Monday, August 4, 2014

Last letter "All is Well"

Dad’s Note:  This is sadly the last letter from Lauren on her mission.  We leave tomorrow morning to pick her up and will return Friday night.  She will be speaking about her mission in our church meeting this Sunday, 12:30 p.m.  If you are receiving this letter, I am sure she would love to see you then.  The address is 655 Old Orchard Drive Danville, CA.  All are welcome.  I received a call yesterday from a woman who had just had a tour of the Winter Quarter Trail Center from Lauren.  The way Lauren gave the tour and what she shared touched this woman (and her husband) so much that they asked Lauren if she would give them her parents phone number so they could call us.  In that call, this dear woman just wept and her voice was hoarse from crying previously.  She said, “It was a privilege to be taught by an angel.  My husband and I both commented, that should either of us die, we would want a sweet assuring voice like hers to usher us from this world to the next.  We imagined she was a nurse....  She's simply has the hands and the heart and healers art.”  After the tour, and their thanking Lauren, Lauren asked if she could share a secret with them.  She then told them that “you were the last tour of my mission.”  I think that touched them.  They were in the parking lot when Lauren walked out for the last time and went to their car.  They told me they could tell it was weighing heavy on her.  They thanked me many times for Lauren and I thanked them for sharing that precious last moment of her mission with us.  

Letter written 8/4/14:

My heart is full of gratitude today, as i have thought about the many blessings the Lord has poured out upon me. The tears of joy have been flowing for the past 3 days ha, and i couldn't be happier. God is good, He is oh so good. I am so indebted to Him, and pray that i will always do His will.

I feel a bit like the pioneers did as they were here at Winter Quarters. They had just crossed the plains of Iowa for 4 longs months, and by the time they arrived here, they were exhausted. They experienced much hardship during this time - many of the Saints buried loved ones; many were terribly sick; all of them had very little food; they were ridiculed and beguiled because of their faith; they had to learn how to make the best of the situation they were in; they experienced harsh weather. But even amid all of their trials and hurt, they were the most faithful people that have ever walked this earth. They saw miracles every day. They praised their God every moment that they lived. They walked with angels. They were healed, and ALWAYS had enough to get by. The Lord loved His people, and looked after them every single moment of their journey. They sang; they danced; the served each other. They lived "after the manner of happiness".

The words to what is now my favorite hymn keep echoing through my mind, as now i too, like the pioneers have to leave all behind, once again, and go west. I pray that my faith can continue to be like theirs as they sang:

We'll find the place, which God for us prepared.
Far away, in the West
Where none shall come, to hurt or make afraid
With the just, we shall dwell.
We'll make the air with music ring,
Shout praises to our Lord and King
Above the rest, these words we'll tell
All is well, All is well.

My mission has healed me. I have seen miracles every day. i have walked beside angels, both on this earth and on the other side of the veil. I have laughed, sung, danced, and rejoiced in my King every single day. I have cried many tears, and even asked God, as Amy Porter did, "oh, how shall i ever go on?". But like Priscilla Evans, i "thought it was a beautiful way to go to Zion" and i wouldn't change one thing. I can testify with every thing that i am, that God lives. He lives! His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, IS our Savior and Redeemer! I owe everything to Him and know that He will continue to strengthen me through out the rest of my life. I know that this is HIS church, and ONLY true church on the face of the earth today. I know that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God and that he in fact restored Christ's church, along with bringing forth the Book of Mormon as another testament of our Savior. I know that the Book of Mormon is more than just the word of God; it is our life line. It is the road map to returning back to live with God again. I know that God has a plan for each of us - and that He loves us unconditionally. I pray that my life will be a gift to Him.

I have learned to love being obedient. I know that sacrifice truly does "bring forth the blessings of heaven". Charity NEVER faileth, and faith truly does bring about miracles.

Today i was reading the talk "Grateful in Any Circumstance" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I truly feel that my mission has taught me to be grateful ALWAYS. I hope that you all know how grateful i am for YOU, for blessing my life with prayers, thoughts, testimonies, and love. I can't thank you enough. But all my gratitude goes to my Heavenly Father, who has lifted me higher than i have ever been. I have felt His love more deeply and real then ever before in my life these past 18 months, and for that i am so thankful.

As i read President Uchtdorf's talk this morning, i was touched as well by his testimony about how we are eternal beings:

"In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face
the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of 
the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in 
mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the 
How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only 
everlasting beginnings."

I know that this mission has just helped me see who i truly am, a daughter of God, and an heir to His kingdom. I know now that the true beginning starts: a beginning to return to live with Him again.

This week has been miraculous, and exactly what i needed. It truly has been one of the best weeks of my mission. We saw so many miracles, including our investigator Bruce coming to church and bearing his testimony, teaching Chris and Girly about the temple and eternal families, have over 200 people come watch 17 miracles at the Trail Center for the Summer Fireside Series, being able to sing for the Joseph Smith Family Reunion, seeing so many people that i have grown to love on my mission. It has been glorious. 

I love you all! I love Nebraska: it truly is the Heartland of America, and i am leaving my whole heart here. I know that i have served to the very best of my ability, and that i can hold my head high as i have represented the Lord Jesus Christ every single day for 18 months. I wouldn't trade this time for anything.

All is well,

Sister Peterson

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Letters from July 21st & 28th

Here are the last 2 weeks of Lauren's letters:

Letter from July 21st, titled "3" (I am assuming this means 3 more letters)

Hello  again from Omaha!
It is a nice humid and blistering hot day here, and i couldnt be happier!

