Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Many are Cold, few are Frozen

Merry Christmas EVE!!

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and it is the MOST wonderful time to be a missionary! i am so grateful to be serving our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the greatest blessing and gift.

I have been so over joyed the past few days. i love Christmas! i love that it is 2 degrees outside and that people are willing to talk about Christ. I love how amazing the ward and members are in Ralston. we have received countless packages, gifts, food, love... it is so amazing. i feel so blessed to be serving among such wonderful people. I am also so grateful for the family and friends i have! every day i have gotten something in the mail... i cant thank you enough for all the love. it is so humbling. thank you.

Christmas Miracles:

- The Lakes came in to the trail center! Daniel, Sister Lake, Desmond, and Carlton were all there, and it was the biggest surprise ever and the most joyous reunion. Daniel was going around to everyone she saw and telling them that i baptized her! haha she has grown up so much, and she is still doing so well. it was truly a miracle and a blessing to see her and her family. i love them so much.
- the Saufley's also came into the trail center to see me! it was ALSO such a great reunion, and it felt like seeing family. i love them.
- i finished the Book of Mormon a day or two ago. and let me tell ya. that book is the greatest book i have ever read.. it beats harry potter. i am so grateful to have the book of mormon, and i KNOW that is is true. it was so neat to pray once more about the book of mormon, and once again the feeling of peace and joy that filled my heart as i did so was undeniable. It being Joseph Smith's birthday yesterday (merry smithmas!), i have been thinking a lot about him and about his great life. i know that he was a prophet of God... like Elder Holland said " No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so"
- the Trail Center has been playing Mr. Kreuger's christmas the past week, and it has brought tears to my eyes watching it and thinking about the memories associated with it. what a beautiful film.

We had our Christmas zone conference this week, and it was absolutely incredible. It was completely centered on the atonement of Jesus Christ. i was so touched as i listened to the various trainings and musical numbers, all centered on the REAL reason that we celebrate Christmas. it is because of the savior. it is because of His sacrifice, love, atonement, and resurrection. He is the way, the truth, and the light and i am so so so thankful for Him. 

I was asked to share my thoughts on the atonement/testimony at zone conference, and i was really nervous. i was also asked to sing, so that didnt help the nerves! but i just prayed and asked God for strength and to say what He wanted me to say. the song went really well, i sang the really pretty rendition of Abide with Me. i then got up to speak, and instantly the spirit told me that i needed to share the story about scratching the tacoma! haha. i argued with the spirit for a while, and then decided to share my experience. talk about embarrassing! but at the same time, it was a perfect connection to the atonement, and how only through christ can our "scratches" come off. i think it went really well, so i was grateful for the spirit's guidance :)

This week we went on two exchanges, which was exhausting! but, so good. on our first exchange, we met this man named Jebediah. he was just walking down the street and so i told the sister i was with we needed to go talk to him. as we approached him, he instantly knew who we were and we had a great discussion about Christ and how the gospel can change his life. right as we said that, he looked heaven ward and said "hold up... i need to talk to Jesus because i think you are the answer to my prayer". He gladly gave us his information and we set up an appointment for later on in the week. 

.... well, that friday we were on exchanges AGAIN, and we went and taught Jebediah! it was SOOOOO COOL! He has met with missionaries off and on his whole life, and he told us he feels like God is trying to tell him something by sending us to him all the time. he said that before he met us, he had been praying that morning for the Lord to send him something that would change his life and improve his situation. he also asked that he would send him "women" missionaries instead of boys... haha, and guess what? we met him that very day. no coincidences! it truly was miraculous and strengthened my faith so much on how important it is to follow the spirit. unfortunately jebediah is not in our area, so we have to give him to another set of missionaries, but it was still so incredible. He is so cool, ha and he rapped for us a couple raps he wrote about christ. they were surprisingly really good ha.

i am running out of time! ah! but guess what? we get to talk tomorrow so it's all good! i cannot wait. we get to talk for 30-40 minutes, so it should be wonderful :) 

i love this work, and i am so thankful it is christmas time. i love Christ.

love you all! Merry Christmas! i'll be listening to Oh Holy Night tonight, eating banana cream pie, and sleeping at the Trail Center! (literally.. in the trail center.. haha it should be so much fun)

Talk to you tomorrow!

Sister Lar








Sunday, December 22, 2013

Letters from 12/10 & 12/16

Letter received 12/10/13 ("Baby it's Cold Outside!"):


Hello from Omaha!

The snow is stuck on the ground and the temperature is 2 degrees today!! It is wonderful being a missionary.

Thank you:

- Danville 2nd youth! i loved the package, and laughed really hard watching all the "mormon message" skits. how i love you all. Thanks for your strong examples to me :)
-  Family: i wish i would have filmed myself listening to "Don't save it all for Christmas Day". i don't think i have ever enjoyed that song more than the first time i listened to it this week. haha. thank you Dad for sending all of those cd's! it has made such a fun difference! and thank you for the hand/feet warmers, gloves, slippers, socks, protein powder... all of it. it was such a fun surprise!

What a humbling week. I am exhausted haha but so happy. I love when the Lord humbles us because it reminds us of who is really in charge. I am so grateful to be His servant, and to be able to witness miracles each day through His guiding hand.

