Monday, January 25, 2016

Letter #80

Dear Mum and Family,

We have had a pretty great week this past  week. The weather was pretty nice for a couple of days which is really really nice for missionary work. We took advantage of the nice warm days and we spent a lot of time in the city centre trying to talk to people. We actually have found some really cool people that are interested to learn more. We will be trying to get in contact with them tomorrow to see when we can see them. 

I actually had a pretty cool experience this past week when it came to finding. One morning I had a really great study on the Plan of Salvation in Preach My Gospel. After our studies we had planned to go out and do some finding in city centre. I felt that I should focus on the Plan of Salvation when I spoke to people so that's what I did. As I was walking down one of the streets in city centre I saw a guy that I kindly wanted to stop, but I wasn't sure if I should stop him or another person that I saw. I felt like I kind of got pushed towards the first guy I had seen. So I went and stopped him and after talking to him for a bit I felt like I needed to ask him about what the purpose of life is. It was the perfect question for him because it is something that he has been thinking about lately. It made him really think and as I was talking to him a little more about the Plan of Salvation. He was so interested in learning more so we set up a time to see him Sunday which was yesterday. We had a wonderful lesson with him yesterday and we were able to answer a lot of his questions. He still has a lot of questions about the Plan of Salvation, but he has invited us back over this next Saturday so we can continue to help him. He is a way cool guy from Ghana and he is studying here in Swansea for 3 years. I am pretty excited to see him again this next week. I know he will get baptized at some point. 

Well today we went to the Gower as a District so that's why I am so late with the emailing this week. I have a lot of pictures that I hope you guys like. The pictures will hopefully explain what the Gower is. If you have any questions you can ask me next week. We also visited a castle in Swansea which was pretty cool. There wasn't much left of the castle but it was still nice to see and get some pictures of it. We had a lot of fun and we were so lucky that it didn't rain on us. It was a really windy day and there were a lot of clouds but I will take that any day. 

Well transfers are coming up again here soon. I can't believe that this is the last week of January. All of the Sister missionaries that came out the same time that I did are going home in 9 days. How crazy is that?!  I can't believe how fast the time is going. I thought it would slow down a bit now that we are in the beginning of a new year but I was wrong.  I am really loving it here in Swansea. Yeah we get a lot of rain but I love the area and to be honest the more I think about it the more I think that there will probably be one day where I will look back and miss the rain. So right now I am just enjoying the experience while it lasts even if I am soaking wet all day long. Haha. The Welsh people are great and to be honest I hope I can finish my mission in Wales. I don't want Swansea to be my last Area I just think it would be nice to be in Wales.  

Well I am going to let you all go. I hope that you enjoy the spiritual thought that I have prepared for this week. To be honest I think it is not the best because I had a hard time putting the words and thoughts that were in my mind into the email. I hope you understand it and I hope it will help someone out there. 

Weekly letter

Lately I have been reading in Mosiah. I have learned so much from it all, but the part I have loved reading most this time around is when Abinadi, the Prophet, speaks toe King Noah and his priest. I have also had another focus this past week, which has been the Atonement. It was a perfect focus because it goes along really well with Abinadi and his teachings. 
Throughout my life I have always loved reading Isaiah chapter 53 when I have wanted to read about the Atonement. It holds a special place in my heart. As I am sure you all know Abinadi quotes Isaiah 53 when speaking to King Noah. Jeffery R. Holland said something that I love about this. He said:
"Surely the most sublime, the lengthiest, and most lyrical declaration of the life, death, and atoning sacrifice of Christ is that found in Isaiah 53, quoted in its entirety in the Book of Mormon by Abinadi as he stood in chains before King Noah.  

