Monday, December 9, 2013

Letter #58

Dear family and friends,

Well, transfer calls were this week. Elder Putnam and I will be staying together in Lake Hamilton! We're excited; we've been getting some good work done and have so much yet to do here. So, with Christmas coming up, please send all mail and packages directly to my apartment. The mission office has requested this as they usually get very overloaded this time of year. So as a reminder, my address is

Elder Jarom Petersen
921 E. Main St
Haines City, FL 33844

And I've thought a little bit more about what I want. So if music and ties isn't what you want to get me and you're still out of ideas, Target, Walmart, Subway, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy's gift cards are also acceptable :) We go to those places a lot...

This week was awesome! Richard was confirmed yesterday. Awesome! He's doing really well.
Felicity is getting baptized this Saturday! SO excited! She's been coming to church every week for a while and she always enjoys it. She loves studying the words of modern prophets. She reads any book she can get her hands on that's published by the Church. Her hunger for knowledge is so cool :) As much as I love learning, it's even more rewarding to watch someone else learn, especially when it's something as important as the gospel.
We've been getting so many referrals the past couple of weeks, most of them being from Church headquarters, which is rare. I think we've gotten more HQ referrals the past two weeks than I have my entire mission put together. But they've all been so positive, which is also rare! One of them was two teenage boys, Donovan and Devin, whose grandparents are members over in the Orlando mission. We went over and the first question they asked was "When can we get baptized?" Uh, what?! Not used to that question! So awesome! We have been seeing so many miracles here. The ward is really being blessed. This area has typically been mostly old, retired people. Well, within the past month we've had two young families move from Utah that have tripled our youth and primary programs. And they're HUGE helps in the missionary work. And we're meeting so many younger people who are sincerely interested in listening to our message. And with the Christmas season here, peoples' hearts are being softened as they reflect on the birth, life, and mission of the Savior.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting on that as well the past week, and especially yesterday with the Christmas Devotional. That's always my favorite part of Christmas. Really, the season doesn't start for me until the Devotional. It's always a special time to spread the gospel message. It's really the one time of year that the Spirit of Christ just permeates everything. Even as people get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, doing shopping and finishing up school and work projects before the end of the year, they still recognize that there's something special about this time of year.

As many of you know, I've always loved the church hymns, and I didn't think I could love them any more. But I do. The past few months I've caught myself as I sing in church actually paying attention to the words I'm singing. As my understanding and appreciation for the scriptures and the Atonement have grown, my understanding behind the sacred words of the hymns has grown as well. They really do teach the gospel in a simple and beautiful way. So next time you're singing in church, think about the words you're singing and let them have personal meaning to you. You'll learn so much and your faith will increase. And you will greater understand our purpose in going to church. It's not to socialize, it's to worship the Lord. And music is one of the greatest ways we can do that.

I love you all. Hope you have a great week and merry Christmas season!
Elder Petersen

Monday, December 2, 2013

Letter #57

Dear family and friends,

What a great week! Richard got baptized on Sunday (yesterday). It was a great service. He's such a funny guy and is so happy to finally be baptized.

Thanksgiving was awesome! We had dinner with a part-member family with a ton of their friends there.

The work is really picking up here. We have been so busy the past couple of weeks and it's only getting busier. SO great!

So, for Christmas, ties and music are always appreciated. I know, I'm a difficult person to shop for. I even have a hard time with it haha. So, I don't know. I'll love whatever I get. Just make it good :)

Love you guys! Thanks for all the love and support you give. Have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Letter #56

Dear family and friends,

It's been such a good week! Richard is getting baptized on Saturday. He met with missionaries a lot many years ago and has finally decided that it is time for him. He's a funny old guy, and he wants the Lord in his life and in his heart.

Mario, Felicity's husband, has decided that he wants to be baptized with his wife! SO awesome! Felicity could just do it now, but she wants to wait for Mario. He's going to take a little bit more work to help him understand, but I have faith in the converting power of the Spirit. We had a great lesson with them this week and we re-taught the Restoration after showing them the baptismal font. The Spirit was so strong and Mario said he was ready. This week was our ward Primary program, which was so good, and they loved it too. They participate in all the classes and volunteer to help with activities. They're just so awesome. December will be a good month for them :)

This area is growing so well. It's exciting to see the members catch the spirit of Hastening the Work. It's true, the Lord is hastening His work, and He blesses those who anxiously engage themselves in it. He is preparing people every day to hear the message of His restored gospel. The whole FTM is experiencing the miracles. I'm so grateful that I'm able to serve the Lord and labor in this spot of ground in the vineyard. The things I learn, the miracles I witness every day. God lives, He loves each and every one of us, He has a plan for our happiness, and that plan is following Christ and being instruments in doing His work. "For what could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation? I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me." I've been re-reading and studying General Conference, and I would hope you would all do the same. It is the words of living prophets and apostles, and they teach us the way.

I love you all so much; have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letter #55

Dear family and friends,

Well, the Acostas are getting baptized! At least the mom, Felicity, is. Mario, the dad, told us last night that he will be at church next week and he will have made his decision by then. It was so awesome last night to have that discussion with them. Felicity has been coming to church for a while now and has made several friends. She hasn't had very many positive experiences lately with her other church. We taught them about baptism and those covenants and the gift of the Holy Ghost last night. And after a long talk about the Book of Mormon and how she likes church and Elder Putnam and I sharing experiences about how the church and the priesthood has blessed our lives and how it will bless their family (I shared a story about how I wasn't sure if I was ready to leave home and go to college when I did), she finally said, "Well, I'm ready to go to college." And we just sat there for a couple minutes in silence, Elder Putnam and I wondering if we really heard what we thought we did. And so I asked her what she meant. And she went on about how she's ready to make this church her home and she knows it's the place that God wants her. And then she accepted the invitation to be baptized on Dec 14th! Such a good end to the week!

I think that's pretty much all I have to say. We've been working with them for so long. It was a great lesson to me in patience and relying on the Lord's time.

Actually, I just remembered one other thing. We started teaching Kathy this week. Her niece used to be a member of this ward and referred us to her. Kathy is later in her years and has been to a lot of churches. But she's never found the one where she could find her niche and call home. After meeting with her earlier this week, we set up a time to come back and invited her to church. She accepted. Well, she called the day of our appointment and said she was sick. Past experience has taught me that we just lost her. Well, not so much. She called us Sunday morning about 45 min before church started and asked if it was too late for her to come. She has poor vision and can't drive, but a couple of phone calls and we had a ride for her. We talked with her after church and she was beaming from ear to ear! She was so excited that she made it and is eager to have us over this week to teach her more.

