Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adventures in Antioch: Part 8

First off, I’d like to apologize for the lateness of this email. I am
currently on exchange with Elder Threet and had to take over my area
for the day.  This means I’m currently in charge of Smith Springs B area,
which involves a lot of scheduling and phone calls and more scheduling
and so forth.   Hence the delay in writing.

It has been good to hear from the regulars again this week and some new
ones, too.  Thank you so much for keeping in touch!

So this week was an adventure.

First of all, we did some pretty awesome tracting. We met this guy who
looked like he was about to slam the door in our face. However, after
telling him we were Mormons he was much more relaxed. Turns out
missionaries from other faiths have also been contacting local folks
and the locals get confused.

The guy was super cool though. He’s a Christian rapper and goes by Mr. Cross.
He was really impressed with what we do and gave us T-shirts which say
"radical nation."  They’re pretty sweet.

I also recently discovered that the apartment complex where I lived
as a baby is in my area.   Getting to Massman Manor was a bit of a hike,
but we decided to do some tracting over there. Unfortunately the entire place
was pretty much overrun with non-Christians from foreign lands, and a lot
of other people who weren’t very interested. It was still pretty cool
to check out.
Massman Manor Apartments, where I lived with my parents as a baby.

Tracting at Massman Manor.  My parents used to live on the 3rd floor.

All our investigators are progressing well. It’s pretty awesome to see
them getting closer to baptism. One of our investigators who is
getting baptized next Saturday is super excited to have his older
brother baptize him.

I’ve recently been striving to develop more Christlike attributes. One thing I
carried with me from BYU-Idaho was just caring for the people. So I
made a personal challenge of doing something nice for at least three
people per day--simple things like giving sincere compliments and
assisting with setting things up.

For example, we had a bus driver who was kind of elderly and didn’t
hear very well. He would often miss our stop, or if we pulled the cord a few
blocks early, would just stop there. This didn’t really help us. We
have heard many other passengers complain about him too--even my
companion. One day when we got that driver, I could tell my companion
was dreading having to yell for him to stop at the correct stop. All
of a sudden, a poem President Monson quotes a lot came into my mind:

I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.

With this prompting, I leaned over and said “Whatever happens, just
get off the bus. Don’t say a thing. Even if he misses our stop by a
long shot or stops too short.” Then I pulled the cord and
approached the driver. “How has your day been?” I said, loud enough so
he could hear. He kind of jerked up in surprise and said something along
the lines of “Pretty good.” I then pointed to the stop ahead saying
“If you could let us off at the stop up there that’d be great.”

“Alrighty then,” he replied. As we got off the bus at the correct stop
I could tell my companion was a little surprised. With a big smile, I
waved to the driver who to my surprise smiled and waved back. Since
that day, that driver has always talked to me and laughed with me. He
has never missed our stop again.

Elder Leavitt was pretty surprised at the turn around. But for me it
almost seems natural. Jesus Christ commanded His apostles to love one
another as He had loved them. Why should we not do the same today?
When someone takes the time to express interest or care for someone
else it shows that Christlike attitude. As Christians, it is our duty
to love and serve others. When we make it a part of our day to listen
and act on promptings to do good we can feel Christ’s love and care.

When you do these things, I challenge you to see how you feel
afterwards. President Monson said “If we truly listen, we may hear
that voice from far away say to us, as it spoke to another, ‘Well
done, thou good and faithful servant.”

I hope all of you are doing well. I don’t get to hear from as many
people as I’d like to, but I can understand busy schedules.

I’ve noticed that my friend, Elder Moffitt, is putting scriptures in his blog
so here are TWO of my favorites:
Alma 37:6-7 and 1st Corinthians 10:13

Thank you again for all your support and prayers.  We appreciate it.
So long for now,

Elder Peery

More pictures below:
Cell tower with a bunch of crows on it.

Beautiful day in Tennessee -- a local "mega" church in the background.

Elder Leavitt's birthday celebration at the Catherine's.

Even serious missionaries can have fun, silly birthday celebrations!
Happy Birthday, Elder Leavitt!

Elder Leavitt is learning to play guitar!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 7 in the Field: Smith Springs Ward Missionary Work Blows Up! : )

Nazarene Church that got struck by lightening 6 weeks ago. Massive destruction.
It makes me happy to hear that there are so many people reading my blog. It would appear that I get more attention when I'm on my mission than when I was home. Thanks everyone!  (Still looking forward to hearing from more Idaho friends!)

