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, September 24, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

With love, as always
Elder Peterson 


September 17, 2012
"Want some tea, boys?" "Sorry! We gotta go! Next time!" "This is next time! No! Stay! Drink tea!"
Hey there everyone!

Gosh, this week has been a good week for a lot of reasons. The past couple of weeks in general have been pretty dang rough, really, and it's felt like so much of the work we'd been doning wasn't going anywhere. My companion and I were musing one day while walking along the dusty empty roads of Marks if we'd end up walking more in these two years of our missions then all the years before our mission combined. Suffice it to say, we've walked a lot these past couple of weeks :)

In trying to fingure out just what exactly I needed to be doing better and how we could get the work rolling more in Marks, I ran across a talk that was given to us as part of district meeting this past week and it absolutely helped me a ton. It's a talk that Mom quoted in her talk at Mer's funeral (it was a super fantastic talk too, by the way) by Brad Wilcox called "His Grace is Sufficient". If you have the time, you should read it. Even if you've already heard it, it's still a really good thing to read it again. So awesome :) That gave me the support I needed to really do all the things I didn't want to do this past week and keep on going.

And, of course, it's not all gloomy here in Marks. Far from it! Fall has come and I love crunching through the leaves as we walk around. It's so pretty here, and the trees are all changing from green to those cool yellows, oranges and reds. Pretty darn cool. The weather is having a lot fo trouble in making up it's mind, not really knowing if it should be really warm or super chilly. It's pretty cool to think that this is the time of year when I came into Russia and that I get to witness Fall all over again. so cool!

In addition to the trees, our investigator has been making some really cool development in her gospel knowledge. She loves reading and re-reading the brochures we've given her on the Gospel and always has lots of good questions and she's already beginning to read the Book of Mormon again. She came to church yesterday, which was way awesome, though I wonder how much she heard...she's still got a bit of a hearing problem, though it's not nearly as bad as it seemed to be that first time when we taught her. Teaching her is always fun because I feel almost like I'm shouting but I'm shouting really cool things like how the Gospel helps us repent and come back to God and how there's a prophet on the earth today. Good things to shout, and the neighbors aren't bugged, so I figure it's all good :)

For the first time this week too I tried signboarding for the first time. We have out handy dandy big white board on which we wrote down "Have you thought about these questions? 1. Does God know me? 2. What does God expect from me?" It was really cool to see the responses we got from that signboard, ebcause nearly everyone believes that there's a God and that He knows them, but not many people had beofre thought about what maybe He asks of them. Got some good conversations and a few numbers from that little 45 minute escapade, and so we'll see how that goes and try it again this next week!

I had one question for my family, especially you Mom and Dad since you're so gospel knowledgeable, how to dsitinguish in the Bible and the Book of Mormon which things were done by God and which were done by Jesus Christ. I know that when it says "Lord" or "The Lord God" that it's almsot always Christ, but there are times where it just doesn't seem as clear of, like in 2 Nephi 7 which I read this morning, it almost sounds like it's Christ talking to himself through scripture. Does that question make sense? Anyways, I hope it does and it'd be cool to see what thoughts you've got on it :)

Anyways, my time's up. Thanks so much for being the awesome family and friends you are. I love you lots. :)

With love, as always
Elder Peterson

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10.2012

"Peterson, why do you look so sad?" "All the watermelons...they're gone! No!"
Hey there! :)

Gosh, lots of stuff happened this past week. First off, everyone give a super big "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" to my companion Elder Strebe! It was funny this morning talking about it with my district leader. Elder Strebe is a good, healthy eater and has tactfully refused to eat any sweets (he generally graciously accepts the candy/brownie/delicious morsel of food and sneakily hands it over to me), but it made me wonder about what we can do to celebrate his birthday today if we can't eat cake. The solution: Putting candles in a loaf of whole wheat bread :) Yay! In addition I'll probably make a cake or brownies and celebrate Elder Strebe's birthday in my own way too!

