Saturday, April 27, 2013

DC Week 11!

Hey Family!

How's everybody doing?? I sure hope you are all taking advantage of having a beach close by!! I was watching one of the I am a Mormon videos about a Hawaiian girl who just loved to surf. She said, "I believe anything can be cured with a little salt water." Really making me ache for those lazy childhood days of walking barefoot in the sand and falling asleep on the hot pavement at Grandma's after a dip. Anyway, back to business!

It’s been such a great week here. Heavenly Father has given me many opportunities for service and growth. I can feel him shaping and polishing me for His work. Sometimes it is a painful process, however truly rewarding. I know these types of humbling experiences are necessary to make me the best vessel for successful missionary work in His hands. Deiter F. Uchtdorf has said:

May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don’t reach beyond your capacity to achieve. Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best you can and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will soon see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Yesterday, we had such a spiritual training meeting at the Visitor Center. I haven’t felt the Spirit so strongly in a long time. Our new elderly couple shared their conversion story and current relationships with their “angel”missionaries from long ago. This is now their ninth mission as a senior couple. It was sweet to see the far-reaching effects of missionary work. They assured us they would continue to be friends for eternity, as will we with our investigators.

Sister Brown, (one of the VC trainers) then shared some words about our sacred calling as sister missionaries, and asked us to each remove our nametags…I didn’t like it.

She asked us to hold them in our hands in front of us; to look at our name…then Jesus Christ’s. She bore her bold witness that we are His representatives. This mission defines us. That tag is an emblem of our role as His disciples. People notice us wherever we go…it is soon becoming no secret who we are…This gospel is going to all nations, etc… It was a wonderful and powerful message. She is a great missionary.

We then proceeded to have a testimony meeting for those sisters who felt prompted to share their personal witness of Christ, (including my dear companion who leaves for Guam on Tuesday). Each one was different. Poignant. Powerful. I will never forget it, nor the special Spirit that was present there. These sisters are so precious to me. We are already such dear friends…and truly sisters in Zion in this wonderful work together. Made me think of my three sweet sisters at home and how much I adore and admire them.

At the end of the meeting…we were asked us to choose an aspect of our work in which the Lord knew we needed improvement. We were asked to make this a goal for next transfer (which begins Wednesday, May 1st). Mine? To love the people more fervently…and to truly “be devastated” when they choose to not accept Jesus Christ or His gospel. Don’t misread me…I have not set a goal to be discouraged…but rather to allow my heart’s capacity to be filled to overflowing with the desire to bring people unto Christ. I believe that when I have truly reached that point, (which will take work), it won’t be easy to start daydreaming about the beach when Iris tells me she hasn’t “found time” to read from the Book of Mormon. I hope to be able to establish a certain focus that I haven’t found yet on my mission. I hope to be able to sell my distracting thoughts, and discover new avenues I had never dreamed of before concerning this wonderful work. In his most recent Conference address, Neil L. Anderson brought to light the following:

We are witnessing the miracles of the Lord as His gospel is spreading across the world. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle. The voice of the Lord shall be unto the ends of the earth. That all that will hear, may hear. It’s a miracle. It’s a miracle. Go ye therefore…and teach all nations.

This is our mission motto from Washington DC: To “go ye therefore…and TEACH ALL NATIONS.” It is such a privilege...

On a more temporal note, it is SO beautiful here. I never knew earth had so many colors. Spring is absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t get enough, neither can photographs adequately portray God’s work. I had a good friend up in Rexburg one semester who said that she’d like to think that just how a husband is the provider or builder of the house, and his wife makes it a home…that likewise through Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father created this world…and Heavenly Mother made it beautiful. I believe it.

Time to run. Remember: Every member a missionary! I love you all.

Sister Graff
Mormon 9:15 …miracles have not ceased...

PS--Sorry for the delayed email. Once a year, the whole mission will attend a Washington Nationals game at the stadium in the city. It’s the one day a year we have a full P-Day, and things got pretty busy. We valiantly played the St. Louis Cardinals and lost, but it was still a wicked fun day. I’ll send some pics next week. Boys, I thought of the two of you the whole time I was there. You would have loved it! We had the chance to sing “Take me out to the ball gaaaame!” with a stadium full of baseball fans, and even made it onto the big jumbo-tron—three times! I think the camera man really liked scanning over all of section 230 because it was impossible to miss our group of white cut-off shirts and black nametags. So. Awesome. GO NATS!! 

