Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 34 in the Field!

Elder Hansen and I in district meeting. (Photo courtesy of Sister Andersen)

So yeah this was a fun week for sure if you had read my last one.

So on Monday I was a little sad because the day before, David Archuleta had agreed to take us out on Tuesday night to go see some people, but I was scheduled to go on exchange with the zone leaders (who are the missionaries over the missionaries in the stake) around then. I called one of them to reschedule and they said no since they already had plans. 

But Monday morning I got a call from the other zone leader who said yes. He asked me why I wanted to reschedule and I said, "A really awesome member is going out on exchanges with us." When he asked who he was I just said "He's 'Glorious'" hinting Archuleta's hit single. I think the zone leader was a little jealous but when he came out on exchanges later on in the week, he got to have dinner with the son of a band member in Diamond Rio. I think it was a fair trade. Later on I also recommended to David that he go out with them, too, which he seemed happy about.

Tuesday we had kind of a rough afternoon. We didn't have too much success till the evening. David Archuleta picked us up at our apartment and drove us to our first stop. I said last time that he was pretty short compared to most and that he was very reserved. Well he's the exact opposite when it's just him and the missionaries. He was listening in the car to General Conference talks from 1971, but we talked during the majority of them. We talked about his music, how he writes, his mission, loads of things. By the end of the night we were best friends.

As for missionary work wise our first stop was a part member family with kids. I could see based on shadows of the peephole that someone was there but they didn't answer the door which was very peculiar to me. I was surprised but we went on to our next location. One of the things David asked was that we not point out who he is. He did this so it wouldn't get off track.

But the next person we went to was surprising. We had tracted into this family a while ago and when the husband came to the door he did a double take at Archuleta and said, "Are you freakin' David Archuleta?!" He got his wife and she freaked out since she had watched him on American Idol and David remembered her from a Cracker Barrel incident which happened about 5 years ago as "the only lady who freaked out and wanted to take a picture with me in all of Tennessee." We had a great lesson with David there and he bore testimony, marked scriptures for them, the works. Great guy.

Next person we went to didn't recognize who David was since it was dark and he wished him good luck on "getting his name out there" which was really funny. We tried the part member family again and they still didn't answer. On the way home I felt prompted to try one more person.

David piped up "We should sing to them!" Mind you it is roughly 8:30pm. So we got to the investigator's house and at first he doesn't want to talk to us since he just got home. As we were about to leave, David asks "Well, hey--would it be okay if we left you with a song?"

Surprisingly the investigator happily agreed and we straight up sang, "I Am a Child of God" with David Archuleta. Doesn't get much better than that. He dropped us off after another friendly conversation, and that was simply the most awesome night of my life!

Wednesday I went on exchange with the zone leaders and I went to Madison, Tennessee which is pretty scary ghetto. The zone leaders were Spanish missionaries so I had a fun time trying to teach in Spanish let alone follow along what was going on. However! One of the investigators had a guitar and I asked if I could play and have the zone leader sing in Spanish. He agreed and I played "I Am a Child of God" on guitar. It was great and the investigator loved it. I also bore my testimony in the little Spanish that I knew. The zone leader was impressed that I didn't just take this exchange as a day off and actually tried to work.

Thursday morning after studies we headed to the church for a district meeting and interviews with our mission president. In my interview I had a lot of questions and in return I got a lot of answers: I can now have a backpack instead of a shoulder bag (YAY), and I also received a blessing which I believe was my first in the mission field.

I needed the priesthood blessing due to the amount of stress I was facing concerning my life after the mission (marriage, jobs, support, etc.). I had been so worried about these things because Satan, that really annoying dude who likes to ruin everything, took the dreams I had and made them nightmares.

Thoughts such as "Well what if I can't support my family?" Or "My patriarchal blessing says nothing about having a family. Does that mean I'm single for life?!" So yeah, the blessing helped. In the blessing I was told that as long as I remained faithful and diligent in the mission field, that the way would be made clear and straight as to which paths I should take. It was probably one of the most powerful blessings I've ever received.

