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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


August 27, 2012
Miracle Marks

Hey there everyone!

Gosh,I had one of the coolest experiences on my mission this week I think. I'm not sure if I mentioned it a few weeks ago or not, but once upon a time we had a meeting set up with (the woman who nearly got baptized) and she said, at the last minute, that she couldn't make it but that we should go to the appointed meeting place anyways because she had some friends waiting there to hear about Christ. We got there and found 3 people. At first the most interested people were 2 of them, but by the second meeting they had lost interest and didn't want to hear anymore. On the second meeting, Baba (grandma) was also there again and had some good questions about our Church. When she found out that we were Mormons, she said that she'd heard of us and that we were no good. I showed her the Book of Mormon and the intro and, despite the fact that she's 82, began to read (without glasses!) the introdouction to the Book of Mormon. It was so cool to see how her opinion changed even as she read the Book. At first she said "What's with this Mormon guy! It doesn't say anything about him in the Bible." to, by the very end of the intro when she said "Oh my gosh. This book is about Christ, isn't it? I'm going to read it all!" During the past few weeks we didn't have any chance to see her or talk to her about the Book of Mormon.

One night, this past week, all of our meeting fell through and we were thinking about where to go and what to do. As we were walking we saw Baba sitting on a bench alone and so we of course went up to her and began talking to her. It was so incredible. She told us that she had read over 350 pages of the Book of Mormon (past Alma 40) and she told us that she knew the Book was true. She then proceeded to talk about the resurrection and how it all made sense how Alma explained it. She told us how the Book of Mormon explained so many things that were unclear in the Bible and how, despite the fact it was confusing at first, she knew the Book was about Christ and true. We set up a meeting for that week.

When we got there on the meeting she took us on a little tour of her apartment, and she began the tour by saying "Look at all the stuff God has blessed me with. Isn't it nice? Everything in this apartment is thanks to God and is a blessing from Him." By the meeting she had already read through 3 Nephi 18 and she showed us all the notes of the names of people in the Book of Mormon and descriptions of them so she never got confused about the people. As we started the lesson, we found something out that was a bit distressing. Baba is nearly fully deaf. Everything we tried to explain (whether it be us or our Russian member help) was misunderstood or just not heard by her. As time was coming to a close, we gave her a brochure on the Restoration and, for the 5th time, we asked her if we could pray with her. Though she hadn't understood or heard the request at any other time in the lesson, she looked at us after Elder Strebe asked and said "yes! Of course we can pray. I'll pray!" and then she offered a wonderful prayer. Baba then told us to "go out and tell everyone about that Book!". It was such a wonderful meeting! It really is a miracle to see how everything works out the way it needs too. Baba is in the Ukraine right now, but look forward to hearing her story and progress in the upcoming weeks :)

Another cool little story from Sunday. One of my favorites (if not my favorite) chapters from the Book of Mormon is Alma 24. It makes me cry pretty much every time. Anyways, in Sunday school we were talking about the army of Helaman and how they got to be so cool (aka how they became such an awesome army/ what attributes they had). In the discussion we talked, of course, how they were taught by their mothers. Our Branch President gave an interesting comment on how they focus on how their mothers had taught them the Gospel, but what about their fathers. He brought up the suggestion that perhaps the fathers of these 2060 young men were actually the sons of the fathers who had died in Alma 24. I'm not sure if that's how it is or not, but the imagery is a striking one, to think of how their mothers taught that God would always provide and protect them, and how their fathers sealed their testimony and knowledge of the Gospel the day they died. Pretty cool thought.

Thanks a bunch for writing Sister Simons. She's one of my best friends from college, and in fact I'd nearly always make my Sunday night dinners at her apartment. She's the best, so thank you so much for writing her :)

I'm sorry to hear about Mer, and I know that what'll happen will happen the way the Lord wants it too. I really wish I knew Mer better, but I know just how strong she is and how incredible of a mother, friend and member of the church she is. Anyone that raised anyone to be so awesome as my mom has to be one of the best. Thanks for the info, and I'll be keeping her in my prayers.

Dad, I never really could figure out how to do those 3D eye things. I'll have to figure it out after at some point to get more of the Gospel analogy behind it!