We also started teaching Richard this week. He's met with missionaries before and been going to church a lot for many years. He came up to us last week and told us he's ready to get baptized. We are seeing him again tomorrow.

So, this week has been wonderful. Definitely feel overwhelmed at times with my many responsibilities as a missionary. But I find great strength as I study the words found in the scriptures and the words of our living prophets. I love my Savior; this truly is His work.

Love you all so much
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Letter #54

Hey everyone!

Well, it's been a great week! We have a lot of really great stuff going on, a lot of new people we are teaching. One lady that we are teaching, Noemi, has agreed to be baptized at the end of this month! We're so excited for her. She was being taught in Tampa and then just moved here. She's been taught everything, and so we are helping her to keep all her commitments and come to church so she can be prepared. We've seen a lot of miracles as we work hard. We have so much work to do and there is no time to sit around and do nothing. We're so busy with teaching investigators and less-actives. This is going to be a great week!

Elder Petersen

Monday, November 4, 2013

Letter #53

Dear family and friends,

To start off, my new companion is Elder Putnam. He's from Bountiful, UT. He's great and super hard working. We've gotten so much stuff done and have the rest of this transfer pretty much all mapped out as to what we're going to do. There's a lot of work to be done here in Lake Hamilton. It's no small task. But we are hastening the work of salvation. I was reading the allegory of the olive tree this morning in my studies. Possibly my favorite chapter right now in the Book of Mormon. Something that really stuck out to me as I read was how the Lord of the vineyard emphasized over and over again that his servants who worked diligently would share in the reward of the fruit that would be gathered. The other big thing I noticed was that the Lord of the vineyard did a lot of things that didn't always make perfect sense to the servant, but he reminded his servant that he did it "for mine own purpose." It really got me thinking about everything that the Lord does, and has done, since the very beginning that most of the time we don't understand. But when the end comes, we will understand the purposes and the wisdom of the Lord.

This week has been really good. The Acostas are doing really well. We had an awesome lesson with them last night. We read 2 Ne 32 with them, and the mom was asking some awesome questions about baptism and the sacrament. This is possibly the best lesson we've ever had with them. It's so clear that she wants so bad for it to be true. She loves the idea of eternal families, and talks about it every time we go over. Last night she had a huge smile on her face as she was talking about the whole family being dressed in white and being "tied together forever." Really, her only struggle is getting used to our church services. Because she picks up stuff so fast and she's learned so much, and when she has questions she so readily accepts our answers. The Spirit was so strong in our lesson last night with them. The dad might take a little longer to come around, but he loves the Book of Mormon and how easy it is to understand in comparison to the Bible. So things are going super good with them.

Well, I'm way excited for this coming week. We're going to get so much stuff done, this area isn't even going to know what hit it! Love you guys, hope you have a great week.
Elder Petersen

Monday, October 28, 2013

Letter #52

Dear family and friends,

Well, staying in Lake Hamilton but getting a new companion! So we go to Tampa tomorrow to drop Elder Bennion off and get the new guy.

Overall, it's been a good week. Weren't able to get a lot done, but that's okay. Things are looking up for this week; we have a lot of work to get done in the next 6 weeks and maybe just enough time to do it.

The Acostas are doing really great still. They came to church again and really liked it. They're starting to learn a lot. Still not sure where they will be moving to, but it's looking possible that they might be able to stay in the area.

So, that's all I have to report this week. I'm just loving this work and so glad that I'm a missionary! The Lord blesses us so much when we follow His paths! Have a great week.
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Letter #51

Dear family and friends,

First off, just a reminder that this is the last week of the transfer, so if you're going to mail something to me, do it today. Otherwise hold on to it until we find out what's happening with transfers. I have a feeling I'm leaving. The zone leaders have been hinting a lot this past week of big changes happening in our area that involve us and the Spanish missionaries we work with. So we'll see.

This week has actually been really great! We got a referral from some missionaries in Tampa telling us that a lady they had been teaching moved to our area. So we went and met her, and she is so awesome! She's already read a lot of the Book of Mormon and knows she needs to get baptized. And she's already been taught all the lessons. So we just need her to come to church. Which she wants to do, but it's been hard finding her a ride. But we talked to some people yesterday about it and we should be able to get that taken care of.

The Acostas are doing really well. But they're moving. Out of our area. Possibly to Tennessee. So we're kind of bummed out about that. But when they get to where they're going, I'm sure they'll pick back up with the missionaries wherever they are. The mom and daughter are really excited to come to church next week. They talk about it all the time. They're reading the Book of Mormon a lot now, which is a miracle in and of itself. That book really has the power to change lives. It's still changing mine every day as I study from it. I just recently started reading it again, this time looking specifically for everything it teaches me about Christ and His Atonement. Every page so far is almost entirely highlighted. I'm learning so much and I'm finding so much more joy and happiness in this life than I ever thought I could ever have.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Love you all
Elder Petersen

Friday, October 18, 2013

Letter #50

Dear family and friends,

The work continues to move on here in Lake Hamilton, albeit very slowly. The Acosta family is doing really well. They came to church yesterday for the first time since I've been here! And the teenage daughter is begging her parents to come back next week because she liked young womens so much. It's so awesome! We love that family so much.

I'm really excited for this coming week. We have a lot of good stuff lined up. The members here are so fired up from everything we learned at General Conference and the encouragement to be a part of the hastening of the work. It's great to see the members getting involved in missionary work.

Even though this has been a slow, difficult time for me on my mission, it's been a great blessing as I've been given the opportunity to study every day and strive for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which then allows me to be aware of and see the little things that the Lord does for me each day that reminds me that He's in control and He's aware of me. I have also taken the advice of President Monson: "It's better to look up." It's just so much easier and way less stressful if you're always noticing the positive side of things. This mortal life is already filled with so much pain and suffering. But when we become positive and notice the small and simple things that bless our lives, the Light of Christ within us grows, and that light spreads to others around us.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Love ya!
Elder Petersen

Monday, September 30, 2013

Letter #49

Dear family and friends,

What a week it's been! The past couple of weeks I've learned and grown so much. My appreciation for the scriptures expands every day. I just finished studying the New Testament again this morning. I love the first epistles of Peter and John. I learned so much from them about how to be a missionary and how to seek out the light of God and His love, and then how to share that with others.

