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