Monday, December 26, 2016

Feliz Navidad! - December 24, 2016

Hola Todos!! First off, I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas and that you can all feel the joy and peace that comes through this special time of year. I know that we are all in different circumstances but the love of our Savior Jesus Christ applies to everyone, and the peace and joy that is felt through all of it is the eternal gift that he has given us that will never go away as long as we remember him, what he did, the promises he has made for us, and the path that he has paved for us to walk. Once again this week we didnt have the chance to be in our area. With several things that have happened this week in the mission and the travels of the President we have had to be in the offices for this week taking care of everything and making sure that everyone is taken care of. On Wednesday we were the Christmas postal service and had to take all of the Christmas packages that got here late to all of the people that arent here in the city. We went down to Juchitan with about 10 packages and delivered them to everyone and it was a great opportunity to check on a lot of missionaries to make sure that they are happy and doing well. It made the 5 hour ride worth it to us to see that they were happy that there were people thinking about them and it was fun to deliver those packages to them. Afterwards we got to do splits with some of the Zone Leaders down there in one of the zones, Elder Madera and Elder Ringle. That was fun because we got to go to a little town called Comitancillo to teach some people and visit the members there. It is a little farming town that is in the middle of all the cow farms outside of Juchitan, it was fun to see the agriculture down there in the itsmo. On Tuesday we got to have our Mission Christmas party here in the city. We ate Ham and mashed potatoes (Elder Moore and I got to choose the menu) and it felt just like a normal Christmas dinner. During the activity we got to play games, sing Christmas songs, see the talents of the other missionaries, and at the end the office staff surprised President and Sister Madsen with the Thank you Video that we made for them. It turned out so good and at the end Sister Madsen was so emotional and the "Christmas Spirit" was so strong. It felt like in those moments the mission really came together, even though there is a lot that is going on and we have a lot of challenges, we could realize that we have each other, and that we have our Savior Jesus Christ who came to this world to unite us, to strengthen us, and to love us. I have met so many people here that dont believe in a Christ, that dont believe that he really came to this world. But I know that he did, the evidence is so strong through this time of year when we can feel the eternal love that he has for us, it is the only explanation of the joy and peace that are felt during this time, is the love and unity of Christ that we feel in our families. I am so grateful for him and the eternal gifts that he has given us and I hope that you all can feel these same eternal gifts that he has given us. Merry Christmas Everyone! Love Elder Peterson
A little kid that I made friends with at the ward party in Juchitan
Divisions with Elder Madera
Luis and Erika, Luis is the miracle baptism that we had in Tecnologico. He is going strong in the church still.

