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, 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]