really slow so I almost lost him. There are always drunk people yelling at us and trying to stop us but that was just over the top...
It’s pretty cool to be kinda cuisin now knowing what I’m doing. The language has improved a lot in the past few weeks. I’m much faster and I feel pretty good about talking with anybody and understanding. I still write down a ton of new words everyday and try to get em down but there’s a lot of words in the world.

I need to go but I love you! Thanks for everything!
Elder Graham

Monday, November 22, 2010

Week 9 in Cariari! A Great Week!

This is the greatest family. Jean Carlos, Melissa and the mom Gretel.
They have the nicest house I've seen here.
Hellooo mother. This week has been ridiculous! Last Tuesday we had a lesson with a contact. We gave them a pamphlet of the Plan of Salvation when we first contacted them and when we went to the appointment the mom, dad and son all had read it. They all said that they know it’s true and have been searching for the true church for a long time. They are ready to do whatever they have to, to be baptized and they wanted to know the soonest they could be baptized. So we set the date for this Saturday. We have gone to their house every day teaching them everything, but the mom leaves at 8 in the morning for work and doesn’t get back till late and the dad works from early till 5. So every morning we have had to wake up at 4:30 and we have gone to their house at 6 am to teach the mom, and we go back to their house at night to teach their dad. Jaison, the 16 year old son has had a ton of problems with drugs and has a girlfriend who’s 21 and they have had problems with the law of chastity. The parents both work on Sundays and drink 6 cups of coffee a day. In 2 days we taught the law of chastity, keeping the Sabbath day holy, the Word of Wisdom and tithing and the mom changed her work schedule to not work Sundays and the dad quit his job because they wouldn’t let him have Sundays off! Now Jaison is always at home and we pass by all the time to see how he’s doing and he has completely changed his life in a time of like 4 days. It has been the most bizarre thing ever, and because of it, the week has been soo hard. We haven’t slept or had time to eat at all because we’re running to their house which is 20 min away on bus, and then back to other appointments and to la Rita every day. It’s just been crazzyyy but I know we’re getting to see the good that comes from our sacrifices.

So we’re looking at 6 baptisms this Saturday in Cariari! There have been six baptisms in the past 3 and a half years combined here. We had 49 people in sacrament meeting yesterday! It was pretty great.

Dionisio is doing very well. He is without a doubt the silliest guy ever. When we ask him a question he just whistles for about 30 seconds while he thinks and just tells us that we’re the greatest missionaries ever.

The other baptisms are Kimberly and Idalia. Kimberly is getting married and baptized Saturday and Idalia is her mom. The missionaries have been teaching her since June. She is about 45 and has 9 kids and all have different dads and all her kids have kids and are like 14. It’s pretty sad to see that’s just the life they’ve all known. Idalia has been super hard to teach, but she has seriously changed her whole life. She smoked drank alcohol and drank coffee and everything but has changed it all. She used to be depressed but now is always happy and it’s so amazing to see the change in her life. So the baptisms we’re looking at are Kimberly, Idalia, Dionisio, Miguel, Gissel, and Jaison.

They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here but the zone is all going to Guapiles Thursday to have thanksgiving dinner. I can’t believe that it’s gonna snow there! I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a place where it’s not always midsummer. I can’t believe I’m in November! It’s the silliest thing to see Christmas trees and decorations here. I’m like, don’t you guys know that it’s July? What’re you doing? But last night we helped an investigator family put up their tree and we decorated it. I took a pic that I’ll send in a sec. Don’t worry about the Christmas package. There is a transfer on the 22nd so I will for sure get it then.
Yeah gallo pinto is rice and beans and spices but it’s what Costa Rica is famous for. It’s very good.
Thats not what i wanted to hear about the Blazers... I dont know whats harder.. the Ducks winning a national championship.. or the blazers struggling without me there to still cheer loud and let them know that i still love them.... Is everyone just going nuts about the Ducks?? You all seem way too calm about all that.... Times are tough but great. I love you. Keep on being great.

Elder Graham

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week 8 in Cariari

My buddy Dyrana
There’s family that we eat lunch with every Sunday in la Rita and they have a little girl that’s 6 and is so cute. I showed her a picture of Gwen and she was very excited and started drawing a picture for me to send to Gwen.
Happy pday! Everything has been going good here. We’ve been working hard and yesterday we had 39 people in Cariari which I’m pretty sure is the most they have ever had in the history of the branch. There’s usually between 15-20 so that was exciting to see. Everyone was so excited in the branch to see the chapel so full. President Galvez called us last week and told us that Cariari is dying and if we can’t get it going then after we leave he’s going to close the area for missionaries for a while. So we busted it and got people there, which was great. We are going to have 2 or hopefully 3 baptisms this month in Cariari so that will be great for a branch who hasn’t had a baptism in years and doesn’t have a lot of motivation to do missionary work.

Porfirio is doing well. Our lessons with him are always really good we taught him about keeping the Sabbath day holy yesterday and it was actually really good. I think he’s making progress to the decision to get married. He’s seriously really strange though. You can tell he feels really lonely. And I’m certain he’s never laughed or cracked a smile in his life.

Hermana Pasita is cooking for us every day and it’s fantastic. We eat in her house. It’s a normal small Costa Rica house. It costs us 30,000 colones each month, which is about $60 US, but its soo good and she makes so much I’m always soo full when I leave. I wish you could try some of the stuff she makes. It’s sooo good! You should look up a recipe for gallo pinto and make it. It’s soo good. And make some fried plantains which are my favorite thing now and super easy to make. I make them myself sometimes. Just dice em and fry em. But Hermana Pasita makes em a special way and they’re super sweet and delicious. You guys should have a tico night sometime and try to make gallo pinto and fried plantains and some sort of fresco. I’m sure there are some great recipes online.

I’ve eaten so much weird stuff I forgot the stuff that I used to not like. I never liked eggs but when there are scrambled eggs sitting next to mondongo (cow intestines) you are excited to see the eggs.

In the house Elder Felipe just studies like crazy which is good because I’m pretty sure he has the entire bible memorized and watching him argue with people is the greatest thing. Yesterday we met a lady and she started the lesson by going on about like 50 things about how our church contradicts the bible and after she had talked for about 15 minutes I saw Elder Felipe going through his bible and getting scriptures ready. When she was done he said ok, are you finished? and she said yeah and he went offff and was super calm but showed her scripture after scripture showing her she had no idea what she was talking about and about how she doesn’t understand what the love of Christ is. and afterward she gave us some fresh delicious pineapple juice. It’s not a lesson if you don’t get a fresco of some sort at the end.

Yep I got to hang with Warner again and I’m always with Elder Malan (when we do divisions) who is way cool but he's super trunky already and has like 7 months in the mission. It always makes me really homesick when I’m with him.

