Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 27th, 2012

Hey everyone!

So... I had another "only in Utah moment" last week. It was pretty crazy - we've been told about a part-member family from Alaska who moved into the ward in early October. And they've been faithfully attending church every week, the husband is a member and the wife was supposedly a non-member. So when we got the green light to go visit them, we weren't sure what to expect. Especially because we had talked to some people in the ward about them and were shocked to find out that the wife, who was supposed to be a non-member, not only stays for all 3 hours of church but answers questions, takes notes in relief society, and volunteers for prayers. Uhhh... And when we visited them, she answered the door and invited us in. We got talking to them a little bit and she started telling us about how when she was in college in Washington she used to feed the missionaries all the time. And it didn't feel right to just ask her if she wasn't a member because she gave us exactly zero reasons to believe that she wasn't! It was so mind-blowing. We had to leave for another appointment, and we never got to ask. Luckily, they offered to feed us for dinner and that gave us another opportunity to just drop in on them, and only the wife was home. So we set up a dinner, and I just said "Okay.. One last thing, and you can call me crazy, but.. Are you a member?" Luckily, she wasn't even taken aback. She said that she wasn't, that she's been investigating for 2 years now and she'll probably get baptized soon. Yeah... It's those types of people that I'm convinced I wouldn't have met in any other mission. And they moved here from ALASKA! Haha what the heck?

Other than that, this past week has been another big week of just straight up following up on referrals. People really trust us here and we've just been doing all we can with the names that we've been given. Things continue to roll forward and upward. We've still got 2 baptisms rock solid for this Saturday. In terms of the rest of this transfer, I'm not sure how many baptisms we'll have.. But, at best, this area is now "set up" with a ton of potential investigators for months to come. We have over 20 people who COULD be baptized before the end of the transfer. And, whenever their situations click and they become available, they'll follow through very quickly. I'm just glad I got to stay for this 3rd transfer. I still know that I'm not going to be able to see all the work I've put into this area through. But I've felt over the past 3 weeks that there have been numerous situations where me knowing the area, bishops, ward mission leaders, and everything else has been accelerating the work. I don't know if I've told you this already.. The longer I'm out the more and MORE I realize that I've been blessed with an EXTREMELY good memory. I can tell you right now who all of our bishops and ward mission leaders are, which less actives and nonmembers live in each of their wards, who's fellow shipping them, and what their situation is. I can tell you the missionaries who have been in this area for the last 2 years and which members liked which missionaries and who had success and who didn't take it seriously. I can tell you all of the recent converts for the 3 stakes for the last year and which missionaries were there when they were baptized. I don't make a point to memorize all this information - it just.. Sticks. I don't know why. Other Elders as well as ward mission leaders keep pointing it out. There have been countless times when a ward mission leader starts to talk about a person who the ward is working with and it just pops into my head the name of who they're talking about, which I had read from an ancient teaching record from 3 or 4 years before. It makes me think that that is one of the reasons why I'm here. It takes a lot to memorize 27 bishops (Jessop - S3rd, Williams - S4th, Jensen - S8th, Smith - S9th, Davis - S12th, Pitcher - S19th, Spendlove - S22nd, Nielsen - L1st, Buttars - L2nd, Jorgensen - L3rd, Chesley - L4th, Hogard - CO, Christensen - CC, Hall - CI, Baggaley - R1st, Whitman - R2nd, Jensen - R3rd, Pratt - R4th, Creech - CR, Ballard - B1st, Maughan - B2nd, Baldwin - AM, Walquist - N1st, Hodgson - N2nd, Sommers - C1st, Goodey - C2nd, Andrews - TR) but I had them all down after about 2 weeks. I could give you all the ward mission leaders too if you want. :)

Mom - I logged on 2 minutes before your e-mail.. So I got it before I started writing. :)   Yeah he sounds a lot like the guy we're dealing with. And sadly it's kind of a brick wall. We're doing what we can, but we can only work from a distance. Something about the name tag makes us threatening when we show up at the door. We don't go to the temple a ton anymore.. We got it changed so we can only go once a month now. Our priority is doing work on THIS side of the veil. Haha how did we have dinner with the Whites? They called us and invited us first! They called like, 3 weeks before Thanksgiving and said they wanted us to come. So they came and picked us up - we met them in Logan so it was less than a half hour away. It was pretty awesome. I found out that one of the sister missionaries was in Matt & Zack Kelly's ward at BYU-I and she TOTALLY knew who they were! Small world moment! That's exciting that everyone is coming for Christmas. How many areas are there? I'd venture to say about 100. There are about 200 missionaries in the mission right now - when all the new missionaries start coming in we're looking to have about 250. And I got my "care" package! I have already worn the tie with raving reviews. And I have my Christmas package already... I'm not going to open it! I guess the office changed their mind about holding onto packages.

Dad - One thing that I thought that you might enjoy.. We've heard from several people now about a new 'clause' that they're slipping into the mission calls! To preface this change, let me just say that China has just recently gotten a brand new less-communistic prime minister. I've heard of this clause appearing on 4 or 5 mission calls now, from anywhere from Vancouver to the Philippines. And what it says basically is that they will be assigned to their mission in their mission language and it is estimated that they will serve for 2 years. BUT!! If China opens up to missionaries, they will be asked to serve a THIRD year in Mandarin Chinese in China. How crazy is that? The Lord.. Is hastening his work. 
You were on the winning team for the Turkey Bowl! We had kind of a zone football game on Thanksgiving day and sadly I was not on the winning team. Are your gerbils still alive? And I got your email regarding the "hangout" information.. What time are we gonna plan this for? The part that sucks is that transfers are on the 19th so if I get moved to a new area I'll have to hustle and find a place to chat with you guys. But we shouldn't be too restricted on time, especially because Christmas is on a P-Day this year. :) And Ryan didn't send me an e-mail. Baby steps, I guess. So did you ever teach English classes to try and find investigators in Japan? I've heard from many people telling me that they had a lot of success doing that. I know you street contacted a ton.. Just wondering if they allowed you to do that.

Anyways. I love you all! Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. Keep praying for miracles! :)


- Elder Tyler Grant

November 20th, 2012

Hey everyone!

Well... We've still got 4 people with a baptismal date! And oddly enough, we may have a few more on the way... The girl who signed up for baptisms for the dead is still in the works. We're waiting for them to get back from an extra-long Thanksgiving vacation so that her family can be involved in the teaching. Oddly enough, she has been going to church for a WHILE now and as I think I mentioned last week, I've met the family. So she has a really solid and ACTIVE fellowship, which is the ideal situation. Haha.. We talked to her Young Women's leader and she said that the girl is just ridiculously excited about baptism. As she put it, during church it was like "Hey Sister Tanner! Have you talked to the missionaries!? Have you talked to Brother Ward (the WML)!? When can I get baptized? Can I go to the temple soon? Hey have you talked to the missionaries yet!?" It reminded me somewhat of a talk that Elder Holland gave a few years ago that they shared with us in the MTC... He said that he had missionaries ask him why baptisms were so hard. After all, we have the truth! People should be flocking to the font, and the only problem we should have to worry about should be "getting hypothermia because of all the time standing in the water." In reality, Satan is a fighter. He attacks people and makes all the efforts he can to sway people from being baptized. But, sometimes, you catch a glimpse of just how excited someone can really be... :) We'll probably meet up with her and her family sometime next week, and she wants to be baptized mid-December. I hope I'm here!

We've also been working with another 16 year old kid in one of the Richmond wards who told his leaders he wants to be baptized. The more I thought about it, the more I realize just how awesome the youth program of the church is. In Utah, a lot of the baptisms that take place are of boys and girls involved in the Young Men's, Young Women's, and scouting programs. Most of the time, the teenagers who want to be baptized have parents who are members of the church, but for some reason or another have fallen away. It's just such a sweet opportunity to see when that spark of testimony ignites in one of the youth, and that can be used to activate the rest of the family. I've seen in plenty of times. And that's what we're hoping is going to happen with this kid in particular... He lived in Ogden, was going to mutual activities, and was even going to church and taking the missionary lessons.. And then they moved. We talked to him at his friend's house yesterday, and we even found out he was interviewed and cleared to be baptized that weekend.. And then he moved. But now the situation is his grandfather.. Is extremely against the church. His family is living with his grandfather, and .. well, to put it nicely, he's kind of a nut. He's the most judgmental, closed off, controlling person I've ever met. Seriously. If any of the kids will be getting ready to go to a youth activity, he'll ask them where they're going, and if the "Mormon kids" are involved, he'll make sure that he immediately grounds them and says that they can't leave the house. After talking with the kid yesterday, I couldn't believe the desire that he had. He knew that there was a lot of opposition, but he basically told us he's going to do what it takes to be able to take this step. So we're praying for miracles again. :)

The 18 year old girl and her sister who contacted us last week have now officially been interviewed and cleared, the baptism is scheduled, and they've been fitted for jumpsuits. We're going over details for the program with them tomorrow. And - oddly enough - they have a 15 year old brother who has been going to young mens for like, 4 years now.. And he has a friend leaving on a mission who's challenging him to be baptized with his sisters. Gah.. Everyone is so close!
For the record, I DID hit my year-mark on Friday.. And I'm kind of tripped out by that. It almost seems like all of the sudden I'm no longer drawing upon an unlimited source of time. I don't know if you recall at 6 months I burned a tie, but for the year mark you're supposed to burn a shirt.. So we did! It wasn't my shirt though. it was a really old shirt that another missionary found in the closet in their apartment. There were 4 of us in the zone who hit our year mark on the same day, but one of them was busy, so we got together at the park and took pictures and videos. I'm probably gonna send pictures and stuff home soon.. Probably for Christmas. :) I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to stay in Richmond, but there's finally a ton of work going on here.. Which, if the recurring theme strikes again, I'll be gone before any of them get baptized.. But we'll see!

