Monday, April 30, 2012

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Hello everybody!

Question - Has dad sent that USB stick yet? It's been like 4 weeks since he said (and I quote..) : "No more delays!" I've been meaning to send you guys pictures home and its not practical to send them 3 at a time... as I've taken over 200 pictures and that would take a while.. So if you could get me that USB stick I can back up my pictures, burn them onto a CD, send them to you, and clear my camera before it's completely full. Please and thank you. (:

Anyway. This past week has been.. Awesome! Another week of ups and downs for sure, but I'm pretty sure that's just life in the mission field.. On Friday we went to Wendi's funeral. Considering it was only the second funeral I've ever been to in my life, and the first one was for one of my best friends, it was a completely different experience. At Murph's funeral, there were more people there than I could count. At Wendi's funeral, there were exactly 15 people. We had it at the church building in the ward she went to - and it was a very touching experience. All there was for the program was an opening hymn and prayer, and then her husband and stepson shared a few memories with us. I admired that kid - I don't think I could stand up at my mother's funeral when I was 10 years old and tell her how much I loved her. The bishop also stood up and shared his testimony of the Plan of Salvation and how he knew that Wendi was in a better place.

I'm trying extremely hard to focus right now.. But it's one of those days in the Family History Center where there's TONS of people here and they're all talking loudly (hearing aids must be off..) and all at the same time. So if the quality of this letter isn't up to par with the rest of them, then I blame it on the atmosphere and the fact that my Concerta hasn't kicked in 100% yet.

We had another sweet breakthrough with one of our investigators. He's an 18 year old kid that's living with a member family. He's gone to Star Valley High School his entire life and has been surrounded by a ton of good influences. For his senior year, his parents moved to Jackson (an hour north of Star Valley) and he wanted to finish his senior year with his friends. So he moved in with one of his friends and has been living there since the beginning of August. Initially, his interest in the church was slim - he went to mutual every once in a while, and that was pretty much the extent of it. But a few months ago, the family was fellow shipping another kid while he was being taught in their home, and he sat in on all of the lessons. After the lessons were over with, he decided it was something that he wanted to pursue. So his friends (being awesome missionaries) bought him a Book of Mormon and all wrote their testimonies in it. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and not just reading it - STUDYING it. He has 2 separate study manuals that he reads at the same time and cross references each and every chapter to absorb as much information as he can. And that's about how far he's been. He promised himself he wouldn't commit to anything until after he finished the Book of Mormon - and things have kind of been at a standstill. When I first met him, he was in Mosiah; and I figured that sooner or later, he'd finish and the missionaries that came in after me would get to see him get baptized. Well a few weeks ago he went to General Conference, and something changed in him. He's been going to church (recently, all 3 hours!), he's been praying publicly, and the last few times we've talked with him he's accelerated his reading to a breakneck pace. He's been reading upwards of 30 chapters between visits... Well we had a lesson with him on Sunday and, as always, the entire family sat in on it. We asked him a few questions, and it seemed like the answer he'd been longingly searching for had finally come to him - but the family was getting in the way. They kept interrupting us and asking questions that didn't really pertain to him, so the window of opportunity was closing rapidly.. The lesson came to a close, and we knew we had to do something. After the closing prayer, we went up to him and asked him what his feelings were; we didn't want to put him on the spot in front of everybody. So he shooed everyone out of the room (which was funny..) and told us that he knows it's true! He told us that he's been reading the Book of Mormon so much lately because of the promise that he made with himself. He recently finished 3rd Nephi chapter 11 (which we told him to focus on HARD) and said it was a completely different feeling than he's ever experienced; and the reason he's reading so much is he's trying to hurry to the end so he can get baptized! Hahaha - so we'll hopefully be able to have a baptism in the next few weeks. We're all super excited for him, but the family doesn't know it yet! So I hope they don't read my blog.. That'd be awkward.

In the sad news for the week, we've been having more problems with investigators continuously moving their baptismal dates back. There's one teenage kid who we started teaching at the beginning of March who, when we initially talked to him, was fired up and ready to go about baptism. But due to family problems, church attendance, and other things he's STILL not baptized... And now because they've pushed it back so much he's starting to second guess the feelings of the Holy Ghost. He and his little sister were supposed to get baptized on May 12th, but he's not even sure that he wants to anymore. It's frustrating - the rate of conversion is highly dependent on not only the exertion and effort of the missionaries and investigators, but HUGELY dependent on the friendship and welcoming of the ward. And in every single case with the people we're teaching, the ward and stake support isn't there. I'm starting to realize that everything that revolves around missionary work has to start at the top with the stake president, and funnel on down to the individual wards and auxiliaries so that everyone is playing on the same team and is on the same page. In Tremonton, there were two stakes and a black and white difference between the two. In the stake where the stake president and all the ward mission leaders were on board, we had 95% of our appointments. In the other, there was the same amount of work, but we weren't able to teach anyone because there was no support. Elder Billmire and I have been really focusing our efforts on members this past week - we have a meeting with the stake president on Sunday to discuss goals and plans of action to try and get the stake rolling along. If you're praying for us, keep it up, because we're going to need it in this next week. Many of our contacts have started to slip through the cracks and we're trying to fire up everyone else so we can use the Lord's time more efficiently and effectively.

