Monday, March 25, 2013

march 19th, 2013

Heyyyyy again!

So.. I had another rude awakening this past week, and our MTC group
just hit our 16 month mark in the field on March 16th. Could I really
be 2/3rds of the way through already? That couldn't possibly be. The
time is just flying and the weeks get faster and faster. I'm really
not drawing on an infinite source of time anymore... I guess the
grains of sand in the hourglass truly are numbered. It's so crazy to
think this is my 12th transfer, 10th companion, and 5th area. But,
looking back and seeing what I've been able to see in myself so far
compared to where I was when I left the airport 3 hours late that
morning, I feel like a completely different person. Teaching people
has become so much easier - questions just pop into my head that seem
to take the lesson exactly where it needs to go. Speaking in church
isn't a task anymore; I can give a 20 minute talk with half a page of
notes and 4 scriptures. I can't take credit for anything that I am or
will be. All I have learned has been largely in part of the amazing
leaders and examples I've had to teach me and shoe me the way. I'm so
grateful for President Hiers - his genuine love for all of the
missionaries is astounding. I know he's steering the mission in the
way that God wants it to go.

We had interviews with the mission president last Friday, and it was a
really good experience for me as always. I talked to Sister Hiers for
a bit about my hospital escapades and she suggested that it may have
been swollen lymph nodes (Dad? True/False?) which created seemingly
appendicitis-esque symptoms. I also told her that I've felt the added
stress lately from a string of difficult companions.. And it dawned on
me that I've had a pattern so far. I have 1 strong transfer with a
strong companion, and then 5 transfers of either a socially awkward
companion or a disobedient companion. Then 1 transfer with a strong
companion, and then 5 more socially awkward or disobedient. Not that I
haven't enjoyed serving with them, but I realized that each of them
has had individual challenges and experiences that have helped me to
grow. I talked to the mission president about this current transfer
and my current companion... I told him all the companions I've had and
he agreed that I'd had some of the most difficult ones. He then told
me good companions are coming (fingers crossed...) and he's seen me
grow so much. And I appreciate the growth, but.. Is it too selfish of
me to ask for just ONE companion that I'm not already three steps back
because of social problems or disobedience? All I want for just ONCE
is to serve with someone who all I have to do is go out and fulfill my
purpose and they'll be right there beside me. I haven't had that in a
while... I know that my patience has been strengthened a lot and I can
take pretty much any companion at this point... But I DO want to enjoy
a companion every once in a while. :/ Gahh... I shouldn't complain.
The Lord has blessed me with so much. I've talked to our Zone Leaders
several times and they pointed out that I've had one of the most
difficult lineups of companions they've seen. And somehow I haven't
snapped... Yet. I'm still praying a ton and have been studying all of
the Christlike attributes to try and give myself a focus. Love,
charity, humility, patience, diligence... I think it's helping. I'm
just worried about our area is all. 
 It's getting better slowly as
we've had more opportunities to teach. The Zone Leaders came by last
night to talk  about humility and being teachable, and that was
an answer to a prayer. I think it's going to only get better from
here. At least, that's the plan!

The area is doing okay - like I may have said last week, we're
definitely in the finding stage again. We had a lesson on Saturday
with an all-nonmember family! Which is a rarity indeed... They're
incredibly good people and are very open and receptive. It was pretty
funny; the reason that we got in to teach them was because they have
an 11 year old son who is finishing his Webelos' requirements and he
has to earn the 'religious knot' , which requires him to learn about a
religion other than his own. So we went in and taught their family the
first lesson! It wasn't the full lesson, but we were able to leave a
family proclamation, a few pamphlets, and 2 Books of Mormon in their
home. They asked a lot of really good questions too. Their 17 year old
daughter seemed the most intrigued, and she said she was going to
start reading the Book of Mormon. So at the very least, there were
some seeds planted! We taught another part member family for the first
time last night and had a really good first discussion with them. We
also got a referral for another part member family out in Howell, and
actually, I think this story deserves a paragraph of its own!

