Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DC Week 3!

Well hello family!! :) 

Another busy week, but so so worth it.  I am loving every little bit.

I think I am finally getting used to Maryland driving (knock on wood). My companion doesn't have a license, so from day one, they threw me right out driving on these crazy roads (in the rain, I might add). I usually get an average of several dozen honks a day. It's so great! For exercise in the morning, Sister Lawrence has been teaching me hula, (which is way more than a work out than I thought--she makes it look so easy!)

I want to share a few sweet experiences...

My first week, I met a man who came into the VC, Howard (Howie), from Vietnam. We must've spent an hour and a half talking about everything from prophets, to the Book of Mormon, to Joseph Smith, to the Plan of Salvation, to the Word of Wisdom, to temples.  He had so many questions, and such an eagerness to learn about what we believed. I bore my testimony multiple times throughout the course of our visit, and to make a long story short, after several more visits to the VC and several meetings with the local Elders, he has a baptism date for March 24!  Oh I love Howie. He has such a desire to follow Jesus Christ and truly believes this is the true church. He's awesome. (He's been teaching me Vietnamese too!)

Another neat story: Last night, Sister Lawrence and I visited with a man from Sierra Leone, (Sorie).  He's been to church a few times, and had several of the first lessons. After a discussion on prayer and strengthening our relationship with God, he too was ready to be baptized, and even told us that was his desire.  I extended my first official invitation to "...follow Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God"...He said yes. We now have another baptism on March 24.


One more tender mercy: Later last night, Sister Lawrence and I went tracting to fill our extra time before heading home.  After several dozen knocks, our last door of the rainy night was golden. A young couple from a small town in Ohio.  We have a day next week we will be meeting with them.

The Lord is good.  He is so good. I am discovering that when you look for the little things, and "[...] slow down to focus on the significant" as President Uchtdorf has said, we will find more tender mercies than we can count.

I love you all so much.  You're always in my prayers.

Sister Graff

PS--My Spanish has been improving a lot.  I have been speaking it constantly with the Spanish sisters, and to visitors as well whenever I get the chance. (Little kids mostly--they're less intimidating :) It's becoming easier and easier to understand and speak. Love it.


PPS--I have also been working on my Ponpayan, Italian, and Estonian. --Those are a little more choppy but it's coming along!

1. (2/22) Temple Trip!
2. (2/22) Foggy day...
3. German Chocolate, Yum!
4. (2/22) Left over icecream with some of the Sisters: Lawrence (Guam), Wankier (Utah), Kaarma (Estonia)
5. (2/23) Mormon/Baptist Choir night at the VC...
6. (2/23) Howie!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

DC Week 2!

Oh SO much to tell and so little time to tell it!
It has been quite the week, and there's been a ton of "breaking in" for me.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but even still, I got quite the culture shock! It is so wonderful!! The biggest change from home would definitely be the people. I have met individuals from everywhere you can think of, and it has barely been 7 days. Every time I meet someone in the VC, the first thing I ask them is where they are from, and how to say hello, thank you, and goodbye in their language.  It goes so far with the investigators when they get friendly greetings with a sound of home. Plus I've made it a goal to learn as much of at least the fundamentals as I can while I'm here.

The ward is awesome! My first Sunday, I had several chuckles to myself observing some of the diversity there as well. The members are very...interesting. One man in particular, a Brother John Sykes, (reminded me of Doc from Back to the Future) came up to me, shook my hand vigorously, and then still holding on and not letting go looked right into my eyes, and said, "Sister Graff, I am going to tell you your color." Then with some closed-eye thinking, he declared, "Blue-Indigo!" "Oh really?" I said. "And what does that mean?" "Blue means you have the gift of social-ness." Then placing his index finger right on my throat he said, "You can talk to people easily." "And what about indigo?" Without a word, he pointed his finger right at my nose, and then pressing it on my forehead said, "The gift of the third eye. You can see into people's souls.  Their dreams.  Their desires.  Their hearts." I thanked him eagerly for such a wonderful enlightenment and then as soon as he came, he was on his way.  I think I'm going to like it here.

The food has been great!  I have had everything from borche, to quinoa, to mifan.  Look them up, or ask Dad :) The members are very generous, and everything has been delicious.

The apartment is wonderful, apart from our squeaky neighbors up above. Reminds me of all those days and nights in our little Lake Forrest apt that you, Mom, would remind me and Carly to stop "jumping around". Good times :) And now I understand WHY.

