Monday, September 26, 2011

September 19, 2011

The last week has gone by very quickly. Portuguese has been getting better and better. The new teaching methods seem to be very effective in allowing missionaries to learn their language much quicker. Like I said last week, we had to teach someone our third day here and have had to every day since except for our Pday and Sunday. Those times really force us to pray hard, study up effectively on which part of the Gospel we want to teach, and most of all, rely on the Spirit to help us teach. I am excited to see Shanel when she comes on Wednesday and look forward to getting a picture with her and Elder Higbee before he takes off next week. I have been making good friends with many of the Elders I run into. I especially like our teachers. They are so passionate about their work and love us missionaries. They are all returned missionaries themselves, who have a great feel for the language, and were also excellent missionaries according to their mission presidents (basically those are their job qualifications). I ran into Celeste Yeung (now Sister Yeung) the other day - the sister of Nathan and Enoch. She said he is going to have a baby soon with his wife. She is heading to Taiwan. One of the Elders in my district received his visa this past week and is flying to the Sao Paulo MTC next week to finish his MTC experience. His paperwork went through the New York consolate, but I keep hearing that San Francisco is as good as any. Being Pday, we had the opportunity to go to the temple this morning. My companion participated in some of the sealings. A Sister missionary from Cambodia had brought in the names of her grandparents. The sealer was very in tune with the Holy Ghost and said some wonderful things about what was going on. One of his points that he emphasized was the fact that the temple work performed is in no way for the dead, just souls that are living in another place. As he talked about this and as other symolism was pointed out, the Holy Ghost touched me so deeply and undeniably about the reality of eternal marriages and reinforced how much I look forward to being married in that fashion some day. Very awesome stuff. How has Elder Harries been doing in North Carolina? Last Tuesday we had the opportunity to hear from Elder M. Russell Ballard. Hearing from an Apostle with so many hundreds of missionaries present was powerful. That is by and large a highlight of the MTC - the tuesday night devotionals and the sunday night firesides. We heard on Sunday from a district president here at the MTC. He served as a mission president in Brasil and showed some pictures of their car floating down the road because of rain. Apparently when it rains in Brasil, the water in the streets will rise to three or four feet because of the volume of water. I am excited to get down there and begin the next portion of this mission. I keep learning great principles about patience, loving others, and inviting others to be obedient to the will of God. As I listened to an address from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, he highlighted the fact that salvation isn't easy because the price paid by our Savior wasn't easy. One other great point was that we need to work hard enough and be dedicated enough to make the statement from Moses 1:39 a personal statement: "For behold, this is MY work and MY glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man". I am very grateful for the education I am receiving about what life really is like as a servant of the Lord. This past week I played soccer a few times in trying to be prepared for going to Brasil. There are some Elders here from Brasil, Africa, Korea, Mexico, and others that are very talented. All I can do is hustle and try to play defense for now. The closest I have come to scoring is about 30 feet over the goal. It might be a while before that changes. It has rained here a few times - about the equivalent of a year's worth in Nevada. Well, I look forward to informing you next week, but for now I love you all and am so grateful and humbled to have the privilege of wearing a name badge with our Savior's name on it. It is work, but very rewarding.
Elder Graziano

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