Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 12 in the Field: ALREADY!

The district (bottom row:  Elder Moeller, Elder Peery, Elder Leavitt, Elder Threet, Elder Harris
Top row:  Sister Johnson, Sister Daines, Sister Cook, Sister Cotton, Elder Bryner)

So first off my new companion who will be replacing Elder Leavitt as District Leader is...



Elder Moeller! The very same Elder Moeller who I've been on exchanges with twice in the past two transfers. I am super excited to welcome him back to Smith Springs. His companion, Elder Threet, will be receiving one of my buddies from the MTC Elder Tsosie. I am super excited about that and will be so happy to see them in District Meeting. This also means that I will be staying for another six weeks in Smith Springs, for which I am also grateful. I love the people here and will be happy to bring in more people to Christ. 

The district itself got really shaken up. Both sets of sisters (Cotton and Cook, and Daines and Johnson) got whitewashed -- which means that both are replaced by other missionaries. In the case of Sister Daines she will be going home anyways but their area will be replaced with Elders, which is great cause they've had a rough time with creepy people over there. Sisters Cotton and Cook will be opening a new area in Nolensville area which is just 7 miles away so they'll still be in our zone. Elders Harris and Bryner are staying but receiving a third zone leader so that will be interesting.

So update on my bible study, I am currently about halfway through Job. People say Isaiah was rough, but Numbers and Chronicles have done a number on me so far. Numbers goes full in depth about all the laws and order of sacrificing the Jews were commanded to do. But for the most part when it hits 2nd Kings all that is forgotten. Chronicles restates EVERYTHING that happened thus far.  But I decided to have some fun with it. Chronicles and Genesis list a gigantic genealogy chart. During personal study one day I just started making a large family history chart. What started as a modest experiment turned out to be seven pages of names and families. 

Pictures of my study journal on the lineages of Adam, Jacob, and others.

I was able to go in and trace Joseph, Mary's husband, all the way back to Adam. I attached some pictures of this conquest and it looks like a lot of work but I did most of it in the space of an hour. Definitely helped me get through Chronicles. I plan on doing one for Ether when I re-read the Book of Mormon. The only downside is that the names will start not linking up and so random names that say "a descendant of..." Are more difficult to track and I will sometimes just give up. 

Elder Leavitt had me write a song for the district last Wednesday. He came up with some lyrics which were pretty cheesy, so I decided to take it and made it my goal to make it even more cheesy. What resulted was putting the song to the Pokemon theme song--most epic decision ever. However only a couple people actually got where it was from. They didn't understand my amazement when I exclaimed, "What kind of person in our generation doesn't  know the greatest and cheesiest theme song of all time?!" I almost flipped a table. If I did I would just blame Elder Leavitt cause that's his “go to” action when something crazy happens.

Playing the district song

This week was pretty slow due to the fact that the majority of the time was spent helping Elder Leavitt pack or riding a bus to get to an area since we didn't have his bike anymore. 

Elder Leavitt holding the district's title of Liberty

What was pretty cool though was that I got to go back to Massman Manor Apartments and knock my own door. Though I didn't see the pool that my mother stated was a landmark, I did find the exact apartment door, and a lot of what she described was around it. If she or any of my family wish to go around that area, they should probably learn some Arabic.  It's pretty crazy because never before had I met an Egyptian until I came to Nashville.

But we also did help move a new family in which was pretty awesome. They said they wanted us to come over to have dinner with them sometime soon and talk about what we believe. They have a little 2-year-old miracle daughter who is super cute and loves Elder Bryner.

The wall of letters -- thank you so much for writing me!(some not shown)

Last thing I can think of is our album is finished. There are some incorrect parts and it's definitely not perfect. I will attempt to send a copy home. I am not sure how to get the music out so people can hear it, but a lot of the members here love it. 

I will close this weekly update with one of my new favorite scriptures from Job: "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty." (Job 5:17).  It is so much like Elder Hugh B. Brown's story of the currant bush:  We need to be grateful when things don't go our way. He is the gardener here and He knows what He wants us to be.  Whether or not we see the benefit of following His commandments immediately, we can always know that by doing so we grow closer to Christ. As he corrects us, let us be grateful.

