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, July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013, Brian's final email from Russia

July 1, 2013
Always Missionary.
Hey there everyone! :)

Well, this is it, right? A little over 2 years ago I entered the MTC, got a badge and cracked open a fresh Preach My Gospel. I remember how weird of a morning that was, since you all, Mom and Dad and Sean and Jennie, left that morning before I left for the MTC officially. As Sherrie and Sims dropped me off I remember looking around at the other missionaries and seeing almost all of them cry with their families as they said goodbye. I felt so heartless since I didn't really have THAT close of a connection to Sherrie and Sims; I just gave them a hug and then went off to work. I remember thinking "man, why are all these guys crying? It's not that bad!"

I never would have thought 2 years ago that I would cry so much. I never would have guessed that I'd love Russia so much. I never thought I'd see so many miracles and be a part of such a great work. It's times like this where I'm so amazed. For 2 years I served amongst some of the best people that live on this good Earth, especially in these last few months here in Balakova. This has been my life. 

For the last couple of weeks I've woken up in the morning, looked outside and wondered to myself "how can I come home and not do this?". Maybe it sounds dumb, but imagine that for 2 years every morning for breakfast you've had eggs, bacon and toast. It just never gets old! And then, suddenly, someone puts a bowl of cereal in front of you one morning or a breakfast burrito. It's weird! Sure, it's probably tasty, but it's just not what you've had for the past forever. 

I still can't imagine what it'll really be like, walking down the streets of White Rock and not stopping people and talking to them in Russian about the Gospel. I can't imagine getting on a bus and not trying to strike up a conversation in Russian. What am I supposed to do instead of teaching people, instead of taking care of my district, instead of all of this? These thoughts, and others, had been getting me down...until Sunday! 

Sunday was probably one of the biggest miracles of my life. Have you all watched the broadcast called "The Work of Salvation"? Didn't every single one of you cry during that video of the family all doing missionary work? I died! It was pretty funny actually, and it's ok if you didn't cry, since no one other than me did, but that video and that whole broadcast brought me the comfort I've been looking for for the past couple of weeks. I can, should, and will be a missionary, even after I return back from Russia. I've still got work to do, lots of it, and the Lord is hastening the work.

I've seen this everywhere I've gone. If the members work with the missionaries, then everyone has stuff to do and there is an abundance of blessings poured on everyone. If we don't have the missionaries signed up to visit us during the first or second week of me being back, we've got to invite them! There's so much I want to do, and I think the Lord is giving me some time to be in White Rock not just to do a bit of yard work (though that certainly is a big reason!) but also in order to do some good there in His kingdom before I go back to BYU-I.

I don't know what the Lord has in mind, but I do know that it will be spectacular. We saw that this week here too. V is doing such a great job in quitting smoking and drinking. N and N have returned from Moscow and are that much more eager now to meet with us, come to Church and pray. Our potential investigators are becoming progressing investigators and the Sisters are having success in their area too. S got the Melch. Priesthood and L is on his way to getting it. Sister R gave a wonderful talk in Church on Sunday and the Branch is growing in faith and unity. 

Gosh! Isn't this just the best? Don't you just feel so good about everything? I wish I could save this feeling in my heart forever, this faith and knowledge that really everything is going to work out. And not jsut work out, but it's going to be glorious.  I want to work hard, and I want people to come to know the truth which I know and have taught for the past two years. 

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. It's God's Church. The Book of Mormon is true and it bears witness that God the Father lives and that His son, Jesus Christ, is the redeemer and savior of the world. It is scripture, and is so plainly written, even in Russian, so that anyone who sincerely seeks truth will find it abundantly upon the pages of that book. That's just how it is. I know it's true. And I know that if you don't know it's true, that you can know for yourself, because God loves you. I know God loves you, because He loves me and I've seen His love and His abundant mercy applied in my life and in the lives of those around me. 

This is my testimony, and, I guess, the final letter of my mission. It's been good, and it'll keep getting better. I love you all so much. I know I say it nearly every week, but I want you to know that I really do appreciate all of your letters, thoughts and prayers in my behalf. I've felt it. Thank you again, and I love you.

Until next week :)

With love,
Elder Peterson

Monday, June 24, 2013


June 24, 2013

"Elder Peterson! You're so much thinner than you were! Doesn't anyone nourish you?!" "I do! I cook great food Tatyana!" "Aw....Elder Peterson. I liked you better when you were fat. You have great Russian though!"

Hey there everyone :)

Alright, I know this sounds really ridiculous, but has been a pretty emotional week. As goofy as it sounds, I'm coming home in two weeks and that's been taking a toll on me. It certainly has been adding an edge to my work and other things though! I've really got to stop crying though. That's the main thing. After a lesson that we had this week with Sister F I began to tear up a bit when her husband turned around to me and said "Peterson...did you drink today? You're just so emotional!" :D everything is just fine, of course, nothing too crazy. I just really need to come back to Russia someday.

