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, February 25, 2013


February 25, 2013
"Well, it's really called the Day of the Protectors of the Fatherland...but we call it Mens' Day!
Hey there everyone :)

Wow, it's pretty warm outside. Hitting above 0 C is making all the ice and snow melt and, just like at about this time last year, you can begin to see hints that indeed, this isn't just a land of ice and snow, but there is a thing called a sidewalk that lies under all that stuff! Weird, right? I approve though. I forget at what point last year all this stuff melted, but if it melts in the next few weeks or so I really wouldn't be all that surprised. It's been a super warm winter this year.

This week has been a cool one (isn't every week?). I'm not sure if I've told you or not, but one of our main investigators is actually not really an investigator at all. He's a former member of the church. I've taught excommunicated members before (and actually been a part of the process of having someone be excommunicated), but he is the most unique and happy story of them all. We had a really rock solid lesson with him on repentance this past week and I'm so impressed by his sincerity and honesty. He feels the Spirit again and he's working on quitting smoking and his main concern is in just being fully ready for baptism. You can feel the Spirit as he bears witness of the power of the Atonement and of the Love of God. I'm so grateful that he's working towards that. Not to mention he's just a cool guy! He makes a living in being a singer and he DJ'd our recent activity on Saturday. Once he's ready, he'll be baptized again. That'll be a good day.

This has been a cool week to really make some good friends too. What with the Wings leaving soon they've really tried to speed up the process of teaching all the the Balakovian (does that sound funny?) leaders. Since we're the oldest and most experienced missionaries here in Balakova they've been having us do all of their translating. So cool! I love translating a lot and I learn a lot of words in doing it (like object lesson!). We taught all the presidencies this past week, which ate up a lot of time but was really worth it. 

Lesson wise, we did have other stuff that happened. More so now than ever Elder Warkentin and I (caught myself again! I'm so good) have been receiving a ton of contacts from members and investigators. We got a family referral that we'll visit on Friday and another family who we met because he wasn't able to make it to the meeting and a couple of more friends of the guy I want to give the shirt to. There's been a whole lot of work going on here, so I'm really grateful that we're staying busy. 

Speaking of miracles, Sister Kiestler and Sister Crane really had a cool experience this week. Last week they met a woman on the street who invited them to over to her house to meet! They met at her place this week and had a wonderful meeting and set up another time to meet. Well, that very night as the sisters we're knocking they found a woman who was talking on the phone when they knocked. As it turns out, she was talking on the phone to the woman the sisters had met with earlier! She was excited to meet them and asked to be a part of their next lesson. What are the odds, right? That was a fun story to hear from the sisters!

This upcoming week all of the district leaders and zone leaders are meeting up in Samara to have a conference. I'm a little nervous since I have to prepare the concerns and other things for our area to present, but I've heard that there conference/meetings are always awesome and uplifiting, so that'll be cool! I'm thinking this week is gonna be an especially good one.

Anyways, that's about it on the mission front. I have a couple of requests for you, Mom and Dad, whenever you get the chance :) If possible, I'd like to know when the BYU-I summer session starts, just to know. I'm not sure if I'll attend it or not, especially since I don't really know what plans ya'll have for the summer, but if you have any plans/opinions on the matter, that'd be awesome to hear! I'm not sure how actively they read the blog or not, but it'd be cool if you could tell [these three friends] that the've each got a letter on their way to them :) Also, my friend I think may be back from his mission, if you could check his facebook to see if he is or not, that'd be great. In addition, do you know how [another friend] is doing? I hope everything's going well with her.

Ok, so maybe that was more than a couple of requests! No rush on getting any of that done pronto, but whenever you get the chance that'd be great :)

Time for me to head out now, but thanks for everything! It's way good to hear that your foot is doing a lot better! Cool story on the revelation too! I'll be keeping you (and your foot!) in my prayers :)

You all are so great! Thanks for being the best! I love you lots

till next week!
Elder Peterson

Monday, February 18, 2013


Feb 18, 2013
Hey there everyone! :)

My goodness, it's been one super busy week. A really good one, full of cool stories, epic tales of life saving and really stressful moments. Indeed, life is going well here in Balakova. 

