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, July 23, 2012

Life in Belen

(Paraphased by Mom)

Hey. Soo...
Missionary work has been struggling in this ward. We have a very dedicated mission leader, Gerardo. We pray daily for guidance, and strive to work constructively with the bishopric and the ward to accomplish the goals we have for the area.

I was really happy to see Jeffery and Jeannette at the temple last week.

I love that talk by Elder Holland, too. (The Laborers in the Vineyard) It's the one that I have on my ipod that I always listen to.

Hey Mom, real quick, if you're online, can you send a picture of me before the mission? One with the longest hair you can find. I need to send it in today for a slideshow.

welp love you. 
Elder Graham

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekly Update

MOM you need to get on Amazon this very second!  And you need to order the movie called “Courageous.”  It’s your new favorite movie.  You need to watch it with as much of the family as you can and make sure that everyone in the world sees it.  I watched it last night because they said that it was a church movie.  Afterward i realized that it wasn’t made by the church but it’s the best movie.  You will cry the whole time.  It’s the best family movie ever made

If there are problems with getting signed up for classes for fall term because you’re not me missionaries have gotten permission to call and organize stuff like that.  Let me know if we need to organize that..  

The activity didn’t go too hot.  The person that was supposed to organize the video couldn’t get it figured out.  So i had to give an improve talk/devotional.  

In church we got to 110 in attendance but they changed the stake conference date back to give everyone more time so it can all get split...  So i won’t see it.  

That’s so cute that Gwen will be traveling alone.  She’s probably so big now.

I gotta go.  love you.

Elder Graham

Monday, July 9, 2012

View of Moroni

The view from my house

Hey.  So last week Randal, the father from a family that we will complete hopefully this week, had an accident in his work where his boss threw a brick through his window while he was working and glass shattered in his eyes. He has been alone with his 5 little boys ages 5 to 13 and all last week he had bandages over his eyes and was blind.  We took him around to a bunch of appointments all around Heredia and to San Jose. We had to take a lot of taxis so i took out money for that.  His girlfriend, who is a member, is in Nicaragua right now taking care of her papers so that they can get married and he can get baptized.
I met President Wilkenson and had an interview with him on Friday.  He’s way sweet.  He’s just like a regular guy. 
I’m out…love you!
Elder Graham

Monday, July 2, 2012

Surprise Changes and Waterfall Hike


Waterfall hike

Hey mom, Yeah, we got transferred to Belen, same zone, different area.  Very very wierd the changes.  I was pretty wierded out and confused.  I called and talked to president about and he explained a little.  Basically he gave me a mission.  This stake has been trying to get split to make another stake for a while and they’ve been really close.  And on the final Sunday in July (stake conference and my last Sunday in the country...) if every ward has an attendance of 120 then the stake will split.  Every ward hits that fairly easily but one...  Belen struggles with attendance.  So president said that it was on my shoulders to see if Costa Rica gets its first new stake in 9 years.  So the cool thing is that it’s the area with the temple.  I walk out my front door and i am right across the street from the temple.  So that’s pretty cool. So I have 4 more weeks to try and change things.. 

That’s lame about your birthday..  I’m sorry that went bad..  But you guys can still go to the temple today!  A cool thing about the area we are in is it’s the ward where all the temple missionaries live and yesterday we ate dinner with the temple president.  Pretty silly guy. 

Oh and i lost my mission debit card and i have to wait a few days to get the mission money so i have to take a little bit of money out...

But i gotta go.  Love you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Great Missionary Friends


