Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 4 in the Field: Smith Springs Ward is the BEST!

Tennessee Titans Football Stadium

To start off with I'd like to thank the people who have emailed me this week. It's been great to hear from the regulars and even better to get those surprise emails you'd never guess you'd get. I'm very grateful for those who email every week. They make this time even better. 

I don't want to start any fights, but the Smith Springs Ward is probably the best ward I've ever seen--especially for missionary work. These people have started inviting friends over to their homes to be taught by missionaries. Their bravery and courage is something that I'm amazed to see. People love the ward. They love coming to church and helping the less actives. It's been great to see a ward move as one even if they have to split repeatedly. The ward mission leader Brother Hernandez is amazingly good at what he does and he can get everyone passionate about serving others. Bishop Foote is also amazing in that he is a great example for members. The people are great, the teachers are great, and just the level of Spirit is amazing. If I were to be a part of any ward in 2 years, I hope I can come back to this one. We'll see how other wards in this mission can compete with this one.

Investigators are progressing but some faster than others. Not much I can really say about them other than we may see a baptism in the next two weeks. This one investigator has told not only he bishop and us he wants to be baptized, but even the stake president. I'm excited for him and I hope that he will accept the invitation to come unto Christ.

Photo taken near the Cumberland Branch.

So, The Book of Mormon Musical is coming to Nashville this month and already people have been mistaking us for cast members, singing songs from the show, or even asking what we really believe prior to getting tickets. It will certainly be an interesting time to be in Nashville the next few months. We are expecting a mixture of mockery mixed with real questions. It should be good.

From what I've observed, some people are noticing so much change in their world today. They are seeing their churches move away from the core beliefs that Christ created. They are beginning to search for truth which is exactly what Spencer W. Kimball envisioned for the South. He made a very profound statement when he stated his vision for the south which is what we missionaries recite daily. I will do my best to remember as I post it now:

"Make no small plans, they have no magic to stir men's souls. This is the vision I have for the south. I believe that one day, the south will baptize more people into the church than all other English speaking missions in the world together. There are great hosts of marvelous Baptists, members of the Church of Christ, Methodists, and Catholics, who are honorable people, and have faith in The Lord Jesus Christ and love him. As they see their church veering off to the right or to the left of those basic teachings, they will begin to search for truth. And as pivotal teachers come into the church and have influence, we will see the time when we will baptized hundreds and thousands, tens of thousands. In your day you will see a million members of the church in the south. There will be temples plural in the south states. What a great call you have to serve these marvelous people. The missionaries love the south. We are making great strides and expect to continue." - President Spencer W. Kimball and Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone.

We continue to expect miracles as we progress in the area, though people mock us and call us names, we remain strong. Thank you for your prayers and support. I always appreciate them. Love you all.

"We are making great strides and expect to continue."

Elder Peery

"And the Lord caused it to rain for forty days…"
Huge storm we got caught in.  WE…GOT…SOAKED!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 3 in the Field: Into The Deep End

Things have been really hectic this week. My trainer, Elder Leavitt, decided to throw me into the deep end on Tuesday. What was really cool was that for the most part things went pretty well. We were able to make a lot of appointments and meet a lot of people. What's more cool was that every time I didn't know what to do or if I was really upset, a random, and I mean random, person would come up and talk to us. We ended up talking to several random people including a security guard from Salt Lake. In my hardest moment, an email from a good friend appeared on my iPad. 

Random picture in Nashville

For the amount of bad stuff that happened this week we had a couple good things happen. Several of our investigators have been progressing quickly. We are nearing our area goal of 6 baptisms in 6 weeks with already 2 down and 3-5 scheduled for the upcoming weeks. We are very excited as some of our own investigators are getting closer to that point as well.

Another random picture in Nashville

Two days ago was my first Saturday without having to attend a baptism. We went out tracting in an area where we had received a referral. After teaching the people and handing out a Book of Mormon, we asked if there was anyone they knew who could use a message about Christ. They referred us to their neighbors around the area. This happened 5 times. We ended up teaching and placing 6 Book of Mormons in the space of 30 minutes. This resulted with 5 new investigators and several other referrals. It was super fun to get a spot of success from a few weeks of nothing.

Elder Leavitt is fixing a bike for a sister missionary.

