Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 27th, 2012

Hey everyone!

So... I had another "only in Utah moment" last week. It was pretty crazy - we've been told about a part-member family from Alaska who moved into the ward in early October. And they've been faithfully attending church every week, the husband is a member and the wife was supposedly a non-member. So when we got the green light to go visit them, we weren't sure what to expect. Especially because we had talked to some people in the ward about them and were shocked to find out that the wife, who was supposed to be a non-member, not only stays for all 3 hours of church but answers questions, takes notes in relief society, and volunteers for prayers. Uhhh... And when we visited them, she answered the door and invited us in. We got talking to them a little bit and she started telling us about how when she was in college in Washington she used to feed the missionaries all the time. And it didn't feel right to just ask her if she wasn't a member because she gave us exactly zero reasons to believe that she wasn't! It was so mind-blowing. We had to leave for another appointment, and we never got to ask. Luckily, they offered to feed us for dinner and that gave us another opportunity to just drop in on them, and only the wife was home. So we set up a dinner, and I just said "Okay.. One last thing, and you can call me crazy, but.. Are you a member?" Luckily, she wasn't even taken aback. She said that she wasn't, that she's been investigating for 2 years now and she'll probably get baptized soon. Yeah... It's those types of people that I'm convinced I wouldn't have met in any other mission. And they moved here from ALASKA! Haha what the heck?

Other than that, this past week has been another big week of just straight up following up on referrals. People really trust us here and we've just been doing all we can with the names that we've been given. Things continue to roll forward and upward. We've still got 2 baptisms rock solid for this Saturday. In terms of the rest of this transfer, I'm not sure how many baptisms we'll have.. But, at best, this area is now "set up" with a ton of potential investigators for months to come. We have over 20 people who COULD be baptized before the end of the transfer. And, whenever their situations click and they become available, they'll follow through very quickly. I'm just glad I got to stay for this 3rd transfer. I still know that I'm not going to be able to see all the work I've put into this area through. But I've felt over the past 3 weeks that there have been numerous situations where me knowing the area, bishops, ward mission leaders, and everything else has been accelerating the work. I don't know if I've told you this already.. The longer I'm out the more and MORE I realize that I've been blessed with an EXTREMELY good memory. I can tell you right now who all of our bishops and ward mission leaders are, which less actives and nonmembers live in each of their wards, who's fellow shipping them, and what their situation is. I can tell you the missionaries who have been in this area for the last 2 years and which members liked which missionaries and who had success and who didn't take it seriously. I can tell you all of the recent converts for the 3 stakes for the last year and which missionaries were there when they were baptized. I don't make a point to memorize all this information - it just.. Sticks. I don't know why. Other Elders as well as ward mission leaders keep pointing it out. There have been countless times when a ward mission leader starts to talk about a person who the ward is working with and it just pops into my head the name of who they're talking about, which I had read from an ancient teaching record from 3 or 4 years before. It makes me think that that is one of the reasons why I'm here. It takes a lot to memorize 27 bishops (Jessop - S3rd, Williams - S4th, Jensen - S8th, Smith - S9th, Davis - S12th, Pitcher - S19th, Spendlove - S22nd, Nielsen - L1st, Buttars - L2nd, Jorgensen - L3rd, Chesley - L4th, Hogard - CO, Christensen - CC, Hall - CI, Baggaley - R1st, Whitman - R2nd, Jensen - R3rd, Pratt - R4th, Creech - CR, Ballard - B1st, Maughan - B2nd, Baldwin - AM, Walquist - N1st, Hodgson - N2nd, Sommers - C1st, Goodey - C2nd, Andrews - TR) but I had them all down after about 2 weeks. I could give you all the ward mission leaders too if you want. :)

Mom - I logged on 2 minutes before your e-mail.. So I got it before I started writing. :)   Yeah he sounds a lot like the guy we're dealing with. And sadly it's kind of a brick wall. We're doing what we can, but we can only work from a distance. Something about the name tag makes us threatening when we show up at the door. We don't go to the temple a ton anymore.. We got it changed so we can only go once a month now. Our priority is doing work on THIS side of the veil. Haha how did we have dinner with the Whites? They called us and invited us first! They called like, 3 weeks before Thanksgiving and said they wanted us to come. So they came and picked us up - we met them in Logan so it was less than a half hour away. It was pretty awesome. I found out that one of the sister missionaries was in Matt & Zack Kelly's ward at BYU-I and she TOTALLY knew who they were! Small world moment! That's exciting that everyone is coming for Christmas. How many areas are there? I'd venture to say about 100. There are about 200 missionaries in the mission right now - when all the new missionaries start coming in we're looking to have about 250. And I got my "care" package! I have already worn the tie with raving reviews. And I have my Christmas package already... I'm not going to open it! I guess the office changed their mind about holding onto packages.

