Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DC Week 16!

Hello family!

It's been a great week. On the temporal side of things, we've been having some funky weather lately, (major thunder and lightening storms--little kids you would love it) and I was sick yesterday, (just a 24 hr bug) but the great thing is that somehow the work just keeps on going! It cannot be stopped.

Well, it is so great to see the excitement of our members as they begin to see the fun side of missionary work. They can hardly contain themselves when we will invite them to teach a lesson with us. It's awesome. 

Quick story. The other day, we called Sister Moorman, (Yes, can you believe it?? A extremely passionate convert of seven years from Barbados. She has no qualms about sharing her testimony loud and proud), to have her sit in on a lesson with a new investigator of ours, Mary--Sister Nakatsuka said she kind of reminds her of Dory from Finding Nemo. I agree. Anyway, well we were running late to our appointment, and as soon as we pulled up to the lockwood complexes we saw Sister Moorman's bright red car. She, on the other hand, was not in it. "Uh-oh", we simultaneously said, as we hesitantly looked at each other. I asked Sister Nakatsuka if she had texted Sister Moorman Mary's address. With a comedic/ ashamed look on her face, she replied, "Oh I did, Sister Graff. I did. I texted her #T1!" We said a quick prayer before getting out, and hurried down the hillside to Mary's apartment and quickly knocked on the door. Sure enough, Sister Moorman answered. "Well hi girls! Where have you been?? We've been waiting for you!" She exclaimed in her thick accent. We entered only to find that they had become the best of friends in the last seven minutes. We hesitantly laughed and dove in with our lesson about the Restoration. Mary is golden, and we already have a return appointment. Oh how we do love Sister Moorman.
Well it's that time. Sorry to be quick. Love each of you to pieces!

Sister Graff
Ether 15:3--Don't begin to repent once you realize it's too late. Heed the prophets council NOW.

1. Tornado and flash flood warning...
2. ...
3. ...
4. Brusters! Went on exchanges with Sister Balls. Homemade ice cream made fresh daily. I got a scoop of "Grahm Central Station".
5. Pagie, Love her.
6. Eating banana cupcakes from the Clarks while tracting. Not as good as Grandma's.
7. The former "Sister Farley". She served here when Grandpa and Grandma were Mission Presidents. Sweet story. Her father actually passed away about three months before she went home...Grandpa was the one to inform her of it.  They had been out for about six months at the time.
8. Jordyn! She's getting baptized on the 9th!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

DC Week 15!

This week, Heavenly Father has been showing me how to work. How to really work.
Sister Nakatsuka and I have had a number of opportunities for service among the less actives in our area. On Friday, we got up early and went to Annecia Farello's home. She is a young single mom, and only joined the church for her husband.  After the divorce, she didn't see much reason to continue coming and quickly fell away.  We had tried to make some sort of contact with her, but had no luck for months, and decided to give it some time. Well we had gotten a call from Brother and Sister Just on Thursday night saying that they were finally able to make contact with her, and that she needed some help. So we went over and turns out she had a "lake" forming in her backyard from the sloped hill on her property and the run off from the rain was beginning to leak into her basement.  So we dug a "trench" or "moat" of sorts that led from her back yard, clear to the front of her property to create a path for the water to go. It was about knee deep and 50 feet long. Now, I know that's no water well, Dad, but it sure felt good to use a shovel as well as many muscles I didn't know I had--we sure felt the soreness the next day.  But man, it was good to just get dirty, and know you did something good for someone else. 

On Monday, we went around visiting some of the older people in the ward in rest homes around White Oak. One of those women included a severely disabled widow by name of Paget--or "Pagie".  She has suffered three strokes over the course of her life and is now bedridden and completely paralyzed on her right side. We have paid her several visits and enjoyed talking about better times with her.  Times about when she used to live in Europe and her dad would give her and her sister 20 bucks and say "Go have a day in Rome". "Ahh," she would say, "...those were the days."

Well, Pagie has a "roommate". An even older Indian woman who is quadriplegic. She has no way of moving except some small muscles in her face. She would lie there, motionless and blink now and then. If she wanted to get someone's attention, she would make a faint clicking noise with her tongue in anxious beckoning for any listeners to come and help her with something. On Monday, she caught my attention, and once I walked over to her she eagerly mouthed to me "bathroom". To which I nodded and proceeded to find someone who could help. None of the nurses would make themselves available to help, and the few I could catch simply said, "She'll have to wait, she's got a diaper." They weren't occupied with anything else. I saw one of them sitting in the hall...texting. After sitting back down with Pagie, having failed at bringing the help I promised her I would get, every "click" struck deep within me.  I wanted to cry, but I couldn't let myself do that in front of Pagie and her sister (who isn't a member). I tried so hard to focus on the scrap-booking they were showing me and sister Nakatsuka, but all I could think about was the neglect, and the insane idea that it was "normal". Before leaving, Sister Nakatsuka and I decided to sing "If the Savior Stood Beside Me". The Spirit came. And the clicking stopped. Before leaving the male nurse finally came to help. He bent down to our desperate neighbor, nodded, then turned to us as we left and said, "You two, yeah you two girls...she likes you. She said to come back to visit her again." Smiling back at her, we waved goodbye to our new friend.  We walked out the door, and I let the tears finally flow. 