Zone conference with Elder Teh was incredible! I don't know how to explain everything I learned from that meeting. I guess the best way to wrap it all up is that my testimony of this work is impenetrable! He talked a lot about how we were trained in the MTC to perform at a high standard of excellence and how we need to rise back up that level of performance to hasten the work.

The Acosta family, one of the families we are teaching, are doing so great! We had a couple of really good lessons with them this week. Really, they are our only progressing investigators, and so it's so great to go over there because they are so anxious to learn. We're still only on the 1st lesson with them, but they love the Book of Mormon and reading from it every day. One of the times we went over, we had a really good talk about focusing on how we feel when we read rather than understanding the story line. The mom of the family especially identified with this, as she recognizes that this book is leading her down a different, much better path. They face a lot of struggles as a family and love the peace and comfort we bring with us into their home. I love bringing the gospel to people and seeing the change it brings into their lives. The atonement brings so much hope into our lives, and it's the only way our lives can improve, so why wouldn't we share it with others and find joy as we watch it change their lives?

Well, I think that's about it for this week. Love you all!
Elder Petersen

PS Just to make sure you all get it, I forgot to include my mailing address last week

921 E Main St
Haines City, FL 33844 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letter #48

Dear family and friends,

Well, I'm back in Polk County!  I got transferred from Venice to the Lake Hamilton area. I'm literally on the eastern border of the mission. It's weird to be back in this part of the state. But good. We had stake conference this weekend, so I got to see a ton of people that I know from the Highlands Ward, which was really good.

I'm excited for the coming weeks. We have a lot of work to be done here in the Lake Hamilton ward. There's not a lot happening here with the work, so there's a lot of potential work just waiting for us to find it and do it!

We have zone conference this week. Elder Teh from the First Quorum of the Seventy will be here to train us. I'm really excited to hear what he has to say and everything I will learn to help me in my work.

My top learning experience this week was with a member as we were going to stake conference. We talked about the atonement the whole time. He made a really good point that has stuck with me and affected how I listened to the talks in conference and what I look for as I study each morning. He mentioned something that President Packer said once, that as we teach a principle of the gospel, unless we tie it back into the Atonement of Christ, then it's pointless to talk about and there's no real power in it. Because the atonement is central to the entire gospel. Without the atonement there is no gospel, there is no plan of salvation, there are no eternal families. And none of us can make improvement or change in our lives without the enabling power of the atonement.  It's what brings us hope in this life and joy in the life to come.

Love you all, hope you have a great week.
Elder Petersen
Well, I forgot to include my mailing address

921 E Main St
Haines City, FL 33844 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Letter #47

Dear family and friends,
Well, transfer calls came Saturday morning. After 5 months, I will be leaving Venice. It's bitter-sweet for sure. Getting transferred is always hard, especially when you love the people so much. I have learned so much in this area about Christ-like charity and love, how we can love people unconditionally, but still be upset and disappointed when they make wrong choices. The disappointment comes because the wrong choice hurts that person, and since we love them so much, it hurts us to see them hurt. But the other side of the coin is how much we rejoice with that person when they make the right choices and are happy. Venice and the people here will always have a place in my heart.
I don't know where I'm being transferred, so I don't have an address for ya'll yet. I will find out tomorrow when we go to Tampa for the transfer meeting. There I will receive my new assignment and find out who my new companion is. I'll let you know next week when I email again. As much as I love Venice, I'm excited to transfer, especially with all the new changes happening in the mission with where we're putting our focus on. I need a new group of members and less-actives to work with haha. I'm really looking forward to all the wonderful people I will meet and all the experiences the Lord has prepared for me in my new area with a new companion. As President Summerhays would say, "It's a beautiful thing."
I could not have asked for a better last week in Venice! It was a week of true miracles and tender mercies. Our teaching pool increased exponentially in the last week and a half. And most of the new people we're teaching are solid new investigators. The most rewarding thing on this earth is to teach someone the gospel and then watch in awe as the Spirit speaks to them and the light comes on in their eyes. The events of this week have caused me to deeply reflect on the hand of the Lord in my life. There is no doubt in my mind or my heart that my Heavenly Father loves me. And while blessings are dependent on our obedience, they first and forever come to us simply because He loves us. And because He loves us, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ. The Savior's Atonement is real. It cleanses us from sin. It heals the wounded soul and binds the broken heart. And one day, we will all rise from the grave with perfect, immortal bodies. "O how great the plan of our God!"
I love you all. Have a wonderful week!
Elder Petersen
P.S. As promised, I've attached some pictures from Pauline's baptism. Finally! :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Letter #46

Dear family and friends,
This is the last week of the transfer, so please hold mail until further notice.
This week has been incredibly busy! We went on two exchanges, which always throws the schedule off. But they were very good, productive exchanges. I love being the district leader and being in a position to help my missionaries reach their potential as servants of the Lord.
We've had some miracles with less-active members. We had one family that just started coming back to church if we would come over every week and have family home evening with them to help them get back into all their good habits as we teach the lesson. Um, yeah! We can do that! We were also just made aware of a new rescue effort coming straight from the First Presidency to help the individual units keep updated member records. That is going to be our only focus for the next 3 months. We're all very excited about that, since it will for sure keep us busy and help us find a lot more people to teach.
Well, my time on the computer is almost up so I need to get going. Love you all!
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Letter #45

Dear family and friends,

Firstly, I'm going to refer to him as Peanut Meehan for the next week, because that's all I know about him :)

Secondly. Pauline's baptism was so wonderful. And not only because Elder Barry and I got to go into the Gulf to be the witnesses. I've never met anyone as prepared to receive the covenant as Pauline was. She truly had humbled herself and repented so that she could be numbered among Christ's people. I've come to really love this family, and to see Joe come home from his mission and baptize his mom right after he got home was so incredible. And then her husband confirmed her on Sunday in church. It was a Spirit-filled weekend for everyone who was involved. I forgot my camera this week, so pictures will be coming next week.

Well, that was pretty much the highlight of the week, so much so in fact that I can't think of what else happened this week. All I know is that it was a good week and miracles are happening every day in the Venice ward.

