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 :)

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