Our landlord is Dionisi and everything is really good. He’s seriously the silliest oddest guy ever. But we can hear everything he does in his house because it’s part of our house. And we have reasons to believe he has problems with the law of chastity. So that’s what we’re teaching next.
That’s the most terrible thing ever that your purse got stolen! I want to just hate humans when I hear about stuff like that. But in the end if we are doing what we are supposed to I know that everything will be ok with everything.

Hey there awesome news about the Ducks again! Is Arizona ranked? Should that be a problem for next week? Just a bigger name win I suppose. Go Ducks go Rip City.

Alright we're heading out. I love you all keep reading and keep praying. I love you very much and appreciate what you do for me!

Elder Graham

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Week 7 in Cariari ~ Do Not Be A "Sloth"ful Servant

"My buddy, the sloth, who is actually the scariest animal there is, and could rip me apart if he could move a little faster."

Alrighttt so Sunday night at about midnight we got a call saying that I was getting transferred. So the next morning I packed ALL my stuff all ready to go. I was very confused why I was getting transferred so soon but I was excited to see where I was going to get to go! So I packed up completely and was dreaming all Monday about where I would be sent. Then Monday night I got a call saying I was staying. Not gonna lie the whole thing made me really mad. I wasn’t mad that I had to stay; I was mad that they would get me all riled up about leaving then tell me I’m staying. So anyway all my stuff is still packed and I’m too stubborn to take it out.

Last Sunday we had the best lesson I’ve had. We were in a lesson with a guy named Porfirio who is very serious and a school teacher and very smart but a tad strange. We taught the law of chastity and said he needed to marry the lady he’s living with to build a family for his kids. He said he didn’t want to and never wants to get married because he’s from a family that was broken and he’s never seen in his life a happy family. So I had a strong prompting to take out a picture I had in my backpack of our family. I almost never bring my pictures with me so I just grabbed them for some reason that morning. I showed him the picture and I was like outrageously crying to where I couldn’t talk and talking about how it’s possible to have a happy family and that that’s where happiness comes from in this life. He was just silent staring at that picture. And for almost a minute and felt like forever he was just staring at it. He then said how unified and happy we all look and that he’s never seen a picture that had an impact on him like that one did. He said he wanted that for his family and was going to talk with his wife (if you want to call her that.) Afterward Elder Felipe, who in all honesty never talks to me we just always walk silently, said to me that I was the only person that could have gotten to him like that, and that reasons like that are why I’m in this area right now for these people. He said it was all set up by Heavenly Father. It was really cool and felt really good. You guys can feel like you are the ones that really helped him if he ends up getting married and baptized which I really think he will!

Our other investigators are coming along. We have been teaching our landlord who lives in the house divided. He was telling us that a month ago he was having girl problems and was really depressed about her and he prayed to know what he needs to do with his life to know if he should wait for her or search for something more in life. He decided that the next day if she came then that was his sign and if not then he needs to find out why he’s on the earth. That day she didn’t come, but we did, to ask about the house. So he listens to everything we say and is willing to do whatever he needs to do to be baptized. We set the 27th as his date.
Last week we had a zone conference in San José with Elder Filobella? I don’t remember his name exactly but it’s something like that. He’s an area authority of Central America and it was a really good conference. We all got to meet him and shake hands and such and when we were eating he came and sat down right next to me so we got to chat for a while. It was pretty great to have small talk with a general authority. That was all good but lasted 8 hours of us sitting there so I got a little antsy towards the end.

I always love going into San José and walking through the downtown center area. It’s so sweet with all the markets and stuff. I really hope I get to serve there someday. Today starts my second transfer period. We didn’t go to the transfer meeting because it’s so far and costs too much, so we are in Guapiles searching for Christmas presents. I’ve got some pretty good stuff that I’m excited to send, especially for the little ones! It’s too expensive to send Luke’s stuff to him so I’m just going to send it all home and hopefully you can find a way to get it to Luke :) And I took out a bunch of money to pay for it all so hopefully my bank account isn’t suffering too much.

Jose and Carlos are both doing great. We’ve been working hard on their families. Carlos’s family shows promise but are a touch lazy and Jose’s family not much interest, but his brother is really interested and comes to church but lives with his basically wife but not married, and they have kids so they need to get married.

I got to go to Puerto Viejo on divisions again for the 4th time. I feel like I spend more time there then in my area and I get to go again Friday, which is nice because my favorite family in Costa Rica is their cooking lady’s family. It’s my best friend Warner who is in the family I sent the picture of - the little boy there with the hackeysack. He’s so cute! When he sees me he runs up and gives me a huge hug. Stake Conference was last week and he came and sat with me. When he knew I was going to come over for dinner, he made his mom buy fish because he loves fish and thought I would too and I deserved the best so we ate fish and I tried to look as happy as possible eating it and trying to keep it down. With Hermana Pasita this week we ate turtle one day and then turtle eggs the next. The turtle wasn’t that bad but the eggs smelled absolutely vile.

Over on the Pacific coast the weather has been horrible and whipping our cities but I haven’t seen any of that. We are just hearing about how Costa Rica might go to war with Nicaragua and Costa Rica doesn’t have an army so the US is going to help them out. That’s all anyone wants to talk to me about. Do you know anything about that?
The weather doesn’t really change at all. Some days it rains and feels cooler and other days it’s uncomfortably hot. I’m not sure about the Christmas calling situation but I’ll figure it out.

So also for Christmas I’m lacking a little in the belt department if you want to send a nice durable belt any kind I don’t really care. And for ties if you want to send ties all my ties that are silk are all haggard and ruined because of the humidity. But I’m a big fan of the wool and polyester ties. Just keep that in mind if you want to send ties. And also my backpack smells the worst ever in the straps because I just sweat all day in them and I’ve tried washing them but they still smell. Any advice?
Alright well my time is up! But I love you and I hope you all stay safe and happy! Tell everyone I love them.
Elder Graham

Monday, November 1, 2010

Week Six in Cariari: 2 Baptisms!

October 30 Baptism of Jose and Carlos
From the left: Elder Felipe, Carlos, Elder Graham, Jose, Kevin
Kevin is the Young Men's President. He's 19 and waiting for his mission call.
"I baptized Carlos and Kevin baptized Jose"

The trees in the jungle here legitimately have vines strong enough to swing on like Tarzan if you wanted, and I want to go deep into the jungle to do that.
The thing about here is.. when you picture in your head what you would think Costa Rica looks like, with jungle and trees and dirt roads and all that jazz, that really is what it looks like. I keep forgetting what it looks like here then I look up and smile because i feel like I'm in a postcard.