And as my friend, Adam, who is serving his mission in Honduras says: “Hurrah for Israel!”

Elder Peery

Ready to perform the National Anthem at the Nashville Sounds baseball game, but it was rained out.  See the rainbow?  Awesome sight!  Brighter days ahead!

Genealogy of Jacob.

The last one shows Joseph the husband of Mary, the mother of

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 11 in the Field: Temple, Maggots, and the Influence of Others

Nashville Airport, where I arrived 11 weeks ago--and 
where Elder Leavitt will be leaving to fly home in just 9 days.

Hi everyone! This week has been kinda crazy.

Last Monday, a group of 12 missionaries (sisters and elders) was supposed to sing the National Anthem at the Nashville Sounds baseball game.  We had rehearsed well, and it sounded great in four-part harmony.  We even got to perform it at the mission home and Elder Tagaloa, one of our AP’s, sent the video to his mom to post on Facebook.  If you are friends with Sister Whitted, his mom, you can watch it.  My mom has posted it on her page, too.  Sadly, however, the baseball game got rained out, so we didn’t get to perform at the stadium, which was super annoying. 

On Wednesday we set a baptismal date with one of the members of a family we've been teaching for about two months now. However, for one reason or another she started getting bullied by a family friend to the point where she started doubting and questioning her own choice.

After consulting with President Andersen, we decided it was best to reassign the family to the sisters on Sunday. The choice was incredibly difficult for me since I had really grown to love the family. We got a text later from the girl saying she wanted to take a break from the Church for a while, which was totally sad. It really sucks that the opinions of others and their influence can alter someone else's life and their spiritual progression.  It's also been the second time someone we've grown to love stopped taking the lessons due to the influence of others.

On a happier note, last Friday we got to go through a session in the Nashville temple with Max, one of Elder Leavitt's converts from a year ago. Max is blind and had been baptized before he even read the Book of Mormon. According to Elder Leavitt, when he got the Book of Mormon in Braille, he started crying as he read the first verse of the book. After we went through the temple, Max was glowing. It was awesome to be there and witness it.

On Sunday we went to go talk to one of our investigators named Jake. Jake has a drinking problem, but that day he was wayyyy out of it. We saw that his leg, which he broke last November, wasn't looking good at all. And after noticing maggots (yes maggots) crawling around it, we called 911. It was incredibly disgusting, but I was so glad he was too drunk to feel anything. After loading him onto the stretcher in the ambulance, Elder Leavitt and I went home, and we each took a long shower. Super gross.  I am grateful, however, that we could be of help to him and get him the medical care he needed at a really bad time in his life.

Everything else is going well. Elder Leavitt will be headed home in just 9 days and in eight days I will have a new companion. By next week I will be finished with training and will have been out for 3 months in the field. 21 more months to go!

Elder Leavitt enjoys a quiet moment of reflection at the pond in our 
apartment complex during his last nine days in the mission field.

Hope you all are doing well.  Please stay in touch!

Elder Peery

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

Hope to hear from you this week!

Two of the cutest puppies (chihuahua and another dog mix) 
I've ever seen under a porch in a trailer home.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 10 in the Field: Baptisms, Music, Ammon and Aaron

Baptism on Saturday, 08/09/14

Greetings!  Good to hear from many of you this week!  

So many people are freaking out about the album instead of the baptism we had, so that's interesting. 

The baptism went really well. Tommy, David's older brother, baptized him correctly although he was understandably and incredibly nervous. It was super awesome to speak too, but I feel that my talk in sacrament meeting was a lot better. I was pretty nervous to speak in front of 25 people at the baptism, but could handle a couple hundred in sacrament meeting the next day. I have copied the talk I gave for the benefit of you all below here.  I was pretty happy with how it all went down. 

The reception area -- ready for the Baptism!

