Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm being transferred!!  It is very much a surprise.  Normally they keep you with your trainer for the full 12 weeks of training, but President wanted to have Hermana Williams train another missionary and it would be hard to be in a trio because we'd be in different parts of the training schedule.  So I'm off to Blue Island!  South Chicago.  I feel a lot of peace about it and I am excited.  It was unexpected so I wasn't prepared emotionally to leave all our investigators and this awesome ward, but let's be honest, can you ever be ready for that?  I don't think so.  There should be four baptisms here next month and I feel really excited for this new missionary to come right when so many people will be making these sacred covenants and joining the ward.  I just love miracles.

I will still be in a trio, with two new moms.  How lucky for me to have three moms, right?  Most people only get one. Jaja.  They are Hermana Gonzalez and Hermana Ramirez, and I hear they are wonderful.  Guess what that means?  I feel pretty confident they both speak Spanish a little better than I do, I just get that feeling, and I am excited for that. :)  It will be very different and I have no idea what to expect.

This week was crazy.  We had two days in a row where every appointment cancelled and none of our back-up plans worked.  That had never happened to us before. They were all our solid people and they all cancelled at the same time.  We are really fortunate in this area to have a lot of appointments and we usually keep pretty busy with teaching.  I have been so grateful for that.  As a missionary, there is simply no better place to be than in a lesson.  That is where you watch the Spirit do Its work.  It is so special and I love it.

Sorry there wasn't a lot in this letter, but I'm actually out of time!  I love you and I'm excited to update you about my new area that I'll be in tomorrow! Oh, so sad to leave Hermana Williams.  But as my MTC teacher put it, as a missionary, you often feel like a rag-doll being thrown about, but you are the Lord's rag-doll, and who could complain about that? jaja. Blue Island, here I come!

Hermana Peterson

p.s. Jonah! Have a wonderful birthday tomorrow!  A letter is happily on its way to you. :) I love you. Glad you had fun at camp!
We had a great lesson on repentance this week.  One thing I really appreciate about the culture here is that most people don't feel a need to mask their problems.  We were meeting with someone who hasn't come to Church in several years and our last lesson with him he told us that he knows he needs to return to the Church before he dies but that, essentially, he is not ready to obey the commandments yet.  I thought a lot about him this past week.  I felt somewhat a hippocrite as I told him sometimes we just have to obey the commandments of God even if we don't have the desire.  Here I am, asking people to change their whole lives, and I can't even open my mouth?  We talked about what this investigator needed and decided to go with repentance, since that was actually what we felt inspired to teach the last time but kind of talked ourselves out of it since it was our first lesson with him.
As I studied more about repentance I realized that my heart was changing.  And that is exactly what repentance is, a change of heart that is then applied to our actions.  I began to open my mouth and it felt so good!!!  Now I just have to work to continue doing so, because there is SO much room for improvement.  My goal is to approach ONE person every day all by myself (but obviously not by myself, because that has proven futile), and it is still hard for me to reach.  Isn't that crazy?  It seems so silly, but everyone has their own difficulties, and this is one of mine.
Then we had our lesson on repentance.  We read a lot of Alma 34 and it was so perfect.  I love how Heavenly Father knows exactly what each person needs and then works it all together into this beautiful masterpiece.  We were bold, blunt, and loving.  It felt so good to follow the Spirit and not be worried about offending someone.  We cried repentance.  Our purpose as missionaries is "Al invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo mediante la fe en Jesucristo y su Expiacion, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepcion del don del Espiritu Santo, y el perserverar hasta el fin."  That day, we invited him to repent to come closer to Christ.
The interesting part of this story is that he didn't really accept out invitation.  But he's trying and he was so grateful for the lesson we had together.  Our part, full-time missionaries and not alike, is to invite.  And inviting through the Spirit is the only way to go.
Mom, you asked about Spanish.  Well.  Let me tell you.  It is coming, sort of.  I am forever grateful for the basic knowledge of Spanish I had coming in and that has been such a wonderful blessing.  I am able to get by and I understand the majority of what people say.  I can definitely understand a lot better than I could five weeks ago!  But as far as speaking goes, the improvement is slow.  My companion has had a lot of difficulty learning Spanish and we're almost the same level, so we can teach and testify, which is the most important part, but we require patience from the people we talk to.  The good news is that this doesn't ever stop us from trying our best, and Hermana Williams has no fear!  It's just hard for us to catch onto all the little phrases and word orders.  We're are working hard to learn more Spanish though and it is a lot of fun.  I LOVE Spanish.  I am grateful to be speaking it.
Heidi, YOU ARE STARTING COLLEGE!!! AT BYU!  I am so excited for you.  You will love it.  Have a fun road trip with the mama. I'll try and have a letter waiting for you in your new home. :)
Papi, Happy Father's Day!  I hope it was grand.  Thanks for your email.  Your last line, about telling the people I love them and that the Lord loves them- you have no idea how timely that was.  We have been talking about that and trying to implement it.  Thanks for the reminder.  You are such an incredible father.  You lead and teach and love and pray and serve and provide and you love my mother. :)  I'm so grateful.  Just keep doing what you're doing.
A lot of changes coming up- the mission is splitting and I'll be getting a new mission president (and maybe a new mailing address), we're getting three more sets of missionaries in our ward, making 10 missionaries, so our area will have new, smaller boundaries, and it doesn't look like we'll be transferred, but you never know.
Spread the joy and keep in touch,
Hermana Peterson

