Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 43 in the Field! Happy Early Easter!

Elder Stange entertaining a bunch of kids.

Happy early Easter everyone!

Monday we didn't do all that much cause we are starting to run low on the amount of miles we can drive per month. It was a very slow evening missionary work wise. We were finally able to see Laura, one of our investigators who is trying to stop smoking. We shared a few scriptures with her and developed a game plan to help her stop smoking. She told us that in order to get a needed kidney transplant she would have to stop. But she was kind of nervous about getting one. I can understand how creepy it can feel to know that a part of someone else is inside of you, but it is also a gift of life, too.

Tuesday we went over and saw an elderly man who is the husband of a less active. He kind of bashed us a bit which wasn't too fun. It's hard not to be prideful in those situations. We also went over to see another elderly less active lady and read some of Isaiah with her and helped her understand what he was talking about. Again, we didn't have too much success knocking doors. A lot of people are away for spring break, but some just don't like us that much -- haha.

Wednesday we had a meeting down in Paducah, KY and got to meet a new missionary named Elder Senatore who is from Florida but originally from Venezuela. He is being trained by Elder Porter who is the district leader. It was hilarious because everyone didn't believe he knew English due to Elder Porter constantly having to translate for him. At the end of the meeting when Elder Senatore gave the closing prayer, he did the entire thing in English and had everyone fooled. It was a good prank.

Later on we had dinner with our branch mission leader and then went out to Dairy Queen with them to celebrate their daughter being inducted into the honor society. It was fun blending in with a bunch of other kids wearing white shirts and ties. Work wise we ended up getting dropped by like three different families, but we are staying positive.  This just shortens our teaching pool and narrows down the solid people.

Thursday we went to go see our less active member who was in jail. It was interesting having another phone call conversation through the window. He was happy to see us, however it was kind of awkward listening to all the stuff he's done. After that, we went over to see one of our elderly potentials. She was going through a really rough time and was happy that we had stopped by.  Her husband just had a stroke, and she just found out that she had cancer and had to go through radiation and chemo. She was in tears but maintained her testimony of Christ which was great to see.

We went over to our Branch President's house and I got to talk to his wife more about the internship program at Disneyworld. There are very few things I know that I want to do when I get home, but doing that is one of the big ones. She encouraged me to try out for a character, but said that even doing small stuff is still fun. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday we had lunch with one of the former branch presidents at this great place here in Harrisburg, IL. It's called the Burg and it had some fantastic catfish. Later on we went over to Eldorado and were dropped by a few other people sadly. But then we had an awesome dinner of burritos at a recent convert's home. For dessert they fed us deep-fried ice cream. Now that was an experience. I can't remember how you make it, but it's a process that involves lots of freezing. It was pretty good, except for the coconut.

Four words: Deep Fried Ice Cream. How is it done? Absolutely no clue. What's it taste like? Imagine if KFC made ice cream. It's crunchy on the outside, cold and creamy on the inside. You have to eat it quickly once it's out of the fryer. I probably lost about a year of my life eating it, but it was really good. A member kindly made it for us. It was REALLY good! In the south they deep-fry literally everything. Deep fried Oreos are legendary apparently.

Saturday not too much happened. It was overall a pretty boring day of not getting to teach anyone.  People just weren’t home.

Sunday we had a great fast and testimony meeting. The Russell's daughter, who got home from her mission about a week ago, spoke about how she has been a missionary even after her mission. She also referenced a really tough decision she had to make recently. We found out from her dad that she broke up with her boyfriend after he waited for her for 18 months. I felt bad for the guy but she was a completely different person than 18 months ago. I've noticed a definite change in myself as well. I'm certainly not the same guy I was 10 and a quarter months ago. I'm more confident and even more loving than I was before. It's been awesome to see the change.