 Life as a missionary is so awesome. I was reading in Helaman 5 today, and i thought the words describing Nephi and Lehi totally explain how i feel: "and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory." The joy of sharing the gospel IS fully of glory, and i feel so privileged that the Lord has sent me "to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls." This is HIS work. and, the Book of Mormon is true.
It was a wonderful week. It flew by! It was one of those weeks that we weren't completely sure how much time we would actually have in our area, so i questioned if we could actually accomplish the goals we set. Such terrible faith. BUT the Lord forgave me for my doubt, and we were able to reach all of the goals we set by wednesday! ha can you believe that? the Lord consecrates our time as we are diligent and  obedient. I am so grateful for His guiding hand and for the miraculous moments He lets me witness every day.
The greatest miracle:
- The Summer Fireside Series started on Friday, and i don't know if i have ever been so nervous in my life! haha it felt like i was throwing a party and then had to wait anxiously, biting my nails to see if any of my "friends" would come! Sister B and i worked so hard to put it all together, so when the time came for the actual event, i was so excited/nervous. Sister Hanks and i were scheduled to be on shift that night at the Trail Center, so we actually weren't able to attend the fireside (i don't know why we scheduled ourselves on that day! ha what were we thinking.. oh well. ha). BUT. A family came in to the trail center around 6:40 (the fireside started at 7) and so i honestly missed all of the rush. i think Heavenly Father knew that i needed a tour to calm my nerves. As we walked around the gallery, i took the family into the memorial room that looks out over the cemetery and the temple. As we walked in there, i literally began to weep. I had been praying that we would have a good turn out for the fireside, and that at least 20 people would come! (once again, "oh ye of little faith!") But as we stood in the memorial room, i was able to look out and see the entire parking lot filled with cars, the entire STREET lined with cars, and tons of people walking in to the Trail Center. Members brought their friends, missionaries brought investigators, and we ended up having over 100 people in attendance. It was such a miracle and success, and i will never forget the feeling of gratitude that encompassed me as i stood in the memorial room. Thankfully i was able  to bear testimony to the family of the Lord's hand in our lives, and so they didn't think my tears were crazy haha. But i KNOW that the Lord lives, and i know that He loves each of us individually. I am so thankful to be here.
Other wonderful miracles:
- John Lawrence (our recent convert) blessed the sacrament last week and this week! Last week he had to repeat the prayer 3 times, so afterwards he was really discouraged. I prayed all day yesterday that he would nail it.. and he totally did! My heart once again was so full as i sat in the congregation, realizing what change has come about in his life, and how he has totally embraced the gospel. I am so proud of him, but more importantly i am so thankful that the Lord has been strengthening John so that he can continue in the faith.
- We had interviews with President Weston this week, and they went great. i love that man. i laugh every time i remember how scared i was of him at the beginning of my mission! haha. i have just come to realize how he shows his love, and have felt that love as he has continued to serve us in the mission. He talked a lot about how the mission is pushing to have ALL member present lessons - whether we are finding or teaching investigators/less actives. It got my super pumped. i am excited to work more closely with the members in our ward. I have seen SO much progress in our ward since i have been there, and love that their focus is now on hastening the work. It is FUN doing missionary work, and even helping the members catch the vision as well.
- Sister Hanks and i trained in Trail Center Training this week on asking inspired questions. We had very little time to prepare the training, so i know that the Lord helped us immensely, as it went over really well. Since the training i have been praying and trying a lot harder to ask more questions as i give tours, and also teach lessons. I had probably the best tour of my mission after the training - and i know it was because i was able to seek the guidance of the spirit to ask certain questions. The tour i took was a darling little family from Boise Idaho. Their kids were so cute and well behaved, and the parents were totally open to the spirit and to talking. We ended up spending about 2 hours back in the gallery together, and i was able to learn so much from their Christ-like attitudes, and through their willingness to "seek first the kingdom of God". i was so impressed as they were telling me that they realized how worldly their family was getting, and how they recognized they weren't teaching their children the right things through their constant pursuit of "having the nicest this or that". They decided to make a "course-correction", and they moved away from the big city into a smaller, more humble town in the mountains of Idaho. They bore testimony to me of the difference it has made in their life, and how they know they were led by the spirit because it has saved their family/marriage. AH i want to be like them! talking with them made me so grateful for the many blessings that i have in my life, and i know that even greater blessings come as we prioritize - ALWAYS keeping the Lord as #1.
- We are teaching this part member family, where the dad is a less active and his girlfriend and son are not members. We ran into the son, bruce, a few days ago and asked him if he had ever prayed about being baptized. His mom is a wicken, and his dad is mormon, and so he has been trying to decide which route he wanted to take. he told us that he prays, but had never specifically prayed whether or not he should be baptized. we challenged him to do so, and told him we would follow up with him at our next meeting, which was yesterday. as we started the lesson, we prayed and i knew we needed to follow up with Bruce right then. I asked him if his mom knew about what he was praying about this week. He said that she didnt, and then turned to his mom and said, "Mom, i want to be baptized". Not only did it floor his mom, but it floored us! The spirit was so strong, and thankfully his mom was totally accepting and excited for her son. I know that as we follow up with those that we teach, that we are helping them utilize the atonement, and are helping them receive answers to their prayers. it was a total miracle.
- Lena is set to be baptized on Saturday! We are praying that all goes well, and that she passes her baptismal interview. Pray for her :)
- Chris is doing well! He went out of town for the weekend which set him back a little bit, but he is still pressing forward. he came to church yesterday and he LOVED it. he said it was the best meeting he has ever been to - which i would agree, it was ward conference and it was totally awesome. Chris made the comment this week that asking him to give up coffee is like asking him to give up food, ha so we are praying that he can have the strength to hand those addictions over to the Lord so he can enter into His kingdom.
- our returning member, Sue, is doing really well. We were able to do service for her this week and it was amazing to see how strong the spirit was in our lesson afterwards because of it. I know that service softens the hearts of those that we serve. She was much more willing to keep her commitment that we extended, and the whole atmosphere of her home changed. Not only does having a clean home make ALL the difference for the spirit, but also having a heart full of gratitude.
Now that i have rambled your ear off! my goodness hahaha. I guess my heart is just so grateful today for the blessing of the gospel. I love my Savior and i know that He lives. I know that happiness comes as we are obedient to the commandments that the Lord has set.
If you havent already, read this talk that President Uchtdorf gave at the Pioneer Day Celebration in Ogden. i may be a little biased because i have an obsession with the pioneers, ha, but seriously this is such an incredible talk! I LOVE these pioneers, and i too have learned so much from their optimism, hard work, and compassion. We have a big legacy to continue forward, and all i have to say is "bring it on!"

love you! The church is true!

Sister Peterson

Letter from July 28th titled "2" (I am assuming this means 2 more letters)

Hello from Nebraska!! 

