Monday, September 29, 2014

Pictures From the Early Days of my Mission

Beautiful view from behind the Provo Temple near the Missionary Training Center.

Hi Everyone!

I was able to upload some old pictures from early in my mission. (It's hard to believe that in less than two months one-quarter of my mission will be over!  The time is flying by!)  I want to share these photos with you -- they were taken at the MTC, the SLC Airport, on the plane to Nashville, and in the field--at the Mission Home and in Antioch, TN.

Thank you again for your prayers and your support.  It means the world to me.

Elder Peery

 With my BYU-Idaho friend, Kate.  She entered the MTC one week after I did.

With my BYU-Idaho friend, Paul.  We took an Acting class together at BYU-I.

Photo of the devotional room at the MTC.  I was in a special choir that sang, "Hope of Israel" for Elder Russell M. Nelson during the devotional.

Elders in my zone at the MTC.  (From left to right: Elder Felix, Elder Tsosie, Elder Brown, Elder Pedersen, Elder Hardman, Elder Hamling, Elder Frie, Elder Peery, and Elder Hagan)

At the Salt Lake City Airport, getting ready to fly to Nashville, TN!  That's Elder Hagan, Elder Brown, and Elder Tsosie.

On the plane to Nashville!

 We had a nice breakfast at the Mission Home before transfers.

Here is the beautiful Mission Home. In the picture is Elder Tsosie, Hermana Torres (she was at the Spanish MTC but flew on the plane with us), and Sister Richardson. Elder Felix is sort of pictured on the edge.

 First week in the field.  Elder Leavitt and I were waiting at the bus stop in Antioch, TN.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 16 in the Field: Hurray for Hendersonville!

So this morning Elder Moeller made some pancakes, but we didn't have a smoke ventilation hood over the stove. So when one of the pancakes got burned, there was a lot of smoke in the air when I came out of the shower. When I opened the blinds I noticed that the smoke caused a pillar of light to enter the room. So naturally when you have a pillar of light in a room with two Mormon missionaries, you have to have some fun with it.  This is the result. It was a good experience because we got a small glimpse of what it might have been like to be in a pillar of light like Joseph Smith was in the Sacred Grove.

The second picture is representation of a first person view on what the First Vision may have been like. It was incredibly bright for sure.  What an amazing way to begin the day!


I am very tired as I'm writing this so I'll cut to the chase.

On Monday night, President Andersen emailed all of us saying that we need to hold a mission-wide fast. It would start Tuesday after dinner and go 24 hours after that. Miracles would proceed from the fast. I got to go on an exchange with a trainee named Elder Nimmer, who is the district leader's companion on Tuesday. We started tracting and found 3 new investigators in his area out of 5 doors -- which was great.

On Wednesday we went out with the bishop and he later told us in a meeting on Sunday how grateful he was for that opportunity. It was a lot of fun to go out with him and get to see what he does.

I made some delicious cookies from the cookie mix my mom sent me.  We didn't have a mixer so I used a spoon. Hard work paid off.  Elder Moeller didn't want any so I got the whole plate to myself.  Sweet!

Friday we had our church tour. It was super great. Our investigator's best friend happened to be a sister member of the Hendersonville Ward. She pretty much lead the tour, explaining what happens in Relief Society and other areas we were not familiar with. We ended the tour in the chapel. It was so surprising when she (the investigator) said that she really felt the Spirit there. When we asked that if she discovers for herself if the church is true that she be baptized and she agreed.  It was super awesome.

On Saturday we went to a bunch of members homes and taught small lessons and it was pretty crazy. We ended up teaching about 5 lessons. One of the people we happened to stop by was actually celebrating her birthday that day. It was really great to help her out with some things so she could have a great rest of the day.

Everything else is going well. We're headed to the temple this Wednesday. Sorry for the late post but I'm really tired right now.

Elder Peery

(Not sure if I sent this one or not) Elder Moeller with an adorable cat

Our Ward Mission Leader's dog, Myra (I think that's her name) who reminds me of my dog, Bear. She's also an overweight chihuahua.

At a dinner appointment last night, this little girl with the help of her cousin sang "Let it Go" from Frozen for us. They were so cute!

View of Gallatin/Hendersonville area.  It is really beautiful here.

Elder Moeller going in for some knee stuff. Brother Kindred is a doctor, and he's in the bishopric. He heard Elder Moeller has some knee problems so he helped him out a little. Elder Moeller's knee is still a little sore but he says it will take some time to see if the experiment worked.  Brother Kindred is basically doing some kind of scan showing the tendon (as seen on the monitor) while he injects something to help his knee. Not really sure about what all happened but we hope Elder Moeller will feel better in the next few days.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 15 in the Field: Hard Times in Hendersonville

Hendersonville, TN:  View of part of the lake that divides the two peninsulas.

