Monday, August 11, 2014

Letter #82

Hello from Bradenton!

For the last time. I head to the mission home next Monday morning and prepare to return home. Weird!

We've had such a good week! Brother Frayer is going to be baptized this Saturday!!! It was so exciting to visit with him this week and get everything ready for that. He is SO ready! In Priesthood meeting yesterday the lesson was on eternal marriage. One of the returning members had a lot of questions about it and Brother Frayer knew all the answers. It was way cool.

We had so many miracles happen this week, it's unreal. So many new people to teach. We have been working hard and I'm so tired! But it's so rewarding! It's getting me excited to come home and be the member of the Church that I'm supposed to be!

I feel like this is supposed to be some sort of super epic letter, seeing as how it is my last one. But I don't know what more to say. I have learned so much over the last two years, and wow how much I've grown! I feel like a different person than I used to be, even 6-8 months ago. And I know it's because of the Gospel and what my Savior has helped me to become.

Have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Petersen

Monday, August 4, 2014

Letter #81

Hey everyone!

Wow what an amazing week! We had zone conference. It was
way too weird to think that it would be my last zone conference. It
was so amazing and exactly what I needed to give me the strength and
encouragement for the last two weeks. We talked about being warriors
in this war we are in and how we need to be always obedient. The
importance of using every minute we have stood out to me. We also
talked about the Lord's standard for baptism. I have learned so much
the past week about repentance and making and keeping covenants.

We started teaching Nami again! He's one of the boys in the Tongan
family in the ward. We had been working with them for a long time and
they were struggling coming to church. Well, they were there
yesterday! And so we saw them last night. He's really excited about
coming back to church next week and getting baptized in a few weeks.
He's such an awesome kid and understands the gospel so well. Brother
Frayer is also doing really well. He feels like he needs to know
everything, so we have been helping him to see that this is a process
of progression and learning over a lifetime and on into eternity.

Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Petersen

Monday, July 28, 2014

Letter #80

Hey everyone!

It's been another really great week! Brother Frayer is doing well. We had an amazing lesson with him earlier this week. We were there for a good hour teaching him and answering his questions. When it came time to invite him to be baptized, he knew the question was coming and kind of chuckled. He said that part of him knew he should have been baptized yesterday. He wasn't sure exactly when, but he knows he wants it soon. He is progressing so well! We had a very interesting visit with Betty. She will be baptized I think, but it may be a long road for her. Which is fine. I want her ready for it, whether or not I'm here.

We had interesting news with Bobby. His baptism will most likely be postponed. I can't go into details, mostly because I don't know the details. It makes me a little sad because I was hoping to be able to be here for it, and now I'm not sure if I will. He's such an awesome kid, but he really wants to be ready for baptism. Which I suppose is good; he recognizes the level of commitment and the seriousness of the covenant he is preparing to make. It's setting him up well to serve a mission in a few years.

Well, this is where things really start getting interesting. I'm not sure if anyone can really say they know the meaning of bittersweet until they serve a mission and then get to the end of that mission. It's so surreal, and quite frankly incomprehensible. This has just been the best thing ever I've done in my life and for my life. I've just been so blessed with everything that I've experienced and the support I've had. It's just...yeah :)

Love you all, have a great week! 

Elder Petersen

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Letter #79

Hey everyone!

Wow it's been an amazing week! Bobby went to EFY this week, which got
him even more pumped for his baptism next month. He's such an awesome
kid! Really, really glad I get to teach him.

So, you remember reading all those amazing articles in the Ensign
about people meeting the missionaries and getting baptized two weeks
later? And then thinking to yourself, "Wow, wouldn't it be amazing to
be a part of something like that?" Well, I might get the chance.
Sister Frayer and been coming to church and has been very active for
nearly 10 years now. Brother Frayer is not a member and wouldn't do
more than come to an occasional ward holiday dinner activity. Well, he
has, of his own volition, come to church the past two weeks and stayed
all three hours. He has enjoyed the Gospel Principles class so much
that he has already read the whole book and has been studying the
other scriptures. Yesterday, he asked Brother Veasey how he could get
someone over to his house during the week to teach him. Unbeknownst to
him, Brother Veasey is the ward mission leader, so he knew how to
answer that question :) We have an appointment with him tomorrow
morning. When setting up the appointment with him, he mentioned that
he wants someone to come have a discussion with him to make sure he
understands all the basic doctrine of the Church. Well, that just so
happens to be what we do. We haven't had a chance to talk with him yet
about baptism, but I feel confident that it is not at all very far
down the road. I have been so excited about this opportunity that it
makes me so giddy I can't sleep at night :D I feel the distinct
impression that Brother Frayer was someone the Lord was preparing for
me specifically to meet, teach the gospel to, and bring into His

