Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pictures-- DC Week 41

1. Jullian. This precious little boy who reminds me of Adam. Well he came up to me at the face painting booth and asked if I would paint "A race car!" on his face. After attempt one (which was a sad attempt in my book, haha) I noticed him getting back in line for round 2. When he came up to me again, he then smiled all cute and pleading and said, "I want ANOTHER race car racing the first one!!!" How could I turn him down? :) Beautiful, ain't it?
2. La Familia Gomez-Lopez
3. Look who came!
4. Fall 1
5. Fall 2
6. Temple!
7. Isn't it beautiful?? (PS the boxes behind me were just a bunch of stereos. I liked mine a whole lot better ;) 
8. Mission Conference. (Got to meet Elder Zwick of the Seventy).
 







 
 
 

DC Week 41!




November 18, 2013

Hey Family!!!  How's everybody doing so far this week?  Dontcha’ just love Mondays??

Okay first off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASHY ROSE!!!!!  Yay for November Birthdays!!  I love you so so much sweet girl, and can't believe you will be turning double digits!!  I remember the day you were born, and how excited I was to hold you for the first time...Time goes by so fast...

Well let's see, it's been a good week.  Lots of success with our little ward lately... It is growing stronger and we have been able to see lots of miracles since we have focused our efforts on our part member families.  There is so much good work to be done there, and I think that for me, those situations are my personal favorite.  There is something so spiritually satisfying about helping whole families accept the gospel.  The rewards?  Priceless.  And eternal, really.  The blessings that come to those families have ripple effects for generations to come.  I would love to go through the temple this summer with a few of the baptisms I had been a part of at the beginning of my mission...I imagine it is something beautiful to see that deep wrought, and genuine change in one of God's children.

Story time: So yesterday evening, Sister Clement and I had rushed out the door for some appointments and right as the door slammed shut behind us, I probed, "You got the keys, right?" We immediately froze where we were.  Looked up at each other.  And then with big smiles beginning to grow on our faces, we both answered together: "Nope." Hahaha!  We just died laughing.  Well turns out, the only things we grabbed on our way out were our bags, and a big fat book of classic Christmas songs--we wanted to sing in the car because we are sick of listening to the same David Archuletta CD that has been on repeat since, oh...about September.  So naturally, we sat on the fourth floor of our stairwell caroling to passersby within earshot of us until the maintenance guy came.  Needless to say, we had some good practice, and I have been working on my harmonizing.  It's quite fun, actually!

Well family, it's that jolly time.  I love you to pieces.  Please check out this little Mormon Message.  You may have already seen it...Such a powerful message.  It's easy to think that Christ is always there when life is dandy...but what about the difficult times?  That's when I especially find it hard to turn to my Heavenly Father...but if we can master that skill...and realize that not only is He there, not only has He sent a Savior for us so that we can overcome...but He wants us to turn to Him in need... We chose to come into this life, knowing it wouldn't be easy...knowing it wouldn't be perfect...and knowing that neither would we...but that it would be worth it.  That through the healing and sanctifying power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ...anything...anything is possible.

Here's the link. Watch it together.
http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-01-003-mountains-to-climb?category=mormon-messages/mormon-messages-2013


Oh how I love you!  Continue to look for ways you can serve others this time of year!

Hermana Graff

DC Week 40!

November 16, 2013





Oh, how I love this time of year!!!

 There’s just something in the air—besides dying leaves and Canadian geese flying south for the winter!  Let me fill you in on some of the festivities: So the day after Halloween, we came into the VC early for our weekly training meeting and lo and behold, they had already begun stringing lights and garlands!  When you walk into the center, you seriously must stop.  Double take.  And think, “Golly, I thought I was walking inside??”  It’s like a grove with all the Christmas trees they’ve put up!  I’ll have to send some pictures later on, (but first I need to take them).  The trees outside are just as magnificent!!  Well, actually they were at their peak right around my birthday.  Everywhere you looked, the world was just on FIRE with color!  Oh I really must love being a missionary, because if it were all up to me, I would give anything to just lay down a nice big blanket and have a painting session all day long with just me and the nature and the Lord… Probably a good thing they keep us busy with more important things haha.  Well anyway, most of the leaves are gone now.  Starting to look a lot like it did when I started my mission… Weird.  Let’s see…what else…? Oh!  All the squirrels are a lot fatter than they used to be back in the spring. –Yeah that was a waste of a line.  Okay moving on…

 So on Sunday, I had the privilege of singing in another Night of Music and Inspiration at the Visitor Center.  It was so much fun!  The theme was “Do as ye have seen me do”.  Everything was on service.  So. Awesome.  Although there were a lot of technical issues (poor Sister Nakatsuka…she was the one in charge of this month’s performance), the Spirit was still there. And we had a full house too!!  That’s always fun.  Should be twice that busy every night for Festival of Lights.  It runs all through the month of December. –More on that as it comes.