Real quick, Mom and Dad that's probably the fastest I've ever gotten a package from ya'll. I mean, didn't you just send that a few weeks ago? Both packages were waiting for me at Zone Conference and I'm currently wearing the new shoes. Thanks so much for the insoles too! I feel like I walk on puffy clouds now as opposed to bricks. It's a very nice change :)

Zone Conference was a very cool experience. The main focus of it all was on being "always" missionaries. To explainw hat that means, we took a survey wherein we had a question given to us, for example, "Do you always wake up at or before 6:30?" and we then were given the general 5 options of: Never, seldom, sometimes, almost always and always. President Malm, when he came, decided to show a section of the statistics wherein he only showed the percentage of people who answered "always". Of course, for the waking up on time one we had something like "99%" of people saying always, but then there were other questions where it was  suprisingly low. Everything was taken from Preach My Gospel like the example of the question "Do you invite your investigators to be baptized on the first lesson?" and the percentage of "Always" was pretty low. This of course rose up questions like "Well, what if the situation isn't right or..." but the point of the conference was that if it's written in Preach My Gospel, then it's advice directly from God given to the Prophets and Apostles who gave the book.

It was interesting to think about, because I never thought of Preach My Gospel as a set of kind of "commandments" for missionaries, coupled with a promise that if we do these things we will accomplish all that the Lord has in mind for us. Just as when we always keep the commandments of God we are trusted by Him and blessed greatly, so too can we always keep mission rules and the guidance of Preach My Gospel and find that we're trusted more by God to do this work. Pretty cool.

We have a meeting with our investigator tonight, as she's now come back from the Ukraine, so I'm pretty excited about that! We actually bumped into her randomly on the street last night as we were on a way to a meeting. She said that she finished the Book of mormon and had written down questions about it. I was so gosh darn excited, as was she, and when I asked when we could me she said "Well hey! Let's go right now!" "Oh no, sorry, we can't right now! We've got a meeting. Can we meet tomorrow?" "Yeah sure! You can come by in the morning if you'd like! Anytime really!" So, we set up a meeting for tonight and it's gonna be awesome! Woo! 

Other than that, that's about what we've got going on here. I love you all a lot. Really. I came into Russia nearly exactly 1 year ago today (Wednesday will be the real celebration day, more brownies!) and it's amazing to see just how much I've learned and grown in that short bit of time. I've got lots more to go, and I'm so happy that just as I get to tell you about my life, a great number of you have told me about your life and the cool things that are happening. I love hearing from you, and I hope that I bring to you some of the joy that you bring me, especially my family. You're the best. :)

Alrighty now, you have a great one. Don't forget to eat some cake for my companion Elder Strebe!

With much love, as always
Elder Peterson

P.S. I've got only a bit of time, so I'm gonna print and read your talk for next week. Thanks for sending it Mom! :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


September 3, 2012
"Real cowboys don't live in Texas...they live in New Mexico!" -- President Gritchen

Hey there everyone!

Gosh, it's been a fun week! We had exchanges and for I think the 4th or 5th time on my mission I was on exchanges with Elder Anderson, one of my best friends on the mission. He's a couple of cycles older and we had a ballgame going out and doing good stuff. I had a pretty interesting experience though while we were working together. It was about 8:00 at night when we bumped into a guy on the street who had (coincidentally) told us "Go home Yankee!" the week before (as a joke, we found out today. Me and Elder Strebe nearly burst out laughing when we heard him say it). As we came to talk to him we found out he was a very nice man who knew the history of Marks (and history in general) really well. In trying to introduce him to the Book of Mormon and our message, he rejected it saying that our Church and the society that goes with it just can never work in Russia until it adapts itself to the culture. He told us that until we really figure out what's inside a Russian soul we will never succeed in our work, and to find out how a Russian live you must do what Russian does. In the end, our discussion didn't lead him to accepting anything we had, but me and Elder Anderson had an interesting conversation afterwards on how to understand a Russian.