Elder Montoya

 The 3 that started together in the zone Atlantica

 Hermana Lozano.  Best missionary I've ever met

 The MTC roomates

And Elder Whittaker

Temple Sealing of Jeffery and Jeannette

Hello.  Wednesday was the sealing.  It was pretty amazing.  They had planned to go to the endowment session at 7 then get sealed right after.  But when they got there the people that took them decided that they would prefer the 5:30 session.  Jeffery and Jeannette were both freaking out and said no because the 3 missionaries and the members from Moravia were all coming for the 7 o clock session.  But the people that brought them said that they were driving and didn’t want to get back home too late so they made them do the 5: 30 session.  I got there at like 5: 20. Luckily i got there early and they said that they were gonna do the 5:30 session so i ran in and got changed and was all worried.  Elder Gonzalez and Cabrera didn’t get there in time but we got in and i hadn’t seen Jeffery and Jeannette yet. I was sitting in the room waiting for the session to start and i look over and i saw Jeannette walk in and i felt the spirit so strong. We both immediately started to cry.  Then Jeffery walked in and i got up to hug him and we were both crying. 
Afterward i was just waiting in the celestial room and i saw them both come in last and together and it was the most amazing feeling.  I got to sit there with them in the celestial room.  It’s amazing to be able to have taught them the most basic things a year ago and be able to sit with both of them together answering their questions in the temple. 
Then at that point everyone else had arrived just in time for the sealing.  Me and Elder Cabrera were witnesses.  The whole sealing we were all crying and then they opened the door and all 6 of the little kids walked in dressed in white.  The little girls with tiny little dresses and the little boys with tiny white shirts and white ties.  And I just about lost it.  Then they had them stand all together as a family in the mirrors looking on forever together. They were both crying and took my hand and thanked me for everything i had done.  It made me understand a lot more why I’m really here and the potential i have to help people make changes.  They had a lot of things they had to change when we first began teaching them and thinking back to the first night i met Jeannette, and then to the temple i don’t think for the rest of my life i will be able to think about it without crying.
But i gotta dip.  Love you....
Elder Graham

Monday, June 18, 2012

Awesome Open House and Sad Goodbyes

Hey.  We had kind of a weird day.  It was changes and it was president’s big goodbye.  This was the hardest one for me.  Elder Miller, Elder Palmer, Elder Bertrand, Elder Montoya, Elder Whittaker and President Galvez all are gone now.  Pretty weird.  I’m officially in the final change.  It was pretty sad to say goodbye to all them.  But I had a temple recommend interview with president right after so I got some one on one time to say goodbye.  

I’m going to the temple on Wednesday for the sealing of Jeffery and Jeannette.  It’s all figured out now.  

This weekend was the open house and the dedication of the new chapel.  It was awesome.  260 people were there in sacrament meeting which is as far as anyone knows the highest attendance this country’s ever seen.  They had some of the first members of the church speak and talk a little bit about the history and how far the church has come along and how fast.  It was a pretty amazing experience to be there in such a landmark time.  Seeing how missionary work has come along in this time period and how i get to be a part of it.  Like seeing my first week in the country having 19 in attendance to having 260 people in attendance.  Even though it was obviously in very different places, I could see how just 40 years ago in that building there were only 19 and now there are stakes and wards that can hit 260.

i gotta go love you.

Elder Graham

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Very Busy Week

Hey there Mom.  The meeting with the Vice President of Costa Rica last week was kind of disappointing.  We were expecting something really exciting like actually meeting the vice president but we were there as an entire mission and   the vice president just came and gave a speech to us.  It lasted an hour.  But i guess it was a ¨historical event¨ and some people from the church news were there taking pictures and stuff.  So we might be in the Liahona.  

Congrats on graduating!  

I got to call Jeffery and Jeannette to find out the details about when the sealing is but it was pretty great talking to them.  They asked me to be a witness in their sealing and Jeffery asked me to be his escort in the endowment session but I’m not sure if they’ll let me.  But they were super worried that the biological dad of the kids wouldn’t let the kids get sealed to Jeffery but a miracle happened and he signed the paper.  So everything is read for their sealing.  

Last week we had 2 families at church and another single mom with her kids.  So that was some success. The moms name is Ana.  One of the missionary families that we’re working with invited her.  We were with them on Saturday night and we helped explain to her what she needed to say to her to invite her and she called her right then and then came.   We’re working with her and her oldest daughter for the 30th.  

