Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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

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