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, January 30, 2012

Pouch mail correction

The address to use for pouch mail is--

Elder Brian Peterson
Russia Samara Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City UT 84130-0150

Update on ways to send mail

Dear family and friends,

I believe I have been wrong about some issues regarding sending mail to Brian over in Russia that I would like to clear up--I asked the mission office some questions and also the post office. For ALL of these options you will be sending the mail to the mission office in Samara and they get it delivered to the missionary. Apparently all options work well in getting through. =-)

Choice 1: You can continue to use the Dear Elder site (to ) to send pouch letters to Brian. On the home page, under "Select mission" you choose Russia, Samara and then "write a letter". Type up whatever you'd like to say along with Brian's name and the mission office address which I'll share in a moment. I guess they print it up and send it one page at a time so it's an okay pouch format. This option is FREE

Choice 2: You can send letters in a regular envelope and even include a photo or 2 (if you wish) and put on international postage of $1.05 (for 1 oz), $1.85 for 2 oz, $2.65 for 3 oz. and $3.45 for 3.5 oz. (probably want to be careful about getting the envelope fat and not able to be scanned by machine)
I suppose this means you can send cards as well =-)

Choice 3: If you send a Flat-rate envelope, the cost is around $15, but like with the flat-rat boxes, you can fit a lot inside the envelope (if it fits it ships!) for your money! =-)

Choice 4: pouch letters (NO ENVELOPES) one page letter, no enclosures, fold it in thirds, tape it closed, address it, and put on a first class (or forever) stamp

So please feel free to send letters and cards--I apologize for not understanding that this was an acceptable (and not very pricey) way to send Brian mail. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me and if I don't know the answer, I'll find out for you!

Thank you for your prayers and everything you do!
Love, carol =-)

His address for all of the above is--

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Elder Brian Peterson
Russia Samara Mission
Vodnikov Street 95-1
Samara oblast
Phone # 8462-310-282 (Phone number NOT needed if sent through the post office, but IS needed if sent through a private carrier)


January 30, 2012
Back to the Factory

Hey there family and friends!

So guess what! I found out last Tuesday that I'm not actually going to be in Dachney South or North! Where would I be going then, you may ask? Well...I'm going back to Zavodskoi! Crazy stuff!

That's made this a pretty interesting week. Me and Elder Rekow (not Riko, as I spelled it in my last e-mail, my bad!) have been running all of Dachney, which has been quite the experience. We've gotten lost a few times and had some fun transport rides in getting our way around, but all worked out well in the end. The battle against the fruit flies is still being waged and the Sisters moving into the apartment shall need to valiant and dilligent in purging the plague of insects!

Anyways, let me write a little bit about my new companion! His name is Elder Rekow (you've probably gathered that by now) and he has lived in Utah and Idaho. He's the same cycle as me, and knows the language dang good! I've learned quite a bit from him already. I've been grateful for companions who have really disliked grammar and know a ton of words, because I'm the exact opposite. Good stuff! He likes Starcraft, Warcraft 3 and the works, along with sundry things on the internet, so we've had a good fast friendship! He served in a place called Orenburg his entire mission, so Saratov is a who new town and experience for him. He draws anime too, and he's way good. He gets along with people super fast, and our branch in Dachney loves him already, which makes it sad since we've both leaving today. Sad times, but I know that we'll both get along really well with the branch in Zavodskoi.

So, it sounds like it's time to describe a bit more about Russia! It's been super cold lately, with the normal being about -15 celcius (not counting the blasted wind!) Most days we have at least 2-3 hours of contacting, whether that be on the streets on in apartment buildings. People are less willing to stop and have a good 5-10 minute discussion about God when the wind and snow is blowing around in freezing weather, so we've been spending more times going into apartment buildings. It's always quite the experience trying to get into the apartment buildings. There is an outside telephone to call apartment numbers, so generally we start at the top and work down until someone lets us in. I wish I could say there's a science about it, but it's pretty much just like that. I try out my best Russian accent ask them to open the door (please!) since I don't have keys. Theres about 3 different things that can happen. The first is the best where before you can even get a word out they just open the outside apartment door, which is beautiful. The second is that they hear you out, think you're a legit Russian and/or that you live in the complex and forgot your keys or something (I'm always careful to not lie. We legitimately don't have keys!) and they open the door, which is good. The third is the worst, and it's when people start questioning who you are. Once they find out your missionaries and that you aren't going to anyone inparticular in the complex, they always hang up and don't let you in.

