Monday, December 17, 2012

Letter #14

Hey everyone!

Well, to start off, Elder Willard and I will both be staying here in Highlands! Thank goodness! So, this transfer is the beginning of growing from the recent age change for missionaries. Several new areas around the mission are opening and our zone is splitting. This transfer will bring in 5 new companionships and the next several transfers will bring even more than that.

We had a mission-wide Christmas conference this past week, and it was really good! I love the Christmas season, and I especially love Christmas music! At the conference we had a Christmas program where excerpts from Elder McConkie's "The Mortal Messiah" were shared. He talked about the wise men, and though we don't know who they were, they still play a vital part in our Christmas traditions with the importance of giving gifts. I love the Christmas story from the Book of Mormon. Nephi is worried about his people because those who believe will soon be killed for believing in the coming of Christ and the prophecies about His birth. 
12 And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. 14 Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son—of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given. 15 And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came.
How wonderful and comforting that is! I've also spent some time watching videos on, and there are a lot of really awesome ones on there, especially sharing Christmas messages. You can watch some of them here:
My favorite videos on there are "The Coat" and "Kids and Christmas." I really like what President Monson said in his Christmas address about the Christmas Spirit. It's just another name for the Spirit and Light of Christ that we feel when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Have a wonderful Christmas season this year and the time with family and loved ones! Love you all!

Elder Petersen

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letter #13

Hello and good day!

This has been a pretty good week. We set a baptism date with Colleen! She says that stopping smoking would be easy, but giving up coffee will be her biggest challenge. We had a really good lesson with her last night though about making sacrifices and leaning on the Lord for support. She's supposed to get baptized the 29th of this month but we may push it back a couple weeks depending on how she's feeling with everything.

We had a mission-wide conference call on Thursday discussing some of the changes that will be happening in the mission as a result of the age change. President said that we will be possibly opening up 3 new areas in the next transfer, which is next week, and more areas with each transfer through the spring. There's going to be a dramatic increase in the need for more trainers and more missionaries will be training sooner in their mission than normal. Needless to say, I'm really hoping that I won't have to train this next transfer, because I am NOT ready for it! And, Elder Willard and I are starting to really figure out how to work together and get things done effectively. But I like something Joseph Smith once said. "The Lord calls us in our weakness, but He qualifies us for His work." I've been thinking about that a lot lately, that if He needs me to do something then He will help me do it. And most likely, I've already been gotten ready for the assignment without even knowing it. But we'll see. I'm hoping that we both just stay here for at least another transfer.

Last night we started teaching Ron and Darcy. They're an older couple that live in our neighborhood that we met while knocking doors last week. We had given them a Joy to the World DVD and we went back last night to talk about it and answer any questions. We talked about The Book of Mormon pretty much the whole time, just answering questions and reading the introduction, etc. We'll be going over again on Thursday to teach the full 1st lesson to them. I've noticed as I've been out here that The Book of Mormon doesn't make sense to anyone if they don't first understand prophets, the Great Apostasy, and the Restoration. But, they're willing to read some of it and keep learning about the Church.

My list of interesting responses I get when I knock on someone's door is growing. "Are you Jehovah's Witnesses?!" "No ma'am." "What are you?!" "We're missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." "Mormons?! Just as bad, with the knocking on people's doors!" I do have to say, I'm getting kind of sick of people telling us "We're not interested, but we sure are sorry that Romney didn't win." We seriously get that at least 5 times a week. But, as has been told us many times by President Summerhays, we aren't out to convert the whole world. We're here to gather Israel and the elect of God. And that has always been a minority in this world.

Have a great week and enjoy your Christmas season!

Elder Petersen

Monday, December 3, 2012

Letter #12

Well, another week over. And what a week it was! Monday night on our way to our last appointment of the day I got in a bike accident. We were riding down a hill really fast on the sidewalk and at the bottom was a drainage ditch. Well I didn't see the sidewalk go to the left and over the bridge and I went straight into the muddy ditch. I hit my head pretty good, but came out with just a scratch. And my bike came out just fine, which is such a blessing, because we didn't have the car this week. But I was just really sore and tired all week because of it.

This was kind of a rough week. I don't feel like we got anything done, and it seemed like the whole world was working against us. But yesterday was wonderful! Well, Edgar and Krystle got married on Saturday, and then Edgar got baptized Sunday after church. Both were wonderful events to go to. Edgar's dad came down from NY to baptize him, which was really neat to see. 