 Bueno…mi espanol esta mejorando cada dia que estoy aquí!  Ahora, puedo hablar sin miedo (o menos que antes jaja) y mi vocabulario esta creciendo también.  Entonces, ahora, puedo ensenar casi cada lección de Predicad Mi Evangelio y muchos otros principios de la iglesia.  Las cosas mas difíciles son esas conversaciones en la calle sobre cosas mas generales, o cosas del mundo jaja.  Pero todavía es divertido tratar a tener una experiencia linda con ellos, o por lo menos, compartir mi testimonio corto J  Es una processa, pero estoy agradecida por esta oportunidad tan grande que mi Padre Celestial me ha dado… esta cambiando mi vida…para siempre.  Y de verdad…tengo un amor por la gente aquí que no puedo explicar…no en español, ni ingles…es algo mas grande de eso que solo siento en mi corazón.  Pero tengo un testimonio de esta obra. Que es la obra de Dios.  Que tenemos la oportunidad ser un poquito parte de eso…pero que marvillosa, no?  Tenemos algo especial…y tenemos que compartirlo con el mundo!  Ahorita es el tiempo actuar!  O familia…sabemos que…si, podamos ser sellados con nuestra familia para siempre…pero que tal todo los demás…?  Que tal de ellos…?  Necesitan este Evangelio tambien…y es nuestro propósito ser misioneros.  Ahora.  En cada momento. Tiren su miedo! …Y ser dicipulos de Cristo.

 Well, to come full circle, I hope you can each feel the sweet spirit in the air this time of year. Remember to be extra good!  More importantly, remember to do it for the right reasons.  Don’t waste your time doing good things just to do them—that’s silly!  But do them out of love.  Real, Christlike love…



I am so proud of each of you…I want you to know that I think of you, and pray for you often. You have all played such an integral role in my life up to now…and I would not be the same person without each one of you in my life!

More next week!



Hermana Graff

Alma 29:9  



PS—La próxima semana, espero que pueda contarles mas de mis investigadores, y los miembros aquí. Hace mucho tiempo desde he compartido cosas asi. Disculpeme! O!  Y fotos tambien!! ;)


Pictures--DC- Weeks 38-39





DC Weeks 38-39!


November 4, 2013



You are all so wonderful!!  Can I just tell you that??  Thank you so much for everything "birthday".  It was perfect.  I consider myself one of the luckiest people in this big wide world to have each of you in my life!  Just hope ya’ know.  



So lately we have been doing a lot of service.  Everything from ripping up tile floors, to raking leaves, to painting faces :)  The good thing is that many miracles have come from it.  Makes you think about Ammon with King Lamoni, huh? Before he could just waltz through the front doors and start teaching the Plan of Salvation to a bunch of hardhearted Lamanites (even though it was true), he first served.  I mean it makes sense.  He could have just started preaching...but decided to take a more creative route.  And way to go, Ammon, because just consider the "number of his sheaves" that he reaped because of it!  He was smart.  He first loved the people.  And he first served His God, by serving them.  I like it.  So I think I will try to implement this more into my missionary work here.  See what happens, ya know?  I'll follow up with you on that.



Family, I love you.  Do everything you can to be missionaries were you are...in your own capacities... There are individuals prepared by God...who are just waiting. 



Until next week :)



Hermana Graff

Alma 17:11 ~How can we apply this today? 



Pictures:

1. Oh, it's fall...

2. So I had options, you see.

3. She got really creative :)

4. ...



More pictures later...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

PICTURES-- DC Week 37!






DC Week 37!

Surprise!!

P-days are now on Mondays so you all have to hear from me twice this week ;) --I apologize.

Okay, I am on the lamest computer in this dinky little library with the slowest internet... and so, I just hope this little email can find its way through cyber space to you all! I have a few fun experiences I want to quickly share:

Several weeks ago, my companion and I received a call from Sister Cooke, inviting us to sing at an event which would take place at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. The requested song was The Lord is My Shepherd. When we informed Sister Cooke that we already had a prepared number for that song (which we sang for a Night of Music and Inspiration at the VC back in the Spring), she said we were on! So the whole group got back together again!

