Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 19th, 2013


You know.. I've been thinking lots in the past week about some things
in regards to a training we were given. The ZLs pointed out that in
the zone, the amount of lessons with a member present has gone down,
and were questioning why. The easy response is to say that the members
in our area are lazy and don't make the effort to help us fellowship
people. Which could be entirely true. Then they related it to a talk
given by M. Russell Ballard called Create Success. One part that stuck
out to me:

 "Ability means nothing to a missionary if it is not used. The
greatest men came to the top because of the strength that grew out of
meeting resistance. Self-deceptions are responsible for more then
three-fourths of all the so-called “unexplained failures” in the
mission field. Many missionaries in the race for success explain their
shortcomings as they do in the game of bowling. If they fail to win,
something was wrong with the alley, the pins, their arms, their
members, their companions, their areas, etc. etc. The trouble is never
themselves. Of all the distinguished failures, those who deserve the
least sympathy are the ones who gather in foolish little cliques,
praise each other, deceive each other, criticize others, and fool
themselves. They say, “I am not appreciated.” “I have had bad luck all
my mission. Others have had a better chance.” “I wish I could have the

fortune of Elder ‘success.’” A fireball missionary starts when an
investigator says “no!” This is a plain and simple concept but very

 The reason we go to serve missions is not so that things will fall
into place for the area and for the members in it. It is not to expect
people to bring us referrals - if that was the case then missionaries
would hardly be necessary. Our success is not measured by the amount
of baptisms that we have, but the amount of seeds we plant, the
strengthening of the members in the area, and the motivation and
commitment to do the Lord's will. President Hiers has said that at the
end of our mission he will not ask us how many baptisms we had or how
many lessons we taught. What he will ask is "Have you given your all
to Christ?" There is so much I can do to improve. I'm here to serve a
full-time mission. I've learned so much about myself and about my
relationship with my Heavenly Father. But I know that I've only taken
a few footsteps on the path that will last my entire life. We are to
serve with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. I've just felt
in the last week that there are little shifts that I can make to bring
the Spirit more into my life and into my decisions. We are doing God's
work and we are entitled to His help. The work here is going well and
we're teaching a lot of people. I know that all the tools and
trainings that we've been given are there to be a skeleton from which
we can prayerfully study and apply to our own missions and
investigators. I've been trying to take a harder look at Preach My
Gospel as of late too. I studied PMG very heavily at the beginning of
my mission, mostly because I was scrambling to learn and soak in as
much as I could. As soon as I could comfortably teach all of the
lessons PMG kind of slipped to the back burner in my personal study,
shifting more to talks and a heavier more in-depth study of the Book
of Mormon. I've just felt that if I'm not using all the tools that
I've been given then there are skills and opportunities that I could
be missing that would detrimentally affect our investigators. Am I
truly digging into the doctrine of each lesson to seek out and prepare
a lesson specifically for them? Or am I drifting towards a rote
presentation depending on their input and questions to steer it in the
direction they'll need? I need to be more proactive instead of just
reactive. Personal study is awesome and I feel like I get a lot out of
it when I continue to ready the Book of Mormon. But I'm not here to
study for me. I have the rest of my life to do that. I need to be
pushing myself to give all I have to the people we're teaching and
constantly try and find more. Maybe I'm being a little self-critical..
But it's about time I don't just "get over" something, right? :)

We'll be having two baptisms this Saturday... That is, the extremely
hyperactive ADHD twins with an attention span of 10 minutes or less.
We're still working on the parents. As for Dad's question I haven't
really delved too much into their Pagan and Wiccan beliefs to know
just how familiar they are with their own faiths. I've met people who
just throw out "Oh I'm Wiccan" as soon as they see us to basically be
a stronger argument than "Oh I'm Catholic." Wiccan sounds scarier...
They're still very supportive and we saw them all at church again this
week. Let us hope that the Spirit just keeps chip-chip-chipping away
at them until it finally delivers the killing blow. Maybe that was
harsh terminology. The bottom line is they'll come around if they keep
it up. There's a few other families that have been popping up lately
who we're trying to follow up with. So it's still picking up - we're
teaching a lot of mixed families who are waiting on divorces so they
can get married. I've never had to juggle so many custody issues in my
life. It's hard to plan lessons with a lot of them because some kids
are there every other weekend, some just during the week, PLUS when
you factor in parents' work schedules... It's a nightmare.