I have such a growing testimony of God's love for all of His children. Remember that no one is exempt. No one is exempt...

Love you all,
Sister Graff  
PS--Remember to keep the Monsons in your prayers. Funeral services for Sister Monson should be broadcast on this week...
1. Zone activity!
2. So. Humid.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

DC Week 14!

What a whirlwind of emotions this week! It was so good to hear all of your voices, talking to you made me feel like no time has passed! I sure hope all is well at home. Can't wait to wish you all a Merry Christmas next time!!

This week has been an eyeopener for me. For starters, it has been so easy working with Sister Nakatsuka.  She and I have been on the same page since day one, and it has been such a nice transition this transfer (both for the members, investigators, and us). Companionship unity is something you always strive for as missionaries, but we just don't have to try as hard! It's a great change of pace; to focus on other more important things.

On Monday...we had a number of various incidents and miracles transpire which I will not go into detail about at this time...but our experiences changed our entire outlook on our purpose as missionaries.  We talked about some of the people we met, and our feelings about what we learned that night...both contemplating the extreme gravity of our calling. Both recognizing just how blessed we are.  I have never felt so lucky to have the gospel in my life. If the time is right, I'll explain more in a later email. Particularly about a man named Victor Smith.

Well it's that time again. Sorry to make it quick. Oh I love you all so much. I hope Mother's Day was wonderful. Thank you to all who have sent me letters--still working on responses, don't you worry!

My closing thought for you this week comes from one of our recitations:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny many defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited very clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” ~Joseph Smith Jr.

Think about it.
Sister Graff

Pictures: Early Friday morning, we had the opportunity to go for a temple walk with all the sisters and Elder and Sister Eyring.  What a treat. It was so beautiful.

1. Hermana Blasco (de Espana) and Sister Smith
2. The east doors.
3. ...
4. Sister Nakasuka!
5. ...
6. Hermana Word
7. ...
8. "Bleeding Love"
9. ...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

DC Week 13!

Happy Mother's Day this week!!!!
Sure hope everybody is just spoiling Mom! Be expecting something in the mail, as well as a PHONE CALL on Sunday around 1PM your time! Can't wait!
Well it's been a good week for sure. My new companion, Sister Nakatsuka, and I are doing really well. I'm eager to see how this transfer will be with her. She's really down to earth, and easy going. The other night, she taught me how to write my name in Japanese. Way cool. We are excited to continue the work in White Oak. Heavenly Father is certainly preparing me to carry on this area to her. I thought that I would be so lost when Sister Lawrence left, but I have been so surprised at how much the Lord truly qualifies you for the work. It's awesome.

On Sunday evening, we had the chance to participate in the Night of Music and Inspiration. Not sure if I talked about it before, but it's a sort of concert (once a month) in the main theater of the Visitor Center put on by one selected missionary.  Selected missionaries perform various pieces of music and everyone in the area is welcome to attend. Other missionaries may only come if they bring an investigator, (it's their ticket in). Well a few weeks ago, Sister Lin (from Taiwan and leaving this transfer) gives me a call and asks if I would sing a solo. I didn't know what else to say except that I would. And on Sunday, I did. Now, I know I'm dumb enough to go hitchhiking, jump off bridges, rocks, whatever--I may even catch a snake from time to time, but never in my life have I wished to sing a solo in front of any kind of crowd, let alone, a theater full of people investigating the church--and don't forget President and his wife, and all the other missionaries from the mission.  Well, Heavenly Father certainly showed me He is always, always there. Yes, I was a little shaky, and felt like the whole theater could see my heart beating out of my chest, but God allowed me to perform my small role that night in one piece, and not only that, but He allowed me to bear my testimony while doing it. Which song did I sing? It's called the Tender Mercies of the Lord. Look up the lyrics...I couldn't have hand-picked a better song to describe the very feelings I was having that night. Sister Petramalo (one of our new Senior missionaries) videoed it. I'll snag that from her and we can all have a good laugh about it when I'm home.

