Monday, December 9, 2013

Letter #58

Dear family and friends,

Well, transfer calls were this week. Elder Putnam and I will be staying together in Lake Hamilton! We're excited; we've been getting some good work done and have so much yet to do here. So, with Christmas coming up, please send all mail and packages directly to my apartment. The mission office has requested this as they usually get very overloaded this time of year. So as a reminder, my address is

Elder Jarom Petersen
921 E. Main St
Haines City, FL 33844

And I've thought a little bit more about what I want. So if music and ties isn't what you want to get me and you're still out of ideas, Target, Walmart, Subway, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy's gift cards are also acceptable :) We go to those places a lot...

This week was awesome! Richard was confirmed yesterday. Awesome! He's doing really well.
Felicity is getting baptized this Saturday! SO excited! She's been coming to church every week for a while and she always enjoys it. She loves studying the words of modern prophets. She reads any book she can get her hands on that's published by the Church. Her hunger for knowledge is so cool :) As much as I love learning, it's even more rewarding to watch someone else learn, especially when it's something as important as the gospel.
We've been getting so many referrals the past couple of weeks, most of them being from Church headquarters, which is rare. I think we've gotten more HQ referrals the past two weeks than I have my entire mission put together. But they've all been so positive, which is also rare! One of them was two teenage boys, Donovan and Devin, whose grandparents are members over in the Orlando mission. We went over and the first question they asked was "When can we get baptized?" Uh, what?! Not used to that question! So awesome! We have been seeing so many miracles here. The ward is really being blessed. This area has typically been mostly old, retired people. Well, within the past month we've had two young families move from Utah that have tripled our youth and primary programs. And they're HUGE helps in the missionary work. And we're meeting so many younger people who are sincerely interested in listening to our message. And with the Christmas season here, peoples' hearts are being softened as they reflect on the birth, life, and mission of the Savior.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting on that as well the past week, and especially yesterday with the Christmas Devotional. That's always my favorite part of Christmas. Really, the season doesn't start for me until the Devotional. It's always a special time to spread the gospel message. It's really the one time of year that the Spirit of Christ just permeates everything. Even as people get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, doing shopping and finishing up school and work projects before the end of the year, they still recognize that there's something special about this time of year.

As many of you know, I've always loved the church hymns, and I didn't think I could love them any more. But I do. The past few months I've caught myself as I sing in church actually paying attention to the words I'm singing. As my understanding and appreciation for the scriptures and the Atonement have grown, my understanding behind the sacred words of the hymns has grown as well. They really do teach the gospel in a simple and beautiful way. So next time you're singing in church, think about the words you're singing and let them have personal meaning to you. You'll learn so much and your faith will increase. And you will greater understand our purpose in going to church. It's not to socialize, it's to worship the Lord. And music is one of the greatest ways we can do that.

I love you all. Hope you have a great week and merry Christmas season!
Elder Petersen

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