This quote has made me want to study these amazing verses of scriptures. By doing so this past week I have found the beauty of these verses and the amazing truths that lies inside.  I have grown a greater love for my Savior by studying and pondering about these verses. I hope that the thoughts I share with you today will help you to gain more of that love for the Savior as well. I know in the past I have shared thoughts before on the Atonement, but I don't think that I can speak enough about the Atonement. For it is because of our Savior that so much is possible.
" ...he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities" (Mosiah 14:5)

This verse sticks out to me the most when I read this chapter. The Savior went through so much for us, not only on the cross, which he was nailed to. Those nails would cause so much suffering as they were driven into the hands and feet as they penetrated and crushed sensitive nerves and quivering tendons, yet inflicted no mortal wound" as James E. Talmage puts it. 
He also suffered tremendous pain while in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In the Garden he took upon him all the sins of the world, or as Isaiah says " he has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows."  No mortal man could have done this. " It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing." We have a hard time understanding how much pain the Savior went through let alone go through it ourselves.
The Savior loves us tremendously. He truly did pay a debt he didn't owe because we owed a debt we couldn't pay. It is only through the Savior Jesus Christ that we can be healed from our mistakes. Christ was pure and clean yet he paid the price for all of our sins, yours and mine, so that we could one day return to live with our Heavenly Father again.  We just need to apply the Atonement in our lives. We need to ask, "What lack I Yet?" Because the Savior knows. When we come to find out what we lack we can change and become better because the Savior has made it possible. 
I am so grateful for mine and your Savior, Jesus Christ, who has done so much for us all. I too am grateful for our Heavenly Father who loves us so much that he was willing to send his only begotten Son to take upon him the sins of the world. I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that as we do our best to follow the path that he walked then we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again one day. He loves us and he wants each of us to return to him, but we still have to do our part while on the earth. 
He loves us and he wants the best for us. Let's show our love to Him by following his commandments the best we can, whatever it may be. 
Have a wonderful week!!
Elder Peterson

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Letter #79

Dear Mum and Family,

This past week has been a pretty crazy week for many different reasons. We have had our ups and downs this week, but we are still keeping our heads up and doing what we hope is best for this area. Something crazy that has happened is we were able to experience a full day of sunshine this past week. It was super cold and you couldn't wear enough clothes to keep yourself warm, but we saw the sun, which is a miracle especially in Swansea. Haha to be honest it makes me really happy to see and hear that you got some snow his past week and a good amount too. I hope you get enough snow to stay all the way through the summer so I can see it when I make it back in July. Haha. 

We had a dinner with the Stake President this past week and he was telling us about one area in northern Wales I believe that has had rain for the past 92 days.  Luckily we have only had about 29 days of straight rain and according to the Stake President this is one of the wettest winters they have had in a while in Swansea. It is amazing how much rain I have seen here in Swansea since I have been here. 

On the missionary side of things we are starting to get in contact with most of our investigators and we are able to meet them. There have been a lot of exams and big essays due this week so the Uni students have been pretty busy. They should all be done with that this week so things should start to slow down a bit for them and we will be able to see them again this coming week a lot easier. 

There is one investigator that we saw this week and we had a great lesson with him. He has been meeting with the missionaries for about one transfer now and he has had all the lessons. The only thing that is keeping him from being baptized is a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He comes to church activities and he is trying to come to church he has just been so busy with school lately. He is an awesome guy. We met with him this last week and we focused on the restoration and specifically the Book of Mormon. We talked about receiving answers to prays and how the Holy Ghost helps us to receive those answers. I definitely felt the Spirit guiding us in the lesson. I know that the things we said were things he needed to hear and I really hope that he does pray and read. We left a chapter for him to read that I think will really help him so we will see how it goes when we meet with him this next week. 

Other than that the investigators that we have are not really progressing that much. I have been thinking a lot of how we can help this area and I think the best thing we can do is focus on those we know will progress and then just do lots of finding to build our teaching pool a little better. The Swansea area has a lot of potential when it comes to finding people that are interested so I think we will find some really cool people this week. I hope to be able to send you an email next week with miracles of the people we found this next week. 

