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.

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