Sunday, May 27, 2012

Transferred!!! Central Ogden

Hey everyone!

I'm sorry I missed writing to you last week... It was actually really strange not to tell you all that we did and now I feel like I have a LOT of ground to make up for.. So let me start with the week that I missed:

On Saturday, May 12th, we DID have three baptisms! It was just an amazing day. First and foremost we had the baptisms of Alex and Destiny. They're 15 and 10 years old, and come from a very mixed family. I've been involved with teaching them since my second day in Star Valley (March 1st..) and I've seen them learn and change so much. We've worked with their parents and entire family a lot to try and get them active again. But at the baptism I got to baptize Alex, and Elder Billmire got to baptize Destiny. It was a WAY spiritual baptismal service, and they had quite a bit of family show up to support them. 3 hours after that, we had another baptism, for a 9 year old boy named Avery. His grandma called us like my 4th day in Star Valley and invited us to a Family Home Evening with a few of her kids and grand kids, and Avery was there. His parents have also been less active most of their lives, but they've been going to church pretty steadily since about September 2011. It was so crazy - at the baptismal service there were so many family members that came up to us and thanked us saying they didn't think that this day would ever come. He was confirmed in church the next day by his grandfather, and everyone was just crying. Alex and Destiny didn't get to make it to church the following Sunday, so they were both confirmed 2 days ago. I got to confirm Alex and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost.

After those three, we had ANOTHER baptism; and it was honestly probably the most special baptism I've ever witnessed. It was for Jacob , the 18 year old graduating senior that we've been working with for a while. He finally finished reading the Book of Mormon, and texted us right after Avery's baptism and said "Hey.. Can I get baptized on a Sunday?" So on May 20th, we set everything up and he was ready to go. There were about 90 people at the baptism, and a lot of them were high school kids there to support him. I'll include several pictures for you guys. He was baptized by his friend in the family he has been living with. After he was baptized, there was a musical number. And then, Jacob got up and bore his testimony to everyone. It was just incredibly powerful. He's been meeting with missionaries for about 6 months now, and he said "Well.. It hasn't been an easy 6 months, but my journey is finally over. I can now proudly say that I KNOW that this church is true." He then went on to talk about reading the Book of Mormon and how it changed his outlook on everything.

So there's the spiritual highlights for the last two weeks.. On another note (that I'm sure you're waiting to hear about..) I'm being transferred out of Star Valley! Surprise! And where am I going? Well what happened was that President Olson told Elder Billmire he was going to be a Zone Leader.. But Elder Billmire requested to train so he didn't have to leave Star Valley. And since the mission is splitting, there are 25 missionaries that need to be trained this transfer.. so his request was accepted. So I'm getting kicked out! And I'm going to none other than CENTRAL OGDEN!! Yeah. I'm a little shocked right now. It's going to be a COMPLETE change of pace in the way the missionary work is run. Tremonton was rural. Star Valley is even more rural. And now I'm going to the ghetto/drug districts of the city. So keep me in your prayers! I know that we'll be protected as long as we're obedient. And maybe it won't even be that bad!

So the reason I didn't write you guys last Tuesday is largely because we spent the day in Montpelier with the missionaries serving there. We spent the entire afternoon exploring the Wyoming/Idaho countryside.. And we weren't driving recklessly! So don't freak out! One of the missionaries is going home on Thursday, so we spent the day with him to celebrate. By the way - sorry this letter seems so scatterbrained... I'm just frantically trying to remember two weeks of stuff.

Last night we had transfer calls (as I mentioned) and we found out Elder LaFond is training! Yay! We had a bonfire at their place in their driveway, and me and LaFond burned our ties for our 6-month marks! Have I told you about that before? It's a mission tradition that at 6 months you burn a tie, at a year you burn a shirt, at 18 months you burn a pair of slacks, and at the 2 year mark you burn a suit! So we hit our first landmark. Can you believe it's been that long? It's truly unbelievable to me.. This last transfer has just FLOWN the heck by. I can't believe I've already been away from Tremonton for 3 months, and now I'm moving again! Time just races by when you're working hard, and it's even more gratifying when you finally get to see the fruits of your labors. In the past week, we committed two more people to baptism and have them interviewed and ready to go. So Billmire's greenie will get to enjoy some success right when he gets here :).

