Monday, December 28, 2015

Letter #76

Dear Mum and Family,

I really enjoyed this past Christmas and the time I had to talk to you all. It sounds and looks like you are all doing great it was great to see. It was especially good to see that you are all so excited for me to still have 7 months left. I know you wish I at least had a year still, but there is nothing I can do to stop the time from moving along. I guess you will have to deal with it. Haha

Well nothing new really went on since I last spoke to you on Christmas. We played football on Saturday for a couple of hours with some cool ward members and their friends, which was pretty fun. We are planning on playing with them again on New Year's Day, which Elder Vaitoa and I are looking forward to. We have a great time playing against each other and giving each other a hard time. 

We are planning on having a fantastic week this next week. We don't have anything special for New Years, which is alright. I am sure you all have some wonderful plans for the New Year. Just make sure you don't party too long. I don't want you getting too competitive during your card games either. Haha yeah right. 

Well like I said I don't really have anything to share. I will leave you with a spiritual thought though before I go. 
Weekly Thought
As I have been thinking of what to share with you now that Christmas is over I think that it would be appropriate if I shared some thoughts that has to do with New Years and making New Years resolutions.  

We are now going into the year 2016 which is really crazy to think about, at least it is for me. This is the time of the year when we look back at the many things that we have accomplished.  It's the time we have to look at what we have improved on and what we can improve on.  A time where we think of what we want to accomplish in our lives. It's the time where we ponder the things we want to do to achieve great things. 

The definition of resolution is:
A firm decision to do or not do to something. 
As we set those resolutions for our next year I hope that we can remember that definition. I hope that we can set goals that we truly want to accomplish in our lives to make us better.  We all know that there are goals that are set at the beginning of the year that we stop doing in the first couples of months. I have been thinking of a few things that I can do to set better goals that we will not only bring me closer, but also help me become more like God. I have had many different things pop into my head as I have been thinking of this New Year and I want to share some of those thoughts with you today. 
Joseph Smith said:
"The nearer a man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views and the greater his enjoyments." 
As we get closer to becoming perfect, just like our Heavenly Father has asked us to work towards in Mathew 5:48 & 3 Nephi 12:48, we gain two things.
The first is our views become clearer. I believe this has to do with many things. As we become more perfect we come to understand more of our Heavenly Father and the plan that he has for us all. We come to understand more about Jesus Christ and the Atonement and as we understand the Atonement clearer then we understand that because of it God's plan is made possible. Our views on this life are clearer and we know what we need to do to become more like God and Jesus Christ. There is so much that we can see more clearly if we just work towards being perfect. 
The next thing that we gain as we come closer to perfection is enjoyment. God wants us to feel joy in this life. For it says in 2 Nephi 2:25: 
" are, that they might have joy."  
If we are striving to be perfect then we are following the commandments and when we follow Gods commandments then we are blessed with great things which brings us joy.  When we are trying to live a perfect life then we are finding greater happiness because we are drawing closer to God. There are lots of ways that we gain joy in this life by simply doing our best to approach perfection. 

So you might be asking what do these things have to do with making New Years resolutions. Well as I have been thinking about them these last couple of days I have been thinking of the importance of making goals that will help me to become more like my Heavenly Father. After all, when we meet him, it is what we have become that we are judged on, not by the choices we make. For we are the sum total of every choice that we make. If we do righteous things then we are a righteous person, and if we do filthy things then we are a filthy person. (1 Nephi 15:33). So at this time of the year as we set those goals I hope that we can all remember that we are trying to become like our Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ.  I hope that we can all set at least one goal that will help us to improve spiritually and will help us to approach perfection. 

Let's do all we can to follow the perfect example of our Savior who marked the way before us. I know that as we do that we will experience great joy because we will accomplish great things. 
Again it was great speaking to you all this last week. I hope, you have a wonderful New Years!! Don't party too hard. Haha yeah right.
Elder Peterson

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Letter #75

Dear Mum and Family,

Merry Christmas to you all. I know that it is not Christmas quite yet, but this will be my last letter that I write before Christmas. I hope that you are all prepared for the wonderful Christmas Day and I hope that you were all good so that you don't get a lump of coal from Santa. I am sure that you were all good this year. I am a little nervous about mum though. I think that she is on Santa's naughty list, but I guess we will see. If she is on the naughty list then she will not be able to Skype me on Christmas so she better be a good little girl for the next couple of days. Haha

Well you all already know that I have been transferred back to Wales because mum had to do some stocking. That is why she is on the naughty list.  I guess it is no surprise to you all that I am now in Swansea, which is only 20 minutes away from Llanelli. That is where I served last Christmas if you don't remember. I know that you sometimes forget these things because you are all getting a little on the old side. It is kind of weird being in Swansea because I have been here before a couple of times on exchanges with other missionaries. I have always wanted to serve here and now look my wish has come true. I am so excited to be here and I can't wait to see what great things are going to happen this transfer. I have a great companion named Elder Vaitoa. He is from Samoa. We get along really well and we have some fun together. He has been out for about 8 months now so he knows what he is doing. 

We had a really great zone conference this past week. The Merthyr, Cardiff, and Cheltenham zones all met together at the Cheltenham chapel where we had a great time together. We had some time in the chapel where we had some spiritual thoughts about Christmas which was amazing. It was focused on the nativity and learned some great things from those who spoke. It was mainly President and Sister Leppard, but it was amazing. We then had some fun in the cultural hall where my zone acted out the nativity, and the other zones did some other Christmas things. We had a great lunch and spent some time together for a few hours. It was a great day.  