In an update with the non-member family we've been teaching, the dad now has Sarcoidosis (which I remember from all the episodes of House..) along with another disease that I can't remember. And his wife was terminated from her position at work and they have no income. The worst part about it is that the wife is convinced that the company she works for is a church company (which it's not at ALL..) and that everyone in the church is now turned against her. Somehow everyone including missionaries is to blame for her predicament, and they don't want to meet with us anymore.. Frustrating. Sometimes Satan just needs to back off, you know?

Mom - I'm glad to hear that you received a phone call.. The funny thing is I was convinced that my talk wasn't very good at all! Just TRY and condense the Plan of Salvation into a 15 minute talk and not use any visual aids to illustrate.. It was way difficult! But immediately afterwards, the man who called you walked up to me and handed me a piece of paper and a pen. He told me to write down your guys' phone number so he could call you and said how good a job I did.. Just being polite? Maybe.. Or maybe I'm being too self critical. Who knows! The fact that Cody is finally leaving on his mission is nuts! Wish him luck for me.. He'll be awesome. Haha - what's my opinion of procrastination? It's.. Well, I think the only thing I can relate to is when Elders will go into an area and be timid about inviting people to repent and make commitments. When in reality, there's no point in being afraid! We're only in an area for a short period of time, and we're set apart to call people to repentance, not to be their buddy! So I guess I've learned it's easier and more productive to just go out and get stuff done, and if we get rejected, so be it! On a medication note - I realized I'm down to my last Advair, so if it's not too much trouble, can I have some more so I can breathe? Thanks! And the iPod can't come fast enough.. I'm excited :) by the way.. when are we gonna get some corvette pictures, dang it!? Haha.. It's been over 2 weeks, and it'll be another week before we even get to see them IF you send them before next Tuesday! JEEZ! Haha.. Joking!

Dad - I guess it's never occurred to me that I've never wanted to drive the corvette.. I mean, it's YOUR car, and I guess stick shift was too much to learn to have the desire to drive it.. Haha. I appreciate the talks you've been sending me.. I haven't been able to print them off, so I haven't been able to study them like I'd like to.. But sometime I will. Hahaha - naked in the Celestial Kingdom? Umm.. Yeah some people are strange. It's just that much worse when you hype someone up to how peaceful and awesome church is and then they see someone ranting and raving and jumping up and down.. What question can I ask you.. I guess I have been wondering. When you were on your mission, what church officials did you get to work with? The reason I ask is because MANY people I talk to who served missions say they covered one ward and only worked with bishops and ward missionaries, and were able to get to know everyone in the ward. We primarily work on the stake level - stake correlation meetings and through stake presidents regularly. So I'm guessing your mission was run a little differently :). I feel so blessed to have this unique chance to work so closely with the higher keys of the priesthood. It's just been awesome. And in terms of struggles I've had, I guess I haven't really had a whole lot. I've felt that though we've had trials and frustrations, the Lord has blessed us with miracles and opportunities to serve that more than compensate for lack of success. So if that's what you mean, then okie dokie :)

Ryan - Look up the band "Cartel" .. I'm sure you'd love them. Especially the songs "Let's Go" , "27 Steps" , and "Perfect Mistake." Just a thought!

I love you all, and hope to hear from you soon!

- Elder Tyler Grant :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 17th, 2012 still happy in Star Valley

Hello everyone!

This week has been one of the most memorable weeks of my mission so far. We taught more lessons than I've ever taught before AND put 3 more people on date for baptism! But there are a lot of other contributing factors to the week than just that.

