Friday, February 24, 2012

Still in Tremonton.....


So I'm kind of in a rush.. Because we have a lesson in 40 minutes and I don't have my backpack. We went to the temple again today and I left my stuff at the other missionaries' apartment thinking we'd be able to go back. But it doesn't look like its gonna be that way.. And usually I can't remember my experiences unless I look at my planner for the last week. So if I leave anything major out, I'll feel really bad.

Anyway - this morning, Satan did NOT want us to go to the temple. Hahaha.. We were at the Garland missionaries' stinky apartment (it smells like dogs and cat pee..) spending the night so we could carpool to the temple the next day. So as we were getting ready that morning and showering and stuff, one of the pipes froze and all the water backed up. The toilets started overflowing, shower was leaking, the sink was leaking, everything was just FLOODING. Luckily, we got all of our stuff out of the way before it got trashed, and we got to go to Logan anyway.

I'm still wondering if tracting is just a MORE effective way than anything else. Case in point - I wasn't there, but Elder Hall went to tract an apartment complex thats like 2 blocks away from the church building with another missionary because we were on exchanges. As a result of knocking, they found 2 less active families that are willing to be taught, and 4 new investigators that want to learn more about the church. In ONE freaking building! All in all they set up 7 lessons in about an hour and a half. It's crazy! Sometimes I feel like we get our missionary blinders up and automatically rule out anything that just "doesn't apply to Utah missionaries" and as a result people who are willing to be taught slip through the cracks. It just shows me that the Lord is still preparing people and if we don't follow the Spirit and try and do OUR will instead of His, we aren't fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. I'm reminded of a scripture in Alma 16 where it says "the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them." It's not our work. It's His.

So we had an awesome week as a zone! This past week we had one baptism and 2 confirmations (because we FOUND the kid who didn't get confirmed!). As a zone last weekend ALONE, we had 9 baptisms and 10 confirmations total. Who said Utah missionaries don't do anything!? Hahaha. I absolutely love it here in Tremonton and I'm so glad I got called to this mission. I've been getting the feeling that I might get transferred, but I won't know until next week. So I'll let you know.

I'm glad you got your package from me! Wow that was quick. I sent it on Wednesday and you got it on Friday? That's awesome! And the reason I sent CDs and videos of pictures is that if they got lost in the mail they could be replaced. I didn't want to send my only copy of the pictures and have it get crushed or lost. I KNEW Evan would love that orange tie! Hahaha.. and I'm surprised dad likes the pink one! It's PAISLEY for crying out loud! Hahaha.

Umm... Gosh I hate it when I lose my planner. Now I don't remember what happened this past week! Have I really been ignoring all Dad's questions? Hmm.. let me browse through them really quick and see if anything major sticks out. Umm... NO I had NOT heard that Ryan and Deidra are expecting a baby! Yay!! What does that make me. An Uncle.. once removed.. half? I don't know.... I can't find anymore questions without reading everything and I don't have time. Basically I hit CTRL+F and searched for "?" and didn't have anything jump out at me. If there's anything you'd like me to comment on then feel free to send them and bold them or something. :) And please.. I would rather NOT hear about C-Section training. *shudders*

*Gasp* Ben has been in the MTC for like, 2 weeks now, right? Wow thats crazy! I swear, every week gets faster in the mission field. I've already almost been in the field for 3 months, and I've been away from home for even longer. Where is the time going!? I gotta keep taking pictures.. Still haven't missed a day of my journal yet!
I'll have to play catch-up with anything else I missed this past week, but I'm still having fun and learning a lot!


- Elder Tyler Grant

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tracting for the first time...

Hey dere everyone! What up?

Hahaha. It's even weird to TYPE casually! How's everyone doing? I don't know why I asked that. It's not like they'll all answer me.. But whateva!

This past week has truly been a week of growth for me. For one - our mission has started a thing called "Quality Gospel Conversations" that we're supposed to do now. Apparently, missionaries have been having trouble finding new investigators and can't determine why. The reason is that they've developed an incredibly false mentality that EVERYONE is a member in Utah, and that talking to everyone you see is a waste of time. This is NOT TRUE! In an attempt to contact, talk to, and find more people to teach, we have been challenged to talk to basically everyone we see, and try and leave them with a commitment of some kind, even if they're a member. If they're non-members, we can leave them with a Book of Mormon, a card, or an invitation to learn more. But if they're members, often we challenge them to bear their testimony to someone they know, or even to invite one of their friends to hear the gospel. It's kind of weird that we're implementing this, because 98% of other missionaries ALREADY do nothing BUT talk to everyone they see on a daily basis. I think its funny actually. But at the same time, it's not like it's a hard thing to do, and I've gotten much better with connecting with people immediately. It's awesome!

