Tuesday, October 9, 2012

September 18th, 2012

This week has been MUCH better. Not entirely because of success.. But I've felt a much lighter burden on my countenance. If you're praying for me, keep it up, and thank you :).

Last week I was feeling very discouraged. Especially with Heidi... She was trying her absolute hardest to do what Heavenly Father asked her to do, and couldn't take what was thrown back at her. She had a panic attack and was completely overwhelmed... When we visited her last week she was extremely discouraged as well. However, one thing that she has going for her is she is gaining an amazing testimony of prayer. When we first met her, she had been praying for help and that was the day that we showed up. In response to her panic attack, she needed to get on some  medication and her prescription was looking to take a month to finalize the change... But after she prayed for help, she received the new prescription 2 days later. She was even praying for her little brother who was living with a member of her family that refused to allow him to go to church. And just 3 days ago, he moved in with Heidi just so that he could go to church. She has even been praying that her mother, who has been against the church for a long time, would have a change of heart.. And 2 days ago her mom called her and said that she had just gone out and bought some new scriptures and was going to go back to church. It's truly been a miracle. Everything that she has been searching and asking for is happening... Heavenly Father is so willing to help us as we try and do what he has asked us to do. She quit smoking last Thursday, and when we talked to her on Sunday she told us that she felt like she hadn't ever been a smoker and that the desire was nearly gone. She's truly an amazing person; I feel so blessed to be able to witness and be a part of her return back into the fold of Christ.

On a slightly funnier note, we went to church with Heidi on Sunday and there was a missionary giving his 'homecoming' talk, who had just gotten off his mission in Honduras only 4 days before. He kind of looked like a .. umm .. let's just say a goober! But I wasn't too quick to judge - and I was excited to hear the joy in his returning to home and tell of all the amazing experiences he had as a missionary. So when it was his turn to speak... He got up, set his scriptures on the pulpit, and then just sat there for a good 20 seconds in silence. Then cleared his throat... And sang "I Lived in Heaven" in the most squirrelly voice I've ever heard. All four verses. He then gave his talk about how his talk was on receiving a full change of heart from a mission.. But he took it literally. That Jesus Christ is a "master surgeon" and is extremely good at transplanting our hardened heart for a new one. And how when we try and do it ourselves, we end up just putting staples, stitches, and gravel in our heart. It was extremely awkward but rather amusing... Everyone around us was looking at each other nervously and uncomfortably. He sang two other primary songs at the top of his lungs before the talk was over... Gah. At least I know what I'm NOT going to do...

Later that day, we were out in Clarkston (population approximately 700) for dinner and then went to the cemetery.. Only to discover that in this middle-of-nowhere town in Utah is the grave site of Martin Harris! Yes, THE Martin Harris! There's a huge monument and historical site there, as well as an amphitheater where they put on the biannual "Martin Harris Pageant..." How awesome is that? I got pictures! But I left my camera in my backpack and we went to the temple this morning and I didn't bring it. Next week!

Oh. I almost forgot to write about the single most interesting experience I've had since I've been in Richmond... Here goes!