 I have not received the package with your letters and candy in it. I have received e package that says there is 2 shirts and a rubiks cube though. Haha. For Christmas we are going to be hopefully going to the beach in the morning with a few other missionaries and playing some soccer on the beach for a couple hours and then we are going to go visit a few members that have invites us over. I will be Skyping about the same time I did last year. So I hope you are all ready to see my beautiful face. I know you are all excited. 

Well I don't want to keep you too long because I will be talking to you in a few days. I guess I will share my last thought before Christmas. 
Weekly Thought

I think that it is pretty obvious that I am going to share a thought this week that relates to this special time of the year. As I have been thinking a lot about the Savior’s birth I am always drawn towards the Atonement. That is the most important thing that has happened on the earth and everyone is affected by it. As I have been thinking about His life starting at His birth and going through His whole life to His crucifixion there is something that always sticks out to me about the Savior. I can define what sticks out to me using one word and that is Love. 
Before this world the Savior agreed to come to this earth to pay for all of our sins.  He was willing to pay a debt He didn't owe because He loves us and He knew we couldn't pay that debt. He was born a humble birth. The Son of God was born and laid in a manger for there was no room for Him in the inn. At age 12 He was teaching at the temple. I believe He had great love for those He was teaching. I believe that He understood, at the age of 12, the Plan that God has for us and he wanted others to know and understand it too. We don't know about His life in the teenage years, but we do know about His life a few years before He was crucified. He loved so many people and He truly showed them that he loved them by His actions. He healed the sick, He raised the dead, He blessed the little children, He forgave those who did wrong, He taught people the gospel, He served in many other ways and He did it because He loves everyone.  The greatest act of love as we know was the Savior suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane for each of us and then being crucified on the cross. One of my favorite scriptures reads: 
" But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."  
(Isaiah 53: 5)
He went through all of this because He loved us.  We need to become like the Savior and show love towards others.  Showing love to others is something that we need to do every single day of our lives, not just during the Christmas Season. I don't like to think that there is a special time each year to love people the most. I believe we need to be like the Savior and love everyone no matter what time of the year it is. Christmas will come and go really fast. Christmas is 1 day out of the 365 days in a year. Instead of showing great love towards our neighbors just on this day we need to strive to show that love every single day to the best of our ability. The savior said that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. We don't obey this commandment just around the Christmas season. We obey it every single day of our lives. 
I really love how the "Spirit of Christmas" is really the "Spirit of Christ" when we drop the last syllable. In this quote give by David O McKay I changed the spirit of Christmas to the Spirit of Christ. He said: 

" True happiness comes only by making others happy. .... The Spirit of Christ makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service. It is the Spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
There is no better time than now for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ. It is the time to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart - and our neighbors as ourselves. It is well to remember that he who gives money gives much; he who gives time gives more; but he who gives of himself gives all."

Yes the Christmas is a great time of the year to show love to those who are less fortunate than us. It is a great time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I just think that if we were to love everyone the same no matter what time of the year was then we would feel greater joy in our lives and we will become closer to our Heavenly Father and we will become more like Him.
Again I hope you all have a Merry Christmas. I can't believe that the time is almost here when I get to see you all. Have a good one and don't get too excited about Skyping me that you lose sleep. That was more to Mum than anyone else. Haha
Elder Peterson 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Letter #74

Dear Mum and Family,

I hope you will forgive me because this is not going to be a very long letter. We are spending time as a District today because as you know transfers are this week and we want to have some fun see how we don't know what is going to be happening.  I also didn't reply to anyone else's emails. I did read them though and I really enjoyed reading them all. It sounds like you are all enjoying yourselves and that you are having a great time getting in the Christmas Spirit.  It has been a lot of fun serving with the missionaries in this District the past few transfers. I have definitely made some great friends since I have been serving around these great missionaries. They are a great example to, me and I have learned so much from them. 

This past week has been another focus on finding really. To be honest I have seen the Lords hand this week as we spent time doing different activities that helped us to find some people. As you know we don't have many investigators. Well on Friday I spent some time in the morning looking through Preach My Gospel and pondering how I can do different finding activities to better help us find the right people. I made some notes and I was pretty excited to start applying them to this area. After spending a bit of time doing that I had the impression that we needed to go out to city centre and do some finding. It was not what we had planned, but I thought we just needed to do it. So I got ready and then I got my companion to get ready and we went out. It was a pretty cold day to be honest and by the time we were done I was pretty cold. But I personally witnessed a miracle that day. 

When we go out we usually split up and stop separate people, but we stay close enough that we can see each other. The past couple weeks we had really struggled to find four people between the two of us which is our goal. When we went out that day I thought to myself that we will not go on to do something else until I find four people myself. It was a goal that I thought I could achieve and to be honest I was a little nervous about it because like I said we had struggled to find two people. So I thought we were going to be out there for quite some time. But I was determined to accomplish that goal so I worked hard towards it. Within an hour I had the blessing of finding three really cool people who want to learn. By that time I was pretty excited to be out finding because finding three people in an hour isn't that easy.  I thought well that's good enough and It was pretty cold and was about to go get my companion, when I thought of the goal I had set. So I turned around and the first person I stopped was a really cool guy who wants to meet again and learn more. 

I don't know what is going to end up happening with the people we found that day. I don't know if they will get baptized or not. I don't know if we will end up teaching them soon or not. But I do know that I was blessed because I had listened to the promptings of the spirit and I acted on it. I know without a doubt that the Lord is directing this work and I know that I wouldn't be able to do it without his help. 