Sunday night was the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. It was SUCH a wonderful way to start off my Christmas season! If you didn't have a chance to watch it Sunday night, get on and watch it RIGHT NOW! Also, before we left, Elder Willard and I went knocking on some doors in our neighborhood while waiting for our ride. What an interesting experience that was. One old lady told us that she was a practicing, active Christian and was not interested in hearing a message about Jesus Christ. It's a common response here, and it will never cease to baffle me. We also knocked on a door where an old man yelled through the door without opening it that it was Sunday evening and there was no soliciting. Have a good evening, sir. But, we were definitely there in that neighborhood for a reason because we met Darcy and Ron, an older couple (it must have been a retirement apartment complex?) who's door was open and invited us right in before we even started talking. We gave them a Joy to the World DVD, which is a movie about the birth of Christ. Darcy was reading her Bible so we talked just briefly about it. And then we knelt and offered a blessing on the home. They told us we don't need to come back because they already feel so blessed, but were willing to let us come back and teach them anyway. I have a feeling that, either with them or someone we already know, or with someone we will meet this week, something big and awesome is going to happen! We have set a goal as a mission for each companionship to have one baptism and confirmation in the month of December as a gift to our Savior in celebration of His birth. And it's going to happen! I just started reading in 2 Nephi in the chapters that are quoted from Isaiah. Everything that he prophesied has or is happening, or will shortly happen! Like Nephi said, one of the easiest ways to understand Isaiah is to live in the time of the fulfillment. And WOW! The last days are here and the Lord is gathering his people Israel! And what a blessing it is to be a part of such a work!

So, quick funny story for the week. I almost got yelled at by some ladies, one of which was the Relief Society president, in the ward because of my ignorance towards Southern ways. Apparently, mashed potatoes and gravy don't go with smoked turkey? But cheesy potatoes do? Not that I don't love cheesy potatoes, but still. How can anyone say no to mashed potatoes and gravy? They go with everything! Anyway, apparently it made all the sense in the world to them when one asked where I was born and I said Missouri. "Ah, the show-me state!" "Yup! And I LOVE it!" Geez haha!

Alright. Have a wonderful week everyone! Thank you for the love, letters, and prayers.

Elder Petersen

Aftermath of my bike accident


 Yes, Elder Willard wore brown cowboy boots with his black suit to Edgar and Krystle's wedding

 Elder Whaley, Elder Langi, Elder Willard, and me after the wedding

 I left my camera sitting around and Elder Langi found it. :)

 The missionaries with the new couple and their friend/neighbor Colleen, who we are also teaching.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Letter #11

Well, this has been a really great week! Thanksgiving was a really good day. We ate dinner with the Sister Stafford and her daughter, who is dating Zack. So he was there to eat with us and then we had a really good lesson with him. We watched "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" with him. We watch it with a lot of people we teach. It just clarifies so well the history of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. He really enjoyed it, and it answered a lot for him. He's willing to keep learning and meeting with us, and we even invited him to to baptized. He said he would if he finds the answers he's looking for, and I know he will! He's just a very careful person, and he recognizes how important and huge this decision is and doesn't want to rush into it.

We've also met a few times with Christi this week. She's doing really well. She's reading the Book of Mormon and praying, and she feels like she will learn how to recognize answers from God as she keeps doing the things we ask her. She's really excited that we're going to be able to show her how she can live the Christian life she's always wanted and raise her kids right. She didn't come to church yesterday like she said she would, but she is still doing everything else.

Edgar and Krystle are getting married on Saturday, and then Edgar will be baptized on Sunday. SO excited for them! Krystle still has some things to work through, mostly with recognizing the blessings of living the gospel.
We've been teaching their neighbor, Colleen. She is golden! She's so ready to learn and change her life. She sees God's hand in her life and realizes that it will be there more if she starts doing the things again that she needs to. She came to church yesterday and loved it! She said it was quite the learning experience for her, just because she wasn't sure what to expect. She loved everything that was shared in all the meetings, but the mechanics of the meeting schedule kind of threw her off. But now that she knows, she's even more excited for next week. And next week is testimony meeting, which is (almost :P) always a great experience for investigators.

Things are just going great with everything. Elder Willard and I have felt an urgency to step up our game and work harder and just be the best missionaries we can be. We talked about it in our weekly planning session on Friday, and every day since then has just been awesome! We're really seeing miracles with the work here. I've been reading some of Isaiah's writings that are quoted in the Book of Mormon this week. I've never understood with such clarity the way he talks about the gathering of the House of Israel until now. Prophecy is being fulfilled! And I'm right in the middle of it and seeing it every day. It's such a wonderful experience!

Elder Petersen

Monday, November 19, 2012

Letter #10

Hello hello hello!