Miracles:

- ah. this one is so cool. So Sister Hamilton and i went on exchanges several weeks ago (before we were companions) and we met this couple, Michael and Jessica. I hope you remember them. Michael was a member of the church and his wife is super religious and awesome. well, we had set up a return appointment with them, but it fell through. super bummed... anyway, fast forward to this week. Sister Hamilton and I were praying to know who we should visit, and we both remembered Michael and Jessica, who we had met when we were together! so, we decided that we should go try them again. not going to lie, i was super nervous for some reason. I guess because i had gotten so excited about them before and then had it fall through. But, we prayed, found strength and faith, and knocked on their door. and guess what? we saw a miracle. Jessica talked to us for a good 20 minutes about how she has been thinking a lot about us, and how she really wants to meet with us! we were able to bear testimony and help her feel the spirit, and then set up a return appointment for this week! It was also so awesome because Michael came into the rooom, and he said "wait, you two are together again? i thought that was just for the day?" we then told him about transfers and how sister Hamilton is now my companion, and instantly he goes "well that is no coincidence!" ha. even HE recognizes the hand of the Lord. it was wonderful, and such an answer to prayer!

- We had a lesson with mr. Akwani this week, a referral from an old mission president who served in Omaha. Akwani is from Nigeria, and has a really strong religious background. but it was so neat to talk to him about the book of mormon, the prophet joseph smith, and to see his countenance change and to accept joseph as a prophet. We brought sister weston with us on a team up and it made all the difference. He is so prepared, and i love him so much. It was a miracle even just to meet with him, and i know that he truly is the elect... i can't wait to see him progress.

- On Friday we had a leadership council for all of the STL's and zone leaders in the mission. it was incredible. i feel so blessed to be able to serve alongside so many amazing people who have so much faith.. it strengthens mine. 

Exchanges:

Saturday was my first day doing exchanges with the sisters! ah i was so nervous. ha. i have been on plenty of exchanges, but i was so nervous for this one. i wanted it to be a great experience for the sister i was with, along with a learning experience for me. I prayed my guts out that it would go well, and sure enough, it did!

we saw so many miracles...

- we had lunch with a member of the ward, and while we were there Michaela (who we have been teaching but who has kind of been dodging us the past week) called the member to tell her she got a new car and wanting to show it to her. so, the member, who is SO awesome, invited Michaela to eat lunch with us right then. Michaela agreed, and came and ate lunch with us. it was an amazing experience, and i will never forget this member bearing her testimony so boldly to Michaela about the blessings of the gospel... it was earth shattering. ha. i was so proud of the member for being 1. so willing to invite her friend into her home to meet with us and 2. to be unashamed of bearing her testimony, with no sugar coat, of why she is a member of the church. it was so cool, and exactly what Michaela needed to get her fire burning again.

- We had a really neat lesson with a family in our ward, the Kaisers. We do service for Sister Kaiser quite a bit, who is active, but her husband is not. We have tried to set up times to come visit their whole family but it has never worked out until on exchanges! we were able to have a really great lesson about the plan of salvation with their entire family, and we invited brother kaiser to share his testimony... it was amazing to see the light come back to him as he professed of his belief in Christ and how he knows that this is His church. This truly IS HIS church, and the spirit was so strong confirming that to me as brother kaiser spoke. it was a miracle.

- we ate dinner at the alldredge family's house. i love them. they have 8 kids all under the age of 12. they are one of my favorite families i have met on my mission... haha attached is a photo of them literally "climbing on the walls".

Sunday:

Sister Hamilton and i spoke in church on Sunday! we literally had no time to prepare talks until sunday morning before church, so it was kind of hectic. But it was such a testimony builder for me that when we are doing what the Lord wants and what He has asked, everything else falls into place. The spirit was so strong as we spoke, the congregation was silent. It was one of the most powerful experiences of the spirit speaking through me that i have ever had. We spoke on how to become more Christ-like, focusing on chapter 6 in preach my gospel. i know that as we develop christlike attributes, we truly will be made perfect "IN Him" (Moroni 10:32).

Fun facts:

- mormon.org chat is miraculous. refer all of your friends there. ha. we were chatting with this man named Bruno, who was from Cameroon! We were testifying to Him about the authority to baptize residing in this church (talking about John the Baptist baptizing Christ..) and he types out: 

"Wooh! how i wish i could see you facially. You speak well."

haha. i love the spirit.

Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your love. Isn't it the most wonderful time of the year? i am so grateful to have a Savior. I am so thankful for the sacrifice of the pioneers... it has hit me so hard the past few weeks, i think just because of how cold it is here. they were the most incredible people. for example: the missionaries have been warned to dress super warm because you can get frost bite in this weather just being outside for 30 minutes. now think about the pioneers who had to LIVE outside for MONTHS! ahhhh! i am so amazed by them.

One of my favorite pioneers, Amy Porter, said 

"The Lord knows my heart, and all that i have is His"

i feel the same way.

love you! have a wonderful week!


