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

Thursday, December 20, 2012


December 17, 2012
"Kind of a sketchy train, isn't it?" *Knock Knock* "Excuse me...forgot my vodka" "...Yeah, pretty sketch"
Hey there family and friends!

Well, like I mentioned last week, I was got into Samara last Monday for Elder Treter's first visa trip! it was a pretty hackneyed operation and as such we took my first ever day train from Orenburg to Samara. When thing are ordered last minute (because of weird changes in schedule, issues etc...) we either end up getting, essentially, first class or the dirt cheap compartments. Well, going to Samara was pretty dang great since we had first class! It was just pretty boring: 8 hours or so just chilling on a train. It was pretyt obnoxious though because when we got to the compartment there was a plate with all sorts of tea, coffee and a single packet of hot cocoa on it. Well, seeing as how there was no sign and it was first class, we said to ourselves "selves! Let's share that hot cocoa packet!" and, with great joy, we did. Come to find out at the end of the ride something rather distressing. The conductor knocked on the door and asked "Um...hey, did you take anything from the tray?" "Well, yeah. A hot cocoa packet" "Oh, ok...That'll cost 300 Rubles! (about 10 dollars)" Of all the trickery! I didn't approve of that at all.

But I'd much rather pay the 300 rubles for the hot cocoa then ride on the last train we were on. The visa trip got messed up hard core because all the flights to Kiev got cancled on the day of the visa trip, so we were all grounded in Samara for an extra day. It was a pretty dang good day of work though, got lots of work done and helped out some other elders, so that was nice. Everything worked out in the end for the visa trippers, which was good, but they bought our tickets to Orenburg last minute too and this time we got the dirt cheap compartment. Suffice it to say, I got the best and the worst of trains in the same week. Still was way fun though since we were all together!

Speaking of being together, a first in the mission of Elder Peterson: a 3rd cycle with the same companion! Me and Elder Treter are gonna keep up the work here in Orenburg North for another 7 weeks! We've been working out recently a better way to do the work and I'm glad that we get to stay together for another long while to figure out how it'll work out.

I've got more info on calling home. We got permission to do it on the 24th, which will be better all the way around I think. That puts us at evening time my time. Elder Treter is gonna skype his family at 6:30 and so I'll be skyping you at about 7:15 or so, if that's alright with you! we'll be arranging all the little details this week, but we'll probably do it at the senior couples house so you'll get to meet them! If there's any kind of problem with that, let me know (and maybe be on at about the time I sent you the first e-mail today so we can do some real-time working out of the problem), because it can work on Christmas day too my time, just a little trickier to work out.

More about Orenburg! It finally snowed yesterday! It wasn't a lot lot, but sliding on ice and snow is a lot better then walking on half frozen dirt! They're predicting that more snow will come before New Years, so we're all hoping for it! One of our investigators is making some great progress in the Gospel, but unfortunately he missed Church this past week. We'll be having a couple of lessons with him this week though and so that's really good. He wants to teach me the language "Bashski" (I'm not sure what that is in English, guess I'll ask!).

Also, we had some pretty cool experiences in the past couple of days. One of the more popular methods of contacting now that it's getting below -20 is to go knocking in big apartment complexes. It's always a tricky thing to get into the complexes at times, since not everyone wants to open the main front door to a couple of Americans. So, one of the common methods is to just go into a door that's being opened by someone else. As we were looking for a place to knock we did so and, to my suprise, we were stopped but a 70 year old grandma door guard telling us that she knew we didn't live here. Well, we explained to her who we were and why we wanted to get in the door and she was just tickled pink to talk to us. We had a great conversation with her, prayed, gave her a Book of Mormon and set up a time to come back on another day and visit her and her friend!

A second fun little experience is that we were knocking down an apartment complex and had gotten down a few floors and just weren't having any luck. We prayed to know whether or not we should keep on going in that complex or move to a different one. We had a feeling to stay and keep knocking there. We kept going, with no success for another 20 minutes or so (and we only had 30 in all before we had to go to a meeting) when finally we knocked and found a man, who has a family, took a Liahona and asked us to come back next week. We left the building, went to our meeting and then prayed to know what to do. Elder Treter felt like we needed to go back to the building we were knocking at earlier. When we go to the main door, no one was leaving the complext and thus no one opened it like the first time we went there to knock. I prepared to go through the tedious process of trying to get in when, his neighbor, the man I called, let us in an wanted a Liahona too! We gave him and his wife a Liahona and a Book of Mormon and we have a return appointment on Wednesday.

Those are just little stories I guess, but in both instances I had, at least for a little bit, a doubt that we realyl did need to be there or that people would open up to us. But they did! Way cool! It's great to see that as me and Elder Treter have become more exact in what we ask and more prayerful in our word that the Lord's been opening the way for me and more to happen.

Anyways, it's time to go. Thanks for the letters and support! I haven't got the package yet, but I imagine it'll come soon. If there's anything you'd like me to do for ya'll or any questions, I'm open for it! Thanks so much :)

I love you!
--Elder Peterson

Monday, December 10, 2012


December 10, 2012
Spoiler alert!
Hey there family :)

[The first portion of Brian’s letter was personal stuff for family]

Also! Transfers are coming up soon. I'm hoping I stay in Orenburg, but we'll see what the Lord has in mind for this good Elder! Regardless, we've recieved word from the higher-ups that we should plan on our call being right on Christmas day.
Phew! I think that takes care of all the not particularly missionary related business and whatnot! On to to the letter! We've been really pushing and praying that we can have another person enter the waters of baptism before the end of this year in Orenburg and it looks like it's gonna happen. We were on exchanges this week when me and Elder Elwood met with a 17 (almost 18) year old teenager. The kid's got some brains, let me tell ya. He is fluent in 7 languages, including English, Russian and Polish and can read/translate about in about 25 different ones. Woah snap! Languages come to him quicker that I do to some delicious home-made buttermilk pancakes. He's deeply religious and wants to be baptized into the Church. Cool, right? We set a baptismal date for the 29th and, in the process of the meeting, found out that he lives in our area so we'll take the main responsibility of teaching and preparing him for baptism! We're still working really close our other investiagtors and have some high hopes they'll be able to make some great progress in the upcoming weeks!

