This has been a crazy week! We haven't really had a chance to get a lot of work done, but we have stayed fairly busy. We had interviews with President Summerhays on Tuesday along with a zone meeting where we were told that we have to be in an hour early on Halloween, so 8 instead of 9. And then on Saturday we went down to Palm Harbor, which is Elder Amadi's last area, and attended a baptism at the beach of someone he was teaching while he was there. It was early in the morning just as the sun was coming up. It was so awesome! And of course, seeing someone follow Jesus Christ by getting baptized is always an amazing experience :D
We are so busy with teaching! They like us to take a few hours a week to tract and find new people to teach, but we're so busy with appointments that sometimes it doesn't happen. One lady we're teaching, her name is Priscilla, is what we call a golden investigator. After the death of two of her daughters, two years apart, she felt like she was led by God to the church building where a member who was there doing family history work gave her our number. We've been meeting with her on a regular basis and she just loves everything we teach her. The Spirit is always there teaching and testifying to her that what we are telling her in true. She was the first person we set a baptismal date with, which is the 28th of this month. She's so excited, and loves the idea of finally being a member of the Church. She sees the hand of God in everything in her life. In fact, her catch phrase is, "It's a God thing." :)
We're also teaching another couple, Jim and Roxanne. They're both smokers but have almost completely given it up since we started teaching them. They love coming to church on Sundays and have mentioned several times how they love the feelings that we bring into their home when we visit. Roxanne is stronger in her conviction to follow Christ and join the Church than Jim. She says all the time that Jim is second in her life and God is first. She loves reading the Book of Mormon and we gave her a Gospel Principles manual that she also reads from all the time. Her faith and understanding are so amazing to me. Jim wants to get baptized as well, but he has a couple hang ups, mainly with having to give up his occasional beer so he can keep the Word of Wisdom. We're still working with him, although we can tell that his hang ups go mostly unresolved because he's not reading in between our visits so he's not really looking for answers on his own. It will come though. He's so close! I love Jim and Roxanne so much! I always leave our lessons with them with the biggest smile. President Monson, in this last General Conference, emphasized the importance of seeing others in an eternal perspective and understanding their potential, not just as they are now. I definitely can see them for who they are becoming and what they may still yet become. I just get so excited when I think of them going to the temple to be sealed for all eternity :D
Those are really the only people we're teaching that are really progressing. But we still are teaching a lot of other people. We're going to have to drop one of our investigators this week. He used to be a member but had his name removed from the records of the Church. We found him while street contacting and he said he was interesting in rejoining the Church. Well, we found out from our bishop here that he's done this a few times and we're not allowed to meet with him and teach him anymore. It's sad really, that people do what he does. I just can't understand it, and we would have been wasting our time with him.
I haven't really eaten any weird or crazy food yet. People in Florida know how to eat! There's a lady here, we call her Mama Nix. She and her husband aren't members but the missionaries lived in an apartment connected to their house for several years a while ago so they are familiar with the church and love the missionaries. She can cook! And it is goooood southern cooking! Corn and grits and greens and fried chicken and the best pecan pie I have EVER had! And, just like good ol' Paula Dean, she does everything with pound or two of butter :P The ward here takes really good care of the missionaries too. We have yet to go a night without a dinner appointment. They feed us every night AND they buy us groceries! It's great :)
I love being a missionary! I love this church and I know that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ restored in its fullness through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know the Book of Mormon is true and is the word of God. I'm a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it!
Have a great week wherever you may be. Don't ever forget that whatever your circumstance may be, God is always mindful of you and loves you.
Love, Elder Petersen