Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
-Isaiah 12 2-3

Monday, December 19, 2011


December 19, 2011
Oh gosh, I need chocolate!
Hey there Family and Friends!

Ooof. Not going to lie, it's been one of the most stressful, if not the most stressful week of my life! It's been a crazy past few days and it'll continue on for at least another few days before everything settles down.

I'm not sure how much I really want to talk about it, at least not right now. So I'm gonna focus on the good stuff!

The ward here in Dachney is amazing, and I had my first experience in doing translating this past Sunday. The senior couple in Saratov, the Williams, decided to come to our branch! I translated for them for Sacrament meeting and for Priesthood and I realized just how cool (but kinda hard!) it is to translate at such a fast pace and with preciseness. Generally when I'm speaking Russian my brain just thinks in Russian and when I speak English I think in English, so it took my brain just a little bit to learn how to listen and understand in Russian and then speak in English what I understood. Woo! It was a fun experience, and I'm glad to have had my first real experience doing it.

We've only had a chance to meet with a couple of members, but the meeting have gone very well. One night me and Elder Rounds were out with the branch list and decided to visit a certain apartment. We thought (statistically) that it would be a less active family we'd be visiting, but as it turned out we found one of the most willing members in the branch! He's a happy Ukrainian by the name of [...] and he was baptized 4 years ago. He gave us advice of who to visit and what to do to help the branch while we're here in Dachney. Even better, he offered his help for any lesson we had! Yay!

Argh, I gotta get this out a little bit I think. This week has been really frustrating. Our apartment looks nice, but it doesn't have a thing! Not even a frying pan (well, there's a frying pan but it's completely caked in heaven only knows what). Our land lady is an old grandma who is impossible to understand is who was complaining about us bringing our own sheets to the apartment. Her husband doesn't know anything about the apartment or anything in it but apparently is in charge of keeping care of our apartment. We found out this morning that our washing machine doesn't work, which the husband of the land lady openly proclaimed he doesn't know how to work. The toilet is pretty flakey and weird smells seem to appear in rooms sporatically. We came into the area without any missionary materials, so we've scraped together a few things to get us going until the office sends us all of the things we need. The apartment is just missing all of the basic things and the only way to get it, it seems, is to get it ourselves and that costs a lot of money and the permission for it will take a while to get through and whatnot.

Sorry, I hope that didn't sound like whining, it's just been a bit rough these past few days. We both know as much Russian as each other and So pushing through all of these apartment things and whatnot has required a vocabulary and skill that combined we've just barely been able to scrape. I haven't even described all of the things we've been doing, and I don't want to either, but...just argh!

There have been a couple of sweet moments among all of this though. When the moment of stress just become too much or when nothing seems to be going write I have found peace in prayer. These first few days have shown me just how weak I am and just how much I need help and guidance from Heavenly Father. While the prelude music was playing at Church I was praying and worrying about how to figure out all these things when I just felt a strong feeling of peace and love in the branch. I looked around and felt the love that the branch had for each other and for the desire they had to learn and to feel the Spirit. I felt peace and comfort that things will be ok.

I wish I could have that feeling all the time. There's so much to do and prepare for in such a short amount of times and so often I've felt so helpless to accomplish any of the simple things that need to be done. I know it will happen and be done, because it needs to be and I'll push through it just fine, it's just a bit hard I guess. Sorry! I really didn't mean for this to be a depressing e-mail or anything. This week has offered me tender mercies among the hard times, and It'll be ok.

Time's up to write. Gonna read the e-mails I got from ya'll and go back to work! Thank you so much for everything! :)

Much love
Elder Peterson

Monday, December 12, 2011


Dec. 12, 2011
Goin Home From the Factory
Hey there everyone!

Gosh, I had a great visa trip! The temple was way cool (yes, I did get to go!) and it was great seeing all of my MTC buddies again! So, with no further delay, let me give ya'll a background on what happened!

Monday night me and Elder Stoddard left on an overnight train to Samara and on Tuesday morning we arrived in Samara. That morning at the train station I bartered in Russian for a taxi and arrived at the Zone Leaders apartment there. I worked in that area of Samara all day with my MTC companion Elder Swartz! It was a super fun and cool experience, to say the least, to work with him again.

Early Wednesday morning we woke up and took a bus over to the airport. At the airport we all met together (us cronies from the MTC) and set off to Moscow. It was a little boring (the plane ride) because we all as missionaries were sitting together and we all pretty much just slept, but the flight from Moscow to Kiev was a lot less boring! On the flight from Moscow to Kiev I was put between a native Ukrainain who had been in Kazakstan (and now was going home) and a girl from Kazakstan who was going to visit some friends in Kiev. Good times! Ukrainian Russian is so hard to understand though, not going to lie. Almost all the "g's" in Russian are pronounced by Ukrainian's as "h's", that, plus the guy was a little drunk, made it a bit hard to understand him. The girl was studying English in school, though she had just barely started, and didn't know much yet. It was way fun talking to them about why I was in Russia and what America was like, etc. The firl even gave me some Kazakstanian money, which looks pretty dang cool.

The highlight, of course, was the temple. We thought we were going to be doing an endownment session, but as it turned out they didn;t have any sessions for when we were there. So, instead, we did Baptisms and Confirmations for the dead! We all got to confirm and be confirmed and to baptize and be baptized, all in Russian and for Russian people! Way cool! Me and 2 other Elder's also got the chance to confirm over 100 people because 3 girls there wanted to do confirmations. After I did both the confirmations and the baptisms I was complimented on how well I spoke, which gave me the warm fuzzies on the inside! I remember shortly before I went on my mission I got to do baptisms and confirmations for the dead in the Albuquerque temple. I remember also being so scared in thinking that one day I would be doing this all in Russian. Never thought it would have happened so quickly after entering the country, nor did I think that I would do so well in doing it!

After the temple we took some pictures and relaxed a bit on temple grounds and then hopped onto a bus that took us to the airport to fly us back to Samara. After that flight we spent a little bit more time in Samara where we picked up packages and mail and then went on a train back home to Saratov. Mom, I did get teh Christmas package, thank you so much! In addition thank you so much to Rebekah, Jeanette, Eric and Brother Forsyth for their letters too! Mom, if you could use my facebook to send a message to Rebekah Hoggan and Jeanette Zaleski to say I just got their letter I'd be very appreciative :) That reminds me, have you heard anything from my friend Elder Williams in Uruguay?

So that was the visa trip, in short! But that's not all the exciting news. I found out a couple of days ago that...I'm being transferred! I'm going to be in a completely new area that they've made here in Saratov called Dachni North. I'll be with someone who came out at the same time as me too (2 3rd cyclers together. Crazy!). New apartment (that I hear is way nice) and we'll be whitewashed there (neither one of us is familiar with the area). Pretty exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, but I already know and love my new companion, which is a comfort. His name is Elder Rounds and he was in the same room and district as me in the MTC. Cool times!

I did have a question for you (my family) to chew over and answer, if/when you get the time. I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to have a "broken heart and a contrite spirit". It seems to me to be something that's more than just humility (if you can say "just humility"). Anyone have any thoughts on it?

Sean and Jennie, I'm not sure if I ahve enough time to write a seperate e-mail to ya'll, so I'll include it in this one. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! So easy to remember since I always knew Sean's and ya'll ahve the same birthday! I hope you all have a wonderful day. Hug each other and Brett for me when you get the chance :)

Well, I've got to head out now (gotta write my weekly letter to the President). Thank you all so much for you encouraging letters and love and prayers. I love you all so much!

With much love
Elder Peterson


Dec. 5, 2011
"I love to see the temple, I'm going there...THIS WEEK!"
Hey there family and friends!

So, let me explain a bit more about how my visa trip is going down. Tonight me and one of my MTC buddies Elder Stoddard are taking an overnight train to Samara. We'll work all day in Samara on Tuesday and then Wednesday/Thursday I'll be spending mostly in the air, but, I found out something cool! I fly out from Samara to Moscow and then from Moscow to Kiev (in Ukraine). During our time in Kiev we'll be going to the temple there! WOO! So cool! It may be a bit rushed though since we need to fly out that same day from Kiev to Moscow and then to Samara once more. After all that fun times we get to take another overnight train back to Saratov! Meaning that on Friday, I'm going to be dead tired. But hey, temple!

Anyways, it's been a good week, though I've got a feeling this upcoming one is gonna be good! Yesterday was the election in Russia. I haven't heard anything, but most likely Putin is still President. I just want to see different ads than all the political ones!

Yesterday was kind of an interesting day. A member who was baptized this year has now gone apostate and has been trying to teach members of the Church false doctrine (about tithing, law of chastity, other such things). It was sad to talk to him and it frustrated me a bit. His main points consist that you can break any of the laws of God because forgiveness is part of God's plan for us and we're part of God's church. That's terrible! We talked to him a lot about repentance, upholding church leaders and the law of chastity and it just didn't go well. He'll be having a disciplinary counsel soon and will most likely be excommunicated for the things he's done.

It's a hard. To be honest, there's a lot of folks here with some very odd ideas. Most of the Russians that I've met on the street have told me that their Russian Orthodox, but I've head anything from God is a supercomputer to God doesn't exist (and lots more imbetween) , despite the fervor and surety that they say that they're Russian Orthodox. It's also been a bit difficult helping a pretty good progressing investigator named [...]. He's a little bit older (maybe 60 or so) and he's such a great guy. His prayers are sincere and he understands and lives doctrines (or is trying to, he's trying to quit smoking). He gained a powerful testimony about prayer and loves The Book of Mormon. [...]

How do you find sincere people? How do you help people who have kind of...odd or skewed ideas on the Gospel and help them back onto a good path? How do you help investigators who really do believe in God and Christ but really just interpret the Gospel their own way and won't hear any other? Argh! Kinda frustrating at times, but it'll be ok I think. But maybe someone has worked with people like that and can give some tips.

