Sunday, August 18, 2013

July 23rd, 2013

Thanks for all your continued letters regardless of how boring you all may think they are. They're still a strength and support to me when I forget what the real world is like... As scary as that is sometimes!
We picked up 5 new investigators last week and committed them all to baptism. I don't know if I can truly say it enough - there are definitely miracles happening here. And while not all of them committed to a specific date, we've been able to introduce them to the Spirit and our purpose as missionaries. That's one thing that I think I've gained the greatest testimony of... When we teach and testify to people, we have to be fearless. Elder Sillito and I have continually been building a testimony of teaching simply and directly by the Spirit. When we first set up a lesson with somebody, the very first thing that we tell them is that we're representatives of Jesus Christ and we're here to help them come closer to him, and we tell them in the first two minutes that at the end of the lesson we will invite them to be baptized. At that point they know why we're there and there are no secrets and no hidden agenda; because then we tell them that it is not us who will reveal to them the truth of our message, but the feelings of the Holy Ghost testifying that God is telling them it's true. We invite them conditionally at the beginning: "When you feel these feelings tonight, would you take that as your answer that God is telling you that this path is right, and baptism is the next step you need to take?" And then we teach them. MANY times missionaries are afraid to teach about baptism right away because it's "too big of a commitment" or "they're not ready." Well of course they're not ready right then! We don't invite them to sign their life away to baptism when we first meet them. We teach the doctrine of baptism and the covenant/commitment that it is, also testifying of the multitude of blessings that are attached, and we invite them to seek out their Heavenly Father in diligent prayer, scripture study, and church attendance in faith that he WILL prepare them to be baptized... IF it is right. How will they know? The undeniable feelings of the Spirit in their hearts. It's amazing to me how much simpler the doctrines of the Gospel and of missionary work become after teaching so many people and being so blessed to have my understanding accelerated by the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I know there's no way that we could be changing people's lives on our own. I always tell people that I'm not a perfect teacher and that I wasn't raised in a monastery.. But that I do know one thing; and that is that God will guide them to what is right. I've been continually amazed at the preparedness of the people that we teach and the willingness that they have to accept baptism from the very beginning. Far too many times missionaries treat baptism like it's something that's scary and impossible to reach. However when we don't invite people we are failing them as representatives of Christ and not living up to the call that we already accepted. To some degree or another we also need to live up to this commission as members of the church. We are not called to proselyte or teach people lesson by lesson, but when we were baptized we accepted the responsibility to "stand as a witness of God" in whatever place we may be in. We may not baptize every single person that we teach or come in contact with, but we sure are going to give it our best shot. As Christ taught - "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he CANNOT enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). So it is not just joining another church. It is entering a necessary gateway into God's kingdom; the ONLY gateway that will get them there. So as
We're going to have 2 baptisms this Saturday. Remember that non-member family that we found out in Corinne? The parents are going to take a while to get baptized because they still need to get married and work through a couple other things.. But they're completely supportive of their two sons getting baptized, and they're ready, so we're going to do it! I'm still SO amazed at how prepared their family is. Their mom is reading the Book of Mormon faithfully and has been praying several times a day. Both of their sons have been giving the prayers at the lessons and are actively involved in their ward in Young Men's and scouts. The boys asked us to baptize them, so I'll be sure to send pictures next week. Actually, it's about time I burn a few more CD's and send them home.. My camera is just about full. I've been doing pretty well at taking pictures, not gonna lie! But anyways - I'm so excited for this step they're taking. The Gospel is exactly what this family needs right now, and they've seen it beginning to help them. It's gotten to the point where it's not "Hey I'm having a baptism!" so much as I feel like "Two more people are taking the first step to eternal life!" Sounds lame, but it's totally true. The Gospel has the power to heal people and mend families and as a missionary we are so blessed to be a part of that. We set a baptismal goal in faith at the beginning of the transfer, and we're working super hard to help all of those people who we planned to teach and baptize within the coming weeks to get there.
We taught the other family that we found who have been coming faithfully to church. We taught them the first time last Wednesday and found out for sure that none of their kids were baptized. The parents' concern was that they didn't want to get the children baptized until they were ready instead of forcing them into it; and that they don't understand why baptism is important. So we told them that our purpose as missionaries is, once again, to invite people to prepare to be baptized, and though they may not start out with faith, Alma 32:27 says "even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." Desire to believe is enough to develop faith, which leads to a testimony. On Sunday we taught the family about the Restoration, teaching the same thing I shared at the beginning of this letter about the Spirit testifying of truth.. And after the lesson they all felt the Spirit and we invited them to be baptized. And they all said yes! Except their family is coming up from Arizona in September for the baptism, so if I get transferred then I'll miss it by two weeks. But regardless, 3 more of Heavenly Father's children will be entering that gate which leaders to the path to eternity. How amazing is that? :)

Mom - Bring on the chips! I'm currently chatting with Evan right now and he seems to be in good spirits. Ryan not so much, huh? Maybe he hates me. I hope not! We had a huge zone family home evening at the Gibbs' last night so yes, I HAVE seen my Garland mom! I love them so much. Haven't seen the White's since mother's day. Their son got home a few months ago and I haven't seen them since then. We've been insanely busy in Brigham! Is that really all that bad of an excuse? :) Elder LaFond's companion is almost back to full activity. Jacob's not enjoying the MTC huh? I think a lot of Elders (myself included) started to get a bit stir-crazy in there, so that might have led to some supposed irreverence. He'll do well with a positive attitude though. I'm afraid lots of my t-shirts might not fit anymore when I come home. Small shirts just turn out to be skin-tight with this new Utah tummy that I have... And I'm afraid there are no fears of planning a wedding anytime soon. Unless you've got someone in mind? :) Bahaha..

Dad - Haven't gotten the apology letter yet, but I'm sure it's on the way. You served in the Osaka mission, right? I met a guy who served in a Japan mission the other day but couldn't remember which one. So that's probably a stretch. We ate dinner with a family the other day and the mom was from Spencer Iowa and knew Mike Olson! I don't remember her maiden name. She said she went a few times back when he was in the Spencer Branch. Small world? Yet another backpacking trip without me.. Ugh. Still waiting on the green light to go to Zion's! As far as helping the missionaries out, I'm still not entirely sure where the best place to start is. It's pretty easy to see my side of it right now, but in Utah everyone has exposure to the church so it needs to be worked a little bit differently. I would say to take up the challenge in Alma 6:6 - "fast and pray on behalf of the souls who know not God," and pray for the courage to seize opportunities to share the Gospel when they come. I think I'm going to work harder on just inviting people to come out to church. Or branch activities. Since, in reality, that's what all of those things are for! As a ZL we have to prepare trainings on teaching skills, finding, doctrine, basically anything we feel the zone is struggling with at the time. We've been doing a lot with teaching skills because sadly, the level of teaching seems to have slipped across the mission and as a result baptisms have dropped. And the only thing you can do to help me with my work is just keep doing what you're doing. Keep being Dad. Keep magnifying your callings. Be nice to Ryan every once in a while. And if you have time, keep praying. It all adds up. :)
I love you guys! This week has been amazing and it's going to keep getting better. The Brigham West stake is blowing up right now... It's nice to be able to see some of the fruits of your labors every once in a while. Especially because looking at the areas I've been in, I've left behind almost 20 people who got baptized after I was transferred out. But that's not what's important. What's important is giving our all to Jesus Christ and doing everything we can to hasten this work. Because it's true, isn't it? That should be motivation enough. :)

- Elder Tyler Grant

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