Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DC Week 54!-- February 17, 2014

DC Week 54!-- February 17, 2014

Got the call from President on Thursday that I will be getting a
greenie next transfer! With 18 weeks left on the mish, I am excited to
be able to finally train!! Not sure at this point if she will be
native Hispanic, or if I will have the lucky chance to try to teach
her all the Español I know. Pray for me family, I'll need it for sure.
We've got a good thing going in the ward right now, and I don't want
to slow the progress of the people we are currently working with,
neither neglect the needs of my new companion. It'll be fun to try to
balance that next transfer. I guess there will be certain bridges we
won't cross 'till we get to them. More on that as the weeks go by...

Gosh it's been a good six weeks. (Side-note: I've loved being the only
American among my companion and roommates, haha. K-House Apartment #616 currently represents the countries of Guatemala, Estonia, Germany, and America. I guess you could say our everyday conversations
get pretty colorful. Between Spanglish, Estonian, German, and occasionally some French, we usually find ourselves laughing and learning new things every day. The culture clash makes even the little mundane things you wouldn't think about exciting. How we dress, eat, talk, think, senses of humor, etc... Then try throwing missionary work into the mix and the equation gets even better :)

It's been a quick six weeks too. Even still, I feel it was so
necessary. There are always things you learn to "fine-tune" your
character. Throughout my mission so far, each transfer has a theme, or
"lesson to be learned". I guess for me, this transfer was about being
chastened, and learning to accept constructive criticism. Not just
from my companion, or fellow missionaries, but from my Heavenly Father
as well. We'll especially from Him. He helped me become I---I
<<-----that much more of a better person. But it's still made a
difference. I can feel it. Sometimes it's hard to receive criticism
from others, because the natural man or woman inside of each of us
tends to jump to conclusions, and assume its a personal attack. More
often than not, that's false. But this big dumb thing called pride,
often gets in the way of us accepting the advice or whatever, and
becoming a better person. I've definitely struggled with this these
last several weeks. Pretty sure we all have before. And that's okay.
We're definitely not perfect. But hey family, why not try to see what
could happen if we ALLOWED ourselves to change...I mean if we really
try to listen to those subtle nudges, and "chastenings" from those we
love, and especially our Heavenly Father, huh? Maybe there could
actually be something to GAIN from it...now there's a thought.
Time to run to the VC. Got shift tonight. It's been a good day. I'm
feeling happy :) Oh, and also, I kind of like being a missionary. Like, a LOT.

Love you all.
Sister Graff :)

1. Peruvian!
2. Bye Hermana Clement :(
3. Singing Feliz Cumple to our ward mission leader with the Elders. (Notice the candle--we just took a guess and decided to be nice :)
4. Just because.

Sent from my iPad in DC :)

DC Week 53!- February 10, 2014

DC Week 53!-- February 10, 2014

So I apologize in advance if this email seems a tad mish mashy. If so,
it's because I'm trying to figure out this IPAD. It's official folks.
The Lord is hastening His work. It is happening whether we are ready
or not, so I think we'd all better jump on the bandwagon.

Well I can't believe this transfer's already coming to a close. It
just went by way too fast. Even living out of bags haha. (Our last
bedbug treatment was on Friday, so we can finally "move in" one week
before transfers--YAY.) It's been a great five weeks so far. And
Hermana Pirir and I have done a lot of good work together. We're not
sure what will happen with us, but she's been here for five transfers,
so she will probably be heading out, and I'll be holding down the fort
with another sister. Right now, we have seven missionaries in the ward
(us, another set of sisters, and the elders who are in a trio). We're
lucky to be serving here in this little branch. I really love them.
The people I have come to know in the Spanish program are some of the
most giving people I know. They just never question "what's in it for
them" first. Right now, we are working with them to understand the
significance and more importantly, the simplicity of missionary