Crazy Week of Changes - December 17, 2016

Hello Everyone! Well this week of changes was crazy, my last one being here in the offices and I guess it had to be the hardest one yet. It was so awesome because for the first time in a long time we got a huge group of American missionaries so I got to translate for all of them the whole time we were training them. It was fun to think back to the time where we got here just like that thinking that we all knew Spanish but then realizing that we didn't know anything. It was fun to be able to talk with them and see how excited they were to be here. While we were training them there were road blocks all throughout Oaxaca because someone didn't receive a bonus to their pay check. What a great way to protest right? The main highway that is the only way the missionaries can travel was blocked. They all had to walk a ways to get through the block to be able to get on another bus. So we were running all over trying to get everything figured out for who was going to pick up who and where and all of the details. On Tuesday we made sure all the new missionaries got to their new areas good and we were helping Sister Madsen prepare for all of the Christmas activities and programs that we are going to have. It was fun to be able to be with them all day Tuesday doing all the Christmas stuff and wrapping presents with them. Every time President would come by he would always laugh at us and say "you guys are such good little elves, why weren't you called to the North Pole Mission?" Thats just the way President is, really witty and always trying to crack jokes and be funny, it is fun to be with him and Sister Madsen. On Wednesday we sent a lot of missionaries home that had finished their missions. It was a lot sadder for me this time because a lot of them have been great friends and examples to me. It was also weird because it was my last time going to the airport to be able to say goodbye to them. They all seemed excited to go home to their families and they were crazy because a lot of them couldn't or wouldn't sleep for 2 nights because of their mixed feelings. You could say that they were really crazy days that we had and it was a miracle that we got everything done in time. On Thursday we got back to our area and when we got done with our personal studies there was a zone leader that sent us a message that was saying there were district leaders that were struggling and not doing their jobs in his district. So my companion and I decided to go do surprise splits with them to help them figure out how to work in their area. It was scary to them at first to have us show up at their house. I got to go with Elder Olsen from Arizona for the day, he has only been here for 6 weeks and is still learning Spanish but it was fun to be with him and see him giving a huge effort to be able to speak the language and help other people. He was so humble throughout the day and was so willing to learn. At the end of the day we were able to help both of them out so that they can start to progress in their area and be able to help this district out. So this week was probably the most stressful week of my mission. There were nights were we only slept about 4 hours because of everything that we had to do. We were running all over the place getting things ready for President and Sister Madsen. But it was a week that I experienced more of the strength coming from the Lord more than any other time. We never took a break, and we always experienced a stronger spirit in our teachings and with trying to minister to the missionaries here. Yesterday we had a training for the new zone leaders, and teaching them was one of the funnest experiences that I have had training. I felt so much of an urgency teaching them to get the mission moving again, with people doing and studying the right things. I felt more strength this week, in a week where there wasnt a lot of time to sit back, than I have at any other point of my mission. I feel like I got lost in the work this week and the Lord has blessed us even more for it. Today at 3 we have Pamari´s baptism, she has been waiting 7 months to be able to get baptized and she finally gets to do it today. We are so happy for her and she is just as happy too. I know that the Lord strengthens us when we are lost in his work serving people, especially during this time of year. I know that we will all have difficulties to go through at any time of the year, but the joy of Christmas always has and always will come through getting lost in the service of others, and we can all be a light unto the world. I hope that you all have a great Christmas week this week!! Feliz Navidad todos!! Con Amor, Elder Peterson
The Elder I trained, Elder Martinez, and now the Elder that he is training, Elder Siufuentes
Elder Olsen and I eating Tacos
They planted Poinsettias all around the Temple last week!! They are amazing!!

Witnessing a Special Witness - December 11, 2016

Hello Everyone, Well this email is going to be really short because we had the amazing experience this week to be able to go down to Juchitan yesterday to see Elder Neil L. Andersen and Elder Paul B. Piper speak to us as missionaries. It was an experience that I will never forget and one that will change these last months of my mission. Elder Andersen spoke to us about who our divine identity and how we can become our full potential here through repenting and trying to receive the approval of the Savior. Elder Piper gave us an interesting training, he taught us about how we can get the help of the members through them using their social media. He told us that we need to start being 21st century missionaries teaching the eternal truths of the gospel. It was cool to see a leader training us to use the most basic tools to teach and share the gospel. So here is the invitation that we are supposed to leave with all the members, we are supposed to pray with them to know who needs a message of the gospel, and then we are supposed to go through each contact that they have in their contacts of Facebook, Instagram, or twitter. When they feel like they need to share the gospel with someone we send them a message online or send them a Mormon message or scripture to help them, following what the spirit says. So this is my invitation to you all too, I know that we are currently in the Light the World campaign for the church but we can share our light with specific people, and I know that if we pray and search there will be someone that can benefit from a message that will touch their hearts. This week in our area, we have been able to make some big progress with a girl named Pamari, she is 19 years old and has been going to church in a different ward with some friends. Anyways she has been scared to come here because she doesnt want to be alone, we taught her the eternal truths of the temple and helped her to feel a desire to go inside and that is when her desires changed and she asked to be baptized this Saturday! We are excited to see her start her progression to one day go in the temple and participate in all the eternal ordinances of the gospel. We have been really busy with changes, tomorrow we are getting 12 new missionaries, Wednesday 8 are leaving. We have been in the offices quite a bit getting everything coordinated and set up and on top of that with the trip down to Juchitan (that is 5 hours from here) it has been busy. But one more thing that Elder Andersen told us to do, is to always testify of Christ, testify of his promises to us, what he did for us, what is possible for us through him, and the eternal plan of happiness that leads through him. I am so grateful for this time of year that we have to think and ponder about all that Christ has done for us. He is the light, the life, and the truth. I am so thankful to be able to teach and testify to a culture who knows what Jesus is, but they dont know who Jesus Christ is, who he is personally to each and every one of them. I am grateful for this knowledge and this love that always comes through him, and I am grateful for the opportunity I had to have a Special Witness of him testify of these truths to me. Something that was mentioned in that meeting is that if we do this, our influence will span across generations, and our name that we represent will be blessed for those same generations to come. I am thankful for this opportunity, I know that He lives.
This is Carlos, he is 17 and preparing for his mission and asks to come with us every day to teach with us.
The Nativity in front of the Oaxaca temple