Love you all!
Elder Petersen

Monday, August 26, 2013

Letter #44

Dear family and friends,
What an interesting week it's been! First off, I found out that I am the new district leader. It's a big responsibility, but I'm enjoying it and not feeling too much extra stress so far, which is good. I'm over 6 elders, including Elder Barry, and 2 sisters.
The other fun thing that happened this week was...get ready for toilet backing up into my shower. SO glad we have two bathrooms in our apartment! It happened at night when the maintenance guy wasn't available, so we had to wait until the morning when we could go down to the main office and report the problem.
Pauline's baptism is this Friday!!! And we got permission from President Cusick to have it at the beach, and we've been asked to witness so we get to go in the water :D I will be sending pictures next week for sure!
It was an overall slow week. No one seemed to be available and appointments were falling through left and right. But, there needs to be opposition in all things, and even as disappointing as some of the things that happened this week were, we still had a great week and are happy with our efforts to preach the gospel.
Elder Barry and I were both asked to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday. Guess they couldn't find anyone else to do it :P But it was a really great experience. We were given Lev 26:2-4 as our topic. I talked about reverence and walking the the ways of the Lord. I used Elder Hales's most recent General Conference talk, Standing Strong in Holy Places, as one of my main resources. He talks about putting on the armour of God, and how it's a gift given to us as we are obedient and walk in His paths. After church, one of the kids in the ward got baptized. It was a beautiful service, and there was a great turn out from the ward. We even had a few less-actives and recent converts there. It's great to have them there because it often brings back in them some of the things they felt when they were baptized and what is really important in this life.
I think that's just about it for this week. Thank you all for the love and support you give. Have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, August 19, 2013

Letter #43

Dear family and friends,

First off, transfer calls came in on Saturday. Elder Barry and I will both be staying in Venice, so my mailing address hasn't changed. I'm excited because this means I will be here for Pauline's baptism!

Last Monday for p-day, we went golfing. Like, real golf. First time I've ever been before, and I loved it! I'm terrible at it, which is to be expected. Elder Barry played in high school and so he kind of coached me along. He said I did decent for a first-timer. He also laughed at me any time I would swing and miss or hit the ground :P But I was also laughing, so we had a great time.

Lance told us this week that he's not really interested anymore. It was disappointing to hear, but we have to realize that he has to make the choice on his own.

Sean, the man we gave a blessing to last week, is progressing well. In fact, we've already taught him the first two lessons with him and have a date set for baptism with him. September 15th, which is the last Sunday of this transfer. It's soon, but he's absorbing so much and tells us over and over again that he's been on a search for the Lord and His truth. And he really feels like he's found it with us. He was unable to come to church yesterday though. He has a broken neck and woke up in a lot of pain. He was really disappointed that he couldn't make it.

We had another great referral from a member this week! Her name is Debbie. She's older and has lost a lot of family members in the past several years, and her interest was peaked by the idea of eternal families. When we met with her, her first impression was, "what can these two young kids teach me?" But as we talked with her, she felt the peace of the Spirit, and was very excited to come to church with us. And she did make it to church yesterday. She told us afterwards that she could feel the same peace, and she learned a lot that really motivated her to learn more and to make some changes in her life with her kids.

As I've been studying the New Testament again, I've gained a much greater appreciation for what it teaches us about the life and ministry of Christ and His Apostles. I just finished John this morning, and especially love the conversation that Christ has with Peter. I recently re-read Elder Holland's talk, "The First Great Commandment," and so this story has more personal relevance to me now. I also just read an article from the New Era about the 10 commandment. It explained each commandment, but I really liked what it had to say about the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The article explains that "other gods" include anything that we put first in our lives before God. Sometimes we all get in those ruts of forgetting what's really important, and I've been finding myself in one of those ruts lately. And so, with a new transfer and a new opportunity to make some changes, I'm setting goals to make sure I put the Lord first in everything I do. At zone conference, President Cusick talked about our circle of influence. We can't control the actions and choices of others--as much as we want to sometimes--and so we need to focus on the things that we can control, our own actions and choices. And as we do that, slowly our circle of influence grows so that we can help other people improve their lives.

I think that's about it for this week. I love that I'm able to be on a mission right now and to serve the Lord. The things that I'm learning and the experiences I'm having help me to know just how mindful the Lord is of His children.

Hope you all have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, August 12, 2013

Letter #42

Dear family and friends,
First off, this is the last week of the transfer. Please hold mail until next week when I can tell you where I'll be (if I'm going anywhere), along with my new address.
That being said, I'm pretty sure Elder Barry and I will both be staying. Next transfer is only 4 weeks to catch back up with the MTC schedule for the new Haitian Creole missionaries that will be coming out. And, with Pauline's baptism coming up, we're both wanting to stay, since we taught her the whole way through. She came up to us yesterday when she got to church and asked us how we felt about swimming. Uh, what? We're not allowed to swim, and you know that :P Well, she had a dream the night before that her son was baptizing her in the Gulf and we were the witnesses standing there in the water. Which is totally allowed! And she woke up with the feeling that she just needed to go with it. So, looks like we're having an ocean baptism! We're pretty excited :)
This was another week of miracle finding. The members here are so awesome and are starting to providing us with some solid referrals! Yesterday morning, we got a call from a member just before walking out the door to go to church. He told us that he had a co-worker, Tori, coming to church because she was taking a world religions class and needed to experience a church other than her own and write a paper on it. Well, she was there when we got there. We were expecting her to just stay for sacrament meeting, and then answer any questions she had during Sunday school. Well, she loved the first hour so much that she wanted to check out what our Sunday school class was like. So she went to Gospel Principles with us. And she loved that so much that she wanted to stay for Relief Society. And when we met with her after church, she told us that she absolutely loved that too. We watched the Restoration video, since she had some questions about Joseph Smith and his role in everything. Between that and the 2nd and 3rd hour classes, all of her questions got answered. After the video we talked some with her about the Holy Ghost and she told us that she remembers feeling it as a child, but this was the first time in her adult life that she has ever felt it. And she's a church-going person. She then asked if she could come back next week for church and meet with us again afterwards. Um, yes!
And then, after church, a member from another ward had a friend in our area who wanted a blessing. So we went with him to go give this man a blessing. The Spirit was so strong, and both he and his wife recognized it. And then we spent like 45 min talking about a lot of different aspects of the gospel. We're going back tomorrow. They are SO beyond prepared, we're expecting them both to be baptized in like 3 weeks.
So, it's been a great week. We're working hard and seeing the Lord bless us and the people here every day.
Elder Petersen

Monday, August 5, 2013

Letter #41

Dear family and friends,

It was a great week in Venice! Not anything too eventful, but just good. Robbie, one of the kids who came to church last week, is super interested. We had a really good lesson with him this week. His grandma and aunt are both members of the ward so that has been a help to him. He also has a friend, Daltyn, who's a member of the ward. He's less active, but since Robbie has shown interest, Daltyn is wanting to come back to church too. The only hang up with Robbie is his parents, since he's not 18 yet. He doesn't know how to tell his parents that he is interested, but he wants the gospel so bad. We have been praying for him and for his parents a lot.