A lot of times we (myself included) tend to overthink and complicate
something so  easy. It's really not as hard as we make it. Break
boundaries! Get creative! Have fun with it! Sharing the Gospel should
be natural and real. I strongly feel there is a real reason why anyone
in the world can do this work. Because it is FOR everyone. I myself
have come to believe that there is no one right way to be a
missionary. Now granted, this work is not ours, it is the Lord's. And
so, like Elder Holland has said, "[...] we are not at liberty to take
HIS train off the track." However, I know there is a reason Heavenly
Father expects each one of us to contribute to this great work in one
way or another of our own accord, because He NEEDS variety...the
people need variety. There may be one particular child of God that
can't relate to anyone else in this world, but YOU. And what you can
offer them based on what you've been through. Think of the tragedy if
we denied them the opportunity to accept the restored gospel, simply
by not opening our mouths, or pressing "send" on an email. But then
think of the combinations of greatness that can be made by mixing the
right experiences. And just think of the grand "spiritual matches"
that can be made with so many individuals willing to take half a step
out of their comfort zone and follow the gentle promptings of the
Spirit. They can easily be missed or ignored if we are not looking for
them. I have a firm belief that when we cross paths with certain
people, if all the right factors are in the equation (ex: timing,
spirit, etc...) that our spirit tends to resonate with theirs, and
that what happens next is something very special and real. Those
connections are attainable for everyone who wants them...

Family, ALWAYS be looking for missionary opportunities, and I promise
you as a representative of Christ, that they will come. More, than you
will know what to do with. This is why it is so important that we
prepare ourselves now to be worthy vessels so The Lord can use us.

To close, there is a Spanish hymn which I'd like to share with you.
It's kind of like the Spanish version of God Be with You 'till We Meet
Again. Though it's not in our hymn book, it has quickly become one of
my favorites:

Placentero nos es trabajar
En la viña del gran Rey Jesús,
Y honroso nos es predicar
A Su pueblo, Su ley, y Su luz.

Por Su luz!
Por Su luz!
Placentero nos es trabajar!
Por Su luz!
Por Su luz!
Moriremos en El sin pesar!

This song talks about the pleasure that it is to be a part of this
great work! I always want to be this excited to bring souls unto
Christ! I always want to be a missionary...

Love you family! Until next week!
Sister Graff

DC Week 52!-- February 3, 2014

DC Week 52!--February 3, 2014

Hey Fam! 

Guess what? I miss you. I miss you a whole lot! Today, I just wanted to share a few thoughts.
So a few weeks ago, I read the crowning part of the Book of Mormon, where Christ visits the Americas. After establishing a new law, and healing their sick and afflicted, and teaching them, and loving them...He departed. Then in Fourth Nephi we read what happened next. We read of the generations immediately following the coming of our Savior. And roughly one hundred years later, the people were still harmonious. They were still a loving and prosperous people. I then came across this scripture, and I thought it was really cool, so I will share it with you:

4Nephi 1:17 

"There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in aone, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God."

Family...let's not establish "ites" among us. Let's instead, become united in purpose and in love for one another...as Christ taught us. That’s all we strive for on the mission. Unity. Unity in companionships (Hna Piri and I had an intense comp inventory this morning—so worth it though, haha). Unity as a district. As a zone. As a ward. Unity with the Spirit. With our Savior. The list goes on and on. How would our lives be different if this was our mindset every day? If this was our daily “goal”? Please, accept the challenge to destroy any “ites” in your lives, and I promise your world will be a better place because of it. J

That's my quick thought to you this week. I love you. Make it a good one, ok?
Hermana Graff

PS—I am so proud of you my little Adam. How wonderful that you were BAPTIZED on Saturday. What a big decision, Dude. I know that your life will always be blessed because of it. Love you sweet boy. You can expect a big embarrassing congratulatory hug from your older sister when I see you this summer!!! ;)

DC Week 51!-- January 27, 2014

DC Week 51-- January 27, 2014

Hey guys!

I have a story for you. So yesterday, was by far the best Sunday morning I’ve had in my life. Here’s why:

My companion and I were racing around our apartment around 7:59 am trying to get ready on time for personal study at 8am. (We need to find the elite people Heavenly Father has prepared for us in our area, [but we haven’t had much luck with that lately] so we decided it would be best to start with exact obedience. That’s usually when the miracles come.) Let’s just say it’s a work in progress. Anyway, so this was the scene when we heard the other sisters burst through the door (they live a floor above us and work in our same ward). They exclaimed upon entry: “Are you ready??!” …. “Uh…ready for what..?” I thought frustratingly. (I still had not finished getting ready for the day, and was a little bent out of shape over some dumb things that had happened earlier—in case you were wondering, no, I’m not a perfect missionary, but I try very hard haha). “We need to go! We’re supposed to be there right now!” They urged with even more anxiety. Well, assuming that they were talking about our Sunday morning meetings we usually have with the ward council, we threw on our coats and grumpily joined them in the living room to kneel for a prayer before leaving the apartment. “Why couldn’t they have told us sooner??” I thought to myself. Instead of rushing us out the door right before personal study—so much for that. Well, let’s just say, the Spirit was struggling to abide with me in that moment haha. Anyway, we then proceeded to follow them down the six flights of stairs and to the parking lot. From there we drove to the chapel…..and…. “Past the chapel…??” I questioned. “Why are we passing the church?? Where are we going??” We eventually pulled up to the Temple. Now I remembered.