Ooh, couple of things real quick. A sweet couple who just returned off their mission knitted me and my companion wool socks! Woo! They're so dang cool and look like they're way warm. They'll be nice to wear when I put on my boots. Also, a member of the branch here who speak perfect English was talking to me about a book called "17 Points of True Doctrine". It sounded interesting and so I was just curious to see if anyone had heard of it. Also, I saw an ad for Tangled in Russian, which was excited. In Russian it's called "Rapunzel, a Tangled Story"! Gotta check that one out after the mission.

Not too much more to say I think this week, I love you all very much! Things are going well. The language is coming along just fine, I'm eating well (and healthily too it seems! I gained weight at the MTC and a member of the Church today mentioned yesterday that I had lost weight since I'd been here. Woo!) and alls well. I'm copying the letter that we got concerning Christmas calls in a seperate e-mail to ya'll so we can talk about it this next week. Also, this next week I'll be finding out about transfers, so we'll see if any changes happen.

Love ya lots! :)

Elder Peterson


Nov. 28, 2011
Well, it's no turduckin, but it's Thanksgiving!
Hello family and friends!

Well, oddly enough, we actually had Thanksgiving in Russia! Elder Johnson and I had planned to have our own thanksgiving at home (it was on our weekly planning day so it's a perfect time to just cook and talk about the work in Zavodskoi) but, as it turned out, the Mission President let the senior couple near our area invite our zone over for Thanksgiving! We brought some banana cream and chocolate pies which were so dang delicious! There was mashed potatoes and chicken (turkey is obnoxiously expensive here), salads, rolls and just delicious food overall. So dang good! And, with all the extra food we bought this past week, we'll be having Thanksgiving mach 2 this week! Woo!

It's been snowing a good bit here in the Motherland, and a cool thing happens on the sidewalks here. Because of the water melting and refreezing during the night there and patches of ice that are as slick as ice skating rink ice along the sidewalk. Russians and goofy American Missionaries alike love to slide on them and it's a rather efficient way to travel! I was so happy last night thinking about how nice it'd be to say that I had mastered the art of sliding on them and had never fallen, but I was sliding while thinking that and, ironically enough, I fell. Ah well, that's life. Still fun!

Also, I fulfilled a prophecy I gave in the 5th grade. We had learned sometime that year that you could pickle just about any vegetable and I proudly proclaimed that one day I would eat a pickled tomato. Well, lo and behold, I had not just one but 3 last night at a members house! They sound odd, and, to be perfectly frank, they are kinda odd, but they tasted pretty dang good!

A family got baptized this past weekend, which was the coolest experience ever! There was a single mom and here [...] boys getting baptized (such a big family! Especially in Russia) and it was an incredible thing to witness. Her life has changed so much since she has joined the Church and they've made such incredible sacrifices. The Mom only makes about [...] roubles a day (10 bucks, give or take) and she uses it all to buy food for her children. They live in a 1 room "apartment" with a shared kitchen and yet they're the happiest little family I've ever seen. She and her children sacrificed this past Sunday eating that day to pay tithing, so heartbreaking but they're family has already experienced the wonderful blessings of tithing by being offered more money at work and in finding a new apartment (actual apartment). Little miracles like that just make the mission so dang worth it.

I'll be going on my first visa trip this upcoming Monday, so that's exciting. I'll be gone from my area for the better part of the week, but I'll be seeing all my MTC buddies (we're all going on the same trip) so that's exciting. More details on that next Monday (when I actually have more information on it).

I was reminded how nice it is to not to be so connected to the world by the news when I heard some by the senior couple (the Williams) here. Some old lady talked to us about it while we were contacting on the streets too, which was odd because she knew so much about American government. That was kinda cool. Anyways, that just reminded me that the Russian elections will be next Sunday! I've been seeing ads all over the place about it, so that'll be interesting. Sounds like Putin and Medvedev will probably win, but I guess we'll see (I have no idea about the political situation here, have no particular interest in it either. Though I would like to know how the government works here in general).

Cool thing, depending on where I'll be for Christmas I'll be able to use skype to call ya'll! Video, audio and all! If I'm still in Zavodskoi or the surrounding area I'll be able to use Skype for sure on Christmas! Woo hoo! I'll be finding out more information on that probably within the next couple weeks. Be sure to prepare some questions or something, cause I don't really know what to talk about other than ask how all ya'll are doin (especially my niece and nephews!)

We'll that's what I've got this week methinks. Thank you so much for your love and support! Be good know, ya hear? :)

With much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Monday, November 21, 2011

More photos from 11-21-11

Photos from 11-21-11


Nov. 21, 2011

Picture fun times!

Well, I don't know quite what to write this week. A lot of plans (including a baptism) fell thought (argh!). So, I thought this'd be a good week to share some pictures!

Some myriad photos, such as one with my in my winter gear, free frying pan and cookie from a batch that me and Elder Fearn had made. Another of a delicious Russian creation that a member had taught me to make, so good!

The last one (or next to last, I forget) is a picture of the first note I personally wrote in a Book of Mormon for one of our investigators. I was rather proud of it, so I had my companion Elder Johnson take the picture for me.


The work is going well here. We'll be seeing if that baptism that fell through can happen soon (it's a matter of permission, and a rather long story attached with it. it's all good now. Just have to be patient and hope we get the permission soon.

Real quick, I wanted to say thank you to the my ward back at home. My parents love telling me about some of the comments you make and the encouragement you give me. Thank you so much for you love, comments and prayers. They really do mean a lot to me :)

Well, it took awhile to upload the photos, so that's probably all for now. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. It means the world to me, and it's all thanks to you! Have a good week and I'll talk to ya'll next week! :)

With love, as always


Elder Peterson

Monday, November 14, 2011


November 14, 2011
"Sorry I don't speak very good Russian" "It wasn't you I was listening to"

Hey there family and friends!

Sean has a few questions that he wanted me to answer and then I'll be telling a story, so here we go!

Q. "What's the size of the branch you serve in? Are the members enthusiastic about you as missionaries? Does anybody help you inparticular? Is there a dinner calendar you pass around?"

A. Well, that first one is a difficult question to answer. On average, about [..] (sometimes more) come to church on sunday, making it one of the biggest attending branches. In reality, we have over [...] members, which makes the percentage hurt quite a bit. Lots of inactives, so we've been trying hard to work with them. The members love the missionaries and they do love both (I've been here since I came to Russia and Elder Johnson spent his first cycle in Russia in Zavodskoi too). We have a 24 year old member (who is also the ward mission leader) named [...] who always helps us on lessons (he served in St. Petersburg), and another one is a 38 year old member named [...] who was my first real friend in Russia. I kinda laughed when I saw the dinner calendar question. Nah, there's not a dinner calendar, but whenever we have a lesson at a members place you're almost sure to have some kind of food and some delicious tea!

Q. "Tell us about the kinds of foods you've had there! ... Are you tactful about turning down a food that didn't suit your stomach?"

A. I've had some deicious borsches while I've been here, though technically they were from a Ukranian recipe, so maybe it's not authenitc Russian food heh. The tea here is so dang delicious and I've had a lot of different flavors. My favorite was probably a mint tea I had a members one time. There was an unnamed egg creation made by a member that got me to love mushrooms and some variety of fish with potatoes underneath that was suprising delicious (I've never been the biggest fish fan, but it was way good!). The russians have also gottin me to like sour cream, and it really can belong anywhere from soups to desserts! I've been as tactful as I can. Good stuff nonetheless, and no stomache problems! woo!

Q. "Have you seen any Russian holidays yet?"

A. Kind of.There was a day when almost no one was out on the streets and we found out it was because of a Russian holiday. Many people either just stay home and/or drink, so they're more quiet days. I haven't really seen any formal/celebrated Russian holidays yet. Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and Santa Claus wears blue and is thin. We're told to not go out on New Years and a couple of days after.

I'll answer the rest of the questions next week, but I wanted to tell a story before my time is up.

Yesterday was a very interesting day. We were having a lesson at a members house last night but because the family is all girls, as was our investigator except for the father, we couldn't enter the apartment when we first arrived (always need another guy, not just us and girls). The father, whose name is [..], was my first and closest Russian friend. He's always ready and helpful and has done so much for the branch and for the missionary work.

I was worried. Before we got in the house he asked us if we could give him a blessing, and we told him yes. He helped us on the lesson and smiled and laughed with the rest of us during it, which aparently he has never done before when he's been home in the past.

After the lesson, me, Elder Johnson and [...] went into a private room and prepared for the blessing. Because I've known him longer and because he's my friend, I did the sealing of the blessing. It was my first time doing a sealing and I was so scared that I'd mess up. As soon as I started though, the words flowed easier than any other time I've spoken Russian. Soon after I started he started crying. I don't remember what I said, all I know is that I did my best and the Spirit touched him during that blessing. Elder johnson mentioned afterwords that my Russian had never been better, that the grammar was perfect and that I spoke well.

After the blessing, I hugged [...] and asked him to forgive me for my Russian, and hugged me back and said that it wasn't me he was listening too, but the Spirit. He had faith that the blessing would help him because of the Priesthood and that regardless of my speaking ability I would be able to give him the blessing.

He told us more of the specifics of his problem, and we resolved a way to help him (he'll be going to the branch president, among other things), but that experience meant the world to me. This week had been rough in trying to find and teach people. A couple of our most prominent investigators fell off the face of the earth and it's been hard for me to still feel useful in the work. But last night I helped my best Russian friend regain his faith and hope that he can overcome [...]. And I did it because I was a servent of God and a representative of Jesus Chirst, not because of my Russian skills or anything like that. I had a part to play, and Heavenly Father let me be an instrument.

