Monday, July 18, 2016

Letter #105

Dear Mum and Family (for the last time),

Well I cannot believe that it is here now. This is the last email that I will be sending home to you all before I am able to see all of your big smiling faces. I would share a bit about this week with you but I don't really know what to share. It has been a crazy week with so much to do and little time to do it all. It has gone by so fast as well so I don't remember it all. If you have any questions about my week feel free to ask me when I see you. Haha that is so weird to say. 

I really loved all of the wonderful emails you have sent. I don't have much time to reply to them because we are pretty busy, but I wanted to write a letter to you all. Thanks again for all of the time that you all put in to write me each week. I have really appreciated the support while I have been serving the Lord. 
Well I chose not to do a ponderizing scripture for a reason this week because I thought that it would be a good idea for me to bear my testimony to you all through an email instead before you have to put up with it coming directly out of my mouth. Haha

These past two years have strengthened my testimony of the gospel so much. With all of the amazing experiences that I have had while serving the Lord I couldn't see how my testimony wouldn't be strengthened as much as it has. 
I know with all of my heart that this church is Christ's church. I know that the savior has died for each and everyone of us. In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross he went below it all so that he can truly lift us up and bring us back to our Father in Haven one day. 
I know that we do have a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for each and everyone of us. He wants us to return to Him and live with Him again. It takes us using our agency to do righteous things, but I know that because of the savior that we can all make it if we turn to Him and apply His atoning sacrifice. 

I know that Joseph Smith truly was called of God to be a prophet. I know with all my heart that he did receive an answer to prayer in the spring of 1820 in what we call now the sacred grove. He was just and ordinary boy who wanted to know that truth and because God loves us Joseph Smith was able to receive an answer to his prays and I know that we can to as well. 

I know that Joseph Smith was directed to an ancient record of scripture called the Book of Mormon. He truly did translate that record into the Book of Mormon that we have now today. I know that it is the most correct of any books and that it truly does bring us closer to our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ as we read it and apply it in our lives. 
I know that we now have a living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. I know that he does receive revelation for the church and that he is called of God. Along side him I know that there are twelve apostles who are also called of God to help in directing the church on the earth of Jesus Christ today. 

This gospel is true and I know that we can know it's true by reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon. I have done it and received an answer many times to know that it is true and that a young boy that had little writing could not have written or translated such a book if it wasn't for the power of God. 
I know the fullness gospel of Jesus Christ is found in the Book of Mormon. As we study both the Bible and the Book of Mormon we can learn what we need to do in order to return to live with him and our families for an eternity. 

I am so grateful for my testimony of this gospel and the peace that it brings to me each and everyday in a world full of confusion and chaos. 
Thanks for letting me share my testimony with you one last time before I leave the mission field. I hope you are all not too excited to see me this week. I would say I am not that excited to see you, but I think that would be a lie. Haha. 
Take care and I will see you in a couple days. 
Elder Peterson
PS. I will send a song for you all to listen to. I think you will love it. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Letter #104

Dear Mum and Family,

Well it has been a pretty crazy week and I cannot believe that this is the last full week of the transfer. This last week has been a lot better since we have recovered from the colds that we got. We have been able to see a few new people this last week which has also been a blessing. It seems like people wanted to talk with us a bit more this week. Haha. That's nice for a change.

We have found a few new people that we have set some return appointments to see this week and we are pretty excited to see them and to teach them. It has been great to see some miracles this past week. I hope that this area continues to get better and better as missionaries continue to work with the wonderful people. I hope we can witness some amazing miracles this last week of the transfer. I am excited to finish strong this next week.

Well I too don't have much more to say other than thanks for all of the wonderful emails that you have all sent with your ponderizing thoughts. It has been great to hear from you all and to learn from your emails. Thanks for taking that time to do so each week. It has been a great blessing to have such a wonderful family there to support me through these past two years.

Well I am planning on sending just one email next week. You can all email if you would like and I will read them, but don't worry if you don't want to. Also I think you can do your own ponderizing scripture if you would like. I want to do something special for my last spiritual thought next week, but you will have to wait to see what it is.

I hope that you are all doing well and that you are enjoying you last week without me. Soon enough I will be back to bug you all once again. Haha. I think I have learned a few more tricks to give you all a harder time here and there. Haha. I hope that you are all prepared. If not you better start preparing. Haha
Well here is my last thought for my ponderizing scripture as a missionary. I hope that you enjoy it. I have really enjoyed all of your thoughts on this scripture this past week.