So we get a call from another set of missionaries on Friday. They were
at the auto shop getting their car repaired and someone comes up to
them and says they have a friend out in Howell who goes to church and
wants to get baptized. They gave us the phone number for the
non-member lady, and we felt it would be a good idea to call the Ward
Mission Leader and ask who they were and if they were working with
them before we went in guns a-blazing. He said "Oh I forgot about
them! Yeah she's been coming to church... I'll go talk to them
tomorrow and get a lesson set up!" Perfect, so we thought! We ran into
those same missionaries a few days later and they told us they had
accidentally called the lady and hung up immediately, but she called
back 3 times within 5 minutes.. A very clear sign that she was waiting
on the missionaries to call! And the guy who gave them the referral
said "Yeah, apparently the missionaries called but hung up... She
tried to get a hold of them but couldn't." Blast! So we called her..
And she picked up the phone. I told her it was the missionaries, and
she seemed temporarily really excited. And then she said "Hey.
Actually, my nephew just died yesterday in a car crash, and we're at
the crash site right now... Can I call you tomorrow?" *facepalm* Count
that as my submission for "Worst Ever Time to Contact Someone to See
if they Want to Get Baptized." I'm sure it'll win the contest...
Hopefully she calls us today! If not, then.. Well, dang it.

The work is going pretty well overall. We're still looking for people
to teach. The people we are teaching are progressing, albeit slowly.
But we've had a few really good contacts in the last week and things
are looking up. I don't know how much longer I'm going to be in
Garland, but it's looking to be about the same as all my other areas.
Come into the area with minimal work, baptize a few, and leave the
area stronger than I got here. Again, that's only if all goes
according to plan! :)

Mom - Thank you for your prayers. Know that they are being felt. This
past week has been better. It hasn't been smooth sailing, but not
every single day is dragging by. President Hiers sent you another
letter about leadership? Hmm.. He sent me one too. But yours sounds a
lot more uplifting.. Haha. 
 Jaidan and all his family minus dad made it to church last week. Oh! Fun
surprise - I was privileged to be able to give Jaidan the Aaronic
Priesthood last Wednesday and ordain him to be a deacon. So that was
pretty awesome! I've never done a priesthood ordination before. 
And I
have heard several people talking about Grant's mission call prank,
actually. The first time someone brought it up, I was like "There's no
way it's the same video..." But I guess it totally is. Kudos, Grant!
I'm still praying for Ryan - I'm glad he's come so far. Maybe I should
write him another letter... 

Dad - Shiver me timbers! So you're still pulling double duty as High
Councilor and Stake Young Men's President, huh? BEAST. I've told
people that around here and they can't even fathom having two
callings. I guess they've never been in a world where there's not
always enough members to fill every slot! That's really sad about the
girl from Vermillion... What was her name? I wonder if I knew her.
Those are some super old ER submissions. We actually spoke in an 'old
folks home' sacrament on Sunday, and there were so many people
sleeping it was incredible. The most chipper people there were a 99
year old man and his 96 year old wife - 70+ years of marriage! The
district is pretty good - it was just a lot of change all at once. I'm
still working with getting along with my companion, and actually I
think he's oblivious to any challenges he feels we're having. Which is
either a character flaw on his part or, more likely, I've just gotten
really good at hiding my irritation. Which may be a really good life
skill to have... It's also really good to talk about things, and I've
been trying. Like I said earlier - polishing is a slow process! I
guess "Gahh" is a Tyler word. I don't know how that one started.

Okay then.. I love you guys. Thanks for praying for me and for
supporting me for the past 16 months. I know that the Lord is watching
over us and I'm reminded almost every day that we're not in this work
alone. Here's to the future!

- Elder Tyler Grant

March 5th, 2013

So seeing as this transfer was only 5 weeks, it has already rapidly
come to a close... And I got a call from President Hiers last night
again. I'm going to be staying in Garland, but I'm going to be
training another new missionary! I'm actually pretty excited. District
Leader/Trainer is about as high as the responsibilities get so this'll
be a test of my stress levels and work ethic. I'm also nervous because
this time around will probably be an ACTUAL brand new missionary, not
one who served a trial mission first... Maybe it'll even be one of the
new 18 year olds! Haha.. I'll report next week. Elder Sherman is being
transferred south to Clinton. I'm really going to miss him. He's been
one of my favorite companions that I've had. We've gotten along really
well and have seen a lot of success in the work we've done in Garland.
He's going to become a senior companion (finally!) so I wish him the
best. He was worried because the assistants and zone leaders were
talking as if he was going to go serve with the APs for a transfer to
give him a boost. So he was stressing a lot about that... I think his
new assignment will be good for him. Like I said, I'm really excited
to train and hope that I can help this new missionary to become all
that he needs to be. Our zone is getting changed up a LOT - We're
getting Elder LaFond as our Zone Leader though! I don't know if you
remember him.. He was in my MTC district and was there for me when my
companion was an idiot.. Hahaha. So it's all looking up!