A member friend gave me a sweet Disney film in Russian. It says that it's the first Russian Disney film, so if that's true I don't think it's even available in English! Ah ha! So cool! It's called The Book of the Masters (for some reason it's not letting me type in Russian here or else I'd write down the Russian title). See if you can check it out on the internet and see if it's good! 

I think that about wraps it up for this week. You're the best, and thank you so much for all of your support, especially for the support from my family. Thanks :)

With love, as always :)
Elder Peterson

Monday, August 20, 2012


August 20, 2012
"The pig is your comrade, Elder Peterson!" "No! I want to eat it! Bacon!"

Hey there everyone! :)

It's been a crazy week (seems like I say that a lot, don't I) and its' had it's fills of ups and downs. The biggest down, unfortunately, was about the investigator we hoped would be baptized. We had prepared her for the baptismal interview and the day before the invterview we were having a lesson and pumping her up about baptism. She gave a very strong testimony about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the vitality of baptism for the remission of sins and was all ready for the interview. The next day however, she didn't answer the phone as we called to confirm the meeting, although we were sure everything would work out since we'd talked about the time and place for the interview the day before and sometimes she doesn't answer her phone because she's at her daughters house. As we waited at the appointed place and time, she came and told us that she couldn't meet right then because she had been invited to dinner. We said that that was ok, but asked when we could meet to have the interview (preferrably that day). She then told us to never call her again and that she no longer wanted to meet or pray with us ever again and to go away. We were both pretty baffled as she said that, and right after she said it she left, giving us only a second to say goodbye. She didn't show up at Church this Sunday, so it looks like it's not her time to be baptised yet. 

Some good news though! For this next cycle I'll be staying in Marks with Elder Strebe! Yay! I was pretty happy to hear that I don't need to pack and that I don't need to worry about getting to know a new area quite yet. It's been such a huge blessing to have Elder Strebe as my companion. As with anything in life, there's hard times, but it's always a lot easier to take on everything when you have a good friend with ya. We've got some great plans on working with the members and preparing and helping Marks to grow. Another bit of good news was that this week we had a culture night by going to a members house and learning how to make delivious soup and filled bread goods (pirozhki). There she chose to tell me that my fate would be that I would become a Journalist and marry a gypsy woman (the gypsy woman part becomes of my carefulness with money, apparently). Another bit of good news is that we've started to have members give talks in Church, with the first one happening this past Sunday. It went super well! It was cool to see how one member used scriptures and different teaching materials in his talks just like we always do, so already the members (or at least he) knows how to give a good talk. It's all gonna go uphill from here methinks :)

I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not, but for this next zone conference we have a member of the 70 whose's coming up (he's actually also the scond counselor in the Europe East area presidency! Spiffy, right?) and I was thinking about how cool that'll be. Every single zone conference there always seems to be something really cool or new that helps us to do missionary work. In looking at the past zone conference notes I took I realized there's a lot of things that I've been taught that I can still really do a lot better in the work. It always seems like I want a new arrow in missionary work when all I really need to do is have better aim and use the quiver I've already got. In any event, it's been cool to review over notes and apply old principles into new situations. Kinda like reading scriptures, applying old situations and using them in daily work.

By the way, I've been reading Daniel in the Old Testament lately, and it's a seriously cool book. I never realized that King Neb. actually became a righteous guy. Isn't that crazy? Pretty cool.

Alright, times up this week. I love you tons. Thanks for your prayers and your letters! :)

With love
Elder Peterson


August 13, 2012
"Watermelon...это...good!" "Good job Oleg!"
Hey there everyone!