I don't really have much more to report on other than we are half way through this transfer already which is super crazy and it is back to raining again today. And I can't believe that it is almost February now. Oh yeah another exciting thing that's going to happen this week is there is a worldwide broadcast for all missionaries on Thursday. It is coming from church headquarters and we get to listen to it live. We have no idea what we are going to be hearing but I am excited to learn on what I can do to be a better missionary. Other than that it should be a typical week of missionary work here in the UK.

Before I go I will share another spiritual thought like usual. It is kind of a long one but I hope that you enjoy. 
Weekly Thought

I want to share with you a story that I have read from an ensign in the past that has stayed with me and has really stuck out to me for many reasons. It has taught me a lot about the simple things in life and especially in the gospel and how important they are. 
In 1485 there was a King on the English throne named Richard III.  While he was King he had to defend his throne more then once. King Richard III was very experienced in the military and he had an army between 8,000 and 10,000 men who were great warriors. In the year of 1485 there was a man by the name of Henry Tudor who wanted the English throne so he challenged King Richard III for the throne. 
Unlike King Richard III, Henry didn't have much experience in battle and he only had 5,000 men. Henry did have very good advisors though and many of them had actually battled before against King Richard III along with many other battles that were similar to this one. So the day of the battle came and many thought that King Richard III would win because of the experience he had and because of the size of his army compared to Henry's army. 
So on 22 August 1485 King Richard III prepared to battle against Henry and his warriors. The winner of this battle would be the ruler of England. On the morning of this day, King Richard III asked one of his servants to go make sure that his favorite horse was prepared for battle. The servant found that the horse was not ready because the blacksmith had been working on all the other horses the past couple days getting them ready for battle. The servant rushed the blacksmith saying the horse needs to be ready now because Henry's army is advancing and the King needs to be out there to meet them with his army. Well the blacksmith did the best he could to hurry and shoe the Kings horse and by the time he got to the last hoof he noticed that he was short a nail.  He told the servant that he had to hurry and make some more nails, but the servant said there is not enough time for the army was here to fight. He told the blacksmith just to put it on despite the fact that the blacksmith said it is not going to hold. He did it anyways and the horse was given to King Richard III for battle. 
The battle had soon started and King Richard III was riding up and down the line fighting and urging his men to keep fighting strong. King Richard III looked back across the field and noticed that some of his men were falling back.  Fearing that they would start retreating he turned his horse around and started galloping towards the men to encourage them to keep fighting. Before he got to them his horse stumbled and fell which threw King Richard III off his horse. Just as the blacksmith had feared, one of the horse's shoes had come off during the gallop. 
King Richard III jumped up from the ground, just as his horse got up and ran off.  He started waving his sword in the air yelling I need a horse, but it was too late. By that time the King's men had run in fear of Henry's advancing army and King Richard III had lost the battle. 
From this event there is a proverb that says:
For want of a nail, a shoe was lost, 
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost,
For want of a horse, a battle was lost,
For want of a battle, a kingdoms was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. 
After reading this event and the proverb there is a scripture that comes to my mind that I am sure comes to yours. It's Alma 37:6
" small and simple things are great things brought to pass..."
This story explains something so small and simple and because it was only thought of as a small and simple thing the servant in the story didn't think it mattered that much. How many of us think the same way about things in our lives?  Maybe we think that missing one day of scripture reading isn't really going to hurt us. Or maybe we think that by not paying a full tithe this month isn't going to hurt us. Maybe showing and act of love by serving our neighbor is something we don't really want to do today because we are "too busy" and we don't think it will affect us. I know there are many more simple things that we just put aside and we don't do them because they are just small and simple. We don't understand sometimes how powerful those things really are in our lives. 
The very first meeting that we as missionaries had with President and Sister Leppard when they arrived as the new Mission President and wife will be one that I will never forget for many different reasons. One of those reasons is because of something so simple that President Leppard said that really hit me. He said:
"Do the simple things well."
Those 5 words are so true and they bring so much power. Whether we are a missionary or not, by doing the simple things in life we are able to experience great things. No thing is too simple that we shouldn't do it. In fact the gospel is so simple in itself. We make things too complicated some times by thinking that we have to worry more about doing the hard things. We sometimes think that we need to do hard things in order to get closer to our Heavenly Father and to become more like Him and His Son Jesus Christ. The truth is that when we do simple things well that is when we truly become closer to Him. When we go to church each week to partake of the sacrament and think of the savior during that time we are getting closer to Him. When we set aside just 15 minutes to study the scriptures we are getting closer to our Heavenly Father. When we make sure to hold a Family Home Evening weekly, even if it's just a simple Family Home Evening.  By doing these small and simple things we can be blessed in so many ways. 
Elder Richard G Scott said:
" Remember: little things lead to big things.  Seemingly insignificant indiscretions or neglect can lead to big problems. More importantly, simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings."
May we remember this and may we all do our best to do the simple things well. I know that great things in life lay ahead as we do these things, for I have seen it in my life. Great things truly come from doing the small and simple things. 