I love this place. I love the people. i love the weather. I love the Trail Center. I love the pioneers. I love the temple across the street. What a joy to be here.

First things first:

-Happy Birthday to Mindy!!! I hope you had a wonderful day, because YOU are so wonderful! i love you and can't wait to see you!!!

-Congrats to Jessi/Will Bangerter: BEAUTIFUL baby! SO happy for you two!

Fun Fact:

-CLARK: Roy Helu's first cousin (and family) just moved into our ward from Sacramento. They are active members of the church! small world!

I am kind of at a loss of words this week, probably because the wheels in my brain are turning too fast! I have had such an incredible week, and i can't even believe that this next week is here. I am so thankful for the Lord's hand guiding and directing us each and every day, and i never get sick of the many miracles He pours out on us!

I had one of, if not THE best lesson of my mission this week.

A member in our ward, Sister Kortus, referred us to her friend, Brooke, a few weeks ago. They have been friends for quite some time, and have had many discussions about the gospel and religion in general. Sister Kortus was very anxious to have us meet her, and kept saying "if we do this right, Brooke will be golden". It was hard not to get too stressed out about having a perfect first lesson.. wanting it to be "just right". I know the Lord blessed us immensely. Sister Kortus invited Brooke over to her house, and we came over to have a first lesson. Sister Hanks and i had been at the Trail Center all morning, and then we served at the Clinic and so we didn't have a ton of time to prepare a lesson. But we prayed and felt like we needed to start very basic, and help Brooke just feel the spirit. I had Helaman 5:12 come into my head, and we decided that we would share that with her as well. 

So, we start the lesson, and everything was great. We were able to get to know Brooke, and understand her background a little bit better. It was SO awesome having Sister Kortus there, IN HER HOME, because she was able to bear SUCH powerful testimony of the blessings of the gospel in her own life and how it has blessed her family. I was able to then share Helaman 5:12, and bear testimony of how the gospel provides a solid foundation for our family, one that will stay strong no matter what life throws at it. As i was speaking, Brooke instantly started crying and said "is that what your church teaches? will the gospel teach me how i can have that type of foundation??" We all let out a resounding YES!! And were all in tears. We were able to point out to Brooke that she was feeling the spirit, and that He was aware of her and wants this for her and her family. Her husband passed away 10 years ago, and her kids are everything to her. She wants what is best for her kids, and she committed to being baptized :) It was such an incredible lesson, and i know it was not because of anything we said, but it was because the spirit touched Brooke's heart, and helped her feel of God's love. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to teach her. It was such a testimony to me of how missionary work is supposed to be, with members completely involved. 

We had another AMAZING miracles happen this week. We got a text from some elders who told us that they had received a call from a woman, named Heather, who was wanting to learn more. She had found the number in a Book of Mormon left at her house by a previous roommate. She is going through a difficult divorce, and so she found the Book of Mormon and decided to call. Well, the ward she lives in doesnt have sisters, and so the elders referred us to her. We were able to have an awesome first lesson with her, get in touch with the relief society president of the ward she belongs to, and she will be coming with us on tuesday to meet Heather! I know that the Lord is SO aware of His children.. There is no doubt in my mind that the gospel is HIS. He leads His children to the church when they are in need of help, peace, love.. and it is because it works! This IS CHRIST'S CHURCH!

This week we were able to go to the Temple! ah. it was so wonderful and peaceful... SO peaceful actually, ha that i found it extremely hard to stay awake! ha but it was seriously so great to be in the Lord's house. I have missed being there. Something that really stuck out to me as i was there was how the covenants we make in the temple are everlasting. They will apply to us forever - not just while on my mission, or even just in this life - but they will be covenants that will effect our eternities. And oh! how grateful i am for those covenants!

I had a really neat and sacred experience after the session, while in the celestial room. Sister Weston was there, giving hugs to all the missionaries and softly talking with each of us individually. When she came over to me, we both started crying and i felt so much love for her. She is so amazing, and has really been a "mom" for all of us missionaries since ours are far away! While i was talking to her, she was saying such sweet things, and i had an incredible moment where i saw the face of my REAL mom.. it reminded me of when Brigham Young was speaking in Nauvoo, and the whole audience saw and heard the voice of Joseph Smith.. i was looking at Sister Weston, and listening to her, but i was with my actualy mom! it is hard to describe, but it was one of the greatest tender mercies i have ever experienced, and i will forever hold it sacred. I am so grateful for the temple - i am so grateful that we can be a family for EVER. There is nothing more important to me than my family, and doing everything i can to make it back to live with our Heavenly Father again.. AS a family. What a blessing that will be!!

We had  a cool miracle this week as well as we went out on team-ups with our Bishop, Bishop Ostler. First of all, i love that man. I love his family even more - they remind me SO much of when our family were the ages of their kids: 2-14 ish age. They are hilarious and make me laugh so hard haha with their elementary school boy jokes. We had dinner with them on sunday and it made my life. But ANYWAY. ha. We went out with Bishop (he goes out with each set of missionaries once a month) and we visited a less active that sister Brough and i found, named Dennis. It was 8:55 when we got there, and so we really were just going to introduce Bishop to him. But, the opportunity was too precious to not teach! so we ended up having a lesson with him as well, even though we really needed to get home and get the car back to the other sisters. i prayed silently that the time would stop. I would say that we probably had about a 45 minute lesson with him, but when we got back into the car it was 9:15. there is NO way that the lesson was only 15 minutes. I KNOW that the Lord stopped the time for us! we were able to get home right on time. The Lord provides miracles for us each and every day if we just have the faith to ask Him.

We had a great lesson last night with our investigators Bruce and Christy. Bruce is set to be baptized in 3 weeks! Please pray for them. Christy's boyfriend is a member of the church, Jimmie, and as we talked last night about temple marriage and the sealing power, she completely softened. i know that she wants that for her family, so we are praying that she will have the faith to change. She told us last night the coolest thing though.. she said "there is no doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It is like how i know that my mom IS my mom, there is no questioning it. I know that Joseph Smith really had that vision". It was such a cool one liner! ha and i too know that Joseph Smith is a prophet!! so wonderful.