We had a previous “appointment” with Brother Todd. Brother Todd is one of the Temple custodians. He cleans and cleans all through the night. That’s his job. Well his shift had just ended by the time we pulled up, and he had promised us something very special. We parked down underneath the skyway, and got out, where he proceeded to lead us up some steps and through a back door. We followed him one by one like curious little ducklings. Just the four of us. The hallways were dark and quiet. There were no people. And suddenly, there was a certain peace that began to distill upon me…I began to…well, get over myself. I then began to focus on where I was…and the instant difference I felt in the Spirit from the previous setting. Brother Todd took us down to the bottom floor of the temple. Where the baptismal font was. He let us go down by the oxen and meander by foot in places where not many get to. From there…we proceeded…up…up all seven floors of the temple. With each new level…there was something new I learned. Something stronger I felt. Feelings and sentiments which I cannot put into words, (nor should because of sacredness). Let me put it this way: Brother Todd knows that building about as well as Grandpa knows football. Probably even better. With every turn, every painting, every symbol, there was an explanation provided. I was without words, and at the same time, in tears, on multiple occasions that morning. When we reached the last floor, and had done “the rounds”, the other sisters and I then began to start winding our way down the east stairwell (oh it was so beautiful with the rising sun beaming through the stained glass. If you stuck your head out, you could look all the way down to the fountain at the very bottom.) Well as we proceeded to do so, we heard a curious whisper from behind us ask, “Where are you all going?” We turned around at Brother Todd, who was motioning for us to follow him. So we did. What happened next? I’ll tell you. Brother Todd then led us to a shut (locked) door. Well guess what? He had the key. We continued to follow him through, and into a dark room. There was a faint turquoise glow coming from the stained glass windows which continued to line the wall clear up, and up…and…up into the ceiling. I looked up as far as I could see, and what I saw was a hollow shell. A steep, tall, empty space. Well, to me…it looked like the inside of a spire. And guess what? I was right.

We followed Brother Todd up and up and up the small metal stairs to another locked door. We watched and hesitated with excitement and energy now building inside each of us. When we walked out…we were standing on the roof of the tallest temple in the world. It was the best “big kid playground” I had ever “played” on. A sea of untouched space before us. Coated here and there with patches of unmelted snow. I walked to the edge. Through the slabs of white Alabama marble, I could see the 495 beltway hundreds of feet below me. I could see the sun. It felt warm on my face and I closed my eyes. And smiled. And cried. Then I heard laughter from the other side and ran over to join the other sisters taking pictures of the tiny little Visitor Center. What a neat perspective. What a once in a lifetime experience. We stayed up there for oh…until we couldn’t feel our noses anymore. The breeze was pretty chilly that high up with no barriers to break it. So when we decided we were done “being on top of the world”, we one by one filed back through the door, down the rickety stairs, and down all seven floors. In almost an instant, we stepped off the elevator. And in another instant. We were stepping back outside. This time on ground level. With all the normal people who were spending their time before church getting ready, or having breakfast. Somehow, we made it down too quick. Somehow it seemed to me that such an adventure should last longer. But it didn’t. All at once, it was over. And before I knew it we were thanking Brother Todd with all our hearts, and getting back in the car to head back to the chapel and “begin” our day. But I knew it didn’t start there. And I knew I wouldn’t have another Sunday morning like that for a long, long time. And I cried again. No one saw me.

Family…I share this with you so that you can take advantage of every moment. President Hinckley has asked us to “make the most of [what we have] right now.” He’s a smart man. Listen to him. We live in a world where there are rarely still moments. But you know what I’m discovering? We can create them. I truly feel that it is in those tranquil moments when we can feel God’s love for us. When we can receive revelation. When we can see “the big picture”. When miracles happen. Something to think about…or try…

I need to go. My time is far spent on here haha. But I feel it was worth it.
Love you all.