Mom - How many people are in the branch now? I can't believe that the growth has been that much.. That many baptisms? Mostly new move-ins? I forgot about the pocket sized hymnbooks.. I'll pick them up today or tomorrow. I do not have a speaking problem! That guy was just not paying very close attention to the message.. I haven't gotten a small package yet I don't think. I should be good on meds for a bit.. Maybe some concerta soon would be okay. Sorry I'm not writing you too much today.. You didn't ask a lot of questions! And Dad asked me a lot! Here goes nothing:
Dad - Longest letter ever! Holy cow! We're really enjoying the blessings that are coming to pass. Did you ever have times where the area you were in just caught fire? Right now, all the leaders and members really trust us and there are just awesome things happening. And I'm trying to be a cool missionary! I think I remember saying in some of my last letters that being a missionary in Utah is completely different than any other part of the world for a lot of reasons, but I think one of the biggest was highlighted by someone we talked to last week. They asked us "Why are you guys so different than any of the RMs or missionaries I've met outside of Utah? You're not nearly as .. Intense?" I can answer that question! People in Utah.. They know who we are. Members or not. And a door approach to a non member can NOT simply be: "Hey! We're the missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we have a message to share with you!" We'd get laughed at. Everyone knows the logistics of the message, and there are no surprises who we are. Instead, our number one goal is to be the person that members and nonmembers can trust. We have to be flexible. We have to be PERSONABLE... We have to be ourselves. I think this is possibly the best mission I could have been called to. I realized that I have a gift when it comes to just talking to and connecting with people. As soon as people trust you, then they will open up. So if you're expecting me to come back and be completely solemn and rigid, prepare to be disappointed. More than anything I've learned how to be myself and tie that into our purpose. I'm glad you had a great teaching opportunity in Young Men's! That subject (the promptings of the Holy Ghost) is an extremely intriguing one. And when it comes to recognizing it, I've learned to take Elder Bednar's approach.. "Is it the Spirit or is it just me? Stop worrying about it!" I think I told you about an experience I had in Ogden where my companion and I were going to make a visit to a nearby investigator which we visited often, and we always took the same route to get there. However, this one particular time, we both decided to walk the longer, more uphill route.. And happened to walk by the bus stop as the bus got there, and one of the guys we had been trying to reach for weeks stepped off the bus right in front of us. More than anything, I know that being guided is part of being set apart. We are entitled to and receptive to the Spirit as we put ourselves in the Lord's hands whether we know it or not. Answers to prayers have come, and I've been able to recognize a tangible feeling more than once. It's more of a steady stream of miracles, however, that makes me feel like Heavenly Father is there. Things just.. Work out. :) I hope that makes sense. I wrote somewhat of a long response today I guess..

Oh - and I don't know if my myldsmail account will allow me to go to google+ "hangout" ... So if you want to you can just create me an account and give me the information. That will probably be the easiest way to do it. :) Since I can't guarantee I can make an account or remember a password to an old one. Hook me up! :)

Anyhow. I love you all. Enjoy thanksgiving, I'm grateful for your prayers and thoughts.

- Elder Tyler Grant

November 13th, 2012


So in this past week, we went from zero people with a baptismal date to four! I mean, what the heck!

So on Thursday we were sitting in a meeting with the zone, and randomly we get a text message from an 18 year old girl named Nia. She's met with missionaries before, and she's been going to church pretty regularly for a while now. And we haven't met with her because she's always busy or said that she wasn't ready right now. I opened the text message and all it said was "Hey boys! Lets get this girl baptized!" Out of NOwhere! We went and visited her 2 days later when she was off work, and she was sitting on the couch with her 12 year old sister... Who ALSO wants to get baptized! We've been holding off on visiting them because they've been highly pressured by missionaries in the past and they've had negative experiences. But we went over the baptismal interview questions with them, answered the questions that they had, and set up a date for December 1st! In fact, right when we had met with them they had just finished shopping for clothes for their baptism day. I love Utah.. It's super strange. I think I've mentioned it before - but it seems like Heavenly Father looks out for us as long as we are doing what he asks us to do. We may not have 100% success with every referral that we visit, but as long as we're doing the most we can with the Lord's time, someone ALWAYS pops up.

Speaking of which.. I had another "Only in Utah" moment the other day. At our Sunday correlation meeting with the Richmond Stake we were talking to the ward mission leaders and one of them walked in late.. He then said "I literally just finished talking with a girl who's 12 years old and signed up for baptisms for the dead. But she's not a member.. Can you do something about that?" I have MET this girl before. I have MET her family. I have TALKED with her young women's leaders. She's been going to church for 6 months. And they just realized that she's not a member! She's been living with her grandma and going to church faithfully and her parents are supportive. I mean, how does that even happen? It's literally the weirdest place to serve a mission on the entire planet. A few weeks ago we spoke in a ward and it went really well. Everybody was coming up to us and telling us how great of a job we did, and out of nowhere a super old guy sneaks up behind us and slips a piece of paper in my pocket. It said, "You are an amazing speaker! I felt the Spirit as you talked, but I must offer one criticism: You say "Uhh" and "Ahh" occasionally, and it was really distracting. You are a great speaker! God bless!"

... *facepalm*

We had a visit last week with a guy named Joe. Who, initially, was not very pumped to see us as we walked up. Actually as we walked up he was outside changing a tire, and the first thing he said was "I'm NOT happy with your church right now." Apparently he had asked his neighbor to get in contact with the bishop about finding some temporary help... And his neighbor forgot. So the guy had been living in his car for the past two weeks, and it's been snowing... But we went and talked with the bishop and visited Joe the next day. He was talking to us at the door for a second, then invited us in... He talked to us about his past religious experiences, and we ended up having an hour long lesson with him. The entire time, I was just praying that he would listen to us. He needs the Atonement in his life so badly. He's had family problems and is beating himself up over it, and feels like he has no self-worth. He used to be a church going man, but he feels like he has separated himself too far from the presence of God and he just wants to feel peace.. It's so crazy being a missionary. People trust us like a perfect stranger. We don't know them or their background, but they will open up to us and share with us what matters most to them. What God means to them. What they care about. What their problems are. It's just... Indescribable.

Our success stories are not alone. Actually, this last transfer was a build-up transfer for our zone. President Hiers came down on us because as a zone we only had two baptisms last transfer. And last Wednesday there were only 4 people with a baptismal date. As of yesterday, the zone now has 19 people preparing for baptism. It's literally blowing up up here. The Richmond Stake is exploding. Everyone is doing well. And it's a great day to be a missionary. :)

Mom - I DID get nanny's box.. But I may have forgotten it was a Christmas box. And I may have eaten a few of the chips. Or two bags already. My bad. Is it really still 70 back in Iowa? That's so strange. I don't need autism info.. I'll be fine. Things are getting better. We had a good talk about it and he's opened up to me a lot more. He's really a good kid, I'm just being patient and stuff. Tell Ryan I say hi! And I miss Taco John's SO bad!  And yeah that's the one that we opened.. The one next to Kohl's. SCWIIIIPTURE POWEWWW!! Tell Ryan I won't be offended if he leaves on his mission.. But it WOULD be awesome to see him again! I'm looking for some new piano music for Christmas.

Dad - Yeah. Obama is the president. So that kind of sucks... You may be interested to know that Utah DIDN'T vote for him. The electoral system seems completely loaded.. LIke, seriously. The states in the west don't even mean anything. The east coast and California will ALWAYS vote Democrat and they're worth like over half the votes. It's retarded. My companion and I are doing better. It'll be a productive transfer for sure. Do you have cool missionaries for Ryan to go out on splits with? Or are they weirdos? Hahaha.. And I can't believe you're still playing geometry wars!! And I can't believe my record still stands! I'll have to come back and smash the record when I get back.

I love you guys. Pray for miracles. :)

- Elder Grant

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 6th, 2012

I'm staying! For once I get to stay longer than 3 months! Another fun fact: Our area is being SPLIT!! So the enormous stake that we have had zero time to work in is officially being covered by another set of missionaries. Which means our area is no longer the most retardedly spread out gargantuan area in the mission. Which means we can FOCUS on the absurd amount of potentials that we have going for us right now... And I get to keep training! Oddly enough, our zone didn't change much at all. 6 of the 8 companionships aren't changing at all. This transfer SHOULD be amazing. If I have the patience...

So we did have Tim's baptism last Saturday! It was so funny - we called him that morning to remind him to show up a bit early and bring all his things, and right when he picked up the phone he said "You guys aren't chickening out on me are you? I'm still getting baptized, right?" He was just so excited. His Uncle Bob baptized him and right when he came out of the water he said "You did it Timmy!" Yeah his uncle is a bit of a goofball.. His wife and her family were all there, and so were his grandparents who are nonmembers! After the baptism they came up to us and they had tears in their eyes. They also came to sacrament to see him get confirmed. I know they felt the spirit and I think they knew it to. At the baptism I challenged everybody to pay attention to the feelings they were getting in their hearts, to recognize that they WERE in fact from God, and if so to ponder what God was trying to tell them. Hopefully we can start teaching them soon - they're amazing people and even pay fast offerings to the church regularly when the deacons come around. We also learned that this was one of only two baptisms that our zone had this transfer... It's been a build-up transfer for sure. Just about every area now has 3 or 4 people with a baptismal date who are actually solid and committed to be baptized. We have a lot that are close! Commitment level will have to depend on how committed WE are to helping them.

