Monday, October 29, 2012
October 29, 2012 "You are to speak English too?" "Why yes, I am to speak English too!" Hey there everyone! :) Hey, guess what? There's a baptism this Saturday! The nine year old is getting baptized on Saturday, and it's pretty dang cool. Her family has been coming back out of inactivity and thanks to a little lesson about Lehi's dream and some bananas, she understood more about baptism and is up for being baptized on Saturday! Pretty cool, huh? I think the most fun times I've had on my mission have been the times when I've taught little kids. For example, I like to draw pictures during lessons to show gospel points, and there's the usual one you can do for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in using a ladder for each of the 5 points. I taught that yesterday during Gospel Principles class, but it's so much more fun to do it with kids since they get to draw themselves and you go step by step. I don't think I described that well, but drawing pictures with kids and talking about Christ is a lot more fun then drawing pictures and teaching adults. Ah well, they're both good in the end anyways. This past week has been an interesting one for sure. When I was back in Saratov there was a young woman who got baptized by went less active awhile ago and just overall rejected religion. Eversince I came here we've been trying to meet with her, but it's never really worked out since meeting with the missionaries got dropped to the bottom of her todo list. Well, this past Monday I got a call from her saying "Hey Elder Peterson, guess what?" "What?" "I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true!" Woah snap, right?! Cool! Turns out she was walking around one day and saw a book shop and just had a feeling to go in and check it out. Having gone inand checked it out, she found a book called "Disscussions with God" and had a feeling to buy it. she didn't know why in the world she should buy it because she didn't really believe in God anymore anyways, but she did and began to read it and felt the Spirit as she did. Come to find out that the book was written by a member of the Church, she felt once more that the Church was true and remembered the many things that God had done for her in her life. Yay forre-conversion! I like little cool experiences like that. A lot of focus is missionary work goes into the fact that you need to feel the Spirit and you need to get revelation and help from God to really be able to do the work right. Big questions arise really in thinking "well, just how much is God going to guide me and how much of it is left for me to just do? Is God going to tell me to turn to the left and this cross section, or will he left me choose for myself? Does it matter?" This past week especially has been cool for me because I put a lot of focus in trying to recognize the Spirit and using it to direct me in the work. In the end, I don't really have all the answers. There've been times when I've really felt that I've needed to turn left as opposed to right on the street, and times when I know that God wants me to use my good judgement to know where to turn. But the thing you can always rely on when it comes to God, is knowing that he will solidify your faith in Christ and knowledge of His Gospel. That's the wonderful thing about reading scriptures, praying, going to Church and just doing good things in general: you feel the Spirit. You feel good, you feel light inside, and you feel like you have a clearer mind than before. It's nice. Anyways, just thought I'd share that. Sean asked me to talk about weird Russian stuff and what I do during P-days, which made me realize a couple of things: first, weird Russian things aren't weird to me anymore and second, I have pretty boring P-days. Something I talked about a lot at the begginning of my mission was how everything is in bag. Bag milk, bag jam, bag mayo, bag ketchup, bag caramel. It's all bagged, not cartoned. Bag jam is super delicious by the way. Russia has things like jam and juice down to a beautiful science. Not only is there Raspberry jam, but there's apple cinnamon jam and ginger orange jam and red/black currant jam. Same thing with the juices. Want peach juice? Be my guest! Want pineapple strawberry deliciousness in liquid form? Go to! I love the food here, except for holodets of course (quick reminder, that's russian meat jello. Gross!). As for my P-days, I remembered just how dirt tired I was my first two cycles this past week as Elder Treter began passing out sleeping on every single bus ride. He's pretty tired, and I guess I am too, but the whole tiredness thing stopped mattering quite a few months ago :D. So, on P-days when we're not buying coats and new boots (I bought some new boots, by the way, the american ones didn't quite cut it for a few reasons) and buying delcious bag jam, Elder Treter and I either make brownies or cookies and take a hour or 2 long nap. We'll be having a culture night soon though, which is a lot cooler than P-days, and we'll be watching -get this- West Side Story...in Russian! In Russia! Cool, huh? More news as that comes up. Dang, this was a long e-mail today. I'll let it end for now then, gotta go soon. Thanks a bunch for the e-mails and the news on all the family! Mary is going on a mission, huh? I totally called that (with the exception, of course, that she didn't get married or somethin). That's great to hear about Uncle Brian too! Lots of cool stuff going on :) Anyways, thanks again for everything you do, especially my super cool family! You're the best, and I love you lots. Have a great week now, alright? :) With love, always -- Elder Peterson
