Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 78 in the Field: Thanksgiving, A Baptism, and Transfers

Elder Ihler and I next to the Christmas tree

Okay, so I don't have a lot of time to write, you'll find out why at the end. But I suppose I should get the big news over with first:  We're getting transferred -- and this was probably one of the hardest ones.

Remember when Elder Zwick came to the mission a few weeks ago? Well, among the things he changed here in the mission was he told President Andersen that the AP's (Assistants to the Mission President) "need to be in a more fruitful area." The area they are currently serving in is mostly mansions and with very little success. They were also doing more things for missionaries than investigators. So I suppose, since our area is doing really great right now, President chose our area to place them. I was very upset and angry about the decision, but I tried to not let it bother me. But it's whatever. I'll get to that later on.

Elder Sheffield playing racquetball with President Andersen

Let's start out with Monday. Monday we spent most of the time playing racquetball with President Andersen and our ward mission leader. The court wasn't ventilated properly and so there was much slipping and sliding due to the humidity/sweat. Very gross. I rolled my ankle a few times, but we had a lot of fun. In the evening we went over to the Lee's for dinner. You might remember Rhonda Lee was the lady I confirmed a member of the church a while back. She still remembers it fondly, which is cool--great experiences there.

Tuesday we were on foot a lot of the time, but we still had some success. We went over to a run-down apartment complex and contacted this Indian guy from India, who kept bashing the American lifestyle stating "All you do is eat, drink, (and we'll just pretend he said "be merry")!" I didn't really know what to say, so I kinda bore testimony of the country, which was interesting. Hadn't done that before. He appreciated my courage, but wasn't interested in learning more. We also tried a bunch of other people the zone leaders a year ago were working heavily with. Not so much luck there, but still good people. In the evening I went out with Bro. Fisher to see some people. We got in one place, and the lady talked for like 45 minutes straight. No breaks. Just talking. I couldn't believe it.

1-3. Providencia District
(from left to right: Elder Sargent, Elder Nielsen, Elder Sheffield, Hermana Levitre,
Hermana Hooker, Elder Ihler, and Elder Peery)

Wednesday we had our last district meeting. It was kind of sad because most of the district felt like things were going to get shaken up. Elder Sheffield gave a great training on the Atonement. 

After district meeting we tried a few more people before having dinner at the Elson's. In the evening we finalized some details with Ashley about her baptism. She was stoked.

Thanksgiving dinner with David

Thursday was really fun. We started out the day playing football with the elders quorum and a few other people. Though we lost, it was still a lot of fun to play. It's not very often the bishop of the ward is chasing people down. Our first thanksgiving dinner cancelled on us, but still gave us some food. The second dinner was in the evening and that was at David's. We had a lot of fun there with David and Jesse (the guy who took us to Hard Rock Cafe). It was a great meal overall, but I kinda felt sick afterwards.

Friday we went to go try a referral. Found out they lived next door to the Christensen's and also turned out they were friends. Also turned out that they said they hadn't referred themselves (5th time this happened in 6 weeks), but they were still cool people that we hope will progress. Elder Sheffield also interviewed Ashley for baptism and she was all set to go which was awesome. After trying some more people, we had dinner at an elderly couple's home.

Saturday! Transfer call day! Dun dun dunnnn!! So yeah, you already know what happened, but I'm just gonna take this from square one and play it out. So we went to the church after doing some stuff around the apartment. We proceeded to work on the baptismal program when we finally got transfer calls. We were told we were getting white washed (meaning that both of us will be transferred out of the area), and that's when the initial shock happened. While still grieving about the decision, we remembered President talking about moving the AP's to a more fruitful area on Monday when we played with him.

Somehow, President must've read our minds, because he gave us a call a few hours after the transfer call saying "I just want to make sure you Elders know that you have done nothing wrong to get white washed. We just needed to place the AP's in a better area. We are proud of you guys and want you to know that nothing you did caused you to get replaced by the AP's." It was awesome to hear that reassurance, but we were still sad. Elder Sheffield called a bit later and said the exact same thing. It was good to hear a second witness.
 Ashley's baptism (with Elder McKown)

The bright side of the day was Ashley's baptism. President actually came to it, along with Sister Andersen. Ashley's husband, Paul, baptized her. It was really touching. I played the piano for the baptism, something I hadn't done since August of 2014. I also played a musical number, "A Child's Prayer" which was SUPER spiritual. Like I was trembling. Which is not good if you're playing guitar because it's hard to focus. But it was awesome all around.