I could continue to talk forever.. haha i guess my stumped brain began to work! ha. But i love you all and i am so thankful for the gospel! We are so blessed. Yesterday at church, our recent convert John was talking with us before sacrament about how he wishes he would have had the knowledge of who God really was, earlier in his life. We had taught gospel principles about our Heavenly Father, and the discussion was so good. After he made that comment i said, "isn't the gospel amazing?" John stopped and then said, "ya.. but learning about it for the first time is even better". He has been blessing the sacrament every week, he has a calling, and is doing so great. it is pure joy to see him progress in the gospel.

Love you all! See you... :)

Sister Peterson

Picture: Dinner at the Ostler's house :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Let us Pray

Hello friends!

Some fun happenings of the week:

1. We got to sing the National Anthem at the Storm Chasers baseball game on tuesday - when else would i get the opportunity to sing at a professional baseball game? it was so awesome! and now i have done it twice! I honestly had been pretty stressed about it, because we only had time to practice all together for 30 minutes before the game.. talk about scary. But, we prayed hard that it would sound ok and that the angels would sing with us! and guess what? it sounded great. Total miracle. Sister Weston bought us funnel cakes afterwards to top the whole night off.. great day.

2. I had some awesome experiences at the Trail Center this week. With so many people coming in, that means we are all taking more tours, which means more miraculous events! here are the highlights of a couple of the tours i took this week:

- I greeted a couple that told me they were from a tiny town in Nebraska. They walked in looking kind of confused, and so i told them the things that we have at the trail center. They quickly declined the video, but agreed to have me take them on tour. We rounded the corner near the bust of Joseph Smith, and i started asking a few simple questions about their family background. While i was asking the question, the man cut me off by saying "Ok, will you just stop talking for a second? We are Catholic and will never become Mormon. If you have some sort of quota or mission you are trying to fulfill, we are NOT the people you want to talk to. I am a US History teacher, so i already know about the mormons, and so if you are wanting to convert us you are talking to the WRONG people!" ha! I stood there rather stunned, but prayed in my heart for charity for this couple. I know that the Lord helped me bite my tongue, because i was able to smile big and just say "Oh, i am so happy you came in because i would love to learn more about the history of this area! So hopefully we can learn a little bit together, and i hope you enjoy your experience here". I smiled as big as i could ha and he quickly got quiet. Long story short, i honestly feel bad for the man and his wife because i am sure they felt silly for acting out in such a way. We had an awesome tour, and they left feeling great. We were able to laugh and learn together, and i was even able to bear my testimony. I learned that it is NEVER ok to be rude - never! You always regret it. I know that man did. And if we want to represent Jesus Christ, and profess ourselves as Christians, then we should always act in kindness. i am so glad that the Lord helped me do so.

- A YSA group from Brigham City Utah came in, a group of over 100 people. I was lucky enough to take part of the group on tour. It was honestly one of the best tours that i have ever taken - it was SO fun, and SO spiritual. i loved it. It started as i took the group out to the cemetery. We talked about the sacrifice of the pioneers, their faith, and how they have left a legacy for us. One girl came up to me afterwards and asked if i would help her find the grave of her ancestor. We traced it out, and found where she was buried. As we stood there together, the girl started crying and the spirit was so strong. We both felt the "spirit of Elijah" as we realized how grateful we were for the sacrifice of these pioneers. it was a moment i will never forget. We were then able to come into the TC and i took them on tour. I dont know what got into me, but i felt like i was floating around the gallery haha. When we were in the memorial room, i know the words i was speaking were not my words- they were the Lord's. I was able to bear powerful testimony on the blessing of temples, the gospel, and the pioneers. I love when i bear my testimony and i feel my understanding grow of different parts of the gospel. That is the spirit, and that is how i know that this truly is the Lord's church! 

- (see picture) i got to take sister Saufley and her granddaughter on tour at the TC. It was so good to see her, man i love the Saufley's. We had a powerful lesson with her granddaughter about baptism, and how important it is. i really hope she gets baptized! we dressed  up as pioneers, and had a great time. i know that the spirit was there, so i am praying that it softens her granddaughter's heart.

3. We were able to go to a Catholic Mass this week, for a "volunteer thank you dinner" for the catholic nuns/retirement community we do service for. It was so great to experience another church, especially as we teach so many people that are of different faiths, so it was nice to get a clue in on what they believe/are used to. But i am so thankful for the gospel and i know it is true. I recognized while in mass how much truth they have, but also how much the restoration of the gospel clarifies simple truths. I know that the power of revelation is REAL and that the way we can recognize truth/the spirit is when we feel our hearts and minds enlightened and opened.

 4. We had an awesome lesson with Chris this week about the Word of Wisdom. another tough lesson, but it went so well. He is progressing beautifully. He and his fiance are in Vegas this weekend, so we were joking with him that he should come back married! ha, not going to lie, that would be great! ha but our lesson about the Word Of Wisdom went great, and he has to make some changes in his life, but has the desire to do so. i know he can do it. We had been praying that he would accept the things that we taught, and after we had the lesson and asked him his thoughts, he replied "well, it totally makes sense." answer to prayer! It was incredible. Please continue to pray for him!

The first fireside at the Trail Center is this week on friday - we are praying that people show up! ha it is like throwing a party, and it always is kind of nerve racking until the first guest arrives. I know it will be a success, even if we just have 1 person there! I am excited to see how it turns out.

Love you all, and thank you for your prayers and support! Being a missionary is so much fun. 

Sister Peterson

 Singing at the Storm Chasers Baseball game

 Hanging out in Old Market/ Walking Bridge

A Finding we found near our apartment - very convenient! 

 The bag i have had my whole mission finally broke/fell apart. it had gotten so gross that i was grateful it died.

Friday, July 11, 2014

God Bless America

Letter written 7/7/14

Another week! 

This has been a wonderfully humbling week, one that i am so grateful for. It has been madness here.. ha half the time i feel like i am running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Thankfully the sisters/elders are patient with me and my weaknesses, and i am grateful that the Trail Center hasn't burned down yet! 

I am so grateful for the experiences that the Lord let's us go through in order to help prepare us for the future. This week i feel like i have learned much about pride, repentance, and following the spirit. And because i have been learning/studying about that, the Lord has so graciously blessed me with opportunities to exercise what i have learned! I have realized that i honestly know nothing, am comparable to the dirt under my feet, and cannot do anything without the help of our loving Heavenly Father. He is the one who gives us life, support, and the ability to accomplish anything. I am so grateful for His merciful hand and for His constant mercy in my behalf.

