Tuesday, May 27, 2014

First Letter from the MTC!!!

The District:  (left to right) Sister Kohler, Sister Mellor, Sister Tebbs, Sister Richardson, 
Elder Hagen, Elder Felix, and Elder Peery
Hi Mom and everyone else! 
Things are going really well at the MTC. So after getting escorted through everything and getting my badge and stuff, I got to meet my TWO companions. Elder Felix from South Weber, and Elder Hagen from Colorado. Felix is kind of a headstrong guy but at some points is a little weak and Hagen is pretty much an Elder Calhoun from The Best Two Years. He just needs to learn to open his ideas a little more so that we can feed off him. In my district, which is made up of 7 people including the three, are four sisters. Sister Tebbs goes to BYU and is a cheerleader. It's been pretty fun getting to be a bit of a body guard for her as she tends to get a lot of elders who flirt with her. (Guys if that's one of you remember sisters are there to work too. Also you have a job to have "an eye single to the glory of God" and not an eye single to the hotness level of a sister. Don't forget it.) Sister Richardson goes to Utah State and is one of the more on-task sisters. I'm not sure where Sister Mellor goes but she's pretty much a born leader and can sometimes be a little intimidating with her spirituality. Sister Kohler is a great companion for Sister Mellor and she goes to BYU-Idaho. She has a lot of great ideas and insights. Her cousin is Kylie Denning.
We have two teachers who are very similar to each other. Brother Corbitt is one of my favorites and he's very funny. Every time someone says something spiritual he says "It feels like getting a slice of some sweet spiritual rhubarb pie!" Everyone loves this guy. Brother Harward is about 6'10'' and played basketball for BYU. He's also a great guy.
Our zone is comprised of 2 districts including ours. The other district is comprised of all guys. Elder Pedersen (No known relation to Maddie Pedersen but it is said the same way) and Elder Hardman are the only two not going to Nashville out of the whole zone. Elder Frei, Elder Hamling, Elder Tsosie, and Elder Brown comprise the other district. All are really fun guys to hang around with.

Left to Right:  Elder Hamling, Elder Frei, Elder Brown, Elder Tsosie, Elder Pedersen, 
Elder Hardman, Sister Menlove, President Menlove

Elder Pedersen is a monster on the court as well as practically every other sport. Elder Tsosie is part Navajo and is super respectful. Elder Hardman is part of the national guard in Utah. Elder Hamling is a major mechanic guy and will be heading to BYU-Idaho after this mission. Elder Brown reminds me of one of those Hallmark Missionaries. He literally looks like the perfect guy.