This week we’ve been working really hard planning an open house for our new church.  The new church is beautiful!   We’ve got the whole ward inviting a lot of people to the open house where were gonna do tours and explain all the organizations.  It should be pretty great.  We’re hoping to find a lot of people that way.
Although I have always been able to feel your prayers i realized this week something that really shows how much i know you have been praying for me..  Throughout my whole mission in every area I’ve had people who have been like my mom that always worry about me and are willing to do anything to help me and lose themselves to make sure i have what i need. You have always been that in my life and if i didn’t have these sisters here I probably wouldn’t have been able to get though.  Pasita in Cariari, the whole bishops family in Moravia, Sister Mena in Paso Ancho,  ¨la Abuela¨ In Neily, And here i have a wonderful Mayra who cooks for us and is always worrying about us and willing to do anything for us.  I’ve been to visit a lot of areas in the mission and the only areas I’ve found with people like that are the areas that I’ve been in.  I’ve been very blessed to have all of them and i know that it’s because of your prayers and worries.

But i gotta go. Love you.

Elder Graham

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lesson From The Lord

Hello.  Today we have pday because we have a special conference with Elder Amado of the 1st quorum of the seventy and the Central America area presidency.  And next week Elder Maynes is coming so p day isn’t until Thursday next week.  

We’ve been doing a lot with the members.  We made a list of all the members then prayed about which members could help us.  Then we picked 2 families and we went to these families and shared a message about callings and how we were chosen before we were born to fulfill certain things. We explained that we didn’t know who but we knew that they know people who are ready to accept the gospel and then explained that the lord chose them and he knows that they have a great work to do. They felt really special because the lord chose them from all the members and we extended the ¨calling¨ to accept or reject to find those people.  And since then they got so excited they’ve given us 2 references and we have a family home evening with them tonight to meet another.  It is pretty amazing how much quicker things go when we decide to slow down and ask the lord where to go and what to do.  

 Yesterday we had the 1 month checkup lunch thing with President Galvez.  It was his last one.  It was pretty special.  He only has 3 weeks left.

Today we are all meeting with the Vice President of Costa Rica. We have to get there early to learn the tico national anthem.

But i gotta dip.  I love you.

Elder Graham

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beautiful Temple

Jonathon and Catalina and their baby at the temple

Hey Mom! Last week we organized a special trip to the temple for Jonathon and Catalina. We went with them and another young couple where the husband was baptised a year ago. We organized a private less in the waiting room of the temple with the temple president and those 2 families.

I've been having to back pains so this morning i had an appointment with a chiropractor.  He's a member and from canada.  I came in and the first thing he said was "can i see your hand?" and then stuck a long needle in my hand that had a long like springy coily thing on it. It was jumping around and as he said √§ctiveate my spirit¨.  It was a little odd.  my first time having acupunture.  Then he put me on a massage table and i felt like he was just beating the crap out of me throughout my limbs and pounding my back.  But it feels a little better.  And he didn't charge either.  He says he doesn't charge missionaries.  
My shoes are fine and today I turn 22 months.

Thats funny that Carmina messaged you on Facebook.  Shes really cool. she came back from her mission 6 months ago.  I told her to add you then find nick because she was joking asking if i had any brothers she could marry and i said i actually do and told her to look for him.

gotta go love you.
Elder Graham

Monday, May 14, 2012

President Galvez, Baptism, Basketball and New Tie

 Last Interview with President Galvez

 Me and Bertand with our new comps.

I traded my suit to Bertrand for a tie. Hope that's alright.

You can see my sweet new tie in the pic.

There's Marlon. Pretty sweet guy!

Elder Larson and Elder Graham

Hey there.  I don’t have a whole lot to say since I talked to you yesterday. It was fun to talk to everyone... 
Today we went and played basketball for the first time in like 2 years.  It was pretty fun. 
I didn’t tell you that last week I had the last interview that I’ll have with President Galvez and the last one until my final interview when I leave the mission. 

My companions name is Elder Mendoza. 
Okay, I’m out of time. Love you.
Elder Graham

Monday, May 7, 2012

First Week in Alajuela

Hey there...  About the Mother’s Day phone call…Our church starts at 1 30 so maybe you guys can call in the morning. It would best if you called at like 7 30 my time in the morning...  I don’t know if that’s possible. Ok..  Soo you can try and call me real quick Friday or Saturday night if there’s any worries about the call but if not I’ll be waiting at 830 my time on Sunday morning...