We worked with a lot of less-active members of the ward this week. It's hard to help people get over the obstacles that are keeping them from coming to church. And most of them are because they don't feel worthy to come because it's been so long and there's something in their life that isn't in harmony with the Savior's teachings. One of the most important thing we can do for people is help them feel the power of the atonement and the strength that comes from taking the sacrament each week. That is, after all, the focus and the purpose of meeting as fellow-saints, is to remember Christ as we take the sacrament.

This upcoming week should be good. We've had 3 weeks in a row where we've been busy. We have zone conference tomorrow. I'm excited about that; conferences are always good. We went to a Tampa Rays baseball game on Saturday night. Some of the missionaries sang the national anthem. We got to stay all through the 7th inning, and then had to go because we had a bit of a drive. But it was overall pretty fun. Although not that I care much for baseball or the Rays in particular. But getting together with and seeing friends from the mission was great.

Oh my goodness I almost forgot! I got a phone call Saturday late morning from the elders in Lakeland. Ernie finally got baptized! And then I was able to give him call and talk with him some on Sunday afternoon. I'm so proud of him and the long way that he has come.

Well, that's just about it for this week. Love you all!
Elder Petersen

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Letter #40

Dear family and friends,

What a great week here in Venice! It hasn't rained here in a couple weeks... weird...wishing it would since the rain helps it to cool down some. But it's also nice that we have the car with a/c and we've been busy with appointments to it's not like we've spent much time outside anyways.

Pauline is still progressing well. Honestly, I've never seen anyone so excited and hungry for knowledge before. It's awesome! They were getting rid of old teaching manuals and Teachings of the Presidents of the Church books yesterday after church. She got a copy of ever single one of them. And old priesthood manuals, and old relief society manuals. And she was SO excited! She was showing them off to us, telling us about how excited she is to start reading all of them. WOW! It was cool. Her son gets home in 5 weeks, so she's really looking forward to him being home so she can get baptized already.

Last week was one of tender mercies. This one was a week of miracles! We got 6 new investigators, all member-referrals. And 3 of them are a family, mom, son, and daughter. They've investigated before a few years ago, but they started to show interest again, and they've been really good friends with some people in the ward this whole time. The kids both have been coming to wednesday night activities for a couple years too. So, we're excited!

There's a lady in the ward who teaches musical theater and is a choreographer, so she works with high school kids all the time. And, naturally, the kids know what church she goes to and they also really like the Book of Mormon musical. So missionaries are kind of like celebrities to them. Well, a couple of them came to church with her yesterday, mostly just to meet us and say they've met elders. But they ended up staying the whole time and really enjoyed it. They recognized something different about it that they like and we're going to see them again later this week to start teaching them.

And then we got a referral from This teenage girl just moved here to Venice from MS. She's already been taught everything and is pretty much ready to be baptized. Only thing is that she's waiting until she moves back to MS next summer to get baptized. But she's still going to come to church and meet with us every week so we can help her with her Book of Mormon reading.

Well, I think that's about it for everything that's going on here in Venice. Oh, one more exciting, cool thing. We get to go to a Tampa Rays game this Saturday! We heard from the mission office a couple weeks ago encouraging us to make plans to go to the game. I guess some missionaries got asked to sing the national anthem so members and missionaries from the whole mission are going to be there. It'll be a lot of fun, we're all pretty excited.

Alrighty, that concludes this week's edition of Mission Weekly. Have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Letter #39

Dear family and friends,

A week of tender mercies. I could sit here and write about all the negative that happened to me this past week. And it would be a long letter. But somehow, some way, this week was one of our best weeks in a long time for finding a teaching. 

One of our new investigators in Kate. She's the wife of a less-active, Frank. They just moved here from CO, and before moving she had met with missionaries a few times. She's got a long way to go, and she doesn't feel comfortable coming to church. But she's willing to read the Book of Mormon and see what she can learn from it. One of our biggest focuses with her will be to help her gain a trusting relationship with God and feel comfortable with prayer. I know that prayer is such an essential part of that relationship and it's going to totally change her life.

Pauline is officially scheduled to get baptized Aug 30th! Our lessons with her are going great. She's learning a lot that she didn't even realize she had to learn. It's fun to watch her progress and watch her get confused and then slowly figure stuff out.

Lance is kinda getting cold feet about this whole thing. He still comes to church but isn't sure if he's doing it for him or for Robin. Which, to an extent, is good, because he should be doing it because HE wants it and no one else. We're having dinner and lesson with them on Friday.

And then there was Friday. Best. Birthday. Ever. It was a great teaching day, which was really all I wanted the day to be. We had an AMAZING dinner with some members. She made a pork tenderloin. It was the juiciest, most tender piece of meat I've ever eaten. I could cut it with my fork. And I did. And it was perfectly seasoned. And then another member took us out for dessert. We went to Applebees, and since it was my 21st birthday, we got the little desserts that they serve in shot glasses :) And thank you thank you thank you to everyone for all the cards and letters and packages.

But, it's time to go and eat lunch and do laundry and have a relaxing, rejuvenating pday. We've already got a lot lined up for this week, and it can only be better than last week. It's a miracle!

Elder Petersen

Monday, July 15, 2013

Letter #38

Dear family and friends,

First item of business before I forget. We just got notified by the mission office that mail is now to be sent directly to our apartments instead of the mission office. If you've already mailed something, it's fine, but starting this week it needs to be mailed/shipped directly to me. Which means for during transfers you shouldn't send me anything. But I'll make sure and give you a heads up the week before so you don't have to keep track of it all. My address here in Venice is:

Elder Jarom Petersen
3912 Woodmere Park Blvd, #9
Venice, FL 34293

Second item of business. I heard a really, really funny pun a couple weeks ago that I wanted to share. It's hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs, because they always take things, literally. BAH! I laughed really hard when I heard it. And then I had to explain to it Elder Barry. We have a lot of fun :)

Well, this past week has been nothing short of miraculous. We weren't really that busy. It's been a challenge incorporating the new area into our plans, seeing as how it's new and we forget about it sometimes. However, yesterday changed everything. There was a talk given in sacrament meeting about the importance of doing missionary work. In fact, this individual called the whole ward to repentance, himself included, and said that it was their job, not the missionaries' job, to find people for us to teach. He called us early in the morning and told us to bring all of our Articles of Faith cards, but didn't say why. Well, we found out. At the end of his talk he committed everyone in the ward to ask us for at least one card and give it away this week. And then he promised them that at least some of them would get a phone call from the person they gave it to saying they had questions. And he told the ward to direct all questions to the missionaries. We easily gave out 100 pass-along cards yesterday before church was over. And better than that, we left church with a full schedule for this upcoming week. This has NEVER happened before! This ward had a little fire going, but the gasoline just got thrown on. And we're excited! Of course, now it's our job to keep following up with the members to see how it's going.