Oh hey! I forgot to tell you something last week! I actually got to go TRACTING for the first time! It was so WEIRD! We were on exchanges and Elder Passey and I just randomly decided to start knocking doors in this apartment complex. 7 out of the 8 doors that opened were not members, and the 8th one has 2 children that haven't been baptized! It was so crazy! But we met this guy named Rafael who we've now met with a few times, and he's SO golden. It was just really a testimony to me that the Lord is preparing people for us to find, and we can't just say "we don't tract in Utah.." and expect to find them all.

So last Tuesday after I sent you guys an e-mail, I got to go on a mini-split out of our area to help teach this guy named Chris. And he is literally one of the coolest guys I've ever met. I'm completely convinced I'm never going to meet another guy like him, like ever. He's about 30 years old and works as a construction worker. Boring right? Oh yeah. He was a practicing Satanist for like 10 years when he lived in Colorado. His job moved him to Utah, and when he moved there it was the first time he'd ever heard about the church. He didn't mind being surrounded by it, but at one point he walked into a church building and he FELT something. He was so used to having voices in his head and feeling spirits and evil thoughts but as SOON as he walked into the building, he said he couldn't speak. He felt something leave him. Since then, he has been investigating the church and wants to be baptized! He's been taught for a very long time, but he's getting so close that it's just crazy. It was one of the coolest things I've ever done.

Okay! So Dad- I don't know how it was in Japan, but around here there are "eternigators.." - people who have no problem with missionaries meeting with them and say they want to change their lives, but refuse to keep commitments, dodge appointments, etc. Well there's this guy in our area named Paul who has been taking the lessons on and off for almost 5 years now. His wife is a member and his children have all been baptized too, but he's just never made the decision to take that step of faith and find out for himself if it's true. BUT! We've got him reading the scriptures (like he has NEVER committed to do before..) and committed to keep going to church (which he has NEVER done before..) and he's expressed desire to be baptized! His wife told us the other day, "You know, whenever Paul has had the missionaries over, I've been hopeful, but nothing has ever come of it. But I can promise you - he is closer right now than he has EVER been before. Whatever you're doing, keep it up!" I'm so excited for him. He's such a super sweet guy and I love seeing the changes he's making bring happiness to him and his family.

We're still having problems with lessons cancelling (at one point we had 9 lessons cancel in a row...) but we're getting our share in of lessons that go well and we've made a ton of new contacts that are just brimming with potential. I'm so excited for these next few weeks. I'd LOVE to stay in the area for at least one more transfer, especially because Elder Hall and I have been doing so much foundational work building up the area and contacting just about every single person we've been given. It'd just be nice to finally see the fruits of all our labors, because this next transfer some amazing things are going to happen. OH! So this past Sunday, one of our investigators that we'd dropped for not keeping appointments, went to church and stayed the whole 3 hours and loved it! That was his major hangup - he had been taught a lot and committed to do things but the one thing that he would NEVER follow through on was going to church. So we get to keep teaching him! Yay!

Lets see on questions.. Uhh, yes I got the package that you sent Mom! I'm fine on inhalers, and now I am restocked on pills. Big whoop. Dang it sounds like there is a lot of work going on in the Storm Lake Branch! That's so amazing to hear. I'm trying to remember how many baptisms we've had in the past 11 years living there and it seems like there was never a whole lot, but hey - if it's picking up, then kudos to the missionaries for working hard! Even if Elder Faas finally left. What a drag. You can go to Scott's wedding, Mom! I suppose it depends where I get transferred to or where I'm at in April, but right now I'm so far away from Bountiful that it probably wouldn't even be a temptation. You'd get over it at any rate.

I'm sending home a package with all manner of amazing things for you guys either today or tomorrow. I was really hoping to send it today, but I still have to compile it organize it and.. uhh.. Get help from the post office. Yeah it's not gonna get sent till tomorrow. But I promise it's coming! Thanks for the CDs and food and stuff and things. I'm excited for Ryan and all his speech stuff! All State is so much fun. I've gained.. umm.. 10 pounds. *Facepalm* But it feels like so much more! GAH!