It is definitely starting to feel a lot more like winter now over here. The temperature has dropped a bit and there has been a lot more rain this past week. I think we got wet pretty much every single day last week. I guess that is part of being a missionary in England that we can't really avoid. I wouldn’t  trade it for anything though. Getting soaked by rain these past months hasn't killed me yet so I am not too scared to be honest. I am pretty sure I will survive another winter here. Haha The Christmas tree that we have in the flat was there already so we didn't have to buy one which is a plus. It makes the flat look a lot better. 

Brother W***** is a member from the Tamworth ward. He is a really great guy who emails so many missionaries each week. He is such a great guy. He and his wife have been a member for just over a year now. They went through the temple when I was there and it was such a great experience for them.  They are a great couple. 

Well I do have a confession to make about the whole accent thing.  I did stop two people in the street the other day and they both said that I had a little accent, but it wasn't anything big. So maybe you won't be so disappointed when you talk to me on Christmas. I guess we will just have to wait to find out. 

K**** and her Husband J*** are doing really well. We met with them both this past week and we taught them the Plan of Salvation. The lesson went really well and they had a lot of questions that got answered. J*** is really excited to start his family history and we will be taking a member over soon to help him with that. We might not be able to teach them this week because they are going to Manchester for Christmas. They are planning on coming to church this week, which is pretty exciting. They are really the only investigators that we have at the moment so we are trying our hardest to help them. It is a lot of fun teaching them. 
Well I don't really have much more to say so I will get on to the spiritual thought for the week.

Weekly Thought 
As I have been thinking of what I want to share with you guys this week I thought it would be appropriate to focus it around the Christmas Holiday seeing how it is almost Christmas. I have really been pondering this past week about the Savior. Even though we focus on His birth at this time of the year I have actually been focused on His whole life. There are many things that he has done for each of us that I am so grateful for. The Atonement is obviously the centre and the most important thing he did for us while on the earth. It is something that He did for us because He loves us. 
As I have been thinking about this I thought about the wise men. They had seen a star in the east and they wanted to see the Messiah. As we read in Matt chapter 2 the Wise Men said:
"Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. …"
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."
"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."
We understand from this scripture that Jesus was now a "young child", not a baby, and that he was in a "house", not a manger.  The Wise Men brought gifts to Him for they knew he was the Messiah. They knew He was here to redeem all mankind from the fall so that we could return to our loving Heavenly Father. 
Obviously Christ has paid that price already. He has showed His great love for us all. I know that He really does love and care for us. I know that it was His plan to come to the earth and to suffer all the pain and anguish that He did so we could be forgiven of our sins and so that we could live again win our Father in Heaven. 
We really can't fully pay Him back for what He has done. There is nothing we could possibly do to make it up, but we can do something. This Christmas season lets ask ourselves this one simple question: 
What will you GIVE for Christ?
Thomas S. Monson said:
"Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. To catch the real meaning of the “spirit of Christmas,” we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the “Spirit of Christ.”
You might think what we can give Him and the simple answer comes from Mosiah 2:17. 
"... when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."
The way we give to the Savior is by giving to others. President Monson said: 
"In this marvelous dispensation of the fullness of times, our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved."

I hope we can all think of what we can give Christ and that we can act on what thoughts the Spirit puts into our minds. By doing so I know that we can have one of the best Christmas Holidays and we will feel so much closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. 
I hope you all have a great week as you prepare for Christmas. May we all remember the true meaning of this time of the year. 
Elder Peterson

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Letter #73

Dear Mum and Family,

I just want to start off by saying that I really hope you are not expecting me to have an accent when I speak to you because I can promise you that I don't. You are going to be disappointed if you really want me to have one. I am sorry I just thought I better be honest so you don't get too disappointed. 

To answer your question about Elder Loertscher and Elder Huff I know them both. I served around Elder Loertscher when I was in Llanelli and we had a lot of fun together. He is a great guy. I have spoke to Elder Huff a few times now and he is also a really great guy. He says that you and his mum talk sometimes. You are a very interesting little old lady aren't you. Haha. 

When we dressed up it was for a Stake activity. They had a few games in the gym and some food. They also acted out the Scrooge, which was pretty great. They had us dress up like cops and give candy to the little kids. That was really all we did so it wasn't too hard. It was a pretty cool stake activity though and everyone seemed to enjoy it. 

I am doing well. I am still staying fit with all the biking that we do. We biked quite a bit this past week. It was so hard to bike on Saturday though. Apparently there was a hurricane near the states and all the high winds made its way over here and we had some crazy winds. It was knocking quite a few branches off the trees and making everything go everywhere. Biking against it was a pain, but with the wind at our backs it was way nice. There was a few times I thought I was literally going to get blown off my bike it was that bad. We made it alive though.  That is the second time I have felt the aftermath of a hurricane and to be honest I thought it was a cool experience. 

We also played football that morning and the wind made it so much harder. Having to run against the wind made everyone so much more tired and when we would kick the ball the wind would take it in every direction. Like I said before they don’t stop playing football over here for nothing. Even if the wind is blowing the goals over Haha. I definitely got the exercise that I needed that day. I slept really good that night also because I was so exhausted from the biking and playing football in that crazy wind. 