Pauline's son gets home from his mission Aug 30th we think. They're still not sure the exact day. So she will be getting baptized somewhere in there. It's after this transfer is over, though, so not sure if I'll still be here for it. I really want to be though. We have another month left in this transfer. Hoping I will be able to stay another transfer. I feel like there's so much work for me to do here.

Well, I think that's about it. We're pretty excited for this upcoming week. Hope you all have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Letter #37

Dear family and friends,
I cannot believe how fast time is going! This past Friday was 10 months. Already?! No way! It just keeps me motivated to work hard and effectively every day to make sure I'm not wasting the Lord's time.
This past week went really well. In fact, we taught more lessons last week than any other week this past transfer. Pauline is doing really well. We went over to teach her lesson 4, the commandments, and as we were preparing the lesson, we realized that she already knew it all. But we still had a really good discussion about obedience, prayer, and studying the scriptures.
All of our other lessons last week were with members. And that's exactly what we want. We're really getting the ball rolling with the bishopric and ward council to have members take the missionary lessons. And the members love it too! Most of them really don't have a strong foundation in the gospel, and so the lessons help them to gain a clearer understanding of gospel principles, particularly the atonement and repentance. And in turn, we're already starting to get so many more referrals than we've ever gotten before! The members are excited and they are starting to get the courage to share the gospel with other people in their lives.
Transfer calls were this past Saturday. Elder Barry and I will both be staying in Venice. We knew that was going to happen since we're still in the process of training. But, our area just doubled in size. We had previously been sharing the ward with a companionship of sisters. We covered the northern half of the ward, they covered the southern half. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough going on with the work in their area to justify keeping it open. So they closed their area today, and they are being transferred to a neighboring ward that really actually needs a second set of missionaries. So, Elder Barry and I are a little overwhelmed with the new area now. It'll be good because we are going to be so busy now, but this ward is so BIG in terms of physical area, and it's kind of daunting. It's going to be good though, because there are some changes being made in the ward with regards to missionary work, so we're going to have a lot of support from the leaders and ward missionaries to make sure everything gets taken care of and that no one gets forgotten or left behind. Because that's my biggest worry is that we will get too busy and start to forget about people.
We met President and Sister Cusick on Friday. They are incredible! Very, very different from the Summerhays's. President Summerhays was very informal and laid-back. President Cusick was a corporate executive before coming to the mission. He's really young, only 49. I'm really excited for interviews coming up so we can actually get to know each other. He announced some other big changes that happened world-wide that we didn't know about. The dress code for missionaries has changed a little bit. Backpacks are no longer allowed, so I had to go out and buy a messanger bag. And we are now allowed to wear light-colored slacks, and yes, that includes khakis. It's really cool actually.
So, I know that this is coming on Tuesday instead of Monday. Yesterday was a crazy fun P-day! Our ward mission leader, who's only 23, works at a marina on an island called Boca Grande. It's a really, really, really nice island and houses there start at a couple million. It's a fun tourist place as well, with some fun shops and good places to eat and come nice sights. But, I forgot my camera. Well, yesterday was his day off, so he rented a couple of golf carts from his work and took us out for the day. But we had to start earlier in the morning before it got too hot, so we didn't get to do much of anything else yesterday.
Well, I think that's about if for this week. It's just such a blessing to be out here, to be a part of the Lord's work, and to see the miracles that He performs for those who have faith in Him. I love reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. I'm almost done with it for the 3rd time on my mission, and it's incredible how much I learn and am reminded of each time I read it.
Hope you all have a wonderful week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, July 1, 2013

Letter #36

Dear family and friends,
This was kind of a crazy week. Kind of rough, in that we weren't able to see any of our investigators this week. But since last Sunday and the missionary fireside, we've seen a huge turn-around in the members and their attitude. They're really excited about missionary work and are starting to realize their role and position in the work in their ward. We taught the combined 3rd hour yesterday, and reviewed the fireside and what we as missionaries expect from the ward members. It was a great meeting and we got a really positive feedback from them. The ward council has decided that, for the mean time, finding new investigators in not going to be our focus, and they're starting to implement plans to get us involved in home teaching and visiting teaching, to strengthen the active members and bring back those that are lost. The Venice ward is in a very similar situation that the ward in Oklahoma was in: a missionary drought. And the Lord isn't going to bless this area with new converts until they learn to take care of the ones they already have. And the members realize that and are excited to make a change. It makes me really, really happy to see this happening.
We went on splits on Thursday night, and we made contact with two less-active members that no one from the ward or missionaries had ever talked to before. And they both want Elder Barry and I to come back this week! So we're really excited about that :D It goes right along with what we want for the ward.
So, we were at a member's house for dinner the other night and they had us try something new and amazing. It's called cookie butter. It's the consistancy of peanut butter, but it tastes like gingersnap cookie dough. Oh. My. Goodness. It's amazing. And it doesn't just taste like cookies, they actually make it with ground-up cookies. It's so bad for you and so good. So, if you can find it anywhere, get it and try it. You won't regret it.
President and Sister Summerhays are now home in Utah, and President and Sister Cusick have arrived. We meet them this Friday. I'm really excited to meet them :) They're really young, I think he's 49, and it's going to be exciting all the changes that come to the mission in the next few months. Probably not much longer till we get our electronics update, which we're all excited for :)
Well, I think that's pretty much it for this week. Weather has been pretty crazy the past couple of weeks. Crazy thunderstorms and more rain than I think I've ever seen before. A lot of the time the lighting is so close that we hear it almost as soon as we see it. I like it. I like it a lot.
So, yeah, things are going great here. Love you guys so much! Have a great week :)
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Letter #35

Dear family and friends,

Not too eventful of a week, but still a really good one. On Wednesday, we had a specialized training with President and Sister Summerhays, the last opportunity to meet with them as a zone before they go home next week. It was an awesome meeting, and the love of God for each of us was definitely manifest through them to us missionaries. They gave a really great training on not being too critical of ourselves, which I have a great tendency to do. It was exactly what I needed, to realize that the Lord is patient and forgiving and encouraging. And those feelings of doubt and criticism do not come from Him. 

