Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week 25 in the Field: Senior Companion, 21 Lessons, and the Book of Revelation

1. Elder and Sister Bird's wonderful Thanksgiving meal for the missionaries.  (Elder and Sister Bird are a senior couple who work in the Church Employment Center at the Madison Stake Center).


So Elder Moeller is now enjoying the comforts of home, and my new companion is Elder Hansen. He has been out one transfer less then I have (so 4.5 months) so that makes me the senior companion at 6 months. It's been really fun to get to know Elder Hansen. He is from Nyssa, Oregon which is basically an hour west of Boise, Idaho. He's a singer, too, so we may play some musical numbers in the near future.

Before Elder Moeller returned home he shared some parting advice to the entire mission.  It was sad to see all the departing missionaries go.

2. The departing missionaries. Elder Moeller is the tall Elder on the far
left next to Sister Andersen.

 3. Elder Moeller's parting advice

4. Elder Golightly (Elder Leavitt’s other trainee) and me

5. Elder Alarcon's parting advice

Pretty much out of the starting gate, Elder Hansen and I tore it up in Hendersonville. By the end of the week we had seen and taught 21 people which is a new record for the area in about 4 months. We were so happy because all we need is another week like this and then we can become Facebook missionaries. That will not only improve the area, but will also allow us to teach our non-member (and in some cases) member friends.

So on Wednesday I learned the difference between being bold and being overbearing. There is certainly a fine line, but I think I may have grasped it for the most part. We have an investigator who has his own theories of the scriptures. He gets into books such as the Book of Judas and the Book of Thomas (both of which are not in our scriptural canon) and LOVES the book of Daniel. I felt so much love for this guy and I knew that getting carried away and sidetracked would not lead him to the salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ….so I was bold and up front with him. The spirit was very strong. I laid out everything he needed to do to truly be converted. He must've felt something cause he bought us lunch a few days later.

On Thursday we were tracting, and came across these teenagers had set up this tight rope course. It was very complex and legit so Elder Hansen gave it a go. He tried the one that was about two stories up and had he not been wearing a harness, he would've died. The teenagers were having a blast saying, "The Lord saved you man!" "JW's on the top line!" And more. We ended up teaching one of them and he actually was interested so that's awesome.  By the end of the week we were exhausted but it's all worth it.

6. My new companion Elder Hansen taking literal leaps of faith walking a tightrope!

 I wanted to give you an update on my in-depth study of the New Testament.  I am reading the Book of Revelation. It's a very rough process, but I am currently working on chapter 15. I should finish by the end of the week. I outline it, and then list the symbolism and possible explanations combined with what the church has stated. I know that scholars probably have a lot better idea on this stuff than I do, but through the spirit I understand a lot of it now, which is awesome.

7. Here are my notes on the Book of Revelation

Finally, I would like to share with you one of my new favorite scriptures that is also a favorite of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. (He is one of the apostles in our church). It's from Hebrews 10:35-39.

35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

I love these scriptures because they teach me the importance of maintaining my personal faith and confidence in the Lord especially when a trial or some doubting person wants me to adjust what I believe. It is challenging for all of us to maintain a testimony and a desire when there are so many things that fight against us. 

I'm very grateful for this gospel and I'm also very grateful for people like you all who read this stuff and write to me.

Thank you very much for reading my email and have a happy thanksgiving.

Elder Peery

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 24 in the Field: Bishop's Storehouse, Inspiration, and Great Lessons

1. Bishop's Storehouse volunteers photo: (Missionaries in the front row left to right: Sisters West, Tagilala, Squire, Cruz, Williams, Brown, Dansie, and Penrod. Second row missionaries from left to right: Elders Owens,Peery, Nimmer, Moeller, Hohneke, and Rivera. Third row missionaries from left to right: Elders Black, Colver, Alarcon, and Womack.)


Things have been super busy here today with a lot of interesting things happening this week in general.

