Monday, August 26, 2013

Letter #44

Dear family and friends,
What an interesting week it's been! First off, I found out that I am the new district leader. It's a big responsibility, but I'm enjoying it and not feeling too much extra stress so far, which is good. I'm over 6 elders, including Elder Barry, and 2 sisters.
The other fun thing that happened this week was...get ready for toilet backing up into my shower. SO glad we have two bathrooms in our apartment! It happened at night when the maintenance guy wasn't available, so we had to wait until the morning when we could go down to the main office and report the problem.
Pauline's baptism is this Friday!!! And we got permission from President Cusick to have it at the beach, and we've been asked to witness so we get to go in the water :D I will be sending pictures next week for sure!
It was an overall slow week. No one seemed to be available and appointments were falling through left and right. But, there needs to be opposition in all things, and even as disappointing as some of the things that happened this week were, we still had a great week and are happy with our efforts to preach the gospel.
Elder Barry and I were both asked to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday. Guess they couldn't find anyone else to do it :P But it was a really great experience. We were given Lev 26:2-4 as our topic. I talked about reverence and walking the the ways of the Lord. I used Elder Hales's most recent General Conference talk, Standing Strong in Holy Places, as one of my main resources. He talks about putting on the armour of God, and how it's a gift given to us as we are obedient and walk in His paths. After church, one of the kids in the ward got baptized. It was a beautiful service, and there was a great turn out from the ward. We even had a few less-actives and recent converts there. It's great to have them there because it often brings back in them some of the things they felt when they were baptized and what is really important in this life.
I think that's just about it for this week. Thank you all for the love and support you give. Have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, August 19, 2013

Letter #43

Dear family and friends,

First off, transfer calls came in on Saturday. Elder Barry and I will both be staying in Venice, so my mailing address hasn't changed. I'm excited because this means I will be here for Pauline's baptism!

Last Monday for p-day, we went golfing. Like, real golf. First time I've ever been before, and I loved it! I'm terrible at it, which is to be expected. Elder Barry played in high school and so he kind of coached me along. He said I did decent for a first-timer. He also laughed at me any time I would swing and miss or hit the ground :P But I was also laughing, so we had a great time.

Lance told us this week that he's not really interested anymore. It was disappointing to hear, but we have to realize that he has to make the choice on his own.

Sean, the man we gave a blessing to last week, is progressing well. In fact, we've already taught him the first two lessons with him and have a date set for baptism with him. September 15th, which is the last Sunday of this transfer. It's soon, but he's absorbing so much and tells us over and over again that he's been on a search for the Lord and His truth. And he really feels like he's found it with us. He was unable to come to church yesterday though. He has a broken neck and woke up in a lot of pain. He was really disappointed that he couldn't make it.

We had another great referral from a member this week! Her name is Debbie. She's older and has lost a lot of family members in the past several years, and her interest was peaked by the idea of eternal families. When we met with her, her first impression was, "what can these two young kids teach me?" But as we talked with her, she felt the peace of the Spirit, and was very excited to come to church with us. And she did make it to church yesterday. She told us afterwards that she could feel the same peace, and she learned a lot that really motivated her to learn more and to make some changes in her life with her kids.

As I've been studying the New Testament again, I've gained a much greater appreciation for what it teaches us about the life and ministry of Christ and His Apostles. I just finished John this morning, and especially love the conversation that Christ has with Peter. I recently re-read Elder Holland's talk, "The First Great Commandment," and so this story has more personal relevance to me now. I also just read an article from the New Era about the 10 commandment. It explained each commandment, but I really liked what it had to say about the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The article explains that "other gods" include anything that we put first in our lives before God. Sometimes we all get in those ruts of forgetting what's really important, and I've been finding myself in one of those ruts lately. And so, with a new transfer and a new opportunity to make some changes, I'm setting goals to make sure I put the Lord first in everything I do. At zone conference, President Cusick talked about our circle of influence. We can't control the actions and choices of others--as much as we want to sometimes--and so we need to focus on the things that we can control, our own actions and choices. And as we do that, slowly our circle of influence grows so that we can help other people improve their lives.