Sister Peterson


Letter Received 12/16/13 ("Come, let us adore Him"):

Surprise!
Because of exchanges this week, we switched our p-day to monday!
We have had such an amazing week. Right when you think you don't have the energy to keep going, the Lord gives you a miracle or two to spark that "flame of faith". He is the only reason that i am able to be out here, and i am so grateful for His love.. i felt it so strongly this week.
Thank you's:
- the Neal's! i got your package but haven't opened it yet... i am so excited. you did not need to send me anything, but it made my day to see your name on a package. how fun. i love you guys.
So many great things went on this week, and i am so thankful to be a missionary!
We had the privilege of going to the Temple this last Friday, and it was exactly what i needed. I love the Temple. so much. This may sound bad, but it is the only place/time that we get to take our name tags off and (selfishly) get to feel the spirit that dwells there while being ourselves. in the temple i am Lauren.. It is so wonderful. I want to share a sacred experience i had:
I went to the temple with a lot of questions in mind, looking for answers that i feel i desperately needed. One of those questions was whether or not i have been a successful missionary... That may be a silly question, because even i feel very happy with my missionary work. But it has been weighing on my mind a lot, especially since i hit my half way mark. I really felt like i needed an answer from the Lord, a recognition that He truly was proud of the service i have rendered and the person i am becoming.
As i sat in the Celestial room, i prayed fervently for an answer, but nothing came. So i prayed harder, and still.. nothing. I instantly thought that maybe THAT was my answer, and that my work actually wasn't acceptable! ha looking back on it now, i know that Heavenly Father would never do that.. but at the time i definitely was feeling kind of frustrated and anxious to feel of God's overwhelming approval. It was time to leave, and i continued to search my heart/brain for any sort of revelation... with no travail.
Sister Hamilton and i decided to stop by the Trail Center to pick up some things before heading out to Ralston... "unusually" (no coincidence) we went through the back door of the Trail Center, through where all the gingerbread houses are. I realized while down there that i hadnt taken any pictures of my favorite ones, so i grabbed my camera and decided to snap a few pictures before heading upstairs. Well, while i was taking a picture of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir gingerbread house (see attached photo), i feel someone close to me and here them say "isn't this one awesome?" i turn to look who said that, and by my total surprise, it was Troy.
When i served in Rockbrook, my first area, Sister Whittaker and i worked our tails off trying to get Troy back to church, and his daughter, Ty to be baptized. I love them so much, and it was such a miracle to see Troy! Well. While catching up with him, he begins to tell me how he has been meeting with the bishop, has been attending church, and how he will be baptizing Ty on January 4th, and how he has been praying to have an opportunity to tell me! ah i am crying even just typing this because that is SUCH a miracle and it was a literal, physical answer to my prayer. Ty getting baptized is exactly what i needed. the Lord is so good.
I know that God lives. I KNOW that He is aware of EVERY one of His children. He cares so much about us, that He answers our prayers. I am so grateful that He is patient with me. It was a great testimony builder for me of a few things:
1. The Lord answers our prayers in His time. I was wanting an answer IN the temple, RIGHT then... but little did i know He was going to answer my prayer just 5 minutes later. there is no reason to be impatient with the Lord, because His timing is perfect.
2. Our Heavenly Father knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows exactly what we need to be happy, hopeful, and He has provided the way for us to be so.
What a wonderful moment.
Sunday we saw so many miracles as well. We were able to have 6 less active members at church, along with one of our investigators, Walt. It was truly a beautiful day, and i know the Lord has been blessing us so much.
While in gospel principles, one of our less actives, Terri, raised her hand and started telling the whole class how "grateful she was for the sister missionaries" and told the class how after we left her house this week, she realized that she and her husband were not setting the best example for their son. So, to fix one of the problems they have been having, they decided to cut out all music/videos that contained bad language or scenes, and they made a "cuss jar", where every time they swear they have to put a dollar in. It was such a sweet tender mercy to see how the spirit has been working in her life... our lesson this week with her was on faith, but that is what the spirit told her she needed to change. i love it.
We found 4 new investigators this week. ha. so fun.
Walt: i love that man so much. he is progressing a ton, and i cannot wait till that guy is baptized. ha he has made me study more than any one yet on my mission, so i am grateful to be working with him. we are teaching him this week about the word of wisdom, so i am praying with all my heart he is willing to finally stop smoking. i know that through the Lord's help, he will.
I love this work. i love being in Omaha, even when it is so cold outside and i feel like my toes are getting "the black" like the pioneers ha. But i am so thankful for the spirit, which truly keeps my spirit warm every day.
I adore my Savior. i know that this is the best time of the year because He lives.
All my love!
Sister Peterson

Pictures from December 10th letter:








Tuesday, December 3, 2013

O Come All Ye Faithful

Hello from Omaha!

What a wonderful, humbling, beautiful week. 

It was transfers this week, and thankfully i am still serving in Ralston La Vista! i absolutely love this ward, and i have found friends here that i know i will have forever. it is wonderful. 

I do, however, have a new companion. It was definitely unexpected, and i was super sad to have sister Barton leave, but i am so incredibly grateful to now be serving with Sister Hamilton. She has been out a transfer longer than i have, she is from Layton Utah, and is one of the most amazing missionaries in the mission. i feel so honored to serve with her, i dont know how i got so lucky! 

We are both now serving as the sister training leaders for the fully proselyting sisters, which is a huge, humbling, overwhelming responsibility. I am so grateful that the Lord trusts me, even when i feel so weak. I cannot wait to learn from the sisters i will be serving, and i know i will learn a LOT this transfer! sharp rocks at the bottom? bring it on :)

Thank you grandma Bonnie for the package! i hung grandpa's bicycle ornament on our tree at the trail center, so i get to look at every day :) it is a little piece of home that only i know about... ha it is wonderful! thank you again. and i put the fuzzy socks on right as i opened the package! they are perfect!! love you!

This was a great week, and i loved Thanksgiving!

We had lunch with that referral, Laura, that i told you about last week. She is a hoot. We laughed and talked and ate for a few hours, and i loved hearing her crazy stories. She is a friend of the Saufley's, and it is amazing to see what a huge influence there example has played on her life. Just through their membership in the church, Laura has totally dived in to learning all that she can about the church... and it is all because she respects the Saufley's so much, and "wonders" why they are so happy! We, as members of the church, are always being watched by others, and i am so grateful for those faithful members that leave such a great impact on others lives! 