Mom - Restrain me from poking fun at the fact that that took you an
hour to type.. :) Haha! You'll get there eventually. Its still weird
to think Evan is finishing his freshman year in a few short months as
well as Ryan is graduating. Don't let brother Mills swoop in and steal
your calling! Considering the Book of Mormon was the only REAL year of
seminary that I had I know it's an awesome year. And no you never did
tell me about when you were interviewed for baptism. Was it a
disaster? And the fact that they have to be clean for a week isn't
just so they can skip a week and then go back... A week is generally
accepted to be the minimal amount of time to act in faith and be able
to show Heavenly Father they are able to live without their addiction.
That lady I interviewed and had to say no to I got to interview her
again and she got baptized on Friday. I'll see if I can get someone to
video the musical fireside. I will be singing, actually! I have a solo
in one of the songs and we'll be singing the a Capella version of
"Nearer My God to Thee" done by Vocal Point. (
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9UsDl5gSuo ) It's gonna be awesome.

Dad - Trial by fire would be a good way to describe a failed
interview. It was super hard - but it felt like the right thing to do.
And the lady told the sisters that she feels stronger than she was
before and she didn't realize how much she depended on coffee to
function. So it worked out in the end. What was it like being the
branch president and dealing with missionaries in branch council? I
just realized that you've seen the other side of it - I just never
associated with the missionaries in our area at all. By the way - the
trend of high maintenance sisters is definitely not coming to a close
anytime soon. There are supposed to be 15 missionaries coming into the
mission next transfer... And 12 of them are sisters. God help us all.
We're supposed to get like 19 or 20 the transfer after that too.
AAAAAAHHHH!!! : # <--- Whatever this means... I guess you're probably
right in talking about the symbolism of the two trees between the
Garden of Eden and Lehi's Dream. The beauty of symbolism is that it
can be interpreted differently to apply to different situations - so I
shall not refute your discovery at this time.

I love you guys! I sent the package with all the things in it last
week. Enjoy your pictures. Have an awesome week! :)

- Elder Tyler Grant

February 12th, 2013

Well it's been an eventful week for sure in Garland. I guess I can
start with a story...

So Dad's letter talked about district leader responsibilities, and
specifically interviews. I had my first chance to interview someone
last Wednesday. It was a lady in her 60's and she was super excited to
meet with me. The baptism was planned and scheduled, and the program
was in the process of being made. As I interviewed her she told me for
the past week her feet haven't touched the ground because she wanted
to be baptized so badly. It was abundantly clear that she had a
testimony - I could just feel it radiating from her. And everything
was fine.. Until I asked her about the Word of Wisdom. She agreed with
all the principles, and there was only one little problem. She had had
half a cup of coffee the day before. She told me she didn't need
coffee... She just enjoyed it and said it wasn't going to be a problem
after she was baptized. My heart sank. I knew that I couldn't pass
her... In every category she was ready and she was fired up - but that
one little thing didn't sit right. I called up the Zone Leaders to
make sure and they concurred with me - her baptism would have to be
postponed for a week. The church's guidelines specifically say that
the individual must be free from any Word of Wisdom issues for a full
week before their baptism. That was one of the hardest things I've
ever had to say. I walked back into the church after my call to the
ZLs and this lady was just smiling from ear to ear. And I had to tell
her that she was ALMOST there.. Her testimony was there and her desire
was strong, but she wouldn't be able to fully appreciate the blessings
of baptism or the Spirit of that day until she had fully conquered her
minor addiction. The hardest part was seeing the look in her eyes. She
looked completely crushed. When she left I was unsure what her
thoughts were.. But the missionaries who were teaching her told me a
few days later. She told them she didn't realize how much she wanted
coffee until it came between her and her relationship with God. She
told them that she would never have even a sip of coffee again.
Without that experience she may have never understood the importance
of obeying all the commandments we're given. She's getting baptized
this week instead. It was quite the way to jump into the district
leader shoes... Like you, Dad, there are several missionaries I've
talked to who have never had to 'fail' someone. And I had to fail my
very first one...