Monday, June 17, 2013

When this Ward holds a party it is no small affair.  We had a fiesta for el dia de los padres on Saturday and there was so much heavenly food!  I overeat every day here.  When we first came to the mission the Sister Training Leaders told us they don't know any Sisters that haven't gained about twenty pounds here.  Whoopee!  We can't ever turn down food, so our fridge is usually full and our bellies bulging.  I'm carrying on the reputation of a Peterson Pig with incredible skill.  I hope you're proud.

Mom, I was with those Sisters you ran into literally moments before you ran into them!!  We were so close!  How did the race go? Did you win?  I sure hope so. :)  It was crazy to think that we were both here and not seeing each other.  Super weird.  But I hope you had a great trip.  Isn't Chicago the best? Yep.

I don't have much to say since I just wrote a few days ago...  Giovanna got baptized!  She is eight.  Baptisms are so stressful!  They are obviously the greatest as well, but planning them and being in charge is stressful.  According to mi companera this baptism went incredibly smoothly, but I was sweating.  Her family, none of which are members of the Church except for her mom, all arrived twenty minutes early.  The bulk of the people from the Ward came a half hour late, and the Primary kids were singing the musical number, so we had to wait.  Now that I write it that doesn't seem stressful at all, but you know how I like to be prompt.  Jaja. I'm slowly numbing to that though because riding the bus and train we can not arrive on time to save our lives.  We go new places every day so we try to guess how long it will take to get somewhere and give ourselves plenty of time to stop and talk to people along the way.  We either arrive twenty minutes early or fifteen minutes late.  That what it seems like to me.  But we're slowly getting better.  So, after that tangent, the baptism went well and it was very happy. :)

One of our miracle people, Guadelupe, is never ceasing to amaze us.  She came to the baptism of Friday and afterwards helped set up for the ward party until almost midnight with the Relief Society President.  Our Relief Society is so wonderful.  I don't know if I've talked about her before, but she is a Regina.  She works, is finishing up her Masters, and raising four young kids.  I feel like I've already told you this.  Sorry if it's a repeat.  But she's very to the point and we are so grateful for her.  Powerhouse. So Guadelupe!  Sorry, it is kind of loud in here and it's making it difficult for me to focus!  Then the next day Guadelupe came to the party and helped clean up afterwards, then she came to all three hours of Church yesterday!!  Oh, we just love her so much.  She has the ability to act on what she wants and feels and knows.  That is not a common trait.  Most of us humans are quite stubborn and we don't like to be uncomfortable or have lots of change, even if it is good change, we have a lot of difficulty doing things even when we know without a doubt that it will be good for us.  Not Guadelupe.  Ah, I just love her.  I'm grateful the Lord is trusting us with her.  She is special.

So, mother, you asked me before I left to please be honest.  So here it is.  I am so stubborn!! I am one of those people I was just talking about.  I am having such a hard time opening my mouth.  Here I am surrounded by people who I can share this beautiful gospel with and I am not doing it.  I feel so good about myself if I've approached one person and shared my testimony with them before the day is done.  I am so stubborn.  My roommates are probably thinking, "Yes, of course you're stubborn, we all know this." :)  I've always known it too, but this is on a whole new level.  I get so pumped in the morning while I'm studying and I'm like, "Yes! This is the day I will open my mouth to everyone!  I'm finally humbled, ready to turn my will over to God, ready to be awkward and stop people on the street, ready to care more about their salvation than my own worries.  Let's do this!"   And then I see someone and I think, "Yes! I want to talk to them!" And we get closer and suddenly my thoughts have transitioned into a desperate prayer that Hermana Williams will stop them so that I can still bear my testimony to them and I walk right past.  Luckily, sometimes Hermana Williams does stop them, but not all the time.  And then I feel sad.  My will power is failing me day after day and I'm having to rely on Heavenly Father to lift me, but my heart is still so hard.  He is teaching me the same lesson I felt many days in the MTC:  that this is not about me. It is about Christ.  I cannot do it alone.  This is His work.  It's just taking me a whole lot longer to learn than I was expecting.  The more I love, the easier it is to speak.  The easier it is to speak, the more I learn.  The more I learn, the more focused I am on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and this work.  It's a beautiful process.

