Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Star Valley, Wyoming

Hi everyone!

So yes, it's true! I got transferred! Last Wednesday morning we drove down to South Ogden for my first time since I reported, and I rode the mission van up to Logan. Side note - packing is NOT fun. At ALL. Especially because I feel like i have so much stuff! I'm considering sending most of my long sleeve shirts home, because I have literally worn a long sleeve shirt one time since I've left home, and that was in the MTC. But anyway, I met up with my new companion in Logan. His name is Elder Billmire and he's from Texas. He's an awesome missionary - very laid back, but a very hard worker. He honestly reminds me EXACTLY of Zack Kelly. Like, in every single way. So that's probably why I've been having so much fun around him.

Anyway, so yes! We cover half of Star Valley in Wyoming. We only cover one stake this time, which consists of 9 wards, which believe it or not is pretty small for any area in this mission :). Haha - but we cover a town of about 2000 people called Afton, and then a few other surrounding towns named Osmond, Fairview, and Smoot! Yes, SMOOT! I was wondering where I had heard that before, but I SWEAR that right when I opened my mission call, Miss Kim Kelly told me that she had family or people she knew in Smoot, so if you can tell me who they are, we'll be sure to go visit them! Especially because Smoot is a thriving metropolis of about 100 people.. Hahaha. Oh by the way. Star Valley is 3 hours from Logan. Yes. 3 Hours from the next populated area in the mission. And an hour and a half from the next set of missionaries. We're kind of like lone soldiers up here, but I love it! The drive up here was crazy because we climbed and fell between 4800 and 7200 elevation and drove through 3 separate canyons in the middle of a blizzard. Hahaha it was so awesome! It has snowed 5 of the 7 days I've been here. It actually feels like winter! Star Valley is also an enormous change compared to Tremonton in the member concentration. For one, everybody is so spread out. In Tremonton we were allowed 1400 miles for a month, and in Star Valley we get 2400. But the other major difference is that Tremonton had about 80-85% member population, and Star Valley is closer to 60%.

Regardless of how many members there are, the work here is AWESOME!! When I got here they didn't have that many investigators or anyone that was really close to baptism, but in the past week we have literally picked up 2 people with a date, committed 3 more to be baptized but no date yet, and have almost 20 other people who are on our potentials list that we just need to set up an appointment with! The work is EXPLODING here because of the temple that's going to be erected here before too long! No one knows where it's gonna be yet, and it's been funny talking to people about their reactions when they found out there was gonna be a temple. The unanimous reaction from members around here was "Wait.. Is that a joke? We're not a city.." Hahaha. But the members here are pretty awesome! They're not QUITE as supportive as the Tremonton members, but there's something funny about them that I didn't expect: people SWEAR around here like it's nobody's business. Even the fully active members! I know it's kind of a problem, but at the same time it's pretty funny to hear people bear their testimonies one second and then swear the next. Hahaha... It's going to be an adjustment!!

There has also been something going on around here that I find funny. So a few months ago, the high school had a formal dance. The girls that showed up to this dance decided not to dress entirely appropriately, to put it lightly. I've had it described as it looked like they were wearing bathing suits... Yeah inappropriate. But anyway. The school has always had a dress code with dances, but after this happened they decided to put their foot down and actually enforce the dress code. Problem. Prom is coming up. The school put up posters talking about how the dress code was going to be enforced and if you didn't show up appropriately dressed then you wouldn't be let into prom. Anyhow - this has kind of started something similar to World War III at the high school. Some non member girls freaked out and wrote some extremely angry letters to the editorials saying that they're just "trying to get them to dress like the Mormon girls" and how everything "reaks of the 'For the Strength of Youth' pamphlet that they're trying to convert us to." As a result, a few people got together and decided they are going to have a SECOND prom a week later! They've rented out the civic center and are not enforcing a dress code. One of our ward missionaries has very affectionately dubbed the two dances "Celestial Prom" and "Skank Prom." Hahaha.. So there's drama out here in the middle of nowhere too! It's just interesting to see how Satan works to try and tear down the standards that we've been given. The dress code wasn't even that bad either! They just basically wanted them to look like they were WEARING CLOTHES... But yeah. My companion and I are thinking about showing up to the alternate prom and passing out Restoration pamphlets and For the Strength of Youth pamphlets just to see how that goes over.. Haha what do you think? :)

