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, June 25, 2012


June 25, 2012
"You've had a year mark, shout hurray!"
Hey there everyone!

Yep, I'm 20 now. Pretty weird! The day before my birthday was probably the real day when I celebrated it. We were contacting on the street when a guy started to talk to us and invited us to eat lunch with him. He fed us all kinds of good food and ice cream and told us that he was interested in learning more about us. That was a pretty darn cool birthday present, to say the least! In addition to that one of the investigators that Elder Stoddard found while he was serving in Saratov got baptised in the past couple of weeks and came down to visit, and so that was way fun for us to see him and have him help us out in the work. That same day we also had a really cool experience while we were walking down a street. Elder Stoddard was talking to his friend who got baptized when an older woman shouted and called us over. As it turns out, she had been baptized about 12 years ago and had got lost out of the loop when we moved to a larger building to meet in. She's been looking for us for years now and, coincidentally, ran into us on Monday of this past week. We had two meeting with her, introduced one of her sons to the Gospel, and helped her come back to Church. She made good friends with another one of our investigators who now also has a baptismal date, and so that's pretty darn cool. Regardless how understandable it is, it was pretty cool, so just know that all is going well here in Marks :)

I did have a quick question, and it's good to hear that Jaxon is back in town because you can ask him! (or any one else in the Moffet family, really). An Elder who is about to come home is actually from Branson Missouri, and if I remember right the Moffet's go there pretty darn often. It sounds like the family they visit is probably from the Mom's side because Elder Ellis didn't recognize that last name of Moffet. If you could get the names of the family they visit there in Branson then chances are they all know each other! But be quick, if you can, because Elder Ellis goes home in two weeks!

I guess there's a new Batman movie coming out too, eh? I saw the ad for it on a Moutain Dew can. Let's see how close the Russian translation is: The DArk Knight: Revival of the Legend. Did I get it right? :D

Woooooooah, that's weird to hear the Thomas Crotzer is an elder now. Weird! That makes me old or something! That's also really weird that Shaun is back from his mission already. Hope he had a good time! 

Exchanges happened this past week and good times were had. We were told by Elder Hill that we were doing som really good work here in Marks and that it had a been a little while since it's done as well as it has now. I think that's really in great part because it's summer time and people are actually out on the street and up for meeting, but it was a really nice compliment for the companionship me and Elder Stoddard have. I think I used to be worried and bugged a bit that I always worked with someone of my same "age" on the mission, but looking back it's really been a blessing to work with people who have the same language skill and same amount of experience (albeit different experiences) on the mission. It's brought a lot of perspective and it's always been awesome to work with everyone I have. That was also something cool I'd thought of in the past couple of days. I was writing in my journal when I remembered an experience I had at the beginning of my mission. During the first Zone Conference I had my first cycle in Russia I had just barely finished up the story where Jacob had just worked 7 years to marry Rachel. It was said there in the scripture that those 7 years seemed like only a few days because of the love that Jacob had for Rachel. I told President Sartori that that was one of my goals for my mission; to love it so much that it seemed only like a few days because of the good work and service that I had done. After I told him that, he asked me a question that kinda surprised me. He asked me soemthing along the lines of "when have you felt the Spirit the most and what has He taught you?" I thought for a bit and decided that the time I probably felt the Spirit the most [and most consistently] was at BYU-I and especialyl my New Testament class. Everyday I'd walk into that class having read the assigned reading and not having understood a drop of it and yet leave the class understanding everything I had just read. Everytime I was in that class especially I felt just good and inspired to do better and understand the Gospel more. President Sartori then promised me something interesting after I said that. He promised me that I would feel the Spirit more and be taught greater thing on my mission that I ever had in my life, including BYU-I. I remember I was pretty skeptical after he said that because I learned quite a lot at BYU-I and had felt the Spirit daily there. President backed up his promise by saying that I would be blessed with the Spirit on my mission more because I was in the service of saving and redeeming the God's children here in Russia. 

I thought back on that interview while writing in my journal and I began writing out all the cool experiences I had on my mission, in short, with at least one happening each cycle, and many miracles especially happening last cycle in Ulianovsk. I cried a bit as I realized that I really do love my mission, that I'm quite happy that I have a full year left, and sad at the same time that only a year is left. I've been blessed so greatly and taught so many wonderful things on my mission that it's really hard to express in words. Simply said, I really do love my mission, and all the hard times have already been made up by tender mercies and lessons from God.

Pretty cool, huh?

Anyways, my time is up now. You all are so darn cool, especially my family. Thank you for the birthday wishes, and you have good Russian grammar Neil! Were there any other random or fun comments on my facebook wall for my birthday (they can sometimes be funny, you might get a kick out of reading them). Regardless, thank you again so much. I love you lots :)

Until next week, with love
Elder Peterson

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


June 18, 2012
"How many summers, how many winters?!"
Hey there everybody!

