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

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.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 13, 2011

Hello there family and friends!

Gosh, what a startle it was to have 7 e-mails in my inbox unread as opposed to last week! It's such a pleasure to hear from you all, whether by e-mail, dear elder or regular mail (or in Eric's case, by cookies and a note! Thank you bro! They were tasty!)

Well, this week we continued teaching our investigator, and the lessons were going well. We were still talking in what we call "caveman Russian" but we were sophisticated cavemen Russians! So that's what counts, right? On our last lesson with him on Monday we introduced Baptism, but he looked at us funny and said that his Grandmother had already baptised him into another Church, which made us both nervous and excited to prepare for our next lesson on proper Priesthood Authority and why baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was different from what he had, but alas, it was not to be! The next day Our investigator walked into our classroom with Brother Dean (our teacher) and discussed his experience and evaluated us, telling me and Elder Swartz specifically that we had felt genuine and loving, and he had called us his friends (which gave me the warm fuzzies indeed). He then revealed that he was going to be our second teacher and that he would co-teach with Brother Dean throughout our next 10 weeks here! His name is Brother Milligan and he just barely returned from Samara 2 months ago, so he has been invaluable as a resource in finding out more about my particular mission.

I'm a bit sad, I was sneaky and figured out that on there is a place to have a study journal on your account and I wrote out my testimony in Russian (quite the ordeal, to tell the truth. Still getting used to the Russian keyboard!) but for some reason when I'm logged into my e-mail (at least on this computer) I can't access Sad days, but I'll keep practicing so that I can write it out in the time given me in the future.

Today we will be starting to teach two new investigators, so it's exciting to learn to work with new people and personalities in Russian and to start flexing and using the language with as much understanding as I can. Russian is pretty hard, though the grammar isn't as bad as the vocab in my opinion. Sentence structure and the endings/conjucations of verbs, nouns, adjcetives etc... is very structured and logical, but the vocab is completely new. Repition and odd associations and methods to remember the words is seemingly the only way I can pull off getting the vocab down, but I'll get it.

By the way, I need to either get Brother Novak's address or have you give me a big thanks to him once again for what he taught me before I left. I can sing as fast as I can in English in Russian and I'mg etting much better at reading, all thanks to him. And his pink card that he gave me is much better than the card provided for us here at the MTC, so he gets double kudos on that part.

Mom, you asked some questions, so I'll answer them here! Thank you for sending the MMR stuff to the MTC. As for my card, I don't know offhand if I have it or not, I forgot to check my drawer fully as to where it would be if I had it here, so I'll send you letter/e-mail about that soon. MY departure date is flexible, and the MTC doesn't care if it's 0913 or 0912, though on the address they gave me here at the MTC it did say 0912, so -shrug- who knows? In addition, go ahead and share my e-mail with my friends via facebook, though tell them that dearelder is in nearly every way better seeing as how I will only be writing to family via e-mail (and for the next 10 weeks I only have 30 mins to read/write everything, ack!) Also remind them to always include their address so that I can write back. Yep, I got my jeans and flip flops, which have been abundantly appreciated thus far, thank you!

Time is winding down, and I need to go. Thankyou so much for your love and support everyone. Your prayers are felt and your love extends and breaks beyond all barriers of time and distance, I hope you know that. God is with us here at the MTC, and in His name we serve. Because of that, I know you are safe and well, and I know all will be well. Thank goodness for Christ and His everlasting Atonement and for the blessing of the Holy Ghost which bears witness of all truth in hope, love and happiness.

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

Elder Peterson

Monday, July 11, 2011

First email from the MTC

July 6, 2011

Hello there! Well, it's been a pretty good week at the MTC, though it's been pretty intense to say the least. I arrived at about 1:30 on Wednesday and was shuttled around, getting my nametag, picture taken and a quick orientation given of the campus. I live on the top floor of a building at the southwest corner of campus on the top floor (which is slightly unfortunate, the AC there isn't the best and the water fountain is rarely cold) with my companion Elder Swartz and two other Elder's by the names of Elder Rounds and Elder Michellis (which, unlike living on the top floor, is very fortunate!). We have a really good and strong district and an especially good Branch and Branch Presidency.