We had 2 baptisms Saturday! Alright, so the first full day that I was in my area Elder Felipe and I were walking through some neighborhoods and were passing many houses. All of a sudden Elder Felipe stopped at a house and ¨knocked¨ the door (we call it knocking on doors but we don’t knock because everyone has fences so we stand at the gate and yell jupe! (hoop aye)) Out came a mom and José, and long story short we baptized him Saturday. I have no idea why we stopped at the house at that time but we were definitely guided by the spirit to someone who was completely ready for the gospel. The rest of his family isn’t quite ready but he was. From the first lesson he loved reading the Book of Mormon and kept every commitment. He had some problems with coffee but gave it up. One day when we were in a lesson his friend Carlos was waiting for him so we invited him in and he had no interest in listening to us but we talked to him and invited him to the next time. Every time after that he was more and more interested and started asking for different chapters to read out of the Book of Mormon. They have been to every activity and church every Sunday since we met them. And the first door I knocked on my entire mission was my first 2 baptisms. And I had a big testimony builder that we are guided to those who need us and are ready. If we do what we need to the Lord works a lot harder than we do and will put it all together for us. Yesterday José went out with us all day to lessons and took us to a few of his friends’ houses too. We introduce ourselves as missionaries and he introduces himself as a future missionary.

It was sooo cute I went back to Puerto Viejo and I saw that family I sent you the picture of. When I went to their house the little boy was soo happy and he showed me the hackey sack i gave him and I wanted to cry. It was sooo used and soo dirty and his mom had stitched it because he used it soo much. Elder Malan who is there told me he literally never stops playing with it and he was so proud to show me how he could use it and he showed me all the tricks he taught himself. They wanted me to show off so I did a few things for them and I saw him afterwards off to the side trying to do the tricks that he saw me do. But was so cute and I was so happy to see how much he loved it so I gave him a new one.

Every morning I make sure I’ve got one in my bag ready to hand out, and in lessons with toddlers that are moving and whining I give it to them to hold to calm down. And really I have only given out 2 of the ones you sent, not that often, only to the worthy ones. The ones I give in the lessons are just to borrow so they stop freaking out.

Oh oh and I got to eat my first really nasty haggard food. I ate what’s called mondongo. I think.. Its cow intestine. it’s the grossest thing ever. It’s super soft and rubbery and I had to just smile and eat it without throwing up. but it was close...

Maurice Lucas died??? That makes me want to cry.

Did Tracey get the postcard I sent?

Spanish is good and bad. Very tough and a lot of headaches but it’s coming. I feel more confident then I did and that is half the battle.

(I asked him how he likes his mission president, President Galvez) Oh yeah he’s awesome. I love him. He is always so happy to see me and give me a huge smile and huge hug and is always very genuine and concerned when he asks me how my area and I am.

(I asked him if he thinks he or Elder Felipe will get transferred next week) naw there’s no way. He’s only been here 2 transfers and me one. There hasn’t been a baptism in la Rita in 9 months and we’re having success and we have more coming next month. I know it. President called us and told us we’re doing well so he won’t move us. We’re close with more baptisms for this month. We have the goal of 3, and 2 in Cariari which hasn’t seen a baptism in years. I will probably be transferred 4 days before my birthday and Elder Felipe 3 days before Christmas. But we’ll see.

I would love to have more pictures. I bring my photo album with me always and I show it to everyone who asks about my family and they love to see pics and always tell me about how beautiful of a family I have!

Yeah I thought I had seen rain in Portland. I am dripping wet from head to toe with my umbrella. You have no choice. Speaking of which the umbrellas here are AWFUL! everyone is super cheap. I’ve bought two and both have broken. If you could find a nice quality one, not too big but decent wingspan and send for Christmas that would be nice too.. if you want... but not too big because I have to carry it always. I wore my North Face rain coat once but it’s tough to judge when I need it because it takes about 30 seconds to change from pouring to sunshine.

P Day is Wednesday next week because of Transfers

well I have to go. I love you lots! Tell everyone I love them!

Elder Graham

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Week Five in Cariari/San Jose RAIN!!

Elder Graham, President Galvez, Elder Felipe
We took a bus ride in a tiny bus that should fit 5 and was made in 1890, literally straight up a mountain. The bus was mashing and we were only going like 5 mph and at times the bus stopped and started rolling backward and then caught itself and pushed forward to the top of a mountain overlooking San Jose. The sickest view everrrr and President Alverez had us be silent for a few minutes then asked us what we could see. It was super sweet.

The far right is Jose, the one being baptized. Then next to him is Carlos, his friend. and luis is the one on the left with the hackeysack on his head.

I tried to show how hard it rains here.. These pictures it don’t do it justice...

Oregon "O"

for Nick and Luke...Guapiles skatepark... soo sick.....haha... not really. but really... sick

part of the zone after playing soccer...

First off Thank you sooo much for the package! It was soo perfect. It was the greatest suprise! That mitre ball is so sick. Did you know anything about that ball when you bought it? Everyone in Costa Rica thinks that’s the best ball in the world because it’s the ball that they use in the professional league here. And the hackey sacks might be the greatest thing ever. I gave one away yesterday already and the kid was very happy. Of course all the wonderful treats were great. They don’t really have candy here, like big name brand candies so my companion was really interested in them.
That’s honestly the most exciting thing to hear about the Ducks being number 1! I try to explain to my companion about how big that is but he doesn’t really care. And the only time that it happens is the time I’m not there... Satan is very powerful...

Ahhhh soo I didn’t get a chance to e mail Monday because I had my one month thingy in San Jose.. i feel like I spend more time in San Jose then Cariari... But it was soo sweet I got to hang out with all the guys I came in with, with elder Stevens and miller and such and we got to discuss how crazy this place is because our companions don’t think it’s weird because they’re all Latino

Then we went back to the mission home and had the fattest feast ever of fruits and meats and just the greatest stuff. Then we got back pretty late.

So Sunday we did our divisions for church and Elder Felipe went to la Rita which is where our baptismal candidates are. And when I met up with him afterward he just said that Fernanda isn’t getting married. They don’t want to anymore. So I didn’t really know the details but we went to their house later that night and I guess they got into some argument about something tiny and they think they’re not ready to get married... they’ve lived together 6 years and have 2 kids... we had a lesson basically trying to convince them but it turned into our ward mission leader just arguing with the dad and it wasn’t good. I didn’t get a chance to get a word in. I was really annoyed. But in our district meeting we told them about it and the zone leader and district leader went on divisions and they came with us to a lesson last night. Honestly it was by far the best lesson I’ve ever had. We just taught them about how much the gospel can bless families and how praying and reading together can strengthen their families and how they can be together forever and that they need to get married. It was so powerful. I bore my testimony about how the gospel has blessed me and my family and I started crying and talked for like 15 minutes which is like 15 minutes longer then I usually talk and they were crying and everything. I thought that they were ready to say alright let’s get married but in the end he said he’s just not ready. I feel bad for her because she is soo ready and wants it so bad and she wants to get baptized. She knows it’s all true. So needless to say I was really frustrated afterwards. We did all that we could with them but it just wasn’t enough.