So, you all remember our investigator from last week, right? She has a cool story! We set up a meeting with her last week for this Wednesday at 7:00. We came, right on time, but couldn't find her. In our search for her, we found 2 new potential investigators, which was nice! We set up a meeting with said potential investigators for Friday at 6:30. On Friday we came at 6:30 and, what do you know, they weren't there and when we gave them a call they said "oh, sorry, we're gone! Uh...we'll call you later!" Nothing too abnormal, despite the fact that we'd called an hour before to double check our meeting. Elder Lundberg and I decided to sit on a bench for a second to think about what to do next when, out of nowhere, comes L! She had actually been at the place appointed on Wednesday, but had come out at 6:30 and not 7:00 like we had agreed. She was pretty darn excited to see us and we shared with her Joseph Smith's first vision and the Restoration of the Church. She was especially touched by the first vision and liked the idea that families can be together forever. Score, right? We have another meeting set up with her for this week so we'll see how it goes from here out! 

Also, you probably remember the experience I told about blessing A and her mom (who was dying of cancer). This past week, her mom died, having gone away peacefully. Her mom's last wish was that she'd continue to meet with the missionaries and be active in the Church. All four of us missionaries had the privelage the next day going over to her home and comforting her in her time of need. It's so interesting. I've never really comforted someone who's had a member of the family die so recently, but it doesn't require a whole lot from you. It was touching to sit and listen to A talk about her mom, her life and the good and not so good times that they had shared together. It changes everything to know that this life isn't the end. It just isn't. Roughly speaking it's as if I thought that because I'd go on my mission to Russia I'd never see any of you again. No silly, it's ok! All things have an end, even death, and the God of Love from before the foundation of the Earth created a plan by which we all will arise from the dead and be with our loved ones again. Doesn't that just feel right? Not only is the concept wonderful, but you can feel that it's right, that it's good. I love this Church.

I won't give it away now, but I have a good little FHE idea for whenever we have more than just us 3 at home (I think we'll do it when Sean and his family and Neil and co. come to New Mexico, that'll be good!) If you could, please right on my to-do list "balloon fhe". I'll remember what it means :)

Alright, it's time to go. This is the next to last time you'll be getting an e-mail from me. That's just weird. Tell you what, I'll keep you all in your prayers if you keep me in yours, ok? Maybe this week I won't cry three times while reading 3 Nephi 27 in Russian :)

I love you all so much. I can't wait to have my own family and understand more of just how much God loves every single one of us.

Until next week, with love
Elder Peterson  

Monday, June 17, 2013


June 17, 2013
"Man, how did you get so good at soccer?! I bet you play FIFA 2014 all the time at home!" "Nope, never played it!" "WOAH!!!!"

Hey there everyone!

Woah, it's that time of year again. Father's day was yesterday (HAPPY FATHER'S DAY DAD!!!!!) and my birthday is coming up this Thursday! Weird! I'll need to buy myself a cane for my birthday! 

This was a pretty good week, not gonna lie (really, I won't!). I got a free icon from some potential investigators, we had about 13 people at our last sports night (which is a TON more than usual! We've found a great place) and we got to go to district conference on Sunday (essentially Stake conference just a bit smaller). We had a couple of cool stories from this week too!

First off, Elder Lundberg and I were contacting along a pretty quiet street when, out of the blue, we smell delicious baked goods. We looked around to see from whence came the scumpcious smell and we deteremined that it had to be coming from this one yellow building. Like any logical person would expect, we started looking for a door a the front of the building, but didn't find one, so we began to circumspect the building to see where we could find an entrance to the treasure trove of baked goodness. To our surprise, we found a lady feeding some cats and smiling. As it turns out, we'd just bumped into the most famous school teacher in all of Balakova! Her name is [  ] and she'd taught Russian, World History and math at the local school for 50 years and, now that she is retired, has been tutoring high school students to take the Russian equivalent of the SAT/ACT. She introduced us to some of her friends and told everyone about how nice we looked and  about how well we spoke Russian and she became really curious as to why we're here! In the end, she took a Book of Mormon and we have another meeting set up with her on Wednesday! The sad part of the story is that we never did find the entrance to the baked goods store, but I'd say that's alright based on what happened anyways! Sometimes the Lord brings people who are ready to us, and, at other times, the Lord attracts His servants by means of pastries to find those who may, at this time, be ready to hear the Gospel!