This last week we actually had a really great experience. As you know we are kind of struggling with finding people who want to listen to our message. Well we went to our investigator's house to teach her this past week. Her name is K*** and she is the one that I have told you about that we did family history with her and she had such an amazing experience with it. Well when we go and teach her she has a husband and he usually sits in the other room because he is not religious at all. Missionaries in the past have invited him to listen, but he just doesn't like religion at all. We knew this and we respected it so we really never asked him the few times we visited. So this past Tuesday we were teaching her and her husband came in the room to get something and we just asked him how he was doing and just started a little conversation with him. He is a really nice guy and we had a nice little chat. He then went back into the other room. We asked K*** if he would be interested in coming in and talking with us and she said he wouldn't, but she asked anyways.  When she asked him he said sure I will come in. You should have seen the look on K**** face. Her mouth literally dropped open and her eyes were wide as can be. She had no idea that would happen because he doesn't do anything with religion. He came in and we taught them both and we set up a return appointment for this next Thursday to teach them both. To make it even better they both committed to come to church soon, they just aren't sure when because of the Christmas time and the plans that they have. It was such a great experience and I am so grateful that the Spirit touched her husband so that he could come and listen to the wonderful message that we share. 

I thought you would like to know that I got the Christmas package that you sent and first thing I did is I opened it. Haha just kidding I have not opened it yet. I think it is funny that on the package it says what is in the package that makes the surprise a little less surprising. I think just because I know what is in it I should just be able to open it right now. You know what maybe I will do that right before I go to bed tonight. I don't think there is anything wrong with that do you?  I can tell you don't care so I will go for it. Thanks for the package it was really great to get something. I can't wait for Christmas so that I can see what exactly is inside.

Speaking of Christmas everything is going well with the Christmas initiative. I am really enjoying talking to people about Christmas and especially about the true meaning of Christmas. One of my favorite things to ask people when I stop them is what their favorite thing about Christmas is. It is interesting to hear what people have to say to that question. There have been times when I think that the true meaning of Christmas is lost, but I have talked to people and the things that they love about Christmas are great things. Quite a few people say that they love spending time with their family during Christmas. And one person who said that they love how people seem to be more happy during Christmas and that is what they love. Those things are not bad things at all.  It's just interesting how many people I stop and they don't mention the Savior at all and most of them have a Christian background. It is kind of sad how that is, but I am glad that I can talk to them about the Savior and hopefully help them see the importance of Him during this time of the year. 

It sounds like you have some great plans for this Christmas season.  I am so proud of you for doing such a great service for someone. I know that you will all be blessed for doing it and yet you will always remember the experience and the feelings that you feel during it.  I have no idea if we will be able to watch the Christmas message from the first Presidency. If I remember right I don't think we saw it last year so I don't know if we will see it this year. I guess we will find out sooner or later.  Either way I am sure you will all enjoy it. 

I had a great experience during my studies this past week that I thought I could share and maybe you could try it out. Since I have been on my mission I have grown to really love hymns. They bring so much more meaning to me when we sing them in church because I have learned to really think of the words that I am saying. This past week I sat down and I played loads of different hymns that are sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Before they would sing I would read the scriptures that went with each hymn. I noticed that it helped me understand the hymn and what it was taking about. I would then listen to the hymn and while it played I would follow along in my hymn book and the words had so much more meaning. It is amazing the power that a hymn has. I learned so much and I definitely felt the Spirit during the little time that I did that activity. I think you should try it if you ever get the chance because I know you will have the same great experience. If you don't already I would like you to try and pay attention to the words of the hymns that are sung in church, especially the sacrament hymn. It has really helped me to have a greater experience during those special meetings. 

Weekly Thought 
This month for us missionaries we are focusing a lot on faith. In our meetings we are to speak about faith and we are to apply the things we learn and to gain greater faith so that we can do better as missionaries. Last weeks thought was on faith and I thought this weeks thought could be on faith too because I have taken a lot of time to study it out and I would like to share a few thought with you from what I have learned. 
My favorite quote on faith is: 
"Faith is the moving cause of all action."
If we were all to look back in our lives and ask ourselves which principle gave us energy do to everything in our lives it would be faith. When we have faith we do things because we believe they will happen even though we can't see it. 
Here are a few examples of things we might do that require some faith.  Let's say you decide to plant a vegetable garden. You have no idea that the vegetables that you plant will even start to grow, but you have faith that it will, so you do it. You need a job so you can make money. Before you apply you have no idea if you are going to get the job or not, but you exercise your faith and you apply.  You kneel down next to your bed one night to pray to your Heavenly Father. You have a big question on your mind that you need an answer to. Before you knelt down you didn't know what the answer would be let alone if you would be answered, but your faith is what gave you the energy to kneel down. All of these examples and many more that I could give show us that we truly do things because of faith. Faith truly is the moving cause of all action. 

I would like to share a few scriptural examples of people who exercised faith and because of it great things happened. One is the Brother of Jared. He was commanded to build some barges so that he and his family could travel across the waters to the promise land. He builds them and then he has three questions for the Lord. In Ether 2:19 it says: 
"And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish."
The Brother of Jared showed faith when he asked God these three questions that he wasn't sure about. 1. There is no light, how will we see? 2. How are we supposed to steer?  3. How are we supposed to breathe?  We know that the Lord answered all the questions because of the Brother of Jared's faith. 

The first question was answered by the Lord telling the Brother of Jared to come up with his own idea on what would be the best way to have light. As we know the Brother of Jared made some clear stones which he then took up in a mountain and he prayed and asked the Lord to touch them with his finger so they would shine. The Lord did and the Brother of Jared saw the finger of the Lord. We know that he saw the finger of the Lord because of his faith which it talks about in verse 9 of Ether Ch. 3.
"...never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger..."
The second question was answered by the Lord saying that he will control the winds and the waves so that the barges will be guided to the Promise land. That would take great faith to be in a barge for 344 days and to know that you are being guided the right way. 
The third was answered by the Lord telling him to put a hole in the top and the bottom and to cover them. When they needed air they were to uncover them and they would be able to breathe. 
It took the Brother of Jared faith to first pray and asks God these questions along with faith that he would receive and answer to them which he did. Because of his faith hi and his family were able to make it to the promise land and also the Brother of Jared was able to see the Lord.  Those we some great things that came from faith. 