But on a happier note we had a lesson with Jose yesterday and it went really really well too and he’s rip roaring and ready to get into the font. His baptism is Saturday at 5:00. I’ll send pics with us at the baptism. He has been inviting his friends to our lessons too and they said they want to get baptized too and so did his little brother. We’ve gotta teach them a little more though.. But it’s sweet because he said that he already wants to go out to lessons with us and start being a missionary. He’s a really good kid.

I sent a decent letter home yesterday that you should get in a week or so. The grossest food I’ve eaten is just honestly normal food but in poor poor houses and there are bugs in it and just smells rancid. Just corn tortillas that are soggy and the house smells rancid and mildewy and the food tastes like the house smells. every time we go to jose’s house his mom gives us food and its always like that, and we always have a huge smile and feel so grateful. Honestly all I eat is fruit on my own. When we go to houses they give us rice and beans but I buy fresh fruit every day. Its sooo good the pineapples are always so fresh and delicious. Hermana Pasita is gonna be our cooking lady everyday for lunch starting next month though! So my eating should get much much better!

I wish that I could have a picture of me teaching a lesson in a house with people to send to you, so you could see really what it looks like here, the types of houses I’m in and the types of things we sit on, the fact that their house is plywood or tin just sitting together waiting to be pushed over.

I think i gotta go.. but i love you and p day should be monday again! I love you and miss you. Thanks for everything you do. Elder Graham
alright good bye for real this time. thanks for everything tell everyone I love them and miss them.
Elder Graham

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Week Four in Cariari and La Rita

Hey! So we dont have much time today because were just using the internet while we wait for our bus. We just got done at the temple. It was really cool to go through in spanish but a little tough. Its a very very beautiful temple inside and out. It was nice to be in the air conditioning! We got to walk around downtown San Jose today. It was way cool to see all the little stands and shops and stuff. I stopped and got some fruit a few times. I got half a pinapple all cut down for what is like 10 cents in the states, and it's all delicious.

Monday I got to do splits and i went to Puerto Viejo and got to be with a gringo, Elder Malan. He was way cool and it was a lot of fun to be with him for the day. Here when we do splits it's for the night so it was fun to see another area.

We have 2 baptisms on the 30th! My first ones. One is Fernanda who is 25 and has 2 kids (3 and 5 soooo cute) and a "husband" But she is so great she reminds me a lot of jen. When we met them they weren't religious at all and at the last lesson we had her 5 year old son give the prayer and it was perfect and soo cute. She has been teaching her kids how to pray and stuff. They are getting married the 29th so she can be baptised. Her husband is an extremely inactive member who hasnt been to church in about 10 years and only went for a few months after he was baptized. Last lesson she asked if she got to pick who baptized her and we said of course, and for some reason she picked me to do it. I usually can't understand her and Elder Felipe does most the talking but she asked me to baptize her so I'm very excited for that. The other Is a 17 year old kid named Jose whose family is evangelicist and he has always hated that. So we've been teaching him and he's all ready to be baptized. His family is very poor and he has nothing but he went out and bought a white shirt and tie to wear to church, and he said he wants to be a missionary.

This picture is the greatest family. A single mom with a million little kids. Her husband left and so she has to raise all those kids alone. But such a great faithful member of the church. We had family home evening with them on Monday in Puerto Viejo. I diotn know if you can tell but the boy on my lap is holding my last hackey sack! In their branch they meet in the missionaries house and the missionaries are the branch presidancy!

I understand a litte more but ive done less worrying about whats going on and saying wrong things so i talk a lot more.

Elder felipie is good. I cant complain, He likes to work hard and obey rules and stuff which most don't. We dont have much in common and my humor doesnt translate so he doesnt think I'm funny. its unfortunate.

Our branches are good, cariari had 19 peoople in it last week... So we've got a lot of work to do. It's got a big beautiful chapel though. We've gotta fill it up. We just get no support from the members there. Both our baptisms are in La Rita. Cariari hasnt had a baptism in a lonnnggg time and la rita in 8months. And we should have a baptism next month in cariari. They've just gotta get married.

The new homes fine We have less kitchen stuff so we can't heat up water and the shower's still cold.

I'm out of time. i love you p day monday

Elder Graham

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Week Three in Cariari....Iguana for dinner!

Helloooo. So today we aren't going to the temple.. we're going the 20th, though I didn't really understand why. Something with the transportation of us getting to San Jose.

My spanish is coming along a little bit.. there are times I think I'm getting it, then I talk to someone and I have no idea what they're saying.. it's definitely very tough. I guess I never really thought before this just how hard it would really be. This whole process has by far been the hardest thing I've ever done. We walk at least 100 miles a day. It feels feels like 1 million degrees and in the most outrageous humidity ever. I sweat like a banshee non stop. Right now a drop of sweat just fell off my nose and I'm in an "air conditioned room". And I usually don't sweat much. I would hate to see how sweaty Luke would be here.

I should get the package my next transfers or maybe even when we go to San Jose for the temple. I don't really know. We get mail randomly. We had a compasitiation (is that a word in english?) with my zone for 2 days and the president and the aps came. We just went over stuff and they brought the mail to us. well... those who got mail...

That sounds like a great party for Tracey! I sent her a little something special last week that she should get within the next week.

Last week we had to change houses. Our new house is different. It's a house split in 2 and the guy who owns it lives in the other half. Theres a piece of sheetrock blocking off his half, but not really. Theres fatty holes and his cats always come into our side. We do have four walls but our doors are just screens and our windows don't close so we definitely get our share of fresh air from outside. Changing houses was a huge headache. We got help from members for half an hour with the big stuff, then they had to leave. We had to carry all our stuff about a mile to our new house back and forth. It was a little tedious.

Our laundry lady is a member who lives right down the road from us and is the sweetest lady ever. Hermana Pasita. She is single and 53 and she always yells at us to come into her house for "frescos". Every drink here is a fresco no matter what it is, and she makes us corn tortillas and stuff. She is the sweetest lady in the world and makes the most delicious things. And I had her fix my pants.

We don't ever have dinner appointments but all the time when we go to visit members or investigators they feed us. Sometimes we will have just eaten at the last appointment but we have to eat a whole meal again.. It's usually just beans and rice and some kind of meat. I never ask what it is but after one of our meals, after we left, Elder Felipe informed me that it was iguana. It just tasted like chicken kinda but a little stronger. It wasn't bad at all.

For church on Sundays we have to split up and one of us goes to Cariari and one to La Rita. Last sunday I went to La Rita and met up with the ward mission leader. We went around waking people up and getting people to church. His name is Gustavo. He's way cool. He's only 25 and a return missionary and goes out with us a lot. The church in La Rita is absolutely tiny. I can't explain to you how small because you wouldnt believe me. There were 44 people in sacrament meeting. and it was PACKED in the room where they meet for sacrament meeting. For Sunday School and Priesthod they split that room up in 2. There are 2 other little rooms for the youth and for primary. Last Sunday was testimony meeting so i got up and introduced myself and bore my testimony.

