Sunday, August 18, 2013

July 21st, 2013

Who's ready for it... I'm staying!

 My next companion is going to be Elder Sillito from Florida - and I have never served around him before. I've only heard great things about him though and I'm pretty excited. Elder LaFond will be leaving me! Sort of! He's doing the same thing that I did. He's going to be transferred within the zone so I'll still have him around haha. He's going to whitewash-DL-train in Malad Idaho, which has been a sister missionary area for like, 3+ years. He's pretty pumped to be the only Elder in the whole mission who has served in Malad, and it seems like it's a really good area. As far as transfers go, our zone kind of got re-hammered. A couple missionaries went home, one of them thankfully so.. ON the bright side we're keeping Elder LaFond and we're getting a German missionary who is possibly the most obedient missionary I've ever seen. And a mix of others.. Bring it on! God help us. :)

For the record, because mom asked, My companions and areas/stakes have been:

Transfer 1: Elder Scoggin (Tremonton South & Tremonton West)
Transfer 2: Elder Hall (Tremonton South & Tremonton West)
Transfer 3: Elder Billmire (Afton Wyoming)
Transfer 4: Elder Billmire (Afton Wyoming)
Transfer 5: Elder Daly (Ogden Mount Lewis)
Transfer 6: Elder Stewart (Ogden Mount Lewis)
Transfer 7: Elder Cox (Richmond & Benson & Smithfield North)
Transfer 8: Elder Bengtson (Richmond & Benson & Smithfield North)
Transfer 9: Elder Bengtson (Richmond & Smithfield North & Smithfield YSA)
Transfer 10: Elder Clarke (Richmond & Smithfield North & Smithfield YSA)
Transfer 11: Elder Sherman (Garland)
Transfer 12: Elder Curtis (Garland)
Transfer 13: Elder LaFond (Brigham West)
Transfer 14: Elder LaFond & Elder J. (Brigham West)
Transfer 15: Elder Sillito (Brigham West)

Can you believe all of that time has passed already? It's seriously starting to freak me out. Not to the point where it's affecting my work or my attitude, it's just blurring together the more and more I think about it. 4 months from tomorrow and I will be finished, and it really pains me to even think about it. I've got 3 transfers left and I'm going to flip on the afterburners and kick it into gear. I'm really glad that I've been able to serve with Elder LaFond in Brigham for the past 3 months - it has been quite possibly the best time of my mission so far, and it's only looking to get better. I'm studying, praying, and working harder than I have, and I hope I can keep it up exponentially. I've had my challenges with companions, leaders, areas, and sometimes even with my own spiritual welfare. But right now I feel stable, supported, and firm in my determination and faith. We've got a fairly large teaching pool built up right now and we're expecting miracles this next transfer. I continue to rely on the Lord's promises that he has given me with being literally set apart from the world with the mantle and calling from a prophet upon my shoulders. This stake is amazing and I'm not going to be the missionary who lets all the work fizzle out here. I think the greatest and most striking contrast that I have seen in myself is my motives and my understanding of my calling. I've studied a lot lately on a few things that Elder Bednar teaches about understanding the "why" behind things. Many times as missionaries and in the church, all of the vision and the focus is on the "how" - or the application. But if people truly understood the "why" - or the doctrine - behind the Gospel and the weight and magnitude of the eternal truths that we hold, there would be no need to constantly tell people to go do their home teaching or pay their tithing or anything like that. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, "There are no such things as less-active members of the church. Just people who don't understand." If people TRULY understood the doctrine - not the application/going through the motions - of going to church, then they would never miss a Sunday. If missionaries truly understood the mantle, calling, and covenants under which we are placed, there would be no disobedience, lack of motivation, or lack of perseverance in teaching and contacting people. There would be no fear. The truth and the doctrine behind it all is that this is not just another church formed in these times. This is not Joseph Smith's church. This is truly God's true church on the earth as restored through prophets in these days. Jesus Christ is at the head of this work, and through his Atonement and example lie all the stepping stones and ordinances necessary for salvation and eternal joy in the life to come. I feel like I'm finally starting to understand and internalize the "why," and it's making all of the difference.

As far as teaching goes, we've made an increased effort to reach out to a lot of the less-active and returning members who are on their journey home; focusing not just on baptisms but on helping others access the Atonement more fully through ordinances. Whether that be the sacrament, the priesthood, or the blessings of the temple. We've found a lot of families lately who have extremely large potential to return to full activity in the church, and some of them have youth who have not been baptized yet. For example in one of our wards we had a ward mission leader who was not doing.. Well.. Basically anything at all. We talked to the stake president and he was released, and a new one has been called in his place. We've worked with him and made visits he's asked us to, and as a result we've found 6 families in his ward with non-members in the home that we didn't know existed. Members play such a pivotal role in missionary work, and that's why I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing leadership here in the Brigham West Stake. People here just honestly get it. I'm curious to see how the principles from the broadcast have affected the missionary work back in Iowa. My perspective has been changed completely, and while I'm aware that I won't be able to come home in full blown "convert-the-world" mode and be successful, I know I'm definitely going to increase my efforts to assist the missionary work wherever I stand.

Mom - Happy Canada Day and Independence Day! My 4th of July was pretty awesome. It has been very difficult to catch people home for the holiday, but now that it's over with we have people coming back to us again. We spent the evening at a member family's home and watched the big fireworks show from their driveway. Nothing like the Storm Lake show over the lake, though! Anyone in Cole Harbour miss me? Hahaha I didn't think so. I don't know if I need anything from Canada. I can seriously never think of anything else. I can't believe it was like, over 100 degrees in Nova Scotia! The second coming must be close. Tell Papa that I love him and someday I will have to come and dominate him in pool! Probably not chess.. But definitely at pool! I think I"m still thinking Pharmacy at this point, but mostly only because I don't know anything else that strikes my fancy even more. :)

Dad - I definitely read through that talk, and it made a lot of sense. The comparison to taking piano lessons was brilliant. I think I'll definitely still be cautious in teaching people about explaining grace, however. We contacted a lady last week who asked us an odd question that made me think. She said "If you're standing at the gates of heaven and God asks you why he should let you in, what will you say?" I thought about it for a little bit, then bore my testimony to her about how I hope and pray that though I'm not perfect, I did all that my Heavenly Father asked me to do and that I made a difference in at least one other person's life in helping them return to him. She interrupted me and said "Nope! Wrong answer!" The correct answer? "Jesus." Accept Jesus. He gets all the credit. I almost laughed because she made it seem like heaven's gates just had a secret password. She was a super grace-y lady. But it's comforting to know that we don't see completely differently. That grace is definitely in play, but a lot of people just have a skewed view as to the magnitude of Christ's grace and the purpose of it. Anyways.. Thanks for sharing the talk, I will keep it on hand for future reference.

I wrote an extra-long letter for you guys this week because I felt that the past few were a little bit lackluster. I love you all and I love this work so much. I feel that it is truly changing me and inviting me closer and closer to my Savior. And my prayer is that we may be able to assist others to do the same. :)


- Elder Tyler Grant

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