When I got into the area, we started teaching this lady named Wendi. She's in her 40s and has had some health problems stemming from a bad back and mild diabetes. She's been awesome to teach - she lives with her husband and they live in extremely humble circumstances. When we first met her she was outside smoking, but she immediately told us she really wants to quit. So we began teaching her the Restoration of the Gospel and there was almost a visible light in her eyes as the Spirit filled the room and touched her heart. We tried to commit her for a baptismal date 3 weeks away, but she hesitated. She said she wouldn't commit for a date until she learned more, and although we told her we would continue coming by and teaching her until she WAS ready, we couldn't stick her with a date. For the next few weeks she was very difficult to get a hold of - appointments fell through, and we struggled to teach her again. Last week we finally met her at her home, and she came out on the doorstep to talk to us. We were prompted that we should talk about baptism.. and we did. She had been going to church and reading the Book of Mormon, and felt that she had learned a lot. Sound in her understanding and knowing that the Spirit had communicated to her that it was true, we committed her for baptism on April 28th. We were thrilled for her and I just knew that she was gonna make it. That was on Wednesday. But on Saturday, we received a phone call from the Relief Society President. Elder Billmire answered the phone, talked for a minute, and hung up. He then told me the news - "Wendi died this morning. She was feeling fine last night but just never woke up." That freaked me out. How could she be gone? She was only 40 years old. What would happen to her? It was just unreal that a person that I was coming to love and teach was just all of the sudden gone. A scripture came to my mind, and it kind of gave me a sense of drive and purpose. Alma 34:33 says "And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed." I never thought that this would be something that would occur on my mission, and it's kind of an extreme example - but it's really shown me that the Lord's work is done on HIS time and not on ours or anyone else's. If Wendi had accepted the baptismal date in faith the first time we came in contact with her, then she could have received the remission of sins that came from baptism and the overwhelming peace that comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result of this experience, I have had kind of a new awakening within me. Everyone needs to hear the message that we have to share, and although we may not know it, we may not have all the time in the world. I now realize that we need to strive to work our absolute hardest each and every day for the people we teach. Because just like that, they can be gone.

Another experience I had this week was going to Zone Conference yesterday. It's only the second one I've been to, but it was just amazing. We have a lot of giants in this mission; true examples of amazing leadership that I can look up to as a pattern of what I wish to become. Some of the missionaries going home this transfer bore their testimonies, and it was incredibly powerful. One of them, when he stood up, I wasn't sure what to expect. He was one that didn't necessarily have the greatest reputation throughout the entire mission, but I'd served around him and he seemed like an incredibly intelligent and bright young guy. I couldn't figure out why everyone judged him the way they did because I didn't see that in him at all. So when he stood up, he straight up told everyone that the one bit of advice he'd give to missionaries is NOT to talk down on other missionaries. He was well aware of the judgments that surrounded him, and it soon became apparent that none of them were true. They were hovering judgments of things he had done at the very beginning of his mission, but because no one ever took the time to know him and just accepted gossip as truth, his entire growth and development as a missionary was stunted by false preconceived notions and unjust criticisms. After his testimony, the mission president stood up and publicly apologized to him, as he too had believed a lot of what was said. It really pained me to see this amazing guy who's mission may have been terribly affected by something that was in the past. He also spoke about repentance and forgiveness - he had worked so hard to overcome his weaknesses and shortcomings in the sight of God, and God had forgiven him. So why was it so hard to gain the forgiveness and acceptance of everyone else? We are supposed to be the Lord's servants; and yet, all of us are still imperfect people who are continually trying to do better. It was an incredibly spiritual learning experience for me.

Wow, that was a lot of learning experiences for one week! Want to hear a funny one? So last week in one of the wards it was fast and testimony meeting, which as I have come to learn on my mission, can either be REALLY good or REALLY.. well, different. So this particular Sunday we had 3 investigators in church, which is awesome for one ward! The meeting was going fine, and I was just praying that no one would get up and drive away the Spirit, to put it lightly haha. That sounds so terrible! But I'm SURE that everyone who reads these who has been to an LDS testimony meeting knows what I mean. Well.. Unfortunately for our investigators and for us, we didn't turn out so lucky. A lady got up and talked for TWENTY FIVE minutes about.. Well, not a whole lot. She was basically rambling about her life and how much she loved her visiting teacher. But at one point, she was yelling from the pulpit: "I.. I just wanted to hurt the world so badly! I wanted to hurt everyone! Hurt hurt hurt hurt!" She was jumping up and down and everything and yelling into the microphone.. It was one of those times that I wished the bishop would take a stand and take her aside. But that was our investigator's first impression of what an LDS church meeting is like! So that's going to take some corrective action to fix.. Hahaha.

One more fun experience that happened last night. Well it wasn't that fun at the time, but looking back it was pretty funny. To go to zone conference we had to get up at 4:00 AM to get ready and leave by 5:00 AM. We went and picked up the other Star Valley missionaries, and began the nearly 3 hour drive to Logan. We made it on time and zone conference was from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and it was an awesome experience all around. We went shopping afterwards because I haven't been in a Wal-Mart since I came out on my mission.. (Tremonton and Afton are both pretty small!) and began the drive home. Well we have a limited number of miles every month, and driving to Logan takes a HUGE chunk of our allotted miles. So on the way back we elected to take a 40 mile dirt road that saves both time AND miles and ends up right at our house. Well we hit a patch of deep snow on that road, and.. We got stuck. Thoroughly stuck. It was extremely packed snow and we had barely any tools to do anything about it. Luckily the Star Valley car is equipped with a small military-esque shovel that kind of digs snow okay. And we found some sticks. And used our window scrapers. All four of us spent nearly 2 hours whacking away at this stupid mound of snow, and also carrying gravel with our hands to try and give the car some traction. We got out okay, and it was actually a lot of fun. Sort of. Hahaha. All in all I was up for 20 hours yesterday, and waking up on time today was very difficult.. Zzzzz.