And so it carries on! Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Petersen

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Letter #78

Hello everyone!

Sorry I didn't write last week. We went to the Ringling Art Museum
down in Sarasota and didn't end up having much of any time to write.
But we had a great time! It's an awesome museum and a fun, relaxing

Well, it's been a really good past couple of weeks. We've been working
hard and seeing miracles all over the place. I'm really having a hard
time today deciding on what to say. My mind is just so cluttered
with...everything. This is just a difficult situation to be in. We
have so much work going on so it's impossible to not be focused. Until
someone brings it up. And then I get excited and sad all at the same

We received a referral from HQ. Betty requested a copy of the Bible,
and when we went to deliver it, we found out that she met with
missionaries about 10 years ago. She never went to church with them
but remembered what she felt with them. She felt it again with us and
accepted a return appointment. When we went back she accepted the
invitation to be baptized and wants to pray about when. I've never had
someone pray so sincerely and listen so earnestly for an answer in a
lesson. She's a wonderful woman. I hope to be able to see her baptized
before I go home.

Love you all! Have a great week

Elder Petersen

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Letter #77

Hey everyone!

It's been such a great week! Probably the best week that Elder Coleman
and I have had together. We're developing a lot better relationships
with the members here and it's really paying off. We got so many
referrals this week, it's crazy! We haven't even had time to contact
them all on top of the teaching we've been doing.

Speaking of who we are teaching, well, it's been good. It can be
frustrating when people don't show up to church. It's really the most
important step in their conversion. They can learn with us. They can
read the Book of Mormon. They can pray to know the truth. But until
they come to church they will never really understand what makes this
Church different. And they can never have access to sacrament, which
is the most important ordinance in enduring to the end. And you can
tell them this, but until they experience it, they won't really ever
get it.

I don't know if I told you this last week, but we went to a state park
last week called Myakka River. It was a great pday get-away. And so
pretty! Fun hiking, awesome rivers and lakes, lots of alligators, and
a really tall tower that gets you way above the tree line and you can
see for MILES! Florida is such a beautiful place. Is it weird that I
want to live in central Florida some day? But I don't think I would
love it as much if it weren't for the people. At the most recent
transfer meeting, I was talking to a new missionary who had just
gotten here from Fiji. He said that Florida has the best people of all
the states! I kind of chuckled, thinking of all the not so great
people I've met here. But the more I thought about it, the more I
realized that I agree with him. And the closer I get to leaving them,
the more I love them and wish I could stay forever. I love President
Uchtdorf's talk from conference about being grateful in any
circumstance. Especially this part:
"In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder
that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem
unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that
resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are
eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless
and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we
realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They
are merely interruptions--temporary pauses that one day will seem
small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.
How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no
true endings, only everlasting beginnings."

Love you all! Have a great week

Elder Petersen

Monday, June 23, 2014

Letter #76

Hey everyone!

What a week! Missionary life can definitely be stressful at times, but
we are seeing some great things happen. We are still working with
Mike, and wow he is so solid! He just loves everything we have been
teaching him. He wasn't able to come to church yesterday because of
work, and he was really upset about it. He has let them know that he's
not working Sundays anymore so he can go. He wants so bad to change
his life and receive the blessings that come from living the gospel.
Family is super important to him, and he can see so plainly how it
will help him with his little young family. He is still planning on
getting baptized next month.