Well, not much else to say right now. The weather here has been drizzly lately, but such is necessary for it to be so beautiful. I love the rain, but my hair certainly doesn't. That's okay though. Somehow the work still goes on!

I want to leave you all with a thought I shared at a meeting with Elder Eyring yesterday. It comes from Captain Moroni:

"And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians." ~Alma 48:10  

Family, and friends...we are still fighting every day to maintain that same cause...the Cause...of Christians. Remember the words in 1Timothy 4:12, and strive to be an example of the believers in all that you do. My urgent commitment to you is to share your testimonies with all you meet. Use words if necessary.

I love you all!
Sister Graff 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DC Week 12!

We had a baptism!!!!

His name is Abdulai and he was golden from the beginning. I might have mentioned him before. He is good friends with the Kortu family and the first time we met is a funny story. We had gone over to Kady's for a regular visit after some service at another member's home, and saw him there in the middle of praying. It was this extremely elaborate, beautiful oration of sounds and words and tradition and movement all mixed together in one moment, (his family is Muslim). After he finished, we were still in awe, just watching him...and I don't think it was until he politely inquired of our visit that we realized he was directing the question toward us, and that we were still in a sort of daze haha.  He asked what it is we do and why we were here, and the rest is history.  Oh he is so awesome. From the beginning, he has had a sweet, humble spirit about him that set him apart as one who was ready to receive this restored gospel. The Lord was preparing him for sure. He has had quite the past too, but I won't go into that right now. Remind me sometime when I'm home and I'll tell you his story in more detail. Now we will begin teaching him the laws and ordinances of the gospel, and most importantly, the significance of going to the temple. CAN'T. WAIT.
Well yesterday was so bittersweet. Sister Lawrence and I said our reluctant goodbyes and she is, as I type, somewhere over the Pacific on her way home to Guam. Oh how I will miss her! She taught me so many valuable lessons that have truly set the course for me on this mission. Number one, being selflessness. It is the single most important thing to learn as a missionary--and the sooner you understand that, the smoother the work will go!
My new companion is Sister Nakatsuka, from Japan!! She is so great, and I can tell this is going to be a stinking awesome transfer!! I am a little anxious as I begin to realize the great responsibility for the people in this "little part of the vineyard" now that Sister Lawrence is gone, but we are ready for anything that comes our way. More as the weeks pass...

Oh, as always, I love each of you so dang much. You mean so much to me and I can't say it enough, but it means the world to have all the support I do while out on this mission. I am truly spoiled!

Make it a good week!
Sister Graff

Ether 2:7-8 "...One Nation....under God...."

PS--Pictures to come!
PPS--My Spanish is improving! Yippee :)

As promised :)

1. Go Nats!!
2. ~
3. Say, “QUESO!!”
4. Hermana Word.
5. Hermana Clement.
6. President and Sister Matsumori supporting the team!
7. ~
8. Looking a little sun-kissed and tired after the game.
9. ~
10. Deer in the headlights.
11. Zoo round 2.
12. Flamingos.
13. Flying eagles.
14. ~
15. Wear your sundae best!
16. We attended Lanelle Clark’s baptism, (a member family’s daughter). Well I get to talking with her grandmother, Sherry Ward (to the right of me), and she sees my nametag and says to me, “Graff….I knew a Graff once in Oklahoma.”  I began searching the genealogical depths of my dusty brain and just couldn’t think of any Graff’s that had ever lived in that part of the U.S.  Right as I began to put the pieces together in my mind, she asked if I ever knew a “Terry Graff”.  I smiled, realizing then that Grandpa Graff had served in the “Central States Mission”, which at the time covered a massive chunk of that general area.  I delightedly informed her that he was my grandfather, and she then commenced to tell me her mother’s conversion story, and that after years and years of lessons and rejections and repeated discussions… was “Elder Graff” who had been the last missionary to teach and ultimately, baptize her. What a neat encounter!! She was thrilled to meet his oldest granddaughter, and after getting my first name, called her mother, Virginia Stevenson, (who is still very active) to inform her of the exciting news. (She confided in me later that she actually went on a few dates with Grandpa after he returned from his mission, and apparently had her eye on him for a time.) Truthfully, I’m glad he picked the “cool-cat” gal from Mesa, Arizona! Heavenly Father sure showers us with tender mercies doesn’t He?
17. “Little John” :)
18. Abdulai’s baptism!
19. Sister Lawrence had to go...
20. The Sarpong family and their newest little edition, Gabriel.
21. Goodbye Sister Lawrence!
22. Rachel!—A good friend of mine from Rexburg years. Soon to be “Sister Boody”! She reports to the MTC on May 8th, going to Peru.