I guess the gist of my letter just goes to show that I love it up here - I dread the day where I get transferred into the city... Because honestly most of our mission is in the city. I've just been fortunate enough to be dealt a different hand. The Afton Stake is also getting a YSA (Young Single Adults) ward which draws from the whole valley, so our teaching area is more than doubling, so that's going to pile on the workload. But I know that Heavenly Father will guide us with his Spirit, and the work will be fulfilling and everlasting.

Mom - I'm sorry to have offended Mrs. Kim with the cat story! I thought it was awesome though and I knew it was something that had to be shared. As for the iPod shuffle, I don't think that it would fit all of my music. It's too small, sadly enough. And even if it did fit all of it, there's no way that I could add more when it got to me. The new nanos are VERY basic, and they'd actually have enough memory to support a music library that consists of more than 200 songs. So that's a thought. The 16GB is equivalent to my touch's memory, so it would have a similar capacity for music, and definitely more when you disregard the need for apps or internet. That would be my recommendation (red would be nice :) ). I'm glad you got to spend some time with the Hopkins, and I dread the day when I have to travel with you again.. Hahaha. We cover 9 wards and now a YSA ward, and they're.. average size? I don't know.. Haha. I didn't grow up in a ward, remember? In terms of pictures of the corvette, he just says.. Well as many pictures as you feel like sending. Engine, car, anything. I don't think he'll mind. Also - did Kim Kelly ever finish/send me my white temple pants? I remember she was hemming them for me in November.. :) I hope you enjoyed the "Fourth Missionary" talk!

Dad - You didn't ask a single question this week! *High five* I wish I could have been there to see Aunt Kim's face. I've never pulled off a surprise of that magnitude, and I'm sure you were giddy with the results. It sounds like your running and walking is also looking a LOT better than mine! My asthma REALLY bothers me when I run around here... When we got stuck last night I ran ahead to scout for more snow patches, only to discover that 7600 feet is EVEN worse for my breathing than Afton's 6100 feet. Get to work on that bathroom! I can't believe you punched a hole in my wall. How dare you. Good luck at your medical conference!

I love you all!

- Elder Tyler Grant

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I am the Elder from Captain Kirk country!

Hey everyone!

So this past transfer has FLOWN by. I swear it's only been like, a week since I've been in Star Valley. But it's already been 6! Wow. Well neither of us are getting transferred, so I get to keep a companion for once! Haha.. I can already tell it's gonna be fun. When you're constantly switching companions, it's kind of like taking a step backwards. For the first few days/weeks you have to re-get to know each other, and MORE importantly, you have to establish a teaching pattern. Yes, all missionaries teach the same lessons, the same principles, and invite people to make the same commitments - but not in the same way. People transition differently, highlight different points, use different analogies, different scriptures, and all in all transfers can be a MESS! Especially because the first few lessons with your new companion are basically like going in blind. You have no idea what they're going to do, what they're going to say, or if they have a tendency to crash and burn with a slip of the tongue. It's a real thrill, haha. But we're both staying, and we're way excited for this next transfer. Also - remember my MTC buddy? Not my companion, but the guy in my district who I got along with super well? Well he's basically the guy that got me THROUGH the MTC, and I just found out today that he's being transferred up here to the other end of Star Valley! Transfer day usually sucks, but I'm actually really happy this time around haha.