So remember how I kept saying Smith Springs has the capability to blow up (in a good way)? Well, it blew up! This past week we ended up with 8 progressing investigators including one with a baptismal date. As excited as I'm sure you all are, I'll be saving that story for a little later. 

Elder Leavitt arm wrestling with one of our investigators

Monday was the last Pday in the area for Elder Perry. We decided to all go downtown and shop for boots. I believe a picture of us boot shopping might've been in the last post. Elder Leavitt, Elder Moeller, and Elder Perry all bought boots while I decided to save my own money purely cause I don't/cannot wear boots for two years. But it was pretty entertaining to see these elders gain their man badge by purchasing a pair of Country boots.

Tuesday was kinda sad. Elder Loveless, Elder Perry, Sister Ellis, and Sister Larsen were transferred or rather  "...the Spirit of The Lord has called (them) another way;" (Alma 22:4). Also one of the Hermanas from Providencia Ward was transferred whose name was Hermana Holman. She and I had performed a musical number last Sunday with myself on piano and her singing "Where Can I Turn For Peace" in Spanish. It was a lot of fun, but I'm also happy to meet the new missionaries: Elder Byner, Elder Tomlinson, Elder Threet, Sister Johnson (one of the many), and Sister Cook. It was a fun district meeting on Wednesday.

Thursday was the day everything blew up. We had a pretty stacked day. Even though our first appointment cancelled on us, we were determined to have an awesome day. After lunch, we met someone who was quite possibly the coolest person I've ever met. "K" was an investigator that Elder Leavitt and his past companion Elder Ackroyd contacted a while back. She was from Ireland and had an incredibly strong accent. (Including using sentences like "I've talked with me mates..." and "I be hearing things..."). It was so great cause it brought me back to those days when I helped tech the show, "Dancing at Lughnasa" at BYU-Idaho. But the problem was we couldn't track her down. One day while I was on the exchange with Elder Moeller, he and Elder Perry ran into her again and were able to schedule an appointment for this past Thursday. When I found out that we had an appointment I could barely contain my excitement. 

Finally when we met with her she was everything amazing and more. On the outside of the door she had a note which read something along the lines of "Sir Elders, I be home. Please come in." She had read the pamphlets and even some of the Book of Mormon and she had a lot of great questions. After having a great lesson, she wanted us to come back he next day to talk to her more about Joseph Smith. We also found out so many cool things like how she has toured with Skillet and is friends with many other metal bands. 

When we came back the next day we were ready for the second greatest lesson ever. We walked up the stairs with great excitement (myself almost tripping a couple times) until we got to the door. There was another note on the door but not nearly as happy. I have sent a photo with the actual note which hopefully should be posted after this if my mother can do it.

K's note

We were heartbroken. Both of us didn't say a word as we climbed back into the car. It was a full 180 from the past lesson and it was hard for us to believe that one of our best investigators could be turned so quickly. It hurt, but we left a reply saying something along the lines of "We are grateful for the time you spent with us and respect your decision. We hope you continue to read the Book of Mormon because we know how much it has blessed our life." There was more but I can't remember it all. We took the pamphlets but left the book and also placed The Testimony of Joseph Smith on top of it. What happened to those two things we do not know, but we hope the best for her. In an ironic turn of events we had just taught a lesson to the Clark's and Danielle about enduring to the end, quoting D&C 121.

The aftermath of the incident with K

BUT back to Thursday, after K, we saw the Elson family. We have been working with their son, David, who's 12 about getting baptized. Finally we told him that we were thinking about holding a baptism on August 9th and asked him if he wanted to be baptized then and he said something along the lines of "It's gonna happen anyways." A few days later, with his parents agreed, it was announced formally in Priesthood meeting that he would be baptized then. The bishop announced the baptism during sacrament meeting, but after talking with him afterwards he did say he wanted to. 

We've also been working with a great family who has said they really appreciate us coming and talking with them about the gospel. Though a lot of things have been difficult to accept, they are working through it and are progressing really well. 

That's pretty much everything that happened this week. There are a lot of cool things going on and it will be fun to see what happens next. As for my bible study update, I am trying to power through Leviticus but it's hard with the endless chapters on sacrificing animals and other ordinances.

There's a pretty cool Mormon message we have been using in our teaching. When you have the time, look up the Mormon message titled "Testimony of the Book of Mormon" or something like that. Elder Holland bears this amazingly powerful testimony on it. Good stuff.

