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