P-day is spent in buying food at stores, writing letters, buying pretty ties on the outside bazaar (called a Renok, in Russian) and sleeping. Not much to mention about P-day really, they're generally just a day to relax and listen to music and write home. Yep!

I wanted to thank you all for writing and responding to my questions last week. It had been on my mind for awhile and was especially on my mind this week. I was a bit of a long and stressful week in preparing two apartments and areas for the new people coming in and worrying about what would happen in Zavodskoi, Your letters and encouragement reminded me of something. Some of the most powerful experiences in my life have happened as a result of praying for others and thinking about them. It's easy to see my weaknesses and my fallicies, especially on the mission, and oftentimes it's easy to get caught up in those. A letter from President, Eric and Sean reminded me that the most progress I'll make on my mission is when I am focused on the outside, not the inside. God knows I have weaknesses, and He knows them even better than I, but nevertheless He has specific purposes and goals for me in being out here in Russia (of all places!) to serve His children. It's been cool today to find that refocus and prepare not to worry about my upcoming area, but to work and serve the people there.

Do ya'll remember [...]? The [...] I almost baptized? Her Mom recently came to a Branch activity and has been softening up. I'm so dang excited to go back and teach her and her Mom the gospel. With all good luck, I'll be able to see [...] and her family accept the Gospel. It's gonna be wonderful working again in Zavodskoi! :)

Well, time is nearly up. Thank you so much for you prayers, love, letters, packages and words of comfort. It's helped me a ton, and I can feel your love even here in Saratov. Ya'll be good now, ya hear? Good :)

With much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Monday, January 23, 2012


January 23, 2012
"Elder Peterson...You're whitewashing again!" "Heh, good joke!'re not joking are you" "Nope!"
Hey there family and friends!

Transfers have come, and I am being transfered. Not much of one though, just from Dachney North to Dachney South (about a 15 minute tram ride, not bad at all). Same branch, smaller area, some good prospects for baptism. Looking good! Elder Rounds will be staying in the North with his new companion and I will be with Elder Riko, who is in the same cycle as me, so that's pretty cool. We've been told that the apartment has an infestation of fruit flies, so it's been interesting getting suggestions from the office of how to irradicate them. More news on that next week!

[...] has been making some very good progress lately, and we got an interesting phone call one night. She wanted to thank us for the lesson we had given her on the Plan of Salvation and how much she had been liking her reading of The Book of Mormon. She then said "You know, my son has green eyes. But you 2 have light in your eyes!" That was pretty sweet! Still working on her smoking problem and getting her to Church, so Elder Rounds will take the hand off on her and help her out.

I recently finished another read through of The Book of Mormon, and it's been so dang cool to read it while being on my mission. This past time I read it through without marking any verses and just plain tried to read it as an investigator would read it, and it opened up my mind a lot as to how I could use what I was reading to help our investigators and less actives. Pretty much everytime we share a lesson or spiritual thought I'm able to use exactly what I read that day and express my thoughts in Russian, which is pretty dang cool in my opinion! This upcoming time in reading The Book of Mormon I'll be using a whole new blank paperback one and marking up verses that correspond to the missionary lessons along with adding some commentary. It'll be good :)

Not a whole lot to say this week, so after I write my letter to President I'll try to see if I can load up some pictures onto this computer. Best of luck!

Well, that didn't work. We'll try that out another day. Ah well! Time for some thoughts!

I had an interesting experience I wanted to share from last night, We had to take a taxi to get transfers stuff worked out and so it was me, Elder Rounds and Elder Long (he's a couple of cycles older than us) in the taxi. There was an odd song about a basketball that was playing on the radio and I was trying to focus on translating to song and figuring out the point of it all. There wasn't much of a point, and there were lots of words I didn't know, but I've been making it a habit these past couple of weeks to translate into English what I hear in Russian to improve my translating skills. When I turned around and started paying attention to the conversation between the taxi driver and Elder Long however, I found that they had gotten into a good, deep Gospel discussion. I was abashed and a bit ashamed for having spent so much time trying to translate a stupid song to improve my Russian while this other Elder was being such a great example and preaching. We prayed for the taxi driver and his family (his wife is pretty sick) and went on with the rest of the night,

Elder Long said something interesting. He said that he always tries to keep the perfect missionary in the back of his head and say "What would Elder Wood (a fantastic Elder who just went home" do?" and then try his best to do that. Elder Long also mentioned how fast his time was going on his mission and how he didn't want to be one of those Elders who didn't become all they could on their missions. It got me thinking a bit.