When I came to the MTC I thought about half of the day would be spent working on the Russian language and the other half being taught how to Preach the Gospel. I was a bit confused then when I looked at my schedule to find that about 6 hours everyday was designated as merely "Class time", the first few hours of it being on that first day, We unpacked as a district and then headed off to class. There's 12 of us in the class (and the 12 of us comprise the district) and we found, to our shock, that our teacher Brother Dean spoke only Russian to us. I was a lucky to have a bit of Russian under my belt from the lessons I got before I came to the MTC, so it was a bit easier for for me talk to Brother Dean than it was for some others, but we all struggled.

As it turns out, those two classes I thought would be seperate (that of being taught Russian and being taught how to Preach the Gospel) were now combined. We are actually the first group of Missionaries to have this program here at the MTC and it's called the Pilot program. Classes are in full out Russian everday, so a lot of the learning is by working hard at assosiating the topic with what the teacher is saying and praying you pieced it together correctly. Thankfully the teacher is able to put up the Russian words on the board and define them in English, but that's really only for a few of the words that he says.

So, here we are, struggling to learn Russian and making fairly good progress at it when we find out from Brother Dean that the very next day (Thursday) we would begin teaching our first investigator, who's name is Ilia (I'll try to type out the Russian name to ya'll later once I can understand the Russian keyboard). Ilia (who is actually what we like to call a fake/real investigator) met the missionaries while going to an English class the missionaries were teaching and then got interested in the Gospel, and we are the missionaries to teach him.

It's quite humbling really, to work for 4 hours a day on a Russian lesson and then to go and try to teach someone and find that, in all reality, you can't really say too much and you can understand even less. Me and Elder Swartz, on the first day of teaching Ilia, tried incredibly hard to plan out exactly what we would say, asking him what his interests were, how many people were in his family, what he was taking at the University, and then in giving him a short lesson on families. We found, to our astonishment, that we didn't have nearly enough time to spout that all out, understand it all, figure out what to say next and cover everything in the 15 minutes we had with him. The day after was the same ordeal, though despite the fact that we tried to plan a bit less, things still felt like they bombed.

I'm always astounded at the promptings the Spirit can give when we are fervently praying and struggling to figure out what to do. My companion, for our third lesson, was still trying to pound out vocabulary and sentence structure to figure out exactly what to say and how to say it when I felt like I just needed to stop and be still for a bit. The half hour or so we had to plan the lesson for Ilia was spent by me sitting and meditating and then looking over Preach my Gosp[el and a few verses in the Bible and Book of Mormon in English to figure out what might be useful in our lesson.

The lesson on this third day was covering prayer and Joseph Smith's account of his prayer in the Sacred Grove. Although it wasn't planned to be as such, I principally taught the lesson today. I didn't know how to say much, but I was incredibly surprised as to how much I was able to explain and say in Russian to get across the point of our lesson. We taught how important prayer was (though we forgot to explain how we felt and knew when prayers were answered) and were able to explain the first vision (using a picture to explain that it wasn't merely angels that came to visit Jospeh Smith, but rather God and Jesus Christ). He received the message well and promised to pray about our message and to begin reading the Book of Mormon. Incredible! We were able to do and explain all of that, and not even a week of Russian under our belts.

The food here sure can get to you the first few days. Your system really has to adjust to the, uh...quality of the food and the exact, perhaps vague, components it's made of. It's made me appreciate Mom's cooking jsut that much more, and salad's have never been more appealing to me in my life. Thank goodness for the creamery chocolate milk though and a surprisingly delicious breakfast cereal called Blueberry Muffin tops (which has become a particular favorite of Elder Michellis).

It's such a blessing to be here. I haven't felt the Spirit this strongly and consistently since BYU-I and EFY those few years ago. What a great thing it is to have the Spirit as a third companion and to be blessed with comfort, love and inspiriation when at times it feels like your drained, stupid and tired.

I do have a couple of requests, if that's ok. Mom, I just wanted to make sure that you got the note out witht he Mission address and the remidner that you can use Dear Elder. It's always such a wonderful feeling to get mail, and I know that the letters I got from you and Sean have already warmed my heart, brought tears to my eyes and inspired me to do better. In addition, I've found that jeans are a useful thing to have here, along with flip flops. Mom, if you could ship me a piar of my jeans and my flip flops that say "DANCE!" on them and over-night ship them, I would be greatly obliged. Any snacks or treats that you so deem to send, either by mail of by would also be greatly appreciated, both in my heart and my stomach! :D

My time's just about up, so I should go now. Have they found Brother Cannon? I've prayed for him and his family everyday.

You are all in my hearts, and I can feel your prayers and love, truly I can. God be with you :)

Elder Peterson