I think that's about it for this week. I love that I'm able to be on a mission right now and to serve the Lord. The things that I'm learning and the experiences I'm having help me to know just how mindful the Lord is of His children.

Hope you all have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, August 12, 2013

Letter #42

Dear family and friends,
First off, this is the last week of the transfer. Please hold mail until next week when I can tell you where I'll be (if I'm going anywhere), along with my new address.
That being said, I'm pretty sure Elder Barry and I will both be staying. Next transfer is only 4 weeks to catch back up with the MTC schedule for the new Haitian Creole missionaries that will be coming out. And, with Pauline's baptism coming up, we're both wanting to stay, since we taught her the whole way through. She came up to us yesterday when she got to church and asked us how we felt about swimming. Uh, what? We're not allowed to swim, and you know that :P Well, she had a dream the night before that her son was baptizing her in the Gulf and we were the witnesses standing there in the water. Which is totally allowed! And she woke up with the feeling that she just needed to go with it. So, looks like we're having an ocean baptism! We're pretty excited :)
This was another week of miracle finding. The members here are so awesome and are starting to providing us with some solid referrals! Yesterday morning, we got a call from a member just before walking out the door to go to church. He told us that he had a co-worker, Tori, coming to church because she was taking a world religions class and needed to experience a church other than her own and write a paper on it. Well, she was there when we got there. We were expecting her to just stay for sacrament meeting, and then answer any questions she had during Sunday school. Well, she loved the first hour so much that she wanted to check out what our Sunday school class was like. So she went to Gospel Principles with us. And she loved that so much that she wanted to stay for Relief Society. And when we met with her after church, she told us that she absolutely loved that too. We watched the Restoration video, since she had some questions about Joseph Smith and his role in everything. Between that and the 2nd and 3rd hour classes, all of her questions got answered. After the video we talked some with her about the Holy Ghost and she told us that she remembers feeling it as a child, but this was the first time in her adult life that she has ever felt it. And she's a church-going person. She then asked if she could come back next week for church and meet with us again afterwards. Um, yes!
And then, after church, a member from another ward had a friend in our area who wanted a blessing. So we went with him to go give this man a blessing. The Spirit was so strong, and both he and his wife recognized it. And then we spent like 45 min talking about a lot of different aspects of the gospel. We're going back tomorrow. They are SO beyond prepared, we're expecting them both to be baptized in like 3 weeks.
So, it's been a great week. We're working hard and seeing the Lord bless us and the people here every day.
Elder Petersen

Monday, August 5, 2013

Letter #41

Dear family and friends,

It was a great week in Venice! Not anything too eventful, but just good. Robbie, one of the kids who came to church last week, is super interested. We had a really good lesson with him this week. His grandma and aunt are both members of the ward so that has been a help to him. He also has a friend, Daltyn, who's a member of the ward. He's less active, but since Robbie has shown interest, Daltyn is wanting to come back to church too. The only hang up with Robbie is his parents, since he's not 18 yet. He doesn't know how to tell his parents that he is interested, but he wants the gospel so bad. We have been praying for him and for his parents a lot.

We worked with a lot of less-active members of the ward this week. It's hard to help people get over the obstacles that are keeping them from coming to church. And most of them are because they don't feel worthy to come because it's been so long and there's something in their life that isn't in harmony with the Savior's teachings. One of the most important thing we can do for people is help them feel the power of the atonement and the strength that comes from taking the sacrament each week. That is, after all, the focus and the purpose of meeting as fellow-saints, is to remember Christ as we take the sacrament.

This upcoming week should be good. We've had 3 weeks in a row where we've been busy. We have zone conference tomorrow. I'm excited about that; conferences are always good. We went to a Tampa Rays baseball game on Saturday night. Some of the missionaries sang the national anthem. We got to stay all through the 7th inning, and then had to go because we had a bit of a drive. But it was overall pretty fun. Although not that I care much for baseball or the Rays in particular. But getting together with and seeing friends from the mission was great.

Oh my goodness I almost forgot! I got a phone call Saturday late morning from the elders in Lakeland. Ernie finally got baptized! And then I was able to give him call and talk with him some on Sunday afternoon. I'm so proud of him and the long way that he has come.

Well, that's just about it for this week. Love you all!
Elder Petersen

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.