People said the MTC was going to be brutally hard and that the days would seem like weeks and the weeks would seem like days. Well they were half right. In my opinion the correct word is frustrating and stressful. Companions can sometimes be hard to get along with, especially if they don't have the Spirit. One of the saddest things I noticed was how many missionaries are here because their parents told them to go rather than them choosing to go. One elder actually is here just to cause trouble and it's really sad to see him flirting with the sister missionaries and just setting a bad example.
One of the other sad things that happened was Elder Hagen's immune system dropped due to homesickness and finally was diagnosed with a bad case of strep throat. I actually probably shouldn't say that since we visited the clinic today and discovered it wasn't that but rather something similar, but it's pretty close. All elders including myself would take shifts watching him as he slept, making sure he wasn't choking on whatever was inside him. It was a great bonding experience and I'm really grateful for Elder Hardman who took him to the hospital.
I hope from this email/blog that you don't get discouraged or worrisome. I'm learning a lot in the MTC but mostly on how to be a leader. With Elder Hagen being sick, I've had to step it up a little and it has been wonderful feeling the Spirit strong as I teach. I hope the same feeling comes from Elder Felix.
The food is fantastic actually. While some people hate fried food, it's pretty much one of my favorite things. First night in we had fried chicken which was amazing. No real complaints there.
So for some reason my camera doesn't connect with this computer so no pictures can come through. It is super annoying. Also the "wifi" option doesn't really work since you can't connect.
Advice for anyone thinking or serving: If you have thought about serving but have seen blogs, emails, videos, Facebook groups, (you get the picture), saying "The MTC was hard and it was brutal! I never should have served! Why did I go?" The sisters have said it best. "You get out what you put in. If you are willing to work and be obedient, the Lord will not only bless you, but give you the comfort you need to progress." Only you and the Lord know if you are to serve. But it is up to you if you want to join the cause. If you do, just remember you have to commit. Don't forget that feeling you had when you started. One of the sisters had thoughts about quitting and just going home during the first week. But honestly she stopped thinking about herself and just went for it. She said since then she hasn't felt homesick and is excited to go to Nashville.
Another huge piece of advice is that everyone at some point misses home or some part of being away from the mission and that's okay, but it's important to focus on the work and commit yourself to the Lord. That's why we're here.
Advice for people with calls and prepping to head to the MTC: Brace yourselves. The adversary is strong and knows your weaknesses. He will combat you with all the forces imaginable. The couple of weeks before my mission were the hardest. But don't let that discourage you. The harder he pushes you and tempts you, just means the more important you are to the Lord's work. The field is large and the workers are few. Will you join the cause? Then commit yourselves today to get to work. Study hard Preach My Gospel and you should survive the first few days. But be prepared for long hours and exhaustion. However the Spirit will be there (as long as you have it) to support you. Also don't forget you are among worthy (hopefully) priesthood holders. In the past few days I've been the elder to get blessings from, giving blessings of healing to Elder Hagen and also of comfort to Sister Kohler.
I don't know how long it will be before I figure out how to send pictures but one thing is for sure. I'm having a lot of fun. Thank you so much for all the letters I received. I'd love to get some more if possible. There's so much more I could talk about but I feel that the Spirit wanted me to just give you all this advice rather than just talk about how "hard" it is. It's only hard if you make it hard. To all my friends back home in Idaho, Virginia, and all other places, I love you all and would love to hear from you. To everyone preparing to serve or even thinking about it I echo what I said earlier. Will you join in our crusade against the powers of the adversary? The Lord has need of workers and I can't even imagine the blessings he will pour out upon his helpers when the work is finished. If you have that desire, then suit up (or dress up). Love you all!
Elder Peery

Friday, May 23, 2014


VERY early Monday, May 19, 2014, Elder Peery (and his parental unit) flew from Reagan National Airport -- with a quick connection through Phoenix -- and on to Salt Lake City on US Airways.  We had a nice lunch at Hires Big H near Trolley Square, and then ran a few errands.  Monday evening, we spent time with Doug and Amber Jensen's family (Mark's brother) and had a great pizza dinner together.

On Tuesday morning, May 20th, Elder Peery attended a session in the beautiful Salt Lake City Temple with  his "parental unit."  It was a beautiful morning in the temple indeed!!!

After attending the temple, we treated Andrew to a special luncheon at the Garden Restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial building--across the street from the temple.  We also visited the Relief Society Building and Deseret Book Store.

That afternoon, our dear Asheville, NC friend, Nick Price, gave Elder Peery his "missionary haircut" in Midvale, Utah.  Nick is in Barber School and did an awesome job on Andrew's hair.  
It was great seeing him!

Dinner Tuesday evening was with Shirlene and Paul Dymock's family (Mark's sister)
at the Chuck-a-Rama in Orem, Utah.  It was great seeing everyone!!!

Where did Elder Peery want to have his "last" meal before entering the MTC?
At In-n-Out Burger, of course!!!  
Special thanks to our dear friend, Kim Josephson and her son, Carter, for
taking time to join us for a quick lunch!!!  Such fun!

Elder Peery was assigned to report to the MTC (Missionary Training Center)
in Provo, Utah at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, 2014.
We took this photo from the Provo Temple parking lot, which overlooks
the MTC in the background, just before dropping him off!
He was calm, yet eager, and very ready to begin his
full-time service as the Lord's missionary, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ
for the next two years!!!