Friday night we were able to meet with Lance and Robin. We talked with them a lot about covenants, particularly baptism. And when Elder Barry invited Lance to be baptized, his response was "Probably." So Lance, what might be some of your concerns or hold-ups? "Oh, I don't really have any concerns. I know most of it is true. And I know Robin wants me to get baptized so we can go to the temple." So, expect to hear about a baptism in the next couple of weeks :D Really, the only thing with him is that he doesn't read the Book of Mormon, and so helping him gain that testimony is going to be our focus.

Pauline is doing great! We go over for a lesson and she ends up teaching us, haha! She's another one that we will focus on with the Book of Mormon. She knows it's true, but it will be good for us to read it with her so that she realizes just how many of her questions it answers.

Camille has pretty much dropped us. She feeds us dinner every week, and she'll talk to us about how her life is going. But she won't allow us to really talk about anything to do with church. She made a TON of changes in her life when she came to Florida, but she is very resistant to changes that will actually benefit her. And this is one of the reasons that I needed the training on being self-critical, because I feel like I'm not doing enough to help her. But it helped me realize that I had done everything I could do, and it was now completely up to her to make the decision. We have taught her correct principles, and now we must let her govern herself. She's felt the Spirit, she knows it's true, and one of these days she will make the turn-around.

What a wonderful fireside yesterday! And I was very pleased to see a good turn-out from the ward here in Venice. They definitely have caught the wave, and are starting to understand their role in the missionary work. It's great to have the same goals as the ward leadership. It's miraculous when we all understand our individual roles in the work and learn to work together in harmony to accomplish those goals. The next couple of months are going to be so exciting! The announcement about technology and missionary work was really exciting! We've actually known for quite a while that we here in the Florida Tampa Mission would be getting iPads sometime this year, but we didn't realize that it would be world-wide for missionaries. And we're still not sure how soon it will be, but we are thinking it will happen before the summer is through. SO exciting! There's just so many changes being made in how we do missionary work, and it's so amazing to be a part of it all. This is the work of salvation; it is the Lord's work; He is in charge. I love you all.
Elder Petersen

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Letter #34

Dear family and friends,

Well, not a whole lot new is happening with our investigators. They are all progressing well. Still working hard with the members, and our ward mission leader is on the ball with filling our planners with appointments! We taught 12 lessons last week, and that is a lot for us! The goal is 20/week, but we need to start somewhere so we can move up and get things moving.
Friday was a day of miracles and tender mercies. We were in a lesson and we got a phone call from the sisters that we share the car with. They left a voicemail and when we listened to it they were yelling and screaming telling us to call back asap because they had a surprise for us. Well, it turns out that the assistants to the president were on their way to the sisters apartment to drop off their new car! Which means that Elder Barry and I now have our own car that we have full-time! Which means no more biking! Just in time for the worst of summer and rainy season too :) And it also means that we are able to get around easier and see more people and get to the far-out places of our area easier. So wonderful!

And then later that afternoon I got a phone call from Krystle. Do you remember her? She was one of my investigators from Highlands. Well, she told me that she finally got baptized on June 2nd! Way way WAY better news than the car was! I am SO excited for her and Edgard! They are a wonderful family and now they get to work together towards the temple :D

Good stuff lined up for this coming week. Hitting the members hard and going home teaching with them as a way to visit more members. So, stuff is going great, and little miracles happen every day. "By small and simple means are great things brought to pass." Not sure what great things will yet be brought to pass, but the small and simple things are what make life worth it :)

Love you all, hope you have a wonderful week.
Elder Petersen

Monday, June 10, 2013

Letter #33

Dear family and friends,
What a crazy and awesome week it's been! Thursday we had a tropical storm come through that created some tornadoes. So we weren't allowed to leave our apartment all day. Nap time! And it was nice to get some extra studying in. I also found a thousand piece puzzle in the apartment, so I started to put it together. 3 1/2 hours later and all I had was the border. So I decided to be done.
Anyways, Camille has decided to put everything on hold. She feels like she's moving too fast and doesn't want to give up some of her life style (very similar to some of the stuff that I used to hear from Krystle, so not new, but still no fun to hear). It's always hard when you see people you love make decisions that aren't good for them. And it's even harder when you know that they know it's not a good decision but they do it anyway. But Camille still wants to see us a lot and keep us a part of her life. So we haven't lost her yet. And that I am grateful for.
We saw Lance and Robin this week as well. He comes for sacrament meeting but won't stay for the rest of church. We found out from Robin that no one has ever been direct with him and asked him to be baptized. And he's Italian so he needs the direct questions. She suggested that we find a time when we can meet with just him, because she admits that she dominates the conversation too much. He's difficult to match schedules with, though.
Pauline is doing really good. She's the lady with a son on a mission in Chile. We taught her the first lesson, and she had a lot of questions. And they were a lot of questions that would be natural to have, especially with a Lutheran background. Most of them had to do with the sacrament and the Book of Mormon. We tried to answer her questions as best we could, but also did our best to help her understand that she will come to understand the answers we gave as she reads the Book of Mormon and gained a testimony of it and of the prophet Joseph Smith. We gave her some homework to watch a couple general conference talks, and the next day she called us asking for more homework. And her son will get home before Elder Barry and I are done serving together so I will definitely be able to see her get baptized!
Our ward mission leader is so amazing! I've never seen ANYONE take a calling in the ward so seriously, and he's constantly in contact with us and the ward leadership to find us productive stuff to do. We're learning about the dynamics of the ward and how to work with the members individually and collectively, and we're going to be working with them in ways that I don't think missionaries ever have before. It's exciting to be part of helping a ward and stake of Zion grow and flourish like it never has before.
So, all in all, things continue to move upward and onward here in Venice. It's been a great couple of weeks with Elder Barry, and I'm so glad that I have the priviledge of training him. He's taught me a lot and I've learned a lot as I do my best to help him become the best missionary he can be, which in turn helps me become a better missionary.
Have a wonderful, blessed week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, June 3, 2013