In addition to all that cool stuff, our recent baptism is going to be receiving the Priesthood soon (msot likely this upcoming Sunday). He passed the interview just fine and is making some fine and dandy progress in helping his family come closer together through the gospel (they started doing some family scritpure study and we taught them about family prayer. So cool!). Another family is doing just great too and another member’s house is getting warmer and warmer each day what with the new insulation! Unforunately their car broke down, so they weren't able to make it to Church this Sunday, so we're all praying and hoping that they'll be able to fix it soon and be able to make it to Church again! 

I read this really cool talk this past week that I'll ahve to share with you all at some point. I forgot to bring it with me (else I'd share the title with you). If you google the phrase "harvesting with the Lord" there's a chance you'll find it. Either way, I'll share it with ya'll next week I think, time's nearly up. Thanks a bunch for your support, love and prayers. Also, thanks a bunch for getting stuff set up for me at college Mom. You really are the best! I love you lots and I hope you have a great week.

Я всех вас очен люблю! Удачи!
Старейшина Питерсон

Monday, December 3, 2012


December 3, 2012 "What's your name in English?" "El-der Pete-r-son!" "Donatello?" "Uh...sure! Ninja turtle!" Hey there everyone :) Gosh, we've been having the weirdest weather lately. This week on Tuesday or something in snowed a good bit (I don't have a ruler, so I don't knwo the height, a few inches though) and then, soon after the heavy snow, the weather warmed up a ton and for the past two days we've had mostly fog and some rain, oddly enough. So, the snows almost all melted and temperature wise it feels like Fall. Silly Orenburg, you're doing it wrong! I still have my hopes up for a nice, white Christmas and some ice sliding on sidewalk, but we'll see how it works out. Quick correction to last weeks letter too... it's not "Молодци" but rather "Молодцы". It's a small thing, I know, and most of you didn't notice it, but it bugged me most of the week (I figured it out right after I logged out, oh no!). Elder Peterson will work this next week on his spelling. Anyways, this was a really cool week. Every month our mission has something called "zone training" where for a few hours the zone gets together (i.e. a bunch of missionaries) and receives training from our fearless leaders! However, since Orenburg is a good night train away from the rest of the zone, our zone leaders came down this past week and gave some terrific training on how to do the work better and shared a really cool talk on desire. It was a wonderful answer to a lot of prayers lately and reminded me of some of the funny weaknesses I've got and that I'm working on. For example, for the past couple of weeks there have been times in talking to people where, quite frankly, I just had no idea what to say. Which is weird. I'm Elder Peterson! I've always got something to say about anything, especially when it's gospel related and it's what I've been doing for the past year and a half. But in the past couple of weeks, there were times where I just had nothing to say and whenever I tried to really express something it took 5 times the effort it should have and the Russian behind it just didn't really work well at all. It was really a discomforting feeling, and I'd been trying to figure out the answer to it. The answer began to come after service at a member’s home this past week (we've been doing insulation on their home). I asked Elder Treter to give the spiritual thought. He struggled a bit, and didn't know some of the words (which is pretty natural since he was relating Mormon's letter to Pahoran to answers to prayers) and so I'd fill in the blanks whenever he didn't have the sufficient vocab. Everytime when I'd try to explain more than he implied to put my own thoughts into the conversation, it came out awkward, whilst Elder Treter, slowly but clearly explained his spiritual thought. After the lesson, a member said to me "Man, he speaks better than you Peterson!". Not the greatest thing to hear, seeing as how I've been here longer, but it got me thinking and me and Elder Treter talked about it for a long time one day. Missionaries work in companionships for a lot of reasons, but one of the most crucial roles of a companionship , in my opinion, is there ability to work together in teaching people. One teaches, the other testifies then teaches which then the other can testify to and continue the lesson. A simple pattern, but it works like a charm. When I first started to train Elder Treter, most of the conversation was taken up by me, because I understood the language and the investigator. Elder Treter would always testify, and the lessons would go well, no lack of words at all. But lately we'd found that I'd speak most of the time, and not give as many chances to Elder Treter as he needed and as the Spirit prompted. In short, Elder Treter is growing up now! And our role is to work together, with both of us teaching and both of us testifying, working together in unity to help people accept the Gospel. As we began to implement that we saw quickly just how much the work improved and how much more got done. Pretty cool. I'm so grateful that God trusts us to do the work and helps up to learn His will and then be ready to fulfill it. It's always a nice reminder too that all the language development I've made has been thanks to God and that I really still do rely on Him to help me do this work in the Russian language. Real quick request for you, Mom and Dad. Do you remember the woman from Ulyanovsk who e-mailed you a couple of times? If you get the chance, can you tell her hi and thanks? Lately we've been applying, as a mission, an idea that she insitgated back in Ulyanovsk, that of handing out old Liahonas to people to help them learn about the Gospel. It's been helping us a ton in knocking, wherein if people get a free nice looking magazine they're a lot friendlier are more likely to let us come back than if we just go with a little brochure of the fully Book of Mormon. She taught me and Elder Lewis how to do it when we served there and it's helped our work out a lot. So if you could tell her that, that'd be great. Ask her too to say hi to the branch for me. Thanks a bunch :) Can I also say how much I love Christmas music? Mom and Dad sent me a cd last year filled with sweet Christmas music. I especially love to listen to the guitar songs. Reminds me a lot of you Dad. Way to go, by the way, on playing in Church! Well, it's time to go now. Thanks so much :) I hope you have a great week! With love -- Elder Peterson