Stuck in Juchitan - December 3, 2016

Hello Everyone! Well it was a crazy week. On Saturday all the kids got baptized that we originally found in Nochixtlan. It was so humbling to see their innocence and purity to be baptized. They knew everything and they have some of the strongest testimonies that I have seen. On Sunday we had the baptism for Angel. It was such a cool experience because his mom came to church as well as his whole family. But something even cooler is the missionary that baptized his mom came to the baptism too and you could tell that it was an amazing experience for him too. But that Sunday was so spiritual. It has been a hard couple of weeks for the Casa Blanca ward, the attendance has been going down and the ward leaders have been worried about it. So we had a huge talk in the ward council and we got on the topic of music. We decided to incorperate more music into the sacrament meeting each week. We did that and we had an awesome spiritual meeting. I love music and it has been something that has changed lives and strengthened testimonies. On Tuesday we had our Zone conference with President Madsen. He was so powerful and each conference is more urgent to increase and be more in this work. He got up and told us "As missionaries in this mission we dont know how to teach, all we know is how to explain something. We are teaching the doctrine of Christ, not the individual doctrine of each one of us. We need to learn how to teach and let the spirit guide" Afterwards we learned the importance of scriptures and teaching and simply being guides for the investigators. We learned that the way of Christ is a lot harder to do, including the way that we need to teach, but it is the way we need to do it because it is his name that we wear. After that we ran down to Juchitan to go do splits down there with the Zone Leaders. We got there at 10 that night on the bus and we went straight to their house. We worked hard on Wednesday and we were able to teach the zone leaders how to incorperate that way of teaching so that they could teach it to their zones. We were able to see changes in people that way. Actually in our own area we had an experience with a guy named Israel. We shared 4 scriptures with him and we saw a change in him. At the end he told us. "I need to go to church and I need to be baptized. When can I go and when can I get baptized" That took us off guard because all we did was read and direct him to scriptures. We are hoping that he goes to church tomorrow. But anyways going back to the Juchitan experience, on Wednesday night we got a call saying that all of the highways were blocked in Oaxaca and that we wouldnt be able to travel for another day. It was frustrating to see because we had so many plans in our own area but there was a reason we needed to be there. We taught the next day as well and on Friday morning we were able to get back to Oaxaca. It has been a huge trial of faith to be out of our area for this amount of unexpected time but I know that it will work out. It always does. It wont be the easiest but it will be the most worthwhile and the blessings will be greater for it. I hope that in this process this next week we can be the way that these people recieve the blessings in their lives, that we can be a light for them so that they can find this same eternal light in Jesus Christ and his teachings. It changes people, because it is a light that is only found in the true teachings of our Savior. I am so thankful for the opportunity that we have to light the world this month and after. There are so many people that need this light, dont be afraid to shine it, they are looking for it. Be the way that they find that light. This next week Saturday we will be going down to Juchitan again to see Elder Andersen. He is flying in and going to be speaking to the stakes down there. It will be the first time ever that an apostle goes to the itsmo and we are excited to be able to hear what he says. So next week I will probably be writing Friday night because on Monday we have changes and it will be crazy!!! But it will be a fun experience. Thank you for all of your love and support, I hope that you can all share the light and #lighttheworld. Elder Peterson
Baptism of Angel
Baptism of the Nochixtlan Kids
Divisions in Juchitan with Elder Portales from Mexico and Elder Thomas from New Mexico!