We started teaching None (pronounced no-nay (it's Tongan)) this week
as well. He is Mike and Nami's older brother, and he's a lot more
interested and serious about it than we originally thought. We also
started teaching Jasmine, a friend of their family. She's a nice girl
who comes from a really good family. She's pretty interested as well,
especially when we invited her to be baptized, something that she has
been thinking about doing but wasn't sure which church to do it with.
We hope to help her learn the truth for herself as she studies, prays,
and comes to church.

I cannot believe all the things I am still learning. I just...well
it's awesome. All I can say is that the most valuable thing I've
learned over my mission is how to follow the promptings from the Holy
Spirit. If you can learn to do that one thing, you will always do the
right thing. And you'll always be happy, even when the world around
you is crumbling.

Love you all! Have a great week

Elder Petersen

Monday, June 2, 2014

Letter #75

Hey everybody!

Wow, it's been a good week! So, training a new missionary is stressful, and so is being a district leader. And apparently the Lord and my leaders think enough of me to entrust both responsibilities simultaneously. Being a district leader means that I am over several companionships in my area. I actually have the biggest district in the zone. But it helps that we have just as many sisters as we do elders, and I have a few less responsibilities with sisters than I do elders. I also have the privilege of interviewing candidates for baptism. I was able to do that for the first time this week, and it is a wonderful experience.

Elder Coleman is my new companion. He is from St George and comes from a large family, oldest of 12. And he is a great missionary! We have been working and teaching and finding like no one's business. Training a new missionary has helped me to stay motivated and energized. Saturday we had kind of a rough day, everything seemed to be falling through. After dinner we went to go contact a potential investigator. As we were walking down the street through the neighborhood, a man parked his truck and started yelling at us and saying all sorts of terrible and derogatory things. But we ignored him and kept walking. Silently I prayed to be lead to anyone who would be willing to listen to us. Well, when we got to where we were going, the family wasn't interested at the moment, but his mom was there. We started talking to her and showed her a short video. Without us asking, she gave us her phone number and indicated that she wanted us to call her and teach her more. So we taught her the first lesson briefly right there. She does not live in our area, so we helped her find the church building where she does live. And then a little bit after that, this family was willing to listen and we are going back tonight. God hears and answers prayers.

Oh! So Bobby came up to us after sacrament meeting yesterday and asked if we could move his baptism up. Um. Yes! He originally wanted to wait until August, but he's just too excited and loves it too much to wait that long. Besides, he's progressing so well that he could get baptized next week. So we are going to meet with him soon and figure out what day he wants to do it. So that was really exciting!

Love you guys, have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Letter #74

Hey everyone!

What a great week it has been! It was Elder Vanderpool's last week and
we made sure he went out with a bang. Caitlin got baptized on
Saturday! And then I was able to confirm her on Sunday. It was so
awesome to see the love and support from the ward. She's just
finishing high school and her parents aren't super supportive. But she
has a lot from the ward; they really love her! She is going to youth
conference and maybe girls camp this summer.

We've also been working with Bobby and Chezz. Turns out that Chezz's
mom is a member in Tallahassee and he was blessed as a baby. But he
didn't know this until this weekend. And Bobby's ex stepdad is a
member. Which he just found out when his mom brought him to the
baptism on Saturday. Both of those things got them really excited!
They will be getting baptized in August when Chezz gets home from his
summer vacation and right before I leave the mission. They're awesome
guys! Our lessons are always really good and so fun at the same time.

So in the course of 5 months, this ward will have 4 teenagers
baptized. And all 4 come from broken families. And they all were drawn
to the Church because they spent time in members' homes, felt
something different about their families and said, I don't know what
that is, but I want it.

And here is the news of all news. Elder Petersen will be training a
new missionary for the last 12 weeks of his mission! I have mixed
feelings. Really excited. Super anxious. I haven't slept anywhere near
solid the past two nights since we got the call. I pick him up in
Tampa tomorrow and then back to the grind here in Bradenton. It will
be good though. Even as anxious as I am, I still get a big smile on my
face when I think about training a new missionary. It's really a
special assignment to receive, and with all that I have learned, I'm
excited to teach him. And I'm excited what he has to teach me.  There
is never a day to not learn as a missionary.

