Monday, January 7, 2013

Letter #16

Dear family and friends,

OOFTAH! This was a rough week. Nobody seemed to want to talk to us or let us into their homes. Christi told us that Mormonism isn't for her and that she's moving back to Alabama this weekend. Colleen still won't commit to a date (she had originally told us she wanted to get baptized last month). Krystle wants to learn more, but is still settling into their new place and it's been hard to get over there and teach them. So, we spent a lot of time going through the ward roster and visiting members whose names we didn't recognize. Not a whole lot of success there. I think that was actually the most depressing part, since we had a few people tell us that they didn't want to be affiliated with the Church anymore. We've also had a really hard time getting the members of the ward to work with us. Elder Willard and I have spent a lot of time the past several weeks tracting. It's not a very effective use of our time, and our teaching pool continues to get smaller. So we also spent some time this week coming up with ideas to get the ward excited about missionary work so we can help them fulfill their responsibility to share the Gospel with their family/friends who don't have it yet. So we've been passing around papers in church to get referrals. Not a whole lot of success with that yet, but as we keep doing it, people will get used to knowing it will be passed around and have someone to write down. We also want to do a series of firesides with the ward to get them excited about sharing the gospel and understanding their role in missionary work and how easy it is. If we really love our family and friends, then we will see they potential they have to become something so much better than what they are now, regardless of their station in life, and we won't be able to stop ourselves from introducing the gospel to them. When it comes down to it, there are two motivators in decision-making: love and fear. Why do people hold back from sharing what they love and know to be true? Because they're afraid of what might happen. They will either be interested in hearing more or they won't. But they are not going to be offended by an honest, loving attempt to share something that brings joy into your life.

Ok, so even with all of this not awesome stuff going on, we did have one kind of big miracle. It was the end of the day on Thursday. We had gotten into one other home earlier that day, and all of our plans for the night fell through. We were ready to call it quits for the day and go in early and get some stuff back at the apartment done and go to bed early. And then Elder Willard had the thought to go see Ron and Darcy, since it was after the holidays, which is when they told us to come back. So we went on over, and they seemed happy to see us and welcomed us right in. We had SUCH an amazing lesson with them. They read the Book of Mormon on their own! And so few people actually do that! And they had questions, GOOD questions! We talked a lot about the origins of the Book of Mormon, and some of the story line. They also asked some good questions about priesthood authority. Darcy told us that they love it when we come over because they never talked about religion at home before they met us, even though they went to church, and now they talk about it quite a bit. It was probably one of the best lessons I've had since I've been out. We're thinking that they will quickly become our top investigators, but setting a baptismal date with them probably won't fly just yet. They're totally the type of people that will let us know when they're ready though. Our next step with them is to do a tour of the church building and then have them attend service with us. So, Ron and Darcy were my highlight for the week :)

We also had a chat with a Pentecostal guy about the nature of God and speaking in tongues. That was interesting, trying to explain to him what we believe it means to speak in tongues and receiving the Holy Ghost. If anything, I learned the importance of the Book of Mormon in clarifying the seemingly contradictory nature of what is taught in the Bible. There are so many different ways to interpret the doctrines taught in the Bible, as is evidenced by the plethora of churches that line the streets and clutter the corners in the South that all teach from the same book but can't seem to agree on much. But when you have the Book of Mormon and the doctrines it teaches so clearly, the Bible makes so much sense and is so clear and there's nothing that contradicts anything else taught in the Bible.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week. Thank you for all the love and support. I have definitely felt the power of your prayers through the struggles of this week.

Elder Petersen

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