It's actually kind of cold and overcast today! So, like what a warm day in Missouri might be this time of year :P This week has been alright. We saw a few people multiple times, so it's not like we actually saw that many people. We also spent a lot of time knocking doors, which is really hard to do for more than an hour at a time. But, we have a couple new people to teach. Zack is a 20 year old guy who's dating a girl in the ward. He came to church last week and really liked it. He had a lot of questions about it when we talked to him and he is genuinely interested in learning more. We're also teaching a lady named Christie who was dating a less active member of the ward. They recently broke up and he doesn't want anything to do with the church, but she wants to stop smoking and drinking. And since we told her we could help her do that through helping her come closer to Christ, she seems really interested in learning more. We had previously shared the Restoration and the Book of Mormon with her, but we're going to be meeting with her regularly now.

Well, it's Thanksgiving week! I can't believe it. I hardly feels like it should be the holidays already. It's too warm here for turkey and stuffing and pie! It also sneaks up on you when you don't have a break from school to look forward to. So, for missionaries, Thanksgiving is a normal work day for us. We are eating dinner at a member's house, but it pretty much has to be like a normal dinner appointment. Except the people that are feeding us is the family that introduced us to Zack so we can stay longer to teach him a lesson. But the rest of the day pretty much will be like a normal missionary day. I guess President wants us to focus on recent converts and less actives.

We had Zone Conference this last week. Wow, what an amazing day! I learned so many wonderful things about how to improve myself, especially as a teacher. One of the things President focused on was how to become a Christ-like teacher. So we studied the instances in the New Testament where Christ himself taught someone one-on-one. Every single time, he goes straight into teaching the gospel and teaches from the scriptures directly to the needs of the person. He doesn't really ever spend time with small talk. So that's something I've really been working on since then and it's been neat to see how effective it is. When you can help people see how the gospel relates to them, then you have something in common with them. And since our purpose is to bring others to Christ, what more do we have to have in common than the gospel?

Well, we have the car this week, so we should be able to get a lot more done as far as teaching lessons goes. Bikes are alright, and I really don't mind them here because there are virtually no hills to speak of, but they are so slow and we spend half our day just getting places. But yeah, this week should be really great. Elder Willard and I have been working on getting better at a lot of things so we can work as effectively as we can. On Saturday we were headed to a lunch appointment and we were running a little late. We passed a lady on the sidewalk, and I thought that maybe we should stop and talk to her. As soon as we passed her, Elder Willard turned to me and said he felt like we needed to talk to her. I told him I did too, and then I had the thought to turn around and go back. But because we were running late we just kept riding. Both of us really regretted passing her by, so we decided that from then on we wouldn't not talk to anyone. Well, we're getting better at talking to everyone, and we met a lady after visiting Christie that was very nice and willing to let us come back and talk to her and her husband.

I'm so glad I made the decision to come on a mission and serve the Lord for two years. It is the best thing I could ever do for my life, and it's the best thing ANY young person could do for their life. It's so amazing to see the changes that come about in people's lives as they come to know their Savior better and come to trust in Him. I love this gospel so much, and I know it's true. 

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Petersen

Monday, November 12, 2012

Letter #9 (Highlands)

Hello from Highlands!

It's been a wonderful week so far. We have two sets of missionaries in the Highlands ward. I serve with Elder Willard, and we also have Elder Langi and Elder Whaley. We are on car share, which means we take turns using the car for a week at a time. Whenever we don't have the car we are on bikes. So I've biked quite a bit this last week, but this week we have the car. I actually don't mind biking all that much. I'm really glad I got the bike that I did though. If I had gotten a mountain bike like they tell missionaries to get, I would not enjoy it as much :P

We didn't find anyone new to teach this week, but we have a few solid investigators. Edgar and Krystle have been meeting with the missionaries for a while. They'll be getting married at the end of this month and then baptized Dec 1st. For a long time, Krystle didn't want to get baptized, but she recently had a change of heart. However, she wants it to be a surprise for Edgar, so she "sits in" on the lessons, but is really there to learn what Edgar already has. We do a lot of less active work in this ward. They don't have a great retention rate for new converts, so that's something we're working with them on. I heard from Elder Scott and Amadi yesterday, and they told me that a lot of our investigators who weren't really progressing before I left all have set baptismal dates. SO exciting! I won't be able to be a part of the teaching, but I should be able to attend their baptisms. And they also had some potential investigators before I left that are now solid ones. So it's really awesome.