A more modern example of showing faith was the Prophet Joseph Smith. At 14 years of age he had a question of which church to join. He had listened to many preachers who would say things that would make Joseph think they were the right church and then the preacher would say something that made Joseph think they were the wrong church. This happened with many different preachers from many different churches.  As we know he was reading in James 1:5 when he got the answer of what he needed to do. 

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Joseph Smith knew, after reading this scripture, that he needed to ask God which church to join. So in his own words he said:
"In accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally."
As he said in that verse it was the very first time in his life that he had made that attempt. He had never before prayed vocally in his life and at that point he was exercising great faith that God would answer his prayer which we know he did. Joseph described what happened next. He said: 
" I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me....  When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
Because Joseph Smith had faith that God would answer his prayer we now have the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. Because a 14 year old boy had enough faith to pray vocally for the first time in his life we too can find out what church is the true church that Christ established while he was on the earth.

With faith we truly can do and witness great things just like the Brother of Jared and Joseph Smith. We might not have the same experience of seeing Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father like they did, but with our faith we can witness and do great things that will help us to become closer to our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. 
During this Christmas season I invite you to exercise your faith as you try to discover or strengthen your testimony on the true meaning of Christmas. This is a special time of the year where we can learn of our Savior Jesus Christ and be grateful for his birth. For without His birth He would have not been able to perform the atonement and because of the Atonement we can all live again. 

Wow that was a long letter. I didn’t realize how long it was until I finished. I hope you don't get bored reading it. Have a great week and I will speak to you soon. 
Elder Peterson

Monday, November 30, 2015

December 2015
The stake had a Christmas party and they wanted
 some of the missionaries to dress up as Bobbies(British Police Officer) 
so I was one of those missionaries chosen.
Elder Beckstead, Elder Pedersen, and Elder Peterson

Letter #72

Dear Mum and Family,

I am glad to hear that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that no one got seriously injured during the Black Friday events. That is always a plus!
It sounds like you all had a great Thanksgiving. To be honest I really didn't do much just because it didn't feel like Thanksgiving because no one was celebrating it. It is kind of hard to remember that it is a Holiday when no one is celebrating it around you so I kind of forgot throughout the day and I was only reminded when some one would say something about it. We went to a member’s house for dinner that day but we didn't have a big Thanksgiving dinner. It was some great food though.  I definitely was not complaining because I went away full and happy. So sorry to disappoint you but I didn't do anything excited. I wanted to make sure that I save all of the fun for when I am home and then I can party all night long. Haha

We have been doing a lot of finding this past week and we are kind of struggling. It is getting closer to Christmas so I am pretty excited to start talking to people about it. I saw the Christmas video last night and it is amazing. I am so excited to share the video with others. I saw some great things last year with the cards and the video. I am so excited that this is the week that we can start talking and sharing it with people. We are going to be bringing the true meaning of Christmas through one person at a time. It is going to be great. 

So transfers will happen on the 16 of December. That is when we move to our new areas if we are moving. We will get the call to find out if we are moving on the 14 of December at night which is a Monday. I am pretty excited to see what is going to be happening this transfer. I think there is going to be some crazy things that are going to happen this transfer. I guess we will all know on the 14th and you will have to wait a week from then. Haha that's too bad. 

To be honest I really don't know what else I want to say so I guess I will just share my weekly thought. It is kind of hard to send long emails now because I have been sending them for so long and I never know what to say anymore. So I guess you will have to do with that this week. Maybe I will come up with more to share with you next week. 

Weekly Thought
"And the Apostles said unto the Lord, increase our faith" (Luke 17: 5)
The thought that I would like to share with you all this week has to do with faith and how we can strengthen our faith. I would like to share with you something that President Leppard has taught us which is called the faith ladder. It is a ladder that shows the most amount of faith to the least amount of faith all found in scriptures. 
Faith Ladder
- Perfect Faith ( 2 Nephi 9:23)
- Everlasting Faith (Alma7:6)
- Full of Faith (Acts 6:8)
- All Faith (1 Cor. 13:2)
- Unshaken Faith (Jacob 4:6)
- Exceedingly Great Faith (Moroni 10:11)
- Great Faith (Matt. 8:10)
- Exceeding Faith (Mosiah 4:3)
- Strong Faith ( Romans 4:20)
- Sufficient Faith (3 Nephi 17:8)
- Mighty Faith (Alma 13:18)
- Much Faith ( Mosiah 27:14)
- Little Faith (3 Nephi 13:30)
- No Faith (Mark 4:40)

From this faith ladder we need to ask ourselves two very important questions that will help us strengthen our faith 

1. Where am I right now on this ladder?
2. Which direction am I heading on the ladder?

Obviously we want to reach perfect faith which is something that will take a lot of time and hard work and also we want to be heading up the ladder not down the ladder. So how can we strengthen our faith?  I am sure you could all tell me where in the Book of Mormon we can find more information on faith. And I am sure you would all say Alma 32 because you are so smart. So let's turn to Alma 32 where we can find how we can strengthen our faith. 
In this chapter we know that faith is compared to a seed. I really love in this chapter how it explains faith using a seed because we can learn so much more this way. Verse 37 says:

"And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit."
From this verse we learn that just like a tree we need to take " great care" of our faith. We need to nourish it so that it will be able to grow strong. So what do we nourish it with. We find the answer in verse 41. It says: 

"But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life."