Thursday, November 29, 2012


November 26, 2012 "So, how do Americans express thankfulness on the day of thanks?" "By eating all the food on the face of the land!" *munch munch* Hey there ya'll! :) Oh my gosh, Eric is engaged! You know what's even better? He's getting married when I can go to the wedding!!!! Isn't that wild? Man, I would have bet a good number of rubles that I wouldn't have been able to be at that wedding. Молодци вы! You're the best! This has been a pretty good week out here in Orenburg! The best was most definitely celebrating Thanksgiving (a day late, but I mean, who doesn't want to have a thanksgiving feast as opposed to black friday? I'm all for the feast!) And my golly gosh, the mom where we ate made a TON of food! They had never heard of nor celebrated Thanksgiving, but the idea of having a sweet potluck and giving thanks for it was especially intriguing to the mom, so needless to say it was a scrumptious feast (is that how you spell the word? Hope so!). We brought a a mexican dip (made with some delicious taco seasoning straight from NM- thanks Mom!) and some hand made Elder Peterson tortillas. It was way fun, and way tasty :) I guess I haven't talked much about the senior missionaries yet. They're so dang cool! Do ya'll remember when I served in Saratov in a place falled Dachney? They are from that branch, and we actually knew each other before either one of us got here! If you remember the story with when the branch president got karate-chopped by our crazy investigator, she was actually the one that got the calling that day when the crazy guy got confused. Good times! There serving here in Orenburg for 2 years and are doing a super good job of doing it. Before they came here the branch had about 15 members that came weekly, and now there's an average of more than 40. They've been helping us out especially a ton because ever since we came here our washing machine hasn't worked and so they've done our laundry for us. Also they've shown us the best place to buy delicious sausage and other tasty Russian wares. It's pretty cool having a Russian senior couple! For the past few weeks we've also been working on getting a home insulated before the real winter hits. It's been a pretty crazy project, seeing as how the home doesn't yet have any sort of roof (hopefully that'll change soon) and until last week it wasn't fully insulated on the outside. Yikes! The family had been working of it paycheck to paycheck but didn't have enough to get at least the insulation and roof done before winter, so the branch has been helping out with that and we've been able to help put it up. The main lady doing the work is a sister from the branch, and she's just the best. She's been teaching me some Russian childrens songs, which somehow I'm gonna have to write down or record for the future. Christmas is coming up. Isn't that wild? It really doesn't feel like that long ago when I was with Elder Rounds and we were skyping in Dachney or when me and Elder Lewis were skping in Ulyanovsk. Crazy! Transfers are the week before Christmas, so whether or not I'm here is uncertain, but as with the other times I'd say that Skype is almost 100% gonna work out. If you have any preference on the day or time, give a holler (Orenburg is I think a lot easier to work out time wise, By the way! I can get pictures as you e-mail them, I just can't really send them off from these computers. Good question! Alright, well, time's winding down. You best be bundling up now! Out here it's been getting below 0C during the morning and evening times, so I decided this past week to switch from my fall coat to my winter coat. Good stuff! Ya'll have a great week now! I love you lots :) С любовью -- Elder Peterson

Monday, November 19, 2012


November 19, 2012 "Computer no work! Only one!" Elder Treter - "Nah, I got this" Hey there everyone! It snowed this week! Three days in a row too! Though it's not nearly as epic as it really sounds. There's still snow on the ground and whatnot, but it's not a whole lot, so now [no] worries. It's jsut enough though that there's ice on the sidewalks and roads, which brought back a ton of fun memories of slipping and sliding around in the winter time down the streets of Saratov. It's a little difficult to descibe the feelings I had doing that again, since that means the second winter of my mission has started. Woah snap! That's pretty crazy! The locals have informed me that winters here should be about what they were like in Saratov, though -40 does happen here perhaps a bit more frequently than there. But that won't be for another month or two I think (most likely Febuary, that's when it was coldest last winter), so we'll see what Orenburg has in store this year! Mom asked a bit about my companion, so I can expound a bit more about him. He's from Greendale Wisconsin and is the youngest of 3. He actually home taught Sean's mission president, which is cool. His dad is a lawyer and his mom is a professional viola player and as for Elder Treter, he doesn't know exactly what he wants to become yet but he thinks becoming some variety of physicist would be good, and he most certainly has the brains for it. He knows the scriptures way well and we have fun talking about random stuff from the old testament especailly. I have a feeling that I may gain some weight this cycle since we discovered that making fried chicken and potatoes, although a bit of an expensive dish, is very much so possible and tasty here in Russia. Fun times! Last Thanksgiving we were able to come up from Zavodskoy to the Williams apartment and have a tasty feast! This year we found out that we'll be having a combined district meeting/thanksgiving dinner fun times at the senior couple here in Orenburg! They'll be supplying the main dishes whilst we'll be providing any kind of small dish. They have never had mexican food, so I'm thinking of sacrificing my last package of taco seasoning for the festivities! Methinks it'll be a good Thanksgiving :) President Sartori has been hinting that we're all going to be staying in the areas we're in for a long time, which would be cool since I love it up here in Orenburg! We've especially lately been doing a lot of less active work with the senior couple, which is yielding some great results. I think I mentioned it earlier, but before they came 3 months ago there was all of about 11 people coming to church each Sunday, and then after they came and began their work we've gotten to an average of about 40 coming each Sunday, which is a huge miracle. It's been cool to see how the Lord's been working with each one of the memebers, both active and less active, to help them become strong and have their own spiritual experiences. A pretty humbling experience happened this past week with this one family this past week. The whole family is supported by their mother, who works as a night janitor and the local school. When she applied for the job they said that they could pay her only by having her apply for a certain bank card and then having the money placed directly onto the account. That's all good, but the problem is that it takes 2-3 months for them to create and give her (the mom) the card. It's already been two months now and she hasn't received the card, and this past week her family was in serious financial debt. The only thing she had to feed her family one night was Russian pancakes called bline with no kind of add on or anything (essentially, just flower and water). Well, the senior couple found out about the situation and them, along with the branch president, were able to work everything out and get her some money and food. The mom never doubted that the Lord would provide for her and her family, and the whole little village where she's in is astounded as to how she seems to make it month by month with so little money and means. We had a little meeting with them and she bore testimony of the Lord's love and care for her and her little family. One of my favorite verses from the scriptures is when Christ talks about the lilies of the field, and the birds of the sky, and how God provides for them, though for only a little while do they live. Something I'm still learning is really realizing just how much Heavenly Father loves us, more than those lilies that He created and provides for. Well, times up now, gotta go. Eric mentioned today (which makes Mom, Dad, Sean and Eric now!) that someday I need to explain what all my subject lines means. Almost all of them are just taken from funny experiences I've had during the past week, most of which I remember. If you get the time, could you make a list of my subject lines that I can print out? I can keep a record of what each of them is from and the experiece tied to it (may be a good way for me to write more in my journal too. I've been terrible about keeping a good journal on my mission). I can see that potentially taking a lot more time than it's worth though, and I think honestly I remember most if not all of them and we can have some laughs over them when I come back. Anyways, time really is up now and I'm gonna log off. Thanks a bunch for everything! Have a great week now and Happy Thanksgiving! With love -- Elder Peterson

