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