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, February 27, 2012

Panama, Baptisms and Patacones!


Making patacones. 

My favorite thing.  Green plantains chopped up into biggish pieces then fried a little. You smash them to make them flat then you fry them completely.  Delicious.

 Baptism of Marlon and Eraida

I put my left foot into Panama today. Not my whole body because that would be against mission rules to leave the country.

And thats apple pop. only in Panama


Hello.  times have been a little frustrating here..  We did have our baptisms here in neilly with Marlon and Eraida, but all the rest in the zone fell through..  We finished the month without baptizing a single family.  The zone conference was pretty good but it killed us because it took away 3 complete work days here. 

 Elder Martino was very good. He told us that we need to picture everyone we see dressed in white in 3 places.  The baptismal font, the temple, and the celestial kingdom.  The way he said it was way powerful and i liked it. 
The zone counsel went better then i thought.  I was nervous because my zone was sucking.  But when I gave mine they didnt ask any questions just thanked me for preparing a good report.  And afterward president told some of the other ZLs to implement some of the ideas that i had for my zone.  So it was good to be recognized for actually trying. 
But it was kinda exciting to hear some news from Paso Ancho and Elder Cherrington.  When I was there we worked so hard to find people from the directory that were completely inactive.  There was one family we found that had been inactive 10 years.  We were working hard with them and we were trying to get to the daughter in the family who had recently married a non-member.  We taught her about the temple and the proclamation to the world and was crying and said how bad she wanted that for her family and her husband to be baptized.  But she said that he was a tough catholic.  So we put appointments with her and him many times but every time they fell through.  We left them the proclamation for the world and a picture of the Costa Rica temple that was put in the living room. But in the end I never got to teach the guy.  That was about 3 months ago.   2 weeks ago they got a call from her,  saying that her husband had seen the temple picture so much and read with her the proclamation to the world and he wants to get baptized.  He has gone to church the past 2 weeks and last week went to see the temple and he gets baptised next week i think.  Finally, Elder Cherrington gets to see a family baptised after all the work we did there. 
I did go grocery shopping and it was amazing!  I bought shoe polish, dish soap, cups, plantains, toothpaste and food.  I was so happy shopping there.  Now we actually can eat.  And drink.  We didnt have cups to drink in the house. 
Gotta go! Love you, Elder Graham



Monday, February 20, 2012

Iguanas and Monkeys!!

You cant really tell but here's a monkey. 

Its WAYY hard to get pics of them but a big group passed by in jimenez

A big heart someone drew on the beach

Iguana by our house

Iguanas are pretty creepy actually.  They’re way faster than you’d think.  I was just making eye contact with it and it nodded its head a bunch at me then he started running. Those spikes on their back and such look pretty haggard.  I'm not really sure if they bite or anything.

Hey  mommm..  Things are coming along here.  As a zone we are doing horribly.  We only have had one baptism in the whole zone this month and this week we have a conference in San Jose with elder Martino and i have to stand in front of him with our goals of 3 families, 4 men over 16, and 11 baptisms, and report on what we have so far this month.  Which is 0 fams.  one man over 18 ande one baptism.  Its been pretty frusterating.  every investigator in the zone has fallen through and i feel helpless.  I really am trying.  Really am asking for help and i feel like i get inspiration it just doesn’t work out.  So i have to stand as the head of the zone doing terribly. 

This week in Neily we have one guy named Marlon getting baptized, and Eraida who is the mom of a convert. She has been 100% against the church and just wanted to argue with us when we came over. One day we convinced her to come to church, and then afterward we met with her and put a baptismal date for this weekend and she is 100% different.  The missionaries have passed by that house for a year now and she’s just said that we brainwash people. It truly was a miracle that she changed so much so fast to accept everything. 

I do miss Elder Bertrand but i talk to him every night since he’s AP.  We chat about the problems in the zona sur.  Last week i was in a disciplinary counsel.  That was a different experience.  When we went to Jimenez, Johan is doing good.  Saturday he had an interview to get the Melchizedek priesthood. 

I started teaching classes of English on Saturday and over 30 people showed up.  So every Saturday I’ll be teaching English.

Do you remember Fernanda?  From la Rita the first family i had that didn’t get baptized?  She got baptized last week by Elder Cherrington.

I gotta go.  Love you
Elder G

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Birthday Celebration in Ciudad Neilly

Thats the Group President- President Conejos' family

This is where they do baptisms in Jimeniz

Thats the group presidents bungalow

The birthday cake they made for me and one of the youth whose birthday was also last week

Here there’s a tradition that the person with the birthday licks the frosting first. And when I did my companion pushed my face into it.
Hilarious, not really