Happenings at the Trail Center:

1. Sister Brough and i have been planning a Summer Fireside Series that will be held every friday night here at the Trail Center. We have contacted local stake presidents, ward leaders, the temple presidency, and anyone else we can think of to speak at these Firesides. Well, since sister Brough was transferred, it has been quite the ordeal trying to catch Sister Hanks up on everything, and finish up all that needed to be finished (printing of the flyers/getting them to all the stakes/published in ward bulletins). It has been so crazy, ha but we finally were able to get almost everything finalized this week, and so we are just anticipating the first event on the 18th! It has been really fun to see people get excited for the events, and i will be praying that they go well! 

2. Tomorrow night we (along with 10 other missionaries) are singing the national anthem at the Storm Chasers game! I was able to participate in it last summer if you remember, so i am excited to do it again! This time we have been the one's in charge which puts a different spin on the excitement, haha but it still will be fun. Pray that it goes well!

3. There has been a sister that has been really struggling the past transfer, and so we have been working really closely with her to make sure she is doing alright. Well, on the 4th of July she ran away. Thankfully her companion chased her down the street (barefoot) and was able to reach her before the sister had passed out. Anyway, long story short. I went on an emergency exchange with the struggling sister. it was honestly such a great experience and an answer to my prayer. I have been praying so fervently to know how to help this sister, and i received the answer of just to love her and listen to her. That was able to happen as i drove her to talk with President Weston, and then took her to dinner afterwards. She is a different person now and is doing so well. it is a miracle. That has been one of the greatest joys of my mission - i have realized that the reason i was called here to the Trail Center hasnt necessarily always been for the visitors that come in, but for the sisters that are here. i have loved to see their growth and their testimonies continually strengthened. 

In the area:

1. Chris is doing awesome. He came to church this week with his fiance, and they loved it. He told us after sacrament that he wanted to get up and bear his testimony on how he has seen his life change since meeting with us! i wish he wouldve! thankfully there are many more fast and testimony meetings to come :) He called us this week to talk to us about some of his concerns, especially about how he is worried with him being in "the public eye" that people wont vote for him or support him if they know he is mormon. we were able to have a great lesson about standing up for our religion and on defending the faith. He is currently praying about whether or not Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, and so we are praying that he receives that answer! I know he will, because i know that president Monson truly IS the prophet! So Chris will get there. He also told us that he already considers himself mormon even though he isnt baptized yet. so cool. I have LOVED seeing him progress and make changes in his life. it is amazing, and it is through the atonement that he has seen so much change.

2. We had some extra time yesterday because church was only 45 minutes long - someone stole the copper out of the AC unit at the church, and so there was no AC. it was 97 degrees yesterday with high humidity, so we could only last in that building for so long. We were praying to know where we should go/what we should do with the extra time we had. Sister Hanks had the impression to go to Craig Street. We drove over there and i remembered a house of a member of the church who had moved. We had already tried once before, and knew that the member had moved, but we still felt like we should try it. We knocked on the door and a man came out named Isaiah. We told him that we had a message about Jesus Christ to share with him, and he was so open and wanting to learn. He has a 5 year old son, and has been wondering what he needs to do to be a better parent to his son. We are meeting with him again this week on wednesday, so i hope it goes well! i just know with all my heart that if we listen to the quiet impressions of the spirit, that we will be led to exactly where we need to be. the Lord knows ALL of His children, there is no doubt in my mind. I am so grateful to get to meet so many of them!

3. Lena is set for baptism on July 26, so we are praying that everything goes through! She has progressed a ton, and is really starting to get involved with the church. we are praying for her!

4. Sue, our returning member/less active, bore her testimony on sunday. it was so awesome. she has come a long way, and i love her a ton. she always tells me that "i am hard on her" ha. i think it is because i love her, and can see the potential she has. She has made a lot of changes and is now reading from the BOM daily and praying. i am so proud of her, and i know that her relationship with Christ is much better than when i first met her. It is amazing to see what the spirit can do to people.

5. we had dinner at a recent converts house this week, and the only thing i will say is that while we were waiting for dinner, i looked over at the oven and i counted over 50 cockroaches climbing out of the oven. i have never prayed harder in my life. i know the Lord blesses us to handle things like that. and you know what? the dinner wasnt half bad. haha.

I love you all! So grateful for the support and love from you. Sending all my love your way!

Sister Peterson

here are some pictures of sister hanks and i on the 4th of July! at the end of a crazy day :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

How Beautiful upon the Mountains shall They Be

I'm alive.

what a week!

I know that the Lord strengthens us and helps us have the energy and strength to continue forward, even when you are so exhausted that you almost fall asleep while giving a tour. Literally, i  found myself dreaming while taking a couple around the gallery, but somehow my mouth was still moving and i think i was making sense?! ha it has been a non-stop week, but one completely full of miracles.

Transfers was this week, and the dream team (Sister B and P) are separated. But i have a wonderful new companion, Sister Hanks! She is from Utah, and came out the transfer after me. She is an incredible missionary, and i am really excited to learn from her. I know that the Lord has prepared her her whole mission for this Sister Training Leader "calling" and i am really anxious for the miracles that we will see this transfer.

One of the biggest miracles this week just the amount of work that we were able to get done, regardless of the many tasks/responsibilities we needed to accomplish! Sister Brough and i, by thursday night, had already taught the amount of lessons/ seen everyone that we had planned for, for the entire week! It was remarkable, and such a tender mercy. I know that the Lord gave us that blessing and that because of our obedience and diligence, He completely consecrated the work we needed to do.

Fun Facts:

1. Transfer point: oh boy it was so ridiculous and hilarious! We went to the transfer point on friday to switch companions and also to help the new sisters find their companions and so forth. Well, as we are doing our "Hoorah for Israel" cheer in the gym of the church, we hear a big crash outside and realize that it is raining/thundering cats and dogs. We then spent the next hour in the POURING rain running back and forth trying to get everyone's luggage where it needed to be, getting the sisters to their right companions, and making sure that everyone was accounted for! it was CHAOS!! Sister Hanks and i, along with the assistants and some of the zone leaders were literally drenched from head to toe. i eventually just took off my shoes and was barefoot running around the church parking lot getting everything in order. it was nuts, but by far THE most memorable transfer point experience of my life. funniest part was after everyone was gone and all was done, it stopped pouring. of course! The Lord has a sense of humor.

