Monday, August 26, 2013

August 20th, 2013

Hey surprise it's me! And I'm definitely being transferred. After 5 straight transfers in the same zone, I'm being moved.. Back to the city! I'm going to South Ogden to serve as a Zone Leader with Elder Kuczak. Which I am absolutely thrilled about. I've been in areas that are 80% farms for like 18 months out of my mission. And I'm being transferred back into the heart of Ogden - actually, we're going to be covering the stake where the mission office is. So I'll probably be spending a lot more time there! My companion is going to be awesome too.. My first one from outside of the country! I'm pretty sure he's from Ontario. Elder Sillito has been a super awesome companion and we've seen a lot of success. I've also had an absolute blast in Brigham City; the leadership, members, and missionary work here are all just incredible. It's going to take a lot to exceed or even match my experience here. I'm leaving behind 4 people with baptismal dates (again!) who I'm going to continue to pray for, but from what I have heard the South Ogden stake is booming right now. Fingers crossed! :)
Thank you all for your birthday wishes! I must admit, it doesn't feel a whole lot different to be 21 as compared to being 20. It also didn't feel too much like a birthday because I was in church all day. The one piece of birthday-glimpse that I saw was actually really funny. We've been teaching a family with 4 kids for a bit now and 3 of them are getting baptized on the 7th of September. They're all insanely ADHD and have struggles focusing in lessons. On Sunday we went over to their house for dinner and a lesson, and after dinner I whipped out the Despicable Me pinata! But.. Me being crafty, I wanted to keep all the candy to myself.. So I dumped out all the candy secretly beforehand and filled the pinata with breath mints and uncooked pasta. Much to the children's dismay as they destroyed the pinata, the minion was no longer filled with skittles and suckers, but NOODLES dropped to the ground. I was laughing my head off as they all called me a liar and said it was "the worst pinata ever!" ... But hey. I got it on video, so it was all worth it. I'm gonna miss their family a ton - we went with them over to Clarkston, Utah (a small town that was back in my area in Richmond) to go see the Martin Harris pageant. I'm seriously going to try my hardest to go back to Brigham to see the baptism in 3 weeks. It's always really hard to leave an area especially when you find and teach so many people that you come to love so much. But change always leads to growth. :)

The facebook-ing is going really well. We're trying to get the members in the area involved more and more. If you've been reading my posts, I've been trying to share short, powerful testimonies with quotes and scriptures. We went to a sacrament meeting on Sunday and it was high council Sunday.. And when the high councilman got up he told everyone how much good Elder Sillito and I were doing teaching online. He then read 3 of our posts that we've put up. Member trust through the roof? You bet! :) Another funny thing that happened all day Sunday was that people were wishing me a happy birthday. And I couldn't figure out how they knew.. Until I realized that I was facebook friends with like, everyone in the ward. I thought it was pretty funny. It's been a bit of a slower week for teaching other than that - we've been trying to set up the area for transfers and have spent more time solidifying appointments and building relationships with members than trying to find new people. We've been getting a lot more referrals lately though so my replacement will have plenty of things to do. A member in our area took us to the top of Willard Peak on a Jeep ride last week - definitely going to have to take dad there in my Jeep some day! On the way up the super sketchy rocky trail we passed a guy driving a Mustang convertible.. And we asked him why he was driving such a nice car. His response? "Two word.. Rental car." Hahaha! This is why I would never want to own a rental car business. People take 'creative liberties' and act stupid because it's not their car. Actually, that's probably how the church feels about missionaries driving church vehicles, come to think of it.. Oops. :)

Mom - Thanks for updating the blog! I guess people actually still read it and follow it. And thanks for the birthday package. I've already eaten all of the fruit snacks, needless to say. We ate at HuHot last week with 4 missionaries and someone walked up to us and dropped a $50 bill on the table. So I got to use the money you sent me to buy some new shorts, which I desperately needed. I discovered that I have a full thing of concerta left.. So that might last me until the end. You'd better hope so.. Otherwise my investigators might struggle! I can't believe Ryan kicked you out for his patriarchal blessing.. What a scrub! I'm so glad that he's finally choosing to progress though. Lots of prayers! So my laptop finally died? I'm going to have to make sure I get all of the music and stuff off of it. Can't afford to lose all of that! It's so weird to think that I'm almost 2 years behind in music releases.. Especially since I dumped my iPod over a year ago. Blessings for sacrifice!

