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, April 30, 2012



Hello there everyone!

My golly gosh, everything went from brown to green this week, no kidding. Places where only dirt were at the beginning of this week are now filled with grass and trees that were just barely thinking of budding last Monday are teeming with super pretty leaves and blossoms. Cool beans! It's been a real day brightener to look out the windows and be out on the streets and just appreciate the awesome green stuff everywhere. As it turns out, the Russians don't have a word for blossom, they just call them flower. It made it when we were working with a member and excitedly I ran up to a cherry tree and said "what's this stuff called?" "" "oh. Cool! Sweet flowers!"

This week has really been an amazing one in the work too. We found some incredibly beliving people this past week (the 2 main ones, of course, are gone in Moscow now, but returning at the end of this week!). It's been so awesome going out and just finding these amazing people to teach. At times it can feel like you're working hard and not seeing much come from it, but this week I've felt like we should have worked harder to have been blessed with the people we've found and have the privelage to teach.

Cool experience time! I was asked last Sunday to give a talk this past Sunday on sharing the Gospel. No investigators were at Church last Sunday, which I think kinda got the members down, so I focused a lot of my message into enouragement for the members and simple things they could do for sharing the Gospel. Everyday that wee I wrote down ideas for my talk, looked up scriptures and just prepared for the talk (my first real talk in Russian in Church!). Sunday morning I was a little nervous about giving my talk, but everyone in the branch is my friend, so I wasn't really worried. That morning we held branch counsel before Church and while we were talking about home teaching and missionary work, 5 totally new people walked in, a bit bewildered, but were being shown around by a nice, smiley member. As it turned out, 2 seperate groups of people had just randomly, on their own, decided to come to Church. They didn't know anyone, and no one knew them, and it got our branch pretty excited. I was excited too, but also I was way nervous! My talk was aimed mostly towards members, and I was a bit too busy to have time to figure out how to adapt my talk. As I started my talk, however, I was rather impressed at how everything just seemed to flow. Though I didn't have any forethought about how to change my talk, everything went incredibly well. The 5 people were able to get a primer to the Gospel and the members were able to find out a little more on how they could share the Gospel. I really can't remember most of that talk now, to be honest, but I remember the feelings I had as I gave it, and just how good it felt. I was reminded of a talk given in conference that my friend Rebekah Hoggan reminded me of recently in a letter, that as we plan and study, we will be able to teach by the Spirit, not in front of it, but by the Spirit. 

I honestly forget that sometimes, probably because I can be arrogant. As a missionary (and even before my mission) I think that I know the Gospel pretty dand good and can pull out of the hat anything that anyone needs at anytime, but I really have noticed a difference in how really studying things out, planning and praying will achieve the things that the Spirit wants done in any given situation. When we don't plan, study or pray about what we teach or talk about (at least, in reference to the Gospel), then we're flaunting our own little knowledge without the Spirit who bore witness of it to us. But regardless of our deep doctrinal knowledge (or knowledge of the Russian language), I've found that when I take to time to do first things first, all things fall into place and the Spirit is able to bear testimony to others, despite my skills.

Cool stuff for this next week! I have another visa trip, and I found out that I'll be able to go to the temple in Kiev again! That place is so dang beautiful and it reminds me a lot of the Rexburg temple, honestly. My favorite senior couple, the Williams from Saratov, along with President and Sister Sartori will be joining our group out to the temple, which will be fun. 

So, rumor has it that Mother's day is coming up!  Skype will very much to be an option, so if that works out for ya'll then it'll work well for us. Just to double check I'll send an e-mail when I get here next week and we can verify that things will work out alright. 

Dad told me today how it's kinda odd that I've mostly been with other Elders my age out here in the mission rather than older people. I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that we, as a mission, are pretty young. of the 50 missionaries or so weve got, the majority are now under a year (or barely past it). All the old foggies are making their way out of the mission, leaving a lot of it to us. It certainly is easer to lean on someone else for their better language skills, but it's gotten to the point where we both as a companionship understand nearly everything and are able to express ourselves. Still rough at times, of course, but I guess I've at least just gotten used to it since for over half my time here in Russia I've been with someone my experience level. Good stuff!

Well, that's probably it for this week. Hope everything is going well for ya'll back there in the States! I miss you bunches, and especially you Mom. It'll be exciting to skype soon :). Be good now!

With love
Elder Peterson

Monday, April 23, 2012


April 23, 2012
Hey there family and friends!

Well, it's been a pretty dang good week here in Ulianovsk! I came in Tuesday morning with my new companion, Elder Lewis, and starting from the first day we were getting some way good work done! I love this town so dang much. I'm thinking it's a combination of spring really starting up (the trees are budding!) and a lot of people in the town telling me I have way good Russian. Weird! I rarely got those kind of compliments in Saratov, especially from people on the streets, but for whatever reason I got a lot of compliments this past week. Good stuff!

