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.


- 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. 


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".


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"):

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