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

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