First off, I didn't hear anything about this meteor. That's pretty odd that it hasn't come up in random conversation, but I'll ask people about it today when I get the shot. We didn't feel anything here in Balakova...though if there was any sound or anything chances are I wouldn't of heard it because I was on the phone! Ah ha!...But in all seriousness :)

Speaking of my job, I had a unique experience this week in doing exchanges with the sisters! Yeah! At least once a cycle the district leader goes out on exchanges with the people in his district, which is all hunky dorey, but for probably obvious reasons we can't do exchanges with the sisters like it's generally done for the elders. As it turns out all 4 of us go out and do the work together, which can be pretty intimidating, but also really fun. We all bus contacted (even Sister Crane, the new sister! Way to go!), had some good street contacting (found a great lady, -how in the world do you spell that in English?-) and had a REALLY awesome lesson with a guy who is gonna get baptized. He's 19 and plays the drums and wants to make his own music school. What was really cool about the lesson is that all 4 of us missionaries were able to work together well and in harmony. It may sound easy, but it gets a little difficult when you have 4 teachers together and 1 student! Overall, I'm really happy with how it all worked out.

Lately, in our area, we've been working with a guy. He's made a ton of progress in the past few months especially it seems. At first he didn't think drinking or smoking was a sin and that being re-baptized was unnecessary. Doesn't sound like the most golden guy, does he? Well, overtime the Spirit has softened his heart and he's been praying daily to know what we've said is true and he's come to know that it really is! So cool! He knows that drinking and smoking is a sin now and tomorrow we're gonna give him a blessing to help him fully quit it and be ready for baptism (he's already made a ton of progress in quitting. He's so cool).

We've got a bit of bad news though, with some real good news. Good news first. I was asked to give a talk at Church this past Sunday and even though I had about a half hour to prepare the talk, it was probably my second best talk (if not the best) that I've ever given on my mission. It was about the consequences of choice and I was able to use one of my favorite parables for it too: the story of the prodigal son. So cool. I'm really grateful that I've been blessed to really be able to express my thoughts (especially about the Gospel) in Russian. I'm still as surprised as I was when I first came that I can speak in Russian and have it be understandable to the Russians. Maybe that sounds goofy, but it still is a huge surprise. I thought I'd never be able to do it, really, and I can. :) The bad news is this though, that the Wings have to leave a few months early to take care of Sister Wings mother. They told us all that right after sacrament meeting. We're gonna prepare something cool for them before they go!

One last story and then I've got to call it good. So last night me and Elder Warkentin were walking around the city at night because our meetings had fallen through. No one really was talking ot us and I was in a sad mood. We were talking together and I wondered if there was something I'd neglected to do because our meeting got shot and no one talked to us. Elder Warkentin said that we were exactly where we needed to be at the moment and that God knew why. I was a skeptic, but as he was talking (we were about 2 minutes from home too) I saw a drunk guy walking down the street. Not a new sight, but that particular guy caught my attention. Sure enough, as I guessed, he slipped on the ice and fell and was in danger or getting run over. We dashed over, helped him up and walked him back home. He has a really sad life. Divorced during the communist era, no family around, not the best job, drunk and biffing it on the ice. Poor guy. I talked to him about what we do here in Russia and why I had a funny accent and he said "there's just no way getting about it Pyetxa (a nickname the Russians sometimes call me, I'll explain that another day!), you guys are God-sent! Thank you so much!" After we dropped him off, he asked us if we could take down his number, which he did and we gave him ours too.

That was really cool to be there for the poor man and make sure that he got home ok and didn't get hurt. You always have to be careful with working with drunk people, and I don't know if anything will come from our little contact with him, but it really is cool to be in the right place at the right time. Cool, right?

Alright, we that's about it for this week. I had a quick request for you guys though, Mom and Dad. My whole mission my socks have done so well, until the past month or so when the boys have decided that they've walked the streets of Russia enough and have been getting holes in the heel! Oh no! I've still got enough to keep me going for a bit, but the Russian sock quality is terrible and I've still got a good bit of time on my mission, so I was wondering if, whenever you send a package out, if you could add socks. That'd be awesome :) Also, there's a member here in Balakova who loves Los Alamos. I was wondering if you could get a cool LA shirt (maybe with a nuclear explosion or something) that I could give to him. 