I am a slow learner, but I'm learning more and more that Heavenly Father really does have a purpose in everything and how it's done in missionary work. I didn't know why I was put in Zavodskoi last cycle, but I learned why. I really didn't know why I was still in Zavodskoi, especially after those investigators that I personally had found and taught last cycle had dropped off, but at least one reason I needed to still be here was to help my friend [...].

Heavenly Father really does know us individually and weaves things into place so that we can be where he needs us to be and when he needs us to be there. That's true not only on a mission, but in life as we strive to do what's right. I knew that before the mission, and I'm learning it moreso now.

I love you all so very much. Thank you for helping me and supporting me in the hard times and the good. It's so exciting and great to hear about everything back at home! Feel free to ask questions anytime, and I'll do my best to answer them like I did earlier this letter. Once again, I love you so very much. Talk to ya'll next week! :)

With love, as always
Elder Peterson

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


November 7, 2011
"That's much to plain, American. Try this one!"

Hello family and friends!

Well, it's been another great week here in Zavodskoi! Me and my new companion, Elder Johsnon, have been working hard in the area and have been doing very well. Elder Johnson is on his 5th cycle and is from Provo, Utah. He's a mircobio major and started BYU when he was 16! Needless to say, he's a rather smart fellow and is quite clean too. It's been cool to work with him. Of course, his Russian is better than mine, but I hold my own in understanding and speaking during a lesson and we split it up really well. He's such a great guy and it's truly and honor to be working with him.

we found something funny while we were doing some scripture study together as a companionship. Acts 8:14 in particular was funny to us (put -son at the end of the names i.e. John(son) and replace Samaria with Samara (mission)) Hopefully you get a kick out of it like we did! [well worth looking up!]

Mom and Dad has a qeustion about mail that I'll just go ahead and answer universally. All mail, whether it's pouch, regular or packages, ends up in Samara Russia. From there, it essentially just waits until someone going to that city/area picks it up from Samara and takes it to that area. Sometimes, as it was just a coupel of days ago, it's because our Zone Leaders had a conference in Samara and brought back home mail which was distributed at a district conference on Sunday. It's a relatively rare circumstance, especially in towns like Izhevsk (how the heck do I spell that in English?) or Orenberg. So, I can tell you, in general, when I get mail (I recently got two dearelders from Alyssa and Bethany and a pouch letter from Miranda, thank you!) but I have no idea time wise when they actually got to Samara. I will do my best though to tell you though when I get mail from you so that you do have a relative time reference. A funny thing, but when I did finally get mail this past time, the first thing that came into my mind was the "Wells Fargo Wagon" song from The Music Man. Good stuff :)

Mom, thanks for telling me about the listening talent. Just like you, it's a talent I've been working hard to develop while here in Russia. It's a little hard too for me, sometimes. Even just listening to people in English can be tiring, and I've found that listening to people in Russian is just that much more difficult. But I've been able to tell worlds of difference when I try my hardest to listen. A temptation for me is to sometimes just half listend while my mind fomulates ideas as how to best solve their problem or give them that perfect idea or scripture for the lesson. Everytime I stop listening though and focus on my own thoughts it has always turned up being a poor idea. No thing I said or did made up the difference for not listening and gaining the valuable information, trust and Spirit that I get from listening to people. I really do have a testimony that as we try our best to listen and to serve people, even if we can't do it very well (like with me in understanding people in Russian), the Lord blesses us with the ability to know what to say and do in the situation. From what I've personally seen, when I listen, and then think, no matter what I say next is strengthens the Spirit in the conversation. I don't say perfectly what I want to, but I know the Spirit is touching the hearts of those I'm working with, and my own too, when I listen. Thanks for telling me that Mom.

Thank you so much for you prayers, love and support. I read and reread all the letters I get, in e-mail and through the mail, and it always touches my ehart to know I'm remembered and cared for. I love you all, and God is watching over you. I know it because I feel it to be so everytime I ask God to watch and help you. May the love and prayers I give to you be as felt by you as they so abundantly are felt by me from all of you. Thank you, and I love you :) Until next week!

С любовью, всегда
Elder Peterson


October 31, 2011
Galloween (nope, I didn't misspell it!)
Hello family and friends!

Well, the Russians love to make any word that starts with an "H" in English over to a "G", which makes it kind of funny at times. Galloween, Garry Potter, etc. it makes sorta sense why it's like that in Russian, but it's still just super funny to me. Not sure if I could take Harry seriously if he was actually called Garry. Ah well!

It's been a good week! It's confirmed, I will be staying here in Zavodskoi for another cycle and I know my new companions name! Mom, you'll really love this, his name is Elder Johnson! I'd tell you about him, but I don't know him yet! I'll be meeting him tomorrow at the train station and then start working with him! He actually was trained here in Zavodskoi, so he knows the area as well as I do (which is good, because I'm still, as ever, not the best of navigators). Cool beans!

The work has been going really well here! I had the privelage of asking our 13 year-old investigator (whose name is [...]) is she would prepare to get herself to be bapized. And she said yes! He baptism will be on the [...] of November, with any luck, and I'm way excited to begin setting that all up for her and whatnot. In this interim period between my old companion, Elder Fearn (who will already be home by the time you read this letter. Crazy!) and my new one, Elder Johson, I've been working with Elder Stoddard, who came into Russia the same time as me. We've been having a blast working here together and it's comforting to both of us to see that our Russian is on the same level and that we can even hold our own in conversations with people on the street and in lessons with investgators. Way cool!

I had a cool experience this past week that I wanted to share with ya'll. One personal study session I read all of Ether in one go. I love Ether, and especially Ether 12, but it wasn't an extraordinary study that day, just a usual one. After personal study we always have companionship study and we start it by telling each other that which we read. As I was explaining to my companion what I had read I had an odd prompting come to my mind. I felt like I should merely look straight ahead while I explained what I read (as opposed to te side in explaining to my comapnion) and imagine like I was talking to Heavenly Father about what I was reading. It was an odd prompting, but I did it. As I was explaining to Heavenly Father (and my companion, by proxy) about Ether 12 I started to cry. Moroni is talking, inthat chapter, about how worried he is that the Gentiles would mock him for his writing. How if it were possible he would write in a different language and it would be clearer, or if he had better hands he could explain better like unto his words, but that he could not. I saw myself, in my minds, kneeling before my Heavenly Father and crying. I still feel the struggle an dthe hardness of talking to people in Russian, in struggling still in trying to explain how I feel and what I think and what I want to teach. At times I truly feel like I have no skills, save for the skill to love others, and that I must be a poor servant to my God in trying to work with the Russians. I felt comforted though as I read on and explained to Heavenly Father that it would be ok, just like it was for Moroni and I knew and felt God's love for me that day, along with the knowledge that I am supposed to be right here, doing this work right now.

Thank you so much for you love and help. Mom, I especially feel you love and prayers. The hard times are hard, and the sweet times and even sweeter because of your love and prayers. Thank you so much for writing me everyweek, both you and Dad and for reading what I write. I love you all so much, my family especially and my friends too. The Lord is here in Russia, and I'm lucky enough to be numbered among the servants in this part of the vineyard. Be good, eat your veggies, and everything will go well :)

Much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011

Another day in the Factory

Hello there family and friends!

It's been a very good week this week in the Motherland! Crazy to think, but this is my companions last week here in Russia. Transfers are happening next week and the only thing I do know is that I'll be staying here in Zavodskoi. Cool beans! Can't wait to find out who my new companion is and keep the work going in my area (At least, my area for another 6 weeks at least). Some pretty cool stuff has been happening. Out of nowhere, we've found and have been teaching some very ready people the Gospel!

Cool experiance time. Some elders in another part of Saratov met a guy who looked homeless while contacting on the streets and gave him a Book of Mormon and taught him a little bit about the Gospel. He was so excited about it and said that he'd come to Church the next day (last Sunday). He was there, as he promised, and when they found out more about his life, they were shocked. The man lives in our area (Zavodskoi), all of his family has died, he's jobless and he walked all the way across the city, on foot, to get to Church in their area. The Elder's were so shocked and touched by his dedication to get to Church, and they set up an appointment with him to come and meet with us at our church building in his area. We met with him last Tuesday and he always carries The Book of Mormon around with him. He's read a ton too (most of 1st Nephi now) and said that he wanted to be baptized. We felt impressed to give him the promise that if he would sincerely pursue this effort, read and pray everday that he would find work. This shocked him. He's been searching for months for a job and has been living off of debt and what little he can. But he was so humble and trusted us.

And guess what? He found work that very same week :)

Gosh, this work is so cool! We're also teaching 3 others too , 1 of whom very well may be baptized this weekend. So dang cool! The work has never been this progressing before here in this area for awhile and now it's really starting to pick up. So dang cool :)

Quick request Mom. Sorry I do this every week, but almost every week someone new pops into my head and I know I should write them. Many thanks Mom :)

In answer to Jennie's questions, I'm not quite sure how Chirstmas presents will work here. What may end up happening, and I think is likely to be the case (in taking suggestions from other missionaries), that I will be collecting gifts for ya'll over the next two years to give when I come back. Not my optimal choice, but pretty much the safest and best option in the end. But, I'll still go on thinking about it. Also, I wouldn't say that I've felt homesick, more of...home appreciation, I might call it. I can tear up a bit at times when my companion plays Christmas music, but it's in memory of the good times, not a sick feelings. Christmas isn't really celebrated here in Russia, which is really sad to me because I love Christmas! But such it is. I appreciate that I have loving family back in the states, and friends too. When I went to Idaho I came to the conclusion that wherever friends are there is another home. Russia is becoming another home, and I have friends here, especially good ones with the members. I can't say it enough, but I miss you all and think about you everyday. But I know this is exactly where the Lord wants me to be, and I've already learned and grown much more than I would have ever expected, and I've only truly just begun my mission.