We had dinner with Latoya (non-member), her mother Elaine (member), and Latoya's three boys. They are from Georgia, and man. did we eat good! haha i have never seen so much food in my life. it was so much fun.. and it was a miracle. It has been so amazing to see how open Latoya has gotten, and how comfortable she now is with us and the church. She still isnt ready to completely jump in, but she is definitely a lot closer than she was a few months ago! i love seeing little baby steps of progress. i know she will eventually join, and it is fun to help her start out her journey to do so. her son, Lamont, who by the way has been attending seminary every day!, came to church on sunday! MIRACLE. i almost cried. great things are happening in their family.

So this week i have been thinking a lot about the pioneers. i think about them all the time, haha but ESPECIALLY this week. we had an incredible training on Saturday, where we were taken "on tour" around the gallery at the Trail Center by some of the sisters/senior couples. Something stuck out to me so strongly, and i wanted to share with you what i learned:

We were standing by the handcart, and Elder and Sister Williams were giving this part of the tour. They talked about the pioneers walking through the snow, barefoot, during the Christmas season. and it hit me SO hard that these pioneers didnt have anything. They didnt have shoes, coats, hats, gloves, sweatshirts, their families!.. ANYTHING. All that they had were their testimonies of the Savior, Jesus Christ. what were they thinking about that Christmas? were they thinking about the newest and greatest gadget they wanted? were they thinking about how many gifts they would receive? no. Their thoughts were solely on the Savior. They knew the real meaning of Christmas. they knew it so well that they were willing to DIE for the greatest gift we have ever received.. the Savior's gift of the atonement. I want to be like the pioneer's this Christmas. I hope you all can join with me, as we celebrate the true reason for the season.

there is my soap box for you. ha.

The past few weeks have been so wonderful at the Trail Center! there have been so many non members that have come in to see the gingerbread, and then have come upstairs to take a tour! i have seen countless miracles.. it is so exciting! 

i took a tour just a few days ago with a couple, who were members, and they had brought another couple, who were not members (yet... the woman is getting baptized this saturday). It was amazing to see that 1. this member couple were being such great missionaries! and 2. that the non member couple were so touched by the pioneers story, that they left crying. i absolutely love to see that the influence of the pioneers can bless so many lives, and that one life can change the lives of hundreds! Just sharing the sacrifices of say Amy Porter, a pioneer mother who died at Winter Quarters, can bring the spirit strong enough to inspire someone to be baptized. ah. i love the pioneers. and i feel so blessed to serve at the Trail Center.

I love you all! I know that Christ lives, and i know that this is His church.. His ONLY church that has His authority and priesthood.

see a wonderful week this week!

Sister Peterson


Here are some fun pics :) Happy 9 months pregnant pictures! haha








Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Two Letters / Two weeks

Letter received November 19th, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”:

Hello!
What an amazing week of miraculous events and experiences. Every night when i go to bed, i think about the amazing "coincidences" that happened that day, and find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for our Savior. I am so blessed, and am so thankful to be serving Him.
A few things:
-Thank you family for the package! i love the scarf, and i had JUST been telling Sister Barton about how to make "turkey cookies" haha. you are inspired! i'm excited to make them :)
- I got kimi Rasmussen's wedding invitation. so gorgeous. tell her congrats for me!
- thank you for the prayers in my behalf to stay warm! haha. i can't tell you the amount of times that i am literally freezing outside, but right as we start talking to someone the cold goes away. Prayer works, and Heavenly Father protects His missionaries!
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELI!! ah i miss that boy, and i love him so much!! give him lots of loves and kisses from me!!!
- if you want to come to the Winter Quarters Visitor's Center, NOW is the time! haha it is DECKED out with Gingerbread houses, wreaths, bows, presents.. the whole bit. it is beautiful, and i loved smelling gingerbread every day!