1. Tulips... 
2. The Kortu Clan! 
3. After lunch at the Eyrings. 
4. Church.
5. Goodbye Cardalls, we'll miss you!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

DC Week 10!

Hey Family!

Thank you all so much for the letters/emails/pictures/packages! I will slowly but surely respond to each of you, I promise. It means the world to me having so much support. Those tiny kinds of things really "fuel" you out here, and I appreciate it!

Quick story for today--(cause I spent most of my time attaching pictures form the last several weeks).

For the last half a transfer, Sister Lawrence and I have been trying to get back in touch with Paul and Iris with little to no luck. Oh, we planned for the other people, and worked on strengthening ties with the partially active members in the ward, street contacting and whatnot--don't you worry, we always have plenty to keep us busy. But they were always at the back of our minds. Sister Lawrence told me that this kind of thing happens all the time, and that if they weren't going to show progression soon, then we would drop them to spend our time (which is so valuable) with those whom the Lord had already prepared to receive our message. I was very reluctant, but reasoned with myself that at least they will have had one "contact" with the church. At least that exposure was there...

Well yesterday evening, we decided to pay them an unplanned visit, and to our elation, Paul answered the door with a grin.  He beckoned for us to come in and Iris came out from the kitchen with a smile on her face as well. We greeted with kisses (handshakes for Paul) and commenced to catch up. As we talked with them, I began to see just how much they valued our friendship. They truly are our dear friends now. But Sister Lawrence and I have been worried that it is all surface; that they only invite us over for some Khatta Meetha to talk about the cherry blossoms and that's it.  Anyway, so we decided to follow up on their Book of Mormon reading. Nothing. They were honest. And we were grateful for their honesty. But in that moment, I began to understand what Elder Holland once talked about so fervently...about his command to"be devastated". I had never comprehended it quite so strongly as I did in that moment...and I began to feel it. That undeniable awareness that this was no act. That this was real devastation inside me. And I ached for them.

By now it was dark. And Sister Lawrence and I flipped open to the chapter we had planned and began reading with them. Each one of us taking turns. We hoped they would feel something, anything. But soon I knew this visit would be no different. Iris started going off again about how the Bible is the only word of God, and that "Lard Jezuz" will save us all through grace, etc... It was the same vicious cycle, and I knew that we would have to drop them. It was something I had already been preparing for. What was the loss? I had rationalized. In that moment, the lights went out. The electricity in about a five mile radius had failed.

Iris and I went to the kitchen and lit some candles. The glow cast long shadows on our faces, and their small musty living room. And by candle light, I flipped open my scriptures again. I turned to 2 Nephi chapter 29 and began reading:

7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. 

And I bore my testimony.

The next, (I kid you not) two straight minutes were spent in absolute silence. The four of us sat, not saying one word. I glanced up at Paul and Iris several times. Both had their eyes closed. I could feel the Holy Ghost stronger and more powerfully than I ever had before. It was working on them. And I knew it, neither dared to interrupt it.

We then prayed, they thanked us, and we said our goodbyes. Paul walked us to the car. And that was it.

I don't know what will come of last night. I don't know if they will chose to act.  Or if they will chose what is easy. But I do know this: that God's entire work and glory, is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He does nothing save it be for the benefit of mankind.  He is working miracles in our lives every day. When we are in tune...we cannot go amiss.  He will perform His great works through us. That is why it is so important to be the most worthy vessels we can be. This I know, and want to leave with you as my humble testimony of the truthfulness and glory of this wonderful work we are all doing. Never forget the worth of souls. "What is the loss," I asked?...  Detrimental. These are Spirit children of our Heavenly Father. And their value is immeasurable. Our potential is out of this world. We have no limits, nor should we set any for others. With Christ, all things are possible.

Oh, how I love you all. 
Hope you are all enjoying spring!!