I do want to share some sweet experiences before I need to go. I was working the floor at the VC the other day when a Latino man walked in. After talking to him for some time, I found out his name was Marco Lorenzana and he worked with President Matsumori in the mission presidency. After some more talking, I shared with him that my grandparents had been mission presidents out here over 15 years ago. Then squinting at my nametag, he said, "Ah yes...President Graff." He then told me of a story that once he was driving and drove past a bad accident on the side of the road. He thought he recognized the car, but kept driving.  Half a mile down the road, he turned around. "I knew it was President Graff," he said. When I arrived on the scene, they had already rushed his youngest son to the hospital, and were loading grandfather on a stretcher into the back of the ambulance. "Wait!" he called. "Wait I need to give him something." They wouldn't let him through. Grandfather turned to the medical personnel and said, "It's okay, let him come." "I gave him a blessing right there on the spot," he said. Then they took grandfather away. I had tears in my eyes when he finished telling me and thanked him for the story. We both smiled at each other, and I knew at that instant we would be good friends.

It has been such a good week, and I need to go now, but I just wanted to share one last thought. My last night in the MTC we watched a pre-recorded talk of Elder Holland.  In it, he shared a french poem his wife used to recite to him:

"Come to the edge," he said.
"No. We'll fall."
"Come to the edge," he said.
"NO. We'll fall."
So we did.
And he pushed us.
And we flew.

I know that if we have faith in our Heavenly Father, we can perform miracles. I have had that manifest in my own life, and teachings this past week alone. Allow the Spirit to guide you. Trust in God, and he will direct your paths.

Oh I love you all. Take care!

Sister Graff
2Ne 32:2,3,5
D&C 84:85

1. Sister Lawrence had never been inside a car wash before :)
2. Chinese candy from the Noodle King.
3. My room!
4. Home sweet home.
5. Kitchen.
6. Not much to see from the balcony, but I've never had a balcony before, so naturally, I love it.
7. The work zone :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DC Week 1!

Hello! Holla! Bonjour! Ciao! Shalom! Talofa! Priviet! and Melolalei!  --From Washington D.C!!!

My, what a busy week it's been. I have such a limited time, and so I just want to skip all the traveling because we all know how mundane that is. Yesterday, we arrived in DC early morning and were instantly greeted by President and Sister Matsumori. Words can't describe their hospitality and genuine kindness, but lets just say, they absolutely spoiled us our first day. I was privileged to ride back to the mission home with them all by myself and we had a lovely conversation. We learned about each others families, and the mission, and our goals, and Sister Matsumori's experience as General Primary President. We talked of Grandma and Grandpa Graff and their service here, and the sweet tender mercies of the Lord, and exchanged many, many laughs in the process. They absolutely treated me as family, which we are.

As we rounded a bend on the 495, I saw it. The DC temple was beautiful. You couldn't miss those majestic white steeples against a sea of brown trees. We drove up and they let me go off on my own for the first and only time on my mission, to have my own "sacred grove" experience. I wandered down the windy path to the backside of the temple facing the highway, although you could hardly see it through all the trees. I walked up the polished stairs and up to the double golden doors. There I knelt and offered up my heart to my Heavenly Father. I won't share much, but it was a sweet, special moment with Him that I will never forget. When I met back up with the President and his wife, they greeted me with smiles. President said that in 18 months...I would now have the opportunity and obligation to "return, and report".  

They then took me to the Visitor Center where I met all the other sisters, as well as Elder Eyring (President Eyring's brother). He remembered me from me endowment session in Salt Lake and we had a lovely reunion.  

My companion is SO wonderful. Her name is Sister Lawrence, and she is from Guam. We will be together for two transfers which will conclude her mission here in DC, so I am her last companion. She is always smiling and laughing and I can tell we are going to be very good friends. I already adore her, and can't wait to learn from her experience, and build some of our own as we work as a companionship. It will be oh so good.

Well it's time for me to go, but I love you all, and will try to write more next time. Today is my P-Day so expect to hear from me again in a week!

The gospel is so true.
Sister Graff   

1. On the way to Temple Square for VC training (2/9/13) 
2. Sister Katelynn Hoyt serving at Temple Square. We roomed up at BYUI my 3rd semester. (2/9/13)
3. My good friend Sister Eryn Anderson! I finally found her on my last day in the MTC. She's serving in the Italy, Rome Mission. (2/10/13)

Friday, February 8, 2013

MTC Week 4!