Had a crazy experience this morning. My district leader, Elder Hill, and I were just talking this morning when he asked where I was from. I told him Los Alamos, New Mexico and he asked me "Oh, hey? So you live around the lab?" And it just blew my mind today to here the phrase "the lab" since I haven't heard anyone say for about a year or so! As it turns out, he's from Albuquerque and had visited Los Alamos before. Crazy, huh? Was a fun bit of deja vu.

Did ya'll happen to get a hold of the Williams? I dunno if it's plausable at all or not, but I have this little dream that ya'll could come to their mission homecoming and just sit and talk awhile about the mission. They lived in the town where I served for about 8 months, so talking to them about their experience will give you a good idea of what I went too. That'd be so dang cool if you, Mom and Dad, served a mission in Russia like the Williams too! Wouldn't that be crazy? I'd totally teach you some fun Russian phrases before you'd come out. Ah, good times! :)

Stuff is going pretty well here in Marks! Our main investigator is making a lot of very good progress. Scary experience happened this past week with her though because of how discouraged she feels. She has a pretty rough life; she can barely walk, has awful "kvartiarants" (I don't know what it's called in English, just people she's rented a couple of rooms to in her apartment) who are some pretty dang crude guys, and a 2 and a half year old kid who's a little rascal (she's a bit worried for him too, I think, since he doesn't even talk yet, just makes babbling noises). In the meeting we had with her the day after we sang songs and talked to her about the Plan of Salvation and the ways that God can help us overcome our troubles in life. It's so cool to see in the people the light that shines in their eyes and in their faces as they learn about the Gospel and feel the Spirit. We were also able to help her and her 2 year old get to Church and she absolutely loved it. She told me, after Relief Society, "Why aren't you advertising this Church? People were telling me that you are godless cultists but once you step into this place you just feel good." So, we explained more about our work as missionaries to her and what we do. The idea is circulating a bit around of creating some kind of activity and advertising it for people to come and check out. We're not quite sure in what way to go around it, but we'll think of something I bet. Sure would be nice to help people realize we're not scary.

I was talking to Elder Stoddard the other day of how cool it is to serve in a little branch where there's 15 people and we're the President's two councilers. Sure isn't the easiest thing to do in life, but it brings a lot of experience and perspective into the growth of the Church. I wonder a lot of times how they solved the problems that arose in the early Church, since I think it mirrors Marks a bit. There used to be over a hundred people who came, but it was in part beause the Curch was new and popular in town, and the baptisms probably weren't as monitored as well as they should have been. Overtime, people lost the craze and didn't want to keep being Mormon, so a lot left the Church over time. There were quite a number of excommunications (which I also wonder if they were done correctly since they were done mostly by missionaries), so I dunno. Seems like it all started and progressed a bit sloppily. So, we've got a strong little core of the Church, which may also be suffering a bit too. Not many pay tithing and two ladies who have already been to the temple don't stay, usually, for Relief Society but rather go to the Russian Orthodox Church to drink tea and lay candles in front of icons. Argh! But, we'll work something out to help out these members. I think as they help us they remember the promises they made at baptism and help in getting others to know of the Gospel they themselves do better.

Oh, I was just reminded. I asked a ton of people about Russia Day, and it's apparently they Independence Day...but everyone I asked didn't know from whom they were independent. Oh well. Not the biggest holiday here in Russia it seems!

We're going to have exchanges on Thursday and Friday, so it'll be a kind of birthday celebration. Good times! I just barely figured out how to make the most scrumptious home-made brownies, so I think I'll probably make a couple of really good batches of those on or around my birthday to eat and share with people here Woo!

Thanks for the support and the love from every one of you. It's always a little weird to think that you're all on the other side of the world, but how no matter what, in a nice way, you're always with me in your letters and prayers. Pretty cool, huh?

Anyways, that'll wrap it up for this week I think. Ya'll be good now! Eat your veggies and make a cake and eat it for me there back in the States!

With love, as always
Elder Peterson

Monday, June 11, 2012


June 11, 2012
Mooooooo-ving experiences!

Hey there ya'll!