Me and Elder Lewis are the only missionaries here in Ulianovsk, which is pretty fun since you can go anywhere you'd like in the city and still feel confident that it's your area. Good times! This also happens to be Lenin's home town, so sometime in the future you'll probably see a picture or two of me standing in front of Lenin house. The branch here is relatively small, with about 15-20 active members (yesterday there were only 11, counting the missionaries, for some reason), but I already love this little branch so much. There's just so much love and desire in these members, and I can't wait to get to know them better and work with them!

Last Sunday was Easter in Russia, but I heard a little story that I thought was interesting. The dying of eggs actually has a Christian background, as it turns out. As the story goes, a woman found out that Christ was resurrected and came to tell a king (or some high govenor) about it. Generally, only rich people could come and see the king and were required to bring a gift to him, but because of the uniqueness of the situation, the poor woman was let it, carrying with here only a chicken and some eggs. When she told that king that Christ was risen, he said to her "I don't believe it. But I will believe you if, somehow, these eggs turn red as blood" And sure enough, they did! Crazy! So apparently that's why people color eggs on easter, in rememberence of this event/miracle. Cool stuff!

Lets see here, what's more to say. Elder Lewis is a champ. He's been out the same amount of time as me and has good Russian. He's a red-head that has some Irish background, so we like listening to Celtic music. He's a great cook and has served here for about 3 months now (we served in the same District when I was in Dachney, and left for Ulianovsk when I left to Zavodskoi for the second time). Speaking of which, ya'll remember [...]? She got baptized! Yay! My first baptism! You'll have to add [...] on facebook to see pictures of the baptism (his mom keeps his facebook pretty well updated I hear). That was way exciting to hear :)

Mom, as for pronouncing Ulianovsk (and, for everyone else too actually) it sounds like oo-li-aun-ovsk (with the -oo- being pronounced like in moon). And I like how you put my middle name like the Russians do! It's always fun telling people that my middle name in Russian would be Darrellovich!

I know I already mentioned it, but I really do love how it's spring time now. People are more happy and willing to talk, which is always a day brightener to have a fun conversation with a happy Russian. I hope ya'll are appreciating the Spring. Take some pictures of our cherry tree for me if you can! That thing always looks so pretty this time of year. 

I love you so much! Every one of you! Thanks for reading my weekly ramblings and caring for me. It's always a miracle for me to think that I'm writing from the other side of the world to my favorite people in the world (followed very closely by the Russians!). My prayers and my heart are with you all, and I feel the same feeling from you too. Be good now, and if you're bored, try making a borsh like I did this week! :)

With love and smiles,
Elder Peterson

Monday, April 16, 2012


April 16, 2012

Heh, just kidding!

Hey, remember when I said that I'd be writing from Saratov today last week? Just kidding! I'm currently in some post office in Samara writing to you! That's right. I got a transfer! Craziness. I've spent the past 8 months or so in Saratov (6 of which in Zavodskoi) and I'm now going to a whole new town called Ulyanovsk, which, apparently, is where Lenin was born. It's rumored to be a pretty city, which I hope is true! My new companion will be Elder Lewis, who has been out the same amount of time as me, and the whole city is ours! Cool stuff! I'll be leaving tomorrow morning from here in Samara out to Ulyanovsk (that's kinda weird to spell out, seems like all Russian things are weird to spell out in English!).

I forgot to said hi, by the way. So...hey everyone!

"Christ resurected! In truth, he resurected!" (I probably spelled that wrong, it's a lot easier to spell in Russian) That is how a ton of people greeted each other yesterday. There is a Russian Orthodox tradition that you must eat this Easter cupcake and a boiled egg on Easter, thus a whole ton of members gave us lots of cupcakes and eggs to celebrate the occasion! Some Russians color their eggs, but on the whole most put stickers of icons, bunnies or guys driving snowmobiles on them. It's way fun! Most Russians also spend at least part of the day going to the temples and graveyards to celebrate the holiday. Good stuff :)

I was tickled today as a Ukranian serving in my mission complimented my Russian today. It's been really cool finding ways to keep improving and liking Russian. I haven't always liked Russian, to be honest. In the MTC I studied the grammar the most because it was so logical and fun, but I hated studying words with a passion. Elder Swartz, my MTC companion, recently told me on an exchange that I should try to look for a way to like learning Russian. In thinking about it, I remembered that one of my goals after my mission is to be able to read and write Russian poetry (some of the best, I hear). I've had terrible handwritng forever, in both English and Russian, and my companion Elder Rekow has way sweet handwriting in both English and Russian. In helping me gain a spark for learning the language, I decided to start working on my Russian cursive by writing out words super nicely and then memorizing them, and it's worked way well! Now I just need to learn how to have good english handwriting (I've always been jealous of Sean's, to be honest. Gotta copy his stuff sometime)

I do have some pictures to send out, but those'll need to wait until next week. Then you'll be able to see all the kind of shenanigan-ery that was had in Zavodskoi and maybe a bit of Ulyanovsk.