Dad - One thing that I thought that you might enjoy.. We've heard from several people now about a new 'clause' that they're slipping into the mission calls! To preface this change, let me just say that China has just recently gotten a brand new less-communistic prime minister. I've heard of this clause appearing on 4 or 5 mission calls now, from anywhere from Vancouver to the Philippines. And what it says basically is that they will be assigned to their mission in their mission language and it is estimated that they will serve for 2 years. BUT!! If China opens up to missionaries, they will be asked to serve a THIRD year in Mandarin Chinese in China. How crazy is that? The Lord.. Is hastening his work. 
You were on the winning team for the Turkey Bowl! We had kind of a zone football game on Thanksgiving day and sadly I was not on the winning team. Are your gerbils still alive? And I got your email regarding the "hangout" information.. What time are we gonna plan this for? The part that sucks is that transfers are on the 19th so if I get moved to a new area I'll have to hustle and find a place to chat with you guys. But we shouldn't be too restricted on time, especially because Christmas is on a P-Day this year. :) And Ryan didn't send me an e-mail. Baby steps, I guess. So did you ever teach English classes to try and find investigators in Japan? I've heard from many people telling me that they had a lot of success doing that. I know you street contacted a ton.. Just wondering if they allowed you to do that.

Anyways. I love you all! Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. Keep praying for miracles! :)


- Elder Tyler Grant

November 20th, 2012

Hey everyone!

Well... We've still got 4 people with a baptismal date! And oddly enough, we may have a few more on the way... The girl who signed up for baptisms for the dead is still in the works. We're waiting for them to get back from an extra-long Thanksgiving vacation so that her family can be involved in the teaching. Oddly enough, she has been going to church for a WHILE now and as I think I mentioned last week, I've met the family. So she has a really solid and ACTIVE fellowship, which is the ideal situation. Haha.. We talked to her Young Women's leader and she said that the girl is just ridiculously excited about baptism. As she put it, during church it was like "Hey Sister Tanner! Have you talked to the missionaries!? Have you talked to Brother Ward (the WML)!? When can I get baptized? Can I go to the temple soon? Hey have you talked to the missionaries yet!?" It reminded me somewhat of a talk that Elder Holland gave a few years ago that they shared with us in the MTC... He said that he had missionaries ask him why baptisms were so hard. After all, we have the truth! People should be flocking to the font, and the only problem we should have to worry about should be "getting hypothermia because of all the time standing in the water." In reality, Satan is a fighter. He attacks people and makes all the efforts he can to sway people from being baptized. But, sometimes, you catch a glimpse of just how excited someone can really be... :) We'll probably meet up with her and her family sometime next week, and she wants to be baptized mid-December. I hope I'm here!

We've also been working with another 16 year old kid in one of the Richmond wards who told his leaders he wants to be baptized. The more I thought about it, the more I realize just how awesome the youth program of the church is. In Utah, a lot of the baptisms that take place are of boys and girls involved in the Young Men's, Young Women's, and scouting programs. Most of the time, the teenagers who want to be baptized have parents who are members of the church, but for some reason or another have fallen away. It's just such a sweet opportunity to see when that spark of testimony ignites in one of the youth, and that can be used to activate the rest of the family. I've seen in plenty of times. And that's what we're hoping is going to happen with this kid in particular... He lived in Ogden, was going to mutual activities, and was even going to church and taking the missionary lessons.. And then they moved. We talked to him at his friend's house yesterday, and we even found out he was interviewed and cleared to be baptized that weekend.. And then he moved. But now the situation is his grandfather.. Is extremely against the church. His family is living with his grandfather, and .. well, to put it nicely, he's kind of a nut. He's the most judgmental, closed off, controlling person I've ever met. Seriously. If any of the kids will be getting ready to go to a youth activity, he'll ask them where they're going, and if the "Mormon kids" are involved, he'll make sure that he immediately grounds them and says that they can't leave the house. After talking with the kid yesterday, I couldn't believe the desire that he had. He knew that there was a lot of opposition, but he basically told us he's going to do what it takes to be able to take this step. So we're praying for miracles again. :)