Monday, November 12, 2012


November 11-12-12 "Stop all the fighting! Look, I think I know what we need...a little bit of MAMBO!" -cue the music- "NO!" "Aww..." Hey there family and friends! Well, I spent a lot of time trying to get the camera to work with the computer and, what do ya know, it didn't really work, so it'll be a bit shorter of an e-mail this week. Cool news! Our investigator got baptized on Saturday! Yay! That makes a whoppin two baptisms in one cycle, not to mention it's Elder Treter's first cyle. Pretty cool, huh? When I've got more time I'll upload the pictures onto the computer and send them off. Something that could be useful too (though it may be a bit late to ask for) would be a straight up SD card USB drive (just a usb drive with a slot for the SD care). Though, honestly, how often do I really send pictures back home, so it's not too important. You may just have to have patience and wait a bit to see some cool baptism pictures :) Either way, I'll work it out. As for the questions, I'm doing just fine on contacts (every other cycle I just end up wearing glasses the whole time, so it works out pretty well, I should have a least a few more by the time I get back home). MP3 is just fine for the music, I don't recommend a flash player. Thanks a bunch! :) We got to see West Side Russian! In Russia! Woah snap! It wasn't actually the most well done production, but I liked it a lot anyways (I'm always a sucker for musicals). I felt a bit awkward when they sang the song "Everythings better in America", but hey! America doesn't have bag jam or quite as tasty mayo, so the Sharks were a bit off there at least. Also, the enws came around that Obama won the election. I totally forgot that elections and whatnot were happening, but it certainly made contacting interesting: "hey there!" "Hey! Did you know that Obama won the election?" "Oh. Uh, nope. But you know what I do know? The gospel!" Ok, so we never did quite have a conversation that went down exactly that way, but a couple were pretty close. That's always a funny thing to explain to Russians. Whenever things like elections or hurricanes or the weather come up in conversation, almost undoubtedly I don't know much of anything, which also undoubtedly brings up the questions why we don't know such big news things, which preceeds and explanation by us discussing why we don't watch the news (or any TV/internet for that matter) while wer're here in Russia. It actually makes especially up the weather a great conversation starters especially in talking to people on buses. Want to know what the weather will be tomorrow but have no access to the newspaper or internet? Never fear! Ask the Russian with an ipad next to you on the bus! Always a good conversation starter :) Speaking of weather, it's been hitting the below freezing mark lately here at night times in Orenburg. When we headed out to Church yesterday morning the cars were covered with a dusting of snow and the ground was super moist. Rumor has it that this week there'll be the first real snow, which fits pretty well with how it worked out last year, so that's cool! I'll keep you in touch as to what happens in that respect. I liked how you mentioned the new teaching curriculum they've got for the youth. When Dad mentioned about how they're teaching the youth and not lessons, that reminded me of the little "Preach My Gospel '2'" for missionaries wherein one of the sections is called "Teach people, not lessons". I'll have to check it out after the mission, but from what you said it sounds like they're taking the basic teaching principles of Preach My Gospel and applying it to all the teachers. Cool stuff! Gosh, this is such a short letter, sorry about that. More next week then. Oh, and by the way, me and Elder Treter will be here for another cycle, so that's cool! :) I love you all a whole bunch! I say it a lot, I think, but I really do thank you for your prayers, letters and support in general. My family's pretty much the best :) Alright, I'm gonna go now. Thanks so much! Have a great week! Love -- Elder Peterson