Thursday evening we had dinner with one of the Nashville Tribute Band members named Ben Truman who is the son of Dan Truman (a member of Diamond Rio). Also David Archuleta happened to be there so that was also fun. He was very quirky this time so we had an enjoyable experience talking about the MTC, mission life, mission rules, and more.

Archuleta's mission was a lot different since he sang to most of his investigators. I've been thinking about it, but it's less awkward when there's an instrument involved. At this dinner appointment, Ben had a Taylor guitar which I asked to play and my companion and I played once again, "I Am a Child of God." Ben recorded most of it on his phone so who knows where that went? I might be touring with Nashville Tribute in about 15 months. (Haha).

Friday not too much happened and same went for Saturday other than one of our members was taken to the hospital. Sunday we had a fun time cause Dan Truman showed up to sacrament meeting, which was super random. I didn't get the chance to talk to him but I had seen and talked to him twice already so no big deal. After church we went over to a member family with a non-member brother staying there. At this particular visit we taught him (the brother) the restoration and found out he had already read the Book of Mormon twice and he wants to be baptized! We set a date for the 21st of February which is technically my 9 month mark. It was awesome! The only downside is that he is a convict which depending on the crime, could determine when he is able to be baptized. I'm not sure how that all that works.

Snow in Hendersonville!

So yeah loads of stuff happening in Hendy-ville.

I'm gonna close this up with one of my new favorite verses from the Book of Mormon. In Jacob 4 verse 6 it says talking about the state of the Nephites around this time:

"Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea."

Now that's something really cool. Unshakable faith. But Jacob quickly reminds us in the next verse saying:

"Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things."

He says this and ties it all back to the blessings of God. It is so easy, too easy, to be caught up in our personal successes and triumphs to forget the One who gave us the ability to succeed. When we always remember Him, He will constantly be with us. And that's my testimony for you this week.

Elder Peery

Colds are the worst. Especially when you are a missionary. It's embarrassing to go up to someone and shake their hand after having a sneezing fit. But like all things, with better maintenance and time, things eventually will get better.
The power of the Atonement works the same way. It really stinks when you have all that guilt from doing something you know was wrong. But after hard work through repentance, you can be free from guilt. It's called the "healing power of the Atonement" because that's what it does. Makes you better!
As time progresses, make sure you are trying to keep yourself away from the sicknesses of the world. By maintaining a healthy balance of faith, repentance, and constant nourishment of the soul, we can stay spiritually healthy. 

 A friendly Rottweiler named Maddie

An adorable puppy named Duchess (both dogs belong to one of our members)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 33 in the Mission Field

So this was a fun week.

On Monday I went on exchange with Elder Longhurst who is a 25 year old missionary who is going home in 3 weeks. It was my first time in about 2 months with a missionary going home since Elder Moeller, and it was very refreshing to have a missionary that was older than I was again.

We had dinner with the Mitchell family who are a family of 8 including 6 kids ranging from 16 to very little. Sis. Mitchell is the Primary President of the ward and as we were talking about Primary and how things are going, she roped me in to teaching Sharing Time which I guess is basically teaching a lesson to the little Primary kids who are all under 12 years old. I said I'd do it and she was very happy.

Tuesday we had another normal day at the storehouse. Not much different from the last times. However Elder Longhurst had never been to a Steak N Shake before so instead of staying for lunch like we usually do, we headed off to there instead. Unfortunately because he was starting to get very sick, he didn't have the best experience possible, but I enjoyed it as usual. He got very sick (not due to Steak N Shake) and we essentially had to close up for the day after having dinner at the Gilday's which was another fun appointment.

Wednesday we had our district meeting and afterwards we went to go try a few people who ended up not being there. Wednesday night though we had an awesome member present lesson with a part member family named the Brown's where the husband is trying to learn more about the church. The previous week I had made them cookies and at this lesson it seemed they were much more open.

Thursday was basically the same until the evening when we went with a member to two families who are both less active and they want their kids baptized. We committed both to church and both didn't come so we will have to see what's up again.