In relation to that experience, let me tell you a story about what happened last night. We visited a rather rich former investigator the other night. When we came to his house we found that he was slightly drunk and pretty dang rude. Whenever he'd ask a question we'd try to answer but he'd then interrupt and tell us his opinion on what he thought we'd say and tell us we were wrong before we could even say a thing! We were about to leave when a friend of our investgator came in. She's a nurse and our rich ivnestigator had injured both of his feet, so she had come to apply some medicine and help him out. She got a bit interested in what we were saying, but said a common Russian saying that goes along the lines of "All of us hope on God, but we can only rely on ourselves". She proceeded to tell us how she has 3 jobs and that despite all of that she still didnt have enough money to buy her little boy a notebook for school. No matter what money she got she had to thorugh [throw] it into some kind of hole, whether it be paying for the apartment, food, etc... She teared up a bit in talking about it all, and Elder Strebe bore a sweet testimony on the power and love of God and that as we truly rely not on ourselves but on the grace and love of God, we are provided for. We taught her a little bit and gave her our number and she thanked us for the little lesson. The whole time the former investigator was swearing and making fun of it all, but it didn't matter for the conversation. Shortly after she left, we left too.

It's interesting to hear it almsot daily that we don't understand the people. Lot's of them say that to understand them we have to drink Vodka and sell your morality. So many people suffer from the effects of sin, not even really understanding what sin is or how it's messing up their lives. Families are torn apart, kids are taught young incorrect principles and it's a hard thing to find a really lasting happiness. Of course, not everyone's life is like that, but it's a widespread mentality at times it seems. It's moments though like with the nurse and with other investigators we've got that when they feel a slice of the love of God for them, there's a change, a hope in their lives that lights their lives, if even for just a little bit. It's true that I don't fully understand the Russian soul or what makes even the standard American tick, but it's a common and solid knowledge in me that everyone can feel the love of God and know that He exists, and that His existance can mean everything to us. 

Of course, that doesn't excuse me from being totally ignorant of the culture! I had a fun meeting with some members this past week wherein they gave us good tips on how to contact on the street better, finding that even the way we greeted people was a bit too old fashioned and overly formal. There's still lots to learn , and I'm glad that I've got such good friends everywhere that are helping me out. 

Zone conference is coming up this upcoming week and we've got a member of the 70 who is the second counselor in the Europe East area presidency, Elder Malm, coming out along with his wife. More news on how all that goes next week! :)

I'm not gonna lie, I cried when I found out that Mer died [Brian’s grandmother], but I was able to cover it up and look manly so no one really noticed I think :) I'm so glad that you were able to be there with her, Mom. You've cared so much for her and helped out tons and been a terrific daughter to my awesome grandma. I always remember those trips that just you and I took in going out to Mer and helping her out. Nothing could have been better than helping you that one last time last summer in going out to gather her things and prep the house for sale. So many floppy discs! Argh! I remember when we were cleaning up and we found a whole new cabinet full of discs and books to put away and we were just so exasperated from it all. Those were fun times :) Sean wrote me this week and told me about all the fun times we had in going there to El Paso. I remember when she had just at first gotten her computer and we were all awed as to how cool it was. I think we placed some kind of podracer game on it and just thought it was the best thing ever. I remember all the good times with Mer and her Pig stories book, which I absolutely love...gotta read those again when I come back home. A lot of time too, I find, when I'm trying to learn a new Russian word I remember Mer asking you words and what they meant and telling you cool facts. I bet Mer would have been a pro at learning Russian :) I remember on that last trip too having the blessed opportunity to give Mer a blessing. I don't remember what I said, but I remember the good feelings I had in blessing my grandma before going on my mission. I had a feeling that that'd be the last time I'd see Mer, and I'm glad that that was my "final act" with her before she crossed the veil. I know Mer and Daddyguy are together now, and it'll be a fun reunion afterwords in having Mer introduce him to me. 

I'm out of time now, but thanks for your everything. You all sure are the best :)

Be good now! With love
Elder Peterson