We had a mission conference last week! Elder Falabella from the first quorum of the seventy came and trained us. It was actually a way good conference. He talked about the difference between ward missionaries and us; we are not just here to teach when we have lessons. We are FULL-TIME missionaries. All of our time, all of our energies, all of our focus should be centered ONLY on our purpose, which is to invite others to come unto Christ. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants section 4 we have to serve with all our "heart, might, mind, and strength." We can serve a mission with all our might and strength, but never really give our heart and mind. All in all it was a pretty sweet training.

Mom - Wait a minute.. Questions about politics? I didn't realize until today that TODAY is ELECTION DAY!! Holy crap.. That's kind of scary. I guess we'll have to pray for a miracle.. I must say there's considerably more Romney signs on people's lawns around here than Obama signs. Glad to hear about the Halloween success - we spent the evening sitting inside wishing that we could go get candy and get compliments on how much we actually looked like missionaries. Ha. Ha. Why won't you let Dad blow up the poinsettias? Who did I honor for Day of the Dead? Why, Steve Irwin of course! Yo-yo referral means nothing. I think I made up the term. I think I was trying to say that the referral sounded golden and when we visited it retracted about as fast as it came.

Dad - RYAN'S BACK!! I'm still praying for him, and I'm so relieved to hear he's finally on the up slope. Did you do anything for the cast party? You should have blown something up. Don't you love it when Evan says something profound? *wink* It's better than that one day he came out of his room and apologized because he had just prayed to Satan. The veil is very thin! And I never did get my absentee ballot thing done... Hopefully Iowa picks right. And we'll definitely have to go to Japan someday. Or maybe just back to Star Valley...

This transfer is gonna be a good one. I genuinely hope so. Praying for miracles!

- Elder Tyler Grant

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

October 30th, 2012


Guhh.. I always forget my planner.. Why on earth do I do this to myself!? Quick note - I got the Halloween package last Friday! I'm currently wearing my orange iPod watch... It's so bright! Maybe, for conservative-ness sake, I should have a black one instead.. I can get away with the orange one right now because it's Halloween-y... But a black one would probably be more appropriate for every other time of the year. :)

Well guess what? Tim is getting baptized this Saturday! We just got him cleared and interviewed yesterday and he's good to go. I'm continually amazed by how prepared some people are. Heavenly Father is in charge of His work, that's for sure. We can do His work our way, but it rarely produces fruit. When someone is ready, they will come. Not that we only teach people who are completely golden.. But when a person exercises their agency righteously to seek us out and truly seek the covenants and blessings attached that Heavenly Father has for us, that is when they are converted. His uncle will be baptizing him and he's just so excited... His fiancee... I mean wife... Is also becoming more and more active as he's making the journey towards Christ. With considerable faith and a touch of a miracle (praying for this one..) we'll be able to start teaching Tim's grandparents as well, as they are both non-members. They're 85 years old, they pay tithing to the church, watch conference, and they've even lately been asking us to give blessings in their home. Just yesterday after Tim's interview his grandma asked us if we would give Tim a blessing before his appointment with the cardiologist the following day. The first time we gave a blessing in their home, his grandpa told us "That was amazing. Sometimes you question your faith and wonder what's really true, you know?" Everyone got silent, and he quickly recovered and said "Uhh... He's testing me! That must be it. Seeing if I'll stay true." The Spirit is working on them. Hopefully at Tim's baptism there will be some crazy change of heart. That would be pretty cool!

We also had another yo-yo referral.. And by that I mean we showed up at the church to go to the restroom and the bishop called us over. It was mutual night, and he pointed to a kid playing basketball and said "Robbie wants to be baptized." The kid came over to us, introduced himself, and said he's been thinking about being baptized since he was 10 years old and he's almost 16. They were meeting with the missionaries down in Ogden before they moved to Richmond and he was going to be baptized there, but they moved and it didn't happen. So we set up an appointment with him, and when we showed up, we realized it was a new-move-in family we'd been trying to meet with for the past several weeks, not knowing that Robbie was even there. But when we got there, Robbie came to the door and was about to let us in, and a voice in the back said "I'll take care of it." His grandpa then came to the door and tried telling us that the Boy Scouts sent us and that the church is working with the scouting program to bring more 'recruits' into the church because 'we're running out of money' ... He then told us to do our missionary work, but not there. I hate Satan. We tried talking with him for 10 minutes, and he kept bringing up the strangest, most irrelevant political points that had convinced him that the church was merely a good business and had nothing to do with Jesus Christ. I bore my testimony to him, and he shot me down. It was so frustrating - there are people who are ready to be taught but they can't be. I hate it. We'll keep trying, but it kinda completely sucks. There's another family over in Lewiston who has been going to church actively for about 9 months now and there are 3 kids (17, 15, and 14) who are completely involved in the youth program who want to be baptized. Their mother actively attends church with them to and she wants their family to be sealed together. But - the dad, who is at the moment living in Wyoming and is stone cold less active, refuses to let them be baptized and won't give his consent. There's a lot of that in Utah.. I guess all we can do is just keep pressing on and hope that the work moves with us.

So! The fireside! Was pretty sweet as well. We sang "The Spirit of God" again and that was about the highlight.. Too bad we sang that one first. Everybody loved it, but I can't help but pick apart the things I knew could be better haha. Maybe I need to be more appreciative... :) There were a lot of very strong testimonies borne, and hopefully hearts were touched. I still miss being in choir. I never realized how musically involved I was... Band, jazz band, choir, all state, musical theater... It all adds up. I've taken up to trying to play the piano more often whenever the opportunity is presented. I'm still on the lookout for more music for Ryan, and I may have a few winners... Maybe for Christmas. :)
Mom - Thanks for your thoughts.. I hope that's the reason I'm being transferred and not just because I'm being punished. :) Finding people to teach is hard - especially because the only reliable way to do it is to build trust with the people in the area and show them that you're there to work.. But right when you get them to the point where they trust you enough to give you referrals and they start becoming solid and keeping commitments, they've swept me to another area to let someone else enjoy the fruits of what I've done. Which totally sucks. But I guess I'll have to keep drawing from the fact that I know that I'll be sent where I need to go. That there are lives for me to touch. Fingers crossed I'll stay nonetheless! I'm glad to hear Evan is doing so well in the musical.. You're hosting the whole cast at the house?? How? Oh fun fact - it snowed last Tuesday and hasn't snowed since then.. When's it gonna snow in Iowa? I'm surprised Evan hasn't given me a 14 day forecast lately... Ryan's sleep schedule sounds like a mess. Is he still working at Faith Hope & Charity? He has literally sent NO form of communication to me since like.. April. I can't tell if he LIKES the music I'm sending or WHAT'S going on in that kid's life right now. Punk! A year has gone by already? Not quite. Not thinking about it. :)

Dad - Spanish branch! I've never been to one of those.. But when I was on exchanges with the Spanish missionaries I realized just how little Spanish I know! Well.. I could pick up on the general idea of what was going on, but no more than that. The funny thing about tracting with the Spanish missionaries is that it's almost no different than a normal day - except if a white person comes to the door then I talk to them and if a Hispanic person comes to the door I stand there and smile. :) Heidi got her patriarchal blessing on Sunday! I think she's pretty much graduated from the "less-active" category by now! Haha.. Hopefully Ryan will see the benefits of having that road map to the rest of his life and see beyond his circumstances right now. Evan getting his patriarchal blessing would be very cool. A member family a while ago told us about a boy from their last ward they lived in who had autism, but he wanted to get his patriarchal blessing. In the blessing, he was told that in the war in heaven, he was one of the spirits who personally escorted Lucifer out of the host of heaven. Special spirits indeed! Have you ever considered taking a trip back to Japan? I'd love to go back with you someday. Just to visit some of your old areas and branches, see if you remember anyone! Take me! I'm sure you've toyed with the idea.. That will have to be second on our "to-do" list when I get home, second to Zion's National Park's slot canyons, of course!

I love you all. Keep up your prayers, stay strong, and have a safe Halloween!

- Elder Tyler Grant :) 

October 23rd, 2012

Oh hello!

This week has been pretty... Well let's just say we weren't able to get as much done as we hoped we could have. Last Monday we went on exchanges with the Spanish missionaries, Tuesday was P-Day, Wednesday we had district meeting and interviews with the mission president, Thursday I got sick, and Friday I went down to Ogden for a rehearsal for another musical fireside. So a lot of things got in the way of the visits we had intended to make and follow up on this week..

In the one glimmering ray of sunshine this past week, we showed up to teach Tim and were about to teach about the Law of Chastity and tell him he needs to either move out (he's living with his girlfriend) or get married before his baptism on November 3rd. Right before we said the prayer, he whips out a picture and says "Oh by the way! The Bishop married us yesterday. We were going to invite you but couldn't find your phone number." Hey surprise marriage! THAT'S never happened before! So at least we no longer have to worry about that commandment. During every lesson he literally just soaks everything in like a sponge. He asked at the end of his lesson what day his baptism is supposed to be, and is excited to be working towards it still. I honestly don't think I'd have such crazy experiences with such amazingly prepared people anywhere else in the world.. I love Utah! There is missionary work to do EVERYwhere, including Richmond! Actually, of the 3 stakes that we cover, the Richmond Stake (covering a total of MAYBE 4,000 people..) is the one with the most missionary work. The area that we cover is absolutely enormous. In fact we cover Smithfield, Richmond, Lewiston, Cove, Trenton, Newton, Clarkston, Benson, and Amalga. So that's kind of a vast expanse of fields and towns of 100 people or less. I don't know why they keep sending me to all these areas that are straight farmland.. I think they're stereotyping me because I'm from Iowa.