Today is Pday. We had the changes meeting even though i don’t get my companion until tomorrow. 
The new area is pretty good.  There were 170 people at church yesterday.  It felt nuts to be in a ward so organized with so many people.  Almost everyone has cars. We currently have church at 130 because our chapel is being built and in the next few weeks we will move into a brand new church.  So until then we share the building with 2 other wards.  The ward seems pretty cool.  It’s the closest I’ve seen to a ward from the states. 

We live in the dead center of Alajuela.  If you look on a map and see the park named Juan Santa Maria on that same park on the backside is our apartment. It’s the most haggard house I’ve had yet.  It’s huge.  It’s dirty, it smells and I’m pretty sure Satan lives in the back room.  Our hot water in the shower is broken so it’s cold and we have cold water. 
But this week we’ll have a baptism of a guy named Marlon.  A pretty sweet guy.  Yet again when i train my companion gets to start his mission with a baptism.

I’m out…love you.

Elder Graham

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

So Hard to Say Goodbye!

The neighborhood kids that always wanted to play soccer at the church.

The Abuela "Grandma." She took such good care of me!

They made me a cake.

Our House

The Carillo Family

Josue's new soccer ball

Hey mom.  I’m in my new area.  I’m in downtown Alajuela. Northwest of San Jose.
 My Area is called Trinidad and my zone is called Alajuela.  Ah law hu ey la.  My Companion for this week is Elder Orellana from El Salvador until next week when I will receive my brand new companion because I’ll be training again.  Elder Palmer is my zone leader and he’s in my district.  We also eat lunch at the same house every day. 

But it was very hard to say goodbye to everyone.  Since it was 5th Sunday of the month priesthood and relief society were together and i gave the lesson about being united as a branch and establishing Zion in ciudad Neily.  I was crying like the whole time. 
Last week was good. Amanda got baptized but wouldn’t let us take a picture so no pics from that one. 

Yesterday we were supposed to take the bus at 4 in the morning to get to the leaders conference that started at 11 but i didn’t get to bed until almost one and i set my alarm for 3 but we slept through the alarm and i got up at 5 and started freaking out about everything so we missed the bus and had to wait until 830 for the next one so we ended up getting there at 430 and it ended at 5.  President had already announced the changes and Elder Cherrington was there because yesterday he went up from junior comp straight to district leader!  Such a stud. 
I gotta go!  Love you.
Elder Graham

Monday, April 23, 2012

Great Day for Ciudad Neilly Branch!

Hello.  My week was pretty good.  I spent from Tuesday until Friday morning in Perez Zeledon trying to help them out up there.  It was ok.  I just missed working in Neilly.  

We had an attendance of 50 on Sunday.  The highest attendance in the history of ciudad Neilly.  Our branch president was so excited he called everyone he knew after church.  Everyone.  He called President Galvez just to tell him that we reached 50.  

I don’t need new shoes..  Mom, i only have 3 months left.. What a waste.   

The new members are great. Karen is now a counselor in the young women’s and were waiting on William since he doesn’t have the Melchizedek priesthood yet.  But he blessed the sacrament last week.  

We had a zone conference last week and elder Bertrand told me that it’s pretty certain that i will open an area next change and train to finish out the mission..  And i was thinking and it’s very possible that i get changed out next week at zone counsel so that we don’t have to travel to san Jose 2 straight weeks..  And so that i can get to the area 1 week early to get stuff ready for the missionary I’m gonna train next week..  But it’s still up in the air.  Next week I will for sure not get on internet until Tuesday because I’ll be traveling..  unless i do have changes Monday then i would be able to..

I’m out…

Love you, Elder Graham

Monday, April 16, 2012

Best News!! (and a new suit)

Wellll  i bought a suit.  For 60$·  Brand new sickest suit.

