Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Week 51 in the Field -- One Year of Missionary Service!

 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to fast of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Alma 36:24

Hi everybody!

Okay--So this week was super stressful. I hit my year mark on Thursday, which has officially begun the countdown to when I come home less than a year from now. It has been super crazy but super worth it. Thanks for all the support!

Back-side of my shirt before we burned it.

On Monday we went to Garden of the Gods with a member from Foxcroft as well as the Foxcroft elders.
1. Garden of the Gods Wilderness

 It had been raining most of the morning so most of the rocks were very slippery and hard to climb on. However that didn't deter the Foxcroft elders from having some fun. There is one particular rock formation that has been nicknamed "The Camel" because of its resemblance. It is a challenge for tourists to get on top of the camel's head. It is difficult to attempt the feat when its dry alone, but Elder Smith, one of the Foxcroft elders, made the attempt by jumping a 6ft to 7ft gap from the back of the camel to the head. He was able to jump back but nearly fell off what would've been at least a 50ft-70ft fall. It was fun to watch but I will probably try a safer route next time we go.

2. Elder Smith's leap of faith (6ft-7ft gap)

Tuesday the member from Foxcroft came out with us as sort of a trial mission for returning to his own mission. He had come home due to a concussion. We decided to ask a member here to come out with us and so we did a double split. I went with the Foxcroft member and Elder Steed went with a member from Carrier Mills. We hit a lot of Harrisburg before meeting up again. The local First Baptist Church later contacted us asking us for some help so we went over and helped them with pulling out nails from a destroyed barn. While there, they talked to us about how the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention (Fred Luter) was coming to speak in Harrisburg that evening. We couldn't pass that up. We attended the meeting, which was held at the high school's gym. He talked about John 10 and how there are lost sheep out there who need to find the door, who is Jesus Christ. He spoke very quickly but very powerfully. My favorite part was when he started testifying of Jesus Christ and how he included the fact that Christ resurrected on the third day. To paraphrase what he said, "We all know that He died for us on the cross, but the story does not end there! Three days later! Back again from the grave! Bringing victory for every soul that believes on Him! What does that mean for us? We win! We win!" And he waved his handkerchief around with a huge smile on his face. It was a cool meeting for sure. 

Wednesday we had district meeting in Foxcroft area and had a fun time exploring afterwards. Later on in the day we got to see our investigator with the kid and she was doing okay. She was feeling sick though but we had a good conversation with her later on. We went over to the ex member that was returning to church for dinner which was a blast. She made us some really great omelets.

Thursday was rough. No one really was home/opened up to us till the evening when we went on another double split. Elder Steed went and had dinner with some recent converts and I went with the BML to go have a family home evening with an elderly member in a nursing home. We went with the BML's foreign exchange student who was from Norway. I read scriptures from the Book of Mormon in English and he read the same scriptures in Norwegian. It was a fun moment until the investigator with the kid called me saying she needed a lift to the hospital cause she was in so much pain. Loading her and her 2 year old in the car, we hauled them off to the hospital. An hour or so later we took them back in a very stressful car ride. But it turned into a miracle cause we found a less active at the hospital and he'd been looking for us for awhile. 

This was my shirt burning. All elders once they hit their year mark usually burn a shirt
(also happened in the Saratov Approach movie).
 It was great...until it burned a little too much...

Thursday was also the day I burned my shirt as missionary tradition states. It was a great moment for sure and we had a lot of fun. It's weird that the clock is ticking down now. But it has felt like a year that's for sure.
Here's the fun part two where everything went interesting.

Friday was also rough. Nothing happened till the evening when we got to see some less-actives and had a fun time with them.

Saturday was fun. The investigator with the kid invited us over and said she had found a Mormon movie on Netflix. That turned out to be the movie, “Meet the Mormons.” We decided to watch that, and she really teared up for the last part. She related to the mom of the missionary. It was a great experience all around.

Sunday we got a lot of stuff done. Elder Steed gave a talk on tithing as well as taught Gospel Principles on spiritual gifts. Less than 3 hours later after that class, one of our investigators had the same question he asked us about spiritual gifts and we were able to help him. Who was that investigator? Some of you may remember my "warriors of Christ" guy I found in the McDonald's. Well he called us on Wednesday and gave us his address. He remembered me and it was fun getting to talk to him and his grandson. He was a really nice guy for sure and was happy to see us again. We ended the night by watching Meet the Mormons for an FHE at the BML's house. 

It was a really rough week all around but we still were able to see a lot of people. I look forward to one more year of teaching and serving on my mission. It's been great. 

Talk to you later,

Elder Peery

3. Typical days work (Elder Steed)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 50 in the Field: Cave-in-Rock

Elder Peery and Elder Steed

Hi Everyone!  Here is my update:  We had a lot going on this week which was fun. 

On Monday we went over to the Saline County Pioneer Museum (see past updates for pictures) and we saw a stray puppy sleeping uncomfortably on the steps of the office. He was very timid but at the same time a little curious. We walked around with him and found out that the shelter was closed and would reopen the next day. So we had to ditch him temporarily. We went over to the park and Elder Steed went running while I made phone calls. We decided that we would try to find a home for it, even if we had to provide one ourselves.