In the evening when we got home, we started walking to go get something to eat. The Spanish elders pulled up so we were actually able to take the car. We drove to Cracker Barrel and had a good dinner there. On the way back we discussed everything again and kept wondering why this was happening. When we got home again, as if to further solidify that this was a good thing that was happening, the zone leaders called us saying the same thing President and Elder Sheffield said. Okay, I get it. This has to happen. Still doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
Smith Springs missionaries (Sister Hansen and Sister Ulivaka)

Sunday Ashley got confirmed at church, which was really cool. I got to participate in giving her the gift of the Holy Ghost while her husband gave the blessing. She was in tears afterwards and was so happy. It will be sad to see them go. Every member was shocked to hear the news about the transfer call. Some thought we were joking. It was just kind of sad to say goodbye once again. Brother Drake got released from being elders quorum president which was also sad. He was probably my favorite out of all the elders quorum presidents I've had on my mission. He'll be moving down to NC State to be a professor there, so I wished him all the best. After saying goodbyes to everyone, we headed off to clean up and pack up our things. Currently I've got two suitcases ready to go with one remaining.

In the evening, David picked us up for one more dinner at his place. He has taken such good care of us it's amazing. He loves the missionaries so much and was so sad to be losing us. I think the most sad person though was Timmy. We said goodbye to him in person last night, too, which was sad.

But yeah, such is life. I'll get over it eventually and I'm sure my next area will be just as good as my other areas. I'm excited for what could potentially be my last area.

In other news, today we have many awesome things planned. For one, I'm recording the second and last album on my mission with Brother Mortensen and Elder Sheffield. Elder Sheffield wrote a really, really good song that he performed at a transfer meeting a while ago and I asked him to sing it on the album which he agreed. I'm probably going to have him do some other stuff too. We're excited. There should be (hopefully) 9-10 songs on this one so it should be pretty good. Some of the songs that will be on there for sure will be "A Child's Prayer", "I Stand All Amazed", and a rendition of "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission/I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go" that I had planned back in Thompson's Station.

In the evening we are invited by Tim Gates to have family home evening at his place which should be a blast. I can't wait to hang out with them again. Other than that, we will probably be cleaning and packing.

I've loved serving in this area and I'm so grateful I was able to finish a transfer here witnessing someone being baptized. It was a great way to end a transfer and an area. I know I'll be back someday, and I can't wait for that to happen.
Saying goodbye to Bro. Inscho and Bro. Kessel

Thank you for your prayers and your kindness to missionaries everywhere.
On to brighter futures.

Elder Peery

Write to me at:
Elder Andrew Peery
Tennessee Nashville Mission
1646 Sunset Road
Brentwood, TN 37027


Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 77 in the Field

Week 77 in the Field  ~  Monday, November 23, 2015

 The Parthenon from the side

So on Monday we went to Centennial Park in West Nashville. For those of you who don't know, that is the park where the only life-size replica of the Parthenon is located. It was initially just made out of sticks and stuff for some kind of fair, but people liked it so much that they wanted the real deal. So they commissioned it, and I think it was finished in the 1930's or something. It was really cool on the outside, but it was closed so we couldn't go inside. Yet another anti-missionary location that is only closed on Mondays and Sundays. But alas, we still had fun. We played football, kickball, and ultimate frisbee. The kickball we used was a soccer ball that really messed up everyone's feet. It was still a lot of fun though.

The Parthenon from the front

The Parthenon pillars

Tuesday we went to Smyrna area to pick up and drop off some things with the former missionary down in the Rock Springs Ward. It took a lot longer than I expected and we didn't really get back into it till later. But we still had a good time. In the evening we went and had dinner with the Knott's, one of the original families from when I was here 21 years ago. They remembered my dad home teaching them and told me loads of stories. Apparently I was a really, really cute baby back in the day. Don't ask me what happened haha. 

Percy Priest Lake

Wednesday at district meeting, the Hermanas asked me to play Christmas hymns, which I reluctantly played. I normally don't play Christmas stuff till after Thanksgiving. But it's whatevs. We then went on exchanges. I was with Elder Nielsen from Providencia, and we went teaching in our area. We had dinner with David, who was feeling kind of sick afterwards. In the evening we went and saw a few more people before calling it.

Thursday we spent the majority of our time in two apartment complexes. The zone leaders who were here weren’t able to update much of the area book, and there were loads of former investigators and people who didn't even live there anymore. We cleared out a ton of people and eventually set up some appointments for this week as well. We also got to see a lot of the people my trainer, Elder Leavitt, had taught, too which was cool. In the evening we had dinner at a Providencia member's house. Since they were Spanish I didn't say too much, but was able to say some stuff to them. I even shared the message in Spanish, which the father used in his sacrament meeting talk this past Sunday. So cool.  After that we went over to Ashley's and found out her husband is cleared to baptize her this Saturday! We're stoked.