The 18 year old girl and her sister who contacted us last week have now officially been interviewed and cleared, the baptism is scheduled, and they've been fitted for jumpsuits. We're going over details for the program with them tomorrow. And - oddly enough - they have a 15 year old brother who has been going to young mens for like, 4 years now.. And he has a friend leaving on a mission who's challenging him to be baptized with his sisters. Gah.. Everyone is so close!
For the record, I DID hit my year-mark on Friday.. And I'm kind of tripped out by that. It almost seems like all of the sudden I'm no longer drawing upon an unlimited source of time. I don't know if you recall at 6 months I burned a tie, but for the year mark you're supposed to burn a shirt.. So we did! It wasn't my shirt though. it was a really old shirt that another missionary found in the closet in their apartment. There were 4 of us in the zone who hit our year mark on the same day, but one of them was busy, so we got together at the park and took pictures and videos. I'm probably gonna send pictures and stuff home soon.. Probably for Christmas. :) I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to stay in Richmond, but there's finally a ton of work going on here.. Which, if the recurring theme strikes again, I'll be gone before any of them get baptized.. But we'll see!

Mom - How many people are in the branch now? I can't believe that the growth has been that much.. That many baptisms? Mostly new move-ins? I forgot about the pocket sized hymnbooks.. I'll pick them up today or tomorrow. I do not have a speaking problem! That guy was just not paying very close attention to the message.. I haven't gotten a small package yet I don't think. I should be good on meds for a bit.. Maybe some concerta soon would be okay. Sorry I'm not writing you too much today.. You didn't ask a lot of questions! And Dad asked me a lot! Here goes nothing:
Dad - Longest letter ever! Holy cow! We're really enjoying the blessings that are coming to pass. Did you ever have times where the area you were in just caught fire? Right now, all the leaders and members really trust us and there are just awesome things happening. And I'm trying to be a cool missionary! I think I remember saying in some of my last letters that being a missionary in Utah is completely different than any other part of the world for a lot of reasons, but I think one of the biggest was highlighted by someone we talked to last week. They asked us "Why are you guys so different than any of the RMs or missionaries I've met outside of Utah? You're not nearly as .. Intense?" I can answer that question! People in Utah.. They know who we are. Members or not. And a door approach to a non member can NOT simply be: "Hey! We're the missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we have a message to share with you!" We'd get laughed at. Everyone knows the logistics of the message, and there are no surprises who we are. Instead, our number one goal is to be the person that members and nonmembers can trust. We have to be flexible. We have to be PERSONABLE... We have to be ourselves. I think this is possibly the best mission I could have been called to. I realized that I have a gift when it comes to just talking to and connecting with people. As soon as people trust you, then they will open up. So if you're expecting me to come back and be completely solemn and rigid, prepare to be disappointed. More than anything I've learned how to be myself and tie that into our purpose. I'm glad you had a great teaching opportunity in Young Men's! That subject (the promptings of the Holy Ghost) is an extremely intriguing one. And when it comes to recognizing it, I've learned to take Elder Bednar's approach.. "Is it the Spirit or is it just me? Stop worrying about it!" I think I told you about an experience I had in Ogden where my companion and I were going to make a visit to a nearby investigator which we visited often, and we always took the same route to get there. However, this one particular time, we both decided to walk the longer, more uphill route.. And happened to walk by the bus stop as the bus got there, and one of the guys we had been trying to reach for weeks stepped off the bus right in front of us. More than anything, I know that being guided is part of being set apart. We are entitled to and receptive to the Spirit as we put ourselves in the Lord's hands whether we know it or not. Answers to prayers have come, and I've been able to recognize a tangible feeling more than once. It's more of a steady stream of miracles, however, that makes me feel like Heavenly Father is there. Things just.. Work out. :) I hope that makes sense. I wrote somewhat of a long response today I guess..

Oh - and I don't know if my myldsmail account will allow me to go to google+ "hangout" ... So if you want to you can just create me an account and give me the information. That will probably be the easiest way to do it. :) Since I can't guarantee I can make an account or remember a password to an old one. Hook me up! :)

Anyhow. I love you all. Enjoy thanksgiving, I'm grateful for your prayers and thoughts.