I will send some pictures next week i didnt know that we were using the computers right now when i left.

On our last p day I just wanted to see the whole downtown part of Cariari. Its pretty sweet. There's like a million little stores. They're not any kind of specific kind of store that sells one thing. They all just sell random stuff. I found a pillow in a store that is like a bread store. Oh and there are little bread stores on every corner here and they sell the best little treats, little sweet empanadas with pineapple and such in them.. so good.

All is well here. I'm enjoying all the people we teach. Everyone is really open to learn and listen but are really lazy and don't actually want to do anything to change their lives. They just like to talk about God. Yesterday we went and taught a lesson to a family. The dad used to be the branch president here but now are super inactive. We tried to teach them the importance of reading your scriptures and going to church and he blew up on us saying we don't understand what he's going though and we're just young boys and don't know what it's like to have to raise a family and it's impossible to have time to go to church or read the scriptures. Then there's this guy who live by us who always invites us to come over and "teach him". He just goes on rants about how the Book of mormon is evil and says terrible things about joseph smith. I got really mad last night and kinda freaked out on him, and for some reason we keep going to his house.. I've met with him 3 times and it gets worse every time...

I might be able to e mail again on Friday because that's our real p day. We're just here as a district after district meeting because we can't e mail tomorrow because tomorrow isnt the pday for the temple. its friday. (????) anywho i love you.

Elder Graham

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week Two in Cariari, Costa Rica

Hey! You definitely don't need to worry about me at all in any of those ways! All the differences that are here I love! I would be mad if I lived in a normal house with everything I had back home. I wanna live like a tico not a gringo. Ill start by answering your questions!

For a package I honestly don't know. Just random treats would be nice. Don't send chocolate though. It would melt the second it gets here. But it would be awsome to get any little treat. We have been buying little drink package things that are way good and cheap that are like kool aid.

I really have liked Elder Felipe. He really wants to work hard and not do nothing. I've heard about a lot of elders here who are lazy and don't want to do anything and I really am glad I don't have that problem. Sometimes it's hard to understand him, but it's good because when he says things I don't understand I write them down and learn new stuff!

The lessons I have had all went pretty good. The Ticos speak outrageously fast. Like I really dont understand a word they say. And it has been frustrating at times. So i don't say much in the lessons, just explain scriptures and bear my testimony and stuff. Its not that hard to get into houses and teach lessons. They're all sooooo nice! All the people here just sit on their porch all day and do nothing and when we meet them they will always let us in for a lesson. But getting them to progress is tough. And getting them to commit being at their house for the next lesson, they sound like they want to do it all in the lesson but when we go back they're usually not there.

I met the branch presidents (we have 2 branches) and they're both awesome! All the members are soo awesome. I love all the ticos. All the houses here are litterally the size of my room. Every house. and there will be a family of like 5 living in it. I'm not exaggerating. You wouldn't believe how small these houses are, but they're all so happy and proud of their houses and want to offer whatever litle they have to us.

Im not scared, i get excited when something is really weird.

I'm not lonely but at times I have gotten really frusterated that I can't understand. I worked so hard in the mtc so I thought I was good. Then I came here and these people don't even speak spanish or anything I've ever heard before. So at times i don't feel lonely but I feel like I can't understand anyone and I have a hard time saying what I want to.

We eat rice and beans. We dont have a cook. Other areas do but we don't. We jsut make food in our house. We make rice and beans and we fry plantains for lunch and for breakfast usually cereal or toast with delicious jams. There are people on the streats in the town with carts and sell like the most random foods but it's all soo good. The other day we got these things called copas. They're like snowcones but with this cream stuff on top and a powdered suger thing on the inside and when you stir it up it's like a creamy snowcone. It was sooo good! We have a lady who does our laundry.

Our house actually is huge. Compared to the regular houses we have a mansion. It's alright. Theres not much in it. Our shower is just a hose faucet that comes out of the wall. We put water in a big dish and put it on our stove and heat that up, then put it in a bucket in the shower and pour that on us with a cup.

We watched all of conference in Guapiles with the whole zone. Not every building shows conference and its not on regular tv so like 10 branches meet in guapiles to watch. Its about 45 minutes away on bus. All the gringos went into a different room and watched in English. it was sooo nice and relaxing to listen to it in English and talk to the gringos. Elder Miller is in my zone so I got to hang out with him during it, so that was cool.

As for investigators it's tough to have many because we have taught like a million people once but are impossible to track down again. There are a few families that want to be baptized but one big thing in Costa Rica is that literally no one is married. They just don't get married here. They willl live together forever and have a million kids but they won't ever get married. But we're working on that. There are also lots of less actives who got baptised but never come to church, so we teach a lot of lessons to them.

Our areas are huge! We have 2 areas. I'm not really sure why. La Rita and Cariari. (Car ee ar ee) Every other day we go to the other town. We do a lot of walking! We take the bus from town to town or sometimes if it's on the other side of town. I swear we walk 30 miles a day.

Thats great you have the pin! (on the map of Costa Rica) You should also put a pin in for the rita! (a pin for each of his areas, Cariari and LaRita)

Honestly this is the coolest place! Whenever I'm discouraged because of the lenguage, I just look at where I'm walking and I smile because it's amazing. The other day we were walking at the end of the day to the bus to go home and we were crossing a bridge. It was pitch black. In the streets at night there's no lights. When we were crossing I couldn't see where I was walking and I completely stepped into the fattest hole ever in the ground. My whole body fell in and my arms caught me and I was completely hanging over a river. I gashed up my arms, legs and side. There was blood through my white shirt and my legs and arms looked haggard. It was pretty sweet though. I wish I could have seen myself fall, then catch myself in mid air from falling into the river. It was smooth.

Send this to everyone. I dont have time to write everyone. I am loving where I am and what I'm doing. It's definitely very very hard and at the end of the day I fall asleep before I can get into my bed, but I love this place and love these people.

I can't begin to talk to you about how much I love all the little kids. They're SOOO cute and they just play in the dirt road with packs of like 15 just running around kicking cans and stuff. I gave one a hackeysack and I've never seen a happier person in my life. If you could find a way on ebay to get me a bunch for pretty cheap that would be awesome.

But I love you and I hope all is well with you because it is with me!

Elder Graham

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cariari, Costa Rica!

I got my trainer and I'm in my first area! I can't understand a word anyone says but it's all good. My trainer is Elder Felipe. He is Mexican and doesn't speak English, which is hard but I'm so happy he is because I know its gonna make my spanish so much better.

I'm in Cariari. I'm not sure exactly where that is but it was a 3 hour bus ride from San Jose, south, I'm pretty sure. My companion explained it to me but I couldn't understand.
This morning we had the transfer meeting where we find out where we're going and who with, and almost the whole mission was there. There was a big powerpoint thing that showed an area then a senior companion and then the name and picture apeared next to it to show who goes with that person and everyone was so excited and was cheering and it was pretty fun.