Thanks so much for you letters and prayers! Weird that February is nearly over. Have a great President's day and a wonderful week. I love you :)

Until next week!
Elder Peterson

Monday, February 11, 2013


February 11, 2013
*10 minutes later* "And that is why, dear sisters, I will not help you get a microwave for your new apartment" -slight pause- " make me giggle. I'm glad you're our registrator!"

Hey there everyone :)

Wow. I don't think I've ever in my whole mission been on the phone so much as I have this past week. Let me tell you, it's pretty crazy. A fun example of this is while we were walking back home from Church (Elder Warkentin, Elder Wing -the senior couple- and I) I got a call from the Zone Leaders that led me to need to call the sisters that led me to send out a couple of texts that in the end allowed me to finally call back the Zone Leaders all in a course of about 8 minutes or so. Elder Warkentin was unphased by it all but Elder Wing said "oh my gosh Elder Peterson! You're on the phone all the time! How do you do it?" I was suprised because to me that didn't seem like a whole lot of communication anymore - just kind of the new norm. Helping Sisters move into a new area that neither I nor they know along with the billion and 6 persmission questions and pass alongs that I needed to call up make me make real good friends with our cellphone. I was pretty stressed out at the beginning of the week, but I've gotten used to it now and I really love being a district leader! You get to talk with everyone so much and get to know people and help people out! Talk about a blast, right?

Which reminds me, we have the coolest sisters serving here in Balakova now! Sisters Kistler and Crane came in on Wednesday and they're the coolest. If you remember (I may have mentioned this last week) but when I was on my visa trip me and Sister Kistler team taught a lady on a plane, so we were already friends. Sister Crane just barely got here from the MTC but she so dang lucky because she studied Russian for 2 years before she came out! Wild, right? As she helped out at an activity and bore her testimony at Church he Russian was just as good as Sister Kistler, who also has pretty dang good Russian especailly since she cam out just 5 months ago. I'm impressed with their work effort and they're super fun to work with. Woo hoo!

As for the members here in Balakova. Gosh, I've got nothing but good to say about them. They're some of teh strongest bunch I've ever met and they're all super nice and smily! This Sunday was also pretty unique too in it's turnout. Generally in mid-winter we have a relatively low number of people that come to Church because it's cold and people are sick and other such thinsg that happen in the winter. Well, for the past couple of months we've had 20 or so coming to Church and then boom! This Sunday we had 32! Yeah! There were lots of less active members that came and even one that brought a friend with her to Church along with 2 of our investigators that are gonna get baptized! At least, we hope they will! The welcome into the branch was really warm and it's a really big privelage to work with them.

That reminds me. We were working with a member.  As I was showing him the photos of ya'll (i.e. my family) he and his wife said that you, Dad, look just like an actor named Clukvin (Kluckvin? Phonetically it's Kl-oo-kvin the "oo" said like in "moon"). Anyways, apparently whoever this actor is he's a good looking guy, so way to go Dad!

Can I just say how much I love kids. Especially Russian kids. They're hilarious! We went over to a part-member family to bless little 3 year old and she was running all over the house and she loved showing me the pictures of her comrades, the fox, the little hedgehog, the turtle the fiesty teddy bear and other forest friends along with building a watchtower from legos! I don't know why, but my love for kids has really grown a ton on my mission. they're just the coolest! I can't wait to play with my nieces and nephews and see if they're even cooler that the Russian tykes! I bet they are! :)

Well, that should wrap it up for this little e-mail. By the way, I think this is the one town where I feel pretty comfortable telling people that I'm from Los Alamos. More Russians than I thought actually do know about Los Alamos and sometimes it makes the conversation awkward when they say "wow, your town invented the bomb...don't you feel terrible?" But here in Balakova they really appreciate Los Alamos I think and like to talk about it and how cool it is to have a nuclear facility around. It's been fun!

Hope you all have a great week! I know I will! Happy valentines day! Eat some delcious candy for me!