So on Tuesday we had a full day at the Bishop's storehouse. The storehouse is where people who are in need of food may come to receive it free of charge.  It is staffed by volunteers from our church, including missionaries.  

We had to fill about 42 orders plus at least 30 walk-ins. The amount of orders for people we needed to fill nearly made us run out of supplies, but it was awesome to see all the volunteers working together cheerfully to help those not as fortunate. It was also the last day of working in the storehouse for Elder Moeller, Elder Alarcon, and Hermana Cruz who are all going home this transfer.

It was a great day until Bro. Wolfertz who is one of the workers at the storehouse came in and said "Who rode the black bike?" I raised my hand. "Your back tire ISN'T flat!" Then everyone laughed as Elder Moeller loaded his bike onto the zone leaders bike rack.

2. District Funeral for Elder Moeller--this is because Elder Moeller is about ready to go home. Out here in the mission field, we say that he is being "killed off." Of course, it is all in good fun! Missionaries left to right: Elder Womack, Sister Squire, Sister Tagilala, Elder Owens (above being the speaker at the funeral), Elder Peery (the murderer--because I am Elder Moeller's companion), Elder Colver, and Elder Nimmer.

On Thursday we got to see our investigator who wanted to do an entire lesson on the Book of Daniel. If you have read ALL of Daniel, not just the stories, but his prophesies, too, then you'll understand why we were kind of cringing. But we are told to read the scriptures with the Spirit so we gave that a go. It was awesome. Elder Moeller and I felt totally guided by the spirit, coming up with all these great insights into the book and our investigator was agreeing with all of it 'cause it all made sense!

Afterwards we started talking about how these prophesies show that we need to be prepared when Christ comes and that's when he started talking about how he feels he needs to be baptized properly as the Bible dictates. We were more than happy to talk with him about that and will be hopefully doing so this week with my new companion, which I will get to later on.

3. Elder Moeller signing my laundry bag--a mission tradition--to have 
all your mission companions autograph it.

On Friday Elder Moeller practically finished packing and felt exhausted. But I felt prompted we needed to try this one family one more time. This family is a part member family with the husband and mother being members and the kids nonmembers but they want to be baptized. We have tried them many times but each time they were not available. As we were walking up to the door we saw the zone leaders trying to find one of their members whom I had actually happened to meet many weeks ago and remembered where they had moved. Their family happened to live right across from ours and in a miraculous event, both doors opened to two sets of elders at the same time.

Our family had loads of pets including a snake, at least one chihuahua, two big dogs, 7 fish, two birds, and a bearded dragon. It was a mini zoo! We had a great lesson and they said they'd be at church. Even though they didn't show up on Sunday, we still have a good time for when to try again.

4. Me holding a snake that likes to constrict.

Everything else is going really well. On Sunday I received word that my next companion was going to be Elder Hansen (Hanson? Hansan? No idea yet how his name is spelled) and I have no idea who he is. All I know is that I will be the senior companion in this companionship which is an awesome new thing, since my only other companions I've "killed off" (which means I was their last companion before their mission ended and they went home). Having someone younger than me in missionary age is a good and needed change. I will get to meet him tomorrow.

I hope you all are doing well. In my Bible Challenge I have reached the Book of Revelation which is way ahead of schedule--about a month ahead to be exact, so I will be doing a relatively in-depth study of it, and will still probably finish by the end of the month. Then my goal is to read the Doctrine and Covenants (a volume of revelation given to Joseph Smith by the power of God from 1820's to 1844 including other revelations to some other modern day prophets as well) before the end of the year, which is pretty doable.

6 months down!  It’s going by fast—only 18 months to go!

Elder Peery

5. Getting stuck behind a tractor!

6. It snowed about half an inch this morning--just enough to make people annoyed, 
because it still meant they had to go to work.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 23 in the Field: Doberman, Music, and Go-Karts

1. With Cara, a large 2-year-old Doberman who was very friendly

Okey-dokey, so this week was a roller coaster of fun and interesting times.