Anyways, gotta go, lots to do! I love you all very much. Thanks for your love, prayers and support. I feel them everday, and it's a tender love that has reached out to me when times have been toughest. Thank you all so very much, and I love you lots! :)

With love
Elder Peterson

2nd quick note!
By the way, I got 2 pouch mails from you a few weeks ago! They go through just fine, though mail delivery within the mission is pretty varied. Thanks for the letters, and I loved them very much! Makes me feel really dumb for having sent back my letters that I got from the MTC...should have kept those with me. Ah well...

Anyways, now I've really got to go! Talk to ya next week! :)

October 17, 2011

Oct 17, 2011
Of Light and Palmeni (this is a filled dumpling)
Hello family and friends!

Gosh, this week has been quite the week, let me tell you. We had zone conference this week (which is when a bunch of missionaries and the mission President and his wife all come and talk all day about missionary stuff) and it was the coolest, most uplifting experience ever. I forget if I mentioned this in a letter earlier, but a couple of weeks ago I was on splits with another 1st cycler and a 2nd cycler missionary. Despite our lack of experience (in general) and language skills, we found a new investigator and shared with lots of people the Gospel. Well, this week I went on splits again, except this time it was just me and another 1st cycler out on the streets. And guess what...we found another new investigator! Just a couple of funny Americans going out, speaking terrible Russian and yet being able to find those who are ready to hear the Gospel and preach to them. So cool!

I had an interview with President Sartori during this zone conference that we had and that interview made me feel so dang good. He mentioned that I was already a great missionary and that I had done good work in the area I was in. He was impressed with how well I spoke and understood Russian and gave me some pointers on how to keep progressing well. I'm not sure if I've ever told you this, but near the beginning of my mission I was reading in Genesis about Jacob (Isreal). One of the experiences Jacob had was that he wanted to marry a girl named Rachel, but her father said that he needed to work 7 years for him before he could marry her. In Genesis it says that as Jacob worked those 7 years seemed to him to be but a few days because of the love he had for Rachel. I told him that its been my goal ever since I read that story to make my mission like that of Jacob; to love God and the people here so much that even the hardness of it all melts away and seems but a short while. I love my mission so much, including the hardness of it, I really do.

Something we talked about was also interesting too. He asked me how I recognize the Spirit in my life and how I listen to Him. It was an interesting question for me. For a long time I've thought about that subject, especially here on the mission, and have come to realize that I don't always recognize the Spirit. I told President Sartori about the time when I felt, followed and learned most from the Spirit, that time was when I was at BYU-Idaho during the Winter semester. I was taking a class from Brother Black on the second half of the New Testament, and every single class I felt the Spirit incredibly strongly. He helped me make connections to the Gospel I had never seen before and he always introduced the Spirit in such a way that I felt it strongly not only during the class, but after the class everytime I thought and made connections about what I learned. It's been a rare occasion that I've and recognized the Spirit so strongly as I did during that time, and President said it was wonderful! Afterwards, though, he said something shocking to me. He said that here on the mission I would feel and recognize the Spirit more often and more strongly than I had ever had in that class. His reason was simple, and true: the work I'm doing now is the work of God. The best way to feel and live by the Spirit is to do His work with Him, that of finding, teaching and baptizing. I was surprised at his comment, but I also happen to know it's true. How wonderful this work is.

We found, in our area, this week, which was a tender miracle. And, both times that we found, it wasn't truly us doing the finding, but rather it was them finding us. A German man named (oddly enough, most of changed his name) [...] told us he wanted to meet with us as soon as possible and learn all that we had to say, saying he felt something different about us that he needed to know. The other man, [...], ran to us as we were about to go in for the night and asked us to meet with him and his family and give them the Gospel and to give them hope and help them get over drinking and smoking. Each time we got a new investigator it was on the days and the times where we worked the hardest together, where we prayed the most dilligently and listened to the Spirit. It wasn't us that found them though, it was them that found us.

So many miracles to tell you about, but I never have much time to write these letters. Couple of things real quick. I bought my winter coat today! And I look like a true Russian when I wear it; most definitely coming back with me to Idaho when the time comes :) Very warm and good fitting. We went to some variety of Russian ballet after our zone conference, which was pretty cool! Also been a sucker for things like musicals, ballets, concerts, the likes, so it was cool to see a truly Russian one!

Anyways, better skedaddle for now. I'll probably send some picture via e-mail next week of the week after showing the apartment, my companion, the coat and whatnot. I love you all so very much. Be good now, ya hear?

С любовью
Старейшина Питерсон

Monday, October 3, 2011


October 3, 2011
"He doesn't understand what we're saying, yes?" "Nope" "...then why does he keep smiling?"

Another e-mail from the motherland! Just like clockwork. Hard to believe another Monday is here. During the day it can be kinda slow at times, but looking back on it, it's been a fast week. Weird to think I've nearly been in Russia for 3 weeks! How crazy is that? Pretty crazy.

Anywho, it's been a good week! Russian is still tough, the people still wonder why there's a couple of funny Americans on the street (which technically is incorrect, my companion is Canadian!), the food is still tasty and luckily the drunks we ran into this week were happy drunks! Alls well here, save for the fact that it's getting pretty dang cold and rainy. My companion has taught me a nice way to wash pants without having to pay the ridiculous dry cleaning fees or in messing up the pants in the wash, which is way nice!

Sean had a few questions for me that I thought I'd share and answer as a whole, so here we go!
Q. Do you have cell phones out there?
A. Yessiree bob. A nice shiny red brick! Well, not a brick really, nothing fancy but it makes calls and lets me be misunderstood by the Russian people even more (kinda hard at times to talk and listen on the phone, especially in Russian. Ah well!)

A. Are you really not allowed to eat at anyone else's home?
Q. We used to not to, but a new age has dawned ever since the current President rolled into town. We've ate many times at members place and it was quite delicious! Had liver for the first time, was interesting and some members who own a restaurant taught me a couple of Russian recipes and fed us! T'was quite tasty.

Q. How do you get around your area - by bus or car?
A. Oh gosh, only by bus or by walking. I wouldn't try driving here even if you offered me some delicious Borsh (is that the english spelling?). Drivers here can be more than slightly crazy at times, though I've never once seen an accident happen. But yeah, walking and by bus everytime.

Q. How do you like district meetings? Are they held in English or Russian?
A. Both actually, and I generally understand the Russian in them now (can translate it too!). My companion is the district leader.

Q. How many native Russian speakers are in your mission?
A. We've got apparently 5 or 6 in the mission, thought I've only met one who is a sister in our zone. We need more!

Q. What do you eat for breakfast? And the food in general?
A. Mmmm...breakfast. I generally have some cereal with nuked milk (not homogonized by nuclearized, I'll die before the milk expires, which is quite a new concept for me! -well, ok, it doesn't last that long, but the milk can last for I think about 5 months, it's quite cool-). Most everything comes not in jars or in plastic containers, but rather in square plactic packets. Kinda hard to describe, though I don't know why. Ketchup, milk, Sour Cream, yogurt, everything just comes in a packet that as opposed to a bottle or container. Hope that makes sense, if not I'll send some pictures soon so that ya'll understand.
I've made some delicious pastas and soups while we've been here, though I dearly miss my New Mexican spices and foods. No one knows what a tortilla is here. So sad! A simpel tortilla recipe would be nice as I told me companion I'd makeshift him a Mexican meal before he goes home. More on food next letter I think, making me hungry!
- How long did it take to get out to your area?
The train took about 8 hours or so, and it was an overnight train from Samara to Saratov. It was pretty cool sleeping on a train! No one offered me a toothbrush with the color of my choice though (reference, anyone?). After the train got to our stop me and my companion took a taxi over to our apartment and got situated.
And that's it for question and answer time! I've got to ship out my report to President Sartori soon, but I did have a few requests. Ya'll mentioned that you were putting together a Cristmas package, which blows my mind a bit, but I guess I have a couple of requests for Santa.

Quick discourse on the importance of faith and then I'll skedaddle, promise! I've been learning more and more the importance of faith while being here. Faith is crucial here. I can tell on the days when I feel "no one wants to hear what I've got to say. I have a funny accent and people just seem to think I'm a cultist that likes to wear pink ties", and on those days most people don't want to talk to me. That's not simply attitude, but also faith. On the days, the hours and the times that I remember that I am a missionary called of God to go to Russia and to be in this area and remember that God has prepared people here to hear the Gospel, then my countenance changes. My smile becomes brighter, my spirit hightened and I'm ready to do the work. That became really apparent to me yesterday. One person didn't want to hear our message, but he smiled and talked for a bit and gave us a couple of tasty apples. Another man we met was so glad to see us and said that he wanted to know more, so we gave him a Book of Mormon and our number. Another man was a drunk, but he was so suprised and happy to meet a real American that he gave us his number and said he wanted to meet again. Two apples, a potential investigator and a happy drunk guy, and I'm so happy about that! Everyday when I have that attitude and faith, even if our success is not great in number I feel the warmth and love of a happy Heavenly Father with the work I've done.

Anyways, gotta go for now. You're in my heart and in my prayers everyday, and I love you all so much! Be good, eat your veggies, yadda yadda!
Старейшина Питерсон [Elder Peterson]

Thursday, September 29, 2011


"Word, American"

Oh gosh! Still in Russia! Turns out this isn't a dream after all, still in the Motherland where it's beginning to turn a bit chilly! It's making all the trees turn even more beautiful with tons of colors.Fall is pretty dang sweet here in Russia. I especially like it because it makes everyone wear a lot more clothes that they would during the summer time, woo hoo! I've been able to try my hand at some true legit Russian food lately, and, I gotta tell ya, it's pretty delicious. I was writing a letter today and it made me think about how before the mission, I really hated sour cream. Thought the stuff was disgusting. But here in Russia, they've gotten me to like it! Heck, it was even on a dessert once (gonna be asking the member tonight for the recipe) and it made it taste even better than it already was! I think I might have mentioned this last week, but I've got to say it again. The juices and the yogurt here in Russia are just simply fantastic. Pretty dang tasty and legit!