Love you all!

- Elder Tyler Grant

Hello world

Hello world.

And everybody inside it.

This week has been frustrating. Almost ALL of our lessons cancelled. Again. It's kind of hard to not be frustrated when you have a fairly large teaching pool and for one reason or another, you can't contact or set up lessons with almost any of them. We've tried and tried and tried to get more work going in the other stake, to the extent that we've spent entire DAYS talking with members and contacting people that they said were just "maybe" ready to hear from us. And after all of our efforts, the Ward Mission Leaders and stake leaders still aren't willing to help us out by meeting with us and discussing the work. We've spent countless miles driving way out to the Ward Mission Leaders homes just to try and gain their trust and talk about the work in their area, but no matter what we've done, they can't seem to catch the vision. Since Elder Hall has been in the area (almost 4 weeks..) we haven't had our meeting where we discuss missionary work. It's supposed to be weekly. And they won't do it. I'm trying so hard to not get down on myself for it, because its the same thing as with the people we're teaching. We can teach the importance of things, show them we care, develop a relationship of trust with them, but ultimately - it's their choice whether or not they want to help us or not. We'll keep working. It's strange - normally missionaries have to pray for the people they're teaching, but here we're really working to soften the hearts of the members we're working with, because we truly can't do the work without them.

We had ANOTHER interesting experience this week. We had a baptism this Saturday, a kid named Carson who's mom is an active member and who's dad is a Jehovah's Witness. Interesting, yes? But anyway. They are THE hardest people to find at home. I don't know where they go! But they just disappear constantly. Well for the whole week before he was supposed to be baptized, we went over to his house like twice a day every day to see if we could help out with the service at all. If they wanted us to make the program, give talks, etc. But we didn't find them home till Friday evening, and they assured us that everything was fine. Well on Saturday, they showed up and lo and behold - they had no one to give talks, no songs picked out, no program printed, nothing assigned at all. The songs they picked out on the fly nobody knew the words to, so it was incredibly awkward. And Carson was so nervous that he didn't want anyone to give talks, he just wanted it to be over with. Well the baptism went fine and the Spirit was felt despite all the awkwardness.

BUT!! This story is not over!! We showed up in Sacrament meeting for church the next day for Carson's confirmation... But he never showed up. No one from his family did. They didn't call us. We went over to his house and no one was there. We haven't been able to find him... I'm so confused. So I guess keep him in your prayers. We lost an investigator..

I'm glad to hear that Ryan has been going to church! Hahaha.. I'm planning on sending you guys a Valentine's Day package/Christmas package.. since I never sent anything.. We're going up to Logan next Tuesday and I'm gonna get a few ties for the family to send home. It's not often that you can get such high quality ties for $5 each after all.. Hahaha. Congratulations on speech! That's way sweet. I miss those days..

OMG. So. I determined that the reason I'm getting fat is because I've been eating so many chips. Usually Salt & Vinegar chips. SO! I gave up chips for the rest of the transfer! AND LITERALLY! THE DAY AFTER I GIVE THEM UP - I get a box from Nanny.. with 6 bags of Ketchup Chips.. I'm so torn. Do I eat them? Do I risk becoming large?

I suppose we did have ONE thing go right for us this week!! We've been teaching this kid named Brenden. He's 11, has ADHD (isn't medicated), and all he does ALL day is play Call of Duty. Remind you of anyone? :) But anyway! We've been teaching him since I got into the area back in mid-December and he's expressed desire to be baptized the ENTIRE time, but we've never been able to get him to go to church! Well GUESS who went to church last Sunday!? It's a miracle! Yay!

Umm.. I've kind of been ignoring people's questions lately. Mom - those CDs you found are the only ones that I have. The other ones I brought up I don't own the physical CD, I was hoping you'd order them. :) Hahaha. There is NO place to get music here in Tremonton. It's kind of a drag.

I loves you all! I love being a missionary still. It's so much fun even when it's NOT fun. I guess you gotta experience it to know :)

With Love,

- Elder Tyler Grant :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Still in Tremonton....

Hello everyone!!

For starters- Mom: I have NOT heard anything from dad for the past 2 weeks, so I really don't know what adventure you're talking about. I guess I won't find out till next week...