Story number 2: the night before district conference I had a pretty bad dream. They don't happen often, but sometimes Satan is a real jerk, so that night I'd had a bad dream. The point of the dream was this: that'd I'd failed as a missionary and that none of the fruits of my labor had remained, it'd all already withered away. That's total balogne, for one, but when I woke up in the morning I just felt awful. I though about the first investigator I knew who was baptized, and about 6 months ago the last thing I'd heard was that she'd gotten super offended by a member and had gone less active. After the first session of district conference (and by this time I'd completely forgotten about the dream) I was going around talking to all my Saratov friends when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her. I just about died, it was so awesome! I ran over to her and found out that everything is ok, that she's active and doing well now. That really was a pretty huge tender mercy from the Lord to see her and to find out that everything is alright :) Man, that was just a pretty emotion experience overall being that at District Conference. I saw almost all of my friends from Russia there (save for the members in Ulianovsk and Orenburg) and it was also the last time I'd be seeing President and Sister Sartori on this side of world. Thank goodness for Facebook, right? :)

So, I need a couple more classes, huh? Thanks for getting that all set up for me, by the way Mom, you're the best :) I hgad a thought this past week that I'd really love to take some variety of dance class (latin dance would be spiffy! By ballroom or social dance would be great too, maybe even better, I haven't taken a dance class since high school). Also, at some point I need to take a Church history class, but that doesn't necessarily need to be this upcoming semester. Thanks for getting stuff worked out with my Russian classes too! What should I be doing about scholarships? I think I've got one for BYU-I, but is there any other way to apply/get scholarships from other places/organizations too, or is that a bit late? In any event, I'll be needing to find myself a job and stop being poor at some point! :D

There's a couple of questions I had that I'll need your help, Mom and Dad, in determining what to do about it. If you can get a hold of the Wings and say hi to them for me and ask them at what point they were thinking of going with Michael to the Grand Canyon, that'd be great (they'll know what I'm talking about). I'd write them myself, but I always end up running out of time, and you're a lot more accessible right now than I am. Thanks! Also, I got a wedding announcement from Sister Alex Simons for the August 2nd that'll take place in the Sacramento temple.  But I figure it's worth asking and investigating from you all to know what our summer plans are and how stuff is going to work out. When do I start school, anyways?

That'll do for now, I think. Thanks for the birthday wishes, and once more, happy belated father's day, Dad! I love you all lots! Be good now :)

Elder Peterson

Monday, June 10, 2013


June 10, 2013
"Americans! I have a very important question!" "Ok! What's up?" "How much does a 100 kilo bag of cement cost in America?" "Umm...hmm, I'd guess-" "Honey! Stop bugging the Americans! They're busy!"

Hey there everyone! :)

Man, this week has been fantastic! We've been really busy and we saw lots of good results from our work that we've done in the past few weeks! Here's a couple of cool stories!

Every Thursday nightwe've been holding a Sports night wherein we play frisbee (I'm still awful at tossing a frisbee!) and soccer. Last week we hit our all time low in attendance. Even the Sisters weren't there because they had a lesson they had to go to instead of Sports! Oh no! This week we decided to switch places to a place that's more public to see if it'd be better for inviting more people. As we started, the Sisters were late because of traffic and we had a sad little group of 5 people playing frisbee, hoping desperately that at least 1 more person would come so that we could play some soccer. Well, it was cool. We'd found a lot of people this past week who said that they'd come to Sports night and...they actually came! It sounds goofy, but really that is a rarity. Our little group of 5 more than doubled to 11 and we had a ton of fun playing soccer together and there was a great spiritual thought too! At the end, as people were walking away, they were talking about how they were going to invite their friends to come and play next week. I'm really glad that it worked out and that God showed our little sports group some mercy this week :)

In other news, we found 6 new investigators this past week, which is pretty impressive, but my favorite of all the finding experiences this week was thanks to Elder Lundberg especially. We were doing addresses when Elder Lundberg suggested taking a route that wasn't, in my opinion, as quick/effective as it could have been, but I wanted him to lead it out, so we did it his way. We dropped by the first address; the guy had moved (pretty usual in this line of work), so we went outside the building to write down the results when we heard a woman from the first floor window say "hi boys! What are you preaching?" Long story short, her and her husband invited us in, we explained prayer and the Book of Mormon and prayed with them and they became new. If we hadn't have been there at that time and place, we wouldn't have found them. Elder Lundberg got and acted on revelation without even knowing it, and we saw wonderful fruits of that. I'm so proud of him!

In other news, V is making wonderful progress and he has a baptismal date set for the 29th of June. I think I might have mentioned this last time, but I really hope he makes it for that date because it will be my 2 year mark on my mission. Crazy! Funny story, as we went to drop by him for  a lesson we saw his neighbor outside on his front yard, wearing nothing but his underwear, holding a spear. Out of nowhere we heard a "meow!" and a cat dashed out from his hiding spot and booked it down the street, the man's spear just barely missing it. Vladimir came out right at that time and we all gave the guy a perplexed look as he tried to explain tha the cat had messed up the plants in his garden and that he was out to get revenge. Russia!

Cool little thing too, if you look at your calendars you may have a scribbled out "that cool guy from Russia comes home today!" marked out. Yep! According to the original plan I was supposed to be where you are today. All I can say is that thank goodness I'm still on my mission :) It'll be awhile before I'm ready to go, if ever.

Ah, thank you so much Mom for working with my registration stuff. I feel your pain, I know the system needs to be reworked (I really was gnawing my nails my second semester as I was desperately trying to rework my scheudle. Everything worked out though, whew!). So, here's my opinions/thoughts on the courses!