Woah, it's pretty crazy to hear what all is going on with marriages and trips and stuff! That's way cool that Thomas is getting married. Who's the girl? Where'd they meet? Is Thomas already done in college? (What is he majoring in anyways?) Ya'll be safe in making trips, alright? :)

This has been a pretty great week! We set a baptismal date with one of our main investigators, and it sounds like it's gonna be happening on this Saturday! Yay! This week in teaching her has been incredible. After a bit of break in being able to reach her and teach her we had a rock solid lesson on Monday night wherein we discussed the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and it was awesome. She'd had no time to meet because the weather has been lousy and she's had guests come in and out a lot, but she spent a lot of time in the Book of Mormon and her testimony and spirituality simply grew a ton even just by reading it. When we first were teaching her she didn't understand a lot, but her faith was great and her desire to learn was huge (in fact, she had in the past quit smoking by praying really hard and asking for help from God). She bore powerful testimony of the blessings of the Atonement in her life and her surety that she can receive a full forgiveness of her sins. Pretty cool. She lives already by the Word of Wisdon, so that's a great blessing.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not, but every Sunday here in Marks the missionaries give talks during Sacrament. It was pretty tense at first, being really new in the branch and not really knowing anyones situation, along with trying to give a fully 15 minute good talk in Russian. But I really have learned a lot from preparing a talk every week for sacrament meeting. In preparing talks I've been able to delve so much into the scriptures, pulling refrences from all over the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants and using them to help share the Gospel with members. It's reminded me just how much I love the scriptures and how much I like to tell stories. This past Sunday I talked about conversion and shared the stories of Paul and also the people of Anti-Nephi Lehi. Something that came to mind while me and Elder Strebe were preparing our talks was how people who share their testimony and give talks are given so much in return. The time spent in preperation is compensated by the Lord in spirtiual growth. A lot of the members here in Marks are shy to give talks in Church, so this upcoming month we're going to help them to give talks in Church and share their testimonies one with another. It's like why we share our testimonies of take turns giving the lessons in family home evening I think. If every week just one member of the family gave the lesson, how would others learn to teach? We learn as we try, and improve as we do it multiple times and thus we become a lot more able to be instruments in the Lords hands. Pretty cool process, huh? So, if your asked to talk in Church, no worries! :)

Not too much else to talk about from this side of the world, methinks. We find out about transfers on Friday, so we'll see where the wind blows in that respect.

Gosh, I just want to say how much I love you all. It's pretty cool how everyweek I get to write ya'll a letter and hear how the family is doing. Thank you so much for all you prayers and for everything you do. I love you lots :)

As usual, please be good. And eat your veggies!

With love
Elder Peterson

Monday, August 6, 2012


"Oh my gosh...this milk tastes like America!"
August 6, 2012

Hey there everyone!

Oh my gosh, can you believe I have another niece?! She's so darn cute too! And Brielle has gotten so big! The main picture that I show people on the street and on meetings is the one with her in a blue had and just smiling, she's gotta be only a few months old in that picture and now look at her! She's so big and smily! The same thing goes for Kaden and Brett too. I was writing my friend Rebekah today and wondering what it would be like to come back and have my nieces and nephews I barely know say my name and hug me. Pretty cool to have another addition in the family; one more awesome person to hug :)

This has been a pretty good week! I'm writing a bit late because the place where we usual e-mail back home had some issues with their internet. There was a possibility of even having us just write next week, but at the last moment we found out that their internet was back and running, so yay! On Monday we as a branch all got together and did a deep cleaning of the branch building. It's so weird. Because the work involved doing yard work and other cleaning we went over in "regular" clothes. When we're rushing to a meeting or activity and have no chance to seriously talk with people I still like to say "hi!" to them on the street. Even on a bad day, most people will at least say hi back to me, but I found that in regular clothes I looked at least partly Russian (or, at the very least, not like a missionary) and when I said hi to people, almost no one said hi back! Weird! Me and Elder Strebe had fun talking about it and wondering if people in America would say hi back if you said hi to them on the streets. We didn't know, but it's worth giving a shot! There's your homework for the week!

We had exchanges this week and for the first time I went to a place called Engels, a city that's connected by a bridge to Saratov. I worked with Elder Anderson, who is two cycles older than me and Elder Whittemore who is currently on his first cycle. It was a total blast! It was especially fun working with Elder Anderson since the last time I worked with him was when I was with Elder Rekow. We talked about how much we'd both grown and changed even in just the few months we hadn't worked together and it was incredible to see really how much stuff has changed. In working with Elder Whittemore I found he had the same concerns and worries as I did my first cycle. The same kind of thing happens when I talk to younger missionaries too. Fun to see how my view has changed over time and how my focuses and worries have morphed. Good stuff! Plus, we had tasty brownie milkshakes, so the exchange automatically was way good.