But! On the bright side, the very next day I got to interview another
person! She was a lady in her late 20s who was actually one of the
people we were trying to teach when I was in Tremonton the first time!
Hahaha.. Anyway. I went into this interview apprehensively, because I
now understood the seriousness and weight of determining whether or
not someone was ready to be baptized. As I asked her questions she
showed a firm understanding of the principles that she'd been taught.
Her husband had been less active but recently returned to activity and
he was going to be the one to baptize her. The one thing as I walked
into their home that she, her husband, AND the missionaries who taught
her told me was that no matter HOW hard I tried, I would never get her
to pray out loud. Challenge accepted! At the conclusion of the
interview I bore testimony to her that she was in fact ready to make
this step and that there were countless blessings in store for her and
her family. I invited her to pray, and she laughed and said that she'd
never even prayed in front of her husband, who she's been married to
for like 8 years. I then said that it wasn't me who was inviting her
to pray, but as a representative of Christ it was Jesus Christ
inviting her to. Her life was about to change when she got baptized,
and I told her that her Heavenly Father was just pleading and waiting
to hear her. She paused and we sat in silence for a good 30 seconds
while I had a silent prayer in my heart. She looked up at me and said
"... Okay! I'll do it. But it's not going to be very good!" She then
bowed her head and offered one of the most sincere, heartfelt prayers
that I had ever heard. No repetitions, no fancy language... But I
could just feel her desire as the Spirit came into the room. As she
closed the prayer she looked up and smiled, then rushed to tell her
husband. It was amazing - maybe there ARE some perks after all to
being a district leader. Both the experiences in the past week have
been testimony builders to me as well as for the people I had to
interview. The missionaries who taught her were shocked that she
actually prayed - maybe a bit resentful because she wouldn't pray in
front of them.. How cool is that? :)

The area is going pretty well. We're still trying to find names of
people to teach. But we're picking them up more and more. In the past
4 days we've handed out like, 200 invitations to the next musical
fireside in Logan. We dropped off an entire stack of invitations at
the seminary building and put the teachers on assignment to have their
students hand them out to their friends. AND while we were at the
seminary building a girl walked up to us and said she had a nonmember
friend who wanted to learn more about the church. We're going to be
teaching her tonight! The most solid people we have right now are
actually 8 years old.. They're a set of twins who's parents are
nonmembers, and because of that even though they're 8 it falls to us
as missionaries. They had an older sister get baptized a couple months
ago and they've been going to church with her for 6 months now. The
coolest part of the story is that both parents, even though they're
not members of the church (one is pagan and one is wicken, so they
say..), have been going to church WITH their kids to be supportive.
Their dad told us that when he chose to join a church as a kid his
parents weren't supportive of him, so he's resolved to be supportive
of whatever faith his kids decide on. He's been sitting in on all of
the lessons and asks really good questions. He wants to be able to
understand what his children believe so that he can hold them
accountable to things after they commit to it. He's a really good man
- he'll come around eventually. We're teaching several youth with
stubborn parents who have hardened their hearts against the church...
With a few of them our biggest goal is just to try and re-invite the
Spirit back into their home. The missionary work here is going pretty
well overall though. It's good to be back! I like Elder Sherman. He
has his struggles, but we all do. We're getting along pretty well. The
biggest challenge is to keep him focused and obedient. Which is hard
to do without being overbearing... But I think little by little the
Spirit will work on him. He's a really good guy - it's refreshing to
be with a companion that I don't have to work hard to try and get
along with. I've had a few of those in the past!