We also went up to one of our investigators who lives in Carmi but meets us in Norris City. He had gotten into some legal issues, but didn't really open up. After hearing testimony and connecting with him, he looked me dead in the face and suddenly unfolded all this stuff that has happened to him. I was shocked that he trusted me that much but he saw that I did care. And he felt the Spirit big time. We had a recent convert with us and he testified about the spirit that he felt when he was baptized. It was powerful. The dude just has to figure out his legal standing as well as the word of wisdom stuff first.

Not really sure why I took the picture other than it looks awesome, very inspirational.  
This is in Galatia, IL.

Sunday's miracles weren't over though. Later that evening with another member, we went over to Laura's house again. She was still struggling with the whole kidney deal. We had a pretty fun conversation, and then I realized it was late so I whipped out the Book of Mormon and flipped to a random page. The first scripture I chose was Ether 12:6, but I felt prompted that there was a better scripture for the situation. Asking for some more time, I slowly flipped to Alma 7. I read the verse 12 which says:

"12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

I illustrated that Christ not only sacrificed Himself for our sins, but He also took upon Himself our infirmities, our problems, our worries, our fears, our heartaches, our pain, so that He could know how best to help us. He literally walked a mile in our shoes from the Garden to the Cross. I testified that He knows exactly how to help her and if that means getting a transplant, then that's what she needed to do. She made the connection and instantly agreed and was more confident now that this was something she needed to do. It was so awesome. The spirit was really strong and everyone felt it.

It's moments like those that make me glad I'm a missionary. They literally make all the difference when you see that you personally, were able to bring a point across to someone who was struggling, and helped them see how Christ can help them. It's amazing being an actual instrument in the Lord's hands and I never really connected with that until this week.

Elder Peery

(Please write me at:; I am not on Facebook at this time.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 42 in the Field: Wonderful Week

The Paducah Spanish District.
Back row from left to right: Elder Porter, Elder Stange, Elder Dobson,
Elder Van Valkenburg, Elder Peery, and Elder Nez.
Front row from left to right: Sister Curtis, Sister Gates,
the district mascot Harry Porker, Sister Ellis, and Sister Hess

Okay! This was a fun week and very fitting for the last week of the transfer.

Fun little nightmare of ALMOST running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
This is a screenshot from a video I made for last week's email. If you didn't get it, let me know.

So Monday was very eventful. I sent a video all about it in last week’s blog, but I'll  re-tell this story. So we were heading down to this national park called Garden of the Gods. It's a unique rock formation in the hills  of Southern Illinois. One of these days we will go back and get some  pictures. Anywho, so as we were heading down, my GPS took us on a wrong turn and tried to tell us to get on this certain road that  didn't exist. We probably spent a good 15 minutes looking for this thing until we finally decided to get back to the main road and continue south. Right about that time I looked down and saw that we  didn't have too much fuel left. But we were close, so in my head I thought we could make it.

As we neared the actual entrance, I decided to pray in my head about it and felt that we needed to find a gas  station first. The answer was confirmed by the low fuel indicator light coming on right as I made my decision. Praying and doing my best to remain calm, I drove about 12-15 miles to a place called Equality, IL where a gas station supposedly existed. Once more, my GPS fooled  me. Continuing on course with an especial need for prayer, we finally reached Eldorado about 12-15 minutes later and were able to fill up there. Our GPS would get us lost again as we headed to dinner later on Tuesday.

Downtown Carmi, IL

Tuesday we headed up to Carmi, IL with a member who lived near there. We visited some of the people we saw the last time. Like I mentioned last week, the main reason they don't come down to church is the distance. It's sad but understandable.

A cool looking building in Carmi, IL.
This was on some sort of historic street,
but I have no idea what the significance of this building is.

We literally went to the very top of the area, driving along side the border, and tried to see a member who lived on the top line. He wasn't up there but it was cool to almost be in the neighboring mission.

Whole lotta fields. Currently all that stuff is dead crop. There should be some wheat growing within the next few months. What you are looking at is the mission that is north of my mission. The pole towers shown off in the distance are in the neighboring county just outside the border of the Tennessee Nashville Mission, but we have a member who actually lives just before the poles.

