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, January 24, 2011

Happiest Day of My Mission....so far

Elder Bernuy~ Jose~ Carlos~ Elder Graham
Jose baptized his little brother Luis. I love these kids!

Iguana for dinner!!

Wow. This week was nuts. Friday was the happiest day of my mission and yesterday may have been the saddest day of my life. Friday we had the baptism of Luis first and José did the baptism so that was great. Then afterward we had the greatest baptism of Benita and her family. It was the greatest and happiest baptism. They were so happy and all the members were being so great and supportive.

Then on Sunday I was in Cariari and for some reason we switched up church so that Sacrament Meeting was the last hour. I was fine with that because the family needing to be confirmed was late. I saw the boys outside during class so I ran out there and they were all there but Dayana (the 15 year old girl who had just gotten baptized Friday.) I asked where she was and she used to live with her boyfriend who was abusive and he left her so she moved back into her house with her mom and there were several times she broke down crying telling us about it. They said that she left with him and I immediately asked for their phone to call her. I called her and she thanked me for everything I had done but said she realized that she loved him and was going to move to San Jose with him. The branch president was right behind me and took the phone and told her we were coming to get her. So we went with her mom in his car and went to her house and she wasn’t there but the mom knew where the boyfriend lives so we went there. We waited outside while Benita went inside and we just heard screaming and crying and her mom was dragging her outside and the boyfriend who was a 4 feet tall, 40 year old creep comes out saying that they love each other and that they need to be together. The branch president was calm and was just saying, you’re 40 and she’s 15. That’s against the law and her mom still has responsibility over her. I can’t explain how sick, angry, depressed, so many emotions I felt. So we get in the car and leave and the little rat comes chasing us on his bike and stops us to tell her that he loves her and to tell us that he doesn’t want her to try and fool us that they slept together that night. Everyone was bawling and we went back to church in time for sacrament meeting to start. She calmed down a little bit but was obviously a little out of it. We had the confirmation of her brother and mom and then they went back home after church. So we went straight to their house and just tried to talk to her I was thinking so much about what to say when we saw them and I literally had no idea. But I was thinking hard about it and prayed hard about it and I decided to talk about the importance of families. I showed the picture of our whole family and explained that because my parents decided to make the right decisions we are all blessed and because of the example my parents set my siblings have followed the same example. And I promised her that in 40 years I would have a picture like that with my wife and all my kids and grandkids. All because my parents made the right decisions. I explained temple marriages and how she can have a picture like this. And her kids too and her kids kids. But satan knows how much good that could do so he sent that creep and the exact right time to fall and if she continues like that she will end up with nothing. and her kids with nothing too. Everyone was crying and she knew everything she did and was committed to change. at that time we really didn’t know what she would have to do we thought she might have to wait a while and be rebaptised but we made her mom take her phone so that she couldn’t talk to him and it ended pretty good. then we went next door to Miguel angel and Abrahams family and they are all best friends and have lived next door their whole lives and they were livid and saying that they are never talking to them again and that Dayana is of the devil and they just went off on us. But we talked to them for a while and calmed them down and convinced them to go to the house of Benita and we would share a quick message for all of them so they would calm down and be cool. They finally agreed and we went and I just shared a message about missionary work and wanted to get everyone’s mind off it. and it went fine but really awkward between them and at the end the dad blows up on dayana and the mom got in to defend her and everyone was screaming and crying and I had to get between them all and shut everyone up and the dad stormed out a few times and I had to go get him and bring him back in and calm them down. I have played a lot of roles on my mission, but this was the first time I had to be Maury Povich. But we were seriously there almost 7 hours and in the end everyone was fine. Today we went back to play soccer with all the little kids so that we could help take care of them. But I called President Galvez to ask about what we should do and he said that if she really has a true repentance and understands what she did then she can be confirmed this Sunday. That was a relief but I really can’t explain how sick this all made me.

Went over to Idalia’s house and they had a fattttt pile of iguanas. We sat there watching him skin them and cut them up. most nuts thing. You cut off the head and they still flail around. Every part of the body will be cut in pieces and still flail around. Just the tail alone would freak out on the floor. He completely skinned one and took of the head and all limbs and the skeleton was still moving around. freakin nuts!