On Tuesday I went on exchange with Elder Colver who is the district leader's companion. We taught a couple lessons but then had to head back to the apartment to wait for a guy who was going to give us an estimate on the mission car we drive. While it was with the other set of Elders, some lady while talking on her cell phone backed into it creating a massive dent. The total cost of the damage was approximately $1000.

Before we met up with the estimator guy though, one of Elder Colver's investigators on Facebook reported that she was going through a crisis. We sort of had to book it to get back to the problem. Since I don't have a Facebook for missionary work, I kind of just sat there awkwardly as he dealt with the situation.

On Wednesday we had our zone meeting, which is when all the missionaries in the stake meet and receive trainings from the zone leaders. One of the announcements made was in order for someone to meet the requirements of Facebook, they must teach 20 people consecutively for two weeks--for me that really hurt and irritated me.

The zone leaders had set it at 15 prior to this and I was able to achieve it once by teaching 16 lessons last week which was really good for the area we are in. But as I looked back at the records, the last time anyone taught 20 lessons was way before we even got to Hendersonville.

On top of that later that day we were blasted by the number of other lessons we had per week. Other lessons are essentially lessons without a member present. It was almost like they were saying "Are you even doing anything there?!" With the stress of the world, mission, and area I broke down in the pouring rain in sheer frustration. 

Elder Moeller did his best to calm me down and cheer me up but I was pretty shaken till later that night when we received an apology as well as a notification that the zone leaders would be going on exchange with us.

On Friday I went on exchange with Elder Cullum and we went to an elderly care facility called Wings. We were not prepared at all. All we had was an address and a very brief summary of what the sisters did while they were there. We met 7-9 elderly folk who were eagerly excited to hear from us although we had no clue what to do. Elder Cullum and I agreed that we would sing. So with our iPads as the background music we sang "I am a Child of God", "A Child's Prayer", and "Love one Another" all of which are from the Children's Songbook.

I bore my testimony on faith and prayer and then after the 30 minutes we were there, we left. It was a truly humbling and interesting experience. After tracting for 4 hours without any success afterwards, Elder Cullum finally said he understood that we were trying hard out here which was exactly what I wanted him to see.

On Saturday and Sunday we had our stake conference and on Sunday I sang in a missionary choir the EFY Medley (which is As Sisters in Zion combined with We'll Bring The World His Truth combined). It was a very spiritual experience and loads of people cried as we sang. It was sweet. Later that night we went over to a member's house and had homemade fried chicken. It was incredibly delicious. While there he had me play his Les Paul electric guitar which was incredibly beautiful and I also got to mess around with his 2 year old Doberman named Cara. Super adorable big dog.

2. Elder Moeller with Cara, the Doberman

Today we went over to Opryland where a member worked at a go-kart and mini-golf place. We got in for very low prices and it was loads of fun.

3. At the starting gate at the go-kart track in Opryland

 I ended up beating everyone in the go-kart race and only wrecked once into Elder Hohneke. He was trying to turn and I may have...accidentally... spun him out and then once reset, took the lead and kept it. To be fair I lapped him again so that counts.

4. Wrecking into Elder Hohneke

At mini golf we had a lot of fun and I didn't do too bad in that either. It was all in all a fun day.

5.  At the mini golf course.

I am now reading in 1st Timothy in my Bible Challenge and am set to finish long before Christmas. Meanwhile Elder Moeller is preparing for his sfinal 8 days as a missionary. Hopefully after this transfer I won't have to deal with too many more companions that are going home. And hopefully, we will have a better week!

We are expecting miracles and we hope you are as well.  Thank you for your prayers and continued support. I appreciate you all so much.

Elder Peery

A few more pictures below:

6. Passing Elder Cullum on the racetrack

7. Passing Elder Womack and later the rest of them

8. BYU buses at Opryland?