Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Star Valley, Wyoming

Hi again!

How's everybody been? I hope it's been all right! As I read through the e-mail I sent you last week, I realized that it was possibly the longest e-mail I've ever sent. Which makes me feel I deserve a pat on the back. *Applause*

SO! This week has been way sweet in terms of the work! We had more lessons with a member present in the past week than any of the 12 weeks I was in Tremonton, and we're still picking up investigators every day! In fact, we picked up 4 new investigators between March 5th and March 11th. Which is almost unheard of unless it's an entire family, but they're 4 separate individuals! In fact, in this mission, our mission president has redefined the terms of 'new investigator' that they are NOT an investigator until they say they'll be baptized! So that's 4 people who are that much closer to taking the step of faith to follow Christ. High fives all around!

Last Thursday we had an awesome experience at a Family Home Evening. There's this guy named Brian who has been inactive for most of his life. In the past few months, he's made a lot of changes in his life and has decided to start going to church again, so he's been going pretty regularly. Well Brian invited us over to his home to share a message at their family home evening, and we discovered that his wife and two kids are not members of the church. We had NO intention of committing any of them to baptism, because although that's what we normally do on the first lesson, we were just going to share a thought with them to invite the Spirit. His wife has been Anti in the past and is JUST starting to come around and realize that the Church isn't so bad. Well his wife was sick so she was asleep when we got there, so we just taught Brian and his two sons, one who is 13 and one is 7. We taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ - how Christ led by example and showed us the pathway we need to live life in order to return to our Heavenly Father. As we shared about faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the holy ghost, the 13 year old got really excited. He's been going to church with his dad on some weeks but other weeks he's been going to the baptist church.. Which is pretty funny. But after we were done, he said "So that's what I need to do to get to heaven." We asked him what he meant. "Well, I have faith, and I know how to repent.. So I guess I should probably get baptized as soon as possible!" It was so awesome! We had no intention of pressing the issue, but in the end the Spirit did its own thing and he committed himself for baptism 3 weeks from now! Hahaha.

Oh! On Sunday Elder Billmire and I spoke in sacrament meeting about missionary work (which we often do..) and a guy came up to me afterward and asked me what part of Iowa I'm from. I answered with the usual, telling him Northwest Iowa pretty close to Omaha. He then told me he was born in Storm Lake and moved to Fonda when he was in elementary school. Small world moment number one!

In terms of the weather around here, It's been pretty.. Well, I don't know! It's gotten to be like, -5 degrees a few times, but I don't understand! It doesn't FEEL cold! You know what I mean, right? In Iowa there's that wet, biting cold that sinks into your clothes and skin and never leaves. There's also the ridiculous wind that makes it feel 20 degrees colder at all times. But Star Valley.. Doesn't seem to have that! Yeah, it gets cold just about every day. But you don't FEEL it. The air here is dry so it doesn't soak in and stay. And the wind is almost non-existent a lot of the time. The valley is completely surrounded by mountains, so it kind of cuts off most of the wind. I've only worn my winter boots one time, and that was when Elder Billmire and I decided to make a snowman in our backyard! And what a snowman that was... The snow here sucks. It's not wet and is hard to pack. So our snowman ended up looking like a giant dog turd. Oopsie daisies! Pictures will be included next time I send home stuff.

Haha last Saturday we had an interesting day too! Afton is kind of a small community in itself. But! On Tuesday, the boys and girls basketball team left (and so did half of Star Valley..) to go play at the state championships, which lasted all the way till Saturday! The girls got 4th in the state and the boys got 2nd, which is pretty good! Until you try and realize just how many high schools there are in Wyoming.. Hahaha. But anyway! It's been difficult to find people home since they've been gone. But on Friday and Saturday, there's something called the Hill Climbs that was going on up in Grover, Wyoming. And we didn't think anything of it until Saturday, when we drove down main street and didn't see a SINGLE car! There was literally nobody home. At all. So we decided in an effort to try and do SOMEthing for the day, that we'd drive up and check out what these hill climbs were. And it turns out they're super cool! We went into a canyon and the gist of the hill climbs is exactly what it sounds like. People ride their snowmobiles up sheer inclines (up an entire mountain, steep as a wall..) while swerving through slalom gates and dodging walls and ramps to see who gets the fastest time! I took plenty of pictures and saw plenty of snowmobile wipe outs. Try and imagine a $12,000 snowmobile barrel-rolling down a mountain towards you. It gets intense! But we did get to talk to some people, and the majority of the people there were drinking beer and smoking, so we found the right crowd to hang out with!