Go ahead and go with Natalie's favorite class-- the theme sounds really cool! If for whatever reason that doesn't work out go for the class by Brother Embree, he's a great teacher (he taught my public speaking class).

As for science, the Understanding DNA and other related helath issues sounded really interesting, followed by natural disastors and the origins of the universe. They all sound good, but if there's a choice that's the order I'd put it in :)

Music 158 (harp?) I think may be a repeateable course, but Sister Pack (my harp teacher) would know better than I do in that sphere. Hopefully she looks at her e-mail!

Dang, not gonna lie, I felt really good about that [possible] major. At least, the idea of it sounds pretty spot on idea wise as to what I want to do with my life going in more to the admin/buisness side of health stuff. It sounds like a rather specific major, so hopefully they have some good matching up stuff related with it, but whatever other information you find out about it go ahead and shoot it off to me (or we can talk about it when I come back, either way!). :)

Thanks so much for doing all that Mom. You're the best :)

Do you remember that little to-do list I asked about last week? I had a couple of other things to add to it if you could do that for me! First off, I wanted to start jogging with you in the mornings, Mom, if that'd be ok! One of my childhood memories is from a time when we both jogged/walked around town and just talked and then we came back and I watched you play Mist. I don't know why that's still so stuck in my head, but it reminded me of just how much I loved jogging with you. Also, if possible, I'd like to take piano lessons from you (remember back in the good old days? :D). I'll practice, I promise! Also, Dad, I'd like to play tennis with you at least once a week (so long as work and stuff allows for that to happen!) Thanks :)

Anyways, that's what I've got for this week! Thanks for all the support and love! By the way, the new socks are about the best thing ever. Thanks again :)

I love you lots! I really do. Have a great week, and be safe :)

With love
Elder Peterson

Monday, June 3, 2013


June 3, 2013
"Salt Lake City forever!!! YEAH!!!!" "Uh, thanks! I'm from New Mexico actually." "Rock on!!! Good luck brothers!!!"

Hey there! :)

Man, this week got eaten up by that conference in Samara, but it was a dang good conference so it was worth it. It takes a good 6 hours by bus to get to Samara from Balakova, so we left on Wednesday after study, were there on Thursday for the conference and then headed back to Balakvoa on Friday! Whew! Not to meantion that on Tuesday we had to do our weekly planning on Saturday was district meeting! Too many meetings and travel and not enough regular work, methinks, but that's ok.

I know I mentioned it last week, but once more I just want to say Happy Birthday Mom!!!!!! You're the best :)

Alright, so work wise here's what's been going on. We've been working very closely with a fellow I’ve mentioned before to get him to make his baptism by June 29th (does that date sound familiar to anyone? :D).  This week we discussed baptism (this'll be his third time being baptized when he is, so that was bit of a concern for him that it's a bit overkill) and Priesthood. It's really amazing to see his progress with the Gospel. The answers we get to our questions to God really do depend on our faith and effort in those little things with which we've been given. When we learn that we need to read scriptures everyday, and when we keep that commandment, in a very real way it is easier for us to receive answers to our prayers and see how God helps us out. He has been seeing that as he's been praying and reading that it's becoming easier to quit smoking and overcome his doubts by faith and hard work. 

In that same kind of vein, it was a really emotional but great fast Sunday yesterday. It was my very last one there in Balakova (since my last one will be in Samara since it'll be the day before I come back home). The coolest experience was for sure seeing a particular member go up and bear his testimony. I've gotten to see how he has gone from being completely inactive to active. Right now he's working hard on quitting smoking, and we've been working together along with President Dzubluk too, but it's been my privelage to teach him and help get him and his family back. When he bore his testimony in Church he told about the difference the Church and the Book of Mormon had made in his life. He said that he was grateful that God let him be born so that this day he could come up and bear his testimony that he knows the Church is true and that God lives. He knows it now, and so long as he continues on the path he's on, that knowledge will be a solid foundation for his future in the church and in his family. I'm so proud of him. He's become my brother too from all this time we've had here in Balakova. 

I know it's a little early, but I have a quick request for you (i.e. Mom and Dad!). If you haven't already, I would absolutely love it if you could could either print of some how electonically save these e-mails I've sent out to you. Somehow we'll also figure out a way to save/transmit other e-mails (for example, ones to and from you, brothers and others), but for right now that's kinda the most important thing, just having, at some point, a physical copy of all of these letters. Thanks :) In addition, if you could write down on a piece of paper a kind of "to-do" list that'd be wonderful and put it in a spot where I will see it when I come back. The first is to have an interview with Bishop Stokes (he is still Bishop, right?) and the second is to send out e-mails to the missionaries here in the mission. Undoubtedly, I'll put a few more items on this to-do list but that'll do for now :)

By the way, I did get the box. The socks are really dang comfy, so thanks a bunch :)

Ah! The new Sister arrieved! He name is Sister Sigman from Utah, but, surprise, she's half Native American! All the members think that she's from India as opposed to America (silly Russians, there's no good way to say "native American", so jokingly I just call her a "Lamanitess" in Russian). Pretty exciting! She cheated and studied Russian for a year before she came out to Russia, so she has a pretty good headstart! She's already doing great! 

