Thursday, April 24, 2014

Senior Couple Spotlight: The Tylers!

Elder Val and Sister LaWana Tyler

             The first thing many missionaries open after they’ve opened their mission call is an atlas to find – or at least find out more – about the area and people they’ll be serving.  Not so Elder and Sister Tyler from Evanston, Wyoming.  Elder Tyler served as a missionary from 1965 to 1967 in the Southeastern States Mission, and in North Alabama for a year; Sister Tyler had been doing extensive family history research on her forebears from Alabama for years.

The Tylers met as students at Brigham Young University (from which he “graduated twice.”).  They had been married for a day when Elder Tyler received another letter, calling him on another mission – from his draft board.  He wound up serving in the Army for two years, one of them as a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) in Viet Nam with the Americal Division and the 196th Light Infantry Brigade.  In spite of being in one of the most dangerous assignments on the battlefield, Elder Tyler was never wounded – in spite of having been in the thick of things so much that he was twice awarded the Bronze Star as well as the Air Medal and other decorations during his service. 

Here in the Mission, even those who knew nothing at all about Elder Tyler’s  wartime experiences, could easily recognize his passion for training and ensuring the safety of missionaries and their vehicles.  Of course, forty years of additional service as a middle school Math and Science teacher made his training sessions even better.

 As the Vehicle Coordinator, he not only managed all the maintenance requirements and inspections for the 100 plus vehicles in the mission fleet, he also led the test-bed efforts in installing and operations of the TIWI monitoring and warning system (See the previous post “Keeping Missionaries Safe).  He was also instrumental in the adoption of the reflector strips designed to keep biking and walking missionaries safe on dark roads and streets.

Sister Tyler, who herself was often found out in the parking lot doing vehicle inspections with her husband during Zone Conferences, had her own considerable burden: ensuring that every companionship had their full complement of training materials available to them all the time.  Anyone who’s ever had the experience of just withdrawing from  - let alone ordering, managing, storing and distributing – the thousands of copies of the Book of Mormon, videos, pamphlets and other resources can understand.  Even though a “more than a full-time job” Sister Tyler still had time to continue her exhaustive family history research – and even provide that special touch for missionaries’ experiences during temple trips with her family names. 

Elder and Sister Tyler’s eighteen month mission has been one of near constant, long-lasting contributions.  While we will all miss them terribly, their four children and 11 grandchildren will surely be glad at their return home to Wyoming in time for Easter.

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