Love you all! Have a great week
Elder Petersen

Monday, May 19, 2014

Letter #73

Hey everyone!

It's been a great week! We've taught more this week than we ever have! It's been awesome. Miracles are happening all over the place!

So, coming up this weekend, Caitlin will be baptized! She has been wanting this for a long time and is looking forward to Youth Conference and Girls' Camp this summer.

Mike and Nami decided to wait a couple of more weeks to get baptized, but they are doing awesome. We are actually really proud of them for making this decision because they decided that they needed more time to get in the routine of coming to church every week before getting baptized. Even though it would mean that Elder Vanderpool won't be there for it, which they will be sad about. Elder Vanderpool goes home next week.

All I know is that things are amazing! I've been having such a great time, learning so much, and doing it all while bringing people into the gospel. Which is the best thing ever! I'm not sure if I'm aware of anything more satisfying than being in the service of the Lord and bringing souls to Him. And as I meet all these wonderful people and get to know and love them, I come to understand what President Uchtdorf meant when he said that there are no true endings in the gospel, only everlasting beginnings.

Love you all, have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Letter #72

Hey everyone!

Pretty good week. Stressful at times. Especially when you break a
spoke on your bike! But it's all good :) It's also starting to get
really hot and humid. I'm starting to get myself ready for the drier
air haha.

So way cool! We started teaching a new guy named Bobby. His school
mate and good friend, Octavius, just got baptized. Bobby was at the
baptism and wanted to learn more. He is taking it pretty seriously and
is pretty spiritual. Very aware of the Spirit in his life. He really
likes what we have taught him so far and is liking the Book of Mormon.
We will try to get him to church this coming week.

We also started teaching a man named Drew. He was online one day and
found the Church. He said that was he studied about it made sense to
him and was in line with everything else he already believed. He just
showed up to church last Sunday. Unfortunately it was the Temple
Dedication so we couldn't let him in, but we set up a time to see him
again and give him a tour of the building. We have taught him twice
already. He is also enjoying the Book of Mormon along with everything
we have talked about so far.

Overall, everything is going really well! The Lord is definitely
blessing us and the people here. We are seeing hearts and homes open
that no one ever would have thought. It is a wonderful thing to be a
part of the Lord's work!
Elder Petersen

Monday, May 5, 2014

Letter #71

Hey everyone!

What a great week! Still teaching all of the time, and everyone is doing really well. No one new that we started teaching this week, but this coming week has some exciting prospects.

We've been working a lot with a young man named Josh. He's really a cool kid. His grandma is a member in our ward, but neither of his parents really like the Church much. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was in middle school and high school. He always asks such awesome questions and really wants his life to start making sense. He soaks up everything we teach.

We're also still working with Mike and Nami, two kids who's mom, Hepi, is a member. They're doing really awesome. They will be getting baptized next week. They are the most spiritual kids ever! The insights they have in our lessons and the experiences they have had that have brought them to this. Just wow.

We also have Bruce who is getting baptized next week. He comes from a rough background, but snatched up the Gospel the first time he heard it. He has really helped me learn just how much spiritual knowledge is different from intellectual knowledge. He is a very simple man with a very strong and abiding faith in Christ and in the restored gospel. He knows who he worships.

Yesterday we were able to participate in the Fort Lauderdale Temple dedication. It was an incredible and spiritual experience. The power of godliness was truly manifest that day with a great outpouring of the Spirit. This is a wonderful blessing for the saints in south Florida. A House of the Lord is a wonderful blessing to anyone who lives near by or is able to visit. It was awesome to see so many participate who hadn't had the opportunity to participate in a dedication since the Orlando Temple was built 20 years ago. With all that was said in general conference about the importance of the Temple, and then the dedication, it has really been impressed upon me the importance of attending and worshiping in the temple on a frequent and regular basis. We are all familiar with the blessings we extend to our ancestors through temples. But in the dedication, Elder Christofferson reminded us of the blessings we receive through the ordinances of the temple, especially the strength to stand against the storms of the world.

Love you all, have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Letter #70

Hey everyone!

Good week this week. It is really starting to heat up and the humidity
is back! But, ya know, we survive :) People live here for the winters,
not the summers haha.