Well, that'll probably do for now I think! Have a great day! I love you lots :)

Until next time!
Elder Peterson

Monday, May 27, 2013


May 27, 2013
"See those boys?!" "um..." "They're American cultists! Look at their devious sneaky eyes!" *Elder Lundberg and I wave* "Oh ho! Cultists!"

Hey there everyone!

I will warn you ahead of time that my shift key is working about half the time, so if something is supposed to be captalized but isn't you'll know that to blame! It's been a pretty good week, though we got some sad news: Sister Crane is getting trasferred! Yep, she's going to Solnechney is Saratov, so she's not too far off. We're all bummed, of course, but the good news is that we're getting a completely new sister from America! More details on that all next week.

Real quick here I'm gonna have to say...HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! С днем рождения :) I was trying to figure out when it'd be better to wish you happy birthday, whether this monday or next monday, but I decided that today would be better :) Man, it still seems like you had your birthday only a little while ago! I remember sending you that card while I was in Ulyanovsk. Weird how time goes, right?

Of anyone else on my mission, you Mom have been the most faithful in writing me every week, and I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate every letter you send. You have just as many adventures as I do I think, and it's always good to hear that everything is good with you back at home. I think it's true that the Lord does bless our families while we're out on missions. I'm not sure what blessings you've received, but I know the Lord has blessed and protected my family and especially you Mom while I've been gone. It's pretty cool :)

I've been meaning to bring it up for awhile now, but I always forget, but have you and  Dad thought about serving on a mission? I think about the Williams and the Wings and all the other wonderful senior couples I've met here in Russia and I think about just how much of a difference you would make in coming out and serving. I hope the idea isn't scary to you anymore (or maybe as much as it may have been at the beginning), but it's still my dream that you will come here to Russia (maybe even right here to Saratov or Balakova!) on a mission. You two would do so much good, and it'd be a wonderful excuse to come back to visit Russia :) I'm not sure how logical that is...I'm not sure if anyone other than Eric has been able to return back, but gosh it'd be so cool if you served in Russia :)

One of the main focuses we've been making as a district has been helping our branch out here in Balakova to be really converted. The summer is always a hard time for Russians because they almost all have what's called a "дача" [dacha] or summer home behind the city where they grow their own fruits and veggies. That's good and all, but they go out there so often, especially on the weekends to tend for their gardens and whatnot that so many end up missing Church because they're out there watering plants. There's such a difference in the lives of those who willingly sacrifice that one day of the week and dedicate it to the Lord from the lives of those who simply don't. I feel like it was Dad, but once someone explained the Gospel and keeping the commandments like an investment. It really is that way, that as we through the hard times keep the commandments and show forth our faith in God's promises we're blessed abundantly both temporarily and spiritually (hope that doesn't sound too cliche, it's just really how it is). I've always been so lucky to have you and Dad and my examples in life of being strict in keeping the commandments and in being faithful. I've drawn on your strength and testimony often and I learned a lot from all those dinner time conversations about Isaiah and other scriptures! :)

I was looking back on your letter from last year how even when I was a little guy I hugged you and just loved giving hugs. Not too much has changed. You'll be hugged pretty good when I come back! Just as another reminder, especially since the time is getting a lot closer than I'd like to admit, but if there's anything inparticular from Russia you'd like, be sure to give me a shout-out and I'll see what I can do. I love you Mom, and happy birthday to you :)

Speaking of birthday on the [  ] of May, little N from Church has a birthday on that same day! Her mom came back from Moscow at least for a few days and while she's here we're going to be taking advantage of the situation and finally meet with her and N again. Ever since she left it's been impossible to meet with N, so hopefully with the coming of S we'll be able to help them out again!

I'm thinking of stories to tell from this week, and I don't really have a concrete story from this week, just kind of an overall cool experience. We've been contacting a bit more than usual lately and as we've been going out I've tried to make a big focus on going by the Spirit as opposed to your brain/logic. Of course, when you don't get a specific answer of when guidance is unneccesary you go by your gut and what seems right to your brain, but in contacting you have so many options and paths to take that I've found that, as often as possible, when you slow down or even stop to try and feel out what's right and which way to go, you get that answer from God. We saw that time and time again this week that as we stopped and searched for guidance and went by faith, we found those people who, this past week, were ready to hear a little something from the missionaries. I love my job :)

Anyways, that's what I've got for this week. Once more, happy birthday Mom and eat some cake for me! Have a wonderful week :)

With love
Elder Peterson

Monday, May 20, 2013


May 20, 2013
"Well, we sure do love to drink though!" *pats my belly* "Uh..." "Well boys, you have a great day!" *while walking away* "Was that...was that a fat joke?"

