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