Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Letter #24

Dear family and friends,

This past week went pretty good! On Tuesday we had one of the assistants to the president on an exchange with us. That was a good experience, being able to learn some things from him. We were able to go to the far south of our area, which we rarely go down there just because of how far it is and it's a tiny little intersection of a town. But we do have a couple less-active families down there that we've been trying to see. Well, we were finally able to see one of them on Tuesday, and the dad was ECSTATIC to see us at the door! He was baptized less than two years ago but then they moved and haven't been to church since. We're hoping to be able to go down there more and visit with them. They have a teenage daughter who is apparently friends with the whole town, so we have some really good potential referrals and teaching opportunities there. That area has been explained to me as being completely meth-infested, but hey, the Lamanites got rid of the Gadianton robbers by teaching them the gospel, not putting them all in prison. So we're going to try the virtue of the good word of God, as Alma says.

I got into another bike accident on Wednesday. We were riding down the sidewalk, I took a curve too fast, and I went down on my side. I'm not hurt at all except a couple bruises, but my bike wasn't so good. The handlebars were way out of alignment and it bent the front wheel. So I couldn't ride by bike anywhere. I wasn't able to get it into the shop until Friday morning and I couldn't pick it up until Saturday morning. And being without the car this week, and not being able to get rides anywhere, we ended up walking to or cancelling all our appointments. 17 miles walked in 3 days. My dress shoes are not made for that. Huge blessing though! They were able to fix my wheel without having to replace it, which saved me a TON of money. I learned a lot from it too, about humility and gratitude. Not having my bike or a car for 3 days made me very grateful that I at least have a bike to get me places when we don't have the car!

So, I'm sure you're all wondering why the letter came on a Tuesday instead of a Monday. Well, yesterday we had a mission-wide conference over in Tampa with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was such a great day! We woke up early, drove for a little over an hour to the Tampa Stake center, and spent pretty much all day there. We got home just in time for dinner and our evening appointments. It was an amazing experience to be there and hear his counsel and advice for missionaries. We gathered in the gym before the conference to take a picture with him. We were all set and ready to go, just waiting for him to come in. And as soon as he walked through the door, the Spirit just hit us all like a brick wall. I heard several of the other missionaries asking each other, "Did you feel that when he walked in the door?" And it stayed with us the whole conference. He talked a lot about how missionary work is different now than it used to be. We don't find people through going door to door anymore. There are so many people hiding the shadows and we just have to go and get them. But we also need the help of the members to find them. So he talked some about how to use the local members of the Church. Most of his time was spent though on what it is that we are to teach. He said that first and foremost, we teach and testify of Christ and the Atonement. Our purpose, yes, is to teach and baptize. BUT, just because we don't get those we teach into the waters of baptism does not mean we've failed them! We should seek first to build their faith in Christ. If they go from no faith to some faith we have helped them. If they already have faith, we seek to strengthen that faith unto repentance. He pointed out that most of the time, missionaries teach baptism too much and repentance too little. The Atonement is so central to everything we do, that if we don't help those we teach repent then baptism isn't going to do really anything for them. Elder Andersen also talked some about how we'll be getting a new mission president in July. President and Sister Summerhays will be going home, and coming in their place will be President and Sister Cusick. So he talked about how getting a new president is a wonderful thing, and the changes that come to the mission because of it will be good, so we need to go along with them.

I'm really excited for the upcoming week; it has a lot of potential to create some great results! Love you all and have a great week!

Elder Petersen

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