So I'm off to a pretty fun P-Day but I'll stop and write to you all.

This week has been kind of frustrating. In the past, the people we would go and teach would usually be home 90% of the day so seeing them wouldn't be a problem. But in this area, many people don't come home until late in the evening, giving us only 3 hours to contact for the most part. We're making do with what we have, but it's pretty hard.

Another view of the lake in Hendersonville.

On Tuesday we got to do some service in the Bishop's Storehouse (basically a place where those who need things such as food, supplies, and other forms of help come to receive it. They usually have an order form from their bishop and they come from all over) which was a lot of fun. I got to see the Lifferth's again who were back in Smith Springs so that was cool. They were really surprised to NOT see us in church on Sunday, which makes me wonder how many other members were surprised. If we could, we would've said goodbye to everyone. At the storehouse, we filled out about 21 truck orders, and at least 20 other orders that came in that day--very busy but lots of fun.

Wednesday was district meeting and it was kind of fun getting to see the reaction of everyone who didn't know about the change when we came into the room. Elder Hill is the current district leader and he's training a missionary that came out the transfer after I did whose name is Elder Nimmer. There are two other sets: Elder Womack, a really fun guy to be around and is a great basketball player. Elder Adams, and Sisters Talbert and Tagilala. It was a pretty good meeting and very different from our previous district meetings.

Thursday we had an awesome lesson. We met an awesome lady who is best friends with some members. She loves the church and everything it represents. Her friends have been encouraging her to meet with the missionaries, and here we are. After teaching her the Restoration she said "Once I attend a church service and feel if the Spirit is there or not, then I will make a decision." The only problem is that her job forces her to work on Sundays.

But I was suddenly prompted to ask her, "Have you ever been to a church building before?" She said, "No, I have not."

"Y'know, one of the things the church provides is church tours for those who have never been to a church building, to give them a better understanding of how we worship and how things work. Would that be something you'd be interested in?" She seemed overjoyed at the opportunity as she readily accepted saying stuff like "That would be most helpful" and "I'd very much appreciate that."

The tour is set for this Friday and she has invited her member friends to come with us.

Friday was kind of frustrating cause we went the entire day with only teaching one lesson. Either people weren't home or they were busy.That's one thing I have noticed is that everyone is busy here and it's hard to catch anyone at home. We did do a lot of exploring though and a lot of biking up hills.

View of the fair in Fairview, TN.

Saturday we biked a very brutal 7 miles to the Madison Stake Center where we left to go all the way down to Fairview to sing at the fair down there. We didn't have the best turnout since the majority of the people who came before or after us were not Christian choirs.
Here is the choir.  I am on the far left side.

 We had a mixture of bluegrass to rock. Almost zero nonmembers stuck around when we sang. I had a feeling that they didn't like the Mormons too much but that's okay. It was fun though. We saw a lot of cool things at the fair from animals to woodcarvings. 
Australian animal at the fair.  There were also lemurs, snakes, a wallaby, and other animals there.

It was pretty cold that day and I felt really bad for the guy in the dunk tank. We were very lucky to get a ride back so we didn't have to bike another 7 miles back.

At the fair with Elder Adams.

Today, since it is our P-day, we played Monopoly (Amazingly, I won with almost $12,000, 8 hotels, and 12 houses), and then we played tennis.

Picture of the Monopoly game -- don't worry; it's our P-day!

We also visited the graves of Johnny and June Cash.

Here are their graves with a good quote.

We also saw Taylor Swift's high school including the bleachers that possibly inspired the lyrics in her song "Love Story" ("She wears high heels, I wear t-shirts, she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers"). So that was a pretty eventful day.

Here is Taylor Swift's high school. Bleachers are on the far right.   It is a good-sized school.  

Everything else is doing okay for the most part. For the spiritual thought I'll just bring out what I found recently while studying a bit of the New Testament.

As missionaries, we get an up close view of the Savior's ministry. We teach as He taught: in simple ways so that even a child could understand. Once you have this point of view, studying the scriptures becomes amazing because you can actually get a glimpse of the thought process of the Savior. A perfect example is when he is talking to Nicodemus of being born again. He tries to teach in ways that Nicodemus can understand. Read John 3 when you have the chance to see what I mean and see how Christ uses examples to explain. He even corrects Nicodemus in verse 7. It's really fascinating stuff.