Regarding our album:  Well I'm not sure exactly when we will be releasing anything considering that we are still in the recording process. In fact as I type this on my iPad I am sitting in the chair that was pictured in last week’s blog listening to Elder Leavitt recording "A Poor Wayfaring Man Of Grief". We are recording from 9 to 4 and then we have to go to Green Hills where we will be practicing a musical number with Sister Larsen and Sister Tebbs (from my MTC district) for zone meeting. After that it is off to the mission office where we will then car pool to the Sounds stadium. “So much happening so little time.”

We've found a ton of new areas and lots of new investigators. Most of them are families, which is fantastic. One of our families that we've been working with came to church this past Sunday and it was great to see members interacting with them. David E. was also confirmed a member of the church and has been very happy from the looks of it. Hopefully we'll get to see him receive the Priesthood which was one of the reasons he wanted to join the Church!

I went on exchange with Elder Harris who's one of the zone leaders here. He was super fun and we both really enjoyed being around each other. He's a super awesome missionary and we enjoyed teaching the people in my area. 

We also had interviews with the mission president who was super excited to see us. He had me teach him which he said was great and we also discussed several other things. It was more along the lines of a longer email to the president but it was a fun discussion on why we couldn't attend the Sounds game. He shared an example of when he had the chance to either go to the St Louis temple, or the Cardinals game and ended up choosing the latter and beating himself up for it till he returned again. He also had talked with the member of the seventy over our area about it and he gave a similar explanation. Hopefully we'll get a souvenir or something though.


Here is my sacrament meeting talk 08/10/14:

Good morning brothers and sisters my name is Elder Peery and it is a pleasure to speak to you today. My companion and I have loved being in this wonderful ward and have enjoyed hearing the envy of other missionaries in this area. When I first came out to Nashville and found out that I'd be in a the Smith Springs ward, I was told by many of the missionaries who have served here before such as Elder Byington and Elder Fore, that I was lucky to have landed in the promised land. It is my prayer that I will be able to stay as long as The Lord allows me to. I also pray for the spirit as I try to express my own feelings on the topic I have been given.

Missionary work has been a marvelous work to behold. From the early days till now, people have been teaching God's commandments and bringing more people to a knowledge of their Redeemer and his wonderful plan he has for them. One of the great things about missionary work is that it isn't just done by missionaries. Many members around the world are helping people and sharing what they believe. Some do it by sharing inspired messages on Facebook, giving out Books of Mormon, teaching a principle, or even simply inviting friends to church. We must realize that the people around us are fellow children of God. By sharing our beliefs, we can help others to gain their own testimony, and plant that seed of faith.

One of my favorite missionaries in the Book of Mormon was Ammon. Growing up, I always marveled at the great feat of strength he showed in defending the king's flock. But I didn't really recognize his motives, teachings, or especially his love of the people. After defending the king's flocks by the power of God, he illustrates to the King the power of the Spirit and how a mighty change of heart can benefit him as well as his people. After a few days of powerfully spiritual events, the King and many of his people are converted. What happens next however is where I want to focus on.

In Alma chapter 20, Ammon discovers that his brothers who were also teaching in the land of the Lamanites, had been taken captive in the land of Middoni. King Lamoni said that he was good friends with the King over there and said that he could soften the heart of the King to let his brothers go free. While en route to the land Middoni, they happen to run into King Lamoni's father. You can imagine the surprise on Lamoni's father's face when he sees a Nephite, "one of the children of a liar," with his son. He commands Lamoni to slay Ammon. Lamoni refuses saying that Ammon and his brethren are "just men and holy prophets of the true God."

Lamoni's father is enraged. He draws his sword and attempts to kill his son, like any other parent would do to a disobedient child I'm sure. However after Ammon jumps in saying if you kill your son you'd be shedding innocent blood, he turns his attack towards Ammon. I guess word doesn't travel fast in the Lamanite kingdom, cause the King must not have known Ammon has a thing with the arms of his attackers. After Ammon disarms the King, the King starts pleading for his life using all techniques. Even offering him half of his kingdom. Ammon promises that he won't slay him on condition that he lets Lamoni govern his own people and that his brothers be released from prison. 