As it turned out, I did translate for President and Sister Sartori. I was pretty nervous at first since it's been something like 4 months since last time I really translated for anyone, and heck this is the President of the mission so you really have to do well, right? I learned a couple of things while translating. The first is that I know a lot more words that I thought and second that in your hard moments that Holy Ghost really does help. Translation went over really well for all three hours. I think the hardest to translate was sacrament meeting and sometimes people talk super complexly during testimonies and they don't give many breaks for you to really think about what their saying and translate super accurately. The best was when President and his wife testified and taught 3rd hour since they just paused after their thought and gave the few seconds for translating before going on. I was complimented by President on how much I've improved on the language, which was a really nice thing, though I've still got quite a bit to learn. Really though it's a miracle. Who'da thunk that a kid like me could learn Russian? Certainly wouldn't have said that when I was trying to survive in German class!

I think that wraps it up for this week. Transfers are coming up next week and there are 12 new Elders coming in (weird, it's been almost a year since I came into Russia. Wild!) and the word is going around the mission that there's going to be tons of changes. I'll go wherever I'm needed, though I certainly wouldn't mind staying another cycle or two here with Elder Strebe in Marks. It's been some seriously fun times, and time has rarely ever gone faster than it has in this past month.

A little note I wanted to add. I'm not sure who all checks out my blogs, but for any of those who do and have written me letters, would you mind telling my mom or me through facebook if you have not receieved a reply from your letter(s) yet? I'm curious as to how long it really takes for the Russian post to get my letters out and it'd be nice also to know if I've forgotten to write anyone back (so sorry if that's the case!!!). Thanks a bunch :)

I love you lots! It's always the best thing in the world to hear from you all. Everyone be sure to give a good hug to little Lily for me when you get the shot! :)

Thanks again! I love you :)
Elder Peterson

July 30, 2012

"Yep, I speak English!" "Oh my gosh! You're such a silly billy!"
July 30, 2012

Hey there everyone!

Gosh, it's been an interesting week, the highlight of it being the visa trip to Kiev! We were able to go to the temple and to almost everything since we had something like a 7 hour lay over in Kiev! Pretty darn cool! Flights are always one of my most favorite things on visa trips too because you almost always sit with really interesting people. In past trips I've met people who've given me Kazakstanian money, who have asked me to translate poetry from English to Russian and who have taught me to meditate, so I always look forward to what cool people I'd be meeting on these flights. My favorite flight, this time around, happened when I sat next to a 6 year old kid and her mom. The kid's name was Sophia and her Russian was pretty hard to understand, and her mom was constantly correcting her. When I told her mom my name and who she was she was super surprised and said that she lived in New York and knew English. Sophia was acting like a hooligan and didn't hear the conversation, but I came to find out that Sophia knew English a hundred times better than Russian (hence why her Russian was super not understandable). So, I said "Hey there!" to Sophia and she stopped and stared at me. "You speak English?" The rest of the plane ride was spent with her telling me all about school and her family and the games she liked to play on her 3DS along with drawing me a picture of a butterfly which is my new bookmark for my Book of Mormon! Pretty darn awesome plane ride. She said funny things like "see you later alligator!" which I haven't heard in forever. Pretty sweet!

In the temple I met a couple of way cool people too. There was a returned sister missionary, Sister Bragonets, from Ukraine doing baptisms in the temple, so that was way fun to see her. And, as it turns out, the parents of one of my favorite religion teachers, Brother Black, were serving in the temple! They just barely started their temple mission it sounds like and they're from Rexburg Idaho, so of course we had a pretty instant spark of friendship there! Amazing to think of the people you meet in the temple! :)

We were gone for most of the week, so not a whole lot happened new in respects to the work. We have an investigator who we're anticipating will be baptized on the 11th of August, so we're getting her all prepared! In addition, we found out that this upcoming Sunday President Sartori, my mission president, will be coming to our little branch next week, so woo hoo! The only thing that makes me nervous is that most likely I'll be translating for him. I've translated a good number of times before, but never before for him, and sometimes I hear he likes to use big words, so we'll see how it goes! I bet it'll all go just fine though :)

That was a bummer to hear about Mer, but it's way good that she's got herself a new place to be at and that things are going better. Were you already planning on making that trip, or was it a kind of bonzai trip there? Pretty sweet that we live so close to her so as to be able to come down relatively quickly to help. 