Dad - What a long e-mail this week! Tell Evan that I'm glad he remembered my birthday. :) Don't even get me thinking about President Faldmo being released! I'm about to freak out! It's also super strange to think that Zack Kelly is getting married soon.. And that Matt & Kim are going to the temple! I'll try to be there in Spirit. So you weren't too keen with your experience with the .50 cal? I'll have you know that they're not that scary. I know that because of my Call of Duty days. I actually pulled off a lot of kills shooting that gun from the hip while doing 720's off of the roof of a building. And you try and tell me it's not realistic... Hahaha :) Am I going to get the Jeep back? I guess if Ryan's going to be taking off then I'll take it back again. I hope I don't get any of the fun back problems you and Ryan got. I was at the trampoline park last week and did 3 backflips in a row before I botched my landing and hit the springs on my back.. And that was my first thought. I don't want arthritis! We led the zone in lessons online and in person this week again. Hopefully the South Ogden zone is a wee bit more motivated.. Maybe in a perfect world! :)

I love you all so much! This is the most excited I have ever been to be transferred to another area. This is basically my dream area with an awesome companion... The perfect way to finish my last 3 months as strong as I can. When I talked to Elder Kuczak at the leadership training yesterday he told me that the area is on the verge of exploding. More on that next Tuesday. Thanks for all of your prayers and love. You're the best. :)

- Elder Tyler Grant

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 13th, 2013

I can't believe it's been a week already.. So strange!
This past week has been pretty amazing. T. got baptized on Saturday and that was a huge miracle. She's been struggling for a long time and has finally taken the necessary steps to seek God in her challenges. I'm super excited for her and so is the ward. Her sister said one of the prayers at her baptism and she's not a member. It was pretty funny leading up to it because when we were trying to sort out the baptismal program her sister wanted to sing a song at the baptism. And the song she wanted to sing was by Pink. We told her it might not be the most appropriate song haha. So when they were looking through the hymnbook for songs for the program, they picked the 3 songs that they knew: Joy to the World, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and the Star Spangled Banner. Luckily, we talked them out of those 3 songs and picked a few more that were baptismal appropriate. I got to be the one who confirmed her on Sunday. And then we spoke in their ward, and .. Wait for it .. I performed a special musical number! I played my own arrangement of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" on the piano, and I'm super glad that I did. I've never used that talent before, but right after I spoke and then played the Spirit was SUPER strong. I'm pretty sure I've told you - I've been practicing playing songs by ear, and it's getting easier and easier. Actually when I got up and played I just made it up on the spot, which was risky, but it turned out awesomely.
So to get to your other questions, YES I'm on Facebook now! And it's been amazing, and super hard. I've never been one to think about family or friends so I haven't let that distract me. But when they invited us to start teaching them and diving right back into the middle of it all, I'm not going to lie.. It's been harder to focus for the last week than I've ever had before. But let me tell you.. It's working. I've taught 9 lessons on Facebook so far to friends and I've set the grounds to start teaching several more. I've been INCREDIBLY amazed at how willing people have been to hear me out, and I'm grateful for all of them who have listened and shared their experiences with me. I realized that I literally knew nothing about what any of my friends believed, and it's been cool to get on that level with them and talk about God and prayer and other Gospel topics. I got up in 3 sacrament meetings on Sunday and announced it to the wards that they need to become friends with the missionaries on Facebook.. And we're doing our best to encourage member missionary work within the area. But at this point, all of my successes have been in Storm Lake! Shocking, right? :)
Other than that, we haven't spent quite as much time with the investigators in our area this week. It's been one of the busiest weeks of my mission with planning and giving trainings, a busy week to be a zone leader! It's also funny how some people catch on to it a lot faster.. There are 8 companionships in our zone, and in the first week Elder Sillito and I taught 18 lessons on Facebook. And the other 7 companionships taught 4 lessons.. Combined. Haha so it's gonna take work! But this is truly opening the world to missionary work. I AM allowed to chat with you guys, but only about how to better do missionary work - either online or in person. I can encourage you to invite people to take the lessons.. Or I can talk to you about asking someone to ask me questions online. Did you know that 70% of the world is introverted? That is, they're not always super excited to talk to missionaries when they come knock at the door, but they're MUCH more comfortable asking questions over a computer screen! I've definitely seen that to be the case so far. I'm amazed at how open people have been with me and accepting of what I'm doing as a missionary. It's been a huge blessing because I don't feel like I really told anyone what I was going to be doing, and now I can 'prepare' them for my arrival by letting them know what's been going on! I've also invited like, 20 people to come hear me talk in church the Sunday I get home. Planting seeds! :)
Mom - Sorry to freak you out by being online all the time. It's been insanely weird for me too, and I've been thinking about home a lot more, but I think the transition is going to be a lot easier because now I'm telling people what I've been doing so they won't be super weirded out by me when I get back. I got the birthday package! Thank you! I'm going to HuHot today to celebrate. :) I still can't believe I'm almost 21. I messaged Ryan on Facebook the other day.. Didn't get too huge of a response from him. Maybe next time. How have you liked the posts I've put up so far? I'm trying to keep them brief, and full of testimony.. And not too preach-y either. But hey. If people get turned off by it, I'm going to be a regular person before too long, and they'll just have to get over it.