Between practices on the car ride Sunday afternoon, we learned the story:

Sister Cooke had been contacted by an El Salvadorian man named Caesar (who is a recent convert in my companion’s old ward). Sister Clement was one of the missionaries who personally worked with him.  Well, he explained his desire to have a special musical number for a Veteran's group which would be gathering in Arlington to honor the 30 year anniversary of the Bairut Bombing in Lebanon. He was one of the 6 survivors out of over 200 men who were stationed there during the incident. The rest of them were killed. We knew little else except that Caesar insisted our presence there. We were asked to prepare two or three songs depending on how long the guest speaker took. In addition to the first, we chose I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go, Dear Lord, and America the Beautiful. Needless to say, our speaker only took ten minutes so we ended up performing all three.

It was such a beautiful experience...To be able to stand there, on that sacred ground, as representatives of Christ in front of these hard military men...and watch them melt into tears as we sang our hearts out for God…and freedom. Everything went perfectly. (Better than planned, actually). The spirit was so strong...and we knew they felt it. Our Heavenly Father was looking out for His children that day. It just felt good to do something right, and to make Him proud. That’s really all you want as a missionary.

We finished. And the last note almost seemed to keep echoing into the hills around us. Like a dream or something… We returned to our seats and remained standing as everyone else joined us to show respect as they then played the taps for the deceased. As that trumpet began, this wave of emotion filled me. There I stood, with my hand over my (still rapidly beating) heart, and cried. Cried for those men who died. Cried for my Savior. Cried for the knowledge I have. Cried for those who still need it themselves… And suddenly I knew. I knew my purpose. I knew why I was sent here. I knew then more than ever the sacredness of my precious calling. I knew this gospel is true. And I knew I was ready to proclaim it to the world.

The program eventually came to a close, and we politely and professionally stood and shook the hand of almost everyone there, including the Ambassador of Lebanon. So many thank you’s. So many smiles. So many pictures. And yet…I still wonder how many lives were changed forever that day…The day that “The Sister Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” came to sing. Just to sing. But after all…isn’t the Song of the Heart a prayer unto God…? I know it certainly was for me that day. And each of us strongly felt, as we walked away from that sacred place that someone’s was. We may never know the ripple effects of the tiny, minute, seemingly insignificant things we do…but God does. He sees it all. He knows everything. And even if we don’t…is that ever a valid reason to hold back? Never. Oh, remember it.      

Family, I love you. More next Monday…

Hermana Graff
Mosiah 5:13 ~For how knoweth a man…?

PS—I was kissed by a Turkish man at the VC this week. That was an unexpected experience that I will never forget! Remind me when I’m home and I will give you the full story ;)
PPS—Our mission is now on Facebook. Yep it’s totally happening. And I'm going to need your help, okay? More details on that as they come. The Lord is really hastening His work…

Pictures:
1. After singing...
2. The Ambassador of Lebanon (2nd in from the left)
3. Sister Carcamo (Chile) and Nakatsuka (Japan)
4. The Big Guys.
5. Change is beautiful, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

PICTURES- DC Weeks 35-36!







DC Weeks 35-36!

Hey Everybody!

You'll all have to excuse Sister Graff. She's been mentally "absent" the last several weeks...and has been getting lazy with her emails home. Sorry. 


Well...not sure where to begin. 

I think I hit the "low" on my mission these last three months. It was hard. Just plain hard. So much has gone on that I simply can't begin to explain in a paragraph (or even twelve) through this dumb computer. So I won't try to. It's not worth my precious time on here, and besides it's not good to dwell on stuff of that nature anyway. 


I will say, however, that I needed every moment. Every struggle. Every person. Every rejection. It's changed me. I will never be the same missionary again. Every day...I evolve a little more. Now, which direction? That's up to me. That's up to each of us. We are constantly changing whether we consciously choose to or not. It is something inevitable and almost natural that occurs every moment of every day without us even realizing it. We learn new things, and go through new experiences all the time. More often than not, the things that occur to us...are uncontrollable. How we react, however...now that's something to think about, eh? 