Have a great week!!
Elder Peterson

Monday, January 11, 2016

Letter # 78

Dear Mum and Family,

As you all know I wasn't feeling very well this past week, but this week I feel a lot better. I have my voice back and I am not as tired as I was last week, which I am so grateful for. I still have a little cough but I am feeling a lot better. It is definitely a lot better to do missionary work when you aren't so sick. 

This last week things have started to pick up a bit now that the holidays are over. We have been doing a lot of finding this past week and we have found some pretty cool people that we will hopefully be seeing this next week. We have a couple of cool investigators that we are meeting at the moment. Most of them are uni students so they are kind of busy with school at the moment. Apparently there is a lot of big exams this week so they are preparing for that.  There is a part member family that we are working with which is way cool. There is a father who is a less active who is coming back to church and his wife and two kids are not members. We usually meet them once a week, but they have been on vacation to Scotland. They are a way cool family though and we should be seeing them his week. 

I am really liking the Swansea area. It is a pretty big area but it's not as big of a city as Westcotes is which I really like. The members are great even though we don't have tons of Dinners. They are a really loving ward that really does take care of the missionaries. I knew some of the members before I came here so there are some really cool people that I have a great time visiting with and getting to know each week. We are doing quite a lot of activities in this ward which is great because then we have something to get our investigators out to so they can be more involved with the members. We usually play football on Saturdays and we are going to be starting Volleyball and four square on Thursdays. We have English class on Tuesday's where we can invite people who are learning English since there is a lot of foreign people here for university. We usually have a good turn up there. The ward is going to be having a few other fun activities coming up soon so I am pretty excited for that. 

You asked if I wanted some recipes to cook. Well I am a good chef so nope you don't need to worry because I am a big boy and I can take care of myself. But my companion has had German pancakes, or monster cakes as we call them and he wants the recipe so if you would be so kind to send it to me that would be great. I know it's pretty simple so I think I will be able to make it. 

Mum I really like the thought that you shared. I am going to have to read that book when I get home. I will have to read it again when I have time to think about what he is saying because I didn't quite get it all. I have come to the conclusion that I don't like reading, but if it is a church book that can teach me more about the gospel then I really enjoy reading it. So I think that I will like it too. 
I don't really have much more to tell you because my mind has gone blank and I can't really remember all that has gone on this past week.  I guess I will share my thought and if there is anything else I will add it at the end. 

Weekly Thought
There has been a pretty big focus for me this past week.  I have been focusing the Spirit and the importance of it in our lives.
What is the Spirit. The Spirit is the third member of the Godhead.  He does not have a body of flesh and bone like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do or he would not be able to talk to our spirit.   As members of the church we are blessed with this special gift after we are baptized. Even though everyone can feel the spirit in their lives it isn't your constant companion unless you have received the gift of the Holy Ghost by someone holding the Priesthood authority from God. In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul gives us some examples of the fruit of the spirit, or in other words what the spirit produces. He says: 
" 22...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith...
23 Meekness, temperance..."
I really love this scripture because it shows that with the Holy Ghost in our lives we are able to enjoy life. When I look at those verses I don't see a single one of those fruits of the spirit that people wouldn't want in their lives. By having the Spirit in our lives we are able to enjoy all of them which can help us in so many aspects in life. 