President told us he’s splitting la Rita and Cariari this change so we might be divided there. I really have no idea what’s going to happen. But the next time I email to you will be next Wednesday and I will be wherever I am then!

Alright its time to go. I love you very much and everyone else too.

elder graham

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wonderful Week!

Baptizma of Miguel Angel and Abraham

Baptizma of Marita

Baptizma of Miguel Angel and Abraham

Idalia's son, Joshua is on our side through thick and thin. He just happened to be wearing this the other day

Hellooo! Saturday the 15th, we had the 3 baptizmas of Maritza, Miguel Angel, and Abraham. The baptizmas were so stressful to make happen since we had one in Cariari and had to get to la Rita in a hurry for the next. Then the baptismal clothes weren’t there so we had to do a bunch of tricks to get the clothes from Puerto Viejo. But they were so amazing, both baptisms. I can even explain how I feel, when at the end of the baptism the people who were baptized bear their testimony. Miguel Angel is 12 and was crying when he was saying his and it was like 10 minutes long and was just amazing. Maritza’s was just as good. She was crying so hard and talking about how happy she is and how much better her life is and how she knows it’s all true. Those moments make missing the national championship worth it.

I gave my last hackeysacks to Miguel angel and Abraham

We have been teaching the neighbors of Miguel angel and Abraham’s family and mom is a super hard core bible thumper christian who was really tough at first but we have had some really good lessons with her family. She is single and has 4 kids and their family is getting baptized Friday! She has a 15 year old daughter Dayana and 12 year old son Kezler and the others are really little. But it has been so great working with them and I’m gonna be so happy to see them baptized on Friday.

The zone leader told me he’s pretty sure I’m leaving the next change which is Feb. 2nd and just thinkng about it makes me want to cry. There is no doubt in my mind leaving here will be way harder than it was to leave home. I really have a new family here. Well I really have like 10 new families here. And I don’t want to leave them because I will most likely never see them again.

Sunday was branch conference in Cariari and you would never believe what happened. 91 people were at church. And 11 investigators! And this is the branch that had an average attendance of 15 people just 3 months ago! There weren’t enough chairs for everyone. I had to stand. I’ve never been more happy to stand in my life. And we have a new branch president in Cariari. He’s 24 and our next door neighbor and he’s the greatest guy. He works with us a ton. I’m so jacked about it.

Ok time to go. I love you very much.

Elder Graham

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beautiful Costa Rica

Carlos and the Iguana!

Just Chillin' with Elder Bernuy

This is ¨Playa Bonita¨ in Limón just north of Limón central.
Translates as beautiful/pretty beach.

Roughin' it

The food was steak, plantains, sausage stuff, beans, we bought that whole platter and shared it between four. sooooo good.

Zona Atlantica

Happy biggest day ever day. I don’t know why people are saying that tonight is just a game... (Ducks, National Championship) Tonight I’m going to San Jose though and staying the night because early tomorrow I’m going to the immigration office and getting my residency. So I’ll be able to hang out tonight in the mission home with all the kids I came in with. It should be pretty great. There’s a fatty house where the secretaries and the aps live and were all gonna stay there. I’ll beat em at scattegories. We didn’t play scattegories on New Years Eve because we were with 3 gringos and one Latino and didn’t want him to feel left out.

The mission leader is getting married in Guatemala so he’s gone almost this whole month. And for some reason he thinks that that’s more important than taking us on the hike?

Jeezz choir director! Talk about 2nd best calling ever. Its ok mom, the people that act like they know anything about being a choir director really really don’t. So you’re in better shoes because you will at least be humble about the fact that you don’t know anything. And you definitely got the easiest topic for a talk! Tell them that there are 2 missionaries in Gladstone ward that are working for the Gladstone ward. People don’t understand that the missionaries are not in Gladstone because they are going to get a gain out of it. They’re put in a ward where they know no one but want to serve and help them. They are there to help the members there to build Zion in Gladstone. And members don’t understand that. Challenge everyone in the ward to pray that next week about who they can share the gospel with and give that name to the missionaries the next week. And they will do the rest. Read Alma 29:10 and bear your testimony and you’ve got a talk. I don’t really know what you can report on me. I’m serving the lord what more do they need to know? I was talking to my branch president yesterday and he was telling me that it takes 24 months to figure out how to be a missionary. And then when you know, you’re ready to go home and preach the gospel. Right now I’m in training for my life to go back to Oregon and baptize everyone there. It would all be a waste if I learned all this and then did nothing with it.