so i feel like it should be Christmas this week! it hasnt snowed yet, but i have made a gingerbread house, listened to Christmas music, and decorated the Trail Center for Christmas! i keep forgetting that Thanksgiving hasnt even happened yet! yesterday we jumped rope with christmas lights since the trail center was so slow... haha. i love this time of year.
But since everything here has turned "Christmas", it has gotten me into the spirit of Christmas, and has led me to reflect on the life of our Savior. I have also been thinking and loving learning about the pioneers, more than ever. I love the pioneers, and i can't get over their sacrifices for the gospel. it blows my mind. The library we have at the Trail Center is the best thing since Harry Potter, and i can't get enough of the stories. if i had more time to e-mail i would type out all of my favorites... i'll have to send them. we can learn so much from their example and their faith.
I had the sweetest experience this week. we got a referral from the Bishop to visit a family. they are not members of the church, and we have been visiting their Aunt who is a less active for some time. the couple is Michaela and John, and they have the cutest kids, Josie and Michael. We have seen josie and michael several times at their aunt's house (desiree), and whenever we see them we have been teaching them primary songs.
well, this sunday was the primary program, and josie and michael came to church! the primary was so sweet to let them participate in it, and i will NEVER forget seeing those adorable kids up there singing I am a child of God, and i love to see the temple. it was the most spiritual experience.. the testimonies of young kids is the most powerful thing ever.
one of the greatest miracles of this week was with Terri, a less active member we have been working with. Her husband Tim is not a member, and we have been praying really hard to find a way that we can teach him. Terri has made it VERY clear not to bring up religion with him, but we had to! ha. so we prayed and knew we needed to just ask him why he wasnt a member, and ask him to take the lessons.
so we went over there, and man alive. it was the craziest lesson ever. at one point i wanted to cry because of the craziness. Their little son Daniel kept running around, screaming in our faces, hitting us, the TV was blasting, the dog was getting sick, and Terri was sewing her pants. it was insane haha. i was literally pouring out my heart to be able to say ANYTHING that would bring the spirit into that house. Well, we started talking about parenting, which was a perfect intro into God being our father. the spirit instantly came in, and Tim started listening. when the time was right, we were able to ask him what his thoughts were, and he said " you know, you are the first missionaries that ever had the courage to ask me what i think. " and then he opened up about his past experiences, and how they have effected his belief in God. AH it was miraculous! we invited him to learn more, and he agreed! it was amazing... and was a reminder that no matter how hard Satan is working, God ALWAYS wins. what a miracle.
Terri came to church on sunday, and she is now wanting to pay her tithing! so cool!
Karla is getting her patriarchal blessing this sunday, and we will be attending it. such a miracle.. she has made so much progress it is insane. Pray for her that it is a good experience.
we also found a part member couple, Nan and Stan. pray for them. they are so prepared, and we had an amazing lesson with them. i wish i had more time to go into detail, but we have been praying and fasting for them. i know that the Lord led us to them, right when they were deciding which church they were going to attend. God is so aware of us.
I am so thankful to be a missionary. i am so grateful to have the gospel. i know that the greatest way to show our gratitude is to share the gospel, which is the greatest blessing ever.
love you all!

Sister Peterson


Letter received today, November 26th, “Oh the weather outside is frightful”

Hello!
yep, it hit the teens this week. lots of snow. and the Nebraska wind is living up to what i had heard. haha. it is so fun.
where to begin. this was the most incredible week. ever. seriously.
fun facts:
sister barton and i played volleyball with some women from the stake this morning. first time playing sports in 9 months... haha. let's just say, i am better at other things. ha. but it was still so much fun.

First things first... Thanksgiving Plans:
- such a fun miracle happened this week. So back when i was serving in Glenwood, i was eating dinner one night at the Saufley's and they had invited over some of their non member friends. The woman's name was Laura, and she and i hit it off really well. We taught the Restoration, and wanted to set up a time that we could come and see them again. well, come to find out they do not live in Glenwood, but they live in La Vista. funny. so i told Laura that when i got back to the trail center i would call her. Well, as you all know, i got transferred to Ralston La Vista, and i instantly thought of Laura. Because things have been so crazy here, i hadn't had a chance to talk with Laura. Well, this last Sunday i was serving at the trail center when i received a call from Brother Saufley (which was so much fun to catch up with him), who then handed the phone to Laura! we chatted for a good 10 minutes, and she invited us over for Thanksgiving! so. i am having thanksgiving with Laura and her husband at 1 on Thursday, which will be AWESOME, and then at 5 i am having dinner at a part member family (LaToya), and then at 7 we are going down to the Trail Center to watch a movie and eat some more. haha. i cannot wait.
Let's talk about Sunday, because it was awesome.
i told you last week about our investigators Michaela and John, and their kids Josie and Michael. We had an amazing lesson with them last week, and invited them to come to church with us on Sunday. They said they would "try" to make it. ugh i hate that. Sister Barton and i were trying not to lose faith, so we were promising them blessing after blessing if they would come. we prayed all week that they would come to church. Well, come sunday, John, Michael, John, Josie, and their less active aunt Desiree (who we are working with as well) ALL came to church! ah AND they stayed for all three hours. AND they LOVED IT. it was such an incredible miracle, and i got emotional just sitting in sacrament watching them, as a FAMILY, sing the hymns, take the sacrament, and feel the spirit. that is what the gospel is all about... bringing families closer together by helping them come closer to Christ. it was amazing. Michaela and John both commented in gospel principles and in Relief Society Michaela was totally enveloped in the ward's love. it was so cool. such a wonderful moment. we are seeing them tonight! Pray hard!
Sunday was also an incredible day at church because once again we had a ton of less active members (who are almost all now considered active!) back at church. Terri was there, and she was able to set up a meeting with the bishop which is awesome. When we saw her this week before church, we taught her how to pay tithing, and she also told us that she has started reading the Book of Mormon every day because she wants to make it to the temple. amazing. the gospel changes our lives, and even her home has changed...
side note: hahaha. when we visited terri this week, i was not feeling too hot (we got flu shots and it made me feel funky for a day or two). terri's son daniel was crawling all over me, burping in my face, and picking his nose and rubbing it on me. i wanted to cry haha i was praying so hard for patience. thankfully i was too weak to react. the Lord answers our prayers hahaha.
After church on sunday we went to the trail center for a few hours, and then we got to go to Karla's patriarchal blessing! ahhh that was so amazing! i felt so honored to sit in on her blessing, and my testimony grew SO much. it was amazing to hear the words come out of the patriarch's mouth, and realize that he truly was speaking for God. it was incredible and the spirit was palpable. i loved it.
Walt update:
man. i love that guy so much. we had an amazing lesson with him this week at the Vacanti's home, a member family in our ward. it made ALL the difference to get him into a member's home, where the spirit was so strong. we talked about the life of Christ and about repentance and love. it was so neat to hear Walt say how he wants to be more like Christ. He also told us that he has been looking over the baptismal questions every day and feels like he is really close... ha finally. at the lesson at the vacanti's we also talked about fasting this sunday for an answer, and for the belief the Jesus Christ is the son of God. Walt agreed to do so, and he said that he usually still drinks water when he fasts but he isnt going to this time. he ALSO said that he isnt going to smoke that whole 24 hours on sunday while he is fasting, which is HUGE for him so i was shocked and so happy he wants to do that. i will be praying my guts out for that man. he needs to be baptized, and he will be.
I can't remember if i told you about a less active couple we found, the Vallen's. They are so awesome. well, we had a lesson with them this week that was amazing. the spirit was so strong, and they really felt a desire to change. they are going to start praying together as a couple this week, since they both havent prayed in years. i love them so much already. it is amazing the love that God blesses us with so we can do this work... i am so grateful for it.
I can't believe the miracles that are happening right now here in Ralston. it is so humbling, and so rewarding. people that we have been praying about for weeks now, we have "randomly" bumped into them. there are NO coincidences, and the Lord's hand is in this work. i KNOW that this is the only true church of Jesus Christ. i know that we have a prophet today who leads and guides it, the exact same way the Jesus Christ set up when He was on the earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and by reading it EVERY day we can find so much peace. i love my Savior. i am so thankful for my family. i love this work. it is so much fun.
happy thanksgiving! remember your blessings.. we have so many.
love you!