So yesterday we had a baptism, as you may have noted by the pictures.
Happy birthday, Mom! Have a baptism! :) The kid's name is Jaidan
 and we've been meeting with his family ever since I got
here. His mom isn't a member and she's been coming to church very
regularly for the past 6 months. Her boyfriend is a member, and
they've been working towards getting married, but there's been a lot
of fear. Jaidan decided to get baptized after he felt the Spirit so
strongly at the musical fireside. That's the amazing thing about the
whole situation. We've been teaching his family and he's sat in on and
off, but we've never pressured him and neither have his parents. He's
been praying and reading the scriptures on his own, and never felt
like he received his full answer. And when he recognized it for
himself, he came to us! But that's not even the end of the story.. On
Sunday he had his baptismal interview, and while he was being
interviewed I asked his mom the interview questions to see where she
was at in terms of preparedness. She's COMPLETELY ready for baptism, I
was blown away! She's wanted to get baptized for a long time now and
hasn't been able to since they've been trying to sort out the whole
"get married" thing... We left briefly to go get Jaidan his white
jumpsuit, and when we came back she and her boyfriend were all smiles.
RJ, the boyfriend, said "We were just talking, and we've decided that
we're going to get married. I'm ready - I'm tired of holding my family
back." They're going to go to the courthouse on Wednesday and get
their marriage licenses, and talk to the Bishop to plan their wedding
within the next few weeks! I am SO excited for them! They've come
unbelievably far in the past 5 weeks since I've been able to teach
them. They've been on super rocky ground and have been wondering if
it's going to work out for them... And Jaidan's decision to be
baptized has really just launched them to a new level. We helped them
move into a new house on Friday and Saturday so they've just been able
to start fresh in every aspect of their lives. Jaidan's baptism was
awesome. Both of his parents gave talks and Elder Sherman got to
baptize him. And now within the next few weeks Jaidan's mom will be
baptized too. On Wednesday he'll get interviewed to get the Aaronic
priesthood and he'll be able to bring it into their home. There's some
incredible things happening around here right now, and it's beyond
apparent that God's hand is in it. There are so many miracles that are
popping up everywhere.. Hopefully my new greenie will stay afloat. :)

I love it here in Garland. As questionable as I felt coming back here,
I can tell that this is where I'm supposed to be. I had a family we're
teaching tell me that they felt that I was "tailor-made" for their
family. Being a missionary is incredible.

Mom - I miss rain! And freezing rain I guess... But mostly rain! I
hope you had a great birthday. I can't believe how "over it" I am
about missing both Breaking Dawn movies. Oh yeah.. I can totally
believe it. I guess I missed the Academy Awards too. Someone was
telling us about the movies that won and were nominated and I realized
I hadn't heard of any of them. Far out. The mission office is selling
recordings of the musical fireside for 50 cents.. Should I get one? :)
Haha I'll pick up an order form tomorrow when I go to get my greenie.
I am feeling 100% again. It just bugs me that the hospital wasn't able
to give me even the slightest clue as to what was wrong. Doesn't that
bug you a little bit? I still can't believe Ryan is graduating!

Dad - Thanks for the catch-up diagnosis. FINALLY someone tells me what
happened. And no I wasn't particularly gassy that day. The talks on
baptism and the Holy Ghost isn't necessarily set in stone. Check the
guidelines in Preach My Gospel. It says "two gospel topics" ... :)
Baptisms are much more spiritual when they're brief-er. We're still
working with the twins parents and their older brother. I love
singing- the firesides have been a lot of fun to participate in and I
guess now I've seen fruits from them. I've been playing the piano a
lot more lately too. Playing at Jaidan's baptism was a way cool
experience. I expect I'm gonna love the new piano for sure. There are
a lot of foreign missionaries in our mission - I wonder if I"m gonna
get to train a missionary from another country? I still find it funny
that President Moriyama remembers you as the only missionary he had
from Nova Scotia. And I don't know if I deserve the praise of being an
"awesome" missionary yet. I'll let you know if I ever get that
feeling. I'm trying though. :) You may have beat Evan in pinball, but
you will never beat my Geometry Wars score. I really hope President
Faldmo is still the Stake President when I get back.