Dad - How come the stake never did fun activities when I was in Young Men's? All they ever invited me to was service. No wonder I didn't want to go! That sounds like it was a blast. Hope you took some great pictures. I almost went golfing today, but the guy had a scheduling conflict and couldn't take us. No doubt you will stomp me when I return. It seems like you guys have spent a lot of time in Nova Scotia lately! I miss that place.. And I miss all the people from there too. Wish Papa a Happy Birthday when it comes. I'm also super glad Ashley Faldmo decided to go on a mission - that's so awesome! I really hope President Faldmo doesn't get released in the next 3 months. I'd much rather have an interview with him than some stranger!
If you guys have questions about Facebook missionary-ing, then don't hesitate to ask me! Just know that it's going really REALLY well, and I'm enjoying it. You'd never believe who's been receptive to the Gospel. It's been a huge testimony builder to me that we can share the Gospel in a non-intrusive way and just because we think someone isn't prepared, doesn't mean that God hasn't softened their hearts and allowed the Spirit to touch them. The devil has been using the internet for a long time, it's time that we step in and take over! :)

- Elder Tyler Grant

August 6th, 2013

Well.. I guess Mom doesn't have to struggle anymore to run my account.. Because..

Our mission is now a Facebook proselyting mission!

We just had a training yesterday from the mission department and they announced the change. We are now authorized to use Facebook for ONLY proselyting uses. Not for chatting or catching up with people, but to answer questions, teach lessons, and reach out to the world. It was insanely cool when they presented it. They used the scripture Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Think about it. We may not physically have missionaries in every country, but we're now permitted to teach ANYONE over Facebook. Any friends, family, or basically anyone who is less-active or not a member of the church, we're allowed to teach them either over chat or over Skype. We can also communicate with any members of the church and teach them how to use the internet as a testimony-sharing tool that it truly can become. They gave us the statistic that if you put up ONE Mormon message/scripture/something.. And that is seen and liked by your friends list, it will reach out to approximately 153,000 people. That is a LOT of seeds. And as the scripture says, the Gospel can now be preached to - wait for it - ALL the world! It's going to take a bit of adjusting (I already had to go through and "hide" a bunch of things on my Facebook) and preparation, but once this whole thing gets rolling it's going to be unstoppable. We're going to start adding almost everyone in our area - especially working through the youth to reach out and teach more people. We're supposed to add all of our bishops, ward mission leaders, stake presidency, and anyone who we can share messages with to help encourage them to share the Gospel. It's a pretty radical change, but it's definitely the epitome of the Lord hastening his work. With a little bit of preparation and work, I can start teaching some of my friends (if they WANT to!) and even some family! :)

So along with that huge announcement, we just had another baptism last weekend for a kid named Kaleb. He's literally a spiritual giant, especially for his age. He's so in tune with the spirit, and is pushing his entire family back into activity. We've been working with their family for a while now, and this was a huge step for all of them. He was baptized by his grandpa and confirmed by his uncle. I was so excited for them. We have another baptism coming up this Saturday for a girl who has been taught by the missionaries for over a year now. She's been through a ton, and has always just had ONE thing in the way of her getting baptized. She's had several experiences that have humbled her lately, and have led her to act. She's quit smoking and has finished off her legal issues, and is now getting baptized! I'm SUPER pumped for that one. Definitely going to have to keep her in my prayers to make sure everything goes smoothly with her. She needs the Gospel so badly and she knows it. Especially because lately she's been reading the Book of Mormon and is seeking that forgiveness from her Heavenly Father. Everything is falling into place with so many of our investigators, and I know the Lord is blessing us for all the work we have done for these people. We're looking to be the only companionship in the zone who reaches their baptismal goal-set-in-faith from the beginning, and we might exceed it too. We picked up another baptismal date last Tuesday which is looking promising to go through next Saturday. I love Brigham City! We also broke our record for lessons in a week, and with Facebook we're going to be able to teach even more. I'm determined to finish strong!

Mom - 1200 people in sacrament is insane. As soon as I saw that I knew it had to be pageant season. I imagine that the passing of the sacrament took a little while! Have you heard anything on BYU? I guess it'll take time. I'm glad Evan is in band again and Ryan is progressing! Are you excited to do the Book of Mormon for seminary this year or what? The people we invited to church that came were in 4 different wards, so we did a lot of hopping that Sunday. As for advice, the repentance process has to begin with understanding. It also has to originate within. If someone is going to change and become better, they have to understand why it's important and have the desire to do so. That's probably why I was so stubborn for some time in my life, not recognizing the will of God for me and what I needed to do to repair the damage I didn't know had been done. I'll try and write nanny a letter this week. I have been meaning to send a package home. So when I do I'll send some spare meds and things.. Pretty sure I'm good on concerta. Well.. Maybe I'm not. Maybe more would be good.