But hi!! It has been a rather productive week here in Tremonton, I must say. It's strange - we're contacting TONS and TONS of people, a lot of members, auxiliaries/presidencies, and lots of investigators. But our numbers in terms of lessons taught have slipped... The problem is that Elder Scoggin and I were teaching so many people at once and some of them moved, some of them dropped us, and the rest of them we baptized. :) So Elder Hall and I have really truly had to start from square one.

Another problem that we have been facing is that all of our work is in one stake. The South Stake has had work fairly steadily for a while now, and we're continuing to pick people up and cycle through them as they stop keeping commitments or progress. However, the West Stake Correlation has 2 very distinct problems. 1) They REFUSE to have a weekly meeting to correlate missionary work. This I don't understand. Outside of Utah, the missionaries will meet regularly with the ward council and discuss people to teach. But we CAN'T go to 15 ward councils every single Sunday. Thus the weekly correlation meeting was created. 2) A missionary about 8 months ago seriously offended a lot of the ward mission leaders by essentially calling them all lazy bums who don't know what the meaning of sacrifice is and walked out of the meeting saying "Now if you'll excuse me, I have stuff to do." Yeah.. There's definitely a noticeable distrust among the West Stake ward mission leaders and it's very apparent on the amount of work that we have going. Oh. There's a 3rd problem. 3) A lot of the stake records are screwed up in West Stake. We have had 4 people in the last 2 weeks that we have gone over and taught lessons to only to realize that they were all members with the baptismal records screwed up. So we go to teach them, spend time out of our day talking to them, and then they tell us that all their family have been baptized. They aren't making it up either - the west stake clerks just haven't input the data on a lot of them. So they're wasting our time. It's been very frustrating to say the least. But we've still got a fairly good teaching pool and an even larger pool of potential contacts that we're going out and visiting.

Uhh. So last Thursday we had district meeting and afterwards our district went out to lunch at Wendy's. When we walked in the door, there was an older man there that jumped in front of all of us in line, gave the lady his credit card, and said "Do NOT let them pay for themselves! Lunch is on me today!" Yeah. All 8 of us. 6 Elders (ouch) and 2 Sisters (who ate more than we did.. :) ). Members here are so crazy generous. Sometimes I just want to say no thank you, but our Mission President has told us that we seriously can't deny them. People get offended if you do. Apparently if they help us out they get blessings or something. I don't know. That's what they tell me.

Am I really running out of stuff to say!? I'm probably getting much fatter. In fact I know I am. I haven't weighed myself because I'm scared to. There's an Elder in my district who has gained 50 pounds since he came out on his mission, and he's only been out for like a year. He showed me a picture of himself before his mission - back when he had a neck... It's kind of funny actually. But I don't wanna puff up! GAH! I'd better start actually waking up or something and working out. Shhh....

GUESS WHAT!? I GOT SOME MAIL BACK!! I got a letter every day for 4 days straight! Elder Hall now thinks I'm some sort of player... But I had a good laugh about it. I haven't lost all hope in the postal service yet.

Umm.. The other day I got to speak at a missionary farewell! AND NOT like an Iowa farewell. A UTAH farewell. There were literally close to 1000 people between the chapel, completely full gym, and hallways. It was like speaking at commencement all over again. It was funny because when the bishop asked us to speak he definitely didn't say it would be for a farewell, nor did he say that half the planet would be in attendance. It was funny though. I got to talk about my pathetic little farewell that almost didn't happen. And they got a good laugh out of that.

I will keep Ryan in my prayers. Kid needs to shape up or something! He's probably spending too much time playing the bagpipes to go to school anyway. Let's be honest - that's more important anyway. :) I bought another load of 12 ties today from Leven's ... I hope this doesn't grow into an obsession. Elder Garrett, our District Leader, has over 100 ties, and he's sent like 100 ties home because he didn't have room in his suitcase for them. I shall NOT get that obsessed. I haven't gotten my haircut yet either! AHH!! I'm getting it cut tomorrow though. I look like a slacker right now.

We're praying for miracles this transfer. I guess all that can be done now is get to work. I love you and miss you all! And I hope to actually hear from Dad next week.  Best of luck to Ben! And Cody! And Kepler! And.. Whoever else I haven't heard about!


- Elder Tyler Grant