Sister Peterson









Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Feast Upon the Scriptures!

Hello from freezing Omaha!

haha doesn't it seem like i was just saying that it was cold outside?? it's that time of year again! i whipped out my Nebraska coat yesterday, and am loving it. It is beautiful in Nebraska right now. But what did i expect, serving in Zion. ha.
Where to begin. it was a week of miracles, and so many uplifting experiences. Sometimes i think i can't take in any more spirituality or i might explode! ha it reminds me of (apostate, sorry) Alladin when the parrot is stuffing all of the crackers into the Sultan's mouth...? haha. maybe i'm the only one who will get that. oh well.
anyway! :)
Fun Facts of the week:
1. i ate venison lasagna at a members home this week. that was a first. haha. it was surprisingly really good!
2. there is a part member couple in our ward who we spend a lot of time with named the Witty's. We had dinner and FHE over at their house last night, and we taught Jason (non-member) about the "armor of God". See attached photos. he loved it.
3. A less active we re activated named Karla called us last week pretty late at night. initially i was nervous as to why she would be calling, but to our delight and surprise she called to tell us she had just had an interview with the Bishop, and she now holds a temple recommend (baptisms) and is getting her patriarchal blessing!! she invited us to attend her blessing, which is so sweet. ah. it was a happy moment. the gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives.
We went on exchanges on wednesday of this week, so sister Hamilton came to Ralston with me! it was INCREDIBLE. i love exchanges. we saw countless amount of miracles... for example:
-  Part A: we had an appointment with a part member family, but when we got there they were not there. super bummed. but sister Hamilton and i knew that we had planned with the spirit, and so the Lord needed us there for some reason. we decided to walk up the street, and we met this man named Michael. he actually stopped US (which is a miracle!) and said "hey, who are you girls?" we quickly told him who we were and he says "oh, i totally could tell. i grew up mormon, my parents are still mormon, i was sealed to my parents, i even had a mission call!" sister Hamilton and i were blown away. he was SO awesome. he has not been active for many years, and was really hesitant about letting us come back... but right as we were praying with him, his wife pulls up! she is the cutest thing, not a member, and invited us right in to her home. We had an amazing lesson with them and they invited us back for saturday. the Lord truly places in our path those who are prepared. As we were leaving, Michael kept saying "you know, i dont think it was a coincidence that we met today"... haha! none whatsoever.
Part B: Michael and his wife cancelled on us at the last minute before saturday, and then we received a text from them last night saying "they arent ready for us to come over, but they will call in the future when it is the right time". it broke my heart. but you know, the greatest gift we have is agency, and i know that even just running into Michael has reminded him of his past and has "renewed" his desire to come back to church.
- We had the opportunity while on exchanges to teach the activity day girls in our ward! it was SO fun... i love teaching young kids. it was amazing too, because one of the little girls was not a member. so, the activity day leader, Sister Hulon (who is AMAZING) totally changed her plans for the day and turned it into a first discussion! ha so we got to teach the restoration to these young girls. i was blown away by their testimonies and faith, and hearing them bear their testimonies to this non-member girl was priceless. I now understand a little bit better why the Lord tells us to "become as little children".
i love being a missionary. ah.
yesterday we visited a less active family, the Mcbride's. they are so awesome, and i love them so much. we see them weekly, and they have such strong testimonies.. but one thing or another keeps them from coming to church. when we visited them yesterday, the daughter Laura said, "you are so lucky that all you get to do all day is make people happy!" it was so sweet to hear that from her, and i truly am so grateful that sharing the gospel is all i get to do all day! i have the best job. ever.
Later in the day (yesterday) Sister Barton and i prayed and felt like we needed to visit a less active family in our ward who we had not met. the timing was perfect (as always... and it always amazes me!) because right as we got there the mother pulled up. She let us in, called her three kids into the living room, and had them listen to us while she left haha. but it was one of the sweetest experiences of my mission. The kids are 16, 14, and 12, and they really know nothing about the gospel. Sister Barton and i were able to teach them about the Restoration (which, once again, is my favorite to teach with younger kids!). The spirit was SO strong as they sat there and listened so intently. After telling them about the first vision, i asked them what they thought, and how that would make them feel if they had that experience. They all responded that it would be "crazy" or that they would be "freaked out" haha. but then i was able to bear testimony to them that THEY (because they have all been baptized) belonged to Christ's church! how out of everyone in the world, THEY were a part of the true church of Christ! as i said that, they all looked at each other and they got SO excited. they kept saying things like "wait...REALLY? oh my gosh!!! that is SO cool!" it was PRICELESS to see the joy of the gospel brought into their hearts. i have never seen anyone get so excited about being a member of the church.... and it made me have an even greater desire to show how HAPPY and BLESSED we are!!! this is CHRIST'S CHURCH!
We had stake conference this weekend, and something really stuck out to me:
Who are we to judge who is ready to hear the gospel?
i hope that as we all try and share the good news with our loved ones and friends, that we have FAITH not fear to open our mouths!
Trust in the Lord. Doubt not, fear not.
Our stake president said:

