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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