I'm about halfway through Isaiah and staying strong. Compared to other books it really isn't that bad. Loads of good scriptures and stuff. Ezekiel is the last hard book from what I've heard so I'll be bracing for that. Afterwards we have a bunch of short books and stories and then it's over and on to the New Testament. 

Thank you for your prayers, we are really trying to work hard out here.

Elder Peery

Here is another view of the graves of Johnny and June Cash.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 14 in the Field: Help for Hendersonville!


As you can see by the title, things have changed just a wee bit.

On Tuesday we had our zone conference which is basically when all the missionaries within the stake boundaries (in my case Nashville stake) get together to meet and learn from the assistants to the president (AP's) as well as the mission president himself with his wife. It was super informative.

I am the 3rd Elder from the Left in the back row.

President trained on the importance of prayer and receiving personal revelation and used a couple quotes from the quorum of the 12 apostles. Here's two of my favorites:

"When we explain a problem and a proposed solution, sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no. Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because he loves us - perfectly. He wants us to apply the truths He has given us. For us to grow we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions. We need to do what we feel is right. In time, he will answer. He will not fail us." – Elder Richard G. Scott

"It is good to learn when you are young that spiritual things cannot be forced. Sometimes you may struggle with a problem and not get an answer. What could be wrong? It may be that you are not doing anything wrong. It may be that you have not done the right things long enough."
- Elder Boyd K. Packer

Outside the Zone Conference
From left to right, starting with Me, Elder Hagan, Elder Tsosie, and Sister Richardson.

With Elder Steiner--the last AP from when I came out to the field!

It was really enlightening. I went on my own spiritual discovery trip later this week which I will get to later. What was really surprising was when President Andersen called Elder Moeller and me and told us "A sister missionary is going home for medical reasons and we need you two in Hendersonville. You'll be leaving on Saturday." Hendersonville?! But it was practically mid-transfer! We had plans, appointments, and untouched areas to tract. But understanding that The Lord calls the shots in the field, we were fine with the adjustment for the most part. The hard part was saying goodbye to all the members. There were so many great people. It truly was one of my favorite wards. I'm going to miss it dearly.

Saying good-bye to the Clark family.  They knew me when I was just a baby here in Antioch.  Sister Clark was my mom's visiting teacher and even had a baby shower for her when she was pregnant with me.  These are really, really, really special people to me.

Wednesday through Friday was kind of disheartening. The area we teach in would be closing down/be divided amongst the two other sets of missionaries. So whoever we found, we had to refer to the other two sets. The majority of the time was spent saying goodbyes to a select few people. 

With the legendary Timmy Gathof -- he calls a lot of the missionaries every evening to say goodnight.

Only some were told about the move. I wonder what sacrament meeting was like yesterday. After all that, we packed up and prepared for our move on Saturday.
Bags packed and ready to move to Hendersonville.

Nashville skyline -- on our way to Hendersonville

More of the beautiful Nashville skyline

Saturday and Sunday was kind of like trying to drink out of a fire hose with the amount of information we received. Our new area is small and yet pretty large. Everyone here is very polite and welcoming for the most part. It's insane how nice everyone is. It's a fantastic ward filled with lovable members. I'm really looking forward to serving here. The second we get the area books we will be taking off.

Taking over from the sister missionaries is the best.  They left a lot of great notes for us, like this one.

I've been studying the powers of light and truth that we receive from our Heavenly Father. I'll share what I've gathered for you to check out. The relationship I've gathered is that when we have more of Christ's light, we are more susceptible to more truth. In short, when we are obediently keeping his commandments, more and more truth is opened up to us.

The more we follow and commit ourselves to the spiritual promptings we receive, the more likely it is we will receive more promptings and more truth from the Spirit. When we are not focused on The Lord and instead focus on material things or other distractions, we lose that light, and in turn, lose truth. We receive less and less promptings until there's not much left.

The truth we receive comes in the form of answers to prayers, warnings of evil, and as confirmation of good deeds. We cannot expect a spectacular answer if we are not living in the ways God wants us to live. This might seem like "Duh, Elder Peery I know that."

But for someone who spent a good deal of his life without feeling much of the Spirit, this is mind-blowing. There are many great scriptures on truth and light but I think my favorite will probably be D&C 6 when The Lord is speaking to Oliver Cowdery on light and truth.

I may become a Facebook missionary soon. I will let you know when that happens. I am not 100% on the rules of communication, but for now, just stick to email. If that does happen I am allowed to add people on Facebook but mainly to teach--not to be sociable. I plan on doing a lot of what I do here on this blog by sharing spiritual messages and teaching online. More info to come on that.