- Elder Tyler Grant

November 13th, 2012


So in this past week, we went from zero people with a baptismal date to four! I mean, what the heck!

So on Thursday we were sitting in a meeting with the zone, and randomly we get a text message from an 18 year old girl named Nia. She's met with missionaries before, and she's been going to church pretty regularly for a while now. And we haven't met with her because she's always busy or said that she wasn't ready right now. I opened the text message and all it said was "Hey boys! Lets get this girl baptized!" Out of NOwhere! We went and visited her 2 days later when she was off work, and she was sitting on the couch with her 12 year old sister... Who ALSO wants to get baptized! We've been holding off on visiting them because they've been highly pressured by missionaries in the past and they've had negative experiences. But we went over the baptismal interview questions with them, answered the questions that they had, and set up a date for December 1st! In fact, right when we had met with them they had just finished shopping for clothes for their baptism day. I love Utah.. It's super strange. I think I've mentioned it before - but it seems like Heavenly Father looks out for us as long as we are doing what he asks us to do. We may not have 100% success with every referral that we visit, but as long as we're doing the most we can with the Lord's time, someone ALWAYS pops up.

Speaking of which.. I had another "Only in Utah" moment the other day. At our Sunday correlation meeting with the Richmond Stake we were talking to the ward mission leaders and one of them walked in late.. He then said "I literally just finished talking with a girl who's 12 years old and signed up for baptisms for the dead. But she's not a member.. Can you do something about that?" I have MET this girl before. I have MET her family. I have TALKED with her young women's leaders. She's been going to church for 6 months. And they just realized that she's not a member! She's been living with her grandma and going to church faithfully and her parents are supportive. I mean, how does that even happen? It's literally the weirdest place to serve a mission on the entire planet. A few weeks ago we spoke in a ward and it went really well. Everybody was coming up to us and telling us how great of a job we did, and out of nowhere a super old guy sneaks up behind us and slips a piece of paper in my pocket. It said, "You are an amazing speaker! I felt the Spirit as you talked, but I must offer one criticism: You say "Uhh" and "Ahh" occasionally, and it was really distracting. You are a great speaker! God bless!"

... *facepalm*

We had a visit last week with a guy named Joe. Who, initially, was not very pumped to see us as we walked up. Actually as we walked up he was outside changing a tire, and the first thing he said was "I'm NOT happy with your church right now." Apparently he had asked his neighbor to get in contact with the bishop about finding some temporary help... And his neighbor forgot. So the guy had been living in his car for the past two weeks, and it's been snowing... But we went and talked with the bishop and visited Joe the next day. He was talking to us at the door for a second, then invited us in... He talked to us about his past religious experiences, and we ended up having an hour long lesson with him. The entire time, I was just praying that he would listen to us. He needs the Atonement in his life so badly. He's had family problems and is beating himself up over it, and feels like he has no self-worth. He used to be a church going man, but he feels like he has separated himself too far from the presence of God and he just wants to feel peace.. It's so crazy being a missionary. People trust us like a perfect stranger. We don't know them or their background, but they will open up to us and share with us what matters most to them. What God means to them. What they care about. What their problems are. It's just... Indescribable.

Our success stories are not alone. Actually, this last transfer was a build-up transfer for our zone. President Hiers came down on us because as a zone we only had two baptisms last transfer. And last Wednesday there were only 4 people with a baptismal date. As of yesterday, the zone now has 19 people preparing for baptism. It's literally blowing up up here. The Richmond Stake is exploding. Everyone is doing well. And it's a great day to be a missionary. :)

Mom - I DID get nanny's box.. But I may have forgotten it was a Christmas box. And I may have eaten a few of the chips. Or two bags already. My bad. Is it really still 70 back in Iowa? That's so strange. I don't need autism info.. I'll be fine. Things are getting better. We had a good talk about it and he's opened up to me a lot more. He's really a good kid, I'm just being patient and stuff. Tell Ryan I say hi! And I miss Taco John's SO bad!  And yeah that's the one that we opened.. The one next to Kohl's. SCWIIIIPTURE POWEWWW!! Tell Ryan I won't be offended if he leaves on his mission.. But it WOULD be awesome to see him again! I'm looking for some new piano music for Christmas.