Several people in the Smith Springs ward have come up to me saying they remember my parents. Sister Clark even came up to me showing me a picture of myself as a baby. On top of that Brother Knott who is the Elders Quorum teacher called me out in class saying I was the cutest baby he had ever seen followed by the question "Where did it go?" It's been fun seeing people I have absolutely no recollection of. 

This is the ward building where I am serving.
This is ALSO the same building where my parents attended church when I was just a baby.

That's pretty much everything that has happened this week. I'm going on exchanges with Elder Moeller today while Elder Perry is going with Elder Leavitt. This should be lots of fun! 

I appreciate all the prayers and support I've received these past few days. They've been a big booster. Please continue writing me and thank you for your prayers.

Elder Peery

Write to me at:
Elder Andrew Gordon Peery
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 Westpark Drive Suite 190
Brentwood, TN 37027

Email address:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Week 2 in the Field: Adventures in Antioch!

Adventures in Antioch!

So first off my email system has been really messed up today. A lot of people who have been trying to email me have ended up in the Spam and Junk folders.  Thanks to everyone for writing me. 

Things have been a little frustrating this week. It started off fantastic with one of our investigators, whom I will call "Kyle", had been progressing rapidly. In one lesson we taught him 10 principles which he understood completely. We were overjoyed when he heartily agreed to attend a baptism this past Saturday. (Kyle also has two killer dogs who seem to adore me more than Elder Leavitt. They are super cute killer creatures.)

You can only imagine how devastated we were when not just Kyle, but 3 other progressing investigators didn't show up not only at the baptism, but church as well. Some of them had even texted us asking where the church was so that they wouldn't miss it. It wasn't the best day in the world that's for sure.

This past week has also been trying for us in that we've been mocked, insulted, cussed at, flipped off, and in some cases threatened. I will have to admit it's been pretty scary to the point that even knocking on doors has been slightly nerve wracking. Our patience as well as our endurance and tolerance have been put to the limit and we have been constantly praying for help. One of the funnier cases was when we went to this ice cream place with our Ward Mission Leader and got the dirtiest of looks. Within a few minutes we cleared the room that was full of people just by our presence. I even heard some of the customers say "D*** Mormons." So if you ever want someone to clear out a place, just ask the missionaries. They can help.

Some good things came out of this week however. We discovered a couple new investigators who were in an apartment complex of one of our progressing investigators. One had come outside her apartment and said "Why don't you boys knock on my door?" We answered "Because we've been kicked out of this complex twice for door knocking." She replied "Well that doesn't make sense cause they let in everyone else! Jehovah Witnesses, the people who leave those ads in your screen door, and even salesman. But I guess heaven forbid two white boys talkin' 'bout Jesus!" We will hopefully be seeing this lady this week and according to her she will fight off security if they come and try to take us away.

I've been playing a lot of basketball with other elders in the zone. It's been very fun to get back on the court and according to the other elders, I'm a great shot from beyond the arc. "Quick-trigger" is back in action.  Haha.

I've also been playing a lot of musical numbers with Elder Leavitt. We recently started talking with another member from our ward who played with country greats and he agreed to join in on making an album with us in 3 weeks. Be on the lookout for that haha. But actually I am very happy to have a guitar in my hands again.

Spiritual Time! As I've said this week has been brutal. But at the same time I have never been more supported. In some cases I have actually felt angels around me. Here's a good example that I plan on telling my mission president. This past Saturday at the baptism I volunteered to play a little prelude music on piano. So I removed my suit jacket and started playing some easy stuff. When we were about to began I was about to take my seat when Elder Leavitt whispered "What are you doing? You're supposed to be the pianist!" I looked at the list of songs and knew I was in trouble. 

The opening hymn was a song I had only heard once or twice and have never played before. Uttering a small prayer, I slowly placed my hands on the keys. I want to point out again that I was not wearing my suit coat and that I was wearing a short sleeved white shirt. No sooner as I had placed my hands on the keys that I felt two hands lightly grab my wrists. I allowed my hands to go where they were prompted and I started playing. I didn't ace the song but I got about 80% correct. It was a miracle. I had never before played an instrument by the spirit and it was something very unique and amazing. When I finished I felt an overwhelming feeling as if to say "Well done." I thought that was pretty cool.