Dad - The weather here has been awesome too! Actually one thing that I'm definitely not going to miss about Utah is having dinner with people. Because the one thing that I'm 100% sure that they'll bring up every single dinner is the weather. I've never had so many conversations about humidity in my life. And I've never desired to either! I've heard of Ephraim's rescue and was aware that it's playing here in theaters. That's just another "welcome to Utah" thing. Just like the "LDS Books" section at Wal-Mart. We haven't been able to go though.. Mostly because it's in theaters and it's ill-advised to do so. Pretty sure we're gonna drop the "saved by grace" guy.. Because he just keeps arguing and he's totally closed off to everything. Especially the Spirit. Glad that that stupid system of wires is finally gone from the basement. That was so overwhelmingly confusing that it was never worth trying to watch TV. And the southern baptist lady has been to church for the last 3 weeks and has started doing her family history! AND she's going to start going to ward activities and things! She's definitely opening up a lot. :)

I love you guys! If you see me on Facebook then share and re-link the posts to other pages. Spread the word! Thanks for all you've done for me, and continue to do for me.


- Elder Tyler Grant

July 30th, 2013

I've already been at the computer for like, an hour and a half sending pictures and writing essays.. But here I am resolve firm as ever, and admittedly fading.. But I shall write you a letter nonetheless!
This past week has just been amazing. I sent a picture of the two baptisms we had last Saturday. This is the family that we found (miracle!) about a month ago and we've been teaching them consistently since then. The parents are working towards being baptized but it's going to be more long-term, and they were in full support of the two boys being baptized. Elder Sillito and I were privileged to be able to baptize them. There was a super good turnout from the ward at the baptism and we even had one of our supposed 'less promising' investigators come and see it. As a result of the baptism, she had such a good experience that she came to church for the first time in like 6 months, and accepted a baptismal date for August 10th! We have another baptism coming up this Saturday for a kid we've been teaching since I got to the area. Have I ever told you guys that I love this stake? The biggest miracle of them all is that, and I'm sure Dad can attest to this, we've been having a really hard time getting people to come to church. Usually we'll invite 8 or 9 people to church and 2 or 3 will show up. But this past Sunday, 8 of the 9 non-members that we invited to church totally came! Literally everything is falling into place perfectly, and I know that God is behind it.  I am seriously SO grateful that I was called to this mission. I'm sure many people laughed, as I did, when I got called here.. But the work in the Utah Ogden mission is incredible. Elder Russell M. Nelson said that Utah is the center of the church, and as such should lead the church in baptisms, activation, and retention. We're giving it our best shot!
There's a  non-member lady that we picked up last week who was a media referral.. And honestly when we got the referral we were less than excited. It was a lady asking for her bishop's information so she could get help through some hard financial times, and we assumed she was a less-active member of the church. When we went and visited her she turned out to not be a member after all. Not only that, but she has been reading Gerald Lund books about pioneer history and wants to do her family history. We invited her to church and she came, we presumed just to meet with the bishop.. We taught her the Restoration the next day and she felt the Spirit, but when we invited her to be baptized she was frightened. Afraid we had lost her, we showed up at church the next week, not expecting her to have come, and there she was! Not only that, but guess what the two talks in church were on? The first one was on pioneer history.. And the second one was on genealogy work. Don't you love it when God answers prayers? We taught her again yesterday and she has been reading the Book of Mormon. We taught about the Atonement and again invited her to be baptized.. And, she turned us down, but she's understanding more and more. The part that's bugging me is that she IS feeling the Spirit, and she KNOWS it's true, and she's fighting it! Haha.. She's a southern Baptist lady, so I guess you can't blame her for being a wee bit stubborn. :) When we taught her we felt prompted to tell her that her family who had already passed away was waiting for her to do their temple work, and that hit her pretty hard. We're meeting with her at the Family History Center here in Brigham on Thursday, and she's progressing super well. I can definitely say that she is one of the tender mercies of the Lord that he's blessed us with for working diligently. This has already been one of my most memorable transfers of my mission, and it's only halfway through. I dread the day that they transfer me out of Brigham West. We're praying in faith that we will reach our baptismal goal, and with a little extra effort, it looks like it's totally gonna happen. :)
Mom - I definitely got my box of chips on Saturday! And I've already eaten two of the bags. Hold me back!! I believe that all of the BYU information is in and processing, but you might want to double check. Am I going to be rooming with Andrew or what? :P I'm glad Ryan went to church again and is looking into a Patriarchal blessing. That will definitely help. Is Nanny really going through a divorce? Yikes. Maybe I'll have to try and shoot her a letter. I've got a full two transfers and 3 weeks before my release date. Still plenty of time to do lots of good things! You're allowed to come out to Utah for weddings and stuff. It's not like I'm everywhere in Utah at once!