Driving back, we stopped in this town called Norris City, where we saw a referral. This kid was 23 years old and was looking for direction in his life. He had been to church once and was very, very interested. Everything we taught made sense and connected with him. The only downside? He lives in Carmi. But he was willing to drive to Norris City to meet us there. We would've seen him yesterday but he was in jail. I can understand that he's looking for a sense of direction. He reminds me a lot of my younger self.

Contacting less actives who live in the middle of nowhere.
This building used to be a school a while ago. Now it's kind of in ruin.

Fun Photo of The Paducah Spanish District.
Back row from left to right: Elder Porter, Elder Stange, Elder Dobson, Elder Van Valkenburg,Elder Peery, and Elder Nez.
Front row from left to right: Sister Curtis, Sister Gates, the district mascot Harry Porker,
Sister Ellis, and Sister Hess

Wednesday we went down to Paducah for district meeting. It was the last district meeting of the transfer. Elder Stange trained on commitments and extending them. It was Elder Porter's birthday on Thursday, so we surprised him by singing Happy Birthday for the closing hymn. He was very surprised by the apple pie we gave him. 

It was Elder Porter's 23rd birthday Thursday, so at district meeting on
Wednesday, we sang Happy Birthday, threw a surprise birthday party,
and gave him an apple pie.

Later on, we visited a member who was in the hospital and had a great conversation with them. Their son had gotten baptized about a month or two ago and he was there as well.

Thursday we essentially met with a bunch of random people. We dropped a few people who were no longer interested and also had a fun talk on charity with an elderly lady. We met with our favorite law of chastity lady again this week as well. Bright side is she is actually doing really well and understands the gospel a lot better. She agreed to come to church if we could get her a ride.

This is the bridge over the Ohio River.  It connects Illinois to Kentucky.
We cross this whenever we are heading to Paducah, KY.

Later that evening we drove down to Paris, TN, since we had to get a ride to the temple the next day. The elders we were supposed to go with in Calvert City bailed on us, which was why we had to drive so far.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, TN. This one is about 2-3 stories high.
We stopped by here when we were on our way back from
the temple with the Paris Elders.

When we went to the Nashville temple on Friday I had a good experience. I got to see President and Sister Andersen there, which was great, and overall had a wonderful time. I definitely want to make the temple a priority when I get back. Serving in an area that is 3-and-a-half hours away from the nearest temple right now makes me grateful to live in a home that is just 30 minutes from the Washington DC temple--or in Rexburg's case only 5 minutes away.

Saturday was another interesting day. We were asked to go visit a member who was currently in jail and drop off a Book of Mormon and a Bible for him. When we asked if we could talk to him, the guard asked if we were preachers or pastors. When we explained that we were missionaries, he wanted to see some credentials. Instantly I thought of the ministerial card every missionary is given when they go to the MTC. On the card it basically says, "This is to certify that the person whose name is above is a qualified representative of the church. We invite all to hear his message." The card is signed by the President of our Church. I showed that card to the guard, who was surprised to see I actually had credentials for being so young, and he let us enter.

We had a good conversation with the member. It was very interesting giving a lesson over the phone looking through a window. He was grateful for the visit.  Later that evening, the Branch mission leader's daughter had a missionary homecoming party. She had just returned from the Utah Provo mission and a lot of her non-member friends and family were there. We had a fun time talking with her friends and former companions who had made the trip. Makes me wonder if any of my mission buddies will be able to see me at my homecoming.

Sunday I gave a talk following her homecoming talk. I spoke on the question, "How can I find out what the Lord's plan is for me?" It was a very personal talk and if any of you are interested, I will be more than happy to send you my talk since I wrote the whole thing down.  Just email me at:

After church we went over to a less active's home. He wasn't too big a fan of missionaries forcing him to come to church, so because we didn't even address the topic, he warmed up to us a lot. He even allowed us to help him out in a few weeks with his yard. He said "I hope ya'll feel special, cause I rarely let anyone help me." My mind was recalled to a verse in the Book of Mormon: "...I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants...that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words." (Alma 17:29). He's a great guy and I hope he comes back to church.