Friday we had another amusing dinner at the Hansen's. One of their kids does really great impressions of Lord of The Rings/Hobbit characters and the entire time he was all over the place using Smaug's voice. I suggested that we should take him tracting and he replied "(normal voice) Yeah! So I can go (Smaug's voice and dramatically pointing) YOUUU!!! REPENT!!!" Very fun family.

Saturday we went over after dinner to a nice elderly lady's apartment with a member who's a friend of hers. We had seen her every now and then and unfortunately she's not doing too well. The Predators/Red Wing's game was on so we talked about hockey and ice skating. Back in her day she was apparently quite the skater. She essentially persuaded me that when I get back to Idaho to "find a cute girl and have her help you learn how to ice skate!" She was very sweet. She was also interested in the Book of Mormon so we told her we would come back with a large print version of it so she could read it.

Sunday was amazing. Though the two families I mentioned that we saw on Thursday did not show up, we still had a lot of our investigators who did show up. And we had a lot of visitors as well.

One of them was very special, indeed. As I was chatting with my companion at the doorway, behind me entered a small guy in his 20's and sat down behind us. My companion's expression quickly changed as he said "Oh! It's David Archuleta!"

After Sacrament meeting I said hello and thanked him for the fireside he gave back in October. I also got to shake his hand before I went off to teach Primary. It was entertaining cause all the adults were chill since he had apparently come every now and then, but all the kids including my companion were ecstatic.

Primary was awesome! There were about 60-80 kids total that I saw (they divided it up based on age levels so I saw the groups 3-7 and 8-11 separately). I taught them about how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us and the kids gave me some suggestions on how they show their love for us. Sis. Mitchell was impressed and later said "I may have to use you again." I think this marked my 4th time in Primary, which is strange cause I hadn't been back to Primary since I was the kids' age. In this ward I've officially played the piano twice for them and taught primary twice as well.

After church I got to talk to David again because during priesthood, he volunteered to go out teaching with us on Tuesday, which will be a very interesting experience. It was super entertaining ‘cause in a conversation, he's actually pretty shy. And like he is everywhere else, he's very humble and never boastful which is pretty amazing to me since a lot of people know who he is. His one stipulation was, "I don't really want to hang around adolescent girls though.." To which we all laughed. I'm looking very forward to talking to him again soon.

We had dinner with the Wilcox family tonight which was really fun. They talked about their time up at BYU-Idaho and basically told me what to do to find a future wife (completely joking around). It was great fun and they gave us one of their friends to go see. They just need to get their address haha.

So yeah other than that not much else happened. I believe this week I technically turn 8 months but I've done the math and I've been out for more than 32 weeks. So I'm not really sure how that all works but I'm going with that.

Hope ya'll have a good week!

Elder Peery

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 32 in the Field: F-F-Fun and C-C-Cold!!!

Book of Mormon collection (left to right: present day, 50's or 60's?, Nauvoo-era replica)

This week was f-f-fun, but c-c-cold.

On Tuesday we had another busy but not quite as stressful day at the storehouse. They are starting to break down who does what more into lists, but I'm still pretty much all over the place doing random tasks. We started at about 7:00am and got done around 1:00pm or so. We then started walking over to an area we were planning to work in until it started getting a little cold. A little cold turned into freezing, and after a few lessons we walked up to a McDonalds and an awesome member was able to take us home. It only got better from there.

Wednesday was crazy brutal. As we started out, the temperature dropped to the single digits. With wind chill combined with humidity, it nearly destroyed our faces. It didn't help that most of the people we tried to see were unavailable/didn't want to answer the door due to the cold. After walking about 4 miles or so in the cold we decided to stop at a member's home to get warm.

Funny enough, the nearest member’s home belonged to a kind man who was Santa Claus for over 35 years. We talked for awhile about his conversion story to the gospel, which was a really neat story, and at the end, he said "Y'know, I have a Christmas present for you Elders." He gestured to his collection of copies of the Book of Mormon and said "Pick two." He explained that he was old and he felt that his family who were not members might not keep them sacred or treat them as well as we would when he passed on.