We've been teaching virtually nonstop the past couple of weeks. So
many people so close to really starting to progress. But life seems to
get in the way all the time. I have had to quote Sister Reeves from
general conference several times the past few days, where she tells us
that living the gospel and establishing a Christ-focused home is the
exact thing that relieves stress and gives us strength, and we can
move forward knowing we are being led by the Spirit. When we have our
priorities in the right place, everything will work out like it's
supposed to, and we will actually enjoy life--like we're supposed to.
There is a great need for more faith in this world. Which brings me to
a story Dad shared with me this week of a girl in his Sunday School
class who missed church because she had to work on Saturday and do
school on Sunday. Yes, occasionally the ox gets in the mire on the
Sabbath. But if it happens every week, it's time to mend the fence
during the week so the ox stops getting where it ought not to be.
Sabbath observance is a true and eternal principle, and there are
blessings that each of us need and desire that will only come as a
result of living this commandment.

We went to a Manatee County parade on Saturday night. The Young Men in
the ward were having a fundraiser for camp this summer selling BBQ,
and missionaries ate free :) Best dog-gone pulled pork sandwich I have
EVER had. And it was a decently good finding opportunity for us as
well. It was pretty fun.

So this past month has been the Fort Lauderdale Temple open house.
It's out of our mission so we didn't get to go, but there were a lot
of people take their friends to see the temple. It's an exciting time
for Florida, the first temple to be built here in 20 years, the only
other one before that being in Orlando. We will be participating in
the dedication this coming Sunday via satellite, which I am very
excited about. Temple dedications are always very special.

Love you all so much! Have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Letter #69

Hey everyone!

Well, I almost didn't write this week because it didn't feel like a week worth writing about. It was definitely a good week! But nothing really that special or exciting happened. It's just life as a missionary :) Which I feel like is boring to people who aren't missionaries haha

So we started teaching Caitlyn a couple weeks ago. She is dating a kid in the ward, Joseph. It's been a neat experience. Joseph wasn't really sure about a mission before, but since we started teaching he is wanting to go really bad, and Caitlyn is even encouraging him to go as well.

We taught a lady yesterday, who, well, isn't interested. Like at all. It's always hard when you teach people about the Restoration and then invite them to pray about if it's true. And they respond with something to the effect of "I have enough, I don't need anymore, I don't even want anymore, and so there is no way I'm going to ask God if there is more out there for me."

But we keep going, knowing that there is SOMEONE out there who knows there has to be more out there for them and that they want it. We aren't looking to convert everyone, as wonderful as that would be. We are just looking for those who are honestly seeking after truth. And if we are attentive to the Spirit, God will put them in our paths. And what a wonderful blessing that is!

Elder Petersen

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Letter #68

Hey everyone,

Sometimes, it's really hard being a missionary. I have yet to have
mashed potatoes thrown at me, but it is a hard thing to be called upon
to experience the painful part of discipleship: watching the world
ignore and reject the very things that would bring peace and solace
their lives. I watched again this week Elder Richard J. Maynes's talk
from April 2011, "Establishing a Christ-Centered Home." What a
wonderful address! In there he quotes a poem that talks about the lost
sheep, and how we call for them to come back because they often lead
the lambs astray. As I finished the Book of Mormon the past few days,
I can't help but reflect on what Mormon and Moroni must have felt as
they watched the destruction of their people and how hard they tried
to get them to repent and return to the Lord. But, as we were reminded
by Elder Andersen, the world will not glide calmly to the Second
Coming. But as we center our lives on Christ and make Him our sure
foundation we will have no reason to fear. The scriptures are a
tremendous source of strength.

Hope you all have a great week! Love ya!
Elder Petersen

P.S. Please share the story of Easter!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Letter #67

Dear family and friends,

To start, if you did not have time or take the time to watch General
Conference this weekend, please do so in the coming week. I don't care
if you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
or not. And if you are a member, I don't care about your level of
activity. These men that spoke this weekend are true prophets of God,
and the women that spoke are likewise called of God. And when they
speak, they speak the words of God, just as when Moses spoke to the
children of Israel. Their words should be heard and heeded. Only by
following the living prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ can we
learn of His gospel and how to navigate the challenges of life. Only
by following the living prophets can we find lasting inner peace. They
testify and prophecy of Christ and they lead us to Him. If there is
something in our lives that may seem unfair, study their words, and I
promise you that you will find your answer.