Dad - I did get your real letter and it was much appreciated. The more I think about it the more I realize you're probably in much better shape than me. All those hiking trips would probably get the best of me. I'm sure you will have plenty of pictures to share with me. I just burned a bunch of pictures onto CDs and will be sending them home within the next couple of days. I used the doctrine in the talk you sent me about grace in a lesson on Sunday, and the guy was pretty much bashing with us about grace.. I hate people like that. He's literally not open to the Spirit and not open to learning. But at the very least, my understanding of grace makes a lot more sense.
I can't tell how long this e-mail is, as I'm on a different computer than I am accustomed to and I'm unsure of the length. If it's not up to par, I'll try harder next week. My brain is just fried from all of the essay writing and responding I've had to do. I'll send pictures of this Saturday's baptism next week, and hopefully one or two more in the weeks to come. I love you guys. Thanks for all your love. :)

- Elder Tyler Grant

July 23rd, 2013

Thanks for all your continued letters regardless of how boring you all may think they are. They're still a strength and support to me when I forget what the real world is like... As scary as that is sometimes!
We picked up 5 new investigators last week and committed them all to baptism. I don't know if I can truly say it enough - there are definitely miracles happening here. And while not all of them committed to a specific date, we've been able to introduce them to the Spirit and our purpose as missionaries. That's one thing that I think I've gained the greatest testimony of... When we teach and testify to people, we have to be fearless. Elder Sillito and I have continually been building a testimony of teaching simply and directly by the Spirit. When we first set up a lesson with somebody, the very first thing that we tell them is that we're representatives of Jesus Christ and we're here to help them come closer to him, and we tell them in the first two minutes that at the end of the lesson we will invite them to be baptized. At that point they know why we're there and there are no secrets and no hidden agenda; because then we tell them that it is not us who will reveal to them the truth of our message, but the feelings of the Holy Ghost testifying that God is telling them it's true. We invite them conditionally at the beginning: "When you feel these feelings tonight, would you take that as your answer that God is telling you that this path is right, and baptism is the next step you need to take?" And then we teach them. MANY times missionaries are afraid to teach about baptism right away because it's "too big of a commitment" or "they're not ready." Well of course they're not ready right then! We don't invite them to sign their life away to baptism when we first meet them. We teach the doctrine of baptism and the covenant/commitment that it is, also testifying of the multitude of blessings that are attached, and we invite them to seek out their Heavenly Father in diligent prayer, scripture study, and church attendance in faith that he WILL prepare them to be baptized... IF it is right. How will they know? The undeniable feelings of the Spirit in their hearts. It's amazing to me how much simpler the doctrines of the Gospel and of missionary work become after teaching so many people and being so blessed to have my understanding accelerated by the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I know there's no way that we could be changing people's lives on our own. I always tell people that I'm not a perfect teacher and that I wasn't raised in a monastery.. But that I do know one thing; and that is that God will guide them to what is right. I've been continually amazed at the preparedness of the people that we teach and the willingness that they have to accept baptism from the very beginning. Far too many times missionaries treat baptism like it's something that's scary and impossible to reach. However when we don't invite people we are failing them as representatives of Christ and not living up to the call that we already accepted. To some degree or another we also need to live up to this commission as members of the church. We are not called to proselyte or teach people lesson by lesson, but when we were baptized we accepted the responsibility to "stand as a witness of God" in whatever place we may be in. We may not baptize every single person that we teach or come in contact with, but we sure are going to give it our best shot. As Christ taught - "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he CANNOT enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). So it is not just joining another church. It is entering a necessary gateway into God's kingdom; the ONLY gateway that will get them there. So as
We're going to have 2 baptisms this Saturday. Remember that non-member family that we found out in Corinne? The parents are going to take a while to get baptized because they still need to get married and work through a couple other things.. But they're completely supportive of their two sons getting baptized, and they're ready, so we're going to do it! I'm still SO amazed at how prepared their family is. Their mom is reading the Book of Mormon faithfully and has been praying several times a day. Both of their sons have been giving the prayers at the lessons and are actively involved in their ward in Young Men's and scouts. The boys asked us to baptize them, so I'll be sure to send pictures next week. Actually, it's about time I burn a few more CD's and send them home.. My camera is just about full. I've been doing pretty well at taking pictures, not gonna lie! But anyways - I'm so excited for this step they're taking. The Gospel is exactly what this family needs right now, and they've seen it beginning to help them. It's gotten to the point where it's not "Hey I'm having a baptism!" so much as I feel like "Two more people are taking the first step to eternal life!" Sounds lame, but it's totally true. The Gospel has the power to heal people and mend families and as a missionary we are so blessed to be a part of that. We set a baptismal goal in faith at the beginning of the transfer, and we're working super hard to help all of those people who we planned to teach and baptize within the coming weeks to get there.
We taught the other family that we found who have been coming faithfully to church. We taught them the first time last Wednesday and found out for sure that none of their kids were baptized. The parents' concern was that they didn't want to get the children baptized until they were ready instead of forcing them into it; and that they don't understand why baptism is important. So we told them that our purpose as missionaries is, once again, to invite people to prepare to be baptized, and though they may not start out with faith, Alma 32:27 says "even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." Desire to believe is enough to develop faith, which leads to a testimony. On Sunday we taught the family about the Restoration, teaching the same thing I shared at the beginning of this letter about the Spirit testifying of truth.. And after the lesson they all felt the Spirit and we invited them to be baptized. And they all said yes! Except their family is coming up from Arizona in September for the baptism, so if I get transferred then I'll miss it by two weeks. But regardless, 3 more of Heavenly Father's children will be entering that gate which leaders to the path to eternity. How amazing is that? :)

