Saturday, February 23, 2013

Elder Peterson 2/20/13

So this week's letter came as a digital voice recording.  He sent six 5-minute sound bytes.  I have tried my best to type up what he said.  It doesn't flow as would a normal letter, and I purposefully left out the awkward pauses and the "Um's".  Oh, and I didn't think the word "freakin" was appropriate for a missionary's letter, so I left out those, too!! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Taken from the audio recordings sent  via email

Hello Family,
This is Elder Peterson, my companion Elder Gremillion, he's got a digital voice recorder, and he said I could borrow it, and I think it is a good way to communicate and not have to write everything out, because, honestly I just don't like writing very much! Sorry if I sound weird, but I'm sitting outside and it is cold, and I'm too lazy to go back inside and grab my jacket. I'm really excited to get to talk to ya'll! I just don't even know where to start...DC is absolutely amazing! It's just amazing how different it is than AZ. The houses are different, they're like the houses from Full House all lined up next to each other in a giant building. They're not connected, but it's just totally different than the layout of AZ. It's really cool and amazing how kind the people are out here, granted there are a lot of people who are jerks, to put it lightly, but it's really cool. It's just overwhelming and amazing and I don't even know what to think about it! I just thought that I could go into the details about everything...

In my apartment, there are two companionships, Elder Gremillion and I, and Elder Sentano and Elder Johnson. Elder Johnson was in my room in the MTC and it's crazy cool that he's here and will be my roommate for about 12 weeks.  There are 2 bedrooms, they stay in theirs, we have our own and we have bunk beds and I'm on the top, and I don't know if I like it that much, it's pretty annoying to get up and down on the bed, but Elder Gremillion is 6'8'' so he deserves to have the bottom, and I'm getting used to it.  I'm really appreciative of Hannah's blanket, and I don't know what I would do without it, it's so nice to be able to snuggle in every night. 
Alright, so since my roommates aren't here, I'm going into their room, and it's way warmer in here. Anyways, the rooms are pretty cool, and I have my own desk, which is nice, and we just cleaned it so it's not messy.  Elder Gremillion's old companion  left a lot of stuff, but the shoes are not going to fit me, but he left some Crest White Strips, so I think I might use them!

On the plane ride from New York to DC, I sat next to this guy named Ivan, that I was able to just talk to.  It was really scary to start out, but I just decided that I needed to talk to him, and I found out that his sister is a member of the church, and he's been to church a couple of times, so I got to talk to him about his experience with the church, and what he knows about it, and I was able to give him a Book of Mormon pass along card, and bear my testimony to him, which was pretty much my first real mission experience.  I encouraged him to meet with the missionaries, and I told him it would help him out in his life.  Hopefully he listens, and takes things to heart and we will see how it goes. 
After the flight, we went to the mission home which is ginormous, it's huge, and it has a basement.  President and Sister Matsumori are just amazing, and I was so impressed, and they are so loving and I'm just grateful they are so kind and loving and they accepted all of us with open arms, and I love them to death already and was so good to be in their home. Sis Matsumori is an amazing cook, by the way, she is just amazing.  But I guess I didn't exactly eat very good at the MTC, so I don't know if that had anything to do with it.  We just had great food and she is a miraculous woman, she and President Matsumori just love serving a lot and it's really cool.  They would always ask, "What do you need help with, let me take your bag...etc." And I was like "No, I can do this." But they were just insistent. It was great to get to know them and talk with them.  I actually have my 2nd interview with him tomorrow, the 21st. My first interview was pretty amazing.  It was one of the most intense interviews I've ever been in.  President Matsumori encouraged me to be perfectly obedient and that he is counting on me to be an example to everyone.  He straight up told me that he was planning on me being one of the future leaders of the mission and that I needed to get my act together and just be the best missionary I can be.  It really hit me and I realized that I have a lot to work on and a lot of things to do to become a better missionary.  I've been trying my best honestly, and I still make some mistakes, but I strive to be obedient, I really do, and I mean I haven't done anything bad, but the little things, like going to bed right at 10:30 and starting my personal study on time. I'm just really excited to serve and be the best missionary I can be.  That's pretty much it about the mission home, it was really cool and fun.