Feliz Dia de Gracias! - November 26, 2016

Hello Everyone! Well this week was an awesome week, even though they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here and they had their Black Friday last week it was still a fun week that we got to celebrate. On Thursday Sister Madsen and President invited the office staff over to their house to have dinner and it was great. It was just like home and everything was so good. We were more grateful for the experience though and grateful to have an amazing President and his wife. They truly are the best and we are so grateful for them. Anyways so this week has been really kind of slow for us. It has been hard because we have had a lot of work to do in the offices but someone cut the internet line to the whole neighborhood and we haven't had internet for a week. Each day we have had to go in and see if there was any and there wasn't so it was a huge waiting game...and there still isn't internet there so we will see when it comes. But anyways with the work that we did do this week it was awesome to see the way that everyone is progressing. Tomorrow we have the baptism of Angel, a kid that is 11 years old but the great part is that we were able to reactivate his family and now his Uncle is going to be baptizing him. It will be a great experience. We also found a new investigator named Belen and she is awesome too!! She came to church this last week after just 1 time teaching her and she loves it because she is able to feel the peace there. Actually that has been the story with a lot of people this week. We have 3 or 4 investigators that never went to school, don't know how to read, yet they can feel the spirit working in them and they want it for the peace that they feel throughout the week. I am grateful for a gospel that is easy to understand but that brings us an indescribable peace to our hearts. The sad news for this week is that Madai was set to get baptized in a week. We asked her mom for permission and she didnt give it. Madai was downtrodden and it was hard for her to take it. It was hard to see her crying and saying how sad she was because now she couldn't receive those blessings until she is 18. We taught 3 lessons to her this week all about the Atonement and Faith to find the power to get through any trial. I have never seen anyone that has such great faith as she does. She was so sure about it that she told us that she knew that if she did all that she could to exercize her faith and ask for the enabling power of the atonement that she could receive permission to be baptized before January 21. It was a huge testament of the simple power of faith. In 2 hours we are going to Nochixtlan for a baptism. While I was there it was a hard experience because everyone there is Catholic and never wanted to accept us. If some of you remember we found a family of kids that were the nicest kids ever. Anyways well the kids are all getting baptized today and they asked me to come back to baptize one of them. I am so excited and even though there was not a lot of success that we had there it is amazing to see now that they are being baptized and now I can see the reason I was sent there for only 1 change, to be able to find them. It has been a week where we have seen a lot of the fruits of our labor. I know that I say that a lot but the Lord is blessing us. I have tried to simply give thanks to him and I have seen the windows of heaven opened unto us with all of these blessings this week. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and that we have so much to be grateful for. The computer I am using right now is not letting me send pictures so I will send them on Monday when there is internet in the offices (hopefully) Alrighty have a great week thank you for all of your support and love!! Elder Peterson