I love you! :)

(man, in intial thing might not work for me since now you may think this letter is from Eric. At least for now I'll probably have to stick to me usual

Elder Peterson)   :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


February 5, 2013
"How old are you sonny?" "20!" "*Gasp* You said "twenty" just like an American! Ooooooh, this is so exciting!"
Hey there everyone!

Hey, no worries! I'm still alive and well here in Russia. But! I'm not where you may think I am. That's right, Elder Peterson has been transferred! Crazy news; Elder Treter will be staying there in Oktyabrsky and I got transferred to a little town called Balakovo. If you read up on the history of Balakovo, you'll find out it's just like home :) I'm serving with Elder Warkentin, who's one cycle younger than me, and he's been here for 3 cycles already, so he knows the area really well. Really cool news though! For the first time in 8 years or so sisters are going to be serving in Balakovo! One of them is Sister Kistler and the other sister is a new one! We'll find out who she is in a couple of days. Also, we have the Wings here, a senior couple that loves New Mexico! So, because the district is so big now they made Balakovo it's own district and...I'm the district leader! Ack! I've never done that before. It'll be cool to help out the sisters here and work with the Wings. Cool stuff!

This past week, when I was still in Oktyabrsky, we had a fun thing happen to us. Generally when anyone rings our apartment doorbell we almost never open the door, but this time around I saw a real timid traveling salesman, and I couldn't resist opening the door. It was really fun to talk to him. He's a 20 year old guy, and I think it must have been one of his first days on the job. When I go knocking in apartments, one of the most important things for me is as quickly as possible getting to know the people I'm talking too along with, of course, introducing the message. He was really awkward and didn't really know how to talk to a bubbly American, but he made his sale of 2 air fresheners for a great deal and we brightened up his day. It reminded me of my first days in knocking and in Russia general because I didn't know how to talk to people and my main goal was in just getting the message across. But now I've gotten to the point where I can really get to know the people and allow that to help people see the value of our message. I'm not sure if I'll ever become a traveling salesperson, but it made me giggle to think that, in short, that's kinda what I do as I go knocking to find new people to teach.

We had a real cool experience too this week while I was still serving with Elder Treter. We were dropping by former investigators and less active members. Generally while dropping by people we don't focus on talking to every single person we pass by on the street to try and introduce them to the Gospel. I always say hi to the people I pass by, of course, smile at them, but rarely ever (unless they stop us) do I try to stop them to talk about the Gospel. Well, as we were doing the dropbys I saw this woman eating sunflower seeds on the road just happily enjoying the warmer weather (above 0!) and the snack as we were walking around. As we walked by her I said  hi, as always, but abruptly got stopped. The woman was pretty surprised that I stopped, probably about as surprised as I was, and as she was halfway through unshelling a seed, when I asked "how're you doing?". The woman then squinted at my nametag and said, in perfect English "woah! Do you speak English? Are you from America? Oh my gosh!" As it turns out she's a school teacher who teaches English and had lived for a year in New York with a family there. I don't know what her real name is, but the name she told us is E[ ]. We got her number and we have a return appointment (she wants to give us real Russian food!) and she has a husband who it sounds like will be pretty interested in our message.

I'm always surprised (very pleasantly of course!) how Heavenly Father guides us in our work. Sean gave me a kind of assignment this past week in reference to understanding the love of God, and after our little conversation with the school teacher I had a really cool thought. Whenever I've set a goal in my life, the Lord has really always provided a way for it to be accomplished and for me to learn and maybe even help others on the way. As Elder Treter and I had set a goal to do those drop-bys we were successful in what we had done, and the Lord had allowed us to run into someone who really wanted to meet us. Even though we hadn't expected it and weren't exactly actively looking for that opportunity, He helped us to not only accomplish our goal but to get that extra measure because we were in the right place at the right time. 

Pretty cool, right :) That'll probably wrap it up today. Thank you so much for all the help and support. I really do love you guys :) Thanks! Have a great week now, alright, and I'll tell you more about Balakovo and all the stuff going on here next week!

With love
Elder Peterson

Saturday, February 2, 2013


January 28, 2013

"Yes, Mom, I will eat S[c]hi because it is so good for your organism and is good for the young peoples, like me!" --Angelina, age 5
Hey there everyone!