A couple of days ago I got to see a baptism for an investigators the sisters in our zone found. I even got to sing at it too! It's was the coolest experience and the Spirit was so strong. It was a bit of a bummer that one of our investigators we had invited to come couldn't, but there'll be another baptism pretty soon, so maybe he'll be able to come to that one! In addition, our taxi drive, r gave us his number and we talked a bit about the Gospel on the hour drive there (and the hour back too). He's in our area so hopefully we'll be able to teach him ([...]) soon! Good times!

Language wise I'm certainly a heck of a lot better than I was last week. I've been heading our efforts in contacting on the streets and I've gotten a ton better linguistically even just from doing that. I've finally settled into a language plan that's been working for me and it consists mainly of simply talking to people and learning. And, thus far, it's gone pretty rockin! One of the church members, a 12 year old girl named [...], and I have especially been having fun in teaching each other Russia and English. She even brought a friend to church yesterday and later tonight we're going to be teaching their family with [...] family! So cool!

Contacting has been pretty fun. Something about a goofy American with a bad accent, big smile, loud voice and a book in his hand somehow gets the attention of most Russians. I've gotten pretty good at catching their attention while they're about 15-20 feet away with a cheery "hey there! how're you?" (in Russian, of course) and I almost always get the same reaction. It's vital to catch them while they're far away because the entire thought process of the individual takes a good 5-7 seconds. The first 1-2 are spent assessing my attire, goofy smile and snazzy tie while the other few seconds are spent figuring out whether or not to ignore the funny American and pretend nothing happened or to go ahead and say "hello" back. Either way, they get an invitation to church with some information on the church and a brochure if they accept the original invitation! And heck, if they hang around for a whole 30 seconds or so they'll probably get a Book of Mormon and we'll exchange information! All the time they just give me the funniest looks wondering what the heck is up with this crazy American!

Funny story real quick. An inside joke of our District at the MTC was to say "word" to each other (except in Russian) because of a random experience on a temple walk. The Russian's like to say things like "hello American!" in English and other such things, though perhaps the most unique was last night when a Russian walked up to me and say "Word up, American" in Russian. It caught me and my companion totally off guard, it was hilarious. And well, if it doesn't sound too hilarious while you read it, had to be there. Ah well!

Couple of quick things real quick and then I've got to write my letter to President Sartori. Happy Birthday Mer and Eric! Well, happy belated anyways! I thought about ya while I was at the baptism ob Saturday. Good times.

I know that this Church is true. I'm here in Russia because God wants all of His children to hear the Gospel, accept Jesus Christ as their savior, and be the happiest that they can be. For whatever reason or wisdom in Him, he asked a dorky guy from New Mexico with a loud voice to go to Russia and invite people to hear the Gospel, and everyday I'm thankful to Him for that opportunity to be here. I know God loves each and every one of us. I know that the Book of Mormon is an evidence of that love, and that everyone has the promise given to them that if they read it, and ask God in the name of Christ with faith if the Book is true, they will receive an answer of it's truthfulness by the power of the Holy Ghost, just as I have. That witness has not come to my life merely once, but has been a continual confirmation throughout my life, and especially while I've been here out on the mission. I know of God's love and seek for everyone to feel and know of it too, whether they been in the states, in Zavodskoi or wherever I may be.

May God bless you, my family and friends. I pray for you and you're continually within my heart and in my mind. Thank you so much for your love and help.

God be with you always, is my prayer. Talk to ya next week!

Elder Peterson

Monday, September 19, 2011


Sept 19, 2011
"You are in Russia now"
Oh gosh, I'm in Russia! That's just downright crazy, now isn't it?

We left Monday morning and borded a bus to get dropped off at SLC, suticases and whatnot got checked in just fine and the flight was on time. From JFK to Moscow went just fine too, save for the fact that our first plane had a wing flap problem, so 3 hours later we boarded a new plane which got us safely to Moscow.

Now landing in Moscow was where it began to get crazy. Just a ragtag group of missionaries plopped in Moscow (all of our stuff came through just fine) and not knowing quite what to do. We were able to get out of the main terminal and thankfully found a couple of older sister missionary guides to help us out. They took us by the US embassy so that we could apply for our second passports and then they whisked us back to the Moscow airport.

Before I go on, lemme just say that Russian drivers are pretty dang crazy. Blocking an intersection? No problem! Does it look like there's a space to squeeze in with a little help of the sidewalk? Go to! Bikers weave in and out all the time and driving is just crazy, I can't even describe. Thankfull, I won't be driving! All public transport and walking for this missionary, so woo!

Anyways,back to Moscow. The 9 of us going to Samara were dropped off by drivers who didn't know English and no one really gave us any instruction, so we pretty much just hoped for the best. With the help of a dictionary, we figured out which way our terminal was and got to the baggage check. The lady who did mine spoke no English, so I felt a bit like a little kid. Took a bit of time to explain I had to pieces of luggage (new word for the day there!) and such.

We all went through security just fine too, which was good, and then just waited at the airport for our plane ride to Samara. Me and my companion Elder Swartz found and talked to a couple of nice people who knew some English and helped a bit with our vocab. Afterwards we boarded the flight to Samara and arrived a little before midnight (turns out Moscow and Samara are in the same time zone, go figure!).

After some orientation and whatnot at the Mission home we found out our new companions and areas. My new companion is Elder Fearn from Canada and our area is in the town of Saratov (in the zavadskoi area) which I think is in the southern part of town, though I could be wrong. I'm his "killer" (meaning that I'm his last companion, he'll be leaving at the end of October).

Already had a couple of cool experiences while I've been here in Saratov! The first day I was here I got spit on (the guy had some pretty good aim too, lemme tell ya!). Hard to explain why, but that was actually a nice little confidence booster for me. I just smiled and my companion complimented his distance and we went on our way.

Being here has taught me that I don't know much Russian at all. Which is a bummer, but can make it funny when talking to people. I got the guts to talk to an old lady on the transport a couple of days ago and introduced myself and the church. After giving her a quick synopsis of what we believe I showed her my family (she likes you all by the way and she especially liked the picture of Brielle!). After that was all done I told here that I really liked being here in Saratov and when she asked why, my mind kinda blanked and the first thing I could think of was trees, so I told her I love the trees here (which, quite sincerely, I do. They're pretty dang awesome and they're all over the place. Nice parks too). She then pointed to a couple of girls on the transport and said "The girls too?" I thought she had misunderstood me (don't judge me too much, the word for tree and girl are kinda close!) and so I quickly said "no no no! I like the trees!" Wherein she gave me the funniest look and my companion and the people behind me began laughing. Good times! Glad she was an understanding old lady.

Gosh, it's kinda stressful being here, but everday I'm finding a lot more courage to do what's required of me. I'm getting braver about talking to people in the streets and on the transports, overcoming the fact that I most likely won't understand much of anything I say (Which can be a blessing at times, as with today when someone called us idiot Americans but I told him for about the Gospel anyways). There's such a special feeling here is Saratov and I know that there are people here that are ready to learn about the Gospel. I don't know how in the world I'll be able to fully communicate what I have within me to them, but I believe that I will. Just gotta open up my mouth and start speaking. If anyone has any particular stories or suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them (either e-mail them of dearelder them to me).

Think that's about all the time I've got right now.

Much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Friends of Brian,
If you would like to write to Brian in Russia, there are 2 ways to do it—

1. send a pouch letter yourself by carefully following these rules:

write a postcard or one-page only letter, fold it in thirds, and tape it only at the top, not on the sides, write your return address in the upper left hand corner, and Brian’s in the center, then place a regular first class or forever stamp in the upper right hand corner—use the following address for Brian. DO NOT PUT THE LETTER IN AN ENVELOPE OR IT WILL BE RETURNED TO YOU!

Elder Brian Peterson 

Russia Samara Mission 

POB 30150 
Salt Lake City UT 84130-0150

2. send a pouch letter by going to, under Select a mission choose- Russia Samara, then click on Write a letter, and type in your letter using the above pouch address for Brian, they will print it up and send it free of charge to Brian

I know he would love to get a letter from you!
Brian's mom


Brian with the Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Sartori

Love, Laughter and Sunshine,
Sister Sartori
Russia Samara Mission

Friday, September 9, 2011

09-07-11 last from MTC

September 7, 2011
Oh gosh flight plans!

Well, I've got my flight plans! And, as it turns out, I found out I get to call you before I ship out half-way across the world! Whould'a thunk it? Anyways, so my itinerary is this:

Flying Delta airlines flight #94 from SLC to JFK in New York, leaving at 8:35 AM and arriving at 3:22 PM. Next, we're leaving from JFK to Moscow (SV) on Delta Airlines flight number 30, leaving at 5:00 PM and arriving at 10:55 AM in Russia (on the next day, the 13th). Then we chill in Moscow for a good 11 hours wherein we were told we might have a guide to take us around Moscow. If not, we'll try our hand at Russian and check out the airport. We leave from Moscow (SV) to Smarak (KUF) on Aeroflot Russian Intl., leaving at 9:55 PM and arriving at 11:35 PM. I find out later today if there's any problem with my visa. Cross your fingers, I know I am!

As a curiosity, can anyone figure out the time change on that flight from New York to Moscow? We think it's only about 9 or 10 hours, but we might be totally off.

As for calling ya'll, Mom, I'll call you on your cell phone from Salt Lake Airport (with a possible subsequent time if travel plans hiccup for any reason, though I don't intend for them too).