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
October 22, 2012 Alright, so on which passport do you want the new visa?" " *poker face* huh?" "Come on, I know you have 2 passports" "Oh." Hey there everybody! Gosh, you know I've been telling Elder Treter for the past 3 weeks that we'd be having a normal day of missionary work. Well...that still hasn't really happened, but amazingly enought we've still been having some incredible stuff going on here in Orenburg! The investigator who wants his family to be together forever is making really awesome progress in the gospel. He came with his two twin sons to Church all by himself and stayed for all 3 hours, which is way cool since we weren't even on third hour (we taught Aaronic Priesthood instead, way cool kid there) and he took a Gospel principles book and loves it. We're gonna start meeting with him every Monday and Wednesday is the hope, so we'll see how all of that goes down! He's a pretty solid guy and investigator of the Church, so I can't wait to be meeting with him tonight and teaching him about the plan of Salvation! Another person we're working with is doing really well too! She met the missionaries 5 years ago and has been flitting in and out of investigating the Church. She's been having rough times lately and had some spiritual questions so she herself called the missionaries (one of which was Elder Johnson, my second trainer if you remember!) and has been meeting with them ever since! We had a really cool lesson on Lehi's dream and relating it to baptism and eternal life and she's been praying about a baptismal date of the 17th of November. Because she's investigated the Church for so long I think she's got a really good knowledge of the Church, but is lacking a bit in testimony, so that'll be cool making that a focus for our upcoming meetings! Also, for the past couple of weeks we've been trying pretty hard to get this one family out to Church. They're way cool and love the church but are hurting a bit financially making it hard to get to Church. Me and the mother talked on the phone a couple of times before this past Sunday and she's just the best mom for her 4 kids! Super energetic and she loves the Church and she was able to make it this past Sunday! Her little 9 year old daughter is also one of the cutest little Russian kids I know and we're gonna be working with her to prepare her for baptism (the rest of the fam are members). Pretty cool, right? Elder Treter is doing pretty dang awesome too, I've got to say. I'm still super impressed with his knowledge of the language and his ability to express himself. We had a meeting with a potential investigator and she asked him how the Church and the Book of Mormon had affected his life. He proceeded to explain how ever since he was 13 he noticed the difference between people who kept the commandments and those who didn't and the quality of their lives. He explained what he did to come to know the Book of Mormon was true (he has a testimony a lot like me, no real defined moment when we found out it was true, it just was a knowledge that's ben there since childhood) amd testified of the Church. I'm so glad that I get to be Elder Treter's trainer, he really is the best. As corny as it probably sounds, I've learned a lot more from him than I think he has from me. This past week I was on a visa trip, which is why I'm so surprised as to how much good happened considering that we were effectively only in Orenburg for 3 days or so, one of which got eaten up by weekl planning. We unfortunately didn't get to go to the temple in Kiev this time around, but it was a great opportunity to get to know the missionaries in the Samara zone and to catch up with some good friends (like Elder Stoddard in Penza!). I think it's funny, now that I look back, how I used to be a bit shy of talking to people on airplanes back in America. I'd almost always do it, and always have an awesome experience doing so, but I still just remember being so shy of doing it. Now I just get on planes and talk to anybody and have a blast doing it! Glad I've picked up at least that skill since being in Russia and having visa trips! Well, time's about up here, thank you so much for being so awesome! A bit belated, sorry, but happy birthday Neil and Brando! You're the best! That's way cool that Lexi and Lily got blessed too. I can't wait to meet them! Ya'll have a great one now, alright? I love you lots :) С любовью, -- Elder Peterson
Monday, October 15, 2012
October 15, 2012
"Wait...Santa Claus lives is...Finland?!"
Hey there everyone! :)
It's been a crazy week, and a slightly crazier morning as we were in
the police station talking to the police about my move from Marks to
here. Just me and the bars, folks! Heh...just kidding, they didn't
toss me in prison, but we did spend two hours there getting stuff
worked out so that legally I can be here in Orenburg. Good times! It
was pretty fun because the guy who interviewed me, spent a lot
more time just asking about the Church and what we taught rather than
the legalities of our service here. In the end he thought our Church
was spiffy and we invited him to come on Sunday!