In this verse there are four things mentioned that we can strengthen our faith with. Alma says we strengthen our faith with faith, which is active belief, or in other words by doing things that cause us to exercise faith. By taking steps to the unknown sometimes and trusting that God will help us along the way.  Or by doing things that test our faith a bit. Just like exercising a muscle we use weights that test our muscles and when we do that it causes the muscle to grow and become stronger so that it will be able to take on that weight. The same is with our faith. As we test it and work it our faith becomes stronger so that the test we are going through becomes easier. 

The next thing Alma says that will strengthen our faith is diligence with patience. They are two separate points but they work together. It is going to take hard work to strengthen our faith along with patience that the Lord is going to help us strengthen it at His own time. Strong faith doesn't come just by sitting around doing nothing. We need to do things like studying the scriptures everyday, partaking of the Sacrament weekly, going to the temple, etc.  We say these are Primary answers, or simple answers, but "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass."  It is doing the simple things continually that strengthens our faith. The definition of diligence is "careful and persistent work" which means doing things continually no matter how hard or simple they may be and obviously we do that with patience that we will be able to strengthen our faith along the way. 

The last thing that Alma says we need to do to strengthen our faith is to " look forward". We call this hope.  Hope is when we have feelings of expectation and a desire for something to happen. We trust that God will fulfill His promises that he makes with us. We show that we have hope through our confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance.
That we know what we need to do to strengthen our faith we can go back to the faith ladder. Once we have figured out where we are on the ladder we need to start doing those four steps, that we learn from Alma, to strengthen our faith. I know that as we do these things then we will be rewarded with the rewards that it speaks about in verse 43 in Alma 32. 
" shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering...."
Our testimonies will become so strong that the whirlwinds, the storms and the hardships that we go through will not be able to destroy our faith because the roots of our faith will be strong and deep and there will be nothing that will destroy our faith. Just like the Apostles in Luke 17 asked the Lord to increase their faith, I know hat we too can ask the same of the Lord and as we put forth our efforts then He will do his part and we will be able o move up the faith ladder towards perfect faith. 

I hope that this all made sense because it has taught me a lot since I have studied more on faith and as I have applied these things. I hope that it will help you too. Have a great week and keep being amazing!!
Elder Peterson

Monday, November 23, 2015

Letter # 71

Dear Mum and Family,
What’s going on Peterson family?  This past week was probably the coldest week ever. Temperatures have dropped so much and it is freezing.  It got to -1 degrees Celsius. on one of the days and it really hasn't gotten much warmer at all. Yesterday I think that the warmest it got was 3 degrees Celsius. So it definitely feels like winter that's for sure. To make it worth the freezing cold they have put all of the Christmas lights up in city centre and yesterday was when they turned them all on. It was brilliant to walk down city centre and see all the great lights. They have a huge Christmas tree in the middle of town that I was actually planning on taking a picture by and sending it to you for the Christmas card, but when I pulled my camera out the battery had died so I wasn't able to get it. It was so frustrating because I had been waiting all week for that moment and when I happened it was all ruined. I guess I will have to get it for you this week. Sorry it's taking so long. 
This past week has been a good week other than a few struggles that we are having at the moment. We literally have no one to teach at the moment because the people we were teaching have dropped us and don't want the discussions anymore. That all happened this past week, which is really sad. So this week is going to be a lot of finding   A lot more that what we are usually use to doing just because we have nothing else to do because we have no one to teach. I am pretty excited to see what happens though just because I know we will see miracles if we work hard and follow the Spirit. It should be a great week hopefully. 

I was able to get all of the letters this last Thursday which was a great treat. It was great to hear from so many wonderful families and from the ward. You will have to tel them thank you for me. I am going to hopefully get some letters sent sooner or later to say thanks, but with our busy schedule it might not be super soon. I will try my best though. It was funny because we had a zone meeting when I got the letters and everyone was so jealous because they got just a couple of letters and I got stacks of them. I thought it was quite funny and it definitely made my day. 

I can't believe that thanksgiving is already here. What is going on with the time. It seems like it keeps getting faster and faster. We don't have any plans for thanksgiving since they don't celebrate it over here. I guess we will see what happens when it gets closer to that day. Everyone over here is getting ready for Christmas though. To be honest I really hope that I am able to stay in this ward for Christmas. I think it would be an amazing ward to serve in during the Christmas time. One of us has to be moving though just because we both moved in at the same time and to be honest it is highly unlikely that we both stay together for 3 transfers. That just doesn't happen. Either way I am excited for what happens this next transfer. I don't know if you are aware but this is a 5 week transfer so this transfer ends on the 16 of December. It will be here soon enough I am sure of it. The way that time flies I won't be surprised when it gets here. 

Thought of the week

I really enjoy listening to talks and so I usually listen to a talk after planning right before I go to bed and also in the mornings when I am getting ready for the day. There was a talk that really stuck out to me this past week, which was about becoming like a little child. There were a lot of great points that he shared, but one of them stuck out to me in particular which was the zest that children have for life. 
Children are so excited for new experiences in life. Little children love to get up each morning and most of the time when they do get up in the mornings it pretty early. They are just so excited for what the day has in store for them and they are always so excited for the small and simple things in life. When it comes to night they don't want to go to bed, they want to continue living life to its fullest. How many of us complain because we have to get up in the mornings and work when really we should be excited for the things we will learn and experience that day. God wants us to find joy in life. He wants us to do things that we love. Just as parents love to see their children enjoying themselves I am sure that our Heavenly Father loves seeing us enjoying life.  

