Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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

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