Sorry for the Short Letter - November 19, 2016

Hello Everyone! Sorry this letter is going to be short because this morning we had a few lessons that we had to go teach and we havent had a lot of time to do everything else that we needed. But everything else is going great. I just want to share a quick experience that I had this week. At the start of the week we were looking at what we had in our area to work with and planning for it. We have 4 investigators that are on the verge of baptism but havent been able to take that step. It has been a test of patience and faith. A few months ago President Madsen put goals for the mission that have been very hard to meet. But I told my companion that it was possible even with our limited amount of time that we have to work in our area. We put our faith forward that it would all be possible and the Lord provided a way to complete those goals but also to see small steps for these 4 Investigators. WE know that it will all work out, this is the Lords work, we are working to build his kingdom, not ours. He has blessed us and there are so many experiences that I could never begin to share them all. Madai finding the courage to talk to her mom and share her testimony of why she wants to be baptized, it was amazing. Angel preparing his uncle and helping him to be ready to baptize him. Jose, wanting to do everything he can now to get married and baptized. And Pamari who is finding her testimony and always asking when she can be baptized. They are the prepared of the Lord and people who have impacted my life. I love Oaxaca, I love this mission, and I love the people here.
My Favorite Kids in the Area
Divisions with Elder Ringle we found Dominoes Pizza
I dont know where this picture came from but here is Elder Caballero and I

A Week of Travels - November 12, 2016

Hello Everyone! Well this week was our week of travels all throughout the mission with all of the Leadership Meetings and with the Training that we had to do. On Monday morning we headed out on a 10 hour bus ride to Huatulco to go do splits with them there and see how everything was going. It was a very humbling experience out there. It is still amazing to see how the branch is doing and to see that it has about 125 people going to church now. But while we were there we had about 10 lessons planned that day with a lot of investigators and less active members. I was with Elder Allman from Orem. And throughout the day each appointment fell through for us. It was a rough time walking up and down the hills just knocking on doors but then the Lord blessed us with so many people that were prepared to accept baptisms. We found 5 new people that day and each person accepted a date to be baptized. It was a great experience to see that the Lord prepares the way when we are willing to give our part. The rest of the week we were working in Salina Cruz with Elder Flores from Tamulipas and Elder Rivera from Monterrey. That was fun to see them just go out and love the people and serve them. The best part of the week though was when we got to go to the Leadership Meeting in Juchitan yesterday. President taught us the difference between administering and ministering. It was so uplifting as we slowly began to move the subject to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it applies to everyone including the missionaries here. We realized that we weren't putting a big enough focus on teaching everyone the process of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. And by everyone we specifically found out that it was the missionaries. It was a great experience to see how we can help the missionaries serving here understand how to apply this gospel in their lives to be able to receive the spirit in their work and be able to improve through all of that. Something that was mentioned in this meeting is that this gospel applies to every part of the gospel and every need that everyone has. If we have a problem with fear of the future, it is because we are not fully relying on the power of the Atonement that comes through repentance, if we are having problems in the family, it is because we are not excersizing our faith enough by reading the scriptures and praying as a family. Many times when we are searching for answers we go far and wide to the deepest doctrines of the church to be able to try to solve the problem when the solution is in the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, Faith, Repentance, Baptism, etc. The hard part about this week is that we have not been able to see any of our investigators. The only one that we saw was on Sunday when we got to stop by with Jose. He is still waiting for his papers to go through and it has been a huge trial of patience and faith. But he gave a strong testimony of why he wants to be baptized and the spirit moved us to promise him that it would be possible by the end of the year. He said that he has faith that it can happen. Madai was able to go to church this past week too. When we stopped by to make sure that she had commitments to do throughout the week we left her a chapter in the Book of Mormon. She asked us if there was more because she wanted to read more and we told her to read the ministry of Christ in the Americas. Her excitement for the gospel is contagious. We are hoping and praying that the Lord has put forth his ways so that we can complete with our purpose to declare and teach repentance and baptize converts. I am excited to be able to return to our area this week and see the miracles that the Lord has worked among his children there. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it is the only way that leads us back to his repentance and the solution to all that there is in our lives.
Visiting Tom and Dominga in Juchitan. Tom is my first convert and he is preparing to enter the temple soon. He has found a lot of his family history to take to the temple to do. He is so converted to the gospel.