After I met Elder Felipe we got on a bus and drove on the most sickening ride of my life. Halfway through I had to throw up so Elder Felipe was talking to the people we were sitting by and I was throwing up. Then when we got to our area I had to throw up again and I couldn't control it so I let it fly right on the street. This guy that works in the shop I was throwing up in front of was yelling at me in spanish and i couldn't understand.

Then we got in a taxi and came to our house. Our house is small, smells like chicken crap because for some reason we have chickens and bunnies in the back yard but it's awesome! All the houses here are built to be like completely outside we don't have a back wall to the house. It's just a fence/gate and completely open to outside. We don't have closets and our shower only has ice cold water. It's sweet. I'll send some pictures.

After we got to the house we just droppped off my stuff and walked into town to use the internet. We started walking next to a guy and introduced ourselves and talked to him. I could not understand a single word the guy said. I'm convinced that it wasnt spanish. But we got an appoinment at 4 on friday. So we got my first lesson planned. But at 7 we have a lesson so thats the first one I will teach. I'm a little nervous because I really can't understand these people.

This place is so crazy. When we were driving through the mountains the view was amazing. Just crazy jungle. I saw one of the places where they do the canopy zip lines things. It was pretty sweet to see. We would go over bridges with rivers and giant valley things of jungle below.

Did you get the last e mail I sent?

I love you, Elder Graham

Monday will be my p days except for transfer days like today. Then every six weeks it's wednesday.

This morning we went and ate breakfast at the mission president's home and had gallo pinto again and waffles which were like regular waffles. We met President Galves´s family. He has 2 sons and 2 daughters and they talked to Me about how Jacob was their son's companion.

We had an orientation meeting last night where we learned about mision rules and goals. They hit 1000 baptisms for the year last month, which they have never done in any year. So now the goal is 2000 and we need to really bust it. Hopefully i don't have to wait very long for my first one! But Elder Felipe said that this area hasn't had a baptism in 8 months. So we've got our work ready and we´re gonna be the ones to change that trend! Im super excited to do that! I think were going to get pizza now. I love you. Good night Elder graham

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28 - Arrival in Beautiful Costa Rica!!

Well I don't have a super long time so I can't make this 10 pages but I wish I could! I couldn't explain in words the place I'm in. Im looking out a window right now and i feel like I'm in a picture. This place is nothing like anything I've ever seen. When we came into Costa Rica we came out and President Galves was waiting there for us with his wife and one of the AP's. I had never seen such a big smile as he had when he saw us. He gave us each a huge hug and I completely forgot any spanish I learned in my life when he just said como esta.
We all piled into a bus that would confortably fit 5 and we had 15 in there. We went straight to the temple and we went on the grounds and it was so beautiful! Its sweet because its right in the middle of a neighborhood. President Galvez talked to us about how he took us straight here because this is the most important place for us to focus on getting people to. Then we all took pictures with him that I will send to you later.
Then last night we went to the mission office and filled out some paperwork and went back to the house and tried to sleep. At this time it was past 12 and we met the other new elders who are all from Honduras or El Salvador. They are theeee coolest kids. I love them all. They're all so silly.
Then this morning we got up at 5 and went to Pres Galves's home and had breakfast. We had delicious fresh orange juice, papaya, delicious pineapple and some guapinta which is rice and beans and it had some egg in it with a bunch of seasoning and it was sooo good.
Then after we went to a finger printing place to get finger printed and try to get legal here. Mondays will be my p day. Tomorrow I meet my trainer and go to my first area. I could drive around all day here and just look at what this place looks like, that it's all so cool and different. All the architecture is totally different. Its sooo humid here like seriously when we got off the plane we stepped into a sauna. It was fantastic.
I gotta get off but I will tell you about more when I can.

I love you
Elder Graham

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week Nine in the MTC!

It is soo weird to be finally leaving! It feels great that I have worked so hard here for so long and that I will actually get to get out of here to use it. All our district goals this week we set very high so we have been working really hard to bust them out. I definately can't afford to slack off this week. I need to really try and learn everything I can because I know when I get there I'm gonna feel like I don't know anything.

It is gonna feel very weird to say goodbye to Elder Willis. We have been together every second of every day. There are 12 missionaries going to Costa Rica with me all from other districts. Ive met a few. I'm pretty sure I will just be put with Elder Miller and Stevens for the flight so that should be fun.

There are big ploblems right now with getting visas from Mexico and Brazil so everyone is getting reassigned to other places. I haven't seen anyone go to Mexico on time. There were some in my zone who had to get reassigned to Salt Lake City until it came in.

I bought the phone card yesterday I couldnt find "annie" but the girl there explained to me how to use it. It shouldn't be a problem.

I'm flying on American Airlines. Sorry I don't have the flight number, my itinerary is in my room.
I haven't started packing yet but I do my laundry today and I will pack most of my clothes once they're clean. We have time Saturday during our gymtime to pack but Ill probably use my gymtime for gym so I'll just have to pack fast at night. There's a scale on my floor (to weigh luggage) so that shouldn't be a problem.

I will mail a package home today with some random stuff and pictures and stuff, so that should come in the next few days.

It was so fun getting all those letters from all you guys yesterday! There was 6 in one! thank you all so much for all that.

You really should try and watch that Jeffery R Holland talk. The way he gives that talk is why its so amazing. If you go to lds.org and go to gospel library then general confrences and pick english then theres a list of conferences and I'm not sure which one that talk was. A few years ago but once you find it on the right you can see options to listen to and watch all the talks.

I finished the book of mormon on sunday! It was an amazing feeling and it felt really easy actually. Im already in 2nd nephi again and in section 20 something of D and C. The scriptures are amazing things.

This Sunday our district is singing in sacrament meeting. I bought a childrens' hymnbook in spanish and I copied "a childs prayer" and we're all singing that. We have been practicing with the rounds and everything and it's so cool. I love that song and in spanish it sounds amazing I wish you could hear! But all the childrens' hymns in spanish are so fun.

D and C really is amazing. I seriously think the entire book was written specifically for missionaries. Every section is full of promises and hope for those spreading the gospel.

Definately look up that talk on lds.org and others!

Im excited that my first week (in Costa Rica) I'll be able to watch conference! The MTC choir is singing at the priesthood session. I really wished I could have joined but I'm leaving just a little too early!

Anyway almost out of time I love you!

I love you and thanks for everything you do for me. I cant wait to talk to you all on Monday!

Elder Graham

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week Eight in the MTC!!


I got my travel Itinerary! Wow that was one of the most exciting moments of my life when I got that paper that says I'm actually leaving a week from Monday!! here it is:

I meet at the bus and travel place here at 5 am that monday then I fly out of Slc at 8:25 and fly into dallas at 12:05 their time and then I have a fatty layover untill 4:45 when I make my way straight to the promised land. I can call. I doubt i will have time before but I will definately have time when I'm in dallas for almost 5 hours. I cant believe I'm actually gonna leave here. Its weird to think that there is more to my mission than just the mtc at this point. I've gotten to much into the mindset that I'm here forever and taught so many fake investigators and contacted so many that i cant believe that in 10 days I'll be in a real tico home teaching them in spanish. And I just realized today that I don't speak spanish. So that should be fun.