The drop-off procedure is well-organized at the MTC.  We pulled up and were given exact parking directions.  Andrew's "host" missionary warmly greeted him and helped him with his luggage.  The host will be serving in Japan for his mission and was such a nice young man.  The two of them trotted off happily together, and Andrew's parental unit, gratefully and cheerfully drove away, knowing that Andrew is safely in the Hands of the Lord.  No sadness---just pure joy!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Elder Peery's Mission Farewell

C.T.R.  -- Choose the Right

The Power of the Atonement

During the preparation for this talk I went on a short beach trip with two of my best friends. One of my friend’s parents owns a beach house in Delaware where he and his family frequently visit. On the first day we were there we all decided to go down to the beach. As you probably could tell by the weather we’ve been having recently, the weather in Delaware wasn’t exactly Californian in any way shape or form. But, being macho men, we braved the waters of the cold Atlantic. As cold as the waters were, we were having the time of our lives. We realized that the more we got drenched in water, the more we were able to get used to the frigid cold. One of the things I also began to notice however was that, as we got deeper into the ocean, the colder it would get. Also the waves would get a little higher till finally they would come up to chest level causing us to shiver due to the freezing temperatures of the water. One thing I began to notice as well was that every time a wave hit, it would suck the sand from under our feet causing us to stumble occasionally. We eventually grew tired of freezing to death, and ventured along the boardwalk till we finally returned home later that evening.
In the most recent General Conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen said “More concerning than the prophesied earthquakes and wars are the spiritual whirlwinds that can uproot you from your spiritual foundations and land your spirit in places you never imagined possible, sometimes with your barely noticing that you have been moved. The worst whirlwinds are the temptations of the adversary. Sin has always been part of the world, but it has never been so accessible, insatiable, and acceptable. There is, of course, a powerful force that will subdue the whirlwinds of sin. It is called repentance.”
Repentance has never been easy, but the reward has always been more beneficial than the alternative. In Mosiah 27 of the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger states in verse 29: “My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.”  We learn from Alma as well as many of the other prophets, that true repentance, comes through forgiveness of Christ, who has the power to forgive since he atoned for the sins of the world through his sacrifice.
         As a former Elders Quorum Teacher, my old bishopric, as well as some of the men I would teach asked me a lot of tough questions. I would have to constantly be preparing answers to things I didn’t know so well. When studying the Atonement of Christ, I read over some of the teachings of President Joseph Fielding Smith. From this knowledge, I understood a few things that I would like to share with you all. It is my hope that with this added knowledge, you will begin to be more appreciative of not only the power of the Atonement, but also our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness.
One of the many opinions of my non-member friends is that Adam’s transgression was a terrible thing and that if it had not happened, we would already have achieved eternal life by obeying Heavenly Father’s simple commandment of not partaking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. While that is a good thought, we often forget that Heavenly Father gave unto them the commandment that they should multiply. Had Adam and Eve not partaken, they would have had no posterity, and the great commandment given to them by the Lord would not have been fulfilled.
President Joseph Fielding Smith said “It is most natural and just that he who commits the wrong should pay the penalty-meaning atone for his wrongdoing. Therefore, when Adam was the transgressor of the law, justice demanded that he, and none else, should answer for the sin and pay the penalty with his life. But Adam, in breaking the law, himself became subject to the curse, and being under the curse could not atone, or undo what he had done. Neither could his children, for they also were under the curse, and it required one who was not subject to the curse to atone for that original sin. Moreover, since we were all under the curse, we were also powerless to atone for our individual sins.” So essentially it had to take someone who was free from sin to atone for the sins of not just Adam, but for the world. It became necessary for Heavenly Father to send his Only Begotten Son, who was free from sin, to atone for the sins of the world as well as Adam’s transgression, which justice demanded should be done. By sacrificing himself, he redeemed us from the fall and from our sins, on condition of repentance.