Our life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect.  We need to live each day to its fullest. There are always those challenges in life that sometimes make us struggle in life and we just want to give up. We all have those type of days and before we came to this earth we were not promised that it would always be easy. We knew we would face challenges because it was apart of the plan to help us learn and progress. We might not be able to choose what challenges we go through, but we can choose the attitude we have towards those different challenges. 

There is a scripture in the New Testament that I have just grown to love for many reasons. The first reason is because it is really short so it is not hard to memories. The second reason I love the scripture is because it really can teach us so much even though it is so short. The scripture is in Luke 17:32 and it says:
 " Remember Lot’s wife."
So what can we learn from this short scripture?  Well first we need to understand more about what happened to Lot's wife and we find that in Genesis 19. 

In that chapter it speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah when it was a very wicked place and the Lord commanded Lot and his family to flee because the cities were about to be destroyed. As we know it was destroyed as it says in vs. 24-25. The theme that I wanted to focus on comes when the Lord commands " look not behind thee" and as we know Lot's wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. 

There are many other topics that we can focus and learn for this scripture and I don't want to focus on many of those. There is one part that goes along with enjoying life no matter what happens. The fact that Lot's wife turned to salt was not just because she was looking back, it was because in her heart she wanted to go back. To quote from Jeffery R. Holland, " In short her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future."  She didn't trust that the Lord was going to bless her with many more great days and memories. 

So what does this scripture have to do with becoming as a little child and loving life. We always have great memories that we wish we could just live over again. That is where we can learn from little children.  The fact that they look forward and love every single day that they are given. No matter how good the days were in the past. Of course we can look at the days behind us and remember the great memories that are made, it's just when we long to go back to those days that's not good. We need to love the days that God gives us and live them to their fullest because to be honest we never know when will be our last day. 

I know that God has a plan for each one of us. I know that He knows the challenges that we will face and the joys we will have. I hope that I can be more grateful for the days and the experiences that lay ahead, whether they be good or bad. I know that when we do look forward with an eye of faith that the Lord is going to bless us and help us, and that we will have a great future no matter what we are leaving behind.
It seems like my weekly thoughts just keep getting longer and longer. I guess I just have so much to share. Thanks again for all of your lovely letters. I hope that you all have a great week and try not to miss me too much. Haha yeah right!!
Elder Peterson

Monday, November 16, 2015

Elder Peterson
'Looking like a stud in his England clothes'
November 2015

Elder Peterson
November 2015

Elder Peterson just finished fixing his bike and didn't get any oil on his white shirt
November 2015

Letter # 70

Dear Mum and Family,

As you know it were transfers this past week. I am sorry to disappoint you but nothing exciting happened with me. I am still serving in Westcotes with Elder Stokes. I am excited to stay here though because we have started to get things figured out here in this area and we are going to have a great transfer. I don't know how long we will be here and I am pretty positive that one of us will be moving in five weeks time. It's kind of weird that there is a transfer a couple weeks before Christmas and I hope I don't move during that time but I guess I will see what happens when that day comes. We are going to see great things during this transfer that I’m so excited for. 

As you know I was able to meet with Elder Ballard. I was able to shake his hand and to hear some inspired words from him. I felt the Holy Ghost so strongly when I shook his hand and I know that he is and apostle of the Lord. I learned so much from him also. He focused a lot on the spirit and the importance of it in our lives and while we do missionary work. Elder Ballard is actually a pretty humorous guy. He was always finding a way to crack a joke here and there but at the same time he was serious and when we spoke he spoke with power. I learned a lot from that meeting and there is so much that I want to apply to become a better missionary and a better person. 

Looking back this week was full of great things. J***** was also able to get baptized and confirmed which made this last week amazing. He asked our ward mission leader to baptize him which was fantastic. I would rather someone in the ward baptize the investigators than a missionary because there is always that connection in the ward. Once we leave as missionaries it's harder to have that connection with those we baptize, but because J*****was baptized by a member it will be a lot better for them both.  In the beginning of the week we still had a good amount of lessons that we still had to teach him. He is such a smart guy that we were able to teach him 3-4 lessons every single day and he remembered them and committed to live them all. I know that he was definitely prepared for the gospel. The baptism and confirmation went really well and he is excited to be a member of the church. I can see him doing some great things in his life now that he has the gospel in his life. I am so grateful that the Lord blessed Elder Stokes and I by letting us have the wonderful opportunity to teach and baptize J******. 

It has gotten a lot colder here in England. It actually hasn't rained a whole lot this past week and luckily today is a pretty sunny day. It's still pretty cold but there is a blue sky. The coldest day that I have ever felt was on Friday and it was miserable. At the beginning of the day it was sunny but super cold. The ride to the chapel for J****** interview was so cold. Luckily we were in the chapel so we didn't have to be out in it. Then when it came to us biking 3 miles away from our flat to stop by Less Actives and members it started raining. It was so cold I am surprised that the rain wasn't coming down as ice chunks. It rained for about 15 minutes or so and it was no light rain. We got pretty wet and cold even though we were wearing big winter coats. After the rain the sun came out but it didn’t  warm up any. So all day Friday we froze. It was worth the wife points though. Haha

You don't have to worry mum because we didn't play football this past week. We went to see Elder Ballard so we weren’t  able to go and freeze while we played. You don't have to worry when I do play though because I dress nice and warm. I wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts. Pretty warm huh. I would say it keeps me warm. I can't wait to see what the weather will be like this week. I am sure it will be great British weather. 