That reminds me, the young lady we’ve been teaching is being baptized on Saturday, woo hoo! I'm way bummed that I don't get to see it, but I'm still going to count her as my first baptism on the mission. Good times :)

Well, that's just about it for now I think. This letter may be riddled with typos and spelling errors, this keyboard is kind of a pain to work with for whatever reason. Anyways, hope ya'll have a wonderful week, and I'll write you next week from a whole new place! :)

с любовью, навсегда


Старейшина Питерсон

Monday, April 9, 2012


April 9, 2012

Of Eggs and Mud

Hey there family and friends!

My sister-in-law Jennie is just about one of the most hilarious, awesome most thoughtful people I know, methinks. She's so dang awesome! We had an unexpected mail delivery this past weekend (where I got the mailing address of Rebekah Hoggan, so no worries Mom!) and along with it was a package from Sean and Jennie! In it Easter grass, Easter candy, Easter Mexican food (well, ok, just mexican food :P ) and a ton of Easter Eggs. I thought the eggs were just empty, but come to find that not only were they filled with candy but hilarious puns and riddles was just about the most awesome thing in the world. Elder Rekow and I had a ton of fun opening them up while feasting upon resses pieces. Thank you so much Jennie, you're the best :)

Not a whole lot of craziness happened this week. President Sartori and his wife came down and gave really sweet talks for those investigating the church and recent converts. Our investigator […] was especially interested when Sister Sartori discussed about the blessings of the gospel in her life in being a parent. […] has a wife and two little kids and always wonders how he can help them out, and he loved the talk given by Sister Sartori. At that conference a recent convert, […] from Dachney, was there and we had lots of fun talking to each other. My companion, Elder Rekow, as you may have seen from the pictures, likes to style his hair and […] was telling me that I should do something like that. I told her how I tried when I was in middle and high school to do stuff with my hair, but it just never seemed to work out because of my double crown (aka, my hairline is two different swirls running into each other). Giggling, she told me of an an old Russian saying that says that people with double crowns will have two wives. Aack! Fun times were had though and I found out that Apple and Orange juice mixed together and so dang tasty. Give it a shot! :)

Transfers announcements will come on Saturday, so next Monday ya'll will know where I'm going for the next month and a half. I was talking to Elder Rekow today about how odd it is to me that I've been here in Zavodskoi for about 6 months in total now, with just a 2 month "respite" in Dachney north. That's just weird to me, really. There is a member girl here in Zavodskoi who drew and painted me and Elder Rekow each a picture to remember her and Zavodskoi by! That was way nice! Next time I send pictures I'll be sure to include that one in their. And! Because of transfers coming up and the possibility of us leaving she wants to do another picture for both of us before we go. Yay for us!

We're gonna watch conference these weekend via internet I think. Discs with the Russian translations are making their way to all the branches so that they can watch it while us weak American missionaries get to watch conference in English! Woo hoo! I'm way excited for that.

The suns been shining, by the way! The hottest it got was +15 C the other day, which was such good feeling weather. Hope the trend continues! It's made almost all the snow melt in the past week, which, unfortunately, has made all the streets and roads in Zavodskoi either into mud holes or little oceans in the street. Kinda hard to keep shoes and pants clean everyday, but I think the mud and whatnot should only last for a couple of weeks before it all dries us. Good times!

Think that's what I've got today! Thanks for all the letters and support, especially those from my family. Ya'll really are the best, and I love you lots :)

Stay good now, and eat your jelly beans left over from Easter!

With love


Elder Peterson :)


April 1, 2012

"How much of the play did you understand?" "Hm...I think I got about 15 words out of it all!" "Nice!"

Hey there!

So, to start off, there's a picture from zone conference a few weeks ago that go sent out to us. That's all the cool American people I get to work with (and one Canadian! Made me think of my friend Kathryn Gillespie)! Just so you know, that's not my hand on Elder Rekow's shoulder, though it deceptively looks so in the picture. Good times!

We'll start out with the questions that Mom and Dad asked me!

1. Did you get the new camera and other electronics (adaptors, etc). Do they work OK?

Sure did and sure do! The new camera is a replica of my old camera, but not broken, so that's good! I have not tried the adaptors yet, but I already had transformers, so I don't think they'll be necessary, but they may be handy, so I'm hanging onto them.