On one more slightly less fun note that I'm sure Dad will make fun of me for, I've noticed that since I've come out on my mission, my ... "aversion" to blood has become much more, shall we say, intense! Yesterday morning, I woke up at about 6:00 AM to feel my nose starting to bleed, and I caught it before it made a huge mess of my sheets and blankets. But I couldn't get it to stop bleeding for over an hour, and the amount of blood that left me scared me. Every time I tried to stand up, I lost my balance or blacked out or got a huge throbbing headache. It's mostly gone today and I'm sure most of it is psychological, but it kinda freaked me out to say the least.

Okay time for Dad's spiritual thought! This past week I was reading through the Pearl of Great Price a little bit, realizing that I never really 'studied' it while I was in seminary. But there was a verse that really kind of stuck out to me and it's kind of a depressing one, honestly. In the book of Moses, the Lord shows Enoch EVERYTHING. Enoch sees the entire world that God has created, and he even sees our day. It's Moses 7:26 that hit me super hard. As Enoch is looking over our day: "And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced." How true is that today? The verse that makes it even more powerful is 7:28: "And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept." God can see us. We are all his children. His work, his glory, his joy is to see us all progress, choose to follow Christ, and be happy. But how much harder would it be to look upon us and see that despite everything he's given us, Satan has taken hold of the hearts of the people and is laughing as he is dragging people down. The end of verse 36 seals the deal: "... and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren." People slip up. Satan wins his fair share of battles. But it's up to us to show our Heavenly Father that we are grateful for what he has given us, and return to live with him again.

Mom - *gasp* did you get to eat at HuHot? Oh how I miss that place.. In Star Valley it's pretty sparse as to establishments for eating. There's a Burger King. And a Subway. And a Mexican restaurant. And a steakhouse. And that's pretty much it. Tell you MORE about my new area!? I swear I told you enough! Okay.. We live with a man named Budd  - he's in his 80s and his wife is deceased. He lives WAYYYY up on the mountainside and we have to drive a super long muddy road to get to his house. He lives on the main floor and we have the upper floor to ourselves. It's about the same size as the Tremonton apartment, if not a little bit smaller. I'll have to make a video of it like I did last time if you'd like? Anyway - Budd buys us groceries! He keeps the pantry and fridge full of food so we don't ever have to buy anything.. I swear, in this mission I'm so spoiled. :) We went to 5 sacrament meetings last Sunday but spoke in just one of them. There seem to be a LOT of people around here who are non members that go to church with their member spouses, and they just haven't been baptized! There's a lady who has been going to church for 30 years now and has never taken that step. There's also a guy who goes every single week, has a calling (scoutmaster), and even gives talks in church when he's asked to, but he's not a member! I mean what the heck! Oh, can you send me my electric razor? I mean, I totally miss that thing.. Shaving cream every single day can get pretty annoying.

Dad - An airsoft gun, huh?  Who knew that even YOU could descend to such a juvenile field! Haha joking, obviously. It just seems so.. Not cool compared to blowing up pumpkins! I'm sure it will be awesome. Uhh.. I think it'd be easiest if you sent it to me on a USB drive. I think I'm going to start using one of those to back up my pictures on. That 8GB SD card you sent me doesn't work on my camera! I'm pretty sure it's the fact that my camera is like.. 4 years old and isn't compatible with anything anymore. So if you send it on a USB I can watch the video AND save all my pictures on it. It's a win-win! I can't wait to see how legit Ryan's piano performance is. I DID get the e-mail Papa sent me, and I guess I never wrote him back? I thought I did, but I don't see anything in the sent mail box. So I'll shoot one his way. For district meetings we actually meet up in Thayne which is 15 minutes away, but it's still in Star Valley. Elder Billmire and I cover the bottom half of the valley and there are two other goofballs that cover the north half. For District Leader Training, however, we have to drive to Montpelier, which is about, an hour away. There, the district leaders meet with the zone leaders for trainings and stuff, and I kinda just sit out and play piano and study. And I totally have those verses highlighted already! It's a pretty awesome story - but what's funnier is if you look up those scriptures (which are in the left column of the left hand page) if you look in the right column right across from it, there's a story about a lady who is mad at another lady that tricked her into boiling and eating her baby. So yes, it's definitely still Old Testament. :)

I think that about wraps it up for this week! I got a letter from Andrew Olson, which put a smile on my face for the day. Man I miss that kid. But if you think about it, he's only been out in the mission field for 4 weeks longer than I have. He just spent a transfer and a half in the MTC. So we've had similar time frames with trainers/transfers/etc. I love it here in Star Valley, and I miss all of you!

Love you all!

- Elder Tyler Grant

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