Fun fact I'll slip in here: I hate packing. I think that's my least favorite part about being a missionary. I'm WAY excited to be going to a new area, but the thought of packing up everything again is just looming in the back of my mind.. I'm incredibly unmotivated. But I shall fight on. The missionary I'm going to be serving with in Ogden is named Elder Daly, and I've heard.. Interesting things about him, mostly because he served in Star Valley about a year ago. But I've promised myself that I won't let preconceived notions get in the way of getting to know someone. Actually, this next transfer is going to be 7 weeks long instead of 6, so we had better get along pretty well.. :)

By the way Mom you asked for my favorite scripture this week, and it's gotta be Alma 13:24. I discovered it in my personal studies a few days ago and it's resonated with me ever since: "For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive the word at the time of his coming in his glory." The Lord IS preparing people for us to teach. I've seen it numerous times - people will not accept the Gospel until they are ready, and there is no way that we can go around and try and convince people on our own. We have been given the Holy Ghost to deliver the message to people, and the lessons and scriptures as a conduit for their own personal revelation. In fact, another scripture to go along with that.. 2 Nephi 33:1 says "for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost, the POWER of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men." Scriptures are just words. Lessons are just words. When we talk to people, they will hear only words. But the Holy Ghost is the messenger that bypasses their ears and carries the message to their HEARTS. This is when conversion takes place. Not by salesmanship. Not by public speaking skills. But by a pure, heartfelt testimony and their willingness to be open to the promptings and power of the Holy Ghost.

Okay.. Questions/response time..

Mom - I remember seeing President Monson at some conference in Ottawa oh-so-long ago. But I didn't know that you've met him. He probably remembers you! I definitely don't even remember going to Nauvoo with Affie and Papa.. Well maybe vaguely. Where does Star Valley come in in church history? Remember the story of the saints crossing Bitter Creek and lots of them died? Yeah. Bitter Creek is in our area. Haha. Small taste. No I never did get my scriptures engraved! I haven't gotten around to it. Is it that big a deal? I look forward to going to Peggy's Cove in a while. And also the Slot Canyons with dad. And Disney world. Right? And I did get to have a pretty good talk with Ryan. He says he's never read a single letter I've sent home! That jerk - haven't you told him I've been sending them!? Probably not. And Jacob is NOT the cat killer.. That's someone else who's getting baptized in July. It's crazy to think that the school year is already over and so is seminary! I wish you the best of luck as you delve into New Testament in the fall. My plan for mission pictures is to keep taking them and worry about it when I get home. Haha - how am I doing in taking pictures? I Figured I've been doing pretty well..

Dad - Do you remember the canoeing trip we took for my birthday one year? I'm pretty sure it was down the Little Sioux River.. Or whatever it is. I remember there were several Olsons there and maybe a few Richies. And Kelly's. Elder M. Russell Ballard is coming to Brigham City to talk to the missionaries, but only the ones serving near the area can go.. I don't know how close Ogden is to that. Harrison Ford lives in Jackson? That's strange. If we ever see the Millenium Falcon flying through downtown Afton I'll let ya know. Ryan seems excited about the High Adventure trip, and I told him about the Slot Canyons too.. So he's on board. I remembered your 44th birthday! It was the day after my 6-month mark as a missionary. Crazy, right? As I think about schooling after the mission, I'm pretty sure I will be able to focus a LOT better on homework when I get back. I've developed some *gasp* actual study habits that have been long overdue, and they will prove useful no doubt. Feel free to leave out the details of further hospital rounds. You worked on the bathroom on your birthday? Wow. As long as there's not a hole in my wall when I get home, I guess I won't complain..

Anyhow. I hope this letter makes up for the lack-of-letter last week. I'm really excited for the chance to serve in Central Ogden - it's going to change everything I know as a missionary. I have a feeling that I'll have to develop a lot of new skills that I haven't had the chance to learn so far, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn from and serve my Heavenly Father.

Love you guys!

- Elder Tyler Grant :)

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