The work of the Lord continues to move forward in the Bradenton area.
Rhonda continues to progress in her study of the scriptures. She wants
so bad for it to be true, and she is finding her answers as she
studies and prays. She is working towards baptism the next couple of
weeks. We also started last week teaching Sam. He is the neighbor of a
member family. We were leaving an appointment with this family,
getting on our bikes, and Sam was checking his mail. He asked if we
were from a school and we told him we were missionaries. We talked
briefly with him about how we can know what truth really is. He has
just found his faith again and is looking for it. He is a very
intelligent kid and loves what we teach. The Lord blessed us so much
in finding this honest seeker of truth.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve a mission. Especially
in the last few months, I have been learning so much. About myself,
about the gospel, about the atonement, and about families. If you find
yourself facing opposition, the best thing to do is to be thankful for
the opportunity to learn. Then seek the Spirit and let is teach. And
don't forget, we seek the Spirit through prayer, studying the writings
of the prophets, and through righteous living.

Hope you all have a great week! Love you all
Elder Petersen

Monday, March 24, 2014

Letter #66

Hey everyone!

It's really been a great week. Sorry if I don't provide as much detail
as you might like. To be honest, by the time I get to my Mondays, the
past week is nothing but a blur. All I can really say is that we are
seeing so many miracles; the Lord is blessing us and the people here
so much. We continue to go through a lot of changes as we integrate
our technology and some new ways of doing things. When you live so
that miracles can happen, they happen. All the time. We see the Lord's
hand in everything we do. I love being a missionary! And I love that
I'm learning so much that will help me in my life after the mission. I
learn things every day that not only help me in my work, but that will
help me in school, in my future family, in my future career, and in
callings in the Church. And what is better in this life than learning?
Not much. Because it's what this life is all about. It's good, I'm
great, and life is a blast!

Love you all and hope you have a good week!

Elder Petersen

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Letter #65

Hey everyone!

What a great week! We almost taught nonstop. I am so tired but feeling
so good. I think the best thing that happened this week was when we
were teaching Rhonda. She's been meeting with the missionaries for
about a month and been coming to church. She loves to study things out
and compare. This week we were able to talk to her about how she feels
at church and as she reads the Book of Mormon. We invited her to be
baptized next month and were expecting a no. But instead, her response
was "Well, I better get reading!" It was so cool! And then when she
came to church this week she was beaming the whole time. We've also
been working a lot with Bruce. He's a lot more quiet and reserved, but
always enjoys us coming over. He's always prepared and anxious for his
lessons. We work with so many people every day and a lot of them are
doing super good. It's really good to be in Bradenton. The ward is
really getting more and more excited about missionary work. The church
meetings are very uplifting, which helps so much when we have
visitors. There is just so many miracles happening and so much that
I'm learning; it's almost impossible to quantify it sometimes.
Love you all, have a great week!
Elder Petersen

PS Check out what we saw this week! It made me so happy :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Letter #64

Hey everyone!

So transfers were good. I'm serving in the Bradenton area with Elder
VanderPool. It's way awesome here! The work is just going like crazy.
We were so busy this week! And most of the people we're teaching are
progressing really well. We have a lot of Tongans in the ward, so
singing in church is a blast. They also love to feed the missionaries,
so it's a good thing that we only have a car part-time. The rest we
are on bikes. Which, being summer, makes me happy that I'm on the
coast again. Absolutely no hills and a nice breeze off the Gulf to
keep it from being too hot :P Here is my new mailing address:
4910 26th St east #203
Bradenton Fl 34203

So, nothing really too special about this week, other than a new area
and new companion. He's a pretty cool guy, we seem to get along well.
He only has 3 months left on his mission so I will most likely be his
last companion. Which means we're going to have to work really hard to
stay focused :) I already love this area so much and know I'm going to
love it here.