Sister Graff
D&C 101:16

1. These are the kinds of things that make my day...
2. Guess where.
3. Us.
4. The view. See the Visitor Center and the Chapel?


DC Week 50!-- January 20, 2014

DC Week 50!-- January 20, 2014

Holy Moly!! What a good day (and it's only 11 am!!)

Okay first off, this is going to be a quicky!--#tryingtobebetter...
Just a few things:
  • Grandma Happy Birthday TODAY!!!! I love you so much! --Look for something in the mail soon, I'm sending it out today :)
  • When I opened my inbox today, I had a little surprise from our dear Anita Maisterrena! You dorks never told me you went to her baptism back in April!! AND THAT SHE'S RELATED TO US ON THE SPANISH SIDE?? Well maybe you did and I overlooked it haha. I would do something like that. Anyway, it was so cool to find out. I had tears in my eyes. Timing is everything. It is so sweet to see the Lords hand even (or especially) among your own blood relatives. This work will never stop going forth! 
Well, I'm not sure what to include about this week as far as details. We worked hard. We found some hidden condominiums that we didn't know existed in our area and did some old-fashioned tracting, (man I was rusty haha). After these last several months being spent almost entirely in the VC from the holidays and then with all this new push on media proselyting, it felt good to get out and bruise your knuckles/get rejected from knocking doors again. Made me feel like a real missionary :) Especially because I know that's the way Christ did it...He already paved the way for all of us in this great and marvelous work. #wehavenoexcuses. 

Family, I hope you know how happy I am. There is nothing I would rather be doing right now. Honestly. I LOVE being a missionary! I do. I love this work! I am not even bragging when I say with boldness that it is the best in the world. The very very best. It is the best thing any of us could be doing really... Every week, every month I'm here, well, it just flies by as if it were a day...But then I realize that time has passed. Time that won't come back no matter what I do. It's actually really hard. Really hard because I'm beginning to realize that missions don't last forever. 

No matter, I'm just going to soak up every minute that I can while I'm here--and when I come home I'll just coerce all of you into 6:30 AM studies with me--MUAHAHA. ;)

Tengo que correr!
Les amo muchisimo!! <3

Hermana Graff
3 Nefi 27:30     

1. We joined the Mujeres Jovenes for mutual (spiritual thought on divine nature and individual worth--then we did our hair like the princesses we are haha) They just attacked me and my companion. It was fun to let them have fun with it :) I still feel that age!!
2. Guatemalan treats.


More Pictures- Week 49

9. Sister Rowley peeking :)
10. Earlier when figuring out travel plans, I had said on the phone: "Yo no se, de me un monito!" Translation: "I don't know, give me a little monkey!" Later at the vendor stand, we had a good laugh, and they never let me live it down. 
11. China town!


Pictures- DC Week 49

1. Winter Wonderland 1
2. Winter Wonderland 2
3. Winter Wonderland 3
4. Today!
5. Meet my new companion!!
6. Who are those weirdos on the end..?
7. It's Christian and Francis! (they're awesome, their in our ward, haha).
8. BYUI :)

DC Week 49!-- January 13, 2014

DC Week 49!-- January 13, 2014

AH! So much to catch up on, and so little time! 

Transfers were awesome!! I will miss Olney so much! After spending 6 months in an area it kinda begins to grow on you. However, Oakmont is amazing! We are so close to the temple and the ward is great!! I know that Heavenly Father has prepared me for this place. I'm beginning to feel some of that same fire from the beginning of my mission ignite in me once more. It's January again. And while Festival of Lights is now over, in addition to the hustle and bustle of the season, there is so much to do! 

We met with our new district and had a nice long "pow-wow" on what we would each like to accomplish this transfer, and what goals we want to help establish in the ward. It was SO GOOD! It just feels good to work in our areas again. Everything kind of dies during the holidays because you are in the VC almost 24/7. But you should see the mission now...haha...oh, we're definitely not dead. I think we have more fire than ever before! I am so excited to get going. I think Hermana Pirir and I will jump on our spring cleaning early this year. Ugh. Speaking of cleaning. We will pretty much be living out of bags for the next six weeks due to our extra roommates that we didn't know would be sleeping in our beds with us and sucking our blood during the night. Yup. Bed bugs. They're nasty little things. You can Google some pics if you'd like later. Well anyway, there are different "treatments" that they do through out the course of this six week period, and so we can never really unpack. In a way, it's forcing us to stay organized because otherwise, I think we'd go crazy. It's okay. There are worse things to deal with. Plus, I think my patience has increased a boatload, haha.  