" Let's keep the missionaries busy, so they aren't busy finding OUR friends!"
i loved that.
i love you all! the church is true. i could cry i love the gospel so much. i have fallen in love with the word of God. Moroni - my hero right now. hungry? go feast on the scriptures. i promise it will fill you right up.


love you!

Sister Peterson









Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ATTENTION: READ ALMA 36 & 37 :)

Hey!
i loved the wedding pics from Amy's wedding. what a gorgeous bride and person. i am so happy for her! and you all look so great and happy :) i love it.
This week was wonderful. We have been running crazy trying to squeeze in everyone we are seeing! definitely a blessing. i love being busy teaching people about the gospel. it is the best.
i had the greatest answer to prayer this week. i dont know if you remember my MTC companion Sister Pettyjohn. just kidding, i am sure you do! ha. well, i received an e-mail from her last tuesday saying that she would be in Nebraska on Friday. at first i was thinking it was to visit, but to my wonderful surprise she returned to finish her mission!! i wish i would have recorded our reunion, but to give you the visual there were many tears shed. I am so grateful she is back. i can't even describe in words. i am so grateful for our Heavenly Father who loves us and looks after us and gives us the strength to do hard things. what a miracle.
On Sunday we finally saw some of the "fruit" of our labor. We had 5 less active members at church and an investigator. i probably looked so ridiculous with my ecstatic welcome to each of them, but i dont care. it was comparable to seeing Daniel baptized watching them be loved by the ward and take the sacrament. it was heavenly.  and i am so grateful that Heavenly Father has been softening the hearts of these wonderful people, enough to act on their faith. it is inspiring to me to think of their faith in coming back to church. The Lord always strengthens us if we trust in Him.
We had zone conference this week, and the focus was on personal revelation and prayer. i thought it was so fitting, and no coincidence, that the past week or two my testimony of prayer has been strengthened, and that i have seen the numerous blessings from prayer. the Lord was just preparing me for zone conference... ha isn't Heavenly Father so amazing? I was so inspired and uplifted by the different trainings given. i know that relying on God is the only way we can live a happy, beautiful life. one of my favorite things about being a missionary is seeing others realize that too. it is the only way. period.
We had a powerful lesson with Walt this past week  at the Trail Center. Our ward mission leader, Brother Randall, came with us and we watched the Joseph Smith and the Restoration video. i love the Trail Center, and the spirit that is there. as we finished watching the movie, tears just began to flow as we talked about the sacrifice of the pioneers, and the undeniable experience that Joseph Smith had seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ. i was filled with gratitude for our savior, and for the power of the atonement. Walt is making tiny steps of progression.. he is still hung up on Christ being our Savior. but i am so grateful he is struggling with it (as odd as it sounds) because i have studied more than i ever have about the life of Christ, and His influence. My testimony of Him is unshakable. and something that i have learned this past week is that truth ALWAYS makes itself manifest. So Walt will come around.. because the TRUTH is that He IS our Savior.

Fun things:

- This week was Halloween! ha which was really fun. We weren't allowed to be out in our area that night, so the Trail Center sisters all came to the trail center and had dinner and we watched 17 miracles. it was so much fun! Sister Barton and I dressed up like old grandma's for the party... it turned out pretty funny. it was fun because I was also able to see sister Palmer on Halloween. i love her. She and her companion are doing well in Glenwood, and it makes me so happy!
- Last night we were at a members home having FHE with them. The grandmother of the family was there as well, who is devout Catholic. so it was really fun. Well, one of the boys in the family is autistic, and struggles with anger and listening to authority. so. ha. we are having a lesson, and the boy is over in the corner just messing with some things. all the sudden he goes "why isn't this working!?". We look over at him and see that he has built/set up a ROCKET IN THE LIVING ROOM! i know... it sounds CRAZY, because it was!! he was pushing the button for the rocket firework thing to take off! i instantly said a prayer that the button he pushed would not work... and we were able to get him away from it before anything happened! ha. the house literally would have exploded. i dont even know how he got his hands on it, but nonetheless. the Lord protected us. thank goodness! you better believe sister barton and i ran out of there as soon as we could haha.
I am so grateful to be on a mission. my heart has been full of gratitude this week for the wonderful opportunities that i have been able to have the past 8 months. I love our Savior Jesus Christ. i KNOW He is the Savior. i know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and is the most correct book on the earth. my love for the Book of Mormon is indescribable. i ask myself all the time WHY i didnt read it every day before my mission! to think of all that i  could have known and learned. but. thank goodness for repentance.
i love you all! thank you for your prayers.  i feel them and love them. Read the Book of Mormon. i promise you it will make you happier than you were before.