Everything is going pretty well out here. As for transfer news we are both staying in Eldorado. I am excited for another six weeks here that will hopefully be even more eventful, and much less cold.

I appreciate any and all letters that are sent to me. The few that I do receive I am grateful for. 

Thanks so much for your prayers,

Elder Peery

So recently there was a gigantic flood. What you are seeing is not a river; it's actually supposed to be a giant field. You can see an oil reserve through the trees. Many fields have been covered with water.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Week 41 in the Field

So I just wanted to let ya'll know that first off I'm fine. Today for Pday we went down to Garden of the Gods and essentially when we got there (it was about 20-30 miles south of us) the low fuel indicator went off.   I started panicking cause there were no nearby fuel stations. I saw one that was about 12 miles north, so we ignored Garden of the Gods and headed straight for that. Unfortunately the GPS lied to us, which was quite peculiar since it was relatively new. Driving a further 15 miles we safely reached Eldorado and were able to fill up. Here's just a short clip of the mayhem that we were experiencing.

Note:  Something to learn from this is to always maintain a positive attitude, even when you are in a really rough spot.

Okay so this week was pretty fun. Unfortunately I wasn't able to capture it all on camera due to the fact that we have new iPads now, but it was still great.

So on Monday we went fishing with an investigator and frankly it was a bit annoying. We tried going down the river a bit where we could get closer to the water, but due to the snow and rain, the ground was crazy muddy. Elder Stange's and my shoes were both really really messed up before we decided to head back the half mile we had already come through the mud and head for the bridge which crossed over the river.
Walking a cool trail. Elder Stange is on the left, our investigator is in the middle, and his dog is on the right.

After catching nothing, the investigator and Elder Stange started messing around and for some reason, Elder Stange started kicking off his shoes. The first shoe landed on the bridge, the second shoe... In the river. I started filming a quick video saying he "might as well chuck the other one."

Not my best picture, but this shows Elder Stange's shoe floating down the river. I sent a video of what happened to my mom and hopefully she may have posted it in the last week’s update.

The shoes were pretty old and worn out, but he was sad to see them go nonetheless. He later bought a $10 pair at Walmart so he's okay now. After that we went on a long walk with the investigator and his stray dog friend. It was a really cool trail and hopefully I'll be able to obtain a picture of it from my USB where I saved a lot of pictures on it.

The Ohio River. It is kind of thawing in this picture from all the snow and ice which explains the foggy look of it. We cross this bridge every time we leave Illinois.

Tuesday through Wednesday I went down to Paducah, KY on exchanges with Elder Porter who is a much older missionary than I am. We had a blast, but teaching wise was kind of rough. He is a Spanish missionary and since I know very little Spanish (enough to understand what was going on), I couldn't help out too much. I did learn some phrases in Spanish and practiced bearing my testimony in Spanish-- Something like "Soy un hijo de Dios. Yo sé que José Smith (Joseph is translated to José) es un propheta de Dios. Y yo sé que el libro de mormón es verdadero." I'm 99% sure that all translates to "I am a child of God. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. And I know that the Book of Mormon is true." (I forgot how to say "I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior" and so I didn't want to mess that up here). 

didn't have too many opportunities to bear my testimony on the exchange, but I did have a blast working with an elder who was older than I was again. We also had dinner with a member family who was from Tucson, Arizona and actually was the primary teacher for Elder Moeller, my second companion in the field. It was a crazy coincidence for sure.

While on exchange on Wednesday we did contact an English-speaking person and I was able to take the lead on this one. She was a cool Baptist riverboat cook that had been going through some rough times-- Kind of strange however. She was very adamant in her beliefs including the doctrine of the Trinity which she firmly believed. When we offered to show her in the Bible where it shows God and Jesus Christ as separate beings (Acts 7:55-56 for starters, if you were wondering) she quickly stopped us and said "Nope! I'm very set in my beliefs." We referred her to the sister missionaries and that was that.