As I briefly mentioned, we had interviews with our mission president last Wednesday. I love having interviews - sometimes you feel somewhat insignificant and forgotten when you're banished to the northern huge areas of the mission and being able to talk to President Hiers is always uplifting. I asked him if I could stay in Richmond for at least another transfer so I can finish training Elder Bengtson and because I'm tired of leaving areas after 3 months. He said that he was planning on letting me stay - so I really hope I get to.. I don't know if I've told you this. But out of the 3 areas that I've left, I've come into the areas with a total of 3 people with a baptismal date. However, I've left behind a total of 18 people with a baptismal date. Remember that family of 5 that we were working with in Star Valley? They were baptized about a month ago. I've felt like all I've done my entire mission is just plant seeds. And I know that it's not important to 'count' the baptisms. But it just seems like every time I get people close to baptism they yank me away and make me start over again. I just feel like a lot of times I give my all to try and help these people to come to the Gospel and I never get to see it through. We have a lot of people who are teetering and many people who are just as close. If I can stay in Richmond at least one more transfer (AKA till.. December 19th?) then it would give us a chance to really zero in on these people's concerns and overcome them with the Spirit. I really like it here, actually. I wasn't a fan of it at first probably because we were on bikes and there were no investigators at all because I followed the same missionary into the area as I did to Mount Lewis; he's a missionary known for getting transferred into an area right as it's blowing up, baptizes everyone, and finds no new people to teach. So staying here would be really awesome... Elder Bengtson is SO quiet... But I really like him - he's extremely obedient and keeps me focused on what we're supposed to be doing. It's just been a rather quiet transfer... Especially after Elder Cox and I had so much fun together.  But everything is working out okay.

In my studies this week I've been reading some really old general conference talks.. I'm pretty sure someone stole a bunch of old Ensigns from a stake center in the area and only took the General Conference editions. It's really interesting to read the counsel of the prophets even 30 years ago. There was a talk called "Adam, the Archangel" that I'm pretty sure would never be read in conference today. But all of the principles and teachings are the same. President Monson was STILL a member of the Twelve back in 1980.. How weird is that? I don't think I'd have the patience to hold such a calling for such a ridiculous amount of time. I barely lasted as Sunday School President for all of 4 months. That's still the only real calling I think I've had.. Hahaha. But it's been pretty cool to go back and read the talks and reference them to the scriptures. It turns out the general authorities actually know what they're talking about.
Mom - I can't believe Evan is 6'2" !! That's so freaking crazy! How's Seussical coming along? Is he doing well? The orange watch strap will be awesome! Especially because this Timex that I have is pretty well spent.. A small sweater will still be fine. I bought that winter jacket in a small and it actually fits perfectly. I think I might have sent that little Christmas tree home, didn't I? If not I probably left it in Tremonton. As fun as they are to get, sometimes when you have to pack everything stuff gets left behind simply because it doesn't fit. Oddly enough, I still have Banana Balance. So I guess I get to pick and choose. What other addresses do I need... Umm... What about Maranda Stephens? I haven't talked to her in forever! I'll let you know if I think of anyone else. Question - have you ever asked Ryan about getting a patriarchal blessing? I think that would be maybe just the boost he'd need to get up and get moving in the right direction again. Oh wow! You use so much technology! Bahaha take a picture of the setup and send it to me sometime. You can always just e-mail it to me. Speaking of which - I never got those pictures of me with long hair I asked for like, months ago! Months and months ago! Christmas is JUST after next transfer, If I have that right. Mission protocol for the year-mark is burning a shirt. So we'll see how that goes down. :)

Dad - MARIO SOTELO! That is so awesome!! I can't believe he's already been a member for 2 years now. I remember every time the missionaries baptized someone thinking that I hoped that they'd remain active, and many times they wouldn't... But I guess every once in a while you find someone who truly takes the Gospel by the reins and just goes and goes and goes. Have you kept in contact with any of the people you baptized in Japan? I think my call letter said at the beginning of my mission that there were approximately 165 stakes in our mission boundaries, but I know it's slightly less since the mission split. Still somewhat nuts. We went to the same ward last Sunday and met some of Malena and Camille's cousins. Small world again. You'd better send pictures of the new pumpkin creations! Question for you.. I know most of the time in Japan you spent street contacting and talking to people.. Did you get many referrals and things? It seems to me like we get a decent amount of referrals... But it also seems mostly like the people we're referred to aren't always the ones that are getting baptized. The Lord seems to work in the way that as long as we are being diligent and obedient and magnifying our call to the best of our ability, it doesn't matter how many referrals we get or how many dead-end investigators we are teaching... If we are doing His will, people will be placed in our paths. Tim was introduced to us after we visited and were shot down by several less-active families, and were teaching other non-members who didn't seem to be going anywhere. But since we remained true and faithful, Heavenly Father provided someone who was prepared. Just wondering if you felt the same way.

I love you guys. I'm going to send some pictures (I think..) and it may even be time to burn some CDs again since I've been doing pretty well with the whole taking pictures thing. I'm glad you know how to Skype now - that will make it easier come Christmas time. Are you excited to see how much weight I've gained? :) Pray for me!

- Elder Tyler Grant

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October, 16th, 2012

Oh hey family!

So I forgot my planner... So all recollection for this last week may be teetering upon the feeble power of my mortal memory. And it's looking grim... Also my brain is kind of... Space-y? So I may struggle to get out as detailed of a letter as I usually do.

We tried multiple times last week to get in contact with the family who has been going to church for a long time.. And, oddly enough, the three teenagers who have been going to church regularly have somewhat decided that they no longer want to be baptized... And the dad, who has been opposed to talking to the missionaries in the past, has warmed up a LOT to us. We volunteered to do service for him on Saturday and spent a while scraping paint off of the house to prepare it for painting. Fun fact - it was raining on and off the whole time. But we stuck it out, and he talked to us quite a bit afterwards about his views on God and his experience with religion. He sees the truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and more than anything he knows that it has the power to heal and bind his family from all the problems they have been having. It's been really a challenge because we just don't know what to do to help them. We've been praying for them a lot, and this Sunday they didn't even come out to church. I know that everything we teach them will help them, but it seems like Satan is deflecting any attempt we try and make. It's definitely frustrating because I want so badly for them to progress and find joy in coming unto Christ, but we have to take that first step ourselves. As I believe President Eyring put it last general conference, the hardest part of taking the journey towards Christ is taking the first step into the dark, trusting that the Lord will place solid ground under our feet when we do.

Tim is doing awesome. Mostly. He wasn't able to make it to church because his now 8-months pregnant fiancee had to go to the hospital unexpectedly. But we've since taught him the Plan of Salvation and he soaked it all in. Which is pretty astounding considering how amazingly complex and intricate the Plan of Salvation is... But he's had many experiences that have lead him to search for the answers that are found in our Heavenly Father's plan. The most exciting part of the lesson for him was knowing that after he is baptized he can prepare to go to the temple and be baptized for his recently deceased father, who committed suicide in January. We're going to be teaching him again on Thursday.

Heidi is still awesome! I think she's officially beyond the point where she even needs us to help her anymore. She's quit smoking, faithfully attending church, gone to general conference, enrolled in institute, preparing for the temple, and has a desire to receive her patriarchal blessing. Check, check, check, check! :) We also went to church with her on Sunday and she got up and bore her testimony! It reminded me of something one of our MTC teachers told us... That some of the choicest moments from his mission were when people he taught bore testimony of what they had learned. It's so amazing - I know that it wasn't me that changed her life. I'm not the one that's been blessing her for every step she's taken towards re-activation...

I literally can't think very well right now... I think I took my medication at the wrong time. My brain is SHOT. Oh - I just remembered that on Sunday I ran into a guy who's going to be home teaching another family we're working with.. And he asked if I knew the Carr's in Sioux City. He said he's Amy Carr's brother.. And then I told him I didn't know them. :) Haha kidding! But it was another small world moment. Tally 'em up!

Mom - Did you get those pictures up yet? Or are you being a technotard? :) And I had thought you had ordered a plaque already? I had thought about things for Christmas.. And the only things that came to mind were some v-neck long sleeve sweaters to wear over my shirts, ketchup chips, and a new watch. Because my $10 Kohl's watch is completely worn out. I was actually thinking it would be really sweet if you could get one of those watch bands that just turns my ipod nano into a watch  That would be awesome if you could find one of those in orange. :) That's about all I had in mind, so surprise me as you will. The watchband is probably top of the wish list, so it depends how much you love me! Tell Ryan to send me a letter! Or, if not, to e-mail me! And have him let me know what he thinks of that piano arrangement.. I love that song. What new car should you get? How about... A Kia Soul? :) Haha that's just seems to be the trendy car around here. I don't know how big of a car you want, or how many seats you want.. I'm not really suggesting that that's the car to buy. It's kind of an inside joke.. Oh - and if you saw the $100 charge on my debit card, it's because I bought a winter jacket and it's actually really awesome. I bought it with a 40% missionary discount, so you're welcome. It's not a super heavy overcoat - but it's more of a medium jacket and it should work perfectly for me.

Dad - Stake Young Men's President! That means you have to hang out with all the snot nosed kids for once! :) That's actually way exciting. Who are your counselors? That's also way cool that Sister Carr is Stake Young Women's President. Her brother that I ran into on Sunday told me that Malena is planning on only this semester for BYU and then leaving on a mission in January. That's so sweet - I'm still so pumped about the announcement.. I wonder how long before we get an influx of newbie missionaries? There are exactly zero HuHot's around here! I actually reminisced with an RM that served in Omaha who said the thing he misses most about serving in Sioux City is eating at HuHot after district meetings. We'll definitely have to go there in November 2013! I'm still praying for and hoping for Ryan. I don't know what else to do either. Please let me know if you need me to do anything. Any sweet pumpkin plans this year?

Anyhow. Put pictures up - and keep up the faith! Sorry my letter sucks this week! I love you guys!