L Tom Perry for Stake Conference! What the fetch I’m so jealous! You gotta go sit front row!

No comment about Luke (getting to go to the Ducks National Championship game)

It’s the most frustrating thing when we bring investigators to Cariari and they don’t even say hi to the new investigators. Sunday a member was telling me that we need to work on Kimberly because sometimes she leaves right after sacrament but not one time has she been approached by a member and invited to classes. When we’re in Sunday school she sits by me and no one near us. I do everything I can to help these people come to church and the members won’t even smile at them. La Rita is different. Everyone there’s awesome and helps soo much. Yesterday we were hoping for a big turnout of investigators in Cariari and when it started there were none. I was so depressed. Then all at once 3 full families came in and I had to run and set up more chairs in the back because there wasn’t room for all of them. I sat in the middle of all of them with I’m sure the biggest smile on my face the whole time. Afterward the branch president went of on me saying that’s the most people that have ever been in the sacrament meeting before and thinking me for all I do. And apologizing for how lame all the members are.

I feel much better now I was only feeling sick for a week or so. I’m eating well don’t worry about that. Every family we visit feeds us. We eat too much. And we have an investigator that works in an ice cream shop and will hook me up with an ice cream cake for my birthday. She gives us free ice cream anyway. But yes, I’m sure Hermana Pacita will definitely hook me up on my birthday.

The other day I was behind Jose’s house with him and Carlos and Luis and Carlos yelled, “look an iguana!” And so we saw an iguana on a fatty leaf branch on a tree. They didn’t even hesitate on what to do. They got a fatty stick and tied a little knot on it and reached up and snagged his neck and pulled him down and he was freaking out and they just grabbed it and started playing with it. I thought that would be exactly like how I would have been if I grew up here. To know all the silly little tricks of grabbing iguanas and exploring the jungle. But I didn’t grow up in the jungle so we just went skateboarding. I took a video of it but it’s too big to send so I’ll send pics of it...

I think i gotta go.. I love you. Go ducks

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 It's Gonna be a GREAT YEAR in Costa Rica!

Baptism in River in Puerto Viejo

Hangin' with Warner.
And if you were wondering who he was going with next week,
he's goin' the O all day!

Last Friday we went to Puerto Viejo For New Years Eve and it ended up being just me and Bernuy and Malan and his comp in p vo . We had some delicious food from the family who cooks for them and I got to hang out with their family who are the greatest. Then that night we set up a fatty fatty indoor 1 on 1 soccer tournament in their house and it was pretty intense. then the whole town went nuts at midnight running around the streets and lighting off fireworks. It was pretty intense. The next morning we went to their baptism and they baptize in a river because they don’t have a chapel out there so that was sweet to see. I like hanging out with Malan in p vo. He’s a good guy.

As for investigators we have Maritza whose son is 11 and a member and I’m not sure why or how he became the only member in his family. But we started teaching his mom a month or so ago and she has been golden and is getting baptized the 15th. That should be pretty good. Also on the same day José is going to baptize his 13 year old brother Luis. So I’m really excited for that! And we found a inactive family in Cariari a month ago and we have activated them and they have a 12 and 13 year old sons that will be baptized on the 15th too. So we’ve got 4 baptisms coming up.

It’s starting to get a tad less stressful doing everything here. I’ve learned a ton about how to teach. And how to teach lessons on the spot without preparing anything for members and such after an appointment falls through.

We didn’t get to go out into the jungle today because we have our zone activity. Right now I’m with my whole zone in Limon and we're gonna go play soccer on the beach or something like that. So I should have pictures from that next week.

I love you! I gotta go! Tell everyone I love them!
Elder Graham