Other than that everything else is going well. Elder Moeller and I have been exploring a lot of the area and are having a lot of fun. I will be singing in a missionary choir at some fairground in Fairview which should be a lot of fun. I can only guess that some of it might be recorded.

Update on my Old Testament study, I have finished Psalms which was a trip let me tell you. Now on to Proverbs which I've already found fascinating. I am about at the same point Elder Leavitt was when I was reading the Book of Mormon and he was reading the Bible. I expect to finish the whole thing by the end of the year and probably before December if all goes well. Then I’ll start re-reading the New Testament just in time for Christmas.

Thank you for all your prayers. I appreciate all the support you give us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke in the MTC (Missionary Training Center) to a big group of missionaries a while back and said that the missionaries are most likely the most prayed for group of people he knows. His first guess was the prophet, but every time he hears someone praying for the prophet, in the same prayer the person usually prays for the missionaries. We are working hard to live up to that responsibility.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Peery

One final picture:  St. Thomas' Hospital
(formerly known as Baptist Hospital)
where I was born!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 13 in the Field: Farewells, Updates, and a Baptism!

The departing missionaries. 
Vehicle coordinators Elder and Sister Johnson are on the far left.
Sister Daines is the one in the middle with the white shirt.
Elder Leavitt is in between the sister with the blue shirt and the sister with the pink coat.
Elder Tagaloa is on the far right.

So this week was a blast!

On Monday night, Elder Leavitt unfolded a ton of his true feelings about me as his companion. He explained a lot of what he did during the companionship and was grateful for my patience. He gave me a lot of great advice including: "Set aside these two years as a sacred time where you can develop your relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ so that in the end people will say that this missionary knows the gospel and Jesus Christ and what he needs to be. If you can transfer all your greenie fire into later determination, you will be a successful missionary."

Elder Leavitt bearing his testimony on the work and giving advice.

At transfers we had an MTC reunion with all but Sister Richardson who was staying with her trainer. I said my goodbyes to Elder Leavitt and then got in the car with Elder Moeller to begin the next transfer.
Among the departing missionaries was also Elder Tagaloa who was a pretty amazing missionary. He was replaced as AP by Elder Fore who was one of Elder Leavitt's companions.

Elder Moeller and I have been doing a lot of work here in Smith Springs. We went over to Massman Manor again to do some finding. I actually got to knock my old apartment door, which was pretty sweet. My mother had given me the address, and I found it. The current occupants are Egyptians who worship Christ, however they do not speak a single word of English other than "I'm sorry, I don't speak English." We are trying to teach a family over in that complex though who are learning English very slowly.

We also caught up with the drunk guy with the maggots on his leg, and he really surprised us. He said the day Elder Leavitt and I found him, the infection had slowly been killing him. Had we not been there on Sunday, he would've most likely been dead within the week. When we saw him a few days ago, he was sober and said that the doctors gave him a 50/50 chance that the leg would be spared. He would just need to control his drinking problem. When the paramedics brought him in on Sunday he came in showing a 3% toxic alcohol level in his body. To say he was drunk would be an understatement. But he has agreed to continue reading the Book of Mormon, and he has begun to work on his drinking problem.

I also got to go to the temple again, which marked my 3rd time in the last three months. Elder Moeller had a convert who was going through for the first time. It was super amazing to witness.

Last but not least, on Saturday we had a baptism! Sister Lee, the sister that I mentioned in my Week 5 blog ALMOST got baptized but wasn’t quite ready back then…was cleared for baptism and was baptized by President Andersen this past Saturday!  After the baptism, the sisters, accompanied by myself on guitar and Sister Andersen on piano, played "In The Garden" (I think it's a famous Christian hymn) for a special musical number.

Here is a link to Alan Jackson singing it:

Afterwards, Sister Lee stated that the song was her favorite and also it was her father's favorite. She was so full of emotion and happiness upon hearing it. What really surprised me though was when she asked me to be the one who confirmed her as a member of the Church.

I was petrified--so scared that I had forgotten the dinner calendar to bring to church the next Sunday. As we gathered in a circle of brethren and placed our hands on her head to confirm her, I was shaking. After I finished the confirmation blessing, I almost fell down as I walked back to my seat. The only time I felt the love of God that powerfully before was when I went to the temple for the first time.

I think I'll end it at that. We are all set to have a great week. Hope you all do, too.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Peery

Elder Bryner arm wrestling Brother Hernandez, 
our amazing ward mission leader.

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