Hello for the last time from the MTC!

Surprise! P-day was switched to Friday this week because of our new Visitor Center training schedule.  We had the opportunity to go to Salt Lake on Wednesday for training at Temple Square.  We're going again tomorrow; I'll be sure to include some pictures next week.  May I just say, I am so thrilled to have received letters from so many of you!!  They make my day, and I apologize if I haven't had the chance to respond to some, but know that I greatly appreciate every word of encouragement, classic poem, and scripture reference you give!  Truly means a lot.

Well, this last week has been so good.  Before the 800 new missionaries arrived on Wednesday, we had the opportunity to say goodbye to all of our dear friends who departed into the field.  Sister Garrick and I are now the last two missionaries from our original zone, (since we had so stay an extra week for Visitor Center training).  There were many handshakes and letters and addresses exchanged but my favorite part was Tuesday night.  Our District had left that morning for Pocatello, and the rest left the next morning to Richmond, Virginia. Well Tuesday evening after the devotional, we had a small 7-person reflection meeting with those that were left (Sister Garrick and myself, Sisters Egbert, George, and Stowell, and Elders Olive and Hitesman).  We each shared our testimonies, why we chose to serve, and what we were most excited for.  Afterwards...the Elders gave each of us a blessing.  I had never received a blessing from anyone but Daddy before. The spirit was so strong in these young Elders, and as soon as they began speaking, I instantly felt the power of the priesthood.  These young men were the epitome of vessels of the Lord.  They spoke with such power and wisdom.  They blessed me with health and the ability to love everyone I meet.  They talked a lot of Christ-like compassion, and love.  Sister Egbert wrote it down, so maybe I'll read it to you when I call from the airport.  I expressed my gratitude to both of them, confiding in them that if my Dad were there, he would do the same thing, and since he wasn't...I couldn't express to them what their worthiness meant to me; that they could, by that same priesthood power, bless me on this mission as my own father did. It was extremely powerful and sweet.

At the Tuesday fireside, Benson L. Porter Of the Seventy said the following concerning testimonies and missionary work: "Your witness will come.  And you will know it.  And you will feel it.  And you will want to share it."  My witness has come.  I know it.  I feel it.  And I want to share it.
You all mean so much to me.  Thank you for all your support and love.  By my next email, I'll be in the heart of our nation.  We learned from one of our devotionals that for generations now, layers and layers of seeds have been planted in the field. is our lucky task to harvest them.  And I can't wait. I can't wait.


Sister Graff

PS--Grandma those cookies were such a "sweet" surprise, and they came at just the right time too.  I received your package the evening we said goodbye to all our Elders, and let's just say, everyone had the chance to taste some homemade Grandma cookies!  It made everyone feel at home, so thank you.  


1. Laundry adventures. (2/2/13)
2. Happy faces. (2/3/13)
3. Last temple walk with the District. (2/3/13)
4. Sunday Devotional. (2/3/13)
5. We like to laugh.  A lot. (2/4/13)
6. The World Map. (2/5/13)

7. Saying goodbye to the Virginia Sisters. (2/5/13)
8. Ran into Kaitlin Lamb! She was volunteering. (2/6/13)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

MTC Week 3!


Well, I didn't think it was possible, but the time moves exponentially fast here.  My companion and I can't believe how much we've accomplished in just a few weeks.  It has been such a good and necessary experience so far.  The MTC has taught me so many things and I feel I have been truly stretched so to speak.  Each day calls for you to give your all, and at the end of the day, my head literally crashes on the pillow, and I'm out. So draining. It's AWESOME.  I love it.

This week has been so very, very good.  Sister Garrick and I have begun to really learn how to live, work, and think in-sync with each other.  SO cool.  We are beginning to finish each others' sentences and find that through our fervent prayers and studies, we are able to create the best dynamic possible for our investigators.  We must have taught a dozen or more lessons this past week.  We were able to get several baptismal dates set, as well as invites to church this Sunday, (despite the fact that it's the Super Bowl).  We'd really been struggling with these individuals, so it was neat to make some progress.  One lesson in particular really had an effect on my companion and I.