Sister Graff

"The enabling power of the Atonement purifies us [...] The redeeming power of the Atonement sanctifies us." ~Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy


1. Good Morning DC.
2. Back for more sunrise pictures!
3. They bloomed just for us!
4. Cherry blossoms…
5. The Pacific states…
6. WWII Memorial.
7. Chillin’ by the Tidal Basin.
8. Love her.
9. Looked like something out of Tangled.
10. ...
11. Roosevelt Memorial.
12. Perfect Day.
13. Looking out at the Jefferson Memorial.
14. Hope Diamond. 45.52 carats. This is for you, Mama J
15. Inside the Natural History Museum.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

DC Week 9!

My my my!

Sounds like you have all been quite busy at home. Trek seems like it was absolutely awesome! Man I remember it like yesterday... I am glad you had such a great time. We'll definitely have to have more of a pow wow when I'm home Ma & Pa Graff and Caty ;) Oh and thanks for the pictures too! So cool. (Mom I also appreciate the pictures from Easter, and YES my package came and it was very happily received and gobbled by Sister Lawrence and me!

It has been a challenging but rewarding week. The Lord has certainly given me countless opportunities for growth, and I have been blessed, or humbled rather, by many of them.

Sister Lawrence and I had the chance to do some tracting this week, which we don't usually have a lot of time for. It was so neat. We went to check on a less active, (Mehdi from Iran). He has been here for decades. No family alive that he knows of. Never knew "love" growing up. Really rough life, but you would never know it because of his sweet considerate demeanor. Anyway, we have been slowly working with him trying to help him feel of his potential and his Heavenly Father's awareness and love for him. Well he wasn't home so we decided to knock some nearby apartment doors. While walking along, this gruff man called us over--actually called us out by chuckling loudly, "Hey you! Hey you're 'Mormons', right?" We acknowledged his comment and began making our way over as he beckoned for us to head his way. This man's apartment looked like more of a glorified storage unit/garage. He smelled thick with smoke seemed to be missing quite a few teeth as we sat down on the grungy lawn chairs he offered to us, (we sat outside). He said his name was Ben (and was about Daddy's age too), then proceeded to share with us his past exposure to the church, informing us that most of his family was actually LDS, but that the church wasn't for him. He laughed heartily about every 30 seconds or so reiterating that despite his opposition, the two things he like about the church were "their guns and food", then he would take another sip of beer from his plastic Ragu can and begin talking about country songs. Sister Lawrence and I need only ask one, maybe two inspired questions to get him rolling about his past life. After a few minutes, he confided in us that he once had a wife and a daughter, but that they were both dead now. We didn't ask why or how. Amidst all this conversation, his "friend" Lynn, wandered out with a toothless grin saying that she had been baptized Mormon and had met Sister Lawrence one day when she was out contacting before I came. At that, Ben laughed and said, "Oh you know what, Lynn, I bet you a million bucks, they'll convert us!" We were able to share our testimonies to them and no matter their current circumstances, they were real people. God's children. In that moment, in that instant, I could see them both in a very different realm. Ben in a suit and tie. Clean shaven and sober. Lynn sweetly laughing at some comment from a fellow Relief Society sister. My entire perspective of them changed. And I chastised myself for my reluctant attitude and assuming thoughts...

Everyone deserves to hear our message. There is no filter. As we all learn to see past the exterior, and view everyone we meet as our fellow brothers and sisters, as spirit sons and daughters of God, we will have the capacity to love as Christ would, with no limitations and no preconceived notions. God will place those we need to touch in our lives. It's just a matter of looking for those sweet fleeting opportunities.

In other news, did you all enjoy General Conference?? I really loved Elder Holland's address about being "True to the Faith that you DO have...and hold[ing] the ground [we] have already won...even if that ground is limited. Fan the flame of your faith...because all things [through Christ] are possible." So often in the mission field, I find moments where Satan will try to get me to feel inadequate, and worthless as a missionary. This is a tool of the adversary in attempts to destroy the work. THIS. WORK. CANNOT. BE. FRUSTRATED. Not if you are doing right by God. He will not allow it to be destroyed.  I know that when we are laboring with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, we will find success. God will guide us to those He has prepared. There is such a science about the way He works. It's really neat. 