"There are two ways of evolving: deliberately and accidentally. You can either decide who you want to become and deliberately work toward that end, or you can just go with the flow and become whatever life makes of you. In that event, you will become whatever the fickle circumstances and forces of life and society will make of you; whatever is currently considered to be popular or in; whatever is easiest. But, whatever you become accidentally it will not be nearly the full measure of our potential. You will become just someone, somewhere in the middle." ~Lawrence E. Corbridge   


The last two transfers...I made a lot of mistakes, and I wasted the Lord's time. I was "accidentally changed" you could say. But now, I know that I needed those lows...I needed those lows to see where I really want to be. The trick, however, is to have that vision. I needed something hard to make me see that I never want to be "that" missionary again. Never. I have already talked to the Lord about it, and it will be different from here on out...I will be different from here on out. 


And so...I guess you could say, that through my current decisions to learn from my experiences...and through setting wholesome, focused goals...I have been changed for the better. I have a new outlook and appreciation for missionary work that I lacked before. Now I have something to remember. Something to always remind me of why I am here. Why I am truly here. Because, let's get real...I could have never left any of you, if I didn't know the pure and true doctrines of this Gospel, and that although it would be a sacrifice, although it would be hard, it would be worth it. That other would be able to have the opportunity to have the same joy that we do. 


...And aren't we lucky?...

I don't have time for much more right now, expect to say that I love you!!

Sister Graff
2Ne 33:10-11


PS--We had transfers today. Sister Word went home, and I am now with Sister Clement from Mesa, Arizona! And it is going to be so good :) I promise. I just re-read my depressing email, and I swear I was not trying to get sympathy, or scare all of you or anything. Life can just be a roller-coaster sometimes...But you just have to learn to enjoy the ride! :D 


Pictures: 
1. Last temple trip.
2. Brookside Gardens
Hna Engman (Utah) y Carcamo (Chile)
3. Hna Chappell y Clement
4. I don't even know.
5. Art.
6. Noche de Musica despues de cantamos "Hazme en la Luz" (please excuse the grossness).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

PICTURES- DC Week 34!






DC Week 34!

DC Week 34!
Well, I'm sure you all heard about the government shutdown. Lame. Good thing we don't watch the news at all 'cause I really don't want any part of it. We were going to head into the city today, but opted out considering the fact that we would probably end up sitting on a bench eating a hot dog from the nearest vendor the whole time. Who knows how long it will last. You would all probably know more than little ol' me anyway. Movin' on! :)

Thought for the week:

"Hope [...] comes from direct personal revelation, to which we are entitled if we are worthy. We also have the security of living in a time when a prophet who holds and exercises all of the keys of God’s kingdom is on the earth. Samuel Smiles wrote: ‘Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.’ … Hope sweetens the memory of experiences well loved. It tempers our troubles to our growth and our strength. It befriends us in dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination.” 

James E. Faust: Hope, an Anchor of the Soul 
1999 October General Conference 

Think about the well-known verse in Ether 12:4 which discusses how this "hope" which cometh of faith maketh an anchor to our souls... If it's fair to assume that Christ is that anchor...what are the links in that chain...that ground us to Him?

Elder Ballard eloquently put it this way: 

"These links of your gospel anchor chain may seem elementary, but they are as important as the anchor of faith and testimony itself. Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We must take care every day to examine our own personal chain to anchor our souls to the gospel and see if we have any weak links that may make us vulnerable to the influence of the devil. [...] 

"Your personal chain that anchors your soul to the gospel can be as strong as you want to make it. Be grateful for the principle of repentance, which provides the way for us to strengthen any weak links in our chain. If you know that you are anchored to the Lord Jesus Christ, but still feel like life’s trials are more than you can handle, find peace and strength in the knowledge that each day you have done the best you can in honoring the Lord. Remember that strengthening your testimony is a lifelong process. Look to the Lord for strength. Work on one link at a time and strengthen each until you can feel anchored safely and securely to the gospel of Jesus Christ."

These thoughts stem from the workshop I gave last Friday for our training meeting in the Visitor Center with all the sisters and the senior couples. The theme was plucked from Ether 12:4. Classic stuff. Love it!

Anyway, I hope you are all excited for General Conference this weekend!! Examine the "weak links" in your lives... and go into Conference with this question or concern in mind. See if you don't get a response from your Heavenly Father. Remember: the more specific the question, the more specific the answer. 

I love you guys. Make it a good one.
Hermana Graff

Pictures:
1. Antique shopping!
2. ...
3. ...
4. ...
5. Say..."Queso!"