I got your package today! Thanks for all that! It was soo great there's nothing better than getting mail and REALLY nothing better then getting a package. That pocket watch is soo sick. Everyone here is trying to trade stuff to me for it. its perfect. And classy

I use my shaver everyday and love it. I love watching those other chumps use shaving cream everyday.

I'll mail a memory card with pictures home next week. I've got some other stuff I need to send.

My favorite thing about the mtc is the amazing spirit that's here in every class and meeting. And being surrounded by legit kids who would easily be my best friends outside of the mtc and they're all here for the same reason and all want to learn.

My least favorite thing is that I really haven't had 2 minutes to myself in 2 months and I won't for 2 years so its all good

I do not still like the food. Its not awful awful but really i feel like its the same thing everyday.

ahh the devotional. That's a funny story that I don't have time to talk but I'll tell you in my letter

Queso is always a wonderful treat :) and if you could send a nice picture of my car that would be fantastic!

I need you and dad to watch a general conference talk by Elder Holland called Safety for the Soul. You can watch it on lds.org. Its amazing and one of my favorite talks ever. So powerful and wonderful and one everyone needs to hear.

Not much more time. I love you. thanks for everything

LETTER dated 9/17

-Mother and Father

Hello! Today is my 2nd to last P-Day in the MTC. This time used to look so far away, now I'm almost on my last week and last everything.

Ask Allison about the Macedonians. That was pretty cool.

Thanks for the sweet package! Everything is awesome and again, I love the pocket watch.

I'm almost done with the BOM. I'm in Ether. Only 30 pages left. I should finish Sunday.

I love you. Thanks for everything

-Elder Graham

Friday, September 10, 2010

Week Seven in the MTC!


Before I forget, would you forward my e mails to Dirk? I want to e mail him because it takes about a million years for him to get mail but i don't have time to really e mail him.

I got a few shots yesterday. It's all good. My arm's a little sore but it's no problem.

I feel fine although the dryness here is really getting to me. I have to use lotion and moisturizing stuff like every hour and I use the saline nose spray stuff a lot so that my nose doesn't dry out too much.

It's crazy that we've been here this long. We keep getting new districts in our zone and we teach them and they teach us. They are amazed by our spanish which feels good because I feel like my spanish learning has slowed down a lot. Its gotten a litle overwhelming to always remember every little spanish concept in every sentance I say. Every monday, wed, thurs, and sat, our district made a goal that we are not allowed to speak english all day which gets tough and brings many headaches but helps a lot.

Its crazy to thenk that if I was speaking english I would have been in the field for almost a month now.

Our devotional this week was good it was by Elder Snow of the 70. He talked about choices and how our whole lives are just a series of choices that got us here and to keep going were gonna have to continue to make choices to get to where we want to be. It was very interesting and a weird way of thinking about things.

We got a new teacher this week his name is hermano(brother) Pace. He's such a legit guy. He's only 22. He just got off his mission like 6 months ago in spain and we would honesty be best friends if I wasnt in the mtc right now. And if Allison lived here they would probably get married. When he was in spain he got to go to a soccer game so he was saying that I would probably get to go to a soccer game in costa rica if i really wanted to.

Thats awesome you guys are in 3rd Nephi. It such an amazing book. Im in 3rd nephi right now too and I've got my reading scheduled so i should finish the saturday before I leave.

Do you think that you could send a couple headbands in your next package? and if you could see if you can find my red long sleeve liverpool soccer jersey that says torres on the back? That would be great to have as well.

Do you know if jen got the letter I sent to her house last week? I thought they were not getting to portland till today! But anywho I love you and keep reading!

One week from today we should get our travel itineraries. Ill definately get a pic with my teacher before I go. I don't really care which headbands. Maybe the Blazer one if you can find it and an Oregon one if you can find one. I'm not sure exactly where they are.. But the ones I have are all black so any other color.

Yepp, every Friday at 7.20 we go to the temple.

I've got some stuff to send home that i'll send home in a few weeks, my basketball shoes and a few other things.

Elder Graham

LETTER dated 9/10

Mama' y Papa'

I can't believe it's P-Day once again! It's not fair that the time is going by this fast. I've got too much to learn!

Elder Weber in my district, his parents were here this week. They were here because they're serving in Samoa and their meals schedule was the same as ours. So they ate with us every day. It was very weird and I know it was weird for him but it was cool.

Last Saturday was the BYU game and we had gym time during the game. We could hear everything. That was pretty tough, especially for the kids here who are obsessed with BYU. For me it was hard just thinking that Oregon was playing and I had no idea what was happening. I said I just need to know if we won by 40 or 50 and everyone was like, "yeah right." Then I got Dad's letter saying that we won by over 70, and it made me happy!

Last Sunday was fast Sunday and we had our Testimony Meeting. It was so cool. It was amazing how strong the spirit was.

The week bofore, I don't think I told you, but I had a talk. It was on faith and it had to be 100% in Spanish. It was pretty cool. I actually enjoyed it.

Thank you so much for the donuts and Gatorade! The donuts lasted about 20 min. before everyone finished them up.

I can't imagine how excited you were for Cohen and Molly to come stay with you! It must have been very quiet and lonely there! And I'm sure Jen loves having Grandma there to help.

Are you starting school soon?

In your emails could you have more questions on what you want to hear about? It's easier for me to get stuff out faster that way. Sometimes I blank on what to write and my time's running down.

I love you both very much and I appreciate all that you do for me.

Con Amor
Elder Graham

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week Six in the MTC!!


We actually set up a system in our room on the air conditioner that makes drinks pretty cold. Its pretty snazzy. So if you really wanted to send gatorade it would be greatly appreciated :) .
Last Tuesday Elder Hinckley came. He's in the Quorum of the 70 and is the son of President Hinckley. He was an awesome guy to hear from. we found a way to go around the giant mob waiting to get in to the devotional so we didnt have to deal with that and we got seats on the floor. He had great quotes and great stories from his father. He opened the second half of his time to just question and answers and it was cool to have him answer missionaries' questions. One elder asked about what dinner time was like with the prophet and what kinda scriptures they would share. His response was pretty funny. He said that he doesn't get why people think they just shared scripures all day at dinner. His dad would hound him about mowing the lawn and shucking the corn. Its funny to think about President Hinckley in that way but he was just a normal dad.
In our classes we're just really getting down different ways of teaching and reviewing all the spanish so that we can get it down well. Last week in the TRC we taught in spanish for the first time and we taught the Word of Wisdom and it was so cool. The spirit was so strong and I could just feel the spirit putting spanish into my mouth that I didnt even know I knew and prompting me to use scriptures in the lesson that I have never used.
We got a new teacher this week. He's only here for a week because he needs to go to a new district and teach them which is disappointing because I really like him. He's not a native speaker like the last one so I can completely understand everything he says. It's very cool but it doesn't give me great practice of trying to understand the ticos I will be faced with in 3 and a half weeks. We have been getting new districts in our zone and now we are the 2nd oldest which is really really weird. It's really weird to see the new districts teaching us because I can see how far I have come and how much I have learned. I'm running los on time. I will write you today. But I love you and thank you for all the support.