Thursday we had a fantastic zone meeting. President Andersen was in attendance as was his wife and her sisters. They were introducing the new iPads and training us on how we will be using them. I was very excited to get started on this new idea. Basically the church, through revelation, figured out a way to teach youth (especially missionary age) the ways technology can be used for good. As missionaries, we will learn these techniques and then teach them when we return home. It's a brilliant idea to encourage the safe use of the Internet.

Later in the evening we had dinner with the Russell's who are an awesome family in the branch. Bro. Russell is the branch mission leader so we are over there frequently.

Friday I finally got to see the northern side of the area. For the most part I had only been working in Saline (Suh-leen) County for the past 5 weeks or so, but that day we went up to practically the top of the area with a member. Our first stop was picking up car keys in Muddy, IL (population 100) and then up to this city called McLeansboro,IL  where we got a ride with a member to Carmi, IL.

Overlooking the plains from Ledford Cemetery

I literally have no clue of any historical background about either of these places, but it was fun getting to see new areas. We talked to a bunch of less actives who live up there. Most of them don't come down due to the long drive (it's about 45-55 minutes in good conditions) and others just because there are closer churches than ours. It's sad, but understandable. The Eldorado branch has one of the larger boundaries in the states, covering about seven counties. It's hard to get people so far away to come.

Saturday we didn't do anything too special other than teach a lesson over the phone to an investigator Elder Stange and Elder Dobson found while on exchanges up here. She was super solid after throwing a bit of anti at us. But after explaining a bit more, she was really into the Book of Mormon. She's a pretty cool miracle for us to teach, hopefully.

Sunday was interesting. Our sacrament meeting attendance essentially tripled!  It was great! I passed the sacrament, and we emptied 2 of the 3 trays we had. Approximately 70+ people showed up. Some were visitors, others coming back after the bad weather. I was surprised and happy at the increase.

After church we went to go see a couple people and then had dinner again with the Russell's.Their puppy got loose so I went running to catch it. I was covered in mud, but I got it.

The Russell's puppy (named Piper) being adorable

Time for a tummy rub.

Overall we had a pretty fantastic week thanks to all the member exchanges we went on. Today, since it’s P-Day, I believe we are headed to this place called Garden of the Gods which I've heard is incredibly beautiful. I may send those pictures as well. But anyways I'm having a lot of fun out here serving the Lord, and I'm hoping ya'll are doing the same. This upcoming week I will hit my 10 month mark and I believe this also marked the week that I got my mission call a year ago. Crazy how time flies.

Elder Peery

So in explanation, this week we got our new iPads, and had to trade in the old ones. So most of these pictures are from Thursday and up. I haven't had time to take too many, so this will have to be it for this week. We are going to this place called Garden of the Gods today which is usually a really pretty cliff area that overlooks a bunch of the forest. I will take pictures there and may send those to ya’ll later on.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 40 in the Field!

Elder Stange- the soul saving master.

All right! Here's the week!

Monday we went to a Pioneer museum that highlighted a ton of history about Southern Illinois. I took a lot of pictures then, since I hadn't really taken any the previous week -- so if you want to see pictures of the place, just look at the last update. It was loads of fun looking in all the buildings. The main museum was closed to the public and only open if you schedule an appointment. The place doesn't get much business I'm afraid. We were the only two people there.

Tuesday we had district meeting in Eldorado for a change. I've now been playing piano for meetings even though I believe I'm not that good at it (haha), but it was a good meeting. We had trainings on boldness which is something I struggled with for awhile. For one of the role plays we did theatre exercises on unity which made me a bit homesick for BYU-Idaho. But those thoughts were quickly replaced when we started role playing teaching the law of chastity with the other set of elders.

After the meeting we went over to one of the investigator's we see regularly on Tuesday and had a super awesome lesson with her and her separated husband. I bore my testimony of my conversion story and the truth of this gospel and it touched the husband's heart a bit. The investigator sister said she would be baptized if she finds that this is the true church. Cool!