2. Have you seen any painted Russian Easter eggs on display?

Yep, lots! There's a member in a branch in the city that makes beautiful hand-made eggs and Russian dolls and stuff. Way pretty (and way expensive, ack!) :) I'll get some pictures of some and send them out!

3. How do you get your regular clothes clean? Your suits?

I find that I like to wear my machine washable pants because at least with them I can freely wash them and take a wet rag to them. Just as with the summer, dirt and mud gets all over the back of the pants everyday, which is a hassle and kinda frustrating, but I haven't been able to think of much of anything to do about it. MY suits haven't needed any cleaning yet, but if they did I've had a secret missionary art of cleaning suits handed down to me from my first companion Elder Fearn (that is, take a shower with the suit on and use laundry soap as opposed to regular soap. It may sound crazy, and it is, but it works surprisingly well. Good times!)

4. What are your typical meals like? Do you fix them yourselves? Give us some menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It's changed from companion to companion, but meals are nothing fancy, You have an hour to make and eat the food which making calls, doing paperwork and whatnot. For breakfast I generally have corn flakes and Elder Rekow has something that's close to the golden puff cereal that Dad likes. If we're really dicey we make pancakes, which are so dang delicious! Lunch and dinner generally consist of stirfrys, oven-baked sandwiches, home-made and frozen pizzas, omlets, Pelmeni (Russian ravioli) and soups (such as the oh-so-delicious chicken noodle soup I made when Elder Rekow was sick this past week). Nothing crazy, and it kinda gets old after awhile. Need to figure out some new, quick recipes. Hence why I need to watch the food channel again (Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals, woo hoo!) :)

5. Have you given talks in church? What on?

Surprisingly, I haven't really given any talks in church yet. Plenty of testimonies, and I teach Gospel Prinicples every now and then with Elder Rekow, but nothing too fancy. Maybe I should ask to give a talk. Hmm...

Anyways, onto my week! We set another baptismal date this week with a middle aged woman by the name of […]! She's the sister of a member in a different branch and it's been so dang cool working with her. Just like with […], she herself asked when she could be baptized. Score! Her date is set for the […], just like […], so me and Elder Rekow are hoping that we don't get transferred (this cycle ends next Saturday). It's been cool working with […] lately because it's really taught me how the Spirit works and teaches others in different ways.

For example, […] was a former investigator who had been taught all the lessons but just wasn't progressing in the Gospel. He loves to read the Book of Mormon in English and is learning English so he likes to read on his own and also with us. One day, in trying to figure out what to teach […], we decided to teach him Lehi's dream and to draw it out as we went along in the lesson. Never before had anyone drawn out a scripture story or lesson with him I don't think, and as we did that with him he finally began to understand the scriptures and the things we were saying. At the end of that lesson on Lehi's dream he said "I want that apple!" And then, the next lessons, when we talked about and drew baptism being the fruit and the straight and gate to the straight and narrow path, he asked us "so when can I get baptized?" Quality!

On the other hand, there are people like […] who, when she started taking the discussions, wrote everything down that we said and tape-recorded the gospel principle classes that were taught on Sunday. She understands by writing things down and reviewing over them and thinking about the things she's heard. It's been amazing to see how she thinks about the things we've taught and believes that they're true, in great part because of the Spirit she's felt in writing down her notes. Cool stuff.

In other news, we saw an opera this past week! It's an opera by Pushkin and is called Evgennie Ognegen (Eugene Ognegin). That's really hard to spell in English. Anyways, hopefully you can find it on Wiki or something. It was a way good opera, though not a whole lot was understandable to me word wise. I got the generally plot though, and some members clarified the plot for me after it was done. I forgot my camera, but you all have pictures of the theatre and of me and Elder Rekow, so I don't think you missed much picture wise.

In an effort to respark my love of the Russian language, I decided in the middle of last week to start doing Russian cursive, which I've found I love quite a lot. It's made me want to make all of my handwriting good, which will probably take awhile to happen, but it's a cool dream!

Quick question, can you use facebook to do a few things for me? There's a few people in the branch here in Russia who found and wanted to add me as a friend on facebook. If their names don't look American, it's find to add them :D (if you're really nervous about it, go ahead and double check the names with me. One should me a […] and another […]). In addition, I have letters I need to send to Rebekah Hoggan and Tabitha Watkins, but I need their updated addresses methinks. If you could message them and ask for their addresses, that'd be wonderful :)

Ah, also I haven't seen conference yet. I'll be seeing it on the 14th and 15h of April I think. Can't wait to see it!

I think that's all I've got for this week (at least, it better be. I'm out of time!) Hope all is well with ya'll back at home! Be good now. :)

With love


Elder Peterson