So far I have met a couple families who remember my parents back when they lived in the Nashville 3rd Ward 20 years ago. That ward was at the Haywood Lane building which is the current building in which the Smith Springs Ward is located. It also happens to be my ward. 

I have met my mother's former visiting teacher, Estella Clark, her daughter Danielle, who was my first babysitter, Brother Knott, The Lifferths, The Furnells, and the Inschos. It's been a major blessing to be back at the very ward building I was blessed in as a baby. A lot of people have been getting more active by the presence of the new and eager elder and have been giving us referrals. Bishop Foote couldn't be happier with all the baptisms the 3 sets of missionaries have been working on. I expect great things this transfer as approximately 4-5 people have been scheduled for baptism!

Thank you for your prayers and support.  I enjoy your letters and emails.

Elder Peery

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 1: Welcome Home to Nashville!

Howdy!! It's been crazy since my last email! 

To first close off my experience in the MTC, let me just say that the last week rolled by quickly. Elder Hagen recovered quickly, but we were all very grateful that we were headed to Tennessee. On the last Tuesday I joined the MTC choir in singing Hope of Israel for Russell M. Nelson who would later speak to us. Apparently my face was broadcasted to every MTC in the world. It was a good thing I told one of my companions who was standing near me to shave. But yeah Elder Nelson was fantastic. He quoted himself which was pretty awesome. Also during my last week I got to meet Brother Christiansen (not sure if that's spelled right) who was the same Elder Christiansen in The District II. That was pretty sweet. But then finally it was time to leave. As we said goodbye to Elder Pedersen (we decided that if he and Elder Hamling came up to BYUI we would all be roommates) and Elder Hardman at 3:30am, we boarded the bus to the SLC Airport.

When we landed in Nashville on Monday we got to meet the President and his wife. President Andersen is an awesome guy who's really strong spiritually. He kinda looks like a Mormon Elijah Wood too. We got to meet the three AP's who were all excited we were there. On Tuesday I went to the stake building where I was assigned my trainer, Elder Leavitt who is from Provo area.

Elder Leavitt and myself meeting for the first time

He's an awesome guy who has the voice of an angel. We've been teaching a lot of people and he constantly says how grateful he is to have an eager companion. We currently are teaching around he city of Antioch which is cool cause in Biblical times that's the location (in the old world of course) where disciples were first called Christians! But yeah you get a little bit of everything from the stuck up rich people to the humble poor. It's been great teaching a bit of both. 

Here's a few pictures of what I've seen/been doing.

Walking in Nashville

The Nashville temple at a whopping two stories high

All the green!! All the hills!

The apartment. Beds are basically from where I'm taking the picture.

Traveling by bus, bike, car, and walking!

Elder Leavitt and I have been performing musical numbers this past week. He sings and I play a guitar we borrowed from a member of the Nashville Tribute Band. It's been really sweet and even President was impressed. Sister Andersen posted the video to her Facebook.

But yeah I've also been amazed how many people I've heard have been reading this stuff. Didn't think that many people would care! I don't really have anything that spiritual to share other than maybe "humility is the key to inspiration" (for those of you who know where that's from you're awesome) and that literally the people who are most likely to accept and retain the gospel are those who are continually searching for answers. I've taught people here who have so much guilt in their hearts. It's been amazing getting to see their faces when they hear their questions answered. 

One last thing I wanted to add. For all members in the church that are reading this, guess what? Your mission (whether or not you served) is not over. The Lord is hastening his work and the best type of missionaries are those who have a strong foothold in the gospel. Go out and talk to your friends! Invite them into your homes to teach them! One of the most common things I've heard is that most non members really don't know what we believe because we keep a lot of what we know secret! We are not a secret church! Go for it! 

And mom to answer your questions:

1. How are you doing?  Doing great. Could use a tighter belt cause I've lost a lot of weight.
2. Where are you?  What area/ward?  Antioch, TN, Nashville Stake, Smith Springs Ward.
3. Who is your companion?  Elder Leavitt.
4. Where are you living?  What is it like?  Apartment complex, can't tell you really.
5. Should I send care packages to your apartment or to the mission home? Always to the mission home.
6. Did you receive your box of bedding and stuff AND your bicycle?  Yes, thank you.
7. Did you receive your new watch?  Yes, thank you so much.
8. Do you need me to send you anything else?  Other than maybe a belt not really. Thanks!