Before my mission I really only had about 3 main desires in my life. I wanted fuzzy dice in my car, I wanted to serve a mission and first, and foremost, I wanted to have a family. I've got a beautiful promise in my patriarchal blessing about my family, and it's always been most important to me and the most amazing thing I could ever think of being is in being a Dad. I knew that I would need to serve a mission before having a family, but I never really thought about what things I would gain or do on my mission to prepare me for the rest of my life.

How exactly have you all (my family) changed from being on your missions? Is it visible in the moment? Is it visible at all that I've changed (for the better, hopefully!). What goals did you have in life and for your mission before and on your mission? What kind of things should I focus on to learn to love my mission more and become the missionary and person that I need to be?

Interesting stuff to think about. Anyways, that'll probably wrap up this little e-mail for the week. Thank you all for your prayers and great love. It's kept me warm in the -23 Celsius weather here in the Motherland! Rumor has it that the next 2-3 weeks will be the coldest of the winter, so we'll see how that goes down. I'll bundle up! Ya'll be good now and eat your veggies :)

With much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Monday, January 16, 2012


January 16, 2012
"I like you cool hat, Tanya!" "Really, Peterson? Why do you say that everyday?" "Because your hat is always cool!"
Hey there friends and family!

Gosh, it's been a pretty good week, with some interesting twists among it all. I wanted to start out by saying thank you to all of you for reading my e-mails and letters and for sending me letters. I got a letter from Elder JT Williams in Uruguay yesterday and it made me the happiest guy on earth. I've gotten a good bit of mail, and it's the most wonderful thing hearing from everyone. So...thanks! :)

Well, a couple days of go was the grand Russian holiday of... Old New Year! Not enough time to get all of you New Year shenanigans in on one day? Never fear, there's and Old New Year! I was talking to a guy named Dima on the bus who asked me what I did for Old New Year, and I told him that I didn't know what Old New Year was. He looked at me like I was crazy and said "wait...don't they have Old New Year in America?" "Nope!" "Woah...and Christmas is in something, like, December, right?" "Yep!" "You Americans are kinda odd." Good times!

We've got a couple of progressing investigators, which is pretty dang cool! We've been working with [...] (that still just looks so odd spelled out in English) who's been reading the Book of Mormon a good bit (and marking it too!). She likes the Book of Mormon a lot and says that the writings in there are beautiful and of God, so that's some way good progress! Unfortunately she has work everyday until Noon, making it so that she can't really come to Church. We've been praying for her though, so we hope she can find some new work soon!

Speaking of work, that's a question that's been on my mind for a bit. In Russia the general work schedule is not a 5 day work week with a 2 day weekend, but rather you work 2-3 day and then you get 2-3 days off. The problem being that 1/2 the Sundays in the month are taken up by the schedule. Makes it hard for people to come to Church every Sunday because of the work schedule. Wonder if there's anything that can be done about that.

Speaking of Russia, it's been snowing like crazy lately! Good to see that my boots are holding up great and that not even blowing wind and snow and freezing weather doesn't stop people from stopping and talking to us! Albeit sometimes they stop just to tell us we're crazy cultists for walking out in the snow, but sometimes they're genuinely interesting, like [...]! [...] is an older guy we met on the street that loves reading books and has made some very good progress in reading the Book of Mormon. We stood on the street talking to him for almost 45 minutes. Good thing I had bought new gloves earlier that day or else I'd be a little Elder Popsicle!

Well, that's what I got I think :) Ya'll have a good one, alright? Thank you again for your letters, support and prayers :)

With much love, as always
Elder Peterson

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 09, 2012

The day after Christmas, we were able to Skype with Brian over in Russia and it was great to actually see and hear him! The next Monday, was a holiday being the day after New Year's Day, which is a much bigger holiday than Christmas in Russia so the internet cafes were closed and we didn't get a letter.