Elder Graham

LETTERS dated 9/3

How excited are you for Cohen and Molly to be back in Oregon? I's so jealous that you guys will get to see them all the time now!
By the time you get this Oregon better had stomped UNM and OSU better have gotten smashed by TCU. It's tough for me to picture waking up on Saturday mornings and not being able to watch all the games. You guys better eat some queso in my memory!
The are here is sooo dry. My elbows are crusty and gross. I had to buy lotion to put on them. I don't really get it.
Here are a few pictures with the Elders who were in our district, but left for Guatamala. One of them is Elder Tolley and Wadsworth. Elder Tolley is potentially the goofiest kid I've ever met. He's from Ohio and has a fatty midwest accent and is just so silly. And Elder Wadsworth, we all called The Prophet because he looks like an apostle and he knows everything about the scriptures.
The other is with Elders Bishop and Sakievich. Bishop was our District Leader and was the most stereotypical District Leader that took it seriously and was really professional about it. Sakievich was just a big goofy Lithuanian. I love him! The other pictures are of our whole district with our teachers. Elder Weber, who is in the middle of the pic outside with the green tie reminds me sooo much of Nick. Same weird silly sense of humor and he's just a really cool kid. And there is a pic of my bed with my flag, and me, Elder Miller and Stevens in the fuzzy picture showing everyone what's up.
Thank you guys so much for all the support and help you send me and have helped me to get here. I couldn't have gotten anywhere near here or at church without you. I love you and miss you.
Pet Bernard for me.

-Elder Graham

Could you also send some good pics of the Portland Temple?

Mom & Dad,
I know I already wrote today, but I got your DearElder letter today and I thought I would respond while it's still technically P-Day. It's a very cool feeling to be able to teach and feel the spirit in Spanish. I especially love saying the first vision in Spanish. I always make Elder Willis let me say it. I don't need another suit or anything. But I may want another pair of shoes once I'm in CR but I can let you know then.
I love all the sports updates. I don't let it get to me. I only read them at night and on P-Day. I am so happy that you and Dad read the Book of Mormon every day. I practice committing people to read everyday but it all wouldn't mean much if my parents didn't follow it. I know you will be blessed and I feel happy knowing that my parents are following what I'm trying to teach the world.
I love you guys and I am so thankful for all you've taught me. One Elder asked Elder Hinckley what his Dad taught him that was most important to him, and he replied by asking the same question back. It made me think of how I would answer that and I couldn't. Dad has taught me so much about how to be a good human being, the best possible.

I love you guys
-Elder Graham

Friday, August 27, 2010

Week Five in the MTC


Hello! I can't believe its p day already! the weeks feel like days here. Every tuesday we have devotionals but the gym that fits every missionary has been under construction and so when we watch all the branches watch in different rooms on projecters of the devotional going on in another building. But last tuesday they oppend up the gym again for everyone to be together again to hear the speaker and we heard that they were rededicating the building so we figured there would be a pretty good speaker and there were plenty of rumors floating around about who it was beacuse we never know who's speaking before the devotional. So we wanted to get their early to get good seats so me and elder willis got in a giant mob in front of the doors to get in 2 hours early and there was smashing and pushing and sweaty kids and we couldn't move. It felt like a concert. but we got in and got like 3 rows back we had amazing seats and Jeffery R Holland spoke! It was soo amazing to be that close to an apostle and especially Elder Holland. When he spoke he spoke for over an hour and had nothing prepared. He just started talking and was listening to the spirit. It was soo amazing I cant explain how sincere he was and how strong the spirit was when he spoke. I wanted to write down everything he said and i ended up filling up 6 pages of notes.

My clothes are all good. My white shirts wash well. I haven't had any problems but I haven't washed any pants yet. Do I just wash them normal? or do they need to be washed separate? I dont have many options when im washing on the machines here just light or darks. My shoes are all fine but do you think you could sent some shoe tree things? those things you stick in your shoes so they keep their shape? Theyre getting some major creases in them and i would like to minimize them. And my watch doesn't work. It might just be the battery but i have no way of doing it here. I may send it home soon and see if theres something that can be done. And I decided if you wanted to get me a present I would love to have a pocket watch. A real legit one with the chain and everything. Doesn't need to be expensive but it was kinda annoying to always have a watch on.

On wednesday during lunch they announced that anyone who wanted to be a new missionary host could go sign up and do it. Usually they just assign districts. So I went and hosted some kids and showed them around. It was interesting to see their point of views coming in. They were suprisingly cocky and arrogant. I tried to help them and give them advice and stuff and they were just oh yeah I know. I know. My cousin served a mission I know. It was kinda annoying. Im running out of time I will write a letter later.

I love you

Elder Graham

Oh and would you ask dad to look up what happened when Liverpool played Arsenal like 2 weeks ago?? I really want to know what happened with that and adam won,t responde to my e mails! what a lame-o. but I love you.
Halfway done with the MTC! No news yet but I think I will get my itinerary either this friday or the next! And i'm not counting down the days in my mission just until costa rica.

LETTER dated 8/27


Hey! I just got your package! Thank you soooo much! That is all perfect! I especially love the toothbrush (Oregon Ducks) but it's all awesome!! The letters from the Young Women were great too.
That's so cool that Aunt Etie is moving to Oregon! Why are they moving? That's perfect that they're going to Eugene, too. That way David can be there when Oregon stomps on the Sun Devils. Did dad try and get tickets for any Ducks' games? Try craigslist or something. They've got to go to at least one game.
The haircut they gave me was fine. You don't get many options. I just said, as short asyou can go. It's about finger length. I can't believe I'm officially halfway through my time at the MTC. It all goes so fast.
We have officially covered every grammer concept in Spanish, so I know everything I need, to say whatever I want. It's just a matter of saying it fast and building my vocabulary to really say what I want, which is crazy because I didn't even get through all that in 4 years of Spanish in high school.
What's going on with Rudy? We gotta get Jeffer a new jersey. We can't have him sporting a primadonna anti-Blazer.
My teacher, Hermano Fernandez is leaving us next week because he is starting up school, which is lame. I love that guy. He served his mission in Boston, speaking Cambodian. He speaks Cambodian. It's super silly sounding.
I love you guys. Thank you so much for all the packages and support. I don't know where I'd be without it.

-Con Amor
Elder Graham