When we returned, the puppy wasn't there, it was over in the projects playing with the children over there. One kid claimed him as his own, however his father wasn't too keen on the idea. Also technically, you aren't supposed to have pets in the projects. After all his excuses failed, he reluctantly gave us the stray so that we could find a home for it. We set up shop at our house and gave the puppy some food (we bought dog food for it) and then made a bed for him out of some old towels. He was disappointed at first that he couldn't stay with us in our room, but we didn't want to find any accidents in the morning. He was very well behaved even though he was a puppy. He was teething a bit so we came away with a couple small bite marks.

Tuesday we made many desperate attempts to find a home for him because we heard that the shelter in town usually puts down strays. After four hours of no luck, we finally went to the shelter and talked with the people there of his chances for survival. They assured us that they would send him to a rescue where they don't put down any pets. We were satisfied with their information and turned over the puppy to them. He was sad to see us go, but we are confident that he will find a better home.
Cave-in-Rock sunset

Wednesday evening was awesome. After a full day of not getting in too many doors, we finally were able to arrange a double split. Elder Steed went with the branch president and I went with the branch mission leader. It was the first time in a long time since one of these had happened in the branch. With the BML, we went down to Ozark, IL where we saw the former branch president and his wife who were relaxing on their back porch. We had a good lesson with them and then proceeded to Carrier Mills, IL where we tried a less active there who had essentially scared off the missionaries last time they had stopped by a year ago. We knocked on her door but there was no answer, using a trick I had picked up from the elders quorum president in the Smith Springs ward, we knocked on the neighbor's door and found out that she had moved a few doors down. When we knocked on the door one of her first questions was "How did you find me?" Because the BML was there and not another missionary, we were able to smooth this over. In a few minutes she changed from being a "Go away and never come back!" To "Y'know this made me feel a lot better actually. Come back when you're in the area again." It was great.

Thursday was an adventure for sure. We woke up at 5:00am to drive about 2.25 hours to Hopkinsville, KY for a meeting. We went down by way of this place called Cave-in-Rock. Thanks to the ferry that was down there, we were able to cut time in half by using that. 

Cave-in-Rock Ferry. We got to go across on the way to Hopkinsville.

 Cave-in-Rock Ferry in the evening.

Also it was the first time I had ever been on a boat on my mission before. It was really fun. The meeting was some of the same stuff. 

Some of the elders in the zone with President Andersen                                                                     (he is kneeling right next to me)

President trained us on how to work better with members which was good, but unfortunately I don't think it was geared towards the missionaries working in branches like ours where everyone is so spread out over the six counties. 

Looking up at the hole in the cave at Cave-in-Rock

On the way back we actually stopped by Cave-in-Rock and took a lot of pictures. There's a hole in the cave which has been nicknamed "Hole-in-Rock". It illuminates the cave a lot, but it was still pretty dark even still. We had a lot of fun there.

At the mouth of the Cave-in-Rock

Elder Steed outside Cave-in-Rock (walls are about 55 ft in diameter)

Just outside the cave.

Friday was pretty boring. Other than in the evening. We believe we may have ingested some food poisoning from a dinner we had which was not so good. We felt it the next night but Elder Steed had it worse since he ate more of the food that was possibly bad. The people we had dinner with were watching the movie "Noah" which was rather interesting. Might check it out when I go back.

Saturday was rough. We walked around for four hours and didn't get in any doors. Not even the shut ins were there. It was very frustrating. So much so, that our branch president saw us walking and picked us up for dinner. Afterwards, he took us to a play where the son of a part member was playing a leading role. It was an elementary school production of the Little Mermaid. It was so adorable. All the little voices were singing their hardest. We had to leave after intermission sadly though. It was a good pick me up. Later we stopped by our baptismal date and found out he was currently on a ventilator and in a medical coma in a hospital in St. Louis. We were very sad about this naturally. Hopefully he will get better.

Sunday we had a lot of visitors there including some people from some wards up north. Just to add a note, if you're from a big ward that happens to be doing really well and visit some other place that isn't, please don't accuse the missionaries or people around there. They are probably trying their best with what they have. Not all areas are the same. But I digress. I ended up teaching Gospel Doctrine again since not too many people stuck around after the first hour. I taught on Joseph Smith's First Vision which was a fun concept. I remember I stated five specific truths learned from this experience:

1. God's power is greater than Satan's power. When Joseph initially started his prayer, he was seized upon by the adversary to make him stop. But as he struggled to continue, he saw a pillar of light, exactly over his head, above the brightness of the sun. This light forced the darkness away, proving that God's power is stronger than anything.

2. Jesus Christ lives. The biggest truth we learn from the first vision, is a modern testimony that Jesus Christ does live. That He does still speak to man as He did in times of old. Joseph was able to communicate with both the Savior and our Heavenly Father. They were real tangible beings that had bodies of flesh and bones. And not only did Joseph testify that the Savior lives, but our Heavenly Father did as well, "This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him."