Elder Willard is such an amazing missionary! He's been our for about 8 months, and loves the work. He really takes his responsibility to finish my training seriously, which I really appreciate. He's a really awesome guy too. We get along really well. Sure, we have our disagreements, but we're able to joke and laugh a lot of stuff off. I could tell from the very beginning that he would be someone I would work well with and get along great with. We've had some really good talks about life and the gospel. I'm very grateful for the chance I have to serve with and learn from him. This is going to be a great transfer!

In my Book of Mormon study this week, I've been reading in the very beginning. It stood out to me that, even with all the trials and tribulations that Lehi and his family had to go through in the wilderness, they always gave thanks to the Lord by praying and offering sacrifice whenever something good happened. In our zone training this last week we studied a talk on the topic of grace. It's so amazing to me what Christ did for us, and that we really can't do ANYTHING without him. There is nothing we can do in this life to be saved. But the things we do in this life to follow His example are more about LEARNING heaven than EARNING heaven. We will not want to abide there for eternity if we didn't live this life like what was asked of us by God.

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Thanks for the love and support.

Elder Petersen

Monday, November 5, 2012

Letter #8 (Last from Brooksville)

Hello family and friends!

Today is my 2 month mark! Time is flying by; it feels like I just left. Also, President Summerhays called Saturday morning for transfer calls (a transfer is 6 weeks here), and he calls even if no one is leaving, just to tell you you're staying. Well, since I'm only half way through my in-field training, I had prepared myself for another 6 weeks here with Elder Scott and Elder Amadi. False. I'm getting transferred to Highland, which is near Sebring, pretty central Florida. I leave here tomorrow morning. Elders Scott and Amadi will stay here and I will finish my training with Elder Willard. Also, for those who may be interested to know, the ward down there has two sets of missionaries right now. And one of the missionaries I'll be sharing the ward with is Elder Langi. So, Bryce, I'll make sure and keep you updated on how my mission goes there :)

This week was really amazing. I could not have asked for a better last week in Brooksville. We found 7 new investigators, which is incredible! We also found a less active, part member family that is really interested in having the lessons and coming back to church. Sorry I'll miss the teaching, but glad to have been part of the finding. Priscilla was confirmed yesterday, and I was the one who was able to do that. I was an amazing experience, and renewed my faith and strength in the gospel.

"I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I'll sing;
I'll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ;
I believe in Christ; he is God's Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised."
-I Believe in Christ, verse 1, LDS Hymnbook #134

I add my testimony with that of Elder McConkie's in the hymn. I believe in Christ. I know he lives. I know he is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Only through and by him can the human soul be saved. If we have faith in him and live according to his commandments, we will find peace and joy in this life.

If you have time, look this hymn up and read the rest of the verses. It is truly powerful and inspired of God.

Thank you for your support, prayers, and letters. I love you all so much. Have a blessed week, and may you find strength in the Lord to endure your trials and rejoice in Him who is mighty to save.

Elder Petersen

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Picture Dump #1

Jarom sent his SD card in the mail today with his pictures and videos from the last couple months. Here they are with his descriptions.

Statue of missionaries on bikes at the MTC

Me and Jordan Britton

My MTC District (L to R)
Elder Larson, Elder Brown, Elder McKee, Elder Kisner, Elder Ah Sue, Elder Flinders, Elder Walker, Elder Lawless, and Me

Mount Y view from MTC

Me with bike statue

Provo temple

Provo temple

Elders Kisner and Ah Sue (going to Brisbane, Australia)

Kisner and Ah Sue

Elders Larson, McKee and Brown (going to Charlotte, North Carolina)

Elders Larson, Walker, Lawless and Me (Tampa, Florida)

The new Tampa Elders

My District at the temple

Me and the cream soda tree- it really does smell like cream soda!

Look who it is! (Elder Hunter Jones- cousin) 

District with teacher Brother Heaton

District with Brother Austin

District with Sister Knudsen

 District with Brother Richmond

With Sisters in our MTC Zone

Me with Elders Kisner and Ah Sue

Elder Walker aka "The Janitor"

Bike at a members home in Brooksville

Elder Scott on the bike

Me on the bike 

Me with the sword of Laban (Not really obviously. Just an artist's interpretation)

 We went to a baptism at the beach for someone Elder Amadi was teaching in his last area, Palm Harbor. These beach pics are taken there.

Elder Amadi, Elder Scott, and Me at Palm Harbor

These cranes are all over here

We helped some members with some demolition work on their house that they're remodeling...well, rebuilding ;)

Fire! :-D

Ward Trunk-or-Treat and carving contest. It's an owl

 Elder Scott, Priscilla, Elder Amadi and Me just before Priscilla's baptism