I love you all so much. Thanks family for each of your sweet letters!!! I LOVED hearing from you. Made my day for sure. I will be writing back soon!

Until next time.
Sister Graff
D&C 88:62-63 

PS--Pictures still to come...

1. Don’t forget…
2. The center of Washington D.C.
3. Inside the Rotunda of the Capitol.
4. Hall of Statuaries. Look familiar?
5. Bits from the Berlin Wall.
6. Sister Lin wanted to be in the picture!
7. “Riding on the metro-o-o!”
8. Going up!
9. Oh, it caaame! :)
10. Peeps from my Peeps!
11. She didn’t believe there was one for her too…
12. “Sister Lawrence! SMILE FOR THE CAMERA!"
13. My Island Princess :)
14. fra-GEE-layy

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

DC Week 8!

Hey family!

Sounds like things are quite busy at home. Oh it was good to hear and SEE how you are all doing. I love the pictures. Hope the funeral went well...I just love you all so much. Pass my condolences along to the rest of the family... And hey! Good luck Mom Dad, and Cate on the Trek this week! My little pioneers :) Making me so proud!

This week was wonderful--that's because I still have Sister Lawrence with me. I don't have to give her up for a few more weeks, then she will go home to the Island of Ponpay. The other sisters have dubbed us the "islanders". We love it.

On Easter we were privileged to eat with the Kemper home. Such a sweet family. They have been here for a couple decades now. They have a daughter who is our age with severe autism, but she has such a light about her. We had a sweet discussion about how the church--and Jesus Christ have influenced their lives. Then Brother Kemper, (who is the kind of man that reminds me a lot of Paul Bunyan) treated us by playing the harp. He builds them for a living! It was so beautiful. He played If You could Hie to Kolob, and Come Thou Fount. Two of my favorites. Then he surprised us once more, by pulling out some dusty bagpipes and played Praise to the Man. It was a wonderful Easter celebration, and we all felt the Spirit so strongly.

So we have been trying to visit a lot of the less active members lately, and strengthen the ward so that we can gain their trust when seeking out referrals. It helps so much when we have members present at lessons, especially when they already know the investigator and can testify, and bear witness with us. We had a lesson with a new investigator just yesterday at one of the members homes--the Sarbongs, a couple from Ghana expecting their first baby boy in a few weeks. Anyway, we found him through Kady Kortu. His name is Abdulai Samuel Kamara (also from Sierra Leone). We call him Alfred. He is so golden. So genuine, and kind, and eager to learn about the gospel. Yesterday, after discussing Joseph Smiths key role in the Restoration, he said he wanted to become a member of the church. So we gave him a b-date for April 28th to work towards. While it is a flexible date, we told him we would be there every step of the way to teach and help him progress towards taking that first significant step. We are so excited, and he is even more so!

One of the less active members we visited was a Vietnamese man in his late eighties named Pho Le, (or Le Pho, I'm not exactly sure which comes first). Anyway, he has been a member for over two decades now. Came to America before I was born, and found the church almost immediately. Or I guess the sister missionaries found him. He loved it from the start. Now we are trying to figure out how we can bring the church to him. He is extremely aged, but still miraculously walking. It was so hard to understand him because of his thick accent--not to mention his lack of teeth--but we still had a pleasant visit, and plan on returning to re-teach him some of the foundational lessons.

In other news, we went to the city with some of the other Sisters these last two p-days. Both great experiences, I'm attaching some pictures. Neat to learn about the depths of our Nation's History, and the endless archives of information here.

Anyway, got some shopping and letter writing to do. Love you all. This work is so wonderful. So real. I love it!

Sister Graff

Pictures: Specialized Training back from February.

1. Ours is better.
2. Call me Jane.
3. Zoo!

PS--I'll send more pictures tomorrow! I don't have my converter. And Mama, I am still anxiously awaiting that Easter package, but don't you worry, I'll letcha know when it comes. And thank you all so much for your letters!!! I will most definitely respond, it's just a matter of time, so always keep your eyes peeled for responses from me! I'm sure trying my darndest!! :)