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, 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