This has been a pretty good week what with Zone Conference and all! My absolute most favoritest senior couple in the whole world is leaving at the end of this cycle and it is so dang depressing. Sister and Elder Williams have been my parents while I've been here in Russia and we saw each other pretty consistently for District meeting and other activities that happened in Saratov. Probably my last time seeing them before I come back home was at Zone Conference this week, so that was sad. But hey! I've got their e-mail, and they wanted to check out my blog when they get back home. I gave them your e-mail, and I think they'd be tickled to hear from you when you get the chance, so I'll give you their e-mail. They've so dang cool! You'll love them :) Whenever I think of the Williams I think of how cool you, Mom and Dad, will be on a senior mission. Wouldn't that be wild if you got called to Russia? That'd be a blast :)

I saw my first cow when I came back from Zone Conference to Marks the other day. It was just sitting there munching on some weeds by where they dropped us off and the bus station, so that was cool. As we were walking home we saw another 6 or so just grazing around in the grass, so both me and Elder Stoddard got pictures by them. So cool! I'll share those when I've got the chance to send some pictures back at home.

As for Mom's question, I have no idea what Russia day is, but everyone's away for the holiday starting from today until about Wednesday, so I'll have to ask someone about what's with the holiday!

We have an investigator who accepted the invitation to be baptized, and so she set her baptismal date for the 21st of July (a day after Jaxon's birthday, pretty easy to remember!) so that's pretty cool. It'll be fun to teach her more this week and get the Relief Society sisters to befriend her. We're finding some good people here in Marks and the works going pretty well.

I know I'm jumping all over the place in my e-mail today, but I've got lots of emotions pent up I guess.

This past zone conference was an interesting one for a lot of reasons. We set a goal, this year, to have 200 baptisms. President, his Assistants and the Zone Leaders talked a lot about it last year and this year. But, frankly, it jsut hasn't been happening. The baptisms have jsut kinda stopped, and it's been interesting to see the changes that been going on. They mapped out the various revelations and things that have happened that have allowed us to do better and better and to just learn so much in the past 6 months. As a mission, we have a goal of every companionship having a baptism every month, and it's been a bit disheartening and saddening lately to think I've been one year out and haven't yet seen those I've taught get baptized. It's ok, and I know that's not my main purpose out here, jsut to see baptisms, but it's made us all think a lot lately.

The main thing that President Sartori pointed out this past zone conference was that the Lord is working on all of us and teaching us. He's humbling us and teaching us to do the work better and in the way that He wants us to. The revelations that President and his leaders have received in the past year or so have all been to make us improve as a mission, to raise our vision and hope and make things become realizable. It was taught, very powerfully, that our work never has, nor will be about numbers. Our work is for people; it's all focused on them and as to how we can work and do things to help them return to our Heavenly Father.

That all is simple, and understandble. But it was a lesson I really needed. So often it can be hard to be rejected one person after another. We talked to a very nice lady just a few days ago, who was having a really hard day, and life really, and we were about to pray with her and help her out when this random drunk guy came up and pushed us out and away, telling us that we were cultists and didn't belong in Russia. We had to go, without any means to contact this lady again, and it just tears my heart to think that people just don't get it and enforce their ignorance by sometimes violent means. So often it's easy to question whether or not you're really a good missionary when all these things happen.

But, you know, dissappointments and hard times are ok. It takes some patience, and a lot of gratitude to think that I can be here in Russia talking to people about what I know is true. 20 years ago, that wasn't possible; it just wasn;t. And yet now the work is growing; people are excepting the Gospel and plans are being laid for stakes and even, in the future, a temple to be here in Russia. Wouldn't that be crazy? It's gonna happen, and I think there will one day be an temple is Saratov. That's the game plan, and it'll be fun to tell my kids and grandkids that I was totally a part of that.

Anyways, enough of all that. My time's nearly up! Thanks a bunch for all you do, especially you Mom and Dad! I love you all, and we'll talk again next week :)