Hey there everyone :)

Today was a pretty quiet week, actually. The first in awhile. We still had our run-ins with fun people on the street. We got hugged a couple of times and helped a man from Egypt find an internet cafe, but no real crazy experiences. Nice for a change I think :)

The zone leaders came down this week and went on exchanges with us. It was pretty crazy to think that this'd be the last exchanges in Balakova that'll happen before I go home. Elder Owen and I had some fun times reminicing the plane ride over here to Russia. We didn't know each other in the MTC but sat next to each other on the flight from New York to Moscow. As he sat down he brought out his giant stack of vocab words and I took out my book of advanced Russian grammar. He quizzed me on words I didn't know and I taught him grammar principles. Fun times! Lots has changed since then, and also very little at the same time. 

I had one little story that I wanted to share from this week. Elder Lundberg and I were contacting yesterday evening before going over to an investigator’s for a lesson when we stopped and began talking to this lady who spoke very slowly. She had a really sad story: she'd worked in an orphanage for 20 years when she found out that she had a malignant brain tumor. She got an operation in which they took out about half of her brain. She cannot speak quickly now and she can't read and remember what she's read. Things are hard at home and to get away from it all she walks around the city and enjoys the weather. There's so much that we wanted to talk about...what's not to talk about with a woman who's had such a life like that one, but she didn't want to talk about God. After we heard out the story of the woman, and did what we could we went to the investigator’s house and taught her about the ministry on the Savior while he was on the Earth.While teaching I felt so grateful that I have the knowledge that I do about the Plan of Salvation and the wonderful blessings every single person is promised because of the Savior, His ministry and His resurrection. I know that our sufferings really are temporal, and that in the end we will receive a glorified, resurrected body that cannnot be sick and will not feel physical pain. God really does love us that much. I'm so lucky to be able to tell people about all of this and to testify of it's truth. I have a pretty sweet job :)

Ah, before I forget! Mom, I finally got the box! Well, kind of. It's in Samara right now! If anyone gets tranferred then I'll be wearing new socks next week! If no one gets transferred then it'll still be a couple of weeks before I get the box. But rest assured that it did come! :)

It's good to hear too, by the way, that you're feeling better Mom! We'll have to trade stories when I come back :)

Well, It's a short one, but that's really all I've got this week. Thanks for being so good! I love you lots :)

With love
Elder Peterson

Monday, May 6, 2013


May 6, 2013
"You need to make brownies!" "What?" "Brownies." "Translate please." "Брауниз."
Hey there everyone :)

Well, nothing too crazy this week actually, but it was still really great! The branch mission leader put in his predictions as to when he thinks I'll be getting married (a year and a half from my release date is his guess) and this year the Russian muffin/cupcake things for Easter were just as gross as they were last year, but the boiled eggs sure were tasty! 

The coolest things that happened, I think, were related to what happened on Tuesday. So, we were supposed to go to a District Leader conference shindig, and I had everything all prepared and I had a lot of things that I wanted to bring up on the council, but about 5 minutes before we were gonna walk about the door, we got a call from the assistants saying that President Sartori had just canceled the conference and was now asking us to go out and work,

Well, shoot! That shot a couple of cannon balls into the weekly plans. The ride to Samara is 6 hours by bus and so a good 6 hours that day and the next two days in which we hadn't planned a thing because of the conference just opened it's gaping mouth wide for it to be filled with...something! I was a bit peeved, because that was pretty last minute there, but I wanted to figure out why God told President Sartori that we all needed to stay. So, I prayed about it, and we went to work.

We came to find out that Sister F was in the hospital and needed a blessing pretty urgently and that no one else could come (because of work, illness and so forth), so we were in the right place at the right time to help. Also, her newly made friend who was in the bed next to Sister F, after having seen us give the blessing and hear about the Gospel a little bit wanted a blessing too. We gave her one, and a Book of Mormon, and we plan on seeing here again this week.

What was even cooler, too, was getting to the hospital. We were on the bus, and of course I get lost in White Rock without my trusty, slightly dusty, GPS, so getting my way around Balakova is as difficult as navigating more poor self around any other city of my mission, but we met a woman on the bus who, coincidentally, was also going to the hospital to meet her friend. As we walked together she told us about the upcoming Easter holiday and how she wanted to understand Christ more. "Oh boys, I've just got so many questions about religion and God and stuff, and I don't know how to find the answers." Well, we sure had some! :) In the end we gave her a Book of Mormon and both bore testimony of God's love and her personal relationship to God as His daughter. She was touched, so let's hope to get some future contact from (the lady!)! :)

The other cool thing, albeit not during the time of the canceled council/conference thing happened on Sunday. The Branch President was gone and Sister F, while in the hospital, didn't have time to prepare a lesson for Sunday School. one more than Elder Peterson loves to teach Sunday School, so I got to give a nice 45 minute lecture on the Plan of Salvation and the members personal role in the plan in relation to missionary work. 

