Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 14, 2011

So far so great here in Nashville. It has been a busy, yet fulfilling time here. We got here on Wednesday afternoon and I was hungry so I paid for some food at a Popeye's chicken in the airport. But they were slow and right after we saw the mission president waving us towards the exit, so I had to leave without the food. I was thrilled to be able to donate $5 to their franchise... We went to the mission home after that though and had meatball sandwiches and were interviewed and it turned out great. Then I got assigned to be companions with Elder Clark. He is from the Seattle, WA area (Maple Valley) and has been out about 4 months. We have been assigned to labor in the Mt. Juliet area. This area has not had a designated set of missionaries for a while, but President McKee felt it would be good for us to start up again. Elder Clark is new to this area as well, and the old missionaries only had a couple of names to give us to start working with. That being said, we have spent much time trying to talk to members and develop relationships with them and we have also done a numbers of hours worth of tracting. Bike riding has been entertaining as well. Except the engineers here forgot to put sidewalks or even shoulders on many of the roads, so we had to ride in grass ditches and make dashes across the road to cross bridges and stuff. Too bad there are no videos available for you. It is amazing to see how many people in this area are church goers. Their faith in Christ is strong. Many are friendly, but pretty set in their established family traditions of religion.
Last night, we taught a 17 yr old girl named Sierra about the Restoration. It was my first time teaching this message and the Spirit was was strong. I am excited to hear how her prayers went when we visit her again this week. There is another girl that was taught by the old Elders, Jill, who is 16 that has a desire to be baptized already. She attends seminary and is doing "personal progress" with the young women at church. Right now we are planning on attending a talent show that she is in with her parents, so hopefully that will help. Both of these girls have parents that aren't supportive right now, but I have been praying for the Holy Ghost to touch their heart about the truth of the message as well.
When we left the mission office, we went straight to our apartment and had enough time to use the bathroom before a member came and picked us up to make some visits. No one answered, so he took us to his house and fed us because our stomachs were growling again. At the apartment, I slept on the floor the first night, since the old missionaries never bothered getting an apartment in their area. They are leaving next week, and have since given us the beds and they use the couches now. It has been fun getting to know two more missionaries who have been out for a while and gaining knowledge from them. Apparently word traveled quicker than me that I was a football player and other things... The first thing the missionaries and president asked about at the airport was about football. Same with my companion and the Elders in our apartment. I also am seeing how this is an easy way to break the ice with some of the members and other people in the area. Now I just have to learn how to bring it up in an easy way, because so many people down here love football and when they find out I had the opportunity to play in college, etc. they light up a bit.
I haven't received any mail since I have been here, so I don't have much to respond too. I feel the best way to do it is to simply have you send things to the address I sent last time, and then the mission home forwards it out when received. My companion gave his last apartment address to people and now has to wait for his mail to get there, then either to the mission office or wait for the Elders for forward it.
One of the things I marvel at is the Spirit of joy which I feel as we walk or ride places. Mainly we have walked, and sometimes about 45 minutes to get to the area we want. There is a car assigned to this area, but we have to share it with two other Elders. We will switch every week. I feel better about this coming week because we will obviously be able to cover more ground in less time with the car. The weather has been just about perfect the last few days. The trees have already lost most of their leaves, but the landscape is still beautiful. There are many small farms around. One lady we talked to last Thursday invited us to come fishin in her pond some time on a preparation day.
Apparently there is a member of the Quorom of the Seventy coming to our mission this week on Friday, so we will have to miss most of our labor that day. I'm sure it will be great to have the opportunity to be taught by him. I love the time we have alotted for personal and companion study. I feel I am learning great insights daily. I usually have an hour a day to study Portuguese while my companion simply does more personal study. I try to do all my personal prayers in Portuguese and this seems to help. Also, at times I will watch church films with portuguese audio and try to make sure I understand everything.
This email seems so much longer than the previous ones. We have an hour to write here in the field. We start off by writing our mission president. I think the four of us in our apartment are going to play some basketball this afternoon and do some grocery shopping and cleaning. The cupboards are a little bare and we have slim pickings for breakfast. Dry cereal is only so gratifying.
Well I love you all and look forward to hearing from your whenever that is. Know that I think and pray for you every single day and I am loving life down here. Thank you for your continued prayers, love and support.
With love and charity,
Elder Graziano

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