Dang, conference sure was awesome, wasn't it? I think my favorite talk
was Elder Holland's on Sunday morning. That whole session was just
incredible but Elder Holland's talk just blew me away. This is the
first time on my mission that I've been able to legitimately watch all
of conference in English and really enjoy it. What's better is that
all of that is thanks to Elder Treter! The computer for years had been
missing a sound driver and a legitimate connection to the internet and
he fixed it super fast so we didn't have to watch conference in
Lots of other cool stuff happened this week too. We bought a new
winter coat, hat and gloves for Elder Treter at the bazaar and it was
a bit of nostalgia to the time when I bought my first coat, only this
time it was me and a member, bargaining for my companion's
coat as opposed to me buying one! Fun times were had.
Oooh, we also had a really awesome meeting with an investigator on
Monday. He has got 3 kids and wife and his main
interest in the Church is that we believe that families can be
together forever and that the way to that is temple sealing. He want
to get his family through the temple, so he's ready to hear our
lessons. And, to add to the coolness of it all, he was found by my MTC
teacher, Brother Milligan! Cool, right? He got lost for awhile in
moving and lost contact but now it's re-established and we have a
tentative baptismal date for the 3rd of November set. We'll see how it
all goes down :)
We also had a mini zone conference this past weekend, and it was
incredible. It's really hard to explain how awesome it was and it's
impact because that takes a lot of explaining the logistics of the
mission and how we've been working, but suffice it to say that I like
our new system of finding, teaching and baptizing people. It's a cool
little principle to really check the revelation that's given to other
people. The system works for conference, like on the announcement that
people can go on missions at ages 18 and 19 now. Sure it's a cool
thing, but you can really get a confirmation that that is the correct
direction for the Church to go, and the same thing works on a mission
and personal level too. I hope that makes sense. We can always check
with God to see if something is correct and get an answer from Him.
Time is about up, and now I know what a shawl is (thanks Mom!) and
I'll get to work on finding one! By the way, Mom if you could tell
my friend that I got her package and absolutely loved it, that'd be great.
She's the best :) I'll be writing her a letter today methinks, so she
can expect something a good letter in a few weeks or so. Thanks Mom!
You're the best :)
Oh, one more side note, Orenburg is 2 hours off of Moscow, so it it's
7:00 in Moscow it's 9:00 in Orenburg (not a fun time change to work
through on trains!)
Alright, for real now, gotta go. Thanks so much, and I love you lots!
Be good now!
Monday, October 8, 2012
"Have you ever eaten corn flakes with a fork?" "No...why?" "You're about too!"
Hey there everybody!
Gosh, it's pretty wild being way out here in Orenburg. We live about a
30 minute drive away from the center of the city and are right by a
McDonalds. Actually, as it turns out, both the McDonalds in the city
are within our area so...we're well provided for!
My new companion is Elder Treter from Greendale Wisconsin. And, as it
turns out, he was President Barrett's home teacher for awhile. Go
figure, huh? He's a super smart cookie and pretty much rocks at
Russian, at lesst as much as you can rock coming straight out from the
MTC. For example, you remember the apartment situation I had in
Dachney where there wasn't a frying pan and the washing machine didn't
work out and there were just issues all over the place? This is almost
the exact situation, except with two crucial changes, I can speak
Russian now and we have a frying pan. Anyways, the tube under the sink
broke after the first use and in looking up the word tube (to be fair,
I don't use the work tube all that often) Elder Treter told me
straight up, without looking, what it was. I'm rather impressed with
his word bank and how quickly he's picking up words. Pretty dang cool!
It's fun to see how the Lord prepared me a little less than a year ago
for the problems that came this first week in opening a new area with
an apartment missing lots of things. We had no materials this week
either, other than a box of Book of Mormons, which is good enough, but
I remember just being super stressed out my third cycle in getting all
that stuff worked out rather than just rolling with it this time
around. I'm thankful that God has given me some experience and an
awesome companion to work with.
Orenburg is super pretty by the way. I'm bummed that all the trees
have already turned color and most of the elaves have fallen since I
think it would have been just as pretty as Marks had I come a week or
two earlier. The people here (at least the couple hundred we've run
into) are pretty dang nice, including a man who we met on the
trainride over here to Orenburg. He came to church too, and liked it!