Mom - Bring on the chips! I'm currently chatting with Evan right now and he seems to be in good spirits. Ryan not so much, huh? Maybe he hates me. I hope not! We had a huge zone family home evening at the Gibbs' last night so yes, I HAVE seen my Garland mom! I love them so much. Haven't seen the White's since mother's day. Their son got home a few months ago and I haven't seen them since then. We've been insanely busy in Brigham! Is that really all that bad of an excuse? :) Elder LaFond's companion is almost back to full activity. Jacob's not enjoying the MTC huh? I think a lot of Elders (myself included) started to get a bit stir-crazy in there, so that might have led to some supposed irreverence. He'll do well with a positive attitude though. I'm afraid lots of my t-shirts might not fit anymore when I come home. Small shirts just turn out to be skin-tight with this new Utah tummy that I have... And I'm afraid there are no fears of planning a wedding anytime soon. Unless you've got someone in mind? :) Bahaha..

Dad - Haven't gotten the apology letter yet, but I'm sure it's on the way. You served in the Osaka mission, right? I met a guy who served in a Japan mission the other day but couldn't remember which one. So that's probably a stretch. We ate dinner with a family the other day and the mom was from Spencer Iowa and knew Mike Olson! I don't remember her maiden name. She said she went a few times back when he was in the Spencer Branch. Small world? Yet another backpacking trip without me.. Ugh. Still waiting on the green light to go to Zion's! As far as helping the missionaries out, I'm still not entirely sure where the best place to start is. It's pretty easy to see my side of it right now, but in Utah everyone has exposure to the church so it needs to be worked a little bit differently. I would say to take up the challenge in Alma 6:6 - "fast and pray on behalf of the souls who know not God," and pray for the courage to seize opportunities to share the Gospel when they come. I think I'm going to work harder on just inviting people to come out to church. Or branch activities. Since, in reality, that's what all of those things are for! As a ZL we have to prepare trainings on teaching skills, finding, doctrine, basically anything we feel the zone is struggling with at the time. We've been doing a lot with teaching skills because sadly, the level of teaching seems to have slipped across the mission and as a result baptisms have dropped. And the only thing you can do to help me with my work is just keep doing what you're doing. Keep being Dad. Keep magnifying your callings. Be nice to Ryan every once in a while. And if you have time, keep praying. It all adds up. :)
I love you guys! This week has been amazing and it's going to keep getting better. The Brigham West stake is blowing up right now... It's nice to be able to see some of the fruits of your labors every once in a while. Especially because looking at the areas I've been in, I've left behind almost 20 people who got baptized after I was transferred out. But that's not what's important. What's important is giving our all to Jesus Christ and doing everything we can to hasten this work. Because it's true, isn't it? That should be motivation enough. :)

- Elder Tyler Grant

July 21st, 2013

Hey everyone! Hope Canada is wonderful - I'm not sure how long everyone was staying there, but I presume if you're all still there then all is well!