Dad - Yeah. Obama is the president. So that kind of sucks... You may be interested to know that Utah DIDN'T vote for him. The electoral system seems completely loaded.. LIke, seriously. The states in the west don't even mean anything. The east coast and California will ALWAYS vote Democrat and they're worth like over half the votes. It's retarded. My companion and I are doing better. It'll be a productive transfer for sure. Do you have cool missionaries for Ryan to go out on splits with? Or are they weirdos? Hahaha.. And I can't believe you're still playing geometry wars!! And I can't believe my record still stands! I'll have to come back and smash the record when I get back.

I love you guys. Pray for miracles. :)

- Elder Grant

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 6th, 2012

I'm staying! For once I get to stay longer than 3 months! Another fun fact: Our area is being SPLIT!! So the enormous stake that we have had zero time to work in is officially being covered by another set of missionaries. Which means our area is no longer the most retardedly spread out gargantuan area in the mission. Which means we can FOCUS on the absurd amount of potentials that we have going for us right now... And I get to keep training! Oddly enough, our zone didn't change much at all. 6 of the 8 companionships aren't changing at all. This transfer SHOULD be amazing. If I have the patience...

So we did have Tim's baptism last Saturday! It was so funny - we called him that morning to remind him to show up a bit early and bring all his things, and right when he picked up the phone he said "You guys aren't chickening out on me are you? I'm still getting baptized, right?" He was just so excited. His Uncle Bob baptized him and right when he came out of the water he said "You did it Timmy!" Yeah his uncle is a bit of a goofball.. His wife and her family were all there, and so were his grandparents who are nonmembers! After the baptism they came up to us and they had tears in their eyes. They also came to sacrament to see him get confirmed. I know they felt the spirit and I think they knew it to. At the baptism I challenged everybody to pay attention to the feelings they were getting in their hearts, to recognize that they WERE in fact from God, and if so to ponder what God was trying to tell them. Hopefully we can start teaching them soon - they're amazing people and even pay fast offerings to the church regularly when the deacons come around. We also learned that this was one of only two baptisms that our zone had this transfer... It's been a build-up transfer for sure. Just about every area now has 3 or 4 people with a baptismal date who are actually solid and committed to be baptized. We have a lot that are close! Commitment level will have to depend on how committed WE are to helping them.

We had a mission conference last week! Elder Falabella from the first quorum of the seventy came and trained us. It was actually a way good conference. He talked about the difference between ward missionaries and us; we are not just here to teach when we have lessons. We are FULL-TIME missionaries. All of our time, all of our energies, all of our focus should be centered ONLY on our purpose, which is to invite others to come unto Christ. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants section 4 we have to serve with all our "heart, might, mind, and strength." We can serve a mission with all our might and strength, but never really give our heart and mind. All in all it was a pretty sweet training.

Mom - Wait a minute.. Questions about politics? I didn't realize until today that TODAY is ELECTION DAY!! Holy crap.. That's kind of scary. I guess we'll have to pray for a miracle.. I must say there's considerably more Romney signs on people's lawns around here than Obama signs. Glad to hear about the Halloween success - we spent the evening sitting inside wishing that we could go get candy and get compliments on how much we actually looked like missionaries. Ha. Ha. Why won't you let Dad blow up the poinsettias? Who did I honor for Day of the Dead? Why, Steve Irwin of course! Yo-yo referral means nothing. I think I made up the term. I think I was trying to say that the referral sounded golden and when we visited it retracted about as fast as it came.

Dad - RYAN'S BACK!! I'm still praying for him, and I'm so relieved to hear he's finally on the up slope. Did you do anything for the cast party? You should have blown something up. Don't you love it when Evan says something profound? *wink* It's better than that one day he came out of his room and apologized because he had just prayed to Satan. The veil is very thin! And I never did get my absentee ballot thing done... Hopefully Iowa picks right. And we'll definitely have to go to Japan someday. Or maybe just back to Star Valley...

This transfer is gonna be a good one. I genuinely hope so. Praying for miracles!