Mom - Is it really that close to Valentine's day? I guess that would
explain why everyone is filling their houses with all that pink and
red stuff. Do you think you'll still be a Seminary teacher for year
number 4? That'd be pretty awesome to be able to "complete the
circuit" so to speak. I didn't even think about the fact that Evan is
eligible for seminary now. Crazy! AND that Ryan's about to graduate.
Sheesh - where have I been? And we have a car... Our area is so
massive. It's (once again) one of the largest areas in the mission.
But most of it is just empty... Haha I don't know if Sister White is
jealous. We haven't been able to spend a lot of time just visiting
families I already know - we've been spending most of our time trying
to set up lessons and finding referrals. The only reason we've spent
more time at the Gibbs' is because our dryer in our apartment is
broken right now and it just got picked up to be repaired yesterday.
So we come and do e-mails and laundry at their home. And they pick up
dinners for us when they fall through. Aren't they awesome? :) You're
gonna have a lot of new friends in Utah by the time I come home..
Hahaha. Matt AND Jacob are doing mission papers? That's so crazy. I'm
way pumped for both of them. I didn't burn a shirt.. I did that a
while back when I hit my yearmark. I got all my pictures burned onto a
CD and today is the day we're going to the post office. Expect a
package soon! And the only General Authorities I've heard speak are
Elder Christofferson and Elder Nelson in the MTC ... And Elder
Yamashita and Elder Falabella. Other than that no one else. I expected
more! And if Ellie did indeed send me anything it still hasn't come
yet. Maybe she still has the wrong address. :)

Dad - I guess the interviewing portion of the DL life has already hit
me in full force. It's helped me a lot though. The bottom line is if
they're worthy and they have a testimony then they're qualified. Just
because they don't know absolutely everything about the Gospel doesn't
mean that they're not ready. I think that's a lot of peoples'
mentalities with saying "they're not ready!" After they're baptized it
falls upon the ward and fellowships to keep them coming. And there's
only so much we can do as missionaries at that point... High Council
AND Stake Young Men's? I guess you'll never be bored! We still try and
attend the temple once a month, but our mission president has reminded
us that our primary focus is missionary work on this side of the veil.
I think Bane is from Batman, right? I haven't heard much because I
won't let anyone tell me about it. The sisters are most certainly high
maintenance... One time this week one of the sisters texted saying she
had opened her scriptures looking for guidance and sent a 4 page rant
saying the scripture she saw first said she was becoming wicked and
hard in her heart, and indulging in evil practices. My advice to her:
"Sometimes God speaks to us through the scriptures... And sometimes
the pages get stuck together." And just last night one of the sisters
called saying that we needed to drive to their area right that instant
and straighten up one of their investigators because they wanted to
wait a month to get baptized. Who knows what's gonna happen once the
19 year old sisters start coming...

I love you all! I made a long e-mail this week just for you guys. Keep
praying, and know that I love it here!

- Elder Tyler Grant

Friday, February 8, 2013

February 5th, 2013


It's already almost been a week here, and it's still super strange to
be back! I haven't visited a ton of people from when I was here last
time, we just drove by the White's just in time for a snowball fight..
Other than that we're trying to stay busy and focused on the work in
the Garland Stake. Luckily, we're back to 8 wards again! A very
gracious change from the 25 wards we just had in Richmond. There's
not... a TON of work going on right now. But it's better than what
I've been transferred into in the past. Once again I didn't get
transferred into any investigators who are getting baptized right off
the bat. But hey - that would be too easy. :) There are a lot of
less-actives in the area and that means there's a LOT of reactivation
to do. And along with the reactivation there's a lot of youth who
haven't been baptized because their parents have been inactive. The
leadership is pretty good around here. We're gonna have to fire them
up a little bit more to get them to keep up with the leaders in
Richmond, but that will come with time.