Something a member said touched my heart. We were talking about where we all would be whoever it was in our life (whether it be the missionaries, friends, family/parents) hadn't introduced the gospel to us. We all agreed that, at some point, we'd felt the Spirit that had brought to our heart the conviction that we know have that the Church is true. A member grandma, who is going through a bit of a hard time right now, said "I don't think that nonmembers can feel the Spirit at all! They don't even believe in God, Elder Peterson! How can you believe that they feel the Spirit." I was taken aback, and I didn't mean to, but I actually cried a bit. The members took their part in answering her question, but it reminded me of a time in my life when I thought that people who did bad things couldn't feel the Spirit. God has led my life to teach me that important lesson: every single person on this good Earth is given the spiritual sensitivity and gift to feel the Spirit. Of course, we do things that put a limit on how much we can feel and what effect it has on our hearts, but I reminded the members, like it says in Preach my Gospel, that no one has ever desired to salvation of men more than the very God that created them. If he desires their salvation so much, who are we to hold back our testimonies and our belief because we think that God has cursed others or damned them to certain doom. I know that as we put forth our efforts those who do not believe as we do will feel the turthfulness of this Gospel and this Church by our testimonies. I saw it many times before my mission, and I've seen it countless time here and I hope that I'll see it much more as I return. If only I could express just how much God loves His children and show you the evidences of that in my life and in the lives of those I've seen. It's true, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and the Book of Mormon is solid, concrete spiritual proof of everything I've said and done for these almost 2 years out here in Russia and all the bits of missionary work I did before my mission.

Man, can you imagine what the world would be life if we all bore powerful testimony life the prophets, like Paul or like Elder Holland? I wish I could, and I'm working on it. I'm so glad I get to learn all of this now :)

Anyways, enough of my yapping. Thanks a bunch for  you letters and support! It's always awesome to open my e-mail and see all of you still talking to me and rooting on the work here in Russia and all over the world. By the way, 5 PM my time will work out just great! We'll see you all next Sunday (weird, right?). I hope you have a great week! Thanks so much! 

I love you lots
Elder Peterson 

Monday, April 29, 2013


April 28, 2013
"You're translating for him right?" "Yeah" "Cool, looks like you're pretty good! Get ready, we're about to talk about Quantum Physics boy!" "Oh my..."

Hey there everyone :)

So, I didn't get arrested or put in a hospital this week, but it was STILL pretty dang awesome! Not gonna lie, this was another one of those abnormal but really awesome weeks of my mission.

The first thing was zone conference. Yep, the very last one of my mission. Weird, right? I cried. I was pretty good though in my testimony, didn't cry too much. Man was that hard. So good though, we learned a ton about the Book of Mormon and how we can use it better in helping in the conversion process. It was so good!

This part is most definitely just for family :)   [so I summed it up in the next paragraph]

[Brian had his final interview with his mission president at the last zone conference he’ll have before coming home.  His mission president was very complimentary of the work Brian has done—he didn’t want to brag to the world about it, so we’ll do it for him  =-)]

Anyways, we had really cool exchanges with the Sisters this week on Friday, and we had just about the coolest experience ever. The Sisters, naturally, got a little shaken up what with the experience with the Police, but when I prayed on Sunday and Monday about it I had a good feeling that there would be no lasting negative consequences of our experience. Well, that became a reality when, while contacting on the streets, we met a lady who was there and was a part of the whole experience. She smiled, talked kindly to us and wished us the very best in our work! So cool! This lady could have not liked us or chosen to be snide, but she was kind and everything was great! It was a cool little confiramation that everything was ok.

Speaking of cool stuff while contacting, we met the greatest people. I really have been working on lately testifying and using my testimony and the Book of Mormon to help people understand how our message really helps them in their daily life. There was a man that has a 5 year old son and his wife just up and left him and their son. He was depressed when he saw us and didn't want to speak to us at first, but he stopped and asked how what we do for people helps. We explained the plan of salvation and bore testimony of God's love for him and his son whom he takes care of now. This man went from being rude to not believing that we could help him to being struck by the Spirit. After our testimony he paused for a second and then said "give me your number...we need to meet." We, of course, exchanged numbers. Before parting we gave him a brochure of the Restoration, and he started to cry, saying that he didn't understand why but he felt something good about the brochure. He took it and we left. I'm always humbled and really blessed when I see circumstances like that. I'm glad that he opened his heart to the Spirit and felt God's love through testimony. Pretty cool.

We also had a really great lesson with another investigator in discussing the purpose of life and why God lets evil exist in the world. His point of view is that if there really is a God (or, at least, a loving God) He wouldn't allow for the world to have sadness and evil. We discussed the plan of salvation and really how we have to take a different point of view. That’s the problem for a lot of people I've talked to I think. How can God be just if all this bad stuff happens in the world (he used the examples of the stuff that happened in Boston and Texas). After explaining the plan of salvation I testified of how I knew it was true. Surprisingly he said "You don't know it's true, Peterson. This is made up by man. It's not of God." We, of course, explained and testified once more that yes this plan is of God and how we can actually come to know it's true (we then read Moroni 10:3-5) and told him that reading, pondering and praying about the Book of Mormon would give him the exact confiramtion and evidence he needed from God to know that it's true and that he would come to know, if he did it, that the Book of Mormon is true. He took the challenge.  Way to go!