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


November 5, 2012 "So, how do you like the pool?" "It's nice!" "Cool! Hop on in! You're gonna get baptized!"get baptized!" Hey there everyone! YEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! Woo! Guess what? N totally got baptized!!! I forgot my cord today, so pictures will be next week it looks like, but I've got pictures, so no worries. I got to baptize her on Saturday and it was about the most cool ever. I've never seen her more smiley before and her mom and sister were super pumped about the baptism. I think one of the coolest things about the baptism was the closing song we had for it "Families Can be Together Forever". N's family had been less active for awhile before the senior couple came into town, and their family was so surprised and happy when the senior couple came by and wanted to help them become active again. It was a hard process, and that story will have to come on another day, but the family (Mom, daughter, 16 years old, son, 15 years old, N 9 years old and son, 7 years old) is doing way awesome now and has been so blessed. Like I was saying, we were singing the song and the words mentioned how if we learn the gospel and are worthy starting from our childhood years than we'll go to the temple and be sealed for time and all eternity. that hit me like a train when I realized that that whole family was still young, that they were becoming active (the brother passed the sacrament on Sunday) and preparing, right now, for the greatest blessings the Lord has in store. And me and Elder Treter and the senior missionaries got to play a part (and still play a part) in helping all of that come to pass. That's pretty cool. Another cool thing was the testimony meeting. Of everyone there I think her sister was most excited about her baptism. She said "You know, just seeing you getting baptized makes me want to get baptized again too! You've got an eternal friend now, sister, and he always will help you." She right now is studying to become a chef and she told us how before she begins to prepare and cook a meal she always says a prayer and asks for God's help to guide her hands and help her learn well. She said that everytime she does that she sees God's help and knows that He loves her. It's pretty cool to see the faith of the Russians here. I've seen that a ton on my mission, how people so simply and earnestly ask for help and love from God and find it as they go forward with faith. it's really easy to think "this thing is so simple, I don't need to ask for help, what's it really matter to Him anyways?" But her testimony helped me remember something really simple but true: what matters to us, no matter how big or small it may be, it is important also to God. He's so eager to help us in what we do in life, and He's always ready to guide us so long as we just ask! Pretty cool, huh? Anyways, enough about that for now. We have another baptism planned for Saturday so more news on that this next week. We had exchanges this past week too, which was fun and I got the chance to go across the Europe/ Asia border, so now I've not only been in America and Europe, but now Asia! Spiffy! Sean asked if we eat out much or if we eat any Italian/Chinese food. Well, we don't eat out much at all unless it's Zone Conference (and then it's either KFC or McD's, tasty!). Italian resturants are around, that I do know, but my guess is that they're pretty expensive, and I'm not sure that I've ever seen a Chinese food place. Then again, I make soem variety of pasta or pizza nearly every week, so we have some genuine Elder Peterson Italian food! Good stuff :) Looking like time is up. I'm always on the hunt for some nice music to listen too, so if you've got some good uplifting music I'm always up for it. I'm gotten a craving for cello music lately and always I love celtic music, so if you can find some of that or anything else cool for that matter, I'm always up for it. Also Russia has a lack of good mechanical pencils, and mine from the MTC have both broken, so that'd be nice too. Also, from Mom, I wanted to know if you had any particular kind/color/material of shawl you wanted me to look for. I've got good taste (I hope! :D) so no worries, burt if you've got some specific requests I'd love to hear 'em. Well, that's it for now. Thanks so much for everything! I love you lots :) With love -- Elder Peterson

Monday, October 29, 2012


October 29, 2012 "You are to speak English too?" "Why yes, I am to speak English too!" Hey there everyone! :) Hey, guess what? There's a baptism this Saturday! The nine year old is getting baptized on Saturday, and it's pretty dang cool. Her family has been coming back out of inactivity and thanks to a little lesson about Lehi's dream and some bananas, she understood more about baptism and is up for being baptized on Saturday! Pretty cool, huh? I think the most fun times I've had on my mission have been the times when I've taught little kids. For example, I like to draw pictures during lessons to show gospel points, and there's the usual one you can do for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in using a ladder for each of the 5 points. I taught that yesterday during Gospel Principles class, but it's so much more fun to do it with kids since they get to draw themselves and you go step by step. I don't think I described that well, but drawing pictures with kids and talking about Christ is a lot more fun then drawing pictures and teaching adults. Ah well, they're both good in the end anyways. This past week has been an interesting one for sure. When I was back in Saratov there was a young woman who got baptized by went less active awhile ago and just overall rejected religion. Eversince I came here we've been trying to meet with her, but it's never really worked out since meeting with the missionaries got dropped to the bottom of her todo list. Well, this past Monday I got a call from her saying "Hey Elder Peterson, guess what?" "What?" "I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true!" Woah snap, right?! Cool! Turns out she was walking around one day and saw a book shop and just had a feeling to go in and check it out. Having gone inand checked it out, she found a book called "Disscussions with God" and had a feeling to buy it. she didn't know why in the world she should buy it because she didn't really believe in God anymore anyways, but she did and began to read it and felt the Spirit as she did. Come to find out that the book was written by a member of the Church, she felt once more that the Church was true and remembered the many things that God had done for her in her life. Yay forre-conversion! I like little cool experiences like that. A lot of focus is missionary work goes into the fact that you need to feel the Spirit and you need to get revelation and help from God to really be able to do the work right. Big questions arise really in thinking "well, just how much is God going to guide me and how much of it is left for me to just do? Is God going to tell me to turn to the left and this cross section, or will he left me choose for myself? Does it matter?" This past week especially has been cool for me because I put a lot of focus in trying to recognize the Spirit and using it to direct me in the work. In the end, I don't really have all the answers. There've been times when I've really felt that I've needed to turn left as opposed to right on the street, and times when I know that God wants me to use my good judgement to know where to turn. But the thing you can always rely on when it comes to God, is knowing that he will solidify your faith in Christ and knowledge of His Gospel. That's the wonderful thing about reading scriptures, praying, going to Church and just doing good things in general: you feel the Spirit. You feel good, you feel light inside, and you feel like you have a clearer mind than before. It's nice. Anyways, just thought I'd share that. Sean asked me to talk about weird Russian stuff and what I do during P-days, which made me realize a couple of things: first, weird Russian things aren't weird to me anymore and second, I have pretty boring P-days. Something I talked about a lot at the begginning of my mission was how everything is in bag. Bag milk, bag jam, bag mayo, bag ketchup, bag caramel. It's all bagged, not cartoned. Bag jam is super delicious by the way. Russia has things like jam and juice down to a beautiful science. Not only is there Raspberry jam, but there's apple cinnamon jam and ginger orange jam and red/black currant jam. Same thing with the juices. Want peach juice? Be my guest! Want pineapple strawberry deliciousness in liquid form? Go to! I love the food here, except for holodets of course (quick reminder, that's russian meat jello. Gross!). As for my P-days, I remembered just how dirt tired I was my first two cycles this past week as Elder Treter began passing out sleeping on every single bus ride. He's pretty tired, and I guess I am too, but the whole tiredness thing stopped mattering quite a few months ago :D. So, on P-days when we're not buying coats and new boots (I bought some new boots, by the way, the american ones didn't quite cut it for a few reasons) and buying delcious bag jam, Elder Treter and I either make brownies or cookies and take a hour or 2 long nap. We'll be having a culture night soon though, which is a lot cooler than P-days, and we'll be watching -get this- West Side Russian! In Russia! Cool, huh? More news as that comes up. Dang, this was a long e-mail today. I'll let it end for now then, gotta go soon. Thanks a bunch for the e-mails and the news on all the family! Mary is going on a mission, huh? I totally called that (with the exception, of course, that she didn't get married or somethin). That's great to hear about Uncle Brian too! Lots of cool stuff going on :) Anyways, thanks again for everything you do, especially my super cool family! You're the best, and I love you lots. Have a great week now, alright? :) With love, always -- Elder Peterson

