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, 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