So! This week! Has been.. Up and down. And up and down. And up. And down. I can't stress it enough - EVERYTHING in missionary work teeters on agency. Invitations to do things, promises of blessings, and testifying of truth are only the steps that LEAD UP to the investigator making the step of faith to follow through on a commitment. And if they don't, then there's nothing we can do but encourage and continue to invite. Sometimes this pattern works really well! We started teaching a guy last week who is AMAZING. He actually just graduated from high school this year; so he's grown up around LDS kids most of his life. But he's like, SO sweet. He told us straight up when we started teaching him that he wants to be baptized, and he wants to get married in the temple. I mean what more can you ask for? In case you haven't guessed, this is when agency is AWESOME in missionary work. But wait - there's a catch, and on the flipside, agency SUCKS sometimes. This kid is 17, and his parents are refusing to give him permission to get baptized. He turns 18 in 2 months, so hopefully he'll still have the desire by then. On a much lighter note, I'm pretty sure Dad would like this guy. He told us that he and his friends used to go up into Thayne (15 minutes north in Star Valley) at about 7 o'clock P.M. They'd all put some money in a can, and meet up at a gas station. Right when the clock hit 7:15, they'd all TAKE off in different directions. The objective: kill and collect as MANY CATS as you can before midnight, and throw them in the back of your truck. Whoever has the most cats at midnight wins the money. Hahaha how funny is that? We asked how many they'd typically get, and he said the highest that HE ever got in those 5 hours was THIRTY TWO cats, and they didn't even win! He even said that they'd shoot and collect cats from off people's porches! Apparently there's so many around here that no one even cares or reports any cats missing. Tell Toby and Tiger to be on the lookout.. Hahaha.

It also sometimes sucks when members get in the way! Remember the 13 year old kid who committed himself for baptism that I told you about? He was supposed to get baptized last week, but one of our Ward Mission Leaders straight up told him not to get baptized! He scared the kid away, and I don't even know if we're going to be able to get in and teach there anymore. The real reason we initially went there was because the mom was a non-member, but we started teaching this kid instead because he immediately got excited about baptism. We didn't even really know he wasn't a member. But a while ago we had a lesson at this ward mission leaders house - he told the kid he wasn't ready for baptism and told him "Don't get baptized because all the other kids are doing it." Okay seriously - what is this, underage drinking? NO one has been pressuring him, half of his friends are members and he goes to church every week! If anything, that's not a bad influence you need to be freaking out about! You'd think that'd be the kind of "peer pressure" you'd want, anyway. Not only that, but during the whole lesson we were asking the kid's mom questions (she's been VERY open with us) and every time she'd go to answer, the ward mission leader and his wife would like totally barge in and interrupt her! It's turned them off a LOT.. I never thought that with missionary work the problems could arise with the members instead of investigators. We're just keeping them in our prayers.

Hahaha. So we met another funny guy this week. We eat dinner with members usually 6 nights a week, so we get to see the WIDE spectrum of people that inhabit the valley. Well the other day we went to dinner out in Smoot, and we were blown away with the people there. When they called to see if we were coming, they said "Uhh.. Is there any way you can come over and not wear your suits and ties? We have 10 cats and 5 dogs and they'll jump all over you..." Now if THAT isn't a golden ticket invitation to dinner, I don't know what is! When we got there I told them I was from Iowa and the first thing that the guy said was "Ohhh no. We've got an Elder from Captain Kirk country!" Face palm. I've never met a "Trekkie" before hahaha. At one point they also sprayed whipped cream all over the table. And the wife told us about a very vivid dream she had about the communists taking over the East coast, and that's why they moved to Star Valley. The people here are so funny, I love them.

We've also gone the past week without a bumper on our car. The past missionaries took the car off-roading in the snow and the bumper dipped and cracked when it caught a snowbank. So there's been this huge crack in our bumper for a while.. and they just decided to fix it. But we told the people at the repair shop we kinda need our car still. It's one of the biggest areas in the mission, and we'd be rather crippled without one. So they took the bumper off and sent us on our merry way. It looks funny - it's a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu, and without the bumper the trunk kinda hangs out and it looks kinda like the DeLorean from Back to the Future. Hahaha.. Only the missionaries' car, right? We talked to the guy at the repair shop and he said he's fixed missionary cars more times than we would believe. The car that was here a few years ago had to have SEVERAL front and back bumpers repaired, and at one point the missionaries tried to tow it out of a snowbank and ended up tearing the entire trunk out of the car. Brilliant, right? :)

Mom - Way to go on the Taco John's key! I had forgot that was even missing. You should have used that to your advantage and gotten some free potato ole's.. They're using the Nacho Libre voice without me!? GAH!! How dare they. They'll never be able to compete with me and Jack Black though.
 I actually HAVE gotten to use my Spanish one time! I forgot to tell you this, I guess. One time last transfer I got to go to an entire evening with one of the Spanish Elders because his companion left to go fill out his visa papers to leave to Argentina. So I got to go to 3 lessons ENTIRELY in Spanish! I didn't end up saying a whole lot.. But it was interesting. I can still comprehend upwards of 80% of the things that are being said. But I just can't talk back. The words are there and I can hear them, but I can't string them together and speak them. In terms of how I feel as a missionary, there's a talk I think you should check out. It talks about different types of missionaries and how we can shift our focus to become the missionaries that Heavenly Father wants us to become versus the missionaries we will become on our own will. Here's the link: (