Oh. One more funny story from last week that I forgot to mention.. If you remember all I've told you about Leven's then you'll know that it's a hotspot for missionaries to go get super sick ties for 5 bucks each. Anyway - for the past few weeks we had been expecting a new shipment of ties to come in and every single time we'd go in they'd tell us that the ties were COMING, but not there yet. Last Tuesday we got there and the story was the same. But since transfers were the next day, they did us a favor. The owners of the store  called the UPS truck, flagged him down, and asked him to come deliver the ties that morning that were not supposed to arrive till that afternoon! So we beheld an ENTIRE SHIPMENT of about 4000 brand new ties get delivered right before our eyes!! I felt like a little kid sitting at the window waiting for Santa to come. It was so awesome.

OH! OUR MISSION IS BEING SPLIT!! On July 1st (When President Olson leaves..) we are losing 3 entire zones!! They're forming not one, but TWO new Salt Lake City Missions (that will make FIVE missions, if anyone's counting..) and are taking out a LOT of the area from the south end of our mission to form the new boundaries. There's gonna be like... 40 missionaries in this mission that will be shifted over to the new mission if they are serving in any of those areas at that time. I really REALLY hope I don't have to switch missions.. That would just suck. From what Elder Billmire has heard from President Olson, he and I are going to be up here in Star Valley for a while though. So hopefully I'll be safe. It'll be nice to actually have a companion for longer than 6 weeks, actually.. I've only been out 3 months but I'm already on my third companion. That makes me look like a problem missionary! But I promise that's not the case! My first companion got called as a Zone Leader after serving with me, and my second companion got called as a trainer. So it's not because I don't get along! I have loved all my companions so far, and have made an effort to learn from them as I serve with them.

Umm.. Spiritual thought for the week for Dad.. Umm.. Oh! In the past week in my studies I found a scripture that hit me really hard. It's the last verse in the book of Enos, and I wonder why it's never stuck out to me before. It's a scripture that has really motivated me to strive to do my best each and every day. This gospel that we know to be true is a gospel of transformation; a gospel of change; and each and every day is a new opportunity to show our Heavenly Father that we are doing our best. But this verse deals with how we want our Heavenly Father to view us, and the faith that Enos has. Verse 27: "And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen." How  powerful is that? How amazing would it be to KNOW that our Heavenly Father will be pleased with our life here on Earth? Sure, we screw up. But through the Atonement of Christ, all of our burdens can be washed away and we can become perfected beings. On the other hand, I cross referenced this verse to Alma 12:14, which is a SCARY scripture. It's kind of a kick in the butt for me to know how we will feel if we DIDN'T give it our all. Verse 14: "For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence." Wow. How do WE want to feel at the judgment day? Will we be able to look Christ straight in the eyes with pleasure? Or will we want to hide? It's completely up to us.

Lets check out the questions for the day... Oh! For one, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY!! I totally didn't forget it I promise!! :) Mom - I haven't worn my boots yet.. I don't know if I'm going to need them! My Ecco's are rollin' just fine. And no I haven't been chasing cows, but I think I have seen more deer and elk here in the past week than I have in my ENTIRE LIFE. The deer just walk through town in the middle of the day. They hang out in people's yards, in parking lots, and just walk around like stray cats. It's really funny actually. I have the music for "All of Me" already, but I haven't had any time to practice it. Been working too hard! But I HAVE had a little bit of time to work on Jon Schmidt's "Waterfall" which is coming along pretty well. I haven't practiced in about 4 weeks though.. It was kind of a first transfer project I guess. As for addresses I don't know of any. Just tell Ryan to write me back! And tell him to get up in the morning! Make sure that he listens to Troy Dunn's "Life is a Football Game" with Dad. Or even make it an FHE!! There's some profound stuff in there that I know he'll benefit from. I've listened to a few talk tapes here and there, and I truly have found some that I love and have learned a lot from! There's another one you need to look up. Look up Bill Carpenter's conversion story. It's kind of an older audio recording, but it talks of a guy who was going to school to become a Catholic priest and ended up serving a mission in the Des Moines Iowa mission. Check that one out. :)

I'm running out of stuff to say! I hope I included enough details for Mom.. In short, I absolutely LOVE it here already and am so excited to see all the work unfold that is starting to come to pass. I miss you guys!

Love you all!

- Elder Tyler Grant :)

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