After the mission home, we went straight to meet our new companions, I honestly had no idea, there were 13 of us and 13 new trainers. I was the 2nd to last one, so I got to narrow it down, and I knew it was going to be him at that moment, and it was cool to see Elder Gremillion, he came up and gave me a really big hug and said "This is going to be awesome." He's a great missionary, he came from a not so great background, he made some mistakes and he didn't really know why he wanted to serve a mission, but he decided to serve and he came out, and hearing what he was like before and how he is now, it's amazing how much he has changed. He knows so much about the scriptures and a lot of just the  doctrine.  I'm actually pretty jealous.  I thought I knew a lot, but I really don't and I'm going to work harder  to try to be like him. We've had some pretty spiritual experiences and during our companionship studies, we've had some really great talks.  He's not a perfect person, and he's pretty blunt about things and calls me out and tries to have me do things his way, and so I talked to him about that...he just wants me to be the best missionary I can be.
Elder Gremillion is a really great guy and I'm excited to work with him for the next few weeks.  We've met some pretty interesting people, I've met plenty of drunk people and they are hilarious.  I've never really seen a drunk person before, so it's pretty eye opening, and I've never smelled alcohol before, and that's pretty eye opening too. It's awesome.  I thought I would be OK just walking up to people on the street and talking to them, but the first time I went to "GQ" someone....which stands for "Golden Questioning" or "General Questioning," I  rode up to a person and said "Hey, how's it going?" And then I just kept going cuz I got really scared. And I've definitely done that a few times already, it's really hard to talk to people on the street. I'm getting better at it, and I actually had a conversation just last night actually, and it's pretty cool to just go up to people and see if they are interested and I mean, they have their agency and they can listen to us, or not, and we just have to deal with it.

It's really cold! The first day I was OK with just wearing my suit coat, but then the weather just dropped this past week and it's been really cold just riding around and there's been a lot of wind. I've been wearing my ear things and gloves. It's really cold at night, and it's not fun riding around on a bike. But I'm really glad to be able to talk to people and to help them out. There are a lot of black people that I've met.  There are some hilarious ladies in our ward.  There are a few people that actually come all the time, but for the most part, there are some pretty less active people in our ward, so we go by and visit them. 
One lady in her 50's, named Betty, she's got that sass...it's so cool to talk to her. I try not to laugh at her when she talks, because she isn't trying to be funny, but we went to talk to her.  She's a little more active than most, but she lives with her mom who is going to die pretty soon, so she has to stay home with her a lot. She tries to make it out to church when she can, she has a strong testimony. She's really good at cooking and she made us homemade macaroni and cheese and fried chicken when we went to visit her at lunch time. She had homemade coleslaw, I'm not a huge fan, but it was pretty good, and then she had some apple pie that she got at Safeway, and I thought I was going to throw up because we ate so much there.  That is one lady we visited, and I'm not sure why I told you that story, but I did.

This other lady named Bernita Jackson, just joined the church about 6 months ago, we got to go visit with her. We went with this man in our ward named "JS" (Jay Simmons Armstrong is his name).  She used to do really hard drugs, she met with the missionaries and she actually had a stroke (not sure how long ago) but it has left her physically impaired.  She has to use a cane, and she can't walk really fast, but she is hilarious, and I just wish that you could meet her. She's quick with the "Don't you be talking to me that way" (in his best black impersonation, which he said doesn't sound very good).  She just says things that make me laugh really hard.  She's been struggling knowing if God was really there. We got teach her about prayer, and she didn't know that you are allowed to thank him in your prayers, so that was really cool to be able to teach her about that. Those are my 2 stories about visiting the less active.
The last 2 things I want to talk to you about, the first is JS, a white man probably in his 70's who joined the church about 40 years ago when he was in college.  He is an amazing person. I'm going to be sending a picture from the temple.  He's the old man in the picture and the lady with short hair is our investigator named Nicole, and Sis. Keenen is a less active sister in the ward who is trying to come back.  JS has basically dedicated his whole life to help the missionaries.  He took us out to lunch to Ruby Tuesdays. It's pretty expensive and really good food, it doesn't really phase him, but he's an attorney who's never been married, he lives all by himself, so it doesn't really phase him. I can't even express how awesome he is.  He drives us places, and he always comes to appointments when we need him to,  and I don't really know what we would do without him, because he really helps us out a lot.

The second thing I wanted to talk about is our investigator Nicole. She is hilarious too.  She has a great sense of humor.  She's starting to understand, and I know she will be baptized, she definitely is really strong.  She has some things to work on, she believes in God, she prays, and I know she will learn that this is the true church.  We are helping her to know the truth and we pray she will come around.
It's really amazing to be a missionary.  I'm getting into the scheme of things. It's amazing to be serving the Lord full time.  I'm pretty tired every day! I wake up at 6:30 (it comes around pretty quick), but this is the Lord's work, and there is no place I would rather be than out here serving the Lord. I can meet new people and help them to convert to the gospel. I'm just so grateful for this opportunity to serve. I'm just so excited. I really miss you all, and I love you all very much.  I just want to say thank you, and I'm sure I will have more stories to share next week. Don't worry, I am writing letters, they will be coming soon. 

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