2. Part B of 1. One of the new sisters, Sister Savage, lost her luggage in the frenzy of transfer point. We finally found it yesterday, but that added a whole new level of craziness as well. Thankfully sisters were able to lend her some clothes and make up/necessities, but talk about stressful for this poor new sister. We can laugh about it now, but it just added to the fun of the week!


1. Chris and his son Josh came to all three hours of church on Sunday! Ah! They loved it! After the sacrament was passed (the water), Josh leaned over to his dad and said "What do they pass next?". He then laid down on his dad's lap but shot up quickly and said "I like the Mormon church". it was miraculous. We were able to teach Chris this past week with Brother Piercy about the family, and the law of Chastity. always a scary topic, but it went perfectly. We bore powerful testimony about the blessings that come into our lives as we obey this commandment, and helped him see the importance of him and Girly getting married. He is all game so we will see what continues to happen. Continue to pray for him, he will need it as he makes these big changes in his life! 

2. Lena came to church this week, along with the relief society activity! We had a really fun activity with s'mores and "pinterest" drinks. Lena loved it. She is still pretty anxious whenever she comes to activities/church, but she is slowly making progress. We are hoping to set her for baptism this week!

3. Jessica - ah i love her. She is a less active/returning member who we have worked with since i have been in the ward. She has had some really unfortunate things happen to her her whole life, but especially in the past few weeks. Sister Brough and i have gone over to her house 5+ times within the past 2 weeks, left notes, called, banged on her windows even (!), and still no answer from her. We have been praying so hard for her and praying that she was ok. She has major depression and so of course our thoughts were the worst. But the day we found out sister Brough was being transferred, we prayed that we would be able to see Jessica. We went over there, and she came to the door! it was SO miraculous. We gave her a cardigan for church, and helped her feel the spirit again. She is struggling so bad.. but it made my day as i saw her walk into church on sunday, first time in WEEKS, wearing her new cardigan, with her two kids. It was such a blessing. And i know that the Lord is so aware of her! She is so strong, and i am so grateful that she realizes backing away from God never solves the problem - as we turn to Him, that is when we can be supported through our trials.

There were so many other miracles this week. It was incredible. I am grateful that i have this time to become who the Lord wants me to become. I took a senior couple on tour on saturday who were coming home from their mission in West Virginia. They talked to me all about how sad it makes them when missionaries come home and they revert back to their old ways and it was like nothing happened out here. I pray that that doesnt happen to me. I know that i have truly been changed, and that the Savior's infinite atonement has healed me. I i know that it will continue to do so. 

I love you all! Thank you for your prayers, i have desperately needed them! Hoorah For Israel!

Sister Peterson

Monday, June 23, 2014

Joyful, Joyful Lord!


It has been a week of all weeks, and we have been busier than ever! Most weeks feel like we are on one of those little moving sidewalks at the airport, moving faster than anyone around us... but this week the amount of things to do/stress level is bumped up to running on a treadmill! it has been crazy! but so, so good. Somehow i am able to get up every morning at 6:18 and have the energy to get through the day. I have no doubt that the Lord strengthens us as we do His work!

It is transfer week, which i have been trying not to think about because it means sister B and i will not be companions! We have already figured out a way to have us in a tri-companionship, ha but when we presented the idea to Elder Cleverly and President Weston they weren't sold. It really has been such a blessing to be able to serve together, and i know that i will survive without her... maybe. ha.. but please pray for us as we have so much to get done before then! I wish we could cut ourselves in half so we could be in two places at once. But i know that the Lord will make up for our weaknesses in order to help us accomplish "the things that he has commanded".

This week was so wonderful, i can't even begin to tell you all of the miracles that we saw! ah! it was so awesome! Here is a short preview:

1. I was on exchanges Tuesday with Sister Mahlstede, and we were trying a less active we had an appointment with. We were sad that she wasnt home, so we left her a note on the door. As we turned around to walk away from her house, a man in a scooter was just scooting down the street and so i called out to him to say hello. He instantly got a smile on his face, and long story short he told us that he is a member of the church! He hasnt had any contact with the church in years, but had been taught by sisters when he was baptized so it made him super happy to see us. we had a lesson right there on the street all about the word of wisdom, and the temple, and he is desperately wanting to get back to the temple. we have an appointment with him tomorrow! when things fall through, the Lord ALWAYS provides another person to see. without fail.

2. We had an incredible lesson with Chris this week - he is doing SO great! We brough Brother Piercy with us, who is a member of the bishopric. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and helped Chris feel the need to be baptized and also help him understand the sacredness of that ordinance. Brother Piercy is a convert, and bore such a powerful testimony of the blessings that have come into his life since being a member. Chris told us that since we had invited him to be baptized a few weeks ago, he has been praying about a date and keeps have August 8 come into his mind! We were able to invite him again to be baptized on that date, and he said yes :) He came to church this sunday as well, and we talked afterwards about the spirit. He said that ever since he has been meeting with us he feels this constant "good" feeling.. he explained it as his emotions being very leveled, with him not getting super angry any more, but having more peace in his life! we were able to testify to him of the Lord's constant desire to reach out to us through His spirit, and how He was telling Chris through those feelings that this is right! It was incredible. We are having FHE with the Portwoods in our ward and Chris tonight, so pray it goes well! It is such a joy to work with him.. he is making such amazing progress.

3. CHURCH: We had an incredible day at church.. so many people came! it was truly miraculous. I know that the Lord is blessing us greatly, and i feel humbled for the sacred responsibility He has given us to be His servants. here are all who came:

- Chris and Girly (3rd week in a row, and Girly, Chris's fiance, really opened up which was great)

- Lena and her granddaughter (investigator: she has been once before, but had a really weird experience so we were worried that she would never come back! When we invited her to come this week, she was more than willing to. It was such an answer to prayer!)