I have a favor to ask, if it's not too much trouble. One of my best friends from back at BYU-I is serving her mission in the California Roseville mission (English speaking). In the past few weeks I received 2 letters from her (and while on my visa trip I got one more!) and I sent her a reply just barely a week ago. If you could send her a dearelder telling her that I got her letters just fine and that I sent her a letter back that'd be great (to give her a time frame, she dated her last letter on June 20th and I got it on Thursday, thought it's always random when and how I get letters anyways, but at least as a time frame it's a good counter) . It sounds like it may be a bit rough right now, and though she already knows it, if you could pass on a "Good luck out there! You're awesome! Love you lots!" from me, that'd be great! Anything else you'd like to add would be just fine too :)

Think that wraps it up this week, so I'll let this go. Thanks a bunch! I love you all a ton. Things are going well, and I hope everythings going well there too :)

Be good now, alright? :) With love
Elder Peterson

July 23, 2012

"What's a 6 pack called in Russian?" "Cubes" "Huh...gotta get my 6 cubes back!"
July 23, 2012

Hey there everyone :)

It's been a pretty packed week, not gonna lie. Probably the busiest I've ever found myself as a missionary, and it's such a great blessing.We've found some incredible people this week, really a miracle. A few days ago we found a cow hearder and she has such a big heart! She spends most of her time with cows and work with them well and likes spending her free time thinking and talking to people about religion. It's interesting to see just how much shes drawn out by personal prayer and study. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she's already making great progress. Another woman we found this week also was a miracle. We were trying to quickly get to a meeting with one of our main investigators when she gave us a call and said "hey, sorry! Can't make it today! But I told one of my best friends to wait for you there. She's religious, so talk to her about the Book of Mormon, ok? See you later!" Well, she didn't describe what her friend looked like nor her age or anything of the sort, so we walked into the park where we were to meet and began looking for her. We said hi to everyone we walked by and wer dissappointed to find that no one seemed to recognize us or say hi back. On the last bench was a most interesting set of people: a super drunk guy, a larger woman laughing with him, a quiet guy about Eric's age wearing sunglasses and an old grandma. We were sure that we were too late and that she had left, but of course we still said hi to this little group of people. The drunk guy, after I said hi, said "hey look! It's those mormons our friend was talking about!" Turns out, that was exactly the group we were looking for! The drunk didn't stay once we started talking about the Gospel, but the rest of the group, one of whom was the friend, was very interested in the Gospel and had read the Bible many times over. They were all discussing passages in the Bible (especially the writings of Paul) and after talking amongst themselves about it they turned to me and Elder Strebe and asked "Well, what do you think?" It was fun being able to answer all of their Bible questions by turning to the Book of Mormon and the Spirit there was strong at that meeting. We have another meeting with her again on this week. Cool stuff :)

On Wednesday there was a huge rain storm. It was fun running back in the rain, but unfortunately it trashed the inside parts of my favorite shoes. They've got some good shoe repair places here in Russia in general, so we're gonna work with a member to find a good one. And don't worry Dad, the shoes didn't lose their shape or anything (yay for shoe trees!). IT's been cooling down a ton here lately so I'm hoping that it'll just keep on cooling down as time goes on. Weird to think this is the end of July. Dad asked if I think of it as "the last July" on my mission; I don't really think of it that way, I just can't wait for it to be Fall time. Then that'll be not only cool but my one year anniversary of being in Russia. Weird, right? :) We're having a member of the 70 come down (up? Sideways? In any sense, he's coming here) sometime in September, so that'll be exciting. Do missionaries get interviewed by general authorities? That'd be cool!

By the way, thanks for the update of Jordan! That's so darn cool that he's in India! I had a couple of friends I knew at BYU-I who had/would be serving in India. Pretty darn cool :)

What the heck?! Thomas is getting married? That's pretty cool but also really odd to me. Say hi to him and send a congrats from me!