Mum will be happy to know that this past week I had an amazing family history experience. We have this investigator that is 70 years old that has been taught by missionaries for quite some time. A couple visits ago she asked us why our church is so big into family history. Obviously we explained the plan of salvation with her and we talked about baptisms for the dead. While visiting with her for some time she explained to us that she has never known her mum because she passed away when she was really young and that she didn't have the best connection with her father when she was growing up. So she really didn't know anything about her family and she wanted to learn more about them. We told her that we could bring a member over to her house and they could help her start her family history. So this past Friday we took Brother Mann who is amazing at family history to her house and we had a great experience. Brother Mann was finding loads of information for our investigator.  You could tell that the spirit of Elijah was felt by our investigator because she had tears in her eyes as something new was found about her family. I could definitely feel the spirit strongly during that lesson and it made me more excited to do family history. I hope that this experience really helps to strengthen her testimony of the gospel because I know that it has strengthened mine. 

It's actually kind of interesting how the thought of the week comes about. As you know I was sharing lots of different quotes and things at the beginning of my mission and as I thought about them I decided that I could do a lot better than just sharing a quote. I decided that instead I could think about it and share a spiritual thought that could hopefully help others. So I thought of different ways that I could improve the thought. So now each Sunday night after I do the District Leader stuff that I need to do and before I go to bed I just sit and ponder about what has been with me in my mind all week. I usually can find some sort of gospel principle that has been on my mind all week and that I have pondered a lot about. That is usually the thing that I share. On Monday mornings is when I prepare the weekly thought. I like to do it during my personal study. I like to start with a prayer because I have noticed that the spirit guides me in the things that I say each week. I then just follow the promptings and do my best to prepare the thought. I know that the message I share won't be for everyone, but as long as it touches at least one person that is all I care about. 

Now that you have all my deep dark secrets out of me I guess it is time for the weekly spiritual thought. Haha

Thought of the week

There is one thing that was said during the meeting with Elder Ballard that we were challenged to do and I thought it would be a good idea to send it in my weekly letter because I have been told that others read the things I write each week. I hope that the things I share with you today will change the minds of others and will make them think.  This thought is for those who are not sure if they want to go on a mission.

I am sure that you can remember the historical event of the mission age change and there was so many missionaries going out and there was a lot of excitement for missionary work.  It changed the number of missionaries in the field a lot. Well it was said on Saturday, and I believe it is true, that the excitement to serve has dropped over time. The excitement level to serve a mission has gone down and there are less missionaries coming out. That needs to change and go the other way. The excitement level needs to keep going up and there needs to be more and more missionaries going out.  Every mission president is asking for more and more missionaries and here is why.

We are in a hurry!!  We are in a hurry to spread the gospel to the entire world.  This is the last dispensation before the coming of Christ. We do not have much time before the savior comes. I want you to really think about that for a moment. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be coming soon. He will be coming sooner than you think. Before he comes the Gospel needs to be preached to every nation and as members of this church it is our responsibility to spread it. The church is not a resting place for the righteous. We need to be building Gods kingdom every single day. We need to be reactivating those who have gone astray, we need to be sharing the gospel to those who have never heard it, and we need to be helping those new members to strengthen their testimony so that they stay strong in the church. 

As a missionary I feel like I need to be encouraging every able young man and young women to serve a mission. Why do I feel this way?  Because the mission has changed my life along with others.  You have no idea how much I have changed because of my mission. I have learned things that will help me through the rest of my life. I only wish you could truly see the type of person I have become because of my mission.

Looking back at my life there was no pivotal moment that I gained my testimony from. My testimony of the gospel has taken a lot of work and it has come line upon line, precept upon precept. It came a little here and a little there. I believe that I would not have gained the testimony that I have now if it wasn’t  for my mission. I know I would not
have gained the knowledge that I have of the gospel as fast as I have if I didn't  serve a mission. 

I have truly grown to love my Savior. I have truly come to know the power of the Book of Mormon and how it can change lives. Not only have I seen it change others but also I know it has changed mine. I look forward to waking up every single morning so that I can read from its pages. I wish that I could study it all day, but at the same time I am so happy to go out and share the great things that are so precious to me with others. I am much more happier than before my mission. I feel the Spirit a lot stronger in my life and I know he is guiding me every single day.  I have a greater testimony of this gospel because of my mission. I understand the plan that our Heavenly Father has for each and everyone one of us. I know why we are here on the earth and what we need to do to return to God. I know that God loves us enough to send His son to die for us. Jesus Christ did come to this earth and He did do everything that He was sent here to do. I love my Savior with all my heart. I cannot wait for the day when I can wash His feet with my tears for I truly love Him for what he has done for me. I know that because God loves us he has called a prophet who guides Christ's church today. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. He holds all the priesthood keys on the earth to guide this living church. I could go on and on with my testimony if I just had enough time. I hope that you get the point that I truly do love my mission and the person it has helped me become. I am not perfect, in fact I am far from perfect, but God doesn't expect you or I to be perfect right now. He just expects us to do our best. 

This is why I want others to serve missions. As you serve others and change their lives your own life is changed in the process. If you are at the age of serving a mission and you are not sure whether you want to or not I challenge you to kneel down and ask God what He wants you to do. He has a plan for you and sometimes we just need to take a step into the unknown with an act of faith that He knows what He is doing.  His work will go forward whether you choose to serve a mission or not. This work needs to go forward because we are in a hurry!

I love this gospel with all my heart. I know that the work I am doing is the Lord's work.  We are in a hurry because our Savior is coming soon and I cannot wait for that glorious day. I love you all and I hope that you will think of the importance of missionary work and why the gospel needs to be spread. I hope that you will take the steps in your life to help others to see the joy that they can have because of the gospel. 

I hope you all have a great week!


Elder Peterson