We read in Helaman 5:30 how the spirit speaks to us. 
" was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul."

The spirit is a still small voice. It does not come in loud noises that are easy for us to recognize so if we are preoccupied we will not hear its gentle voice. "Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, ‘Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.’ ( PMG 96)

This is something that I have really been focusing on when it comes to the spirit. The fact that it is such a gentle voice that we miss it if we are not paying careful attention. In missionary work it is so important that you have the spirit with you because it is by the spirit that the work gets truly done. There is so many things in life that are so loud that it drowns out the still small voice. 
If we think of the times from Adam and Eve to the prophet Joseph Smith we see that that the world changed rather slowly. They didn't have lots of the distractions and noises that we have today. 

They would have enjoyed a natural silence without all the man-made sounds. Right now as I am sitting inside it is not perfectly silent. I can hear all the cars going outside, planes that are flying overhead, construction on buildings that make lots of noise. All of this drowns out the natural silence that all the prophets in the past would have experienced. You can't even go to a restaurant or a store without music playing in the back ground. Even in remote forest the silence is usually broken with a jet flying overhead. Even when we are alone we usually are putting headphones in to listen to music, playing games on phones, doing things on laptops or watching T.V.  All these things and many more things keep us occupied in the world today. 

Elder M. Russell Ballard asked a really good question that I would like to ask you. He asked:
"Do you have any personal quiet time? I have wondered if those who lived in the past had more opportunity than we do now to see, feel, and experience the presence of the Spirit in their lives."

That would be my challenge for you this week. Set time to just quietly ponder and listen to the promptings of the Spirit. During that time you could read from the scriptures, you could write in a journal, you could read your patriarchal blessing. There are so many things that we can do to invite the spirit so that we can think and listen to the still small voice that can tell us all things that we must do.  
There is so much in life that distracts us so that we can't hear the Spirit. That is how Satan wants it.  He wants there to be many distraction in life. Are you going to let him win by letting those things take control of life? Or are you going to use your agency to set some time aside for our Heavenly Father to speak to you? He knows what is best for you at this time in your life and as you listen with a prayer in your heart continually you will be able to receive those answers. Even if there is not something you are looking for answers for it is amazing just to sit and feel the presence of the spirit in our lives. In a world like today it's nice to feel that spirit of peace and joy at times to know that God is there and that he truly does care for us. 
I know that the Spirit is given to us so that we can enjoy this life. I know it is there to guide us and protect us. He is there to give us comfort in a world full of so much hate and confusion. I know that as we do our part in letting the Spirit into our lives we will be able to do great things that are Heavenly Father wants us to do. 
Thank you all for your letters I really enjoyed reading them. I hope you all have a great week. 
Elder Peterson

PS you will have to tell the Stilgers hi for me. I really miss serving in Sheldon. It was probably one of my favorite wards to serve in. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Letter # 77

Dear Mum and Family,

Well I thought you would like to know that there has not been a single day since I have been in Swansea that it has not rained. It rains all the time and when it rains it really rains so I don't know what it's like to feel dry. Haha I am loving it here even if it rains all the time.  On the bright side I know for a fact that I am experiencing warmer weather than you are. Haha I am sure that mum wanted to hear that. I hope it made your day better to know that I am not as cold as you are right now. Haha

The past week was a pretty good week other than the fact that I was sick all week and I think I am just starting to get to the end of it. The worst part is over which makes me happy. For about 3 days I had lost my voice and if you didn't know it's kind of hard to reach people about the gospel when you can't talk. Luckily I have made it through and I am still alive.   