If you think it'll be better to call from JFK or if you have any other ideas/plans, go ahead and dearelder them to me! Communication is essentially one way in that fashion, so whatever you say goes there.

Just a couple more things, then I'll go on, I promise! Does anyone remember (and can send me via dearelder) the name of whatever it is that happens when you look at sunlight and sneeze? That'd be awesome if someone could send that off to me! In addition, If I could get pictures of Bretty for my photo album, that'd be pretty sweet too :) Also, if I can be deareldered my pouch mail addresses, that'd be very useful for my final letters to friends telling them where to send their reply.

Mom and Dad, I'll be sending a box with stuff that'll not be coming with me to Russia. I don't know how small or big it is, merely that I'll be sending one. Other than that, I don't think I need anything from you but your love and prayers! :)

Well, it's been a very good week this week. We've all been pretty pumped about going to Russia and we're going to be packing today! It's pretty sweet to think that we're actually going to be doing this. Study has been really good this week and I'm excited! Our teachers are complimenting us on our preparedness and our speaking of the language, which is a nice little confidence boost, so yeah! Pretty dang awesome.

Got in-field orientation all day on Friday. None of us really know what it is and it's gotten mixed reviews, so I hope it ends up being good (it takes away gym time, so I hope it's really good!) Nothing else in particular is planned for the week other than cramming in some words and vocab and praying for the best!

My time's up, hope all is well! Be good!

Much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Brian's pouch address in Russia

Brian is flying to Russia on Monday, September 12, leaving the Salt Lake City airport at about 8:30 in the morning and will arrive in Russia at about 11 in the morning on Tuesday, September 13. The best way to send mail to him there is by using the pouch.

You can send either a letter or a post card--no envelopes!!!! (If you send it in an envelope, the letter will be returned to you in about 3 weeks). So write a one page letter and fold it in thirds. Put tape only on the top (not the sides). Write Brian's address (just below) and use a regular first-class stamp (currently 44 cents) and your return address.

Brian's pouch mail address is

Elder Brian Peterson
Russia Samara Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City UT 84130-0150

Remember--only postcards and letters that are single sheet, folded into thirds and taped at the top only (no envelopes) may be sent through the pouch. Packages cannot be sent through pouch mail.

Packages should use following address, after addressing take to the carrier of your choice:

Elder Brian Peterson
Russia Samara Mission
Vodnikov Street 95-1
Samara oblast 443099
Phone: 7 846-310-2829

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Nametags and Elder Holland!

Hey there family and friends!

It's been a good week here at the MTC! The best parts of the week having happened yesterday! For one, our district got our new nametags (With our names all Russified, very classy) which was super sweet. On that same note, I signed my visa app yesterday along with most of my district (which we take as a good sign) and we should all be getting our travel plans tomorrow (which is pretty dang sweet!). That was all good and splendid, but the best part of my day was when Elder Holland came and gave the Tuesday night devotional! It was such an amazing talk and I got a ton from it.

The language is coming along really well. As usual, I'm excited and distressed at the amount of time I've got left until I go to Russia (12 days! Woo!). We've gone over all of the "task sheets" that have been given us in our language training, so from here out we're just reviewing over them, and specifically verbs of motion (which I'm pretty good at, though no one else seems to like them). Grammar and conjugations is becoming more and more natural to me, which is very nice, and I'm becoming more accustomed to using flash cards and in applying them to the lessons.

Mom, I got your letter today! I love the Pixar forever stamps! My favorite by far, though the Mark Twain ones are a pretty close runner up.

Gosh, I don't have too much to write about. Each day is really the same as other days, just like weeks are like other weeks, but I become better and stronger each day and week that I'm here. It's hard to show that in an e-mail (especially when I can't write Russian in it), but I really have worked and grown a lot here. The MTC has been an experience that I've simply needed in my life, much less for my mission to Russia. Elder Holland spoke a lot about how there was only one thing that mattered to him more than his mission, that being his wife and his kids.

I'm not sure if I ever told you this, Mom and Dad, but really the only thing that has been a higher priority to me than going on a mission was having a family. you probably knew that, but I was reminded of that yesterday when Elder Holland was talking. More so than Russian, what I've been trying to learn here at the MTC has been love. To see others and myself in the way that God sees us. I'm told, and I've often times imagined, that the love that a parent feels for a child can (and should) be among the strongest loves anyone can ever have. And I believe it too. I know that when I have children I am going to love them with all my heart, and do everything I can do for them. And maybe a reason God wants me to go on a mission first is to help me realize and feel that love for all of His children before I have my own.

Faith, hope, charity and love. Really simple words, not too hard to spell. But among the hardest things to develop, even harder than Russian. Progress in Russian is awfully tangible and clear. You can make a mistake in Russian and be corrected. You can memorize principles, words and verbs and apply them in creating sentences, paragraphs and lessons. But even more powerful than the words themselves is the meaning and the feelings behind them. A perfectly worded lesson with pristine grammar and eloquent phrases most surely can and has existed in the mouth of missionaries preaching in Russia. Yet if that message is delivered without any true feeling, intent or knowledge than it's pretty useless.

My goal is to initially deliver the message of the Gospel with pefect feeling and knowledge to those I'm preaching too. But my next goal, not my first, is to do so with perfect grammar and words. A nice little realization I had this week.

Anyways, my time is nearly up. Good to hear about Baby Brett and everyone! Stay good, eat your veggies, and know that God is with you always, as He is with us here in the MTC.

With love, as always
Elder Brian Peterson


August 24, 2011
Oh gosh!
So, it's odd to think about, and maybe it's bad to start every letter back home like this, but I've got 2 and a half weeks left. That's just crazy! I feel like I don't know NEARLY enough Russian to go, but at the same time, I really just want to head out and do the work, know what I mean? The ebst I can do is just use what time I've got left to study and pick up what I can.

It's so awesome to hear that Baby Brett is born! Was he born on the 22nd or the 23rd (I got the dearelder yesterday, so I thought maybe yesterday, but I don't know). If it was yesterday, then I totally guessed right! In any event, woo hoo! I can't wai8t to see the pictures :)

Sorry for the moderately late e-mail today, just been one of those days. But I'm here and doing fine! Russian is chugging along, though I really am just worried about learning enough before I go out. I still hate vocab cards with a passion, but I'm doing them and they do help. Just grumpy about them I guess -shrug-. Did ya'll still do things like vocab cards out in the field, or what did your study consist of? I'd imagine it'd be different from what it was in the MTC, but to be frank, I really don't know! Any suggestions would be most appreciated :)

Stuff in my district is going well! Everything's settled down, and has been for a couple of weeks now. We're all just anxious about prepping and going to Russia. We are getting our travel plans either tomorrow or next Thursday (I'm pretty sure it'll be next Thursday), so that'll be super exciting. Though, even though we will ahve travel plans, that doesn't necessarily mean our visa is fully done. They haven't told us anything about it, and I doubt they will until the time comes, so I should stop worrying about it. Still jsut crossing my fingers!

I saw a friend of Sean's today while I was at the temple! He said he served with Sean and recognized me from pictures (which is surprising since I'm guessing in pictures I'm not usually wearing a suit or glasses), but his name I think was Chris Tellington. Said he'd give you a call, but just in case he doesn't, just thought I'd tell you he saw me! Good times!

Thank you so much for your help and support over these past few weeks especially. Ever since the new Russian Elder's have come in time has been flying by and it kinda scares me a bit. But everytime I've got a letter it's boosted me up so much and has brightened my day quite a bit. Thank you especially to all my brothers. I'm so sorry I haven't written any of you back yet, and I promise I will before I leave the MTC. I know you understand (you all have been where I am now), but still, you are owed a lot more than you are getting. Thank you especially to Neil. You wrote quite awhile back, but your letter of support and suggestions has helped me quite a bit since I've been here, and I even used your suggestions the day I got it for one of my investigators!

Thanks Mom for sending out my New Testament book! I think I should be getting it within the next day or two. I jsut really miss my notes in my book about the second half of the New Testament and it'll help em in my studying of the first 4 Gospels too. Already been finding out so much though from my scripture study! I especially have been loving the Doctrine and Covenants lately. I think it's Section 11 where it talks about the 116 pages that were lost. Always before in classes and whatnot we had read abotu how awful it was that it was lost and the poor consequences that resulted from it. But in reading the chapter personally I was so incredibly uplifted.

Take this for instance. Here at the MTC, as I've mentioned many times, I don't like flashcards, but I know that I can learn a lot from them. Yet for a week or two I ddin't really do them or add to teh stack, and so as a consequence I ddin't learn as much as I could have. I felt extremely bad in having done so afterwards in thinking about it, because there was no reason not too and the whole purpose of flashcards is not to agitate me but rather to help me learn the language. But I felt a lot of comfort after thinking for a minute or two "Oh gosh, I'll never be able to learn Russian now and I'llf all behind and be stupid". After I had been thinking that a ray of reality hit my mind and brought some peace to it. Yeah, it's a bummer that I didn't do those flash cards, and yes, I really should have. But God know's I've been working hard here. I haven't slacked, though I could have worked more effectively, but I felt that God understood that.

Despite those lost pages, God still know that everything was going to be ok. In fact, He was so wise that He inspired His servants to locate those most precious doctrine to another part of the plates where they would stay undefiled and would be able to come out, in full, in these latter-days. In that same way, God knows I ddin't do flash cards, but He has still continually helped me and provided me a way to learn Russian.

That reminds me of something. For those of you who don't know, my teachers here at the MTC are not old, hired professional Russian proffessors who are experts at the language. Nah, one of the is 21 and the other is 22, barely returned fr4omt heir missions, hardly masters of the language, and they are hired to teach us. Perhaps it's hard to understand at times, but it amazes me that God is sending out 19 and 21 year olds out into all the world to preach His gospel. They are not master linguists, in fact sometimes the ones who struggle the most with language get the hardest languages, but by the grace and mercy of God they progress and learn, and are able to go out and perform the miracle daily of inviting others to come unto Christ and to accept His atonement.

