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, 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