- Elder Tyler Grant

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

October 30th, 2012


Guhh.. I always forget my planner.. Why on earth do I do this to myself!? Quick note - I got the Halloween package last Friday! I'm currently wearing my orange iPod watch... It's so bright! Maybe, for conservative-ness sake, I should have a black one instead.. I can get away with the orange one right now because it's Halloween-y... But a black one would probably be more appropriate for every other time of the year. :)

Well guess what? Tim is getting baptized this Saturday! We just got him cleared and interviewed yesterday and he's good to go. I'm continually amazed by how prepared some people are. Heavenly Father is in charge of His work, that's for sure. We can do His work our way, but it rarely produces fruit. When someone is ready, they will come. Not that we only teach people who are completely golden.. But when a person exercises their agency righteously to seek us out and truly seek the covenants and blessings attached that Heavenly Father has for us, that is when they are converted. His uncle will be baptizing him and he's just so excited... His fiancee... I mean wife... Is also becoming more and more active as he's making the journey towards Christ. With considerable faith and a touch of a miracle (praying for this one..) we'll be able to start teaching Tim's grandparents as well, as they are both non-members. They're 85 years old, they pay tithing to the church, watch conference, and they've even lately been asking us to give blessings in their home. Just yesterday after Tim's interview his grandma asked us if we would give Tim a blessing before his appointment with the cardiologist the following day. The first time we gave a blessing in their home, his grandpa told us "That was amazing. Sometimes you question your faith and wonder what's really true, you know?" Everyone got silent, and he quickly recovered and said "Uhh... He's testing me! That must be it. Seeing if I'll stay true." The Spirit is working on them. Hopefully at Tim's baptism there will be some crazy change of heart. That would be pretty cool!

We also had another yo-yo referral.. And by that I mean we showed up at the church to go to the restroom and the bishop called us over. It was mutual night, and he pointed to a kid playing basketball and said "Robbie wants to be baptized." The kid came over to us, introduced himself, and said he's been thinking about being baptized since he was 10 years old and he's almost 16. They were meeting with the missionaries down in Ogden before they moved to Richmond and he was going to be baptized there, but they moved and it didn't happen. So we set up an appointment with him, and when we showed up, we realized it was a new-move-in family we'd been trying to meet with for the past several weeks, not knowing that Robbie was even there. But when we got there, Robbie came to the door and was about to let us in, and a voice in the back said "I'll take care of it." His grandpa then came to the door and tried telling us that the Boy Scouts sent us and that the church is working with the scouting program to bring more 'recruits' into the church because 'we're running out of money' ... He then told us to do our missionary work, but not there. I hate Satan. We tried talking with him for 10 minutes, and he kept bringing up the strangest, most irrelevant political points that had convinced him that the church was merely a good business and had nothing to do with Jesus Christ. I bore my testimony to him, and he shot me down. It was so frustrating - there are people who are ready to be taught but they can't be. I hate it. We'll keep trying, but it kinda completely sucks. There's another family over in Lewiston who has been going to church actively for about 9 months now and there are 3 kids (17, 15, and 14) who are completely involved in the youth program who want to be baptized. Their mother actively attends church with them to and she wants their family to be sealed together. But - the dad, who is at the moment living in Wyoming and is stone cold less active, refuses to let them be baptized and won't give his consent. There's a lot of that in Utah.. I guess all we can do is just keep pressing on and hope that the work moves with us.

So! The fireside! Was pretty sweet as well. We sang "The Spirit of God" again and that was about the highlight.. Too bad we sang that one first. Everybody loved it, but I can't help but pick apart the things I knew could be better haha. Maybe I need to be more appreciative... :) There were a lot of very strong testimonies borne, and hopefully hearts were touched. I still miss being in choir. I never realized how musically involved I was... Band, jazz band, choir, all state, musical theater... It all adds up. I've taken up to trying to play the piano more often whenever the opportunity is presented. I'm still on the lookout for more music for Ryan, and I may have a few winners... Maybe for Christmas. :)
Mom - Thanks for your thoughts.. I hope that's the reason I'm being transferred and not just because I'm being punished. :) Finding people to teach is hard - especially because the only reliable way to do it is to build trust with the people in the area and show them that you're there to work.. But right when you get them to the point where they trust you enough to give you referrals and they start becoming solid and keeping commitments, they've swept me to another area to let someone else enjoy the fruits of what I've done. Which totally sucks. But I guess I'll have to keep drawing from the fact that I know that I'll be sent where I need to go. That there are lives for me to touch. Fingers crossed I'll stay nonetheless! I'm glad to hear Evan is doing so well in the musical.. You're hosting the whole cast at the house?? How? Oh fun fact - it snowed last Tuesday and hasn't snowed since then.. When's it gonna snow in Iowa? I'm surprised Evan hasn't given me a 14 day forecast lately... Ryan's sleep schedule sounds like a mess. Is he still working at Faith Hope & Charity? He has literally sent NO form of communication to me since like.. April. I can't tell if he LIKES the music I'm sending or WHAT'S going on in that kid's life right now. Punk! A year has gone by already? Not quite. Not thinking about it. :)