my good friend matias and me

Hey there.  Yep, you were right i was traveling yesterday.  Elder Bertrand had changes and he is presidents’ new assistant and my new comp is Elder Montoya from Mexico.  He’s a new Zone leader so I have the responsibility to train him.  
Today’s a regular work day.  When we travel we really don’t get a P Day.  Next week we have to go back to San Jose to go to a zone conference with Elder Martino or the area presidency and i have to give our Zone report with all of our goals and achievements to him. Elder Martino came to a stake conference at the beginning of my mission but i never met him.  Falabella the area president came to a zone conference at the beginning of my mission too but I’ve never had to do it like this.  It’s a long bus ride to San Jose. There’s 2 routes that the buses take.  One’s 9 hours, the other’s like 7 and a half.
But the lord heard our prayers and took out one of the pairs of sisters in the zone and gave us missionaries in Rio Claro with a district leader so now we don’t have to be the district leader/ zone leaders but just the zone leaders.  They don’t know their way around at all so I’m in Rio Claro right now working with them to get them going.  One of them is from Pasco and knows Dirk and his family really well.
Last Friday president came to our house and did a special capacitation with just me and my comp.  It was way cool. He did our weekly planning with us and he was there all morning studying and planning with us.  The trip to Jimenez went wayy good.  We put a baptismal date with a family for the 25th and we made plans with all the members of how they were all gonna have daily contact with them and how they were gonna take them to church.  They live right next to the beach and we are gonna baptize them right there.  The Group in Jimenez is so awesome.  There’s really just like 3 families that are strong and active but they’re so strong and so united.  They have an attendance of like 15 but those that come, come every week even though it’s in a small house.  They think the missionaries are pretty cool there.
Jeffery and Jeannette from Moravia moved to Guapiles and are active and are planning on getting sealed with their 6 kids in June....And I can go to the temple with them!
You asked me what food I will miss when I leave Costa Rica. The fruits and deserts.  Not the rice and beans.  
Yeppp  but i gotta go.  love you
Elder Graham

Monday, February 6, 2012

Best Birthday of My Life!

Celebrating my 21st Birthday (P Day) in Puerto Jimeniz

Here every pizza place has a Mexican style. I always get it. it’s the best. Some sort of peppers and jalapeños and like ground sausage.

Little member kid who showed us around. I bought him lunch.

Hey  there.   First off make sure everyone knows I’m grateful for all their e mails.  I don’t have a lot of time today and I’ve already spent a lot just reading all of them. But I’m in Puerto Jimenez.  Its soo
sick here!  We will be here until Wednesday.    We did some cruising around Jimenez  around the beaches then found a little 10 year old that’s a member. His family  let us borrow some bikes and we went to the sickest beach like 6 kms from Jiménez out in the middle of nowhere. there’s a little airport next to it and Americans  fly in right to it.  There’s just a restaurant and hotel there.  I bought us lunch with my card if you wanna pay for my birthday meal you can pay me back.   There were a bunch of surfers there on the beach. I was watching them for like an hour.  I wanted so badly to surf! 
There aren’t missionaries here.  Its technically part of our area.  Its 4 hours away by bus because we can’t get on boats.  Its paradise and that’s why there aren’t missionaries.  We come once a month or so to keep the group up.  It’s not even a branch. It’s a group.
I got two packages from jenny and i haven’t gotten the package from    Jen.  Thanks so much for all the presents i opened them last night since we left early today.  Wednesday   were going to a few members in Neuilly for my birthday since I’m here today.
The church is a house.  We stay there. There’s a whole group here.  There are just not missionaries. There are SOO many gringos here. Everyone around me is speaking English.  I feel so weird.
But i gotta go love you all. Thanks for everything. Tell everyone thanks for their e mails and that i love them
Elder Graham

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baptism of Johan

Johan's Baptism


View from the bus

Hello.  I spent the last 2 days traveling so this is my first chance to e mail.  Johan got baptized and was interviewed Sunday for his calling. He accepted it so he will be sustained and set apart on Sunday. 
We have a font so we can’t baptize in the ocean but in Golfito they do and in san Vito they baptize in a river. 
I wish I could say that the branch was getting much better.  I’ve given a talk 4 of the 5 Sundays I’ve been here.  We came to the conclusion that the way to get people to come is give them all responsibilities and rely on them.  So last week we commited 4 people to give talks.  2 to bring sacrament bread, 2 to give prayers in sacrament meeting, 1 bless and one to pass the sacrament.  1 of the 4 people with talks showed up.  No one brought bread, the prayer givers didn’t show up, my comp blessed the sacrament and i passed it.  Those were all people that told us they were 100% committed to fulfill their responsibilities.  Just to give you a taste of the reliability we’re dealing with.  I did not teach primary but the gospel principals teacher didn’t show so i taught that. 
The members have been well informed on my birthday.  But we decided to take our trip to Puerto Jimenez next week!  So i will be in Puerto Jimenez on my birthday until Thursday I think. 
The conference was pretty good.  Other than the presenting of our monthly goals and achievements that didn’t go too hot.  Since we were one of the worst zones of the mission.  But at least we did better than elder palmers zone who for the first time in many years had  a zone that didn’t baptize a single person. 
But the conference was good.  President was talking about how we need to always leave an area better than we found it in every aspect.  He asked me to stand up out of all the leaders in the mission and asked me what Cariari’s attendance was at when i got there.  I said that the first week was 19 and then he explained that for over a year before i got there it was steadily around that number. Then he asked me what it was when i left and i said steadily around 50 and he said that since then it has grown to 80 consistently and on the verge of becoming a ward. and when you look at the numbers chart it started going up when me and Felipe got there.  He asked what we did and said that that was an example of making a change and leaving an area better then you found it.  I talked after that to the kid that in Cariari right now and he said that Kendal is elders quorum president and Benita got endowed last month and is in the relief society president.  and that Maritza from la Rita also got endowed last week.  It was a pretty good feeling to be able to see the long term effects of working in Cariari.  When i got there it was dead and was gonna get closed.  No one wanted to go there because no one baptized there.  Now everyone wants to go there.
Love you.  When i get on next I’ll be 21.  the age i will have when you next see me.
Elder Graham