- Elder Tyler Grant

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 9th, 2012

Oh! So Heidi put some pictures up..? Haha. Mom! You should put up SOME pictures onto facebook! I mean I've sent you hundreds - you don't have to hog them all to yourself! Have Ryan help you... You don't have to put all of them up! Just select/awesome pictures that let everyone know that I'm still alive and loving every second. :)

So before we get to Saturday, we had a miracle day on Thursday! We had 6 lessons set up that day and were honestly just praying for all the help and guidance we could get. At 9 AM we taught a lady (yes, we start early..) named Christina who had met with the past missionaries. She had been going to church for a while and then, just like what happened to Mom, her life suddenly became EXTREMELY loaded and unable to fit us in. So she kind of slipped through the cracks... But we taught her that morning and had a short lesson with her about prayer and baptism. We didn't even have to ask her - she straight up told us "I know that I want to get baptized." We committed her to pray about a date and she accepted! It was pretty cool because normally, since I'm training, we don't get to leave the apartment till 11:00 AM because of the extra study time for new missionaries. But we made an exception and picked up a baptismal commitment even before our zone meeting we had that day!
Later on, after all the meetings were through, we had a lesson with a 25 year old guy named Tim. Tim's uncle called us about a week ago and said he might want to talk to the missionaries. We visited and set up a lesson the very next day. As we taught him, he shared a lot of experiences that he had had over the course of his life to lead him to the beliefs in God and religion that he now has. He was in a horrible car wreck 6 months ago and shouldn't have survived - but as he was at the hospital 4 Elders from the church came and administered a blessing to him. And he's now completely healed. He also told us that in January he walked upstairs to find his father had committed suicide, and he was the one to discover him. Everything that he's been feeling has led him to seek the peace and redeeming power of the Atonement. We taught him the first lesson and the Spirit was so strong. His younger brother was there too, and his brother was baptized about a year ago. He bore an extremely powerful testimony of how baptism and living the Gospel have helped him turn his life completely around and start over in God's eyes. The coolest part of the lesson was when I was committing Tim to baptism - because while I was giving him the commitment he didn't even let me finish. In fact, before I finished the "Preach My Gospel"-style commit (Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?) he said "yes" four times. He's now preparing for baptism in November.

That same day, right after Tim's appointment, we had a dinner with a family in Smithfield who was housing a German exchange student named Chiara. And while she's not allowed to be baptized while she's here, she had been going to church and had some questions that she wanted answered. So we began teaching her the Restoration as simply as we could - her English was pretty good, but the language barrier was still there! As we got to the point where Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, she began to open up and tell us about her upbringing as a Catholic and how she believed in the Trinity and how it made so much more sense that they were all one being. Except for when she prays. And reads the scriptures. And other things... So I still don't get how the Trinity makes sense. But! We began to share scriptures with her and she was starting to understand, when the host family's dad just interrupted and started teaching some extremely complicated doctrine. In fact, he taught like three quarters of the Plan of Salvation without explaining ANYTHING at all, trying to show that Jehovah was Jesus Christ and all these different things... Members in lessons can be wonderful. But they can also drag the lesson in ways that you don't want them to go haha. Luckily, since he was elaborating so little and covering so much, she didn't understand anything and turned her attention back to us. It was all in all a pretty sweet experience - and we saw her in Salt Lake on Saturday because the ward took her young women's group down to General Conference.

Which brings us to the good part! We woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday, met up with Heidi and her older brother, and drove down to Salt Lake. It was AMAZING! Temple square is so much cooler than I expected it to be, and the Salt Lake Temple is so big! We were watching conference in the Joseph Smith Memorial building for the Saturday Morning session, and when they made the announcement changing missionary age my jaw about dropped to the floor. My first thought was for Ryan. He could literally start his papers right now, set his availability date for after graduation, and leave immediately! That's so crazy! I couldn't believe it... So many people raced through my head both from home and people I've met on my mission. Especially the change from 21 to 19 for sister missionaries! That's a HUGE change! I guess it just means that I can't just assume that sister missionaries are old and gross anymore.. :) Kidding! But the entire first session of general conference was just amazing. We had tickets to go see the Saturday afternoon session, and the size of the conference center just amazed me. The coolest part is the fact that I've watched conference for my entire life and I was just finally there. It was an amazing experience. The protesters there are so overhyped! There was like, 6 protesters there and they were just standing there holding signs. Some of them were yelling at people but only when they took the time to pay attention to them. And who would? It was definitely not enough to detract from the overall Spirit of being in the presence of the prophet and all the amazing speakers there. Sadly, we had to miss the priesthood session so I haven't gotten to see it yet... Blast! But I'll see it soon.

Mom - It was pretty tough to actually be in the conference center for the sole reason that you just want to watch the big TV there instead of just look at the speaker. And Heidi's ward is supporting her in every way. Actually the stake president just got her enrolled in a weekly institute class. Des Moines has an airport? And dad backed into the 'blazer? It's not time to get a new car is it? I don't know what I want for Christmas. I'm interested in things. But nothing specific. I haven't bought any new ties since February and I'm okay with that. Best of luck with Ryan. Tell him to write me back. And I'll keep praying. And tell Matt to write me a letter!

Dad - That letter you sent me was formatted so strange.. You're getting a calling in Stake Conference? Are you going to be in the Stake Presidency? :) I think it would be so sweet to be able to travel as a high councilman. Who knows what lies ahead? Would you have left on your mission at 18? I probably wouldn't have been ready to. I'm glad I was able to leave at 19 - but I can see that year between high school and leaving being advantageous to close the gap. Less time for temptation. Is Jacob Olson going to be leaving soon then? You should get in contact with your mission buddies! They've gotta be out there somewhere! I honestly know already that I've made some lifetime friends. Send me videos of when you decide to ultimately detonate those poor pumpkins. And hopefully Ryan will make it to the doctor.

I love you all! Sorry I forgot my camera cord! I'll send some home soon. Put pictures up on facebook for the world to marvel! :)


- Elder Tyler Grant

October 2nd, 2012

Hey hi surprise!

This past week... Has been crazy! As much as I stressed and worried about getting a new missionary, my brain still hasn't completely adjusted to it yet.. But hey! My 'son' slash trainee is named Elder Bengtson and he's from Las Vegas, Nevada. And they gave me the quietest, shyest missionary they had! Hahaha.. What were they thinking? :) Only joking! I breathed a sigh of relief  when I learned that he's actually not brand new! Well he is... But he actually served a 2 month trial mission in Las Vegas before he went to the MTC. He's still brand new to the mission field around here, and I think the biggest adjustment for him has been just trying to open up to people as himself. We're having a LOT of teaching opportunities open up around here and we have a lesson with 4 nonmembers set up tonight. So he'll adjust. It's just a scary thought to know that I'm the one who he's going to remember as hi trainer. Everyone has to love their trainer! I absolutely loved my trainer and a lot of the habits and beliefs that I have about success in the mission field have stemmed back to the experiences I had in my first transfer with Elder Scoggin.

Well, for starters we had a zone conference all day yesterday. President Hiers is so awesome. I've been told by some people that the people in Salt Lake have named him as one of the top 10 mission presidents in the entire church right now. His vision for the mission is so clear and makes so much sense. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved President Olson. But I feel like President Hiers is what the Ogden Mission needs right now. Instead of laying the hammer down and trying to place a lot of rules that will 'fix' behavior, he's come in and tried to shift the focus of why we are here as missionaries and our purpose. Serving a mission shouldn't be there to restrict and to enforce, but to promote growth and alignment with Heavenly Father's will. A lot of what I've heard about the new Salt Lake mission is that they're buckling down on rules incredibly hard and the missionaries are really struggling. But President Hiers has come in and asked us to take a step back and discover for ourselves what things need to be adjusted in the mission in order to best represent Jesus Christ in our calling. I'm probably not explaining this very well. But I know that the changes that we're going to be making in terms of boosting obedience and streamlining our purpose are going to bring miracles.

And we just had two miracles last night! We had a lesson set up with the family that I had told you about who has been going to church regularly for a long time. We visited them and the daughter asked us to come back in a little bit because they were having dinner. However, when we returned she came to the door again and said "We're not ready right now. We don't want to be baptized anymore." I asked her why she had been going to church every week and she said it was because she loved the feeling there. But when I tried to expound on it, she said "Sorry" and closed the door. Defeated, we started walking back to our car... And we saw a man walking from the backyard beckoning to us. We didn't know who he was at first, but we soon learned that he was the father of the family, and he is NOT a member of the church. He came up to us and said, "Please. Don't give up on them. They need you right now more than they ever have. I've been praying for my family every night that they will realize that they need to be baptized and invite God into their lives." With tears in his eyes, he then bore his testimony of the church who he's not even a member of. The Spirit was so strong - he said that he knows that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what his family needs to overcome their struggles. We set up another lesson with them for Thursday. I was so humbled by this man's faith. He has been going to church for a long time now and has a testimony that it's true and his family needs it. I was almost brought to tears myself.