The great news is that I am called of God to be a missionary and that a true and living prophet approved my call to serve, both here in Chicago and in Buenos Aires.  The Lord knows my heart will soften and He is softening it, poco a poco.  I love Jesus Christ so much.  I feel the hand of God in my life every single day.  It is undeniable.  He is blessing us to the point where we don't have room to receive it.  He blesses us with joy, understanding, courage, love, the ability to speak Spanish, to teach by the Spirit, to learn, to change, to find.  He forgives.  He inspires.  He uplifts.  And we are so happy.  Hermana Williams and I get along so well.  She has five months left as a full-time missionary and we decided we'll both just stay here until then.  After that I'll go to Argentina. :)  

Did I tell you I tried mate for the first time?  A woman in the ward is from Argentina and they had us over for dinner last week.  That mate was hard to drink, but I hear it is an acquired taste, right Logan??  I'll drink it every time we go over there and hopefully I'll be a pro before we know it.  Don't worry, it's the missionary-approved kind. 

Heidi, I loved your letter.  You are beautiful.  Thank you for the love.  
Madi, please tell the Branch and your sisters thank you so much! That was so thoughtful of you.  It made me smile.  Tell Ellie I will answer her questions she asked, it might just take a bit. :)  I love you.

Family, you are strong and that gives me strength.  I love you with all I've got and I am so grateful to have you supporting me.  Thanks for all you do for this wonderful world in which we live.  Jesus Christ is the Savior of us all!  He is just what we need.

Loves and prayers,

Hermana Peterson
A few weeks ago we went to an appointment and the person wasn't there, wasn't answering her phone.  Whenever something like that happens Hermana Williams says something like, "Well, we're here for a reason! Let's talk to people!"  So we crossed the street and there was a woman outside with her kids, just about to walk back inside.  Hermana Williams, in a hurry, said, "Hi, would you like to hear a message about Jesus Christ?"  The woman turned around and said, "Yeah, sure, do you need my phone number? It's....., and this is my address, right here, basement.  Wednesdays are best."  Well.  That was awesome.  Last week we finally had our first appointment with her and it was amazing.  She has three kids, two were there, and one was distracting her like crazy.  The other, a little girl who is eight and the sweetest thing you've ever seen, sat quietly and listened, asking intelligent questions about all sorts of things.  We shared the story of the Restoration and the room got quiet.  We told her about the Book of Mormon.  She held the one we gave her tightly in her hands and asked if that was her own copy.  "How long have you known about this?" she asked.  We told her our whole lives.  She looked at us in amazement.  "Here I am, thirty years old, and this is the first time I've heard about this!"  Her prayer at the end was incredible.  She asked God to help her in this new life.
Two days ago we met with her again, and this time her son was there, too.  He is fifteen.  I don't think I've met another fifteen-year-old like him.  She told us about him last time, said he was such a good boy, never getting involved in all the bad things the other boys his age are doing, in the IB program at school, and just very good.  Well she wasn't just saying all that.  He joined us for the lesson and we reviewed the Restoration for him.  We asked what he thought about it all and all he said was, "Awesome."  I don't think he ever stopped smiling the whole time we were there.  We taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation and invited them to be baptized.  Yeses all around.  6 de julio.
They weren't the only miracle people this week, either!  Last Sunday we were just about done with Church when somecame came and told us told two women needed us at the front of the chapel.  It was Guadelupe and her tia.  Guadelupe went to Church three times in Mexico three months ago and then decided she wanted to learn more, so they looked up what time Church started and decided to come.  Every missionary's dream, I tell you.  Sadly, the time was incorrect online, so she came with only a few minutes left, but she met people and is coming this Sunday at the beginning. :) Her tia just came for support and isn't interested, but Guadelupe!!  She's planning on being baptized 29 de junio. 
We search and search and search, and we got dropped by a couple people this week, but then there comes a miracle person.  And how many people are here in Chicago just like the miracle family, prepared and waiting for the truth to be made known unto them?! Hundreds.  The Lord is hastening His work.  There is no doubt about that.  So share it.  Who knows, maybe your friend is a miracle person but nobody knows it yet, because he/she hasn't had the chance to discover it yet.
I love you all.  I hope you are well.  Heavenly Father loves you SO MUCH.  Trust Him.  I'm learning to.  It's not easy, but it is lovely.
Heidi, thank you for the card.  You are gorgeous and graduated!  Your letters always make me smile so hugely.  Have fun at school and let me know when you arrive so I can send you a letter to your new address. :)
love love lvoe lovemvojeovj,

Hermana Peterson