The next point I want to make involves my first story and its meaning. To discover the need for repentance we need to first recognize the sin. The analogy to ocean waves to me was a perfect example.  As I said in the beginning, the waters of the Atlantic were freezing the second we stuck our feet in. All three of us immediately decided to not go in for fear of catching hypothermia. However, the more we stuck our feet in and the deeper we got, the more used to the waters we became. However every time we went deeper, the same cold would hit another level of our bodies. As we got closer, the sand would also start to pull with the waves and sometimes we’d lose our balance. The adversary is a very strategic enemy, yet from the beginning we’ve learned that he is not stronger than our Heavenly Father. However he is stronger if we allow ourselves to be beaten by him. For most of us, when we first witness sin we are disgusted, appalled, and in most cases just avoid it all together. However the curious ones go in a little deeper and get used to it. Bad language, drinking, drugs, and other diseases start to become natural habits as you continue to get deeper. Until finally the strong foundation beneath your feet pulls away and the waves of sorrow and tribulation hit you like a ton of bricks. And the people on the shores behind you watch and hope you can stand up again. While the analogy is brutal the truth is real.
One of the things many people believe is that they are too far away from coming back so they continue down the path of sorrow. One of those people used to be me. About a year and a few months ago I was going through one of the hardest times of my life. For those of you who knew me then, you witnessed a good chunk of it. After finally having enough, I stopped going to church and I cut off contact with many good people. As I lived for the next few months in the basement of my uncle’s house, I realized I had hit my rock bottom. One night while getting into my bed I suddenly felt a wave of emotion come over me. I decided to do something I had not done in many many months. I prayed. To quote one of my friends, “It was like you were slapped in the face by God.” I felt a wave of emotion come unto me and I immediately figured out what was going on. In an ironic twist of events, my uncle and his son had just finished reading Mosiah 27, which is the conversion story of Alma the Younger. I immediately remembered verse 14 which reads: “And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.”
That day I started the repentance process, which brings up my previous point. Repentance is never easy. It is a constant battle with trying to do good, while fighting the urge to do evil. But while the adversary has many tactics and traps, we have access to many allies. Worthy priesthood holders have the ability to help protect us from the adversary through the might of the priesthood. But at the same time, we must be seeking for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father.
We must always remember that we have the ability to be forgiven and not suffer the pain of sin. We also should remember that through Christ’s atoning sacrifice we can be forgiven. The alternative is not that pretty. President Joseph Fielding Smith said “I wish we could impress this fact upon the minds of every member of this Church: His great suffering occurred before he ever went to the cross. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane, so the scriptures tell us, that blood oozed from every pore of his body; and in the extreme agony of his soul, he cried to his Father. O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
Because we have the ability to be forgiven we have the opportunity to return to our Heavenly Father and receive the greatest of all gifts, which is eternal life. I cannot stress enough however that as we continue on in this mortal life we will be constantly fought, despised, ridiculed, and mocked by others. We may be brought to believe that in our weakened state, we cannot hope to combat the adversary. However as many prophets have said, “…Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness. And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
Brothers and sisters let us not allow ourselves to be overtaken by the sins of the world. I testify that if we stay strong, steadfast and immovable on a firm foundation, we can always combat the adversary. Let us always remember that because of the Atonement we can always be forgiven. As long as we are willing to do the work, Heavenly Father will continually bless our lives. I know that this is His plan of happiness and I am so grateful for the ability to teach the message of the restored gospel. I bear my testimony that this church is true and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
With my "brother" cousins at my house right before going to church
(Left to Right:  Matthew Anderson, Me, and Michael Anderson)

(Left to right:  Michael, Aunt Susan, Mark, Mom, Me, President Wheatley, Matthew -- Uncle Jeremiah kindly took our photo, but he was there, too!) 
After Sacrament Meeting, we went to the Oakton Stake Center and met with President Wheatley, who set me apart to serve as a full-time missionary.  It was amazing!   I was so grateful to Aunt Susan and Uncle Jeremiah, Michael and Matthew for driving 8 hours just to come hear me speak in church and to be there when I was set apart.  They had to turn around and drive all the way home afterwards.  I love you guys!

This is the Missionary Map of all the missionaries serving around the globe from our stake.  You can see how excited I am to point to MY mission--the Tennessee Nashville Mission!

Right outside President Wheatley's office is this amazing painting of two missionaries.  That will be me very soon!  I can't wait!