So we've been trying to teach this family in Smithfield who is entirely nonmembers - they're wonderful people... They're non-denominational Christian, but they're extremely welcoming and VERY knowledgeable with their Bible. And we've been trying to set up a lesson with them, but they've been extraordinarily busy lately. Well on Thursday we got a random text message saying: "Hey missionaries! There is a concert being put on tonight by some return Mormon Missionaries and we'd like to invite you! They're AWESOME!" We asked our district leader and got the OK to go - we were actually pretty stoked because it seemed like it would be a great venue to try and teach them or answer some of their questions. They invited us to dinner and then took us down to Logan to this concert, and we walked in a tad bit late... As we walked in, the leader of the band was at the front on the microphone, but he wasn't singing... He was bearing his testimony. About a Baptist Preacher that he met on his mission in Florida who convinced him that he was saved by grace and everything in the church wasn't true. He was bearing his testimony of why he left the LDS church and returned home from his mission early to share the 'good news' with his family, who he converted ALL to his new revelation. As the show went on, every single one of the band members had the same story. They had gone on a mission, and returned home because the church WASN'T true... And they went on to convert their entire family. Some of their parents had been bishops, high councilors.. It all sounded ridiculous. We got completely tricked into going to an anti-Mormon concert. They kept saying "Take what you have learned tonight and share it with your LDS friends so that they too can know the truth!" Afterwards people swarmed us and were asking us questions and trying to Bible bash.. Luckily, the biggest indicator to me was the simple fact that the Spirit was not there. Everything they shared with the audience was twisted circular logic and scriptures out of context - and the Spirit was NOT testifying of truth. I felt so uncomfortable - but I guess it was a lot like my experience at the Jehovah's Witness church. The Holy Ghost will tell you if something is true. He will also tell you if it isn't. I even studied my scriptures after the fact and found ZERO references saying that we are "saved by grace" and saying that all we have to do is "accept Christ" into our lives. If anything said something remotely similar, the verse before or after would mention "after our works" or describe repentance and faith. I'm so grateful for the scriptures and for the power that they do have in telling us what we need to do to return to heaven. They truly are the words of the prophets - and prophets aren't there to deceive us. These guys were trying to deceive 100% and CONVINCE us that they were right. The Holy Ghost doesn't convince. It testifies.

I also had another really cool experience.. We were driving to an appointment and were going to be rather early. As we were driving down the highway I got an extremely strong prompting to go and knock on the doors on a nearby street. I figured it was just in my head, but the feeling didn't go away. Before I knew it I had hit the turn signal and we had turned off the highway onto this abandoned looking street. My companion was pretty confused to say the least.. But I just knew we had to be there. We parked our car at the end and then started knocking doors. The first home was an elderly couple who was extremely active, and they said that no one on the street were non-members or needed us. Undaunted, we visited the neighbors next door who we had JUST seen pull into the driveway. We talked to them only to discover they were members too - but they gave us 2 less-active referrals and a former investigator who lived just down the block who wanted to meet with us. We visited all 3 referrals and none of them were home... But at least now I feel I know why we were there. We also talked to a SUPER less-active guy who was very stand-offish.. But I noticed he had an Iowa Hawkeyes decal on his car. When I commented on it, I learned that he was from Davenport and had even gone fishing in Storm Lake once or twice. Sometimes people won't talk to you as a missionary, but as a person they open right up. It was super sweet. I've never had a prompting that strong before... I was just glad I chose to act and I'm grateful that Heavenly Father was guiding us to where we needed to be.

In other sweet news, I spent 8 and a half hours on Friday digging holes, planting trees, weeding, and mulching. I got some amazing blisters.

Mom - Hot chocolate? Really? It's not even that cold here yet. It hasn't started frosting or anything, but it's getting close. I can feel it. I also know that home teaching IS important, even if they don't seem receptive at the time. If you plant any sort of seed, you have done your job. You never know what may trigger that seed to sprout and rekindle a long lost testimony. That's crazy how much happened before your baptism.. At least you didn't end up like Wendy  in Star Valley - the lady who committed for baptism and then died... I'm still blown away by that. I sent Ryan a letter yesterday so hopefully he gets it soon. He needs to write back! I'm still praying for him every day and night.

Dad - Thank you for that scripture. I never do get tired of you guys saying you are proud of me - especially because I finally feel as if I'm earning it. I want to have my Heavenly Father proud of me as well. The discouragement has blown over for now. I have no doubt it will return, but luckily we have the tools to combat adversity in any form. Spiritual warfare is real - and if we put on the full  armor of God like it talks about in Ephesians, we can be prepared. As I've come to understand that, I feel particularly drawn to the scripture where it describes "feed shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace." Preparation. Scripture study. Prayer. Fasting. All of those are what protect our feet and keep us marching forward. Armed with the sword of the Spirit, we can and will be ready for whatever "fiery darts" Satan will deploy next. I'm very pumped for general conference - I hope Ryan is too. I'm going to write Evan a letter immediately after this!

We're going to the trampoline park again right after this. So that's way sweet - I'll try and get some pictures/videos to show you what it's like. I love you guys! Thank you for your support, prayers, and faith in me. I couldn't do it without you!


- Elder Tyler Grant :)

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