We also saw a elderly sister who is turning 89 this year and her husband is turning 93 soon. She was grateful we had stopped by and that we shared a message with her.

Wednesday around noon it started snowing again. We were told to park the cars and stay indoors. This was a PAIN! When you're a missionary and you're not doing anything, you are miserable. After cleaning, playing board games, and finishing a jigsaw puzzle, I literally just went to sleep. The same thing happened on Thursday. Hopefully this is the last of it.

Not as bad as last time, but snowed in again.

Friday we still couldn't drive, but we were permitted to go out and work around our house. We went over to see one of our part member couples who told us they were moving the next day. It was kind of sad since the missionaries have been really close with them for awhile. Bright side is they are still in the mission boundaries and in the neighboring area, so we will still get to go see the husband's baptism.

SPEAKING OF BAPTISMS! So I forgot to mention that on Tuesday night, we went over to our Branch Mission Leader's home and he told us that a baptism was happening on Saturday. Now I had met the lady getting baptized before at church. She kind of wanted the baptism done privately, so we weren't invited. BUT it still counts as a baptism in our books so that counts as baptism NUMBER TWO on my mission.

To top that off, I got to watch my friend Shawn B. get baptized in Hendersonville via Skype. He and his family are great people. The member who baptized him was the member we brought with us all the time over there. He stood in the font with Shawn for a few minutes and was in tears when he performed the ordinance (or as he calls it "an allergic reaction to the spirit"). I got to talk to Shawn, and he was so happy and felt good. It was awesome!

Skyping into Shawn’s baptism (he and his family are on the left,
Elder Hansen is speaking on the right, I'm in the bottom right corner of the screen).

Sunday was good except a lot of people were still missing, but a lot of people were there, too. We had a meeting, and later had dinner with the branch president.  He told me that he was grateful for what we’ve been doing for the branch and for my enthusiasm. I was grateful for the vote of confidence and morale boost.

We also went over to help out a kid at the Baptist church--or at least that's what I thought we were doing. It turns out he had just invited us out to his church meeting. It's kind of weird going to another church as a missionary. At first, everyone gives you strange looks, but then will be friendly. At this church, everyone was dressed casually and singing and praying randomly. I don't think there was any order to what they did save singing and then sermon. But the sermon was pretty good. It talked about how Christ said in John 11:25, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:" They did not use the King James version of the Bible, so the wording was a little different. It was a good sermon up to when the preacher said, "What about those who haven't heard His word and die? We can't let them dwindle in unbelief and perish!" He went on to say something along the lines of how when they die, they won't get that chance. Well, when you have that grim outlook it doesn't make much sense to me.

What if you are born on some far off island in the Pacific and never hear the word "Christ" or "Jesus" or any touch of Christianity? Are you thrust out of God's presence forever simply because you never learned about it in this life? NO.  

That's one of the reasons I love our Church because we DO believe that people who die without a knowledge of the Gospel can obtain that later on. They aren't lost forever. What kind of God would let that happen? Our loving Father in Heaven has His Plan of Salvation.  It is a Plan of Happiness.  It is for EVERYONE.  It was a fun experience Sunday night -- but I doubt we will go back.

It's been kind of crazy this transfer, and I hope that things continue to pick up. We have a lot of nice people in the branch, and it is very slowly growing. One of the coolest things is to see former members of the Church come back after long periods of time. I love hearing their conversion stories ‘cause it reminds me of my own.

I'm looking forward to this week ahead and can't wait for the adventures to come out here in the mission field.

Thank you all so much for staying in touch! I appreciate all letters.  I also appreciate all your prayers for us and the people we are teaching.

Elder Peery

ps.  So we went fishing today and while messing around, Elder Stange kicked off his shoe. Now we were on a bridge so the shoe went into the river. I suggested since that shoe was long gone that he "might as well chuck the other one". This little video shows what follows. It just shows missionaries having a little fun on P-Day. Enjoy!