Dad - Spanish branch! I've never been to one of those.. But when I was on exchanges with the Spanish missionaries I realized just how little Spanish I know! Well.. I could pick up on the general idea of what was going on, but no more than that. The funny thing about tracting with the Spanish missionaries is that it's almost no different than a normal day - except if a white person comes to the door then I talk to them and if a Hispanic person comes to the door I stand there and smile. :) Heidi got her patriarchal blessing on Sunday! I think she's pretty much graduated from the "less-active" category by now! Haha.. Hopefully Ryan will see the benefits of having that road map to the rest of his life and see beyond his circumstances right now. Evan getting his patriarchal blessing would be very cool. A member family a while ago told us about a boy from their last ward they lived in who had autism, but he wanted to get his patriarchal blessing. In the blessing, he was told that in the war in heaven, he was one of the spirits who personally escorted Lucifer out of the host of heaven. Special spirits indeed! Have you ever considered taking a trip back to Japan? I'd love to go back with you someday. Just to visit some of your old areas and branches, see if you remember anyone! Take me! I'm sure you've toyed with the idea.. That will have to be second on our "to-do" list when I get home, second to Zion's National Park's slot canyons, of course!

I love you all. Keep up your prayers, stay strong, and have a safe Halloween!

- Elder Tyler Grant :) 

October 23rd, 2012

Oh hello!

This week has been pretty... Well let's just say we weren't able to get as much done as we hoped we could have. Last Monday we went on exchanges with the Spanish missionaries, Tuesday was P-Day, Wednesday we had district meeting and interviews with the mission president, Thursday I got sick, and Friday I went down to Ogden for a rehearsal for another musical fireside. So a lot of things got in the way of the visits we had intended to make and follow up on this week..

In the one glimmering ray of sunshine this past week, we showed up to teach Tim and were about to teach about the Law of Chastity and tell him he needs to either move out (he's living with his girlfriend) or get married before his baptism on November 3rd. Right before we said the prayer, he whips out a picture and says "Oh by the way! The Bishop married us yesterday. We were going to invite you but couldn't find your phone number." Hey surprise marriage! THAT'S never happened before! So at least we no longer have to worry about that commandment. During every lesson he literally just soaks everything in like a sponge. He asked at the end of his lesson what day his baptism is supposed to be, and is excited to be working towards it still. I honestly don't think I'd have such crazy experiences with such amazingly prepared people anywhere else in the world.. I love Utah! There is missionary work to do EVERYwhere, including Richmond! Actually, of the 3 stakes that we cover, the Richmond Stake (covering a total of MAYBE 4,000 people..) is the one with the most missionary work. The area that we cover is absolutely enormous. In fact we cover Smithfield, Richmond, Lewiston, Cove, Trenton, Newton, Clarkston, Benson, and Amalga. So that's kind of a vast expanse of fields and towns of 100 people or less. I don't know why they keep sending me to all these areas that are straight farmland.. I think they're stereotyping me because I'm from Iowa.

As I briefly mentioned, we had interviews with our mission president last Wednesday. I love having interviews - sometimes you feel somewhat insignificant and forgotten when you're banished to the northern huge areas of the mission and being able to talk to President Hiers is always uplifting. I asked him if I could stay in Richmond for at least another transfer so I can finish training Elder Bengtson and because I'm tired of leaving areas after 3 months. He said that he was planning on letting me stay - so I really hope I get to.. I don't know if I've told you this. But out of the 3 areas that I've left, I've come into the areas with a total of 3 people with a baptismal date. However, I've left behind a total of 18 people with a baptismal date. Remember that family of 5 that we were working with in Star Valley? They were baptized about a month ago. I've felt like all I've done my entire mission is just plant seeds. And I know that it's not important to 'count' the baptisms. But it just seems like every time I get people close to baptism they yank me away and make me start over again. I just feel like a lot of times I give my all to try and help these people to come to the Gospel and I never get to see it through. We have a lot of people who are teetering and many people who are just as close. If I can stay in Richmond at least one more transfer (AKA till.. December 19th?) then it would give us a chance to really zero in on these people's concerns and overcome them with the Spirit. I really like it here, actually. I wasn't a fan of it at first probably because we were on bikes and there were no investigators at all because I followed the same missionary into the area as I did to Mount Lewis; he's a missionary known for getting transferred into an area right as it's blowing up, baptizes everyone, and finds no new people to teach. So staying here would be really awesome... Elder Bengtson is SO quiet... But I really like him - he's extremely obedient and keeps me focused on what we're supposed to be doing. It's just been a rather quiet transfer... Especially after Elder Cox and I had so much fun together.  But everything is working out okay.