3. The heavens are opened. How amazing must it have been to realize that God still speaks to man today? How wonderful is the knowledge that there is a Supreme Creator? God still speaks to His prophets today. This event proves such truths.

4. God knows us personally. When They appeared to Joseph, Heavenly Father initiated the conversation by calling Joseph by name. No matter how insignificant or unimportant we may feel, the Creator of worlds and the universe knows us personally by name and desires to have personal conversations with us through prayer. 

5. The adversary is aware of our potential. Satan knew what Joseph's potential was. He knew that one of the last places he could stop him was right here. He knows how all of us have the potential to live with God again and it is his personal mission to stop that from happening by any means necessary. It is up to us to stay true to the faith and make sure we do not lose sight of the ultimate goal.

And that's just a piece on what I talked on. Hopefully there was some good stuff in there. You can write and ask me questions.  

You can also  read more information at:  http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/joseph-smith

Today we plan on making a trip to Garden of the Gods with some other missionaries which will be interesting since it has been raining the past three days. I'm excited but a little bit concerned about safety but we should be fine. 

Thanks again for all the letters I have received. I appreciate them all.

Elder Peery


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Week 49 in the Field: Happy Mother's Day!

 Garden of the Gods in Illinois


First off, I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day. Ours was a little hectic but a little chill at the same time. A lot of big changes happened this week so I guess we should start off with Monday then.

Monday, Elder Stange and I went off to Garden of the Gods (Attempt #2), and this time we actually made it. Garden of the Gods is essentially a unique series of rock formations that was created millions of years ago apparently due to water. 
Garden of the Gods

You are permitted (at your own risk) to climb the cliffs and to walk out on the rocks. Most of the amazing pictures I was able to take came from rather risky climbing but totally worth it in the end. 

It was a blast. Afterwards we went over to Elder Stange's recent convert family and had dinner with them to say goodbye as well as for them to give me a delicious post-birthday cake.

Tuesday we owe a lot of what we were able to do, to the Branch Mission Leader's wife. She was able to drive us down to Franklin, TN where transfers were being held. We didn't have too much time to stay, but we were able to see a few missionaries give their final parting advice before they would go home the next day. 

Elder Daniel Perry's parting advice.

Among the missionaries who went home were some of my friends from my first district, Elder Perry and Sister Ellis (the last two remaining from the first district), also Sister Johnson went home (from my second district) as well as Elder Ackroyd, the missionary I replaced in Smith Springs.

It was also there where I picked up my new companion, Elder Steed. He's from Ogden, Utah and has been out for 19 months or so. I was grateful for another more seasoned missionary. He's really hilarious and yes, he's a ginger.

Welcome, Elder Steed!

We had to leave transfers early and I was only able to quickly scan the mail pile so I probably missed a lot of stuff that I will be getting soon for my birthday. The drive back seemed to take forever, but we at least had some fun stories. We were able to make it back to Harrisburg by the evening and got to see a couple of people.

Wednesday we went down to Paducah for district meeting. The district has changed dramatically. There are no longer Foxcroft sisters, but Foxcroft elders. Only three missionaries including myself stayed the same. The new district leader is Elder Spiker who is a pretty cool dude for sure. After that we went to Metropolis, so Elder Steed could see the giant Superman. We were able to contact a referral from an investigator which was great. 
 Old train in Paducah,KY.

Not much else happened that day. Same thing happened on Thursday when we struck out with multiple people--even shut ins. It was very depressing for sure. But we had a fun meeting in the evening with our branch mission leader.
The Brookport Bridge. It is terrifyingly unsafe. The grates are large enough to fit a soda can through.

Friday we spent most of the day helping the Waters move to a new house kind of near Equality, IL. It was fun getting to hang out with their family. We tried to fix the wifi at the church building which has been down for the past two months or so which is frustrating. Not being able to fix it, we decided to figure out other locations to skype home on Sunday.

Saturday was much better. Literally everyone we tried to see on Thursday we were able to see on Saturday. It was awesome getting to see so many people and have great lessons all around. One of the cooler things was we got to talk to one of our less active members who is suffering from several health issues. Apparently her maid/caretaker is relatively interested in the gospel which is good to hear.

Sunday was interesting. I taught gospel principles on scriptures which was a lot of fun. And then we were able to set up a lot of appointments for the upcoming week. In the middle of the day we were able to Skype our parents at the branch mission leader's home which was fun. I was happy to talk to as many as I could, including Bro and Sis Price, my grandpa—who is 92 years old, and of course parents.

Today it has been pouring down rain, so Elder Steed and I will be looking for stuff to do around here. We will be looking forward to this week since we have a fun trip to Hopkinsville planned for a Zone Conference, where I have been asked by the assistants to the President to be the pianist. I wasn't too thrilled about it—it’s nerve-wracking, but it will be an interesting experience playing for at least 100 missionaries or so.

Not much else has been going on here. I am grateful again for the letters I am slowly getting from my birthday. Thank you all so much again for all that you do for us.  Please pray for the work here in Eldorado.

Elder Peery

Another beautiful view from Garden of the Gods.