Anyways. Sorry for the short letter. Sherman has 6 months of people to
say goodbye to and I've gotta do laundry... Love you guys! I'll report
on my new greenie next week! :)

- Elder Tyler Grant

February 26th, 2013

Yeah I can't hide anything from you guys anymore... I guess you've
already been informed about EVERYTHING that's happened! :) Haha.. But
I'll report anyway.

So last Tuesday evening my stomach started cramping a little bit, but
I didn't think anything of it.. I popped a couple of Tums and then
went to bed. Didn't sleep too well.. Got up the next morning and went
to the gym. I still had the same pain, but it was minor at best so I
still paid very little attention to it. Then went to district meeting
and I gave the training I had prepared. It all went really well and
it's getting easier every time. After lunch the pain had worsened, and
it didn't even seem like it was coming from my stomach, it seemed like
my intestines were twisting inside me. I opted to try and rest up a
little bit in the afternoon but the pain got worse so I wasn't even
able to sleep. The strangest part was that I had the pain but I didn't
feel sick at all - it wasn't the same feeling as having the flu. In
fact I had thought about throwing up to make my stomach feel better
but I couldn't. We went to our dinner appointment but I was the
farthest thing from hungry, and the sharp pain continued. I called up
the mission doctor and described my symptoms. He then gave me
basically an ultimatum. "Take some Pepto Bismol. If the pain subsides
then it was a stomach irritation and you'll be fine. If not, go to the
hospital because it's probably your appendix." Hey thanks for the
cheery news! We went to the Gibbs' because we didn't have Pepto
Bismol.. They're so awesome. I love them so much - it amazes me how
much love they show to me and my companion even though we're basically
total strangers. Elder Sherman took their son to our next appointment
so that I could lay down and try and recover. However over the next 30
minutes the pain only got worse and worse, and I started
hyperventilating.. And THEN I threw up. But that didn't make me feel
better at all. Actually when I threw up my hands went completely numb
and I couldn't move them. So we made the executive decision to go to
the hospital.. And since it was 8:30 at night all that was open was
the ER. They started to run tests and I had to go throw up again.. The
pain got worse and worse and I started to get really tired. They drew
my blood and when they were about to put an IV in I started dry
heaving - and the IV slipped out and blood kind of went everywhere..
Which didn't help. This was the scariest part - immediately after that
my arms went completely numb and my arms locked up. I couldn't move my
hands, wrists, or elbows. My hands were completely locked up in a fist
and I couldn't open them. That was some of the worst pain I could
remember.. It went on for like 10 minutes and I was completely
helpless. My face went numb and I couldn't speak. My stomach went
numb.. After a while my arms started to gain feeling again and the
pain went away. They gave me an IV and took me to get an ultrasound to
check my appendix, gall bladder, and liver. I was feeling considerably
better by this point - I started trying to make light of the situation
to keep myself from panicking, and the pain was still fading. They did
x-rays.. Blood tests.. And I laid there for a while in the hospital
bed. They prescribed me some pills, and sent me off with no diagnosis!
That's the weirdest part. They didn't give me a conclusive answer as
to what happened. They said "possible gastritis." How strange is that?
The cool part of the story is that when I was having my huge muscle
spasm, Elder Sherman texted like 3 people telling them to offer a
prayer for me because I was in the ER and no one knew what was wrong.
And somehow that text made it's way around the entire mission.
Actually I know how... Remember Elder Bengtson, the missionary I
trained? He got the message from Sherman and then forwarded it to
literally every other set of missionaries in the mission. It was a
miracle in that regard. Even though people didn't know necessarily who
I was, they prayed for me. I got text messages for the next few days
from missionaries that I barely knew asking me how I was feeling. It
was a really cool feeling. I'm doing much better now. No complications
since I left. Our zone leaders and a few missionaries in the zone came
and stayed with me the whole time I was in the ER, and Sister Gibbs
stayed the whole time. She's an amazing lady. You should definitely
get into her friend circle. :)