Letter #32

Dear family and friends,
What a crazy past couple of weeks! Last Monday was Memorial Day so the library was closed and we were WAY to busy the rest of the week to do anything about it. The only thing that I remember right now from 2 weeks ago is that transfer calls came Saturday morning. Elder Leavitt got transferred to Lakeland to be a zone leader. And then President told me that I was to be in Tampa on Tuesday to pick up my trainee. That's right, I'm training! I was so excited when I got the news, I had been waiting for this opportunity for a while! And then when Tuesday morning came my nervousness way surpassed my excitement. But we're all good now :)
Elder Barry is from Orem, although his family only moved there less than a year ago. He's lived most of his life in NY and Illinois. I'm so glad that he and I get to serve together and that I have the oppurtunity to train him. It's definitely strengthened me in my missionary work, since I have to set the example for him. Our assignment to serve together was definitely inspired of God. We get along really well and are able to talk with each other pretty well. Training is definitely not easy. In fact, it's one of the most difficult and important assignments that a missionary can be given. I think the most wonderful part of being a trainer is helping your trainee learn about the enabling power of the Atonement to help them move past the little things in life that weigh us down and give us the strength to press forward and do the Lord's work. The next several weeks are going to be awesome.
Camille is coming along really well. She came to church yesterday for the first time and absolutely loved it! It was testimony meeting, and almost every testimony focused on the Restoration and how we were all right where we needed to be. The Spirit was very strong, and it helped to hit everything home for Camille. We only have a couple of more lessons for her and then she will be getting baptized on the 22nd of this month. We had to push it back because it was a little too soon and too fast for her. But she's still just as excited as when we first started teaching her. And the coolest thing is that she's excited to invite her friends and family that live here to her baptism.
Lance has been to church the past two Sundays. We weren't able to meet with him at all last week but we are going over tomorrow to finally teach him the first lesson and invite him to baptism. SO excited! It will be Elder Barry's first opportunity to really teach a first lesson and commit someone to baptism. It's pretty much what we're all about, and when we do it the right way, with the right intentions, the Spirit is so strong!
We haven't had a lot of teaching opportunites this week, but we're working hard with the ward. There's a lot of really good stuff that's going to happen though. We just got a new ward mission leader a few weeks ago, and he is a recent returned missionary. So he's super excited about the work and understands what all it entails. He's also really dedicated to working with the members to have us in their homes. It's great to have leaders in the ward who work just as hard as you do. Not much is going to happen immediately, but it's not too far off.
The stake president down here just moved into our ward and he was in ward council yesterday. After the missionary portion of the meeting and us stressing how much help we need from the ward, he had a few comments. He said that he had set apart 15 or so missionaries and the past few years and had at least that many to go in the coming months. But never, in any of these setting aparts, had he blessed them and set them apart to knock on doors. I think it really hit home the point to the ward leaders the importance of their role in this divine work.
Another really exciting thing! Our Elders quorum president's wife is not a member, and their son is on a mission in Chile. She has been coming to church every week ever since he left, and he gets home at the end of the summer, so she's been coming for at least a year and a half. Well, she has decided that she is getting baptized and that her son will be the one to do it when he gets home. SO exciting! She already knows everything and lives all the commandments, but we still need to teach her the lessons. And we're also going to probably make reading the Book of Mormon a big focus with her, since it's still a few months away and we should get through the lessons pretty quick.
So, that's what's been going on here in Venice. Summer is here. It's hot and very extremely uncomfortably humid. And we still are on bikes every other week. And with summer down here comes the rain. We've had a lot of rain the past several days. Thursday afternoon/evening it downpoured for like 3 or 4 hours, which is unusual. And then it did it again this morning. Rain here usually comes in the afternoon and lasts for only about an hour.
We're struggling finding new people to teach, and it's not like we have that many anyways. So that is our focus for the next couple of weeks, especially in helping members learn how to share the Gospel in simple ways and then invite their friends and family to meet the missionaries.
Hope all is going well wherever you may be. Love you all and so thankful for the prayers and support.
Elder Petersen

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Letter #31

Hey ya'll!

Wow, this has been an awesome week! Wednesday was zone conference, which was, as always, so wonderful. It was President and Sister Summerhays's last zone conference with us, since they are leaving after next transfer, and that made the things they taught us even more special. President gave a training on the doctrine of Christ, focusing on repentance. We read and discussed 3 Nephi 27:13-22, and how everything that Christ did for us was by way of commandment from the Father, and that all we have to do is repent. I learned so much from that day about repentance, and it's such a wonderful gift that our Savior has given us. Even if we feel like we're doing everything that we need to be doing, we still all make mistakes every day, and repenting every day can relieve us when we feel weighed down by the things of the world, especially repenting for the little, seemingly harmless things. It's when we truly humble ourselves before God that we are able to give up our pride and let Him cleanse us of those little things that are keeping us from Him.

Saturday and Sunday was stake conference. Elder Cardon of the Seventy was at the conference. Wow, he is such a powerful speaker! The missionaries in the stake were invited to attend all the sessions of conference, so we got to go to the Priesthood leadership meeting, adult session, and general session. They were all really good meetings, and the Spirit was very strong. I learned a lot from his teachings about the Priesthood and following the counsel and advice of our leaders. In the general session, President Summerhays spoke about missionary work and how much we rely on the help of the members to find people to teach. He told the members of this stake that his hope for every missionary in the FTM is to never have to knock on another stranger's door ever again, because their time would be so filled with teaching appointments from member referrals. And we're starting to see some success from working with members.

Camille is our most recent investigator. She is renting a room from a member of the ward a few weeks ago and started asking them questions about where they go to church. She moved here from NY and is making a lot of huge changes to turn her life around. I can't described how everything happened, mostly because there are no words for the miracles that have taken place in her life, but we were able to teach her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. And by the way, she asked us if we would teach her; we did not approach her about it. At the end of our first lesson with her we invited her to be baptized. Her eyes got really big and she told us that had been talking with these members about that just a few days ago, and she said that yes, absolutely, she will work towards baptism. She is scheduled to get baptized on June 8th. We are so excited to keep teaching her, and she is so excited to keep learning and making changes, especially since she knows how good these changes are going to be for her.

There is also another couple that we're working with, Lance and Robin. Robin is a member, and pretty active, but Lance is not. However, he has heard the missionary discussions several times as grandchildren of his were taught in his home. We're going over this Friday to have dinner and a lesson. From a previous conversation we had with him a few weeks ago, it seems as if the only reason that he's not a member is because no missionary has very invited him to be baptized before. We're super excited to start teaching him.

We are really seeing miracle happen here in the Venice area. We're getting into doors that missionaries haven't been able to get into in years, if ever. The Lord is preparing His people and hastening His work. I know that as we engage ourselves in it, catch the wave, and bring a soul to Christ that we can find true joy and peace in this life and forever.
Elder Petersen