Love you all, hope you have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, March 3, 2014

Letter #63

Hey everyone!

What a great week it's been! First off, I'll be transferring tomorrow. Sad day :( It's always hard when you leave an area that you've been in so long, when you get to know and love the people so much. But it is also exciting to be able to move to a new area and get to meet the people there and build similar relationships.

Donavan was baptized and confirmed this weekend, along with his younger brother, Devon. Their parents came to church for the confirmation, although they are not members. It was Testimony Meeting, and at the end, Donavan's dad got up to express his thanks for what the Church has done for his sons. Even though he doesn't believe the same as us, he loves the emphasis on missionary work, and can tell that Christ is the center of our religion, which he very much appreciates. Donavan and Devon have some awesome opportunities there to help their parents accept the gospel. They are both very excited for the priesthood and being able to do baptisms in the temple.

Overall, everything is doing just great! I have been learning so much, about the gospel, and about just life in general. Everything that they say about the mission preparing you for life and marriage is so true. Even though I'm not quite there yet, I can tell how my experiences here will help me in my future, be it professional, church, or family related.

Love you all, have a great week! I'll let you know my new address next week.
Elder Petersen

Monday, February 24, 2014

Letter #62

Hey everyone!

Hope you had a good week, because I sure did! Started off by spending Monday night through Wednesday morning in downtown Tampa. We spent the whole time walking around the streets talking to people and inviting them to learn more. Not a lot of the people we met actually live in Tampa, but we had a good time and some very fun conversations. It was a great way to get out there and let people know who we are and where they can find out more about what we believe. There are so many people out there who need this message. They need to know how to find the lasting inner peace that can come only through Christ.

It's crazy the changes that are happening in missionary work. It's a really exciting time. The "how" might be changing, but still the "what" and "why" are staying the same. We still preach the gospel, and we still do it so everyone can have an opportunity to repent and come unto Christ.

Mario and Emily were baptized and confirmed this weekend! I've been teaching them the longest since I've been in this area. I love that family so much, and to be able to see the changes that have occurred and the good that has come into their lives because of the gospel is one of the greatest things in the world. We have so many new members in this ward, and they're all doing so well. Some of them, along with some who have recently returned to the Church, have recently gone to the temple for the first time. The stake president came a couple weeks ago and did 6 (SIX!) first-time recommend interviews. He said that may have been a record for him in one ward. Watching people prepare for that and seeing the happiness that comes because of it is so wonderful. Great changes are happening in the lives of the Florida people. I'm so happy I get to labor in this part of the vineyard for a short time.

I've been re-reading last October's General Conference. The words of living prophets and apostles are important. We need to know what they are teaching us. They know what's going on in this world, and they know how to get through it. If we heed their messages, we will be blessed and be able to navigate through our troubles and obstacles with faith and hope. If it's been a while since you've read a recent General Conference talk, you should find the time this week to do it. It's gonna be great, I promise!

Love you all, hope you have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, February 17, 2014

Letter #61

Hey everyone!

It's been an exciting week in the Florida Tampa Mission! I would have sent this on my new iPad mini, but I'm not used to it yet, and the keyboard is frustrating sometimes. That's right! We have iPads here now. We're one of only 30 missions in the world to have them right now, so it's exciting. It's a completely different way of doing things! We're completely paperless. Our daily planners and area books are all on our iPads, so we don't have to do hand-written paperwork anymore. And it helps us stay accountable for the work we do, since if we want it to count, it has to be entered electronically. We also have the Gospel Library, so I don't use my paper scriptures or Preach My Gospel anymore, even for my own studies. And we also have all our teaching material on there, so we use them when we teach people we can show them pictures and videos. We can teach people over video chats if we can't visit them in person. Essentially, all we carry around anymore are our iPads, a few pamphlets that overview what we teach that we can give to people, and a few free copies of the Book of Mormon. We've only had them a few days, but we're almost all transitioned from the old system and we can already tell that there is going to be a lot of good happening with this. It's allowing us to do a lot more in the same amount of time, so we're able to reach a lot more people and help them learn and understand the Gospel.