So last story before I have to sign off:

My first night in the area, we get a call from a desperate Hermana in the ward (A little Bolivian woman named Roxanna Cruz). I answered the phone, and hear in a panicked tone on the other line "!!Hermanas!! Vengan vengan! Nesecito su ayuda prontito!! Tengo una problema--mucho heilo mucho hielo!!" So we throw on our jeans and tennis shoes and coats and head over to find that her water pipe had broken during the night, and leaked all over the roof and front portion of her house, onto the ground, creating a frozen waterfall! We must have stood there laughing and gawking for about a minute when she proceeded to come over and grab our hands and lead us into the house, through to the back door. When she opened it, what we saw was a winter wonderland! Everything had flooded! Like completely flooded!! (Remember that time back in the summer when I shared how we had to dig a trench to drain off an unwanted pond from this women's backyard? Well this was the "January" version of that day, only instead of a bug infested swamp, we had a frozen lake) I'm talking, icicles from every beam over our heads, down along the columns holding up her house, to the floor. It must have been half a foot deep in some places. Our task? To get rid of it. Great. Okay. How do we just "get rid of" a winter wonderland? Sure was wishing I could get a hold of some of those "Spring Fairies" to just melt it all away haha. So we grabbed a shovel, an ax, anything metal, really, and went to work. Now granted, her backyard was about half the size of Grandma's, but when you're talking about hacking away at solid ice for hours, it really gets in your workout for the day! We hacked and hacked, and broke and shattered. Occasionally one of the little (or big) chunks of ice would come flying up at you and you had to dodge it or it would hit you in the face, or go down your shirt, or...other places ice shouldn't be, haha. And let me tell you: Oh. What. FUN! Like probably one of the most memorable service opportunities I've had on my mission thus far. When we were all done, we came inside and drank cups of hot chocolate together. It was absolutely perfect.

Oh family, I need to run! I love being a missionary! It is my favorite thing in the world. I love serving. I love lifting the burdens of those in need. I love literally being able to see the relief and joy in their countenance. It's something you can almost feel...

Love you. Find someone in need, and serve them this week!

Hermana Graff
Alma 17:23-25

More Pictures- DC Week 47

Pictures-- DC Week 47

DC Week 47! December 30, 2014

DC Week 47!—

Oh, you guys are so great! It was awesome to Skype home! What a blessing...

Christmas was just wonderful!! It was very different for me this year. Besides the obvious...I had the opportunity to really focus on the more significant aspect of this holiday season. I guess you could say I had a different perspective. For the first time...I wasn't "home". I didn't have all the "normal" things you would associate with a standard Christmas... including my family...which to me has always been the most important thing. The most important thing that is, besides our Savior, Jesus Christ. For the first time, I had no distractions. I had a blank, defined view of the Reason for this season. With that, I was able to see clearly that in this "season" which is usually the darkest time of year, we have something or rather, Someone who makes it the brightest time of the year. Our Savior. We turned outward, instead of in. We reach out to those in more need than ourselves, and with that, were truly able to feel the joy that can come from Christmas. The joy that could have been all these years past, which I had never realized was so easily attainable...I guess I just wasn't looking hard enough...or maybe I just wasn't a missionary, haha. Either way, it was certainly one to remember. I hope yours was too.

I am closing this email early (Hermana Clement and I got caught up in a good conversation with this guy in the library who just needed a few listening ears. It was worth it. I hope you can all understand).

Check out this cool Mormon Message for the New Year--Can you believe 2014 is already upon us??? I can't. Well just remember to "Never Look Back":

Love you! Love you! Love you!

Hermana Graff


1. Fruity fun :) ...I may have gotten a little carried away.

2. Needless to say, my companion was a little scared to go to sleep that night.

3. Frosty!!

4. Jus' makin' a lil' magic with the neighborhood kids :)

5. Guess who...
6. Hallway fun before Christmas Eve dinner.
7. Look! Even in DC, Santa puts round fruit in the toe of my stocking. Never gotten a GRAPEFRUIT before... :) He's so original!
8. Little Sister Rowley. She was trying so hard to be strong, but then just couldn't keep the tears in any longer. This is her second transfer.
9. He CAME!!
10. Lights! Camera! TESTIFY!!
11. What happens when you leave you coat lying around in the VC..