- Rochelle and Tamera (both recent converts - tamera has only been to church once since i have been in the area, so to see her there yesterday was such a miracle!)

- Sister Webster (less active member who we met this week! We taught her with Bishop and it went awesome. She is deaf, and so Sister Brough typed out all of church for her since we dont have an interpreter. She loved it.. first time to church in 4 years!)

- Sue, Mark, and Jon (less active/returning member and her not active son and his boyfriend)

4. We found an incredible new investigator this week named Ricky. We have already seen him 3 times, and he has so much potential. He is one of the least-assuming investigators i have ever taught: meaning that by looking at him, or even initially talking with him, you would NEVER think he would be interested in learning about the gospel. But the Lord has taught me so much this week, as i have realized the God truly loves ALL of His children. I have felt the Lord's love for Ricky more than anyone i have taught before. He is part of a gang, has been shot in the face, is paralyzed on his whole left side, is unemployed and basically just sits at home every day. Learning more about his life has humbled me so much, and i am so grateful for the gospel! He told us last night as we were visiting with him that he has been in and out of prison all of his life, and he has tried everything to change, accept for religion. When he saw us in his apartment complex, he heard something in his mind tell him that this was the the thing that would actually help him change. He has already started reading the book of mormon,praying ever day, and is committed to being baptized on July 26. i know he has a lot of bumps ahead to get over, but he has already seen changes in his life that are miraculous. He is experiencing the atonement.. and it is REAL. It makes me cry to even think about how much the savior loves us, and how willing He is to "succor us" and help us change. We are seriously so blessed.

5. The trail center has been so busy! Every aspect of my life has been crazy! haha but it keeps things exciting. I have been able to take some awesome tours this week - one in particular was really great, as i was able to take a girl who is preparing to go on a mission on a tour. it was just her and i, which was really great because we were able to really get to know each other. she is a convert of less than a year, went to BYU and is studying elementary education! we had a lot in common, and it was so cool to feel like i had a little impact on her motivation to serve. Being a missionary is the BEST!

I could literally keep going for 6 more hours.. ha. so much to say! But i am truly so thankful to be a missionary, to be serving the Lord every day. It is the greatest thing. I am in Alma right now in the Book of Mormon, and today read Alma 26. What an awesome chapter. I will add my testimony along with Ammon's as he said

"Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea and my joy is carried away even unto boasting in my God; for He has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.

Now if this is boasting, even so will i boast, for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo"

This is Christ's church, and we are so blessed!

love you!

Sister Peterson  

 With Sister mcbride, her daughter laura, and sister Stoecker (from ralston-lavista ward)

 Out to dinner with Dr. Fischer, his girlfriend Marsha, and Gordon

It has been SO hot and humid here, that i got home one night and my shirt was completely soaked through with sweat! nasty!

Monday, June 16, 2014

2 Weeks - "Tornado's to Miracles"

Letter sent June 9th, 2014: (“Tornado’s to Miracles”)

Hello! Greetings Earthlings.

Guess what?... yep. you are right. another incredible week full of miracles. I feel SO blessed to be out here in the best part of the country, among the most amazing people. I don't know why the Lord has been blessing us so much lately, but man am i grateful and humbled. This is seriously the best work on earth.

First things first:

1. Congratulations to Hayley! Her wedding pictures/the musical looked SO beautiful and fun! So happy for her. Beautiful bride and couple.

2. Happy Father's day to the best man alive! I am so grateful for you, Dad! You are my favorite and i love you so much. 

3. Happy Birthday to the greatest Mom! It's kind of fun to be able to celebrate both of my parents on the same day this year! Maybe president will give me permission to skype home? ha just kidding. But really i love you so much and can't be more grateful for your example to me. Love you!

4. Happy Birthday to my fav French missionary, Kales!! Love you! Miss you and can't wait for the reunion of a life time.

... and happy birthday/anniversary/wedding to anyone and everyone i may have missed!

What a great week. Literally so much happened this week that i dont know how i am going to be able to fit it all into a tiny little email. Ill try my best though! 

We started off the week with a bang, literally, seeing that we had a tornado on Tuesday! I was on exchanges with Sister Pettyjohn, which was way fun, ha except that right around 4 oclock the sky started turning green/black and the rain started to pour. We drove as fast as we could to get back to the Trail Center, and by the minute the weather was drastically changing from blue skies to "the jaws of death". We had no food at the trail center, haha so we decided to drive through Jimmy Johns to pick us up some food in case we actually got hit by a tornado.. dumb idea. We were ordering and the sirens were going off, and the lady that was taking our order was so slow sister pettyjohn almost had an anxiety attack! ha we grabbed our food and rushed to the trail center right as the hail was starting to come down. It was awesome. We all went down into the basement, including guests ha, and waited it out. it was a fun adventure.... yesterday at church we had our lesson on "signs of the times" and it was so fitting for our experience this week. The Savior's second coming is drawing near, and there is no place i would rather be than here!

A lot happened this week, tiny miracles every day. I wish i  could tell you all of them, but i aint got no time. Just know that the Lord is involved in the very details of our lives, and is aware of every single one of His children. If we look, we will be able to see His hand in all things.


Yesterday was one of the greatest days of my mission.. Big statement, i know. But it really was so miraculous and i attribute it to fasting. We decided sunday morning that we were going to fast for our investigators to come to church. We saw Chris this week, and really were praying that he would come to church because he is seriously so solid. We also had invited several other investigators and less active members, so we knew we needed the Lord's help in getting them there.

Sunday morning one of our investigators, Lena, called to say that she wasnt coming to church. We were totally bummed, but didnt give up hope! We knew that the Lord would provide a way. And he totally did. In relief society, our less active/returning member, Sue, walked in right after the meeting started. We havent been able to get ahold of her all week, so we were extremely worried about her.. seeing her walk into church and then stay all 3 hours was such a huge miracle. We then went to gospel principles, and there was John, in a white shirt and tie (!), with our other investigator named Michael! I couldve cried. John looked SO good all dressed up and i felt the Lord's love for him so strong. He is getting baptized this Saturday at 10, and he couldnt be more prepared or more excited. 