Thanks for the prayers,

Elder Peery
Sweet sunset on Anderson street

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Week 6 in the Field: More Adventures in Antioch

Downtown Music City -- Nashville, Tennessee

Thanks to the people who sent many emails saying how worried they were that I was going through a rough time last week. And while I am very grateful, just know that I am not close to depression or any of the things people were worried about.The major depression that I've gone through in my life so far has mostly happened before my mission ever started. Elder Leavitt and I are working hard and doing fine! But once again I do appreciate all those emails, cards, letter, and prayers. Keep it up!

This week has been pretty hard physically and mentally. If you ever look at the layout of
the area I'm in (in Antioch, Tennessee) you will see that there are plenty of hills,
especially on Anderson St. where we do a lot of biking. While we didn't have a lot of
lessons, we made up for it greatly with some new investigators. But let's just review
the week.

Elder Leavitt and I do a ton of biking. 

On Monday after emailing, I went with a bunch of other missionaries to play racquetball and other sports with President Anderson and the AP's (Elder Tagaloa, Elder Byington, and Elder Steiner).  President destroyed everyone in racquetball including some of the elders who had played for many years. The closest score I heard was 15-7. I was able to beat President at walleyball (volleyball with walls) with him accompanied by Elder Spencer (a Spanish elder) and myself accompanied by Elder Byington. 

On Tuesday I went on exchanges with Zone Leader Elder Loveless. He was super sweet, and while on the exchange, he and I committed one of their investigators to baptism in August. It was pretty amazing to get to see someone make that decision. The ZL's have continued teaching him and I have no idea if he's still interested. I haven't seen him at church yet either.

On Wednesday I taught a training session for the first time in district meeting. It was loosely based on talking to everyone and I used President Monson's talk about how love is the essence of he gospel. Didn't get too much feedback, but people seemed to enjoy it. It was also the last district meeting before transfers, and it was kind of sad to say goodbye to people because we didn't know when we'd see each other again.

We had a super sweet dinner with the Clarks on Thursday. 

Elder Leavitt and I have been working harder and harder with one of our investigators who is a personal trainer. He enjoys what we teach but he's having a hard time keeping his commitments. Finally during one of the lessons, Elder Leavitt came up with the idea of him giving us a ride to church. 

Though we were 20 minutes late, we got him to church and he really enjoyed it. He told us this was the first time he'd been to a church in many many years and that if his friends and family could see him now, they'd give us a standing ovation. He said he'd come back next Sunday. 

We have also been working hard with a family who recently moved here from Shelbyville. A few nights ago we asked if they wanted to be baptized and they said maybe. I'm pretty confident that if we can continue to get them to church that they will feel the peace and love the gospel of Jesus Christ has to offer. We have many families anxious to meet them and other investigators.  Like I said before we have an amazing ward. 

The result of transfers this week:
  • Elder Leavitt and I are staying in Smith Springs B. 
  • Sister Cotton is staying while Sister Larsen is going to follow up train Sister Tebbs (from my MTC district) 
  • Sister Daines is staying while Sister Ellis is going 
  • Elder Moeller is staying while Elder Perry is going 
  • Elder Harris is staying as a ZL while Elder Loveless is going to train a newbie as a DL 

I'm not sure how much longer I'll be in Smith Springs ward but I hope it'll be as long as possible.

Oh yeah I also read the entire Book of Mormon in less than one transfer. I'm beginning to study the Old Testament so that I can say I've read the entire Bible. I encourage you all to study Ether 12.

I'm grateful for all letters and prayers and hope to hear from more people. 
Elder Peery

Contact me at:
Elder Andrew Peery
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 Westpark Drive, Suite 190
Brentwood, TN 37027-5010

Here are a few more pictures:

Elder Leavitt wanted to go shopping for boots today.

I got a haircut.

Davidson County Courthouse

Beautiful sunset in Tennessee!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 5 in the Field: Please pray for us. This week was really hard.

Sooo I'm not going to sugar coat it. This week was really hard. Not just for me but for everyone in the district.