Spiritual Thought

I have loved this past week and the opportunity to have thought about the scripture in  Ether 12:27. Lots of different things have stuck out to me a d I hope to explain well what I have learned this past week.
Obviously the scripture is Ether 12:27 which reads:
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
There is one word in particular that has stuck out to me the most as I have been pondering this scripture and that word is humble. I think it truly is the main point of this scripture.
At the beginning of this verse the Lord speaks and he says, "if men come unto me I will show unto them their weaknesses."  It is requiring us to act in order for us to know our weaknesses so that we can improve. That takes a great deal of humility.
If we are prideful then we "...put greater trust in oneself than in God or in His servants." (PMG 121)  We are given weaknesses so that we "may be humble."
(Ether 12:27)
So after pondering this scripture I wanted to share a few things about humility and what I have learned about humility throughout the time that I have had to study it.
I believe the greatest definition of humility comes from True to the Faith. It reads:
"To be humble is to recognize gratefully your dependence on the Lord--to understand that you have constant need for His support. Humility is an acknowledgment that your talents and abilities are gifts from God. It is not a sign of weakness, timidity, or fear; it is an indication that you know where your true strength lies."
The greatest example of any Christ like attribute is obviously the Savior. There are so many examples of humility throughout His earthly ministry that we can learn from. I think the greatest example of humility from the Savior is shown during his suffering in Gethsemane.
As he went to the Garden of Gethsemane he told His three disciples that came with him to wait and to pray. The Savior "...went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matt. 26:39)
There are times in our own lives that we may be suffering in some way or another. Those times happen to us all. It is apart of our earthly experience. It seems during these times of despair we turn to our Heavenly Father in prayer the most. Sometimes after we make it through those hard times we tend to forget about prayer again until we have another trying time.
I want to share one more example of the Savior’s humility that is shown. It is not during a time that he is suffering so it shows that the Savior always recognizes that Heavenly Father is with him and that he is ever grateful for his help. It is found in John 11 when Christ raises Lazarus from the dead.
Lazarus had been laid in a tomb and had been there for four days by the time he got there. (John 11:17)  To make a long story short the Savior went to the tomb and when he got there He asked them to remove the stone that was in front of the tomb. They did so and while they were doing it the Savior says a pray out loud in which he says:
"...Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 11: 41-42)
He then raises Lazarus from the dead and there is much rejoicing I believe.
The Savior praying before raising Lazarus shows great humility. He wasn't praying for power or authority because he had already had it. He was praying to thank Heavenly Father for always listening to Him. The Savior also showed that He and the Father are one in purpose when he said that the Father had sent him there.
In 3 Nephi 12:48 it reads:
"Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect."
We are to strive to become perfect like our Christ and our Father in Heaven. In order to do so we need to progress spiritual and to come unto Christ. He is the only way we can be perfected. (Moroni 10:32) Just as Bruce R. McConkie once said

"All progression in spiritual things is dependent upon the attainment of humility."
I know that as we all strive to obtain humility in our lives then we will start to see those weaknesses that we may have turn into strengths. And with those strengthens we will be able to bless many lives.

 I hope that you all have a great week and try your best to hold out one more week without getting into trouble, especially you mum. Hahah
Have a great week and take care.
Elder Peterson

Monday, July 4, 2016

Letter #103

Dear Mum and Family,

Well this week has been a little slow for us. My companion and I caught a cold the beginning of the week and it didn't want to leave us until this week.  So that has really slowed us done a bit this past week. We are doing a lot better now though and should be having a better week this week. It seems like there is something going around with everyone over here. There have been quite a few people sick lately. 

We have been able to do a bit of finding this week and have had a bit of success. We have found some people who will hopefully meeting with us this week, which is always good for us. It is a pretty hard time at the moment for us, but we are doing our best and that is what matters the most. It has been a pretty good week though. It went by so fast though. I don't remember any week going as fast as this one has just gone. 

It sounds like everyone is doing great and is keeping busy and hopefully out of trouble. It seems like there are some exciting things going on and you are all enjoying yourselves. At least you are trying to stay out of trouble. Haha. At least mum is getting older so that means she won't have as much energy so it's easier to keep her out to of trouble. Haha. I am glad that you enjoyed your birthday this week though mum. I hope you didn't get too spoiled on your birthday. 