Like Mom and Dad mentioned, Orenburg is indeed famous for it's shawls.
I'll look into those. What exactly is a shawl anyways? Guess I'll find
At Church this past Sunday we had 41 people, which is pretty dang
cool. Apparently 3 months ago there were about 15 active members there
in the branch (sound familiar?) but when a new senior couple came they
did some crazy awesome less active work along with the set of
missionaries baptizing 2 new members getting us to the point where
we're at now. I'll have to figure out what they did exactly and see if
we can apply it to other cities, because that'd be great to in a 3
month period do that much work in any branch. We'll keep it on the
uprise now that we're here in Orenburg north!
There were a few kinks I had to work out with the internet, so I'm
going to end here before anything else happens. Have a great week now,
ya hear? Thanks so much for everything. That's way exciting to hear
about the new age requirements for missionaries. It'll be really odd
to start seeing 18 year olds here in Russia. I bet that'll flood the
office with mission papers now since they just opened it up to so
many. Cool to hear! I see conference I think this weekend, so I'll
comment on it all next week too!
I love you lots. Thanks again for everything. Be good now, ya hear? :)
Thursday, October 4, 2012
October 1, 2012
I'm a daddy!
Hey there everyone! :)
Well, this'll be one of the few subject lines that I'll really explain I think. We were all anticipating transfers this past week and they generally call us on say Thursday or Friday so that we have time to pack, buy tickets etc... but for whatever reason this cycle the Assistants decided that they'd call at about 9:30 on Saturday night. I got a transfer, and it's pretty crazy. I'm gonna be training a brand new missionary and opening up a new area in the city of Orenburg. Woah snap! I didn't anticipate that one at all and didn't really have too much time to think about it since I had to pack that night and early the next morning to hop on a bus right after Church to get to the bus station in Saratov. I'm here in Samara right now and I'll be picking up my new trainee on Wednesday and hoping [hopping] on a train that night to Orenburg (that'll be a fun, both of us alone with all our luggage and other stuff like a fax machine...ack!). Gosh, this is pretty crazy, but I'm way excited to be training and going to Orenburg of all places. It's the east most city in our mission, has a 2 hour time change from everyone else and has a border with the continent of Asia (the famous saying throughout the mission is that you can go to Asia and back in one day from Orenburg). You'll have to check it out, it sounds like a blast :)
Sunday was a pretty sad day though. There's a member in Marks who loves to feed us and she cries everytime that missionaries go. Usually, like I mentioned earlier, they call on a Thursday or Friday so there's time to warn our dear member that someone is going. I was really touched on Sunday by the members in Marks. Because of how the schedule worked out I had to learn [leave] in the middle of 3rd hour, which was combined since it's the fifth sunday of the month, to make my bus to Saratov. When I got up to say goodbye and kinda just rip the bandaid really quick, all the members stood up to shake my hand before I left. It was pretty emotional, because they started getting teary eyed and that made me teary eyed...gosh. I really hope that after my mission I can visit Russia again and travel to Marks. Marks always reminded me of White Rock since it's such a small town and everyone seems to know each other. I'm really gonna miss Marks, and it'll be good to see my friends from there again, whenever that may be :)
I had a quick question for my family about the Book of Mormon. I've been going through the Isaiah chapters in 2nd Nephi and reading it along with the KJV and the footnotes there and it's make it about a hundred times more understandable, which is way cool. I remember a question I had back at the MTC was as to why the Book of Mormon is called the stick of Ephraim because Lehi and his family are from Manassah, but then I was reading today about how the 10 tribes of Isreal were all called under the name of Ephraim (I guess because the kings were always called from that tribe), so is that why the Book of Mormon is called the Stick of Ephraim? Or I guess the other way it's said is that it's the Stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim, which makes sense too since Jospeh Smith was from Ephraim. Anyways, am I right, or is there another right answer? Thanks :)
That's pretty odd to hear about all them younger kiddos going off on their missions like Charles and Alan. Who all has mission calls now from that age group and where to? Anyone going to Russia? :D
Anyways, that's about it for this week. Next week I'll give you all the details on my new companion and the area. Thanks for your thoughts, letters and prayers. You're the best :)
С любовью, раз и навсегда
P.S. Happy October!