On Tuesday my companion, Elder Leavitt, being a district leader, went to a leadership training meeting where an area authority gave a jaw dropping training on leadership. According to him it was the best training he had ever seen. What did I do? Tracting. 4 hours of tracting from about noon till 4 o'clock in record high temperatures for Tennessee. It was miserable, but we did not complain. I was among a tri-panionship consisting of Elder Peterson, a blonde Elder Calhoun type guy who was not afraid of anything or anyone, and Elder Brown, one of my good friends from the MTC whose picture is in one of my blog entries.  He is a super awesome guy, and I would love to be paired up with him. But yeah the entire day for me was pretty tiring being outside in 105+ weather.

Wednesday was no better. After district meeting we went to teach this Christian who "has found her Israelite/Hebrew roots." So basically she was a Jewish Christian. Her question was why we celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday versus Saturday. My companion had gone off on his own and had collected scriptures from the New Testament on how the Apostles broke bread on the first day of the week relating that to the Sabbath. She would tear each scripture apart by showing what those scriptures really meant as shown in the Old Testament. The two would go at it for about an hour with me staying out of the scramble. I felt the Spirit leave the room as the argument continued.

On Friday, my companion wanted to speak with the other area in our district who have been struggling greatly this transfer. I have never seen a room more filled with depression on my mission than in that room. These two sets of missionaries were so defeated that they could barely answer questions on why the area wasn't doing well. My companion and I explained the purposes of having a good attitude and how it can affect not just the area, but the missionaries. Whatever we said may have helped because both sets had investigators at church that Sunday.

Center for Visual Arts -- in Nashville

The missionaries in my district have said such wonderful things about me which I have written down in case I ever get depressed. Here are a few examples:

Elder Leavitt-

  • Better than Robin (Elder Peery calls Elder Leavitt Batman)
  • Literally prayed for your music talent, you answered his prayer
  • An anomaly he was not expecting, but you are exactly what Elder Leavitt needs
  • Example of diligence
  • Christ like love
  • Keep the Greenie fire

Sister Ellis-
  • Super humble
  • Ready to be here and do missionary work
  • Admire that you want to improve and be the best that you can
  • You have an amazing potential to be soooooo great

Sister Daines-
  • You know what is right! Be yourself.
  • Future batman
  • Good teaching skills able to know what to do despite your newness

Elder Perry-

  • Reminds Elder Perry of himself when he first entered the mission field
  • Continue to work hard and be diligent

Elder Perry and Elder Moeller on the bus.

Elder Moeller-
  • Amazing desire to learn and to improve yourself and how you do something
  • Not afraid to share what you learned or to speak your mind

Sister Larsen-
  • You make Sis. Larsen happy.
  • Child like faith
  • The most amazing faith for being so new, you just want to do things for the Lord.
  • Willing to be thrown into any situation

Sister Cotton-
  • Doesn't hide your talents, you are called to use your talents and you use them.
  • You want to improve
  • Takes calling seriously
  • Let the Savior be the only person you want to emulate.

The 4th of July was pretty sweet even though we didn't really do anything. We walked around downtown for a bit and I took a lot of pictures. 

Here is a picture of the Chet Atkins statue in downtown Nashville.

More from 4th of July in Nashville

The first firework I saw though was a misfire that happened on Saturday. We were inside before any of the huge shows happened which is a shame since Nashville is credited as the second best firework show in the nation. But while walking downtown we had our fair share of mockery from soap box preachers who get paid for condemning people. Gotta love it.

At church, Sister Cotton and Sister Larsen had an investigator who had been attending church for about 4 months straight. The bishop walked up to her and jokingly asked "Sister Lee? When are you getting baptized?" Surprisingly she said "Today!" And he said "Sweet! We'll make it happen!" The ward was launched into a happiness overload. The sisters were so happy that they couldn't contain themselves. They had to run around the building just to get control. The bishop announced the baptism during sacrament meeting. It was probably one of the first times there would be a baptism asked, interviewed, and carried out within 2 hours. But there was an obvious part. The interview. My companion interviewed her and found out she wasn't keeping the word of wisdom and didn't believe Thomas S. Monson to be a prophet. 

The baptism would have to be postponed. It was the sad duty of the missionaries to inform everyone the baptism was off. The sisters couldn't even move. They were absolutely stunned that someone they had worked with for so long had clearly failed the interview. They broke down and we have been praying for them ever since. I invite you to do the same.

So yeah. A lot of stuff happened. Not much of it good, but we should 
have a better week soon. 
This beautiful sunset reminds us of brighter days to come.

Please pray for us. We need the help of strength from 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: Andrew.peery@myldsmail.net