Let's see what else. Mario and Emily are getting baptized this week! We're super excited for them. The members here love that family and take such good care of them. We also had a new family move in. The husband, Michael, is not a member, but he came to church already knowing that he wants to get baptized. Which is awesome! There is something going on in Florida and we can't figure it out. But stuff like this is happening all over the mission. Peoples' hearts are softening to hear the truth, realizing that there's something else out there that they're missing out on and that's causing a void in their lives. And so without realizing it sometimes, they start searching for it. And when they hear the message about modern prophets and apostles, the hope of life after death, and eternal families, they soak it up like a sponge. And it's because it's true. The only true lasting peace and joy comes from Christ and living His Gospel and commandments. And it's the greatest thing to be able to see others make those changes in their lives.

Hope you all have a good week! Love you all
Elder Petersen

Monday, February 10, 2014

Letter #60

Dear family and friends,

It's been such an awesome week! Elder Putnam and I received a special invitation to attend the Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday. Two brethren from the Missionary Department were there and gave the training. It was so awesome! We learned so much about our purpose as missionaries, the importance of ordinances, and why we have people do certain things as we teach them and prepare them for baptism. And when I say we learned so much, I mean, we learned. So. Much. SO MUCH! It hurts my head right now to think about it all haha. We've also been doing a lot more street contacting. It's a lot of fun! Never really done much of it until now, but President Cusick has put a big emphasis on it. He wants us out and being seen in public, and the mission as a whole is really experiencing so awesome stuff because of it. And we have nice weather most days so people are actually out and in good moods so they don't mind us approaching them. Most of the time :P

Everything else is going well, too. Mario and Emily are reading a lot from the Book of Mormon, and coming to church, and loving it! Mario is loving being a part of the Elders Quorum, and Emily is making a lot of friends in Young Women. Emily's little brother, Giovanni, is also starting to come to church more, and actually liking it. He's come a few times in the past but was always bored. He's been involved a lot with the Young Men and their activities, which helps a lot. It gives him something to look forward to.

Rusty is going really good. He's working on overcoming some personal challenges so he can be ready to get baptized. He knows it's all true, but he also knows that making changes isn't easy.

I love the Lake Hamilton ward. The members here are so awesome! You can't not be involved in the work and not know it's the Lord's work. The Book of Mormon is so powerful! If you're not reading it, you need to be. Because really, it's only a 500 page book. You have time for that! And it will change your life for the better so much!

Love you all so much. Have a great week!
Elder Petersen

Monday, January 27, 2014

Letter #59

Dear family and friends,

I'm going to keep it short and sweet this week, not a lot to tell about, and not much time left to write anyways.

Everyone that we've been working with is doing awesome! We've seen some awesome miracles with people progressing in the gospel. There is so much power in prayer and the scriptures!

We had a mission-wide conference with Elder Kopischke of the Seventy on Saturday. It's always an awesome experience to have a General Authority of the Church speak. He talked about the higher law of obedience, not just being obedient to the rules and commandments, but being obedient to the promptings that come from the Holy Ghost. That's the hardest to do sometimes, because those promptings come in such a quiet, subtle way that it can be hard to distinguish between your own thoughts, which may or may not be such a good idea all the time, and the promptings of the Holy Ghost. So, like Nephi, you just go and do.

We also had a regional Stake Conference broadcast with Elder Nelson presiding. All the speakers talked a lot about the importance of obeying the commandments, the one most frequently mentioned to keep the Sabbath Day holy. It really is such an important commandment. When you don't observe the Sabbath, life just gets hectic and crazy and there's not enough time to do anything. But when your priorities are in order, and you keep this commandment, the Lord blesses you with the wisdom and ability to think clearly and make your way through life, much like He does when we pay our tithing. You want a happy life? Keep the commandments. They're not just God's laws. They're His instruction manual to us on how to navigate this life and make it back to His presence. The adversary is sly and cunning, but if we keep the commandments we can easily perceive when he's trying to lead us away.

Which leads me back to the scriptures and prayer. If we do those two things faithfully, everything else falls into line like it needs to. But be patient with yourself; you're not perfect yet. Just keep trying and doing what's right.

Love you all!
Elder Petersen