I still don't understand why God wants me to learn Russia and go to Samara. I speak a lot better English and a lot fo the things I learn daily in my personal study in the scriptures I can't even begin to form into simple sentences. But the most vital parts of the Gospel have been taught to me in Russian, and I can string together coherent converstations. Even then, I am no master. But, this I do know. I know I was called, by divine revelation, to be where I am now, and to go where I will in the future. God knows me by name, and called me by name, to serve a special people. I know that, so much more and much much more powerfully than I know Russian. And in the end, that's what counts, right?

Thank you so much for your love and your support. Mom and Dad, I especially love you. I feel your prayers daily, and it gives me strength when I feel like I ahve none (paitence too). Thank you so much Mom for you love and care, whether it come in fruitsnacks or in velcro strips or in a loving letter. I love you so very much.

Everyday I thank my God for my family and for my friends. Without you, I would not be here. God be with you always, till we meet again.

Much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Sunday, August 21, 2011


August 17, 2011
Of course it's legitimate!
Hey there!

My e-mail is a bit later than usual because I helped host new missionaries in this week, one of which was a Russian speaking one! (though he's going to Romania, not Russia). Then I hosted a new sister going to Canada Spanish speaking and a new elder going to Independance Missouri! Good times!

My host sticker kept on falling off though, but that makes a bit of sense. I picked up the host sticker from the ground a couple of weeks ago and saved it for today so that I could host the new Russian Elder's coming in! Since it's P-day, I feel not guilt in having done so! Though I did get some funny looks when I explained to people why my host sticker kept on falling off.

This week has been pretty good! 3 weeks and 5 days to go! Crazy stuff right there. Everyday I go between the thoughts of "Oh yeah, I'm ready for Russia. Bring it on!" and "Oh gosh, I'm not going to be able to do or say anything in Russia that will make!" But overall I'm still a lot more excited then nervous or scared about going to Russia. Still hoping and praying that my visa will go through fine. I won't know for another couple of weeks, but here's to hoping!

I just want to say real quick that telling time in Russian makes no sense at all. To say 11:20 the liteal translation is "20 minutes of the 12th (hour is implied)" That's ok, I guess. It's all hunky dorey that the Russians are all about looking ahead and everything, and 3:30 is just "half of the 4th" so, hey! I can accept that. But after the halfway, it's just kinda odd. 5:40 is "without 20 minutes 6th". Ack! Why not just say five fourty! The cases also do fun things with the numbers, which are still a bit hard to grasp. The hardest numbers are oddly enough 1 and 2 (and their varients). Oh well, I shall persist!

I'm getting a bit stronger here at the MTC, physically at least. The food made me gain a bit of weight here, which was a bit discouraging. Even jsut last week in going to the temple I felt like my suit was just a smidge tight, which ticked me off a bit. But today, in wearing the same suit going to the temple it was loose again. Halleluia! I've been spending gym time and what little extra time I have working out and doing such shenanigans, which has served me well (especially today in lugging around giant suitcases! Good times).

I've started to succumb and make myself do notecards. I'm doing great in the language, especially grammar wise, but I don't have too many extra nouns and verbs under my belt that what's necessary. I learn best by listening and applying the words and verbs and whatnot, and because I've paid attention closely it's helped me tons in grammar. Oh well. Any suggesting from ya'll about the best way to handle notecards (if there really is a "good" way) then I'd be much appreciative!

Couple of requests real quick. Actually, just one I guess, now that I think about it. The velcro on one of my dance flip flops is pretty pathetic, and I think they sell velcro strips (or something of the like). If I could have a few of those strips (or whatever a good equivilant is), that'd be great!

Thanks for the Russian Children's songbook by the way! The spelling on the package made me giggle quite a bit (Bryant Pterson) , but they got the right address, so alls well. And thanks Jennie for the tweezers! They're quite excellent!

A couple of weeks ago I made it a goal to start reading through all the scriptures (before that my study was most just the Book of Mormon with a touch of the Old Testament in there). It's hard, but I've elarned so much from drawing from all of the sources of scripture. I especially like the Old Testament. At times it's super hard to read, but it has so many awesome nuggets throughout it all. I especially love being able to see the progression of Moses as a prophet as you see how much he learns and what he becomes starting from the Burning bush to where I am now (atop Mount Sinai). My New Testament reading has been excellent too, I studied that this mornign and I'm through to Matthew 14 right now. I wish I understood all the parables, and it's always super nice when the apostles ask for an explanation. Got through section 5 in Doctrine and Covenants, and that's some excellent stuff right there. Looking forward to more!

Ah, one more request. Mom, in my room on my shelf by my bed I should have my JST translation of the New Testament which has a ton of my notes from my New Testament class inside along with other goodies. If you could send that my way, I'd be super happy about that!

That's all I've got for now methinks. I love you all so much and you're always in my heart and in my prayers. I know that my Heavenly Father has been blessing my family and friends so much just as He has watched me so closely and lovingly. God be with you, as I know He already is.

Much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Thursday, August 11, 2011


August 10, 2011
Of talents

Hello family!

It's been a good week, as usual. Though I kinda realized that there isn't too much variety here at the MTC. I've been slacking a bit in macking that sheet of Russian stuff that Dad requested in part because I don't learn the Russian words generall by writing them down/by using flashcards. I listen and I pick them up that way, so it's been a bit hard to make that sheet, sorry! But I'll do my best to compile something and ship it out to ya. Thanks for the verb book by the way! I got it today and it's been fun to look through.

Just as a super quick request. Mom, if you could maybe remind friends to send out pictures, that'd be nice. I've got 33 days left, and so I'm a little anxious to get 'em (I haven't gotten any yet, but I'm still hopeful!). Thank ya kindly :)

Russian's coming well! As well as could be expected for 6 weeks anyways. We'll be starting complex sentences today, which is pretty spiffy, but also pretty tough. In Russian you have to train your mind to be able to instantly recognize what case something is going to be in and what conjugation it will be (and whether or not the noun or possibly so other obsure noun in the sentence is Masculine, Feminine or Neuter) and all that jazz. But it's starting to connect, and connect very nicely too, so that's a comfort.

Food's the regular shenanigans. Companion and roommates are still great. I'm sleeping just fine and everything, so on the whole not too much to report!

Much love, as always
Elder Peterson

I really am super happy and stoked to be here and learn Russian. I've just got a few things on my mind, and you know me well enough to know that I get very serious/sober about those things that I think deeply and a lot about. So, just once again, no worries. All's good :)


August 3, 2011
I can see clearly now, the rain has come! (it's raining! woo!)

Gosh, in looking over last week's e-mail I just wanted to start out by saying sorry if I was all over the place and not terribly coherent! I was sick last week (still am a bit now, not realy as bad though) and my head was just a bit out there! And thanks for the jelly beans! They're very delicious!

Dad sent me a dearelder the other day about sending ya'll a list of words, phrases and other shenanigans we do in Russia throughout the day. I'll be doing my best to compile that weekly or so and sending it out, starting today! Prepare to be bedazzeled by what words such as "to giggle" and "church service" will be! Stay tuned!

I got made district leader this week, which has been very interesting so far. Our district is kinda odd because one of our elder's (Elder Isabell) left a couple of weeks ago because he had a slipped disc and needed back surgery (or sugeries) to fix it, so he went home. And now, just yesterday, another one of us left (Elder Roberts) because he needs surgery on his knee for a torn ACL and another such ligament that has a fancy name. Our merry compamny of 12 is now 10, so in some ways it's easier, but in a lot of ways it's been sad. Thank goodness I've got my jelly beans to keep me going! :)

Dad was wondering if we play games here at the MTC to help us remember Russian. Most unfortunately, we do not. Most of the time we learn lessons for a big 'ol blue book that sets up words and grammar structures that compose of about 36 lessons or so, with a lesson being covered every other day or so (depending on the week). Recently we went over the use of past and future perfective verbs, which was alright. I am one fo the best in grammar in our class, but to tell you the truth, the concepts of perfectives and imperfectives (especially how the Russians use it) boggles my mind quite a bit, not to mention keeping in mind the various different ways to conjugagte past, present a future (depending on the case, whether or not it's reflexive or if it's jsut an odd verb) and then you have to conjugate the nouns! All in 6 happy cases and a bajillion grammar rules. But as stressful as that sounds, it's actually not too bad. It's easy to tell that we're all struggling with the language, but it's never been a bad struggle, just a hard one. Heavenly Father has helped each of us immensely in our studies, and He's never stopped yet, not even for perceftive Russian verbs! However, any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated!

I actually ahve enough time today to talk a bit about Sunday's here at the MTC! Sunday's are essentially jsut filled with meetings (Priesthood, Sacrament, and the Fireside) and the rest of it is essentialy jsut personal study. The food situation is the saddest on those days. Breakfast is always cereal, and just cereal, and the lines are insane! Thank goodness the prize is always a bowl or two of blueberry muffin tops! Lunch and Dinner and actual meals, but the lines are just as crazy. Ah well, life's still good! Choir is my favorite part of the Sundays and we meet together around 4:45 or so and learn a new song to sing for the following Tuesday's devotional. I've been going the past couple of weeks and it's been a blast! Both times I've sung during devo I've been told that I got a closeup, so props to me I guess!