This past week has been another awesome building week. We're re-committing a lot of people who we had picked up to baptismal dates, and they're looking a lot more solid now. Not all 8 of them, but we've got 2 if not 3 right now who are progressing perfectly along towards their baptismal date. There are a ton of things going on right now, and we're going through again and tracting out all of the apartment complexes in the area to try and find those who might have slipped through the cracks. We're going to commit one more person to baptism tonight and two more tomorrow. Keep on praying for miracles! Because they're definitely happening right now!
There's a family that we just met who is amazing. They're one who has just resurfaced from all of the new Ward Mission Leaders and stake leaders being shifted around so much lately. They just moved into the ward a month ago from somewhere in the Ogden area, and they're here to make a fresh start. Both of the parents are members and have firm testimonies of the Gospel, but where they've lived for the past 6 years has just had them completely down. The ward was cold and uninviting to them, the bishop basically ran them out of church one day, and no one came and visited them. They have been waiting for the opportunity to move to a new area and start anew, and they just moved to Brigham and have been to church every week since they moved in. Since they have been less-active for 6 years, they have 3 children who are baptismal age that have never been baptized, and we're going to start teaching them on Wednesday. It's just amazing when we take a step back and look at just how the Lord prepares people to receive the Gospel. This was a family who was longing to come back, but didn't feel that they could because of the attitudes and actions of others. And now because of the examples, love, and fellowship of the ward around them they're coming back full-force into activity and they're loving it. Isn't it crazy how much of an impact we have on other people's salvation? That reminds me of something Elder D. Todd Christofferson told us when we were in the MTC. "This is the Lord's work.. It is astonishing how privileged we are that he even LETS us be a part of it." As missionaries and members of Christ's church, we have a remarkable impact - for good or bad - on the strengthening and supporting of God's children all around us. Shouldn't that be viewed as a privilege? That God entrusts us with just a little piece of "His work and His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" should be viewed as an amazing blessing and opportunity to serve and to love.
As for my new companion, Elder Sillito is just awesome. He works super hard, he's super hilarious, and he loves everyone that we meet. Have I mentioned how great it is to have zone leader caliber companions for once? :) We've been working really hard to build up the zone unity as well as keep the focus on our teaching pool, and we're definitely being blessed for it. Oh - I guess I haven't told you yet.. Elder LaFond's new companion is from Australia and he's SUPER foreign.. Straight off the boat! Hahaha.. Well.. Funny story. He came to District Leader Training meeting Friday morning complaining of sharp stomach pain, and they went to the hospital and he definitely had appendicitis. Welcome to America! 2nd full day in the mission field and he had to go into surgery and have his appendix out. So we spent all day Friday in the hospital and running back and forth grabbing his stuff. He's recovering now, and he's doing well. We decided that it was a curse from God that Elders weren't supposed to go into Malad and that the sisters were supposed to stay there.. Or maybe not. :P The zone is doing okay - we had a really good zone study on Thursday and set a bunch of transfer and zone goals.. I love being a zone leader. It's definitely a lot of work, but you get a lot out of it and there's a lot of satisfaction to be had by helping and serving and teaching other missionaries. I really hope I get to stay a zone leader until the end. A lot of missionaries want to finish off by training a new missionary, but I think I'll pass on that one.. I don't think I could handle a C. Part Two.
The first week of the transfer is always the slowest because of how many meetings and trainings we have to plan for and attend. We've got zone conference on Thursday and I think after that we'll be free to work our area and devote more time and attention to our investigators... They're gonna need it! We've set our baptismal goal for the transfer, and we're hoping to even exceed it with all the amazing things that are happening. Have I told you that the Brigham West Stake is amazing? I sure hope I have. It's definitely been the highlight of my mission so far, and I hope and pray it only goes ever upward from here. Elder Sillito and I are teaching well together and are developing a lot of good relationships with the leaders and investigators, and I'm glad I have a companion once more that I can rely on to have my back if I ever get stumped!
Mom - Jacob Olson totally left, huh? I can't believe there are so many missionaries leaving from our stake! And people that I know! I just found out that Caroline Luebbert has been in St. George for 3 months, and that Ashley Faldmo is leaving soon, and Eva Claren now has her call, and now Chelsea Fraser? AND Matt Kelly? Ryan's next! Hahaha. I got your letter with the article of Steph Emery's wedding. The world really does keep moving along. How did Evan do on the trip? Did he mostly just keep to himself in the basement and play Pokemon? :) Don't you miss the smell of the Halifax Harbor?
Dad - No letter from you this week, but I assume it's because of vacation/hospital rounds/all the ailments of life.. Or something like that. I'm over it. Hope you had a good vacation. :)
Love you guys! I'd write more but.. I can't. I'll have lots more to say next week when we're planning for all of our potential baptisms. It's going to be a sick transfer!
- Elder Tyler Grant

July 21st, 2013

Who's ready for it... I'm staying!

 My next companion is going to be Elder Sillito from Florida - and I have never served around him before. I've only heard great things about him though and I'm pretty excited. Elder LaFond will be leaving me! Sort of! He's doing the same thing that I did. He's going to be transferred within the zone so I'll still have him around haha. He's going to whitewash-DL-train in Malad Idaho, which has been a sister missionary area for like, 3+ years. He's pretty pumped to be the only Elder in the whole mission who has served in Malad, and it seems like it's a really good area. As far as transfers go, our zone kind of got re-hammered. A couple missionaries went home, one of them thankfully so.. ON the bright side we're keeping Elder LaFond and we're getting a German missionary who is possibly the most obedient missionary I've ever seen. And a mix of others.. Bring it on! God help us. :)

For the record, because mom asked, My companions and areas/stakes have been:

Transfer 1: Elder Scoggin (Tremonton South & Tremonton West)
Transfer 2: Elder Hall (Tremonton South & Tremonton West)
Transfer 3: Elder Billmire (Afton Wyoming)
Transfer 4: Elder Billmire (Afton Wyoming)
Transfer 5: Elder Daly (Ogden Mount Lewis)
Transfer 6: Elder Stewart (Ogden Mount Lewis)
Transfer 7: Elder Cox (Richmond & Benson & Smithfield North)
Transfer 8: Elder Bengtson (Richmond & Benson & Smithfield North)
Transfer 9: Elder Bengtson (Richmond & Smithfield North & Smithfield YSA)
Transfer 10: Elder Clarke (Richmond & Smithfield North & Smithfield YSA)
Transfer 11: Elder Sherman (Garland)
Transfer 12: Elder Curtis (Garland)
Transfer 13: Elder LaFond (Brigham West)
Transfer 14: Elder LaFond & Elder J. (Brigham West)
Transfer 15: Elder Sillito (Brigham West)