He also said how he knew they would be in good hands. His collection was amazing. He had Book of Mormon editions from the 1920's as well as some other materials. It was awesome. I picked out a 1960's (but maybe it's a 1950's version?) version and a replica of a Nauvoo era (1839-1847) edition (wasn't an original it was just made to look like it did back then). We thanked him a lot and then left into the cold.

That day I realized that I had promised to bake cookies for a a part-member family the next time that we would teach them. We were going to see them that night, and so I quickly started looking for supplies. I realized that we didn't have any butter, and so we set out on a trek to Kroger's. If you thought all the factors in the previous paragraph were rough, try adding walking alongside the main road in Hendersonville where the wind was blowing intensely due to the traffic. A nice member from Gallatin pulled over and gave us a lift when we were 3/4ths of the way there. 

On the way back we were stopped by a lady from the Church of Christ when we were halfway home and she said "Ain't no way you are walking in this! Get in!" We thanked her as well. The trip for the cookies was a success in many ways. Not only did we get to see some nice strangers, but they softened the heart of the non-members that I made them for. It was awesome.

Thursday we got the car back from the Elders we share it with, and from that point on we were doing better. Of course, that's when it started to warm up. One thing I noticed as we were driving over the bridge in Hendersonville, was that the lake that led into the Cumberland River, was frozen solid. It takes a lot to freeze an entire lake so I was pretty impressed.

Frozen lake thawing

On Friday we ran into a lot of random people. While we were walking we were stopped by one of Gary Allan's (major country artist) daughters who gave us a lift to where we were headed that day. It was fun talking to her and it was cool chatting about when they used to come to our church about a decade ago. She was about my age, too, and so we talked about college and stuff. It was pretty fun.

Saturday we went to a funeral for a member who had passed away about a week ago. She was 94 years old, and unfortunately I never personally got to meet her, but I did get to go to her nursing home once. Her daughter was one of the first members I had met when I first came to the area, so I wanted to make sure we supported that family. It was a really neat ceremony and was my first Mormon funeral. All the hymns were church hymns save a musical number which was "In the Garden". I guess what also made the whole thing different from other funerals was the fact that instead of people being depressed, it was a joyous occasion—a celebration of life. I'm not saying they were jumping off the walls, but people were generally happy that she was in a better place due to her knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. It showed that death is not the ultimate end and that there IS life after this.

Sunday was great ‘cause in the evening I got to Skype the Peery side of my family after miscommunication on Christmas. It was a lot of fun and it was great to talk to them. I was amazed at how tall my sister had gotten as well as how everyone else had changed.

Skyping the Peerys

Other than that not too much happened this week but it was great after it started warming up. Odds are that when we give the car back it will be terrible again, but that is just our luck. Hope ya'll are staying warm with the cold weather and that you are doing well.

Elder Peery

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 31 in the Field: A Great New Year in Hendersonville!

Shopping at Rivergate Mall

Hi everybody!  

Below is 2014 in review.  It has been amazing! -- Hope you enjoy the slide show.

Hope your new year is going well so far.  So this was a very fun week.

On Monday we went over to the Hansen's (no known relation to Elder Hansen) and had a great time. Their kids (most of them older than 12) were big Lord of the Rings fans and recited a ton of quotes from it. They would also recite comedy routines from comedians such as Bill Cosby and others for us and even the oldest who was a returned sister missionary would join in too. It was hilarious!

On Tuesday at the bishop's storehouse, it was a pretty chill day, which was good cause that's when transfers were going on. Since I was spared the chop, I will be staying in Hendersonville for 6 more weeks which will (at the end) mark 6 months in Hendersonville which is 1/4th of my mission.

I know the majority of the area by heart so I'm guessing after this six weeks I will be gone which will be hard since I've gotten to know the members very well. We also tracted into a bunch of people and after following up with them later in the week, only one was actually interested. We also said goodbye to one of our favorite investigators who is now living in the Goodlettsville boundaries due to a re-alignment of the boundaries. But we will make sure to stop by if we are ever in the area.

