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