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


October 22, 2012 Alright, so on which passport do you want the new visa?" " *poker face* huh?" "Come on, I know you have 2 passports" "Oh." Hey there everybody! Gosh, you know I've been telling Elder Treter for the past 3 weeks that we'd be having a normal day of missionary work. Well...that still hasn't really happened, but amazingly enought we've still been having some incredible stuff going on here in Orenburg! The investigator who wants his family to be together forever is making really awesome progress in the gospel. He came with his two twin sons to Church all by himself and stayed for all 3 hours, which is way cool since we weren't even on third hour (we taught Aaronic Priesthood instead, way cool kid there) and he took a Gospel principles book and loves it. We're gonna start meeting with him every Monday and Wednesday is the hope, so we'll see how all of that goes down! He's a pretty solid guy and investigator of the Church, so I can't wait to be meeting with him tonight and teaching him about the plan of Salvation! Another person we're working with is doing really well too! She met the missionaries 5 years ago and has been flitting in and out of investigating the Church. She's been having rough times lately and had some spiritual questions so she herself called the missionaries (one of which was Elder Johnson, my second trainer if you remember!) and has been meeting with them ever since! We had a really cool lesson on Lehi's dream and relating it to baptism and eternal life and she's been praying about a baptismal date of the 17th of November. Because she's investigated the Church for so long I think she's got a really good knowledge of the Church, but is lacking a bit in testimony, so that'll be cool making that a focus for our upcoming meetings! Also, for the past couple of weeks we've been trying pretty hard to get this one family out to Church. They're way cool and love the church but are hurting a bit financially making it hard to get to Church. Me and the mother talked on the phone a couple of times before this past Sunday and she's just the best mom for her 4 kids! Super energetic and she loves the Church and she was able to make it this past Sunday! Her little 9 year old daughter is also one of the cutest little Russian kids I know and we're gonna be working with her to prepare her for baptism (the rest of the fam are members). Pretty cool, right? Elder Treter is doing pretty dang awesome too, I've got to say. I'm still super impressed with his knowledge of the language and his ability to express himself. We had a meeting with a potential investigator and she asked him how the Church and the Book of Mormon had affected his life. He proceeded to explain how ever since he was 13 he noticed the difference between people who kept the commandments and those who didn't and the quality of their lives. He explained what he did to come to know the Book of Mormon was true (he has a testimony a lot like me, no real defined moment when we found out it was true, it just was a knowledge that's ben there since childhood) amd testified of the Church. I'm so glad that I get to be Elder Treter's trainer, he really is the best. As corny as it probably sounds, I've learned a lot more from him than I think he has from me. This past week I was on a visa trip, which is why I'm so surprised as to how much good happened considering that we were effectively only in Orenburg for 3 days or so, one of which got eaten up by weekl planning. We unfortunately didn't get to go to the temple in Kiev this time around, but it was a great opportunity to get to know the missionaries in the Samara zone and to catch up with some good friends (like Elder Stoddard in Penza!). I think it's funny, now that I look back, how I used to be a bit shy of talking to people on airplanes back in America. I'd almost always do it, and always have an awesome experience doing so, but I still just remember being so shy of doing it. Now I just get on planes and talk to anybody and have a blast doing it! Glad I've picked up at least that skill since being in Russia and having visa trips! Well, time's about up here, thank you so much for being so awesome! A bit belated, sorry, but happy birthday Neil and Brando! You're the best! That's way cool that Lexi and Lily got blessed too. I can't wait to meet them! Ya'll have a great one now, alright? I love you lots :) С любовью, -- Elder Peterson

Monday, October 15, 2012


October 15, 2012
"Wait...Santa Claus lives is...Finland?!"
Hey there everyone! :)

It's been a crazy week, and a slightly crazier morning as we were in
the police station talking to the police about my move from Marks to
here. Just me and the bars, folks! Heh...just kidding, they didn't
toss me in prison, but we did spend two hours there getting stuff
worked out so that legally I can be here in Orenburg. Good times! It
was pretty fun because the guy who interviewed me, spent a lot
more time just asking about the Church and what we taught rather than
the legalities of our service here. In the end he thought our Church
was spiffy and we invited him to come on Sunday!

Dang, conference sure was awesome, wasn't it? I think my favorite talk
was Elder Holland's on Sunday morning. That whole session was just
incredible but Elder Holland's talk just blew me away. This is the
first time on my mission that I've been able to legitimately watch all
of conference in English and really enjoy it. What's better is that
all of that is thanks to Elder Treter! The computer for years had been
missing a sound driver and a legitimate connection to the internet and
he fixed it super fast so we didn't have to watch conference in

Lots of other cool stuff happened this week too. We bought a new
winter coat, hat and gloves for Elder Treter at the bazaar and it was
a bit of nostalgia to the time when I bought my first coat, only this
time it was me and a member, bargaining for my companion's
coat as opposed to me buying one! Fun times were had.

