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, 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