Immediately after this experience, we went to another family who we had met last week. It was a single mom and three teenage kids who have been going to activities on and off for young men's and young women's.. When we visited last week, the mom was SUPER hesitant about letting us in. We were only able to set up this lesson because we agreed to just teach more about Jesus Christ and not try and push them to be baptized. She told us she would completely support them if they decided to be baptized, but they 'weren't ready' and wouldn't be for a while. Last night we had a mini lesson with them, and the kids just LOVED it. They knew the answers to almost every question, and it was actually a lot of fun. I felt like it was one of those moments where I knew I was called to the Ogden Mission for my personality and not just throwing a random dart at a board. After the lesson the kids were like "So.. Are you guys going to be our missionaries for the rest of the time we live here? Because you guys are awesome!" They committed to pray every morning and night and even to come to church! I think we gained a LOT of trust with their mom - she was scowling at the beginning of the lesson and seemed uncomfortable that we were there, but by the end she was laughing and answering questions, and we ALMOST got her to say the closing prayer! Next time! :)

Mom - After "Ctrl + F"ing your last letter, I have concluded that you asked 14 questions. Gah! Okay.. Down the line... 1) I saw Joseph outside the Wal-Mart in Logan! 2) I recognized him.. He didn't realize who I was until I told him. He said it was the long hair... 3) I guess I was happy to see someone from almost home! It was pretty weird nonetheless. 4) Yeah I figured I would be staying in Richmond. 5) USU would be an awesome area because its like, all RMs who invite their nonmember roommates to tak the lessons anyway. Especially at this point because it's the beginning of the semester! You just walk around and talk to people all day. 6) We still get fed 6 nights a week in members homes. 7) Each ward out of 28 gets a night. So it's approximately one ward per month. 8) We ARE the only missionaries for those 28 wards. 9) We may be going down to Salt Lake for the Saturday afternoon session, but other than that we don't know where we're watching conference. We got invited to go watch with an RM and his nonmember friend, so we might go there. 10) Star Valley feels like it was literally a week ago. It's so crazy! 11) I'd like to see the Salt Lake temple for sure, and Brigham would be sweet too. And Bountiful. 12) I've been studying in 2 Nephi lately and I'm about to hit the Isaiah chapters... Gah! 13) I haven't been running a lot since the MTC! But I still workout (sometimes!) in the morning. I'm not getting fat yet!

Dad - Haha.. I have had my noob for a week! And the fact that I don't have to speak Japanese makes it a bit easier. Are you still in contact with your trainer? Or the missionary that you trained? Actually... Are you in contact with any of your mission companions? If you needed to talk to Pres. Moriyama I can get you his address :) Haha. The non member family is still iffy.. Not sure if they're worth working with right now. But we're still praying for them. You guys still seem to be having a lot of baptisms in Storm Lake! When I come back I'm not going to know anybody! I'm glad the little branch is having so much success. I kind of have to go.. But I'll get back to you with more questions next week! :)

I love you all! If you feel like rebuking anyone who hasn't written me in a while, feel free.. But don't tell them I sent you! :)


- Elder Tyler Grant

September 25th, 2012

Oh hey transfer day! How are you doing?

So! The good news is that I'm staying in Richmond! Elder Cox is being transferred to the USU campus to serve there... I'm so pumped for him - that's an amazingly fun area and so much missionary work gets done there. But! In scary news, I got the transfer call last night... And by that I mean the assistants called me about leadership. I'm going to be training! Ahh! Tomorrow I'm getting a brand new fresh-out-of-the-MTC companion. Isn't that a scary thought! I'm pretty scared and definitely nervous. Everything that he thinks about missionary work initially is going to be based upon my attitude and my abilities. But I'm also extremely excited - this is going to definitely be a circumstance where the Lord doesn't call who is qualified, but he qualifies who he calls. I can't even imagine how different this is going to be. It's going to stretch me in ways that I am definitely grateful for, and I think I'm going to be praying a whole lot more. So if you could pray for me as well that would be awesome. :)

On Sunday was the dedication of the Brigham City Temple... And it was awesome. They broadcasted it to all the local stake centers in the area and essentially turned all of them into 'extensions' of the temple. That is, to see the dedication broadcast you had to have a recommend. They also did 3 broadcasts so everyone could have a chance to attend.. It was one of the neatest experiences I've ever had. For one, the apostles are a lot more laid back when they're not in conference. Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry, and Russell M. Nelson were all there and they were just addressing each other by their first names. It was just pretty funny to hear Elder Packer talking and then turn to his left and say "Isn't that right, Russ?" Hahaha. The dedicatory prayer was amazing too. The Spirit in the room just exploded as the temple turned from just a pretty building into a sanctified, dedicated house of God. That whole "Hosanna Shout" thing was kind of strange... But it was just awesome because Elder Packer grew up like 2 blocks from where the temple was built. He was just so touched and excited that there was a temple in his hometown - he said that when it was announced to him that there was a temple that it was his 85th birthday.. And he prayed to Heavenly Father that if it be His will he would be able to live to see the dedication. I love Elder Packer - I hope he sticks around for as long as he can.

Working with less-actives can be extremely frustrating, but I got a letter on Friday that made it all worth it. Heidi has officially quit smoking and is working with the bishop towards the temple. She wrote me a note that almost made me cry. She basically thanked me for all that I had done and said that I was the reason she was where she was today. She bore her testimony to me and said she couldn't wait to go to the temple and hoped that I could come with her. I know that she is one of the reasons that I was supposed to come to the Ogden mission. She told me she had been approached by 2 or 3 other sets of missionaries and after talking with them she fell deeper and farther away from the church.. But when we showed up it was exactly what she needed to get up and get going. I may send you the letter so that you can keep it somewhere... I love being a missionary so much. Even if the area has been kind of slow and I may feel like I'm not accomplishing all that I could, Heavenly Father blesses us with those tender mercies that lift us up and help us to carry on. In the past week we've gotten 2 member referrals; one for a whole non-member family who wants to take the lessons and one for a German exchange student who bought a German Book of Mormon on her own and has been reading it. I know that if we, on our own, can't find the people to teach, that they WILL find us. But only if we are doing what we are supposed to do.

Which reminds me - last Wednesday we had an awesome training in district meeting that talked about a lot of the new overarching principles behind the mission change. Many of us realized that we had been looking at it wrong. We are NOT here to be full time home teachers. But the people who have fallen away from the church NEED those saving ordinances to experience the joy and fullness of Christ's Atonement. Baptism is the only way that we can unlock the Atonement. And while I've never been crazy about the idea of baptizing 9-year-olds, baptism IS the gate that they must enter to return to Heavenly Father. It is a saving ordinance and there is no shortcuts. If the window is there, we have to seize it. Anyone can benefit from the gift of the Holy Ghost. Christ suffered for our pains, afflictions, sins, guilts, all so that we CAN utilize the Atonement and be forgiven. And we cannot fully access the Atonement without the ordinance of baptism. Christ showed us the way. I'm excited for this next transfer and for what Heavenly Father has in store for me and who he wants me to become.

Mom - Yes, they deliberately tricked us into going to the concert.. Because after the fact they asked us what they thought and wanted to discuss our feelings on what was said. So we have a lesson with them tonight.. Cool. I'm glad you got the e-mail from Sister Allen! She's a member family that we had dinner with last night, and when she asked us what our mom's thought about us serving in Utah, I told her that people liked to take pictures of us and send them to our moms. And she jumped ALL over that idea... Hahaha. I've studied my patriarchal blessing several times since I've come out and keep finding different things that I now recognize have been promised blessings all along that I was unaware of. It's so awesome. While I would love to write to Evan this week, I MAY not have time to.. So if he doesn't get one then tell him I promise I will next week. I'll try my best though. I saw "17 Miracles" on Thanksgiving last year in the MTC haha. It's a pretty awesome movie! Kim never sent me my white pants!

Dad - I don't notice it while I'm typing, but as I go back and re-read some of the things I have read, even I am amazed at how my mind seems to seamlessly interweave all of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences into one complete letter. Because honestly all I do is type and the words just kind of come to me. Luckily I don't have to think about typing too much. :) I usually spend about 45 minutes writing my letter to you guys... Cross referencing events from my planner and my memory as well as the questions you ask. I can't believe you had 122 people at church! Gonna have to start opening the overflow if you're not careful! That's so awesome.. I wonder how big it will be 2 Novembers from now? Thanks for your advice on the dead areas. It seems like that keeps happening to me, and I guess Heavenly Father is just trying to mold me into the instrument that HE wants me to be to touch the lives of those in the areas I serve in. Oh - the guy from the anti-concert told us that he was a zone leader most of his mission and that he served faithfully even after he realized he had been "saved." Which makes the story kind of unbelievable. Also - how can you disregard the priesthood? That is the part that I don't get. I'm going to send Ryan another song as SOON as he writes me something back! And I promise it will be more difficult this time! :) I've got a really sweet one in mind if he acquiesces to my request!

I love you guys! I'll continue to take lots of pictures of my mission adventures, including my new "greenie..." :) Training is scary, but I know that it's happening right now because Heavenly Father feels that I am ready. And I pray that I will be!


- Elder Tyler Grant

September 18th, 2012

This week has been MUCH better. Not entirely because of success.. But I've felt a much lighter burden on my countenance. If you're praying for me, keep it up, and thank you :).

Last week I was feeling very discouraged. Especially with Heidi... She was trying her absolute hardest to do what Heavenly Father asked her to do, and couldn't take what was thrown back at her. She had a panic attack and was completely overwhelmed... When we visited her last week she was extremely discouraged as well. However, one thing that she has going for her is she is gaining an amazing testimony of prayer. When we first met her, she had been praying for help and that was the day that we showed up. In response to her panic attack, she needed to get on some  medication and her prescription was looking to take a month to finalize the change... But after she prayed for help, she received the new prescription 2 days later. She was even praying for her little brother who was living with a member of her family that refused to allow him to go to church. And just 3 days ago, he moved in with Heidi just so that he could go to church. She has even been praying that her mother, who has been against the church for a long time, would have a change of heart.. And 2 days ago her mom called her and said that she had just gone out and bought some new scriptures and was going to go back to church. It's truly been a miracle. Everything that she has been searching and asking for is happening... Heavenly Father is so willing to help us as we try and do what he has asked us to do. She quit smoking last Thursday, and when we talked to her on Sunday she told us that she felt like she hadn't ever been a smoker and that the desire was nearly gone. She's truly an amazing person; I feel so blessed to be able to witness and be a part of her return back into the fold of Christ.