Saturday some of the sisters in my zone finally gave me some letters that they received for me in the last changes meeting.  I got letters from Jeffery and Jeannette.  They were the best things I’ve ever read.  They both just shared their testimonies and talked about the great changes they have seen in the past year.  Jeffery has the Melchizedek priesthood and they’ve completely finished with the temple prep classes and will be sealed for time and all eternity on June 20th and I get to go!!  They live in Guapiles now and they live 7 kilometers from the church.  They walk 7 kilometers each way with their 6 kids every single Sunday.  And they say not a single one of them complains.
 I had a decent week.  Things are ok with my companion..  Kinda waiting for changes at this point..  He goes home in June.
I do know elder Henriod. He’s from my group.  I love that kid.  He’s one of the biggest studs in the mission.
Did you send food in the package?  If you did it had to get stuck in customs...  I got an e mail a few weeks ago telling us that any package we receive with food will get stuck in customs..  So i won’t get it until at least may 7th if that’s the case.  But if it’s here tomorrow i have a zone conference in Perez Zeledon and president will bring our mail
 The branch is coming along.  Last week we worked with the relief society and now there’s officially a full presidency and we organized visiting teachers. So we’re hoping that should get things going as well.  We have the elders Quorum president going with us doing home teaching.  So we’re hoping that the growth that we have now has the base to stay strong. 

Pretty nuts about Jase getting married!!
But i gotta go.  Love you.
Elder Graham

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Week and Pavones Beach

 The worlds longest left break wave

silly sleeping baby on the beach

Hello mom, I feel like not much has happened since last time i wrote.  All last week nothing happened because there were no buses and no one was home. 

We went to Pavones beach today which is a world famous surf spot.  It has the second longest wave in the world and the world’s longest left break.  There were soo many surfers.  Almost all American and all amazing.  I talked to one guy from Israel that came all the way here to go surfing there.  We left in a microbus that we rented out with a bunch of members and we left at 4 in the morning and just got back.  It’s about a 2 hour drive. 
We had a lesson last night with two families explaining to them that they need to pay their tithing to get out of their financial problems no matter how impossible it may seem to be.  I realized last night how much i will miss doing things like that after the mission.  Being a 21 year old kid with very little real life experience talking to 2 grown men with families and telling them directly and boldly what they need to do to lead their families.  I’ve never been afraid to do it in my mission and i don’t really know why. I think back at a lot of lessons and thinking about it i think i don’t have the guts to say things like that.  Then i do. 

I’m out. Love you!
Elder Graham

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Most Beautiful Place in the World....next to Portland!

Matapalo - World Famous Surfing!

Helloo...  How are things?  My week was pretty good.  In the past 17 days I’ve only had 2 full days to work in my area. So that’s coming along.  The zone is pretty good.  It was a zone counsel Monday for just the zone leaders.  When we gave our reports we were the last to report because we always go in order of how well we did.  And when president said the zona sur everyone stood up and gave us applause for meeting the goal.  pres. had us do a little capasitation for all the ZLs about what we have been doing to make such a big change. 
Afterward the APs drove us home and worked yesterday in our zone.  So i came back with Bertrand and Elder Whittaker. The one whose blog you follow.  He’s legitimately the greatest kid ever.  He’s the new AP with elder Bertrand. 

Conference was really good.  I got to watch it in English in a room with 2 others. I absolutely loved all the priesthood session. I thought that was the best session of conference I’ve ever seen.  And I loved the talk on Saturday by elder Hallstrom that talked about members who are active in the church and inactive in the gospel.  So good. 
We had our zone meeting today it. It went pretty good.  I didn’t get to do internet yesterday because of the divisions with the aps. 

Last week we were in Jimenez and found a family then they came to church on Sunday and have a date for the 21st.  But President said that going to Jim√©nez has been just too much for us so he took it from us and gave it to the missionaries in Rio Claro.  A little disappointing.  I loved going there.  I’m legitimately convinced that it’s the most beautiful place in the world behind Portland/the gorge.  We went to Matapalo last pday which is on the very southern tip of the peninsula and a world famous surf spot. Huge waves and the best surfers I’ve ever seen.  It’s super sick there.  But getting there is the most complicated thing.  We went in the back of a truck there.  An hour and a half ride
Here, they celebrate Easter the whole week and there’s no buses and no one is home.  Our pday is actually Friday for that reason.  We were just supposed to write on Monday.

Got to go. Love you!
Elder Graham