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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Letter #30

Dear family and friends,
This past week was a really hard week. We saw a lot of people, made a lot of phone calls, and did everything we knew how to find people that we could teach. And so far, we have no one new to add to our teaching pool. We did have a small miracle yesterday, though. We visited the High Priest group leader and his wife after church. We were able to leave the Savior's peace and blessing on the home, which hadn't been done with them before. And we got a referral from them, and they were very excited to tell us about this friend of theirs! We're starting to actually see excitement from ward members, and that is the absolute key to this work taking off. This transfer is almost over already, only a couple weeks left. It's the fastest transfer I've had so far. And it's weird, because it doesn't feel like a lot has happened so it seems like the time should be passing really slow.
I've been sick the past few days, so that's also been hard on us. I woke up Friday morning with a temperature of 101.2, a spliting headache, and feeling achey all over. I went ahead and ate breakfast and got ready for the day. I was bound and determined to have an awesome day and find someone to teach! But my body just couldn't do it, and we had to spend the day inside so I could rest and try to get better. My fever didn't go away till the next day, but then it came back later in the afternoon. I'm two days with no fever now, but I'm still completely out of energy and have no appetite. So that's my story for the week. Not very fun or entertaining, but that's what's been going on in my life.
On Wednesday we had a zone meeting. The training was about the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10, who was instructed by Christ to sell all his earthly possessions and give to the poor. We talked about things that the Lord asks us to give up as missionaries, things that aren't bad, but that are keeping us from focusing all our attention on the Lord's work. And they aren't always things that we spend our time doing, but things we spend our time thinking about. It was a great time to reflect on what I spend my time doing and thinking about, and if it's all in line with my sacred calling.
This upcoming weekend is stake conference, and we will be having 2 general authorities in attendance. One of them is Elder Cardon, who came and spoke to the mission right before I came out, so all the missionaries older than me are pretty excited. And we also have Zone Conference this Wednesday. It's going to be a very week, full of the Spirit and many miracles, both large and small. Hope everyone else's week goes well for them!
Elder Petersen

Monday, May 6, 2013

Letter #29

Dear family and friends,

Another great week in Venice! Quick weather report. It's been sunny or partly cloudy most days, with a cool breeze (rarely over 80F) coming in off the Gulf. If it rains, it pours, but not for long, and we haven't had to bike in it...yet :P Very glad I'm here, as tolerable weather makes the work go smoother.

This transfer is already half way over. Crazy! Time is flying by! Days feel like weeks; weeks feel like days. We met with Angela twice this week. She can understand why we believe what we believe, and it makes sense to her. Except, since she's a VERY active Catholic, she has a hard time with the Apostasy. She is a SAHM and babysits another little boy, so she can't seem to find the time to read the Book of Mormon. Although she admits that she knows it's important if she's going to ever know if what we teach is true.

We have had a few great successes with some less-active members in the ward. We stopped by one brother's house this week. He told us that he hasn't been in a really long time, and since he lives with his parents, who are also not active, it makes it harder. But he told us he would definitely be at church on Sunday. And he was! And so many people went up to him and told them how glad they were to see him there.

We also were asked to go visit a part-member couple, which we did on Saturday. She is a member and is usually very active, but she is allergic to perfumes, and since most of this ward is old people, going to church and being around all the the old lady perfumes and old man colognes make her sick. Her husband is not a member but has had the missionary lessons several times while their grandkids were being taught. Anyways, they were very glad that we stopped by and we made a return appointment to have dinner and let us teach them the lessons.

I'm really excited for this coming week. We're starting to figure out which tactics work here and which ones don't. It's definitely not like any other place that either Elder Leavitt or I have served before. And since we were both new together to the area, it's taken time to figure this place out. We've really relied on the guidance of the Spirit to help us figure things out. People always comment on how missionaries always seem to figure locations and areas out in a matter of days and weeks, while they can live there for a few years and never get it. It's definitely the Spirit, as it helps us in our calling to spread the Gospel to all that will receive us, regardless of where they live.

Have a wonderful week everyone.
Elder Petersen