In my studies this week I've been reading some really old general conference talks.. I'm pretty sure someone stole a bunch of old Ensigns from a stake center in the area and only took the General Conference editions. It's really interesting to read the counsel of the prophets even 30 years ago. There was a talk called "Adam, the Archangel" that I'm pretty sure would never be read in conference today. But all of the principles and teachings are the same. President Monson was STILL a member of the Twelve back in 1980.. How weird is that? I don't think I'd have the patience to hold such a calling for such a ridiculous amount of time. I barely lasted as Sunday School President for all of 4 months. That's still the only real calling I think I've had.. Hahaha. But it's been pretty cool to go back and read the talks and reference them to the scriptures. It turns out the general authorities actually know what they're talking about.
Mom - I can't believe Evan is 6'2" !! That's so freaking crazy! How's Seussical coming along? Is he doing well? The orange watch strap will be awesome! Especially because this Timex that I have is pretty well spent.. A small sweater will still be fine. I bought that winter jacket in a small and it actually fits perfectly. I think I might have sent that little Christmas tree home, didn't I? If not I probably left it in Tremonton. As fun as they are to get, sometimes when you have to pack everything stuff gets left behind simply because it doesn't fit. Oddly enough, I still have Banana Balance. So I guess I get to pick and choose. What other addresses do I need... Umm... What about Maranda Stephens? I haven't talked to her in forever! I'll let you know if I think of anyone else. Question - have you ever asked Ryan about getting a patriarchal blessing? I think that would be maybe just the boost he'd need to get up and get moving in the right direction again. Oh wow! You use so much technology! Bahaha take a picture of the setup and send it to me sometime. You can always just e-mail it to me. Speaking of which - I never got those pictures of me with long hair I asked for like, months ago! Months and months ago! Christmas is JUST after next transfer, If I have that right. Mission protocol for the year-mark is burning a shirt. So we'll see how that goes down. :)

Dad - MARIO SOTELO! That is so awesome!! I can't believe he's already been a member for 2 years now. I remember every time the missionaries baptized someone thinking that I hoped that they'd remain active, and many times they wouldn't... But I guess every once in a while you find someone who truly takes the Gospel by the reins and just goes and goes and goes. Have you kept in contact with any of the people you baptized in Japan? I think my call letter said at the beginning of my mission that there were approximately 165 stakes in our mission boundaries, but I know it's slightly less since the mission split. Still somewhat nuts. We went to the same ward last Sunday and met some of Malena and Camille's cousins. Small world again. You'd better send pictures of the new pumpkin creations! Question for you.. I know most of the time in Japan you spent street contacting and talking to people.. Did you get many referrals and things? It seems to me like we get a decent amount of referrals... But it also seems mostly like the people we're referred to aren't always the ones that are getting baptized. The Lord seems to work in the way that as long as we are being diligent and obedient and magnifying our call to the best of our ability, it doesn't matter how many referrals we get or how many dead-end investigators we are teaching... If we are doing His will, people will be placed in our paths. Tim was introduced to us after we visited and were shot down by several less-active families, and were teaching other non-members who didn't seem to be going anywhere. But since we remained true and faithful, Heavenly Father provided someone who was prepared. Just wondering if you felt the same way.

I love you guys. I'm going to send some pictures (I think..) and it may even be time to burn some CDs again since I've been doing pretty well with the whole taking pictures thing. I'm glad you know how to Skype now - that will make it easier come Christmas time. Are you excited to see how much weight I've gained? :) Pray for me!

- Elder Tyler Grant