Dad - Did Ryan and Evan find all the Easter eggs? I still remember last year when Ryan found an egg close to 8 months after the fact. You're just way too good at it! Just wait until you get old and can't remember anything - then you can hide your own! :) I thought that was funny about the MTC choir too.. In my last area at a stake conference they had a young women's choir that sang a few songs and they were just BLAND. No tone, no dynamics, and everybody sang the melody. I thought it was incredibly boring, but my companion loved it and said it was one of the best choirs he'd heard! I definitely have been spoiled by my musical perspective and upbringing haha. Tell Scott congratulations for me! And it's good to hear you're still hearing compliments about me. :)

I love you all! Hopefully I can get this sent off because the internet in the Family History Center literally just died.. Crash monkeys! (<---a new "swear word" this lady taught us.. hahahaha. )

- Elder Tyler Grant :)

April 3rd, 2012

Hey again!

So this past week has been FULL of surprises..

I guess first and foremost I very much enjoyed general conference! We watched the first 2 sessions with Budd Rich and the Sunday sessions with some other members. It's kind of nice - I have always had problems focusing during conference towards the end sessions. I've never been a TV watcher, so sitting for 10 hours of watching a broadcast has always been rough for my short attention span.. But I stuck it out, and as a result I gained some awesome insights!  I really think that trying to get EVERY single thing out of every session of conference is kind of like trying to drink from a fire hose. There's so much to be absorbed in a short period of time, that it's mentally draining to some degree. I think one of my favorite talks was by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, which surprised me. He talked about the difference between the Gospel and the Church, and how the two words are not interchangeable. "We can be active in the church, but less-active in the Gospel." It is easy to measure activity in the church - attending meetings and activities you can stick a number to. But it is much harder to measure the things of the Gospel - how much faith do I have? How repentant are we? Are we striving to keep the Spirit in our lives? I really enjoyed it.

Also I have 3 fun facts for the day stemming from general conference!
1) Dallin H. Oaks mentioned Sarah and Charles Rich. Those are Budd Rich's (the guy we live with) great grandparents.
2) David S. Baxter, who spoke in the Saturday afternoon session about single mothers, IS in fact Baxter's (the guy from college) dad.
3) In the MTC Choir, the final song, the camera ended on none other than Elder David Archuleta, front and center.

So remember that family I mentioned last week? We were unable to teach them again because the dad had to go to an IV treatment in Pocatello ... But let me give you a list of his symptoms. He has peripheral neuropathy and can't feel either of his legs. He has diabetes and has to take insulin regularly. Because of his diabetes he has lost most of his left foot. He recently had a minor heart attack and had to go to the hospital. And last Thursday, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He hasn't smoked a day in his life and no one in his family has had it in the past. I feel so bad for the guy - he's so humble and he's a great guy. But what can we tell him? What do you tell someone who has already experienced more in his 40 year lifetime than most of us will in our entire lives? I don't know anything about trials - I'm a 19 year old kid. And here I am trying to tell him how his life can be better by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's kind of shaken me up a bit. It's been a real test of my faith and testimony talking to him, and I've had to be confident in what we're teaching. I KNOW that it can help him and also help his family. I know that the Lord promises us blessings when we follow his commandments. But I can't promise him that his diabetes, heart problems, and cancer will go away and that his foot will grow back. All we can do is continue to follow the promptings of the Spirit and guide them as Heavenly Father would have us guide them.

We had another interesting teaching experience last Wednesday. Elder Billmire and I had one of the BEST lessons I've ever taught on my mission, hands down. We were teaching Kami again and everything was just flowing PERFECTLY. Like it was literally the smoothest transitioning, clearest, best lesson I've ever taught. The Spirit prompted us to commit her to a date, so we did. And she said NO! I couldn't believe it. The environment was perfect - we taught about prayer, prophets, and the Word of Wisdom. Everything was going according to plan and she was beaming from ear to ear. The reason she said no? She wants to get baptized in JULY, in the SNAKE RIVER! I don't understand. She has to get special permission to do that, and our mission president is definitely going to say no. We were just completely stunned. She went to the Sunday morning session of conference though and secretly I hoped she paid REALLY close attention to Elder D. Todd Christofferson's talk... We haven't gotten to talk to her since then, so we'll have to follow up. It was definitely a learning experience for me though. I just wanted her to say yes so badly - not for me, but because I know that it can change her life in ways that she doesn't even comprehend yet. Once again though, we can teach importance, promise blessings, and pray for them, but ultimately it's their agency. They have to decide for themselves. I am a servant of the Lord who invites people to come to Christ, and if they say no, all I can do is pray.

I forgot one quote that I heard at conference that has been resonating with me. I've heard it before, but I couldn't find it anywhere in Preach My Gospel so I figured I'd look it up. “Our missionaries are going forth to different nations . . . the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” End quote. Joseph Smith. I'm sure you've heard it before. If not, then you're welcome.