After gospel principles we went into Sacrament, and were waiting for a text or a call from Chris to tell us he was there. We waited and then had the feeling to go outside and wait for him. Right as we opened the door to go outside, there he is, with his girlfriend Girly, in their sunday best. Elder and Sister Cleverly were there as well to welcome them in and to help fellowship. They loved Sacrament, and the ward council is on board to helping them feel completely fellowshipped. I am so excited to see what happens with them! Please pray for them!!

As we were sitting in sacrament, ( which sister Brough and i werent even together, we were both sitting with different families because of the number of people there - not a bad problem to have! ) in walks our less active/recent convert, Rochelle. We didnt think she was coming because of her heart attack, but there she was, smiling from ear to ear. Ah! it was amazing!

Sister Brough and i sang Savior, Redeemer of my Soul in sacrament meeting, and that was another miracle because it went over great, even with only running through it once. It was a sacred experience as i know that the Lord helped strengthen my voice.. there is no other explanation to it. The harmony went perfectly, and we were truly able to bear testimony through song. The spirit was so strong, and i really hope it touched the investigators/less actives hearts that were there.

All in all, i KNOW that the Lord lives and that He blesses us as we sacrifice and show our obedience to Him. He is so good. He wants us to be happy and so He has prepared the perfect way for us to be! It is only through the gospel of Jesus Christ, made possible because of the Savior's atonement. I feel His love every day, and it is the greatest gift.

I love you all! Continue to endure!

Sister Peterson 

Letter received June 16, 2014 (“John the Baptized”)

Hello from Omaha!

My heart is full of gratitude today, and i am just so thankful to be a missionary. I remember when i first came out i would get kind of nervous to have people notice i was "different" .. wearing a skirt, and a big black name tag on my chest. I dont know what i was thinking, because now it is literally the greatest joy of my life to wear Jesus Christ's name over my heart each and every day! What a blessing, and i wouldnt trade it for anything!

We were able to witness a miracle on Saturday, as John entered the waters of baptism! it was a beautiful day, and my heart was so full as i realized, once again, the sacred nature of baptism and the importance of that covenant. It is the only way back to live with our father in heaven, and is made possible because of Jesus Christ. We are so blessed to have His authority on the earth today so that we can have hope that one day we will live with God again.

Saturday was a crazy busy day - by the end of the night my head felt like a bowling ball and i couldn't even make it through my nightly prayer without dozing off! i love days like that. We started out the day with Trail Center Training, which was so totally awesome! We had asked the Assistants to train on obedience, and they did such an incredible job. I have had so many trainings on obedience, but this one was still so enlightening. Some points i loved:

- There are 3 motivations to be obedient:

1. Fear
2. Praise of man
3. Love

Love is the greatest motivator, and as we obey the 2 great commandments (to love God and to love our fellow men), obeying all other commandments will come easier.

- Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient to the Father. His will was "swallowed up" in the will of the Father. Even though He asked for the "cup to be removed" three times, He still was able to say "not my will, but thine be done". He set the perfect example of loving God and His "fellow men" (us) by suffering the atonement, and therefore being exactly obedient.

- Being exactly obedient doesnt mean we are perfect. It means that we are trying our very best, and then continually repenting.

- Why am I obedient?

I was so motivated after this training to be obedient in every aspect of my life, and to evaluate my standing with God in order to become more exactly obedient. I have a lot to improve on, but i know that being obedient is the only way to bring the greatest amount of blessings!

So, if you can't tell, the day started off AWESOME.

THEN. We rushed off to the stake center for John's baptism! It was supposed to start at 10, but right at about 9:55 we got a call from John who said that he had lost the keys to his car, and he was still at home! The stake center is about 30 minutes away from where we live, so we quickly said a prayer and petitioned the Lord for a miracle. And of course, right after we prayed he was able to find the keys! Satan is one tricky guy. But John was able to make it by 10:30, and the baptism went just great. Sister Brough and i sang "I know that my Redeemer lives" and it went so well. The spirit was the strongest it has ever been, and John broke down in tears as we were able to sing TO him our testimonies of the Savior. It was powerful, i wish you could have all been there. I know Sister B and i were blessed and that the angels in heaven were singing along with us. 

* a little side note about John. He is a talker. He has come into the trail center many, many times and each time stays for at least 4 hours. He LOVES to talk and it is one of my favorite things about him! Well, after his baptism was performed, he bore his testimony and he was literally speechless. He talked for about 5 minutes but that was all he could say - it was so cool. He was completely overwhelmed with the spirit, that all he could really say was that he felt "glorious". What an amazing day.

After the baptism, Sister B and i and the Cleverly's drove down to Nebraska City to help with a fair they were having in the town. We had a booth all about the Mormon Trail Center/Pioneers. It honestly was a really small turn out, but the best part was that i got to spend the whole time with my trainee, Sister Palmer! She serves there, and is doing great. It was like being reunited with family to see her - i love her so much.

We were able to see SUCH an incredible miracle this week with Chris! AH! Here is the week's break down of events with him:

Wednesday:  We had a lesson at his house with Brother Portwood in our ward. They totally hit it off and we had a great lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ/tithing/ a bunch of other things. Brother Portwood was going off on all sorts of tangents, haha but it totally worked. The spirit was there and it was exactly what needed to happen.

Thursday: Chris calls and says "Did you girls say an extra prayer for me last night?" we told him that we always pray for him at night, but nothing in particular! He then went on to say that he woke up Thursday feeling totally energized and like he had been re-born. He said that he got a bigger check that day, bigger than he had ever received and had really no way of explaining where it came from. He also said that he was feeling so peaceful, and that he was on "the right track"! The greatest thing about it is that he attributed everything to the Lord, and him coming closer to Him. Chris said that if things continue going the way they are, there will literally be no denying what his next "step" in life is.. baptism! SO awesome! We were able to bear testimony over the phone of the reality of God, and how blessings truly do come when we are obedient to Him. 

Sunday: Chris and his fiance Girly came to church, and they loved it. Second week in a row(!) which is such a huge miracle. 

Continue to pray for him! He is so awesome, and i feel seriously so privileged to be able to teach him.

We were able to see the Lord's hand every second of this week. I really felt like every prayer offered was answered, and that is a very humbling thing to experience. I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father and His great love for us, His children.

Love you all! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Peterson