Well, I'm at about the same place where I was last week with one investigator. Her baptism is coming up and, spiritually, she fits the requirements for it (not to mention it's also required for salvation). It's such a tense feeling, and I don't want to mess anything up. But I know the Lord will guide us as He has in the past in getting the baptism done. Part of her interview will be happening on the phone with President Sartori and of all the people I know in the mission he's the one I'd trust to get all the required spiritual intuition on the interview. He's aware of the situation, so this should all go the way that God wants it to. Thanks for the advice Dad, we really do think alike :)

I had a cool experience that I shared in Church this past Sunday on my talk that I wanted to share with you all. Elder Strebe and I, like I said last week, determined to go running 4 of the 6 days we've got for exercising. My desire on Thursday to go running was a lot less that usual and I grumbled my way over to the track that morning. We always sprint for a lap do 5 laps jogging and then sprint for the last lap, and that can be rough in the morning. But, while stretching, I had a thought enter my head that, while running, I should sing a song in my head. My favorite hymn I've memorized in Russian is actually from the Children's hymnnbook, and it's called "A Child's Prayer" (for those who aren't members/don't remember the hymn. Look it up, it's a good one). I didn't remember that self advice on the first sprint lap and I didn't like life too much as I sprinted, but when we started jogging, I remembered the self advice I had given myeself and applied it. Crazy, I know, but running became about a billion times easeir as I focused not on the run but the song, and by the last sprint I was doing incredibly well, sprinting along and just singing the kids song. It reminded me of Peter walking on the sea to the Savior. The winds and the waves were already billowing and crazy before he stepped on the sea, nevertheless, he walked for a bit on it. But as he turned his focus away from Christ, away from faith,a way from the very fact that he'd been walking on water just a second ago, he focused on the waves and wind and got scared. The Lord saved him and reminded him how necessary faith was and where our focus truly needs to be. I think that really applies to all things in life. We have daily concerns everyday that really can get to us and get us down. Many of the concerns are real and vital on a daily basis, but as we focus on just them without looking at our end goals and results, we get lost in the waves and the billows, in the hurt feet and grumbling. The end goal is something so much bigger than a lap, but it's eternal life with God. As I've thought about that this past week, it really helped me to remember my focus. My end goal isn't the end of an hour of contacting or the end of the next week, but my end goal is to secure my soul with God and do what I can to bring my family and friends (both at home and abroad) back to God. I've always known that, but I never thought running and a little bit of scripture study would make it quite so real :)

Anyways, I've written a lot today! Not much time left, so I'll let it go at that. Thanks a bunch everyone, especially my family. Can't wait to see my new nieces :) Stay strong and be good :) And hey, eat yer veggies too!

With love, now and forever
Elder Peterson

Words to A Child’s Prayer, by Janice Kapp Perry

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away
But I feel it close around me as I pray.

Heavenly Father I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
“Suffer the children to come to me.”
Father in prayer I’m coming now to thee.

Pray he is there.  Speak he is listening.
You are his child. His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer; He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heaven.

If you’d to hear it sung, this link will have that—
to hear a lovely version by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Carol Peterson

July 16, 2012

"So, who leads here in Marks, do you?" "Nah, I'm just his first counselor" "Kinda young, aren't you?"
July 16, 2012

Hey there! :)

Well, I'm back here in Marks with my new companion, Elder Strebe from Arizona. As it turns out he's spent the past two cycles serving with my MTC companion Elder Swartz, so that's pretty cool! He has tons of ideas on working with members that he learned from hsi former area in a town called Penza, so that'll be fun to implement. He's a hard worker and funny guy, so that's good. He's even set up a regiment for morning exercise, which is a two edged sword in the end. It's good to be running in the morning and sweating and all that...but gosh, I'm just so darn tired! But it's a good thing and it's helped me have more energy in the day. So yep, kudos to all you kiddos who work out in the morning!

As it turns out, I got your package, Mom and Dad, and I love it! We had planned meals out excpet for one, so last night we made delicious enchiladas from the mix you sent and on this upcoming week I'll make some delicious burritos and enchiladas methinks. Tasty stuff! The basketball hoop has provided lots of entertainment and the fruitsnacks are super tasty. The Star Wars transformer I think is going to become my motivator for the days when it's hard to go running in the morning and whatnot. Heck, if I run, I can look just like that a super sweet looking Obi Wan with dual lightsabers that turns into a startship! Yeah! One more lap!