On a slightly funnier note, we went to church with Heidi on Sunday and there was a missionary giving his 'homecoming' talk, who had just gotten off his mission in Honduras only 4 days before. He kind of looked like a .. umm .. let's just say a goober! But I wasn't too quick to judge - and I was excited to hear the joy in his returning to home and tell of all the amazing experiences he had as a missionary. So when it was his turn to speak... He got up, set his scriptures on the pulpit, and then just sat there for a good 20 seconds in silence. Then cleared his throat... And sang "I Lived in Heaven" in the most squirrelly voice I've ever heard. All four verses. He then gave his talk about how his talk was on receiving a full change of heart from a mission.. But he took it literally. That Jesus Christ is a "master surgeon" and is extremely good at transplanting our hardened heart for a new one. And how when we try and do it ourselves, we end up just putting staples, stitches, and gravel in our heart. It was extremely awkward but rather amusing... Everyone around us was looking at each other nervously and uncomfortably. He sang two other primary songs at the top of his lungs before the talk was over... Gah. At least I know what I'm NOT going to do...

Later that day, we were out in Clarkston (population approximately 700) for dinner and then went to the cemetery.. Only to discover that in this middle-of-nowhere town in Utah is the grave site of Martin Harris! Yes, THE Martin Harris! There's a huge monument and historical site there, as well as an amphitheater where they put on the biannual "Martin Harris Pageant..." How awesome is that? I got pictures! But I left my camera in my backpack and we went to the temple this morning and I didn't bring it. Next week!

Oh. I almost forgot to write about the single most interesting experience I've had since I've been in Richmond... Here goes!

So we've been trying to teach this family in Smithfield who is entirely nonmembers - they're wonderful people... They're non-denominational Christian, but they're extremely welcoming and VERY knowledgeable with their Bible. And we've been trying to set up a lesson with them, but they've been extraordinarily busy lately. Well on Thursday we got a random text message saying: "Hey missionaries! There is a concert being put on tonight by some return Mormon Missionaries and we'd like to invite you! They're AWESOME!" We asked our district leader and got the OK to go - we were actually pretty stoked because it seemed like it would be a great venue to try and teach them or answer some of their questions. They invited us to dinner and then took us down to Logan to this concert, and we walked in a tad bit late... As we walked in, the leader of the band was at the front on the microphone, but he wasn't singing... He was bearing his testimony. About a Baptist Preacher that he met on his mission in Florida who convinced him that he was saved by grace and everything in the church wasn't true. He was bearing his testimony of why he left the LDS church and returned home from his mission early to share the 'good news' with his family, who he converted ALL to his new revelation. As the show went on, every single one of the band members had the same story. They had gone on a mission, and returned home because the church WASN'T true... And they went on to convert their entire family. Some of their parents had been bishops, high councilors.. It all sounded ridiculous. We got completely tricked into going to an anti-Mormon concert. They kept saying "Take what you have learned tonight and share it with your LDS friends so that they too can know the truth!" Afterwards people swarmed us and were asking us questions and trying to Bible bash.. Luckily, the biggest indicator to me was the simple fact that the Spirit was not there. Everything they shared with the audience was twisted circular logic and scriptures out of context - and the Spirit was NOT testifying of truth. I felt so uncomfortable - but I guess it was a lot like my experience at the Jehovah's Witness church. The Holy Ghost will tell you if something is true. He will also tell you if it isn't. I even studied my scriptures after the fact and found ZERO references saying that we are "saved by grace" and saying that all we have to do is "accept Christ" into our lives. If anything said something remotely similar, the verse before or after would mention "after our works" or describe repentance and faith. I'm so grateful for the scriptures and for the power that they do have in telling us what we need to do to return to heaven. They truly are the words of the prophets - and prophets aren't there to deceive us. These guys were trying to deceive 100% and CONVINCE us that they were right. The Holy Ghost doesn't convince. It testifies.

I also had another really cool experience.. We were driving to an appointment and were going to be rather early. As we were driving down the highway I got an extremely strong prompting to go and knock on the doors on a nearby street. I figured it was just in my head, but the feeling didn't go away. Before I knew it I had hit the turn signal and we had turned off the highway onto this abandoned looking street. My companion was pretty confused to say the least.. But I just knew we had to be there. We parked our car at the end and then started knocking doors. The first home was an elderly couple who was extremely active, and they said that no one on the street were non-members or needed us. Undaunted, we visited the neighbors next door who we had JUST seen pull into the driveway. We talked to them only to discover they were members too - but they gave us 2 less-active referrals and a former investigator who lived just down the block who wanted to meet with us. We visited all 3 referrals and none of them were home... But at least now I feel I know why we were there. We also talked to a SUPER less-active guy who was very stand-offish.. But I noticed he had an Iowa Hawkeyes decal on his car. When I commented on it, I learned that he was from Davenport and had even gone fishing in Storm Lake once or twice. Sometimes people won't talk to you as a missionary, but as a person they open right up. It was super sweet. I've never had a prompting that strong before... I was just glad I chose to act and I'm grateful that Heavenly Father was guiding us to where we needed to be.

In other sweet news, I spent 8 and a half hours on Friday digging holes, planting trees, weeding, and mulching. I got some amazing blisters.

Mom - Hot chocolate? Really? It's not even that cold here yet. It hasn't started frosting or anything, but it's getting close. I can feel it. I also know that home teaching IS important, even if they don't seem receptive at the time. If you plant any sort of seed, you have done your job. You never know what may trigger that seed to sprout and rekindle a long lost testimony. That's crazy how much happened before your baptism.. At least you didn't end up like Wendy  in Star Valley - the lady who committed for baptism and then died... I'm still blown away by that. I sent Ryan a letter yesterday so hopefully he gets it soon. He needs to write back! I'm still praying for him every day and night.

Dad - Thank you for that scripture. I never do get tired of you guys saying you are proud of me - especially because I finally feel as if I'm earning it. I want to have my Heavenly Father proud of me as well. The discouragement has blown over for now. I have no doubt it will return, but luckily we have the tools to combat adversity in any form. Spiritual warfare is real - and if we put on the full  armor of God like it talks about in Ephesians, we can be prepared. As I've come to understand that, I feel particularly drawn to the scripture where it describes "feed shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace." Preparation. Scripture study. Prayer. Fasting. All of those are what protect our feet and keep us marching forward. Armed with the sword of the Spirit, we can and will be ready for whatever "fiery darts" Satan will deploy next. I'm very pumped for general conference - I hope Ryan is too. I'm going to write Evan a letter immediately after this!

We're going to the trampoline park again right after this. So that's way sweet - I'll try and get some pictures/videos to show you what it's like. I love you guys! Thank you for your support, prayers, and faith in me. I couldn't do it without you!


- Elder Tyler Grant :)

September 11th, 2012

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Oh man. I just had another one of those moments where I get here and I blank out completely. Uhh... Okay!

So when the mission split in July, there was a huge push to teach less active members of the church. Which, I admit, I was kind of irritated. Every time people gave us referrals, they were for their neighbor or person from their home teaching list that people wouldn't exert the effort or muster up the courage to go talk to them on their own. As a missionary, we are specifically set apart to teach those who are learning more about the Gospel, and outside of Utah, that applies almost entirely to non-members of the church. And while we have no problem with teaching less-active members and I had taught many in the past, we had been given strict counsel from our mission president that we were to focus and spend the greatest amount of our proselyting time working with those who are not members of the church. So when this change was announced, I was hesitant to be thrilled about the idea. I was irritated because all of the people that they were telling us to visit didn't want the missionaries there and they weren't ready for them. Fun fact: if a family won't let the home teachers come by, there is about a 0.01% chance that they'll be completely stoked when the missionaries show up at their door. More often than not, they're extremely stand-offish and a lot more rude than people who aren't members. I saw all these names that they were giving us and I was mad because if people had been doing their home teaching and making that little visit once a month, these people would not have been forgotten for so long and had so much time for Satan to work on their hearts.

So when the change was made that we were to be focusing more on less-actives, the opposite effect happened. People started focusing COMPLETELY on trying to send the missionaries to do their home teaching visits for them and weren't looking out for any opportunities to share the Gospel with non-members. As a result, the number of baptisms in the mission has dropped immensely and people are even LESS likely giving us referrals that aren't their stand-offish neighbor across the street who, while they could use the Gospel, is not ready for the missionaries. I've been praying for months for help and strength to not be discouraged or frustrated with it. It just seemed like everything had been going well and everything got flipped upside down and we're running up a steeper incline than we ever have before. It wasn't that I wasn't willing to go and visit the people who are already members - because I knew that everyone needs the message of the Gospel and everyone CAN be and WILL benefit most in their lives when they are living the principles that Jesus Christ exemplified. It was that people were sending us to everyone who was completely not ready to receive us and no matter what approach we took, we faced opposition and hostility; the "Who sent you?" mentality... I know that people are ready. I know that Heavenly Father is preparing people to receive us. I'm just running out of steam trying to maintain an optimistic outlook on "Let's see how many people will turn us away today!" It's tough because a lot of the people ARE members of the church. They're on our team. But when we walk to their porch to share this message that they at one point knew to be true, it feels like we're walking in enemy territory. I'm sorry. I don't mean to be negative. These feelings have just been weighing down on me for a while. I know that I'm not supposed to be discouraged. It just almost feels like back when I was in Tremonton when it felt like a lot of the leaders were working against us. Which I know they're not and I know that they're earnestly trying to do what's best.. Just do me a favor. Do your home teaching, please. The people out there need you. They may not be receptive at first, but they need you there. They need your warm spirits. They need your friendship. They need the Gospel and they need it from their friends - not from us. I love teaching less-actives - but they're not ready until they're ready.