I believe at this point the King finally gets it. He sees the great love Ammon has for his son as well as the lack of desire for bloodshed. He is so astonished at this, that he asks that when his brethren are released that they come and teach him in his lands. To quote verse 27 "...For the King was greatly astonished at the words which he had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them (teachings)"

Brothers and sisters, missionary work doesn't have to be as violent as this example from the Book of Mormon. It can be very powerful to have that third witness of the Restored gospel of Jesus Christ. With a testimony coming from someone familiar, it can be a much stronger experience than coming from two random strangers. We promise you that as you reach out in love towards your friends that your words will be guided by the Spirit. We've heard of and seen people become more curious about the church simply because they have seen their friend testify of it. We have heard of scenarios where the people have later asked their friend more about certain principles and concepts the church has. 

To conclude the story of King Lamoni's father, he is taught by Aaron, Ammon's brother. Because "The Spirit of The Lord (had) called (Ammon) another way to the land of Ishmael." Or in missionary terms he was transferred. Lamoni's father believes the words of Aaron and tests it for himself. The result is that he, and many others become converted to the gospel and become a more righteous people than the Nephites. 

My testimony is that missionary work when combined with the members of the church is incredibly powerful. We have been encouraged by living prophets to invite more to hear the news of the restored gospel. This is not a secret church. It is a worldwide church. And as we continue to help others come unto Christ I promise that we will feel closer to Him. That we may be comforted, encouraged, and enlightened on how best to do this, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 


Hope you all are doing well. Would love to hear from more of you!  Please stay in touch!

Elder Peery

View from a hilltop in Smyrna which is near Murfreesboro.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Week 9 in the Field: The Gospel Goes Forth!

Elder Peery in Brother Mortensen's recording studio.

Hi everyone!  

This week in the mission field has been pretty crazy--also really busy. 

We've been working on finding new investigators in different, not so visited, areas. What has resulted thus far is a list of areas NOT to go to. We've come across some pretty scary people and not the safest of areas. Still, the gospel goes forth. One of the people we talked to was really scary. He was a former demon worshipper and he told us a lot of the crazy things he had done. (We didn't really ask for the life story but he gave us it). One thing he did say which was pretty scary and eye opening is that "Demons are real. I've seen them. I've communicated with them. It's real." Judging from some of his stories, which I have chosen to not include, I can believe that.

Speaking of judging, I've gotten into studying the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. Yes, I made it past Numbers, which was a trip. SO MANY COMMANDMENTS. Isaiah has nothing on the first Books of Moses. 
Zone Leaders Elder Harris and Elder Bryner, with Elder Leavitt.

So I took over my area on Tuesday for the day while on exchange with Elder Threet. He's an interesting missionary. We taught a bunch of lessons and did a lot of biking. One of the lessons we had was with the boy who's getting baptized this upcoming Saturday at noon. He was still really excited about it and asked me to speak on the importance of the Holy Ghost, to which I happily agreed. I will also be speaking in church this upcoming Sunday on the importance of member missionary work using Ammon as a kick off point. (Alma 17-20). 

The other family we are teaching has been interesting. The person that introduced us to them hasn't been the best help. When we finally got over to them and laid out the purpose for us inviting them to do things, it was very powerful. I hope we got the point across that we love and care about each one of them and want what's best for them and that is to come unto Christ.

What's pretty funny is that while I've been hearing about he Mormon night at the Nats game in Washington, DC last Saturday, I've been working with 10 other missionaries on singing the national anthem at the Mormon night at the Nashville Sounds game. We will perform Monday night and I still have yet to have any info on whether or not we can actually watch the game. I have been singing tenor with one of the AP's, Elder Tagaloa.
Elder Leavitt in the recording studio.

Elder Leavitt and I recorded several songs for our album today. We will have to redo a couple, but for the most part it sounds pretty cool. He has a great voice and it's pretty awesome to see a plan coming together. Brother Mortensen is another amazing guitarist and has been really helping us out. 

Brother Mortensen in his recording studio!  

Things are going great. I want to make known that I can read all your emails the day you send them, not just on Monday. So please feel free to write whenever. I will do my best to respond to as many as I can. Thank you, as always, for your prayers and your support.

Love you all and miss you all.

Elder Peery

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

Hope to hear from you this week!