Speaking of member work, it's been pretty cool this past week to work with the active members here in Marks. As it turns out, almost all of them are veterans of the first days of the Church here in Marks; most of them having been baptized about 11-14 years ago have stayed active ever since and seen the ebb and flo of the Church in Marks. We found out that at least a couple of them haven't gone to the temple yet, so we'll talk with our branch President about getting that all worked out (they just came out with that new Church fund didn't they? Hopefully that'll apply for some of our members here!). It's been cool to see just how much the members here have sacrificed and the trials they've all fought through to get to where they are today. It humbles me a lot to see people who have worked all of their lives, have had so many trials, yet still just smile and work with the simple knowledge that they know that God lives and that He loves them and that that means everything will work out in the end. So cool! :)

I've decicded that Mormon 9 is one of my favorite chapters. I think I'll try and apply that more to the people I talk to and teach. So often I think people wonder how they can really know that God lives without having seen some super miracle like raising people from the dead or instant sickness healing and so forth. Moroni reminds us in that chapter that really the greatest miracle that ever happened was the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In the grand look of things the welfare of our souls is what is most precious to our Heavenly Father, with the rest of the little mercies like getting a priesthood blessing or seeing a miracle is based on the mercy and love that He has for us. Pretty cool stuff there.

Looks like it's time to wrap up this letter. Thanks so much! I love you all a ton, especially my family. You're so awesome :)

Have a good week now! Love you lots!
Elder Peterson

July 9, 2012

"He's as thin as a bicycle!" "...what?
July 9, 2012

Well hey there everyone!

So, I didn't get a transfer, but sadly enough my companion, Elder Stoddard, did. For the first time in my mission I'm going to be with someone younger than me, which is a bit nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time. His name is Elder Strebe from Arizona and I'll be picking him up for the train station tomorrow morning and then head out to Marks again. Crazy stuff!

This week has been an interesting one as we've been preparing our investigator for baptism. Her date is set for the 21st of July, which is coming up pretty quick, so we'll keep on working to prepare her for baptism! No miracle on church attendance this week though, sadly enough, she got pretty sick the night before and it was a better idea for her to rest up that day. Good stuff!

Oh! Almost forgot to mention. Right now I'm at the Williams apartment in Saratov, my favorite senior couple! So awesome being able to see them again unexpectedly before they head back out to the States. Crazy thing, but apparently they're spending a couple of days in London before going back home because the Olympics are happening! Woah! I had no idea this was an Olympic year, so that'll be pretty exciting I bet.

This may be a short and kind of lame letter, but this was a good chance to send out some pictures since there's a port on the Williams computer for doing it. So...picture time!!!

Going in slightly backwards order, that me and some cows there in Marks. Proud to say I'm in the only town in the mission that has cows. Good stuff!

The next picture was at a dinner a week or so ago (also where last weeks brownie quote came from). The grandma there loves missionaries and feeding them delicious Russian food. The woman next to her is her niece and the guy is a wonderful member here in Marks. An investigator the other day got a bit mixed up because they call St. Petersburg simply "Peter" (a member was talking about St. Petersburg for some reason, if I remember right a sister of hers lives there) and she was getting introduced to Peter and then she got so mixed up with my name also being so close to Peter that she got us all mixed up in calling Peter, Peterson. Good times :)

The third pictures just a pretty sunset we had here in Marks over the bazaar there a couple of weeks ago. Marks has the biggest sky I've ever seen in my mission and reminds me a ton of White Rock and Rexburg. Bummer that we come back home before the stars come out, but I bet I'll be able to see them in August or something :)

And, one last picture that you may or may not have gotten from my friend back in Ulianovsk, but I thought I'd share the picture with you on the offchance that you didn't :) Good memories of Ulianovsk.

Anyways, short e-mail this week sorry, but I hope you like the pictures! Thank you so much everything :)

With love
Elder Peterson

P.S. a HUGE thank you to some very good friends of mine for the letters. I haven't got the package yet, sorry Mom, but it'll come soon I bet :)