Man I just can't FOCUS right now. I don't know, maybe I'm just not in the right mindset for e-mails. ADHD has it's downfalls, you know. Hahaha. On the bright side, I usually get a huge burst of energy right around 7 or 8 PM when my medication wears off, and I become extremely personable and my teaching gets a lot better. By the way - Star Valley looks EXTREMELY ugly right now hahaha. I made you guys a few videos that I'll be sending home sooner or later. I made one two weeks ago and then one today. The valley right now is just brown. Brown brown brown as FAR as the eye can see. Hopefully it starts getting green around here.

Dad - Tell Linda Olson kudos on inviting someone to conference! We had two of our investigators attend the Sunday morning session, and from what I've heard they both had positive experiences there. I mean seriously - any way you look at it, you're NOT gonna walk away with bad advice. Andrew Olson (from the one letter I've heard from him) is doing great. He asked me if I miss video games because he is a LOT hahaha. And honestly, truly, I don't! It's weird. There are so many more hours in the day when you're not glued to a computer or TV screen. Tell Ben to give it up! Haha.. You can write more than one letter a week! Oh my gosh.. There was an Elder in my MTC district who literally sent off a letter to his girlfriend every. Single. Day. She even wrote him 3 letters and sent them to the MTC before he even LEFT so he'd get letters the first three days he was there. I'll try to humble myself regarding the stake president. Our mission president has counseled us to do the best we can to work with the ward members and keep the work moving forward. He is called to do his duty, and I know its not my place to try and order him around. Thank you for those passages of scripture - I turn to Helaman 5:12 often and it's a powerful scripture to share with investigators who are looking for a source of light to turn to. I also thought that that particular scripture pairs quite nicely with the talk that Elder Henry B. Eyring gave during the first session of conference. That one and Richard G. Scott's talk on revelation were some of my favorites.

Mom - jeeeez that was a lot of questions. Okay. Starting from the top.. I'm excited for Cody! He'll get to be in London just in time for the Olympics, so there will be a HUGE influx of people to teach! :) Umm.. I'll send some pictures home within the next few weeks. There MAY be something on there that you can use to put on the plaque. We watched conference with Budd and his dog named Ed. The MTC choir was sub-par, but that was to be expected. One because there aren't a whole lot of sister missionaries to choose from and two because they have more important things to do in the MTC than sing. Haha. Tell the Hopkins that I said hi and congratulations to Scott. I DID get the addresses you sent me and have mailed off letters to all of them. This whole general delivery thing is quick! I e-mailed you on Tuesday and the addresses came on Friday. It's a whole lot nicer than the route mail usually has to take.. If you send it to the mission office then they have to forward it again through DENVER. So it takes a few extra days. Be careful when you read Proverbs.. There are a few questionable scriptures in there :). (Proverbs 5:19, for example). And yes, the bunny is gone. Thank you for the electric razor.

Anyhow. I love you all, and look forward to hearing from you next week!

- Elder Tyler Grant :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Meet John the Baptist!

Hey everybody!

So Elder Billmire and I hadn't checked the mail since like, last Thursday since we've been busy. So on the way to do e-mails we stopped and checked - holy cow! Letters from Kim Kelly, Ryan and Evan, Josh, AND Nathasia! AND a package from Mom! I just felt awful because Elder Billmire didn't get ANYthing.. But I'm over it. Thanks for all your love, support, and letters. They mean a lot to me :).

So this past week has been CRAZY! For one, we've run into a few interesting people this week that have really stuck out to me. I guess first and foremost would be this guy named John. But he doesn't go by that. He immediately told us that his street name is "John the Baptist." And BOY is he ever! He's a single guy in his 50s who we ran into at the store last Wednesday and we were blown away by how.. well.. "interesting" he was. Hahaha. We introduced ourselves and he told us: "I know who you are! And how BLESSED am I to be in the presence of such WONDERFUL servants of Jesus!" He then started going off quoting some scriptures from the New Testament. We commented how he really knew his stuff, and he replied: "No, not really. I just know my Jesus!" He then told us how he used to be a law enforcement officer and every time he arrested someone he'd hand them a Bible while he gave them their Miranda Rights. As we were leaving, he asked me what my first name was. Confused, I told him, and he said: "Bless you, Tyler. Bless you and bless your family and bless and praise the Lord Jesus!!" He was like, yelling in the store! Hahaha it was so funny.