"Ever heard of Bobby Fisher? I could beat him at chess!"
Hey there family and friends!

Been a little while hasn't it? Last week pretty much everything was shut down because of the holidays (New Years is the big main holiday in Russia), so there was no place for us to write home! But I think President sent ya'll a message about that, so...there ya go!

Well, I've got a confession to make...I just have to get it out. I'm thinking it's because of my dashing good looks or my heavy American accents, but some women have been asking to hold my hand and hold onto my arm. What's a missionary to do? Sadly, I've broken down and held not only one woman's hand, but I'd say about 10 or so, especially lately. That's right Mom and Dad...I've been helping old grandma's walk down the street! The streets have been super icy lately, and lots of old grandmas have asked me to help them out, so they hold my hand or grab my arm and we walk down together. Good times!

This week has been a pretty good week! Been finding lots of investigators, having good times and working things out with our apartment. Nothing really has changed with that situation, but we've been making a push for a microwave and spatula with our landlady, so we'll see how that one works out.

I saw the Nutcracker! That was way cool. It's actually a bit different than the American one I saw last year (not music wise of course, just how that set up the set, etc). A new member and her daughter came along with us and we all had good times! I nabbed a program, so I'm saving it to show people when I get back home.

Speaking of which, happy belated 6 month anniversary on the mission! Over 6 months out now, which, in all reality, is a small slice of time, but it's been way cool to look back and see the progress that I've made. Very interesting to look back and see what's changed and how I've improved overtime (though in some ways I'm degraded a bit. When I called home 2 weeks ago I was told that my English has kinda gone down the tubes, which I can very much so believe. Ah well!)

I had a pretty cool experience this past week. We've been working with an investigator who's name is [...] (boy, that looks odd in English). She's a very closed person; doesn't like to talk about her life or work or anything, which is alright I guess. I always rattle to her how my day has been, what I ate, if she saw my new spiffy tie that my Mama in New Mexico sent me and whatnot. Most of her lessons have been a bit tough because she went to a Relief society meeting where apparently they were having a discussion/argument about Tithing, so almost every lesson she's asked the member-help on the lesson what they think/argue about Tithing.

Well, we had a lesson with her on Friday night, and it was a bit hectic before that lesson. We had had a lesson with an investigator who wasn't really progressing and was rather bitter about life and such. The member who we had invited to help us on that particular lesson was going to be helping us on the lesson with [...] (the member's name is [...], and he's an old funny Ukranian). Out of the blue, [...] invited our investigator ([...]) onto the lesson with [...] without asking me or my companion beforehand. The investigator said "Yeah, sure. Nothing better to do" which got me worrying a bit. This investigator was, like I said, a bit bitter and I didn't know his view on tithing. Another member, [...], was running late to meeting us to go to the lesson with [...], and [...] was asking why we hadn't already left to go to the lesson and I was just agitated. I didn't want this investigator in on the lesson, [...] was bugging me, [...] was running late. Argh! I just wanted to tell [...] to beat it and call [...] to say she didn't need to come since we were late anyways. But I didn't do any of that, I just stood quietly and was worrying a lot in my head.

Well, in the end, we finally all got to [...] and started our lesson with her. My companion began talking about the Restoration when [...] interrupted and asked the people there about tithing. As it turned out, however, it ended up being the perfect group for her. [...] answered her questions about Tithing and Church with finality, [...] was a great support for helping her understand the teaching of the Book of Mormon and giving her support ([...] is a new member, so she had stories to help [...]) and [...] testified about the Book of Mormon. The Spirit was so strong on that lesson and I witnessed a change in [...]. She started out the lesson being very hard and not open, but as the lesson went on she opened up her heart. There were times, like seeing that she had marked some verses in the Book of Mormon we gave her and seeing her willingness to follow the commandments, I felt the Spirit incredibly strongly. Though it didn't seem so to me, it was the perfect group of people to help [...] and now she has good friends in the Church who are able to answer her questions and be friends with her. Been a good week :)

That's all for now methinks! Thank you everyone! Have a good one :)

Much love, as always
Elder Peterson