Oooh, we also had a really awesome meeting with an investigator on
Monday. He has got 3 kids and wife and his main
interest in the Church is that we believe that families can be
together forever and that the way to that is temple sealing. He want
to get his family through the temple, so he's ready to hear our
lessons. And, to add to the coolness of it all, he was found by my MTC
teacher, Brother Milligan! Cool, right? He got lost for awhile in
moving and lost contact but now it's re-established and we have a
tentative baptismal date for the 3rd of November set. We'll see how it
all goes down :)

We also had a mini zone conference this past weekend, and it was
incredible. It's really hard to explain how awesome it was and it's
impact because that takes a lot of explaining the logistics of the
mission and how we've been working, but suffice it to say that I like
our new system of finding, teaching and baptizing people. It's a cool
little principle to really check the revelation that's given to other
people. The system works for conference, like on the announcement that
people can go on missions at ages 18 and 19 now. Sure it's a cool
thing, but you can really get a confirmation that that is the correct
direction for the Church to go, and the same thing works on a mission
and personal level too. I hope that makes sense. We can always check
with God to see if something is correct and get an answer from Him.

Time is about up, and now I know what a shawl is (thanks Mom!) and
I'll get to work on finding one! By the way, Mom if you could tell
my friend that I got her package and absolutely loved it, that'd be great.
She's the best :) I'll be writing her a letter today methinks, so she
can expect something a good letter in a few weeks or so. Thanks Mom!
You're the best :)

Oh, one more side note, Orenburg is 2 hours off of Moscow, so it it's
7:00 in Moscow it's 9:00 in Orenburg (not a fun time change to work
through on trains!)

Alright, for real now, gotta go. Thanks so much, and I love you lots!
Be good now!

With love
Elder Peterson

Monday, October 8, 2012


"Have you ever eaten corn flakes with a fork?" "No...why?" "You're about too!"
Hey there everybody!

Gosh, it's pretty wild being way out here in Orenburg. We live about a
30 minute drive away from the center of the city and are right by a
McDonalds. Actually, as it turns out, both the McDonalds in the city
are within our area so...we're well provided for!

My new companion is Elder Treter from Greendale Wisconsin. And, as it
turns out, he was President Barrett's home teacher for awhile. Go
figure, huh? He's a super smart cookie and pretty much rocks at
Russian, at lesst as much as you can rock coming straight out from the
MTC. For example, you remember the apartment situation I had in
Dachney where there wasn't a frying pan and the washing machine didn't
work out and there were just issues all over the place? This is almost
the exact situation, except with two crucial changes, I can speak
Russian now and we have a frying pan. Anyways, the tube under the sink
broke after the first use and in looking up the word tube (to be fair,
I don't use the work tube all that often) Elder Treter told me
straight up, without looking, what it was. I'm rather impressed with
his word bank and how quickly he's picking up words. Pretty dang cool!

It's fun to see how the Lord prepared me a little less than a year ago
for the problems that came this first week in opening a new area with
an apartment missing lots of things. We had no materials this week
either, other than a box of Book of Mormons, which is good enough, but
I remember just being super stressed out my third cycle in getting all
that stuff worked out rather than just rolling with it this time
around. I'm thankful that God has given me some experience and an
awesome companion to work with.

Orenburg is super pretty by the way. I'm bummed that all the trees
have already turned color and most of the elaves have fallen since I
think it would have been just as pretty as Marks had I come a week or
two earlier. The people here (at least the couple hundred we've run
into) are pretty dang nice, including a man who we met on the
trainride over here to Orenburg. He came to church too, and liked it!

Like Mom and Dad mentioned, Orenburg is indeed famous for it's shawls.
I'll look into those. What exactly is a shawl anyways? Guess I'll find

At Church this past Sunday we had 41 people, which is pretty dang
cool. Apparently 3 months ago there were about 15 active members there
in the branch (sound familiar?) but when a new senior couple came they
did some crazy awesome less active work along with the set of
missionaries baptizing 2 new members getting us to the point where
we're at now. I'll have to figure out what they did exactly and see if
we can apply it to other cities, because that'd be great to in a 3
month period do that much work in any branch. We'll keep it on the
uprise now that we're here in Orenburg north!

There were a few kinks I had to work out with the internet, so I'm
going to end here before anything else happens. Have a great week now,
ya hear? Thanks so much for everything. That's way exciting to hear
about the new age requirements for missionaries. It'll be really odd
to start seeing 18 year olds here in Russia. I bet that'll flood the
office with mission papers now since they just opened it up to so
many. Cool to hear! I see conference I think this weekend, so I'll
comment on it all next week too!

I love you lots. Thanks again for everything. Be good now, ya hear? :)

With love
Elder Peterson

Thursday, October 4, 2012


October 1, 2012
I'm a daddy!
Hey there everyone! :)

Well, this'll be one of the few subject lines that I'll really explain I think. We were all anticipating transfers this past week and they generally call us on say Thursday or Friday so that we have time to pack, buy tickets etc... but for whatever reason this cycle the Assistants decided that they'd call at about 9:30 on Saturday night. I got a transfer, and it's pretty crazy. I'm gonna be training a brand new missionary and opening up a new area in the city of Orenburg. Woah snap! I didn't anticipate that one at all and didn't really have too much time to think about it since I had to pack that night and early the next morning to hop on a bus right after Church to get to the bus station in Saratov. I'm here in Samara right now and I'll be picking up my new trainee on Wednesday and hoping [hopping] on a train that night to Orenburg (that'll be a fun, both of us alone with all our luggage and other stuff like a fax machine...ack!). Gosh, this is pretty crazy, but I'm way excited to be training and going to Orenburg of all places. It's the east most city in our mission, has a 2 hour time change from everyone else and has a border with the continent of Asia (the famous saying throughout the mission is that you can go to Asia and back in one day from Orenburg). You'll have to check it out, it sounds like a blast :)