Last Wednesday I DID get to be interviewed by President Olson, and it was just awesome. I discovered that interviews are kind of just a get-to-know President time and we kinda just talked one on one about how the work has been going, how my studies have been, and a whole bunch of other random things. He's truly an awesome President and I'll be sad when he goes. But he told me and Elder Billmire that he's PRETTY sure we'll be in Star Valley together again next transfer because the work is going so well, and he'll leave me there for another transfer after THAT so Billmire can go elsewhere. So basically he told me that I'll be in Wyoming till July! I'm SO excited! That also means that I'm pretty much safe from the mission switch and I get to stay around and help out all the people we're meeting with for a while. Its looking like 4 and a half months here, if not 6! But yeah that day we had to drive down to Smithfield to get interviewed, which is almost a 3 hour drive from where we are.. THAT sure was a long day.
Another sweet experience we had was on Sunday, where we started teaching a non-member family of five. They've lived here for about 7 months now and have a TON of health problems. The husband has super bad diabetes and as a result has peripheral neuropathy (?) in both of his legs, which has resulted in him losing most of his right foot due to infection. They've had a family fellow shipping them for a while now, and have finally decided to start asking questions and meet with us. We taught them in the member family's home 2 days ago, and it was just amazing to see their countenances change as we explained about the Holy Ghost and Joseph Smith's experiences. They aren't ready to commit for baptism yet, but they have been SO prepared by the Lord in the past few months. It's gonna be awesome.

So yesterday, Billmire had to go to some training meeting down in Ogden (4+ hours away) so he left me in Logan with some other missionaries. And it just so happened that these were the missionaries that serve on campus at Utah State University! So I got to spend a whole day on campus talking to and teaching people my age! It was way awesome and far far FAR different than anything I've ever done. In Tremonton and Star Valley, we work mostly through the members to find people to teach. But at USU, it's highly weighted on straight up contacting - walking up to strangers and asking them questions, and seeing if anyone they know would like to meet with us. It was way cool! It was also really strange to be around so many guys and girls my age - I think I've kind of missed that for a while. But all in all, it was a great learning experience for me and if I ever get transferred to a "contacting" area, I'll feel much more confident!

Hmm.. Well the MyLDSMail interface has shifted or something and it won't let me open up another tab with your questions in it.. Let me try and troubleshoot...

Okay got it! Well in terms of the plaque, I think I'd have to say 3 Nephi 5:13 " Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." It's a scripture that I have come to love as I continually strive to fulfill my purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ. In terms of a picture, I do not have one. Maybe you can use one of the pictures that Camille Carr took? They look nice - even if it's not in a shirt and tie, it's still a well done picture and its about the only portrait-style pictures I've had in the past few years.

Questions time! Dad - That's funny about reading the Hunger Games. I was about the same way when I read it, but I read it on the way to getting some fingerprinting done in Omaha. Have you seen the movie? I think it's weird - that's like the FIRST movie that I've actually wanted to see BEFORE my mission and now I can't! I thought it was funny. Haha tell Mrs. Schmitt I said hi! Maybe there IS a more diverse audience than I thought reading my letters home. I might have to start editing myself.. Haha. I've been totally fine on money. I've heard of missionaries in other missions struggling to have enough to the end of the month, but I have NEVER had a problem, especially because where we live right now I don't even have to buy groceries.. I look forward to receiving the videos and stuff from you, and I think I MAY know what Skousen talk you mean. Then again, he DOES talk a lot on the Atonement. The one I've read is called "Building Blocks of the Universe," which is an AWESOME talk. You don't have to feel guilty about not writing a lot! I mean, I AM the one on a mission! I should be the one that has a lot to say anyway. One question I guess - was there any particular portion of the Book of Mormon that you found strength in while on your mission? Whenever I feel discouraged or let down on myself, I have found myself continually turning to 2 Nephi 4 for strength. Nephi's testimony practically glows from the pages!

Mom - It IS kind of weird not being called Tyler anymore. I'm sure I'm not to the point yet, but I wonder if the day will come when I won't even recognize it if someone calls me by my first name..? That'd be SO strange! It still sounds like the missionaries are tearing it up in Storm Lake! I'm going to be amazed when I come back and the cultural hall will be full of chairs and people filling up every pew.. What a sight that would be! I AM extremely excited about conference! The way I see it, I never come away from conference with bad advice! I wish I could have gone down to Salt Lake to go to the conference center, but hey. I've got till November 2013 to seize that opportunity! I pray that seminary is still going well for you! And yes I got the package today from you and have been eating the Starburst Jellybeans the entire time I've been typing this letter... Makes me wish we had a Wal-Mart around here so I could go buy some before Easter is over. I hope your knee heals and stuff and things. I'll write a short e-mail for Evan after I send this one, so keep an eye open for that one.

Anyways - I appreciate all your letters, and hope to hear from others soon! (If you feel like it.. :) ) The work in Star Valley is rolling right along, and we're still pushing each and every day to make it better.

I love you all!!

- Elder Tyler Grant :)