I know this e-mail ghoes out to my buddies too, so I just wanted to give a little thing here. To everyone who has sent me mail: thank you so much! It's always a huge day lifter to open the mailbox for any missionary and see a letter (or letters!). The amount of support and love which I've gotten from all of you is astounding, and I'm incredibly apprecaitive for it! On the same token, the incredible amount ofsupport has made it hard for me to reach all of you back in mail. My apologies go out especially to the Packs, who have now written me multiple times but have not got a response yet. I know it's hard, but my time to write is super limited. I will reach all of you as quickly as I can, but I just want to let you know just how greatful and happy I am that you have sent me mail. If you're not too discouraged, please, keep sending me mail! I love to hear about how all of you are doing and I will do everything I can to respond. My friends, if you could please send me pictures of you, I still want them very much. It'll be much easier to send them to me now then it will be in just a few short weeks when I go to Russia. Thank you so much once again for your love and support :)

Mom, I've been reading up on the Old Testament lately, and it's been great! For the first time in my life I made it all the way through Genesis and I'm plowing my way through Exodus now. Everytime when I read and talk to other missionaries abotu what I've read I remember the things that you told me about when studying for your insititute class, and it's helped me bunches! Thank you so much for telling me about what you were studying and what you learned, it's helped me and will continue to help me bunches while I study and prepare for Russia!

Crazy to think that, after tomorrow, I will be on the downhill side of my time here at the MTC. 5 and a half weeks tomorrow until I leave for Russia, and 5 and a half weeks tomnorrow is the amount of time I've been in here. I'm incredibly excited and super nervous to go to Russia. Everyday I still hope and pray that my visa will get through, my main worry still being that I'm from Los Alamos. Regardless, I think things will work out alright. No telling for another few weeks though!

Looks like that wraps it up for now! Thank you so much everyone for you hope and prayers! :)

Elder Peterson

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The one month mark!

Hello there family and friends!

I'm not sure which ones of you will realize this, but it hit me today that nearly exactly a year ago I started college at BYU-I. I remember entering the campus, looking around the small town and wondering if I would actually like the place at all. I was still thinking in my head that it might be a lame college and that I'd be bored to tears. Yet, from the moment I started to go to classes on campus and meet the people there, I knew that it was exactly where I needed to be, and it there have been rarer times in my life where I've been happier than I was there at BYU-I.

It's been nearly a full month now since I've been at the MTC, a bonified 4 weeks in. And my mind is reflecting on what I thought this experience would be like and what it actually is. Just like with BYU-I, I was unsure of how good the MTC would actually be. Who would want to stay in Provo for 3 months when you could be in Russia, teaching and working and serving the people there. But I have been humbled in coming here, yet it has not been a humbling of pain, but rather a humbling of joy.

No, the food isn't any better here, and it's been crazy hot since I've been here, and that heat becomes excessively apparent when I and some other missionaries wore suit jackets to go to the temple today. If I wanted to, I could find and point out and complain about things at the MTC, but the truth is, this place is more incredible than those of you who have not gone on missions could truly imagine.

Recently I was looking as to what our purpose as missionaries is. For those of you who don't know, and as a reminder for those who have forgotten, our purpose of missionaries of Jesus Christ is to invite people to come unto Christ via helping people to elarn faith in Christ, to repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. How suprised I was when I felt prompted to look up the duties of an Aaronic Priesthood holder and found that that purpose has actually been my calling since I was ordained a deacon at age 12. It was quite humbling to realize that this has always been my job, to preach the Gospel and to help people come to know about Christ and develop faith in Him. It just so happens that now I am specifically called to do this duty in Russia and to do it all the time, dedicating 2 years of my life to my Heavenly Father to do this work.

This MTC in Provo has taught me a great many things. I've learned, in a way I have never felt before, that I am a talented and loved son of God. That because of who I am, and because of the specific talents (and weaknesses) I have, I have been called by a prophet of God to go to a specific place, so that I may teach and be taught, that I may help others grow, and in so doing, grow myself.

The language is still tough, but I'm getting a handle on it I think. It's been a bit hard because the past couple days I've felt a bit under the weather, but that has not stopped me in the least from progressing in the language. Grammar is starting to make sense and daily my vocabulary is expanding and growing to meet the needs of those my and my companion have and will be teaching in the future. Daily during class and while preparing to teach it is easy to get discouraged, in thinking that I don't know enough or that I don't have a good enough grasp on the language to make any sort of good impression on anyone. But always as I've prayed and as I've medititated, I have found peace and comfort, and to this day I and my companion have still been able to introduce the Spirit and teach our message to our investigators in a way that is understandable.

Every week I wonder and think about what will be best to write in these letters home. What lessons I should talk about or what feelings and impressions I should share. Understand that throughout the week I learn inumerable lesons, and the thoughts and impressions that reach my heart are just as numerous. I will never have enough time to tell them to you, but I hope you won't mind me sharing a bit of what I have learned.

God is our loving Heavenly Father. I cannot stress how much I know that simple phrase is true. God loves us so much. He created a Plan and a means whereby we could have joy. That plan's main focal point is Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sins. How wonderful it is that we have a loving father who sent His son so that all of His children could return to Him and be happy! How incredible it is that Jesus Christ was so willing to accomplish the Atonement, that even amidst the most burdensome of trials He did not waver, but did as our Heavenly Father asked.

I know that God has a plan for each of us. We are all born and live in a world in which God understand perfectly all that happens to us. He knows us, our thoughts, our hearts,our intentions. He knows of our trials, our sufferings, and also of our happiness and joys. He is so good and kind enough that He would not force us to do anything, but that through our own choice and volition, we would have the opportunity to do that which was right. He has not abandoned us, nor never has He, but throughout all generations of time He has helped and guided man, has always allowed humanity to chose for itself yet with loving care, has always provided direction and guidance to His children.

I know that this Gospel is true. I know that my God lives, as does Jesus Christ. We are God's children, and because of His love, the Atonement has been made real and actual, and through the means of faith, repentence, baptism and enduring to the end, we may be full partakers of this Atonement.

Thank you for your love and prayers. Know that you are all in my thoughts and in my heart, along with my prayers.

Much love, as always
Elder Brian Peterson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


July 20, 2011

Not gonna lie, at home I never really appreciated breakfast. Sure, the occasional biscuits and gravy at BYU-I were delicious, but far from necessary, but one of the things the MTC has made me need and appreciate is a good breakfast. So, that's why after waking up this morning I was very surprised and pleased to find that the cafeteria people here actually do have compassion sometimes. I had a very hearty and healthy breakfast of two bananas, a huge pumpkin chocolate chip pancake, a (albeit weak sauce) breakfast burritto and a bowl of fruit. A very excellent way to start the morning, if I do say so myself!

My companion has been sick with strep this week, so during a lot of the personal study times we've had he's been sleeping and trying to get better. Hence why, in part, I've been really good about letter writing this week! I just want to say once again how much I appreciate all of your letters and support! Whether by regular mail or dearelder, it always brings a warm smile to my face and often some tears to hear from family and friends. Thank you so very much again :)

This week has been such a wonderful week. We've continued to teach our 2 investigators and we've made good progress in the lessons. We've been trying to read with our investigators fromt he Book of Mormobn in Russian, which has had very mixed results, but overall a good experience (the investigators get to teach us how to correctly pronounce words, and we get to teach them the Gospel. Success!). In addition I came up with and idea that I'm rather proud of for TRC (where you teach members that speak Russian a lesson or two from the Gospel and you get recorded and all that jazz). Me and my companion were trying to figure out what to teach when I was flipping through my newly bought Russian hymnbook and came across "Did you Think to Pray?" A thought entered my mind that I should use that to introduce the lesson, and so we did. It surprised both of our members that we had asked to sing, but it brought such a strong Spirit into the room when we did it. In addition, when we were teaching an investigator about Christ's ministry on the Earth, we sang "I Believe in Christ" in Russian. Though he didn't know the song, he tried to sing along and by the end such a feeling of peace and happiness were with us, and though we stumbled over our words, he knew the message we were teaching and the the Spirit bore testimony to his heart.

That's all that really matters in the end, you know? We still stuggle and stumble all over our words in teaching in Russian, but our message and our true intent in bringing this Gospel to them is able to surpass all barriers, even a language barrier, and allow for the Spirit to come in and work on their hearts. I know these are just fake investigators, but there is a blessing here at the MTC that allows it so that a true and real experience of teaching and helping the Holy Ghost come into a lesson that helps teach not only the investigators but ourselves too.

How wonderful it is to have this Gospel. Everytime I read the Book of Mormon during my personal study I discover and feel something new. I was writing up a testimony to my friend Jeanette about the Plan of Salvation and a lot of connections started popping up in my mind. How precious the blessing of choice is to us, and how God has chosen to make it a full gift, one that He will never violate or take away. How incredible it is to be able to come to this Earth wtih a body modeled after the very God that created all things. It makes sense why, in coming to this Earth and in having a body, why it is so important for us to take care of it, to think hard and be responisble for the many choices we make. It's why baptism is such an essential thing for all of us. Christ showed us by himself being baptized, that in all things we should follow Him. Baptism makes it possible for Christ's infinite Atonement to work on us, something that became vital and crucial the minute we came here to Earth and gained bodies. How wonderful it will be to, after we die, once again be reunited with our bodies, and have them made whole and perfected again, having a body and soul cleansed of sin and made bright and glorious, even like that of Heaven;t Father.

Of all things I've learned in my years of existance, it is that God knows us indiviudally and that He loves us. He loves us so much that he gave us, His literal children, the opportunity to come and gain a body like Him. To have joy and be happy! To have the same joy that he does in having a family and teaching them and wanting the best for them. How great the mercy of out God to show us the way, to allow us to enter into everlasting covenants with Him that will allow us to come back to Him.

I know the Book of Mormon and the Bible are true. I know the Jospeh Smith is a prophet of God and that today we still have a prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who leads and guides us with love as did the prophets of old. God is still a God of miracles, and He loves us, and as a result of that love, Jesus Christ came to this Earth and lived, died, and lived again, that we may gain immortality and Eternal Life.

God be with you, my family and friends, until we meet again.