I have a testimony that when people want to come back, they will come back. It doesn't take much to spark the Spirit back into their lives and rekindle the flame of their own testimonies. We've been teaching a young lady even more this last week and working with her to quit smoking, which she really really wants to do. She set a day to do it, and was super excited and willing to quit. She was doing awesome for the first two days... And then Satan threw EVERYTHING at her all at once. I hate that so much... When we are trying our absolute hardest to do what's right, Satan is fighting back just as hard to try and tear us back down to his level. He has no power over us if we don't let him, but he will do everything he can to make us think otherwise. He did everything in his power to tear her down when all she was trying to do was what she knew was right. And she became extremely discouraged. A scripture came to my mind when we were talking to her last night as she had almost given up and felt like there was no hope. I don't know where the scripture came from - since I don't know my Old Testament very well.. And I always thought this scripture was somewhere else. But I shared with her Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." Heavenly Father will not desert us. Satan will try and make us feel like we are abandoned and we have failed too many times to be forgiven. But that is absolutely not true. Jesus Christ's Atonement is infinite. There is no amount of suffering, disappointment, misery, or pain that he can't uplift and wash away. If we turn to him and do all we can to keep the commandments, he will bless us. He will forgive us. We are his children, whether we are members of the church or not, we are his sons and daughters. We can turn to him in prayer... And he will hear us.

Sorry if this letter seems a bit more somber than usual. :) I just thought I'd share some of my thoughts with you guys... Any counsel or advice you can give me will be awesome.

Mom - So wait. Ryan is a "part-time" student now? That's confusing. I was planning on writing him a letter this week for his birthday. That punk needs to write me back! Gah! Actually there's a lot of people who need to write me back.. Do I need to send the wrath of Michelle after them? I'm glad you got to explore the liberty jail area. I wish I could go there. Concerta would be nice - sending it through the mission office is fine. Any pictures you would like to send me would be appreciated - use good judgment. :)

Dad - I'm pretty glad I had that experience with fasting. It definitely put the Lord's will back into perspective and what role I truly play. I'm sure the 50,000 miles in the mission field is the longest stretch that car will ever have to go through. Did you bike your entire mission? I think i recall drivers licenses in Japan being insanely hard to obtain and way too easy to lose. I'm gonna send Ryan some piano music in the next few days... Hopefully that will help. :) I forgot all about Yankton even being a place. 5 hours? That's kind of an incredible drive. Let me know what you name the truck when you send me pictures! And Darrell the gerbil is possibly the best name I think I've ever heard. Hahaha! We finally listened to those talks you gave me like.. 6 months ago! The Cleon Skousen talk was very similar to a talk of his that I had read.. But it's so much better when it's delivered!

Anyways. I love you guys!

- Elder Tyler Grant :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4th, 2012

Hello family! Friends!

It's been so strange.. As I was coming to the family history center today, I couldn't remember for the LIFE of me what I had sent you guys in the last week.. I think the longer I'm completely immersed in the mission field, the more the weeks just blur together. It's almost just one big smudge in my mind... Hahaha.

But! Last Thursday we WERE able to take Heidi to the open house! She is the lady we have been working with who referred herself to us... We drove down to Brigham City and met her there. It's pretty sweet being a missionary - it's almost like a VIP pass and we don't even need tickets to show up to the open house! Well actually nobody does... But we have kind of that VIP vibe. Hahaha. As we walked through the temple with her and her 4 year old daughter, they were both incredibly quiet and reverent. Going through the second time was also pretty cool for me.. Since they have so many people going through every day, they kind of rush you through the whole open house. You're basically walking walking walking from start to finish with very little time to pause and just look. But on the second time through I did notice a lot more of the intricate details that go into the house of the Lord. At the end of the tour, she had a LOT of questions about everything she had seen. We did our best to answer them, and then lo and behold, the Primary President from her ward showed up! She walked over and talked to her for a while, and Heidi said "I'm so excited! I just want to go through the temple so badly!" It was just an awesome day - I'll send you pictures if I brought my cord. I haven't exactly checked if I have it yet.. Oh! Fun fact - I think I told you last week that she had been calling in sick on Sundays so that she could go to church. We texted her yesterday morning and asked her if she was able to make it to church and if she was going to get in trouble for work calling in 4 weeks in a row. She sent us a message back saying "I officially have sundays off! :) My doctor is Mormon so I got a doctor's note!" Miracles happen when you're trying to do what's right!

On Friday we had a far less miraculous experience... Normally in the mission, they buy the cars new and then trade them back in once they reach 50,000 miles. Ours had about 62,000 miles on it, so it was ancient by mission standards. :) So we got a call from our vehicle coordinator saying that there was a brand new car for us waiting at the mission office. So we headed south, through Logan, past Brigham City, and were ALMOST to Ogden... And in the middle of the freeway at 65 miles per hour, our car just shut off. The accelerator stopped working and the engine light turned on. We pulled over to the side of the road and called the mission office. Our car wouldn't start either. Unsure of what to do, our car started again and we hesitantly headed off... But a mile down the road the same thing happened. And then again. We got the car to start one more time and took the exit off and took the first street toward the mission office we could find, which was kind of a wind-y middle of nowhere back street. And, wouldn't you know it, the car shut off again. Except this time the power steering and brakes both went out... At this point we knew that it was far too dangerous to try and drive again, and had to try and direct the vehicle coordinator to us (which we had a REALLY hard time doing since neither of us knew where we were) and he picked us up and sent us on our way. So now we're driving a brand new 2012 white Toyota Corolla with 500 miles on it. Her name is Phoebe :). Hahaha.

So we had been told by a lot of members in one of our wards that there was an almost entirely non-member family that had been going to church for about 3 months every single week. And they decided it might be a good idea to refer them to us... Wow. I love members. Every single time we ask people "Do you know anyone who could benefit from the message of the Gospel?" everyone tilts their head... Thinks briefly... And then tells us their neighbor is less active and they haven't done their home teaching. No one tells us about these completely golden people! The family has a mom who is a member, and then a husband and 3 kids who aren't. All 3 of the kids (who are 18, 15, and 11) have all been asking their friends how they can be baptized. The only issue is that some missionaries went over to their home in the past and offended them - so the dad is extremely hesitant and apprehensive about missionaries just showing up at his door. So we had planned to show up at their ward on Sunday and introduce ourselves to them. We fasted all day Sunday specifically for them... And the one Sunday we went to their ward, neither them nor their fellowship family were there. We were pretty disappointed. It's such a hard balance and extremely hard to understand and be patient with those type of things, but I realized that if every time a missionary fasted for a family they had a miracle and got baptized, the church would be much larger by now. It's the same thing with prayers - if every prayer was answered exactly how people asked for them, the world would be a MUCH different place. When we pray or fast, we are not commanding God. We cannot say that just because we skipped breakfast and lunch that Heavenly Father will do it our way that day. Everything involved with missionary work is building HIS kingdom; so everything is HIS will and not ours. When we pray or fast, we are merely provided Heavenly Father with a channel whereby he can fulfill his purposes. It is dependent partially on our faith and willingness to do His work and not our own, but at the end of the day, we do not have the power to change His plan for us. Everything happens when it happens for a reason. I feel I understand that at least a little bit better now.

Mom - I am very glad that you got my pictures! They didn't take that long to write out.. I write down descriptions over time not all at once! :) Is it a pretty good system? Your  questions... 1) The Caziers were ward missionaries for the Salt River Ward up in Star Valley. They had a son on a mission that got home the week that I left the area and they were helping us fellowship a few people in their ward including a lady from Turkey.  They also owned a feed store and we helped them every Tuesday unload their huge palettes of pig, sheep, dog, and cat food. :) 2) The FISH were intended to be a birthday present for one of our zone leaders. We had it all planned out to get all those fish and put them in their bathtub.. But it was one ONE day that they locked their apartment and we couldn't get in. So we kept them as pets for a while.
 I don't know if I met Elder Jones mother. I am not serving in Logan - there are like... 12 sets of missionaries in Logan. If not more. OH!! I got the package from you guys - tell Evan his drawings were AWESOME!! And tell him his next three pokemon assignments are Alakazam, Gloom, and Miltank. And tell him the next time he sends me pictures to send me what pokemon he wants ME to draw back to him! He forgot to give me an assignment! I haven't been to Leven's yet. Maybe today. It's literally across the street from where we are right now. Tell Ryan that he's awesome and to rock out in Seussical. :)

Dad - I think that our little white Corolla outclasses your huge man-truck! Well.. Probably not. Have you given your truck a name? It's kind of a custom in the mission to have names for the cars. The Star Valley car was named Molly. The Tremonton car was the Lunchbox Avenger. And now Phoebe the Corolla. I don't envy you in biking! Actually I really don't mind it. I was enjoying it a lot in Ogden.. It was just extremely inefficient and I felt like we were getting so little done. I've never taught an Agnostic Buddhist. We're teaching a family of born-again-Christian-esque-saved-by-grace people right now and it's proving challenging enough! There was only one anti-Mormon guy at the corner of the temple in Brigham. He looked super lonely and was actually kind of a dork.. Very closed minded. Not willing to listen. I've heard that there are a lot of those at General Conference. Hows Lorin Walker doing? :) D & C Section 122 is one of my favorite sections. It's just an amazing section to share with investigators or less active families who are going through trials. And that is a LOT of babies. You have almost delivered the entire town of Afton, Wyoming. Congratulations. :)

I love you guys! I'll send you a few more pictures as I have newly discovered my camera cord in my backpack. Enjoy the pictures that I sent! Have a wonderful week!

- Elder Tyler Grant