 It is a pretty big thing about Britain voting out of the EU. There haven't been any changes that I know of.  From what they are saying it is going to be about 3 years before there will be any big changes.  It is a big topic over here though so it is a good conversation starter that's for sure. Everyone over here has mixed opinions. Some like the change and others don't. I think you get that with anything big like that. 

Well I don't have a lot of time because we went to Birmingham today and I bought my second suit for home. That is all the shopping I have to do now. I am so glad because I still am not a big fan of shopping. Haha. It was great to go and see Birmingham again though. I can't believe how much it has changed since the last time I was there which was in my first area. There were a lot of changes. 
So we spent a bit of time there and now we are heading off to a members house for a BBQ for the 4th of July. She is so kind in throwing s little party for us American missionaries. Haha. So we are off to there now since it is a pretty long bus ride for us to get there. Sorry I don't have much time to email. 

Here is the thought for this week and I hope that you have a great week. Thanks for all that you do. 

Weekly Thought
I have really learned a lot from the scriptures that we had to Ponderize this week.  I have to admit that it caught me by surprise when Mum said that I chose the scripture this week. I quickly chose a scripture that I had read recently hoping that it was something that could teach us all something. From reading a few of your responses I have learned a lot and it seems like you have as well. 
As you already know the scripture was found in 2 Nephi 2:16 which reads
"Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other."
It is pretty obvious that we learn that we have agency, or the freedom to chose, what we want. It is given to us before this earth life and it is not taken from us. There are good and bad choices thrown at us everyday. It is left to us to chose which path we want to take.  With each path there are consequences and by the choices we make will determine the consequences we receive. 
The thing that has hit me the most ask have been thinking of this verse comes from a parable that the Savior teaches. It is the Parable of the Sower. I am sure that you all know of this parable. 
The parable is found in Mathew 13:3-8. 

3 "And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold."

As we learn from the  parable, the soil is our individual selves. The seed is the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is either able to grow in our lives because we have "good soil" or not able to grow because we have bad soil. The choices that we make determine what type of soil the gospel is planted into our lives. 
For example we might have not made the best of choices and we could have a few weeds that are springing up in our lives.  These things "choke" that gospel seed and it is not able to grow.  We need to do our part to repent so that those weeds can be plucked up and the good seed can grow. 
We may not have the gospel deeply planted in our lives because there are stones that are keeping the roots from growing deeper. We need to work to get those stones removed so that the gospel can be deeply rooted. Then when we face trials the gospel is able to be firmly planted and our faith won't be shaken. 
Maybe our hearts are a little hard towards different things in the gospel.  We need to work to soften up the ground, to humble ourselves, so that the soil will be ready for the seed. 
Maybe we do have seeds planted in good soil. We need to remember that weeds still like to grow in good soil and that the soil does start to get hard at times.  We need to make sure that we continually are plucking weeds out and taking good care that the soil doesn't go bad. We all know individually what things our soil needs to be able to produce a good harvest. 
Dallin H. Oaks said:

"It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful."
We have been given our agency to choose what we want. We can chose to let our soil get out of hand by not weeding it, plowing it, giving it the nutrients that it needs etc. Or we can chose to do things in our lives that will keep the soil good so that the gospel can continue to grow and be strengthened in our own lives. 
It all comes down to the choices that we make each and everyday. I know that when we do take care our "soil" in our lives then eventually we will be able to gather the fruit at the harvest. That fruit is explained in Lehi's dream as something that is "desirable to make one happy..." and " it fills our soul with exceedingly great joy."
(1 Nephi 8: 10, 12)
The fruit that is spoken of is eternal life with our families and our Father in Heaven. That is "the greatest of all the gifts of God."  (D&C 14:7)  That gift is obtained through our obedience to the commandments of God and through how well we endure to the end of this life. 

I love this verse in the hymn "True to the Faith"
We will strive to be found worthy
Of the kingdom of our Lord,
With the faithful ones redeemed
Who have loved and kept his word. Yes!
( Hymn #254)

I know that as we do "strive to be found worthy" to live in the kingdom of God we will be making the right choices that will keep our soil good. I hope we can all have living in God's kingdom as our end goal in life and that we can strive to obtain it.
I am grateful for all of your wonderful letters and I hope that you continue to have a wonderful summer break. 
Thanks for all your love and support.