Well, this was another one of those weird weeks. As it turns out Elder Treter got some variety of strep throat which brought him down with a high fever and not a whole lot of energy to run on. To add to the fun times, we had already planned an exchange for Tuesday and Wednesday for when Elder Davidov and Elder Batemen would come to our area and work for those couple of days with us. We were pretty lucky, actually, to have planned the exchanges at that time because Elder Davidov, a Ukranian Elder, got to help out Elder Treter go to the health clinic while me and Elder Batemen went to work! Elder Treter's being sick didn't hinder the work at all, which is way cool. If nothing else it was a huge blessing because it gave whoever his companion was a long amount of time to make lots of calls to former and potential investigators. By the end of those two days we had a lot of meetings set up and potential people to work with; a lot more than I think we would have been able to achieve had we just gone outside to work all day. Cool stuff!

One of my favorite parts of working in Saratov has always been the member work. I don't know why, but more so here in Saratov than anywhere else I've served I've worked with the members and it's always a blast. Lately we've been working with an Armenian family who we hope to help get to the temple for the first time within the upcoming year or so. Sister T loves to feed us delivious Armenian food, and the time to having a good spiritual thought was running low since we had to book it back home to make it in time. In readjusting the lesson plan we had, I asked Sister T a question "what brings you happiness in life?". She smiled and bore a testimony about God and His Church and how He had blessed her little family so much. She told us about how she just wants everyone to love each other and accept God and His Church. This was a bit of an unusual answer since she pretty rarely comes to Church for one reason or another, but as she bore testimony about how she loves God and His Church I really felt the love and honor that she held for God. It's always cool when we, as missionaries, don't really give the lesson but when the person we're working with testifies to us of the truthfulness of the subject we wanted to teach. We're looking forward to working with her and her family in the upcoming weeks!

Speaking fo upcoming weeks, I'll be finding our about transfers this upcoming Saturday. Weird, right? I just got here! There's a pretty low chance that me and Elder Treter will still be together, which means one of us most likely will be jettisoned from Oktyabrsky to somewhere else. I don't have any guesses, really. I think it'd be cool to stay in Saratov and especially fun to get retransfered again to Zavodskoi, but we'll see how that all goes. More on that all next week!

at also reminded me of a cool experience I had this week with Elder Treter knocking the other night. We bumped into this 30 year old guy who had actually taken a college class from a current member of the 70, Elder Anatolii Reshetnikov living here in Saratov. The guy, who has a young family and is working hard, had a cool question while talking to us about what we do here as missionaries. He asked "what will becoming a member of your church do for me?" Well, there's about a billion and six different answers to that question, and I gave him one of those with which he was satisfied and the conversation went onwards. Nothing too spiffy, but he said it was alright for us to come back and discuss the Book of Mormon with him again another time. As Elder Treter and I discussed that particular question, Elder Treter mentioned how, in his opinion, one of the best answers to that question is simply telling them that becoming a member of the Church brings salvation (with the given requirement, of course, that we're faithful to keeping the commandments and keeping our covenants). The investigator was looking for a more physical or immediate change in his life that would result in becoming a member, but what the Gospel and the Church are really there to do is help us achieve salvation;: something that really requires a different point of view than the one we look through on an everyday basis. It's hard to express how profound that really was to me in the moment, but it hit me because so many of the blessings we promise people are really on a temporal basis. Pray, and you will get an answer. Read, and you'll know it's true. But I think it's a good idea, as Elder Treter and I discussed, to really put it all into persepecitve as to why we keep the commandments, especailly now. We don't pay tithing because we expect material blessings from the Lord, for example, but we pay tithing because we love the Lord and He asked us to. It's a refreshing way to look at blessings and covenants, that they exist not really to bless us temporally (although, they do) but really to bless us in the eternities, something that no temporal blessing here and now can really even compare too.

Hope that's understandable; just a little thought that I remembered I'd had earlier this week. Ya'll have a great week now, ok? Be good and stay warm, and eat lots of pig fat and butter to stay warm, just like at the Russian's advise you, ok? Great! 

I sure do love you lots, espeically you Mom and Dad. Thanks for everything :)

With love
Elder Peterson