My companion's name is Elder Sherman and he too is from California.
That's my 3rd one from California! I haven't had a single companion
from outside of the United States yet. Arizona, California, Texas,
Maryland, Tennessee, Arizona, Nevada, California, and California. Not
a ton of variety. :) Elder Sherman has been out for almost 11 months
now and he actually TEACHES! What a relief! I went on exchanges with a
missionary in Smithfield before I got transferred out of Richmond and
he told me it was pretty obvious that I'd been carrying 95% of the
weight of teaching for the last 3 transfers. So to come into an area
where my companion knows everyone and has a good relationship with the
leaders and investigators is super nice. We're still digging to find
work. But it will come with time - I'm really excited to be serving
here even though it's pretty weird. We actually don't live in the
Garland Stake - we live LITERALLY right across the street from the
Tremonton South Stake boundaries.

So! I had to give my first district meeting yesterday! It was pretty
intimidating - I never thought I'd see the day where I'd be standing
in the shoes of the leaders when I came into the mission. I had to
prepare a training for my district, and obviously it didn't go 100%
smooth because it was the first run through. I'll get better at it -
I've never had a problem just getting up in front of people and
talking. I'll just have to be sure to be prayerful in considering the
needs of the missionaries in the district. I'm the district leader for
3 Spanish elders and 2 English sisters. So it's a relatively small
district. Our zone leaders are pretty awesome. One is from Alberta and
one is from England. Both of them have been out in the field less time
than I have, so they're both pretty rock solid. I'm also running out
of things to say.. I'm distracted. Like always. :)

Last night we got together as a zone at a members home in our area and
had a huge communal shirt burning! 3 people in the zone hit their year
marks and burned shirts and 2 of them hit 6 months so they burned
ties. I don't know why missionaries do that..It just happens! I think
Dad already mentioned that he never did that while he was on his
mission. Probably because it would take too long to send replacement
shirts all the way to Japan. I also got all my pictures burned onto
CDs so I'll be sending them off in the next few weeks. I got those
hymnbooks a while back. I have too many non-white shirts and stuff now
so I've just gotta ship off a box your way. It was almost too much
work to pack. I've been pretty good at not being a pack rat with
collecting worthless things. :)

Mom - All the way to Romans, huh? Does this mean you're not like 4
months behind this year? :) Thanks for the quote. I'll have to save
that one.. I can't believe Sister White already sent you pictures.
She's too diligent! I gotta watch what I do around here or I'm gonna
get tattled on.. Hahaha. Heidi is about 35 minutes away over the
mountain in Richmond. I'm not worried about her - she'll stay strong.
Your list of my areas is correct! I've been in nothing but small towns
except for the 3 months in Mount Lewis - and that was when I got
transferred into 1 investigator and no other work. Pretty irregular
actually. Most missionaries spend more time in the city. I guess
they've figured out that this is what I'm good at! Is the Storm Lake
Branch still huge? I'm also impressed about Evan's praise of the Book
of Mormon! He must really be taking this seriously. My scriptures are
almost marked to death! It's almost hard to use any other scriptures
since I know mine so well.

Dad - You were pretty spot on on the callings of a district leader. We
have to give a once a week training to the district, get trained by
the ZLs once a week, collect and report numbers to the ZLs, go on
splits occasionally with the Elders in the district as well as the
ZLs, and then I'm responsible for interviewing baptismal candidates
and determining if they're ready. So that's probably the part that
scares me the most. I'm still just a normal missionary, I just have
more responsibilities and more opportunities to serve. I really like
that interpretation of D&C 4 vs Moses 1:39. It just goes to show that
our interpretation and understanding of the scriptures continues to
grow the more we read and study them. Maybe I'll use that in my next
district meeting! The missionaries in the district are pretty awesome
- the sisters might be a little high maintenance but I'll manage. The
3 Spanish Elders are all hilarious - one is from Atlanta, one from
Mexico, and one from Panama. So there's a huge mix of personalities
and cultures. Best of luck on the temple-every-month goal!

I love you all. Sorry this letter's a bit short. I'll write more this
next week - we've set up a lot of lessons and have a lot in the
upcoming days. I love it here - thanks for your support!

- Elder Tyler Grant