Her was Linda.  She was a volunteer so we only had the chance to meet with her once, but it certainly had an impact on each of us.  She was an elderly woman.  An artist.  In fact she said that art "defined" her.  It was her life.  It was who she is.  We had the opportunity to look at some of her work, (so beautiful) and I wanted to spend hours with her talking about what mediums and brush styles she used, but that's not why we were there. After talking with her some time, I asked her what she expected to gain from our visit and if there was anything in particular we could explain, or discuss with her.  She expressed her gratitude, (apparently her last visit with the missionaries was okay at best, simply because they didn't take the time to get to know her and what she needed to hear).  Linda then proceeded to confide in us that she was going blind.  Our hearts sunk.  She spoke of her passions and hopes and dreams, and poured out her heart to Sister Garrick and I as we intently listened.  She told us of how she prays to God, or rather talks to Him, (and quite often too).  She said she would talk to Him as if her were sitting right next to her as she painted, that it was an escape for her.  She told us of her fading faith in God and that she understood life happens, but why do bad things happen to good people?  Etc...  This entire time, I began wracking my brain for any ounce of revelation or comfort I could give her, and knew by my companion's countenance she was troubled with the same thoughts.  When Linda hands and words were certainly not my own.  I flipped to the verse I had memorized since I was Ashton's age, and had Linda read out loud from the page: "And I Nephi said unto my father, I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.  For I know the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the things which He commandeth them." I then had her re-read the passage replacing the word commandments with challenges.  "For I know the Lord giveth no [challenges] unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way that they may accomplish the things which He commandeth them."  She seemed to really like that, and then my companion shared a thought from her patriarchal blessing on accepting trials cheerfully.  We shared many more things with her, and the words just flowed like no other.  After a while, we both stopped talking and so did Linda.  She was quiet.  Then hesitantly said, "'re saying...when God gives us challenges...He's complimenting us?"  My companion, (with a mortified look on her face) immediately contradicted her saying "No! Sorry, that's not what we meant!"  Quickly catching on to the situation, I exclaimed to Linda, "Yes! Yes! That's exactly what we mean!"  My companion (bless her heart) turned at me with the most confused appearance.  I smiled at her, and then in the same instant, recognition spilled over her face and we both turned back to face Linda.  We taught her how the Lord would never give us any challenge or trial that we couldn't overcome.  That we couldn't handle. God knew she could face this bump in her life and that it wouldn't tear her down, but build her up.  I mentioned that she is clay in His hands, and He's molding her into something even more beautiful than she had ever imagined possible. She just didn't know it.  We explained that her perspective was the perfect way to look at her situation, and that if it helped her to understand, "When God gives us challenges, He's complimenting us," because He knows we can handle it.  I told her to be pliable and patient, and in due time, she would be able to make sense of things, and still be able to keep touching the hearts of individuals through her strong example, in addition to her art. Linda thanked us again and again, and we closed with a prayer and left. Walking out, Sister Garrick and I stole a look at each other and we were both smiling from ear to ear.  If this is just the MTC, what would be awaiting us in the field?  Whatever is is, I can't wait.

Last minute thoughts: 
  • Grandma and Grandpa there is a Sister Chelsea Snow from your ward in my zone!  We just figured it out a few days ago.  I also met a Sister Danielle Calder!  We all went to Sunday School when we were younger one of the times we visited you in Carlsbad. Small world, huh??
  • I met a Sister Reusser yesterday.  Sister Shanna Reusser.  We were roommates up in Rexburg for AFY over three and a half years ago.  She's going to Japan!  We had a fun chat.  It's an even smaller world.
  • Grandma Graff, I met a Brother Daryl Glazier who said he was just sure he was distantly related to some Graffs, but couldn't throw out any names for me.  Any relation? 

Sorry I have to run, but I love you all SO much! 
Sister Graff 

Hebrews 13:17 (For the little kids--Dad and Mom, maybe you can help explain it to them ;) 

1. Walking out after our Saturday session. (1/26) 
2. We both discovered we had pockets :) (1/27)
3. Our Elders decided to photo-bomb our pic. Definitely made it better. (1/27)
4. Sunday temple walk. (1/27)
5. Our awesome district. (1/27) 
6. Elders from our zone. Elder Olive (pronounced "Oh-LEE-vay". Tongan. And the biggest teddy bear on earth.) and Elder Hitesman.  Both serving Richmond, VA. They rock. (1/27)