After that day I wasn't able to slow down... Or take a break at all
for that matter. On Thursday we had District Leader Training, followed
by exchanges with our Zone Leaders, two baptismal interviews, and
three lessons. It was an arduous day. But it just goes to show that
the work of God stops for no one! Hahaha.. On Friday we had our last
rehearsal for the musical fireside, and it came together pretty well.
Sunday night was the actual day of the fireside.. And it was SUCH a
cool experience. The music was amazing and they invited all of the
missionaries from foreign countries to share their conversion story
and then their testimony in their native language. Testimonies were
borne in Arabic, Hungarian, French, Spanish, Madagasi, Samoan, Tongan,
and Tagalog. I have the recordings of the songs we performed all on my
camera. "Nearer My God to Thee" was incredible - obviously the
recording doesn't do it justice. After the fireside we got a text
message from one of our investigators sons. They came to the fireside
- they've been coming to church for a while now and their teenage son
has been considering getting baptized but has never demonstrated the
faith and acted on it. He texted us saying "I felt really good at the
fireside. How do I get baptized?" THAT'S what the firesides are for!
He'll hopefully be getting baptized within the next week.

Other than that... Things are going well. We're trying to work with a
lot of families still who are incredibly busy... Unavoidable. We had a
leadership conference yesterday down in Ogden for the DLs and ZLs. It
was a really good conference - they basically told us that we don't
need to always be looking for new trainings or quick-fix solutions
that will solve the mission problems or make it easier to get
baptisms. That isn't what the mission president, assistants, zone
leaders, and everyone else are for. We aren't trying to create
band-aid solutions that will boost numbers. We are trying to pattern
ourselves after Jesus Christ. Preach My Gospel and the scriptures are
our tools. All of our investigators needs are met by coming unto Jesus
Christ and repenting, accessing the Atonement for themselves. People
have been asking for ways to help overcome their investigators
concerns or ways to get investigators to say yes.. That isn't our
purpose. Our purpose is to help them understand how they are going to
realize the blessings that Heavenly Father already has in store for
them. Did you know that being a missionary is awesome? Haha..

Oh yeah! And we had a baptism on Saturday. The 8 year old twins we
were teaching got baptized and the program was very.. Interesting!
Their older brother, who isn't a member, gave the opening prayer.. One
thing he said was "Please bless that during the baptism Jenna and
Gunnar won't freak out." Hahaha. The two talks were given by their
nonmember parents. And while they didn't close by saying "in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen," they told them both how proud of them they
were by acting on what they felt was right. The dad was choking up
quite a bit.. He's TOTALLY gonna come around! The twins bore their
simple testimonies afterwards, and I think Gunnar said something along
the lines of "The water is really warm if anyone else wants to get
baptized." Actually, when they were getting interviewed on Friday we
got a chance to talk to their 13 year old brother. They also have an
11 year old sister who just got baptized back in October. The older
brother has never really said anything to us, and whenever we've tried
to talk to him we've gotten nowhere. This time, he seemed touched..
And he said "You know, when my older sister got baptized God told me
in my heart that I needed to be baptized too. So I think I want to go
for it." He's been going to church with the whole family already too!
Miracles are everywhere right now.

Mom - I hope you thoroughly enjoy my unabridged account of my hospital
experience haha.. Even though you've already been filled in. Your
baptismal interview tale was hilarious! I don't exactly know how I
would react to that.. It's pretty crazy to think that now you've been
a member for nearly 25 years AND Nanny has joined the church too! I
wish I could have been there for Evan's talk. That sounds absolutely
hysterical - hopefully the missionaries had some forgiving
investigators at church! :) But hey... It's Evan. We can't apologize
for him haha. Glad my box made it home safe and sound. That cost like
30 bucks! Ridiculous! We've had spotty snow for a while now.. It's
getting to the point where I'm hoping it's gonna stop soon. But it's
fun to throw snowballs either way. I also hope that Evan enjoys golf -
provided that he can commit to going to the practices of course! He'll
like it, I know I did.

Dad - I won't get a swelled head... Only swelled by all this Utah food
I'm eating. I just weighed myself and I'm sitting at about 137 pounds
right now. Yay.. Maybe I haven't swelled as much as I thought. I've
also done as much as I can with our investigators to ensure that
they're committed to living the Gospel and will be supported when they
do. The trouble with baptizing youth is that if they don't have a
support system then they're destined to go immediately inactive. So we
work very closely with the bishops to ensure that there is a plan to
keep our converts active. Glad that we've had stud missionaries in
Storm Lake for a while now - the area needs it! I'm also pumped to
hear about the pinball machine. Does it get a lot of use? Mom probably
secretly plays it all day while everyone's gone...

I love you guys. I'm off to the rest of P-day ... Have a wonderful day!

- Elder Tyler Grant