On Wednesday, Elder Hansen had his first district meeting as a district leader which was fun. He did a good job. Afterwards we went over to a part-member's home and had a good lesson with them.  Hopefully we will see them at church in the next few weeks. We then walked back to our apartment which took a while. We had to go in at 6:00 p.m. due to crazy drivers but our mission president let us watch a Church movie so we borrowed Ephraim's Rescue from the Horlachers (members of the ward) which was really fun.

When I went to bed, I remembered that I was just 3 chapters away from finishing the Doctrine and Covenants.  As tired as I was, I finished reading the rest of it and accomplished my goal of reading and studying the whole thing in a month. After starting the Pearl of Great Price on Thursday, I ended up finishing reading and studying it today (January 5th).

Thursday, New Year’s Day, was what we call "Super P-Day" because that is the one day of the entire year where we get to spend the day off due to people suffering hangovers or late sleepers as well as crazy drivers on the road. Every elder in the stake boundaries gathered at Gallatin for basketball, Pakistani (an intense game of dodgeball), football, and more.  President allowed us to watch a few non- church related movies as well (as long as they were G or PG) so we ended up seeing The Lego Movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and of course Frozen.

2. Basketball

All were really fun and it was funny watching the elders who had been out for awhile watch Frozen for the first time. Next year we will probably get Big Hero 6 or something. My favorite of the three was probably How to Train Your Dragon 2,  but I also really really liked The Lego Movie.  Elder Hansen thought they were too childish so he only watched the first one. I think he's just trying to suppress his inner child--haha.

3. Watching movies with the elders

Friday we didn't get much done due to people not being interested, but we had an awesome lunch with Bro. Horlacher at Waffle House which was my first trip to one that I know of. It was really awesome but the Horlachers and my companion are still making fun of me for putting sugar on my eggs instead of salt. Honestly, it looked like salt to me but I didn't know why it was in such a big container. For those who are curious it still tasted pretty good.

Saturday we went to a baptism of one of the bishopric's kids whose name was Beck. It was really cool 'cause it was the first baptism in the Hendersonville ward in about 6-7 months. Beck was very happy to see all his family show up and was also happy to see us there. Later in the day we had a visit from my companion's member friends from Pikeville. They took us out to eat at McDonalds which was hilarious because one of the sisters they had with them was Sister McDonald (whom they had nicknamed "Happy Meal"). As their kids played in the play place, I grinned as the sisters and the members grilled my companion with the amount of stories about him. It was awesome. We didn't get too much done that day also due to rain which really stinks when it is combined with humidity, wind, and 30 degree weather. It is not as cold outside as Rexburg, Idaho--but it still hurts.

Sunday was interesting cause we had a bunch of people come to church even with the boundary change in effect. It was great to see the ward so positive. 

After church we went walking towards some people we were going to go see and it was just looking terrible outside.  Sure enough, a spontaneous Tennessee rainstorm occurred and combined with freezing winds, it burned it was so cold. We were not prepared for the random storm and were only wearing sweaters (I was wearing thermals though, which really helped).

Thankfully, a kind, random stranger who went to one of the mega churches pulled over and very generously gave us a ride to where we were going. Ironically he was the oral surgeon to one of our member families.

After the ride and a half hour later, a second storm hit and at that point we gave up and stopped at a member's home to wait out the storm. After dinner with a member and a young family, we called it a night and hung up our sweaters to dry out.

Everything else has been going well. Due to the holidays we haven't been able to see as many people but members are helpful to us as we serve, which is great.

My new goal is to read the book, Jesus The Christ, by the end of 2015 since this year marks the 100th anniversary of its publication. The members are trusting us a lot more for sure, and hopefully we will start seeing some more miracles! Thanks for your prayers for us and our investigators.  We really appreciate it. 

Hope ya'll have a great week! 

Elder Peery