Can you believe all of that time has passed already? It's seriously starting to freak me out. Not to the point where it's affecting my work or my attitude, it's just blurring together the more and more I think about it. 4 months from tomorrow and I will be finished, and it really pains me to even think about it. I've got 3 transfers left and I'm going to flip on the afterburners and kick it into gear. I'm really glad that I've been able to serve with Elder LaFond in Brigham for the past 3 months - it has been quite possibly the best time of my mission so far, and it's only looking to get better. I'm studying, praying, and working harder than I have, and I hope I can keep it up exponentially. I've had my challenges with companions, leaders, areas, and sometimes even with my own spiritual welfare. But right now I feel stable, supported, and firm in my determination and faith. We've got a fairly large teaching pool built up right now and we're expecting miracles this next transfer. I continue to rely on the Lord's promises that he has given me with being literally set apart from the world with the mantle and calling from a prophet upon my shoulders. This stake is amazing and I'm not going to be the missionary who lets all the work fizzle out here. I think the greatest and most striking contrast that I have seen in myself is my motives and my understanding of my calling. I've studied a lot lately on a few things that Elder Bednar teaches about understanding the "why" behind things. Many times as missionaries and in the church, all of the vision and the focus is on the "how" - or the application. But if people truly understood the "why" - or the doctrine - behind the Gospel and the weight and magnitude of the eternal truths that we hold, there would be no need to constantly tell people to go do their home teaching or pay their tithing or anything like that. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, "There are no such things as less-active members of the church. Just people who don't understand." If people TRULY understood the doctrine - not the application/going through the motions - of going to church, then they would never miss a Sunday. If missionaries truly understood the mantle, calling, and covenants under which we are placed, there would be no disobedience, lack of motivation, or lack of perseverance in teaching and contacting people. There would be no fear. The truth and the doctrine behind it all is that this is not just another church formed in these times. This is not Joseph Smith's church. This is truly God's true church on the earth as restored through prophets in these days. Jesus Christ is at the head of this work, and through his Atonement and example lie all the stepping stones and ordinances necessary for salvation and eternal joy in the life to come. I feel like I'm finally starting to understand and internalize the "why," and it's making all of the difference.

As far as teaching goes, we've made an increased effort to reach out to a lot of the less-active and returning members who are on their journey home; focusing not just on baptisms but on helping others access the Atonement more fully through ordinances. Whether that be the sacrament, the priesthood, or the blessings of the temple. We've found a lot of families lately who have extremely large potential to return to full activity in the church, and some of them have youth who have not been baptized yet. For example in one of our wards we had a ward mission leader who was not doing.. Well.. Basically anything at all. We talked to the stake president and he was released, and a new one has been called in his place. We've worked with him and made visits he's asked us to, and as a result we've found 6 families in his ward with non-members in the home that we didn't know existed. Members play such a pivotal role in missionary work, and that's why I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing leadership here in the Brigham West Stake. People here just honestly get it. I'm curious to see how the principles from the broadcast have affected the missionary work back in Iowa. My perspective has been changed completely, and while I'm aware that I won't be able to come home in full blown "convert-the-world" mode and be successful, I know I'm definitely going to increase my efforts to assist the missionary work wherever I stand.

Mom - Happy Canada Day and Independence Day! My 4th of July was pretty awesome. It has been very difficult to catch people home for the holiday, but now that it's over with we have people coming back to us again. We spent the evening at a member family's home and watched the big fireworks show from their driveway. Nothing like the Storm Lake show over the lake, though! Anyone in Cole Harbour miss me? Hahaha I didn't think so. I don't know if I need anything from Canada. I can seriously never think of anything else. I can't believe it was like, over 100 degrees in Nova Scotia! The second coming must be close. Tell Papa that I love him and someday I will have to come and dominate him in pool! Probably not chess.. But definitely at pool! I think I"m still thinking Pharmacy at this point, but mostly only because I don't know anything else that strikes my fancy even more. :)

Dad - I definitely read through that talk, and it made a lot of sense. The comparison to taking piano lessons was brilliant. I think I'll definitely still be cautious in teaching people about explaining grace, however. We contacted a lady last week who asked us an odd question that made me think. She said "If you're standing at the gates of heaven and God asks you why he should let you in, what will you say?" I thought about it for a little bit, then bore my testimony to her about how I hope and pray that though I'm not perfect, I did all that my Heavenly Father asked me to do and that I made a difference in at least one other person's life in helping them return to him. She interrupted me and said "Nope! Wrong answer!" The correct answer? "Jesus." Accept Jesus. He gets all the credit. I almost laughed because she made it seem like heaven's gates just had a secret password. She was a super grace-y lady. But it's comforting to know that we don't see completely differently. That grace is definitely in play, but a lot of people just have a skewed view as to the magnitude of Christ's grace and the purpose of it. Anyways.. Thanks for sharing the talk, I will keep it on hand for future reference.

I wrote an extra-long letter for you guys this week because I felt that the past few were a little bit lackluster. I love you all and I love this work so much. I feel that it is truly changing me and inviting me closer and closer to my Savior. And my prayer is that we may be able to assist others to do the same. :)


- Elder Tyler Grant