Last story, then I gotta go, but Mom, you'd be real proud of me! I was the branch pianist yesterday! Yeah, you know you're desperate when you're asking me to play the piano, and I could only really do the right hand, but I stayed on time and did a good job (all things considered!) yesterday! I just thought you'd be proud of me for that! Your son the branch pianist (for hopefully no more than one Sunday! I'll stick to the harp I think!)

In reference to Mothers day, skype shoudl work out just fine as it has in the past. Anytime after 3PM our time here should be just fine, and what with Church I don't know what time will work best for you. Any time between 3-8 my time will be just fine for skyping home, so we can arrange a time now (in your next e-mail please give me a good time) and we'll work with it! :)

Anyways, time to go! Thanks a bunch! I love you lots :)

Elder Peterson

Monday, April 22, 2013


Thanks to so many of Brian's friends for writing (emailing) to him!!  He was very touched and happy to hear from you! =-)

April 22, 2013
"What's with these pills?!" "Oh man, I don't even know how to explain...those are altoids! Candy! Makes your breath smell good!"
Hey there everyone! :)

Man! I just can't have a normal week! That's alright though, it's been a real blast and we've had some great experiences these past weeks. I am feeling a lot better, by the way, than I did last week and everything is hunky dorey.

I have my new companion now! His name is Elder Lundberg and he's from Boise Idaho! He wants to go into Aerospace engineering and he was at BYU-I for a semester before heading out. I'm really surprised at how much he can speak and in how much he understands Russian. I think he gets it quite a bit better than I did when I first came out to Russia! Our very first night together in contacting we found 4 potentials, and we prayed with 2 of them! Pretty cool! The first guy we prayed with was actually prayed for by Elder Lundberg and, in leaving, he shouted back and said "Hey Lundberg! Thanks for the prayer!" It was so cool! I'm proud of Elder Lundberg! He's gonna do real good :D (I know, bad grammar, sorry!). 

Here's the fun part of our week though. This is a story a little too long to explain by e-mail, so if you remember you'll have to ask me when I come back home! In short, the Sisters had a little run-in with the police (man, it sounds funny that way! They're innocent by the way, no worries), but we came over to where they were to help out and...they hauled us away too! Ha! We all rode in the back of a police car together, which was actually a pretty interesting but fun experience. We were at the police station for awhile, wherein they checked our documents and bags, everything was fine (it was fun translating for Elder Lundberg the whole time). It was about 9 o'clock when we got out of the police station and if a bus didn't come we'd have to order a taxi to get home...but a bus came! As we hopped on we started a great conversation with a guy, a 21 year old, who lost his faith because of alcohol. He took interest in us and requested a Book of Mormon and we met with him and his friend yesterday and talked about the Restoration and Joseph Smith. We have a meeting again with them on Wednesday after Zone Conference.

That's just the coolest, you know? You take a weird situation like going to the police that messes with your plans for the night, and then the next thing you know you meet a way cool guy and he's interested in the Church. Really, nothing is too hard for God, and no matter what, so long as we're faithful, he puts us exactly in the spot where we need to be, whether it be on a lesson with someone or on a bus late at night to talk to a new great guy.

This upcoming part of the letter is going to be for family I think, but your choice :) While in Samara and in talking with the Sisters it's come up a lot just how soon our group of missionaries is going home. Some people are getting a little trunky and lazy from it, others staying strong and disregarding it all. I had an interesting little conversation with an Elder while in Samara, that one of the missionaries I'd known, when he came home, cried for nearly a week. I was pretty surprised, because that Elder wasn't at all that inclined to cry. As it turns out he cried because he was away from Russia and his mission. Of course he loved seeing his family and friends again, but when he was alone or in the more quiet moments he cried. I was taken aback, because I'd never thought about it before, just how hard it will be. When I thought of it then, and now when I think about it (though I avoid the thoughts), I get teary eyed or just straight up cry a bit. I can't imagine how hard it's be to leave these people I love. Gosh, it's the biggest blessing ever to be on a mission and serve. So often I focus on becoming better at the language, contacting well, teaching great and juggling all these other things that I forget perhaps the main purpose of this all. I left onto my mission because I loved God, and what I do know isn't just because of my love for God, but because I love these people so much. It's maybe a dumb question, but as your missions were coming to a close, what kind of feelings and thoughts did you have? Did you miss the people? What did you do to cope with that and to continue doing awesome good things till the very end? Thanks a lot :)

This week will be zone conference and exchanges with the Sisters, so lots of great things are going to happen. We're still working hard with S and N to help them make it to baptism along with lots of others. Gosh, I love Balakova and I love being here. I'm probably among the luckiest in my mission to be in such a great district and branch with great members and friends. 

Anyways, that's what I've got for this week. Best of luck, alright! Be good :)

I love you lots
Elder Peterson

P.S. Thanks for the e-mail addresses Mom! I got a flood today, and I know that was in great part thanks to you :)