With lots of love
Elder Peterson

Monday, June 4, 2012

June 4, 2012

06-04-12 Just a small town Elder Hey there! My goodness, I'm just going all over the place, aren't I! I'm in my new town, Marks (or Marx, it's named after good ol' Karl Marx) which, in all reality, is like a big country town.The town itself is probably as big as my first area in Zavodskoi and is a quaint little place, with a population of about 40,000 people. All the people here like to say that Marks is "an excellent place to rest". Good stuff! As for how I got here; we have a driver in the mission who picked us up from Ulianovsk on Monday and dropped us off in Samara a few hours later. I worked there for two days while Elder Stoddard and and his companion came by train to Samara from Saratov. Wednesday night we boarded a train back to Saratov and that morning we hopped on a 2 hour long bus from the trainstation down to Marks. And now.. I'm here! Like I said, my companion is Elder Stoddard, who is the same cycle as me, and we already knew each other pretty well before I came here to Marks. He's been here for nearly 5 months now and loves it a lot, as do I! All the youth here in Marks know Elder Stoddard and we're all buddies, which is good! The branch is pretty awesome; number wise about the same as Ulianovsk (15 people came this past week, woo!) and the members are teriffic! The Branch President here is incredible and knows the Gospel well and has already been really dang helpful on the couple of lessons we've had in the past few days. It's gonna be great getting to know these members over the next few weeks! One of them stuffed me full of plov and bline the other day with delicious fruit tea, so needless to say, I've had a warm welcome here in Marks. Kind of a random comment, but I started keeping a study journal these past few days, and it's made me study a ton better. Reading scripture is way good, but writing down your thoughts and questions and so forth makes it just that much better. One of the coolest things I read this week was from John 16 when Christ is washing the feet of his apostles. Christ always is such an example of humility and love, and He showed by service just how much his disciples meant to Him. Makes me want to focus on how I can serve others here and help them feel God's love more. May sound cheesy, but it was a nice feeling I had when reading and thinking about that this week. There's really not too much to mention about this week since I was in transit between Ulianovsk and here what with trains and buses and whatnot. We've got Zone conference coming up this next week, so that'll be good and fun! I'm glad to hear that Mom had a good birthday! And it sounds like Dsineyland was a blast, as usual! :) There are some sweet cherry trees that apparently grow here in Marks (we saw some kids holding a big old branch and eating cherries off of it while walking down the street the other day) so I'll be on the hunt for those! Lots of people have their own little gardens here, so it'll be exciting to taste even fresher fruits and veggies while I'm here. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this, but Russia has so much better fruits, veggies and breads than in America. I'm most definitely going to have to nab at least a bread recipe before I head on back to the states :) Thank you, by the way, for getting the message delivered to my friend :) Well, that'll wrap it up for now. Ya'll have a good one now, ya hear? And Mom, happy belated birthday :) Eat some cake now! With love -- Elder Peterson

May 28, 2012

05-28-12 City Slicker Hey there everyone! Well, seems like Natasha let it out that I'm being transferredm and yep, the rumors are true! I'm so sad that I only got to spend a cycle here in Ulianovsk. I love this city a lot, just as much as I loved Saratov. I'm now being transferred to a little city called Marks, which is 2 hours or so outside of Saratov by bus! I'm not sure if I've mentioned him in my e-mails before, but my new companion is Elder Stoddard, an already way good friend of mine from my first 5 months in Saratov! He's already been there in Marks for awhile now, so it'll be good to have someone who knows the area already really well. Marks is well known in the mission for being a town more out in the country where cows and farms and stuff are, so that's pretty dang cool! Going from being a city slicker my whole mission to going out to real Russian country! More on that next week! A pretty dang cool miracle happened this week. We found an awesome person my second week here and had some pretty dang legit meetings with here. She'd be gone to Moscow though and super busy is working on her diploma, so until this week we had barely been able to have any correspondance with here. And then, lo and behold, out of nowhere she sends us a text during P-day asking if she could meet with us! Woo! This past week we were able to teach her the Plan of Salvation and some other really good discussions. I'm pretty stoked that I got to see and teach her a bit more before I left Ulianovsk. I've decided that I don't like packing much at all! And deep cleaning apartments. Yeah. Not much at all! Ulianovsk is going to be whitewashed (aka two missionaries unfamiliar with the area are being put here)and so everything is getting packed away and washed really well. The good thing is that we have hot water now! Not sure if I mentioned that or not but for the past 3 weeks or so we haven't had hot water at all (they were working on the pipes and stuff). That's something I hope I appreciate more in the future: hot water from the tap. It's pretty much liquid gold, especially for showering and doing dishes. Good stuff! Real quick note, before I forget. Two really. How did the letter delivery to Miranda go? And second, Please give a big big hug to Mama and Papa Zaelit. They're awesome :) ----- So, my family is in Disneyland, eh? That's pretty dang cool! Had June gloom set in yet or is it a bit too early for that? How long will you be there and what kind of stuff do you have planned? Or, I guess by the time you respond to this, what kind of stuff did you do (planned or unplanned!). Disneyland has a lot deeper connection to me than I ever thought it would, now that I think about it. Family trips there along with choir trips there have all been a blast! Ya'll take a ride of Space Mountain for me, will ya? :D I think it was Mom that asked me if I wanted anything in particular from Disneyland. I don't really think so, though if you find something cool that you think I'd like, by all means, go for it! If not, then I'll find something when we all go there again someday :) By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!! You're the best! Be expecting something in the mail from Russia with love! I want you to buy and eat something special for your birthday while you're there in Disneyland, because you're the very best! Cake and ice cream is a most of course, too :) Wow, a bit of a longer e-mail today. Cool! But, my time is up for e-mailing and I've got some rearranging of my suitcases to do! Ya'll have some fun now, ya hear? Thanks :) With love -- Elder Peterson