Sunday was a pretty sad day though. There's a member in Marks who loves to feed us and she cries everytime that missionaries go. Usually, like I mentioned earlier, they call on a Thursday or Friday so there's time to warn our dear member that someone is going. I was really touched on Sunday by the members in Marks. Because of how the schedule worked out I had to learn [leave] in the middle of 3rd hour, which was combined since it's the fifth sunday of the month, to make my bus to Saratov. When I got up to say goodbye and kinda just rip the bandaid really quick, all the members stood up to shake my hand before I left. It was pretty emotional, because they started getting teary eyed and that made me teary eyed...gosh. I really hope that after my mission I can visit Russia again and travel to Marks. Marks always reminded me of White Rock since it's such a small town and everyone seems to know each other. I'm really gonna miss Marks, and it'll be good to see my friends from there again, whenever that may be :)

I had a quick question for my family about the Book of Mormon. I've been going through the Isaiah chapters in 2nd Nephi and reading it along with the KJV and the footnotes there and it's make it about a hundred times more understandable, which is way cool. I remember a question I had back at the MTC was as to why the Book of Mormon is called the stick of Ephraim because Lehi and his family are from Manassah, but then I was reading today about how the 10 tribes of Isreal were all called under the name of Ephraim (I guess because the kings were always called from that tribe), so is that why the Book of Mormon is called the Stick of Ephraim? Or I guess the other way it's said is that it's the Stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim, which makes sense too since Jospeh Smith was from Ephraim. Anyways, am I right, or is there another right answer? Thanks :)

That's pretty odd to hear about all them younger kiddos going off on their missions like Charles and Alan. Who all has mission calls now from that age group and where to? Anyone going to Russia? :D

Anyways, that's about it for this week. Next week I'll give you all the details on my new companion and the area. Thanks for your thoughts, letters and prayers. You're the best :)

С любовью, раз и навсегда
Elder Peterson

P.S. Happy October!

Monday, September 24, 2012


September 24, 2012
"Son, you're saying may name wrong. Roll your 'r's!" "Lady, I can't! I don't know how!" "Oh...oh well! Funny americans!"
Hey there everyone :)

Well, what with fall coming and all Marks has been super beautiful. I think I've said that for the past 3 weeks or so, but it's really been pretty. Gotta start taking more pictures. What's also pretty dang awesome is that the stars have begun to be visable while we've been walking, starting at about 8:00 or so. In using that topic to begin talking to people I found out that the Big and little dipper and called, in Russian, the Big and little she-bears. Huh. I think it looks more like a spoon than a she-bear, but hey, I'm no Greek, so I can't argue really. 

We're having a kind of follow up Zone conference this Saturday, so that'll be cool to get some addition training there! It'll be a bit funny because by that time (or maybe at that time, I really don't know) people are going to be finding out about transfers. I, personally, hope that I get to stay in Marks. These past couple of weeks I've really be able to come a lot closer to the members as we've been helping them do missionary work. It's fun to see how that's really been true of every area of my mission where I've been at. No matter how different the areas and the people may be, there's always something to love and to miss once your gone.

We had a pretty darn cool miracle this week happen too. A lesson fell through with an investigator leaving a pretty empty day time schedcule for us, so we decided that we'd visit a less active that we hadn't been able to reach for a while. I think I mentioned her a couple few months ago. She found us one day on the street and said that she'd been looking for the Church building for 10 years or so. She's been going through a lot of troubles lately, having to move from her apartment to a little dorm room kind of thing without much help from friends of family and, a couple of weeks ago out of nowhere her phone stopped working. We went out to her apartment and knocked on the door, finding out that she didn't live there anymore, and that the person who had moved into her place didn't know where she moved. I was pretty depressed about that, because I thought we'd never be able to find her again if her phone didn't work and if she'd moved with no one to tell us where. Well, there was a mom playing with her little kid in the yard of the apartment complex and I thought "well, what the heck, might as well ask her and see if she knows where our investigator is." And sure enough! She knew! As it turned out she had moved down just a couple of entrances over and was living well and comfortably. We visited her, got her new cell phone number and have a lesson with her on Tuesday. Pretty darn cool.

It's been interesting, too, working with members of the Church in getting missionary work done. In trying to figure out how to help members, I had a cool thought come up during district meeting when we were talking about faith and how to cultivate it. So often when it comes to missionary work I think a lot of us say "Of course missionary work is going to happen. God is all powerful, the church is true and God's promised that it's going to get done." All of that is true, and it's always awesome to read Moses 1:39 and think "Man, that really is God's work." I know it happens with me though, and maybe with others too, that we think of the work progressing forward as a given but the possibility of the work going forward through you as being an impossibility, or at least something unlikely. How the heck could God work through me? I'm weak, I don't do this right, I've got this weakness, there's better people out there that'll do it right. I love reading Moses 1:39 with a different perspective though, wherein instead of God saying that His work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, he says that His work and His glory is to bring to pass your immortality and eternal life. In this same way, just as seeing things life the atonement as not being applicable merely to everyone in general, but specifically to us personally, we grow greatly in our relationship with Heavenly Father and begin to see our personal potential in doing His work, even though maybe in the moment we can't see how we can do it. I've thought about that a lot on my mission, especially lately, how the fact that we feel unqualified is a natural thing, but the fact is we are qualified to do everything God has asked because Jesus Christ has made it all possible. Nothing is too hard for God, and our lives can come to reflect that truth as we go forward with faith.

Anyways, I've gotta jet now. I hope you all have a wonderful week. You're the best, and I love you lots :)

With love, as always
Elder Peterson