Sister Peterson







Friday, November 1, 2013

"Now have we not reason to REJOICE?"

Hey!
The leaves are falling, the temperature is cooling down, and the missionary work is about to explode! i am SO happy, and i am in awe at the miracles that are flooding Ralston/La Vista. "Now have we not reason to rejoice?" :)
The week truly was incredible, and i am so thankful. So so thankful to have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that He answers prayers. This week Sister Barton and I have been working on praying specifically for people, blessings, experiences, and answered prayers... and we have been BLOWN away by the miracles that have come from it.
For example:
1. I have been praying the past few days/week that we would be able to find someone to teach. I realized though, that that was way too vague. i needed to be more specific. So i acted in faith and prayed specifically that we would contact someone who was prepared to hear the message of the Restoration, who would be willing to have us teach them, and that we would be able to prepare them for baptism. Well, that day, we received a referral for a woman named Shawnda, who is wanting us to come teach her so she can get baptized! ...the Lord answers our prayers.
2. I was studying one morning this week, and was so touched by Alma 14, where Alma and Amulek are smitten, ridiculed, and imprisoned because of their beliefs. I was moved to tears imagining the pain that they were going through, which is exemplified in verse 26 where they finally cry out to the Lord for help. I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to please guide us to someone who needs the knowledge i had gained from reading that chapter. Well, sure enough, that morning we met a less active member, Dani, who has been going through awful trials and is wanting to give up on God. In answer to my prayer, i was able to recount to her the story in Alma and help her understand the love God has for her. it was incredible... and i just cried and my spirit was so uplifted by the experience.... the Lord answers our prayers!
3. We were about to go see Walt and have a lesson with him (which by the way, he is doing GREAT! he is progressing slowly but surely... i love that man so much), but we had 5 minutes before the lesson so we prayed to know what we should do. we were prompted to visit a less active that we had never met. well, when we got to her home, a woman answered the window (hahaha, really though... she didnt answer the door, she started talking to us through her side window?... at least she was talking to us!) and told us her name was Terry, not the woman we were looking for. well, she then told us she was 7th day adventist, and she had mormon neighbors once. she also said that she used to live out in the bay area, so when i told her that i was from Danville she got super excited and let us in! haha the Lord truly uses our individual life experiences in order to do missionary work. But anyway, Terry is incredible and she has invited us back over "any time we want!" ... guess what? the Lord answers our prayers.
even just typing all of these miracles out, it is amazing me once again how good the Lord is too us! man!
4. We met an awesome family a week ago who said we could come back. well, when we came back for a lesson they weren't home so we were super bummed. We decided to pray and ask the Lord where He needed us. We both were then prompted to visit a less active who we have been trying to meet for weeks now, but our appointments keep falling through with her. We got to her house, and Sister Barton and i were THRILLED that she was home! she let us in, and oh man.. she is amazing. Her name is Jinx, and she was a faithful convert for about 10 years, but because her family wasnt part of the church she made the decision to leave it. It was so cool to hear her talk, and bear her testimony to us of her conversion (and let me tell ya, there is no doubt heavenly father wanted her in this church!). She then expressed how in even just the past few days she has been thinking a lot about her decision to leave it, and how she has never felt fully confident it was the right decision. We were able to bear testimony to her of the love our father in heaven has for us, and how when he tells us, like He told her, to join the church and make a covenant with Him, He would not then turn around and tell her to break that covenant. The spirit was so strong, and she invited us back. do i even need to say it?? the Lord answers our prayers!
That is just a TASTE of what has been happening this week... i wish i had time to write down every miracle. but honestly, i wouldnt have enough time for that even if i was given 10 hours to email! Our Heavenly Father loves us. and i KNOW that he loves me personally, individually, and eternally. I am so thankful and grateful to have His trust.
Fun Happenings:
- this week after district meeting, my district leader was doing a car inspection on our car and he dropped his pen into the hood of the car. well, for the next hour i had my hand crammed into the engine of the car fishing around for a pen. haha. we didnt find it...
- we visited this less active/ part member family this week, Tim and Terry. we were outside their house laughing hysterically because of what we saw through the window haha. Tim (the dad) had his shirt off, he being a big guy, and was walking around shaving all of his head hair off!! hahaha it was quite the sight, sister barton and i were worried about meeting this guy, but decided it was too funny NOT to knock on his door. we had a lesson with them again last night, and i am super excited about their family.
- We had the feeling yesterday that we should bring our service clothes with us in the car.. not knowing why. well, we were driving down the street by presidents house later that day, and we saw a woman raking her leaves by herself. and she had a TON of them. we instantly knew we had brought our clothes for her. we changed into our service clothes at presidents house, borrowed his rakes haha and then walked up the hill to help this woman. she gladly let us help her, and for the next hour and a half were able to brighten her day. it was so cool. she is recently widowed, lives alone, and i know that Heavenly Father sent us there. i was reminded of President Monson, caring for each widow in his ward. it brightened my day to help her!
i am so happy. the church is true. We have a father in heaven who loves us, answers our prayers, and knows us better than we know ourselves.

Alma 18:32 "Yea, and he looketh down upon all the children of men; and he aknows all the thoughts and bintents of the heart; for by his hand were they all created from the beginning."
I love my savior. I know He lives. i am grateful for our ancestors, and have loved learning about their lives and their love for this gospel. i love it as well.

Sister Peterson