This past Wednesday was a great day. There was a leadership meeting for all missionaries who are in leadership. So that would be A.P's, Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders and District Leaders. We travelled to the mission home where the meeting was held and it was a great meeting. The first part was pretty much accounting for the areas we are working in and then setting some goals for this next year that we as a mission want to accomplish. We then heard some messages from the Mission Presidency who gave some amazing talks on the Spirit. The Spirit was definitely present in that meeting and I learned so much from those who gave talks. It made me super excited for this next year and to focus and work hard. I am so excited for the things that we are going to be doing in our area. Great things are going to happen. 

For New Years we didn't do anything too special. We played football with a good amount of ward members, which was pretty fun. We didn't stay up late or anything like that. We were too tired and I had a cold so sleep really helped me. We then went on exchange with the Zone Leaders, which was fun. I went with Elder Davis and we had some good fun. He is the one in the picture with me at the beach. We didn't do a whole lot other than finding and stopping by to visit some people. Things should start picking up this week now that all the holidays are over. 

The ward is great. There are lots of great members here and a good amount of them I knew from when I served in Llanelli. We don't really get many dinners in this ward, but that's okay because there are 3 teams of missionaries in this one ward so it's kind of hard to feed us all every day. We do get fed though and when we don't have dinners we make some great food so we definitely eat well. 

You did get the flat right. I was hoping that it would take you longer than that to get it. I guess I did give you a lot of hints, which made it easier for you. If I didn't tally out anything it would have taken you the rest of this transfer I am sure. 

Well I will share with you my weekly thought. It has to do with the New Year again so I hope you aren't tired of hearing about the New Year. I promise next week won't be on the New Year. 

Weekly Thought

The New Year has come and we are now in the year 2016. There is much that lays ahead in our lives. We will have joys and we will face challenges. We will have experiences that will teach us and experiences that we might struggle with. We have the opportunity to change and become better, someone that is hopefully more like our savior Jesus Christ. 

Last week I shared a thought on changing and setting appropriate goals that will help us to become someone that our Father in Heaven wants us to become. I am sure you have all set some great goals that will challenge you and help you to become someone great. This week I want to share some thoughts that still relate to the New Year. I would like to focus it on a scripture from the Old Testament. 

"look not behind thee" (Genesis 19:17 )

I am sure you all know the story of Lot and his family, especially the part about his wife. Lot and his family were commanded to leave Sodom and Gomorrah because it was really wicked. So they left and they were told not to look back. As we know Lot's wife looked back and she was turned to a pillar of salt. I don't believe that looking back was not the sin. I believe she turned to salt because she longed to go back. She had liked her old life and she didn't want to leave it.   

We can apply this simply to this New Year. We have had great experiences that have brought us great joy in the past. I am sure you can all remember those experiences in pretty good detail. Thinking about them might bring back those good feelings that you had at that time. The fact is we will never experience those things ever again and I am sure we all realize this or I least hope we realize this. 

We need to take the experiences that we had in the past and learn from them rather than wish we could live them again. Really all we can do is live today to the best of our ability and enjoy every moment whether it's good or bad. I love the quote from Harold B. Lee that says:

" There is only one day that you and I have to live for, and that's today. There is nothing we can do about yesterday except repent, and there may be no tomorrow. The thing for us to do when we arise from our beds each day is take whatever comes to our hands, and do it to the best of our ability."

I hope that we can all remember this next year to enjoy life as it comes. Not longing for the past and not wishing for the future. It won't be easy at times, but we were not promised easy paths. We just need to remember that if God brought you to it, you'll have to trust that He will bring you through it. 

I know that there will be great things that lay ahead too. May we look for the great that lies ahead and enjoy the times while they last. Let's live in the now learning from the past and not longing for it to be back. Let's be grateful for each day that God has given us to live and do all we can to take full advantage of everything that he places in our lives. I am grateful for this New Year to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life and to change into the person that God wants me to be. 

Have a great week and I will talk to you next week. 

Elder Peterson