Bro. Mortensen playing his steel guitar

Friday we met up again and then had a lot of weekly planning. In the evening we had dinner with the Hardisty's. Sister Hardisty was my first baby sitter which was kinda weird, but cool. Her husband showed us his music collection. He had a load of cool stuff. I'll probably just buy one more guitar and a better amp if I want to increase my music collection.

Saturday we taught a load of people. Like seriously half our lessons came from Saturday. One of the guys we met was Frank and he had just gotten out of prison a few months ago and he was super solid. He had met with missionaries before and he was kind of looking for some guidance. We have a follow up appointment with him on Tuesday. After dinner with David we saw one guy who talked a bunch, which was fun. It was a good day for my 18 month mark! I officially have less than six months left now.

Sunday I didn't have to teach Gospel Principles ‘cause Bro. Naylor did. We then saw a couple people and then had dinner with the DeFriez family who used to live in Tysons Corner in Virginia, which was fun. We literally talked for about ten minutes straight about Virginia, sports, and everything else over there. It was cool. In the evening we went over to a really ghetto place but that was about it.

Deer outside this morning

Today we are playing a ton of racquetball and plan to have a good night contacting people. I'm excited for the last week of the transfer. We will let you all know what happens.  Hope you have a good week!

Elder Peery

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 76 in the Field: Mission Home, Moving Day, and Elder Zwick

 Moving the grand piano

All right, another awesome week in Nashville!
The mission home (President Andersen is in the middle of the picture)

So! Monday we hung out with the mission president again! We played walleyball and racquetball--both fun and competitive. We got to hang out at the mission home for a bit, which was also cool.

The missionary board

President and Sister Andersen had been preparing the place for when a member of the Seventy would come this week, Elder Zwick. In the evening I can't really remember what we did.

The living room in the mission home

Tuesday we were notified a family was moving from Smith Springs to Mt. Juliet so we went on over and began the move. The family was thankfully small, but the wife was a professional musician. So she liked music books. Lots of books. So much so that there were about six good size bookshelves for all these books. She also had a marimba, at least a couple violins, drum set, a couple guitars, possibly a mandolin, and a 9 ft grand piano. More on that for Wednesday. We moved the majority of the stuff over to their new place. In the evening we had a Book of Mormon class with the sister missionaries so that was cool. 

The U-haul set up

Wednesday was round two at the family that was moving. This time we had a lot more help. One of the people involved was the wife's brother who actually was a professional at moving grand pianos. The thing went a lot smoother than we thought and we got it out of there pretty good.. Until we arrived at the new house which had stairs leading up to the front door where the piano was going. Someone had the genius idea to park the Uhaul on the yard and have the ramp connect inside. Somehow, it worked. We were able to get the piano in there along with the rest of the stuff in a matter of hours. After that Bro. Drake drove us to Vanderbilt cause he needed to get something signed. We went over to this place called Pizza Perfect where they made the second best pizza I've had on my mission (first place is still Windy City Pizza in Hendersonville). In the evening we had dinner with David.

Thursday morning we drove up to Clarksville to meet Elder Craig Zwick.  He is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in our church. There were a lot of missionaries there. The stakes involved were Paducah, Hopkinsville, Nashville, and Madison. It was awesome. Elder Zwick talked about the birth of the missionary manual, Preach My Gospel. He talked about how in May 1995 President Hinckley relayed his concerns that many missionaries were teaching recited lessons and not from the heart. He wanted to fix that, and thus Preach My Gospel came into play. It was interesting to note that none of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles or the First Presidency died during the course of its making. Even though Elder Neal A. Maxwell was given six months to live in 1996 (he had cancer),  and Elder David B. Haight was at first pronounced dead on a hospital bed, he was successfully revived and lived to help with the production of Preach My Gospel. 

The book was published with each member having a significant contribution in it. And about a week after its publication, Elder Haight passed away and Elder Maxwell followed him two weeks later. Elder Zwick also talked about how we can improve as missionaries by teaching more simply--something I've been trying to implement in every teaching appointment since I've gotten here. Too many missionaries feel they have to expound everything and take forever, but you really only have to teach it simply. I also sat at Elder Zwick's table during lunch and got to talk personally with him, which was totally cool. 

Click here to learn a little more about Elder Zwick (or you may have to cut and paste the link).  It's worth it:

Friday we tried a bunch of people. We got to see Bro. Kessel at his new home which is a retirement complex in one of the taller buildings in the area. From the top, you can see the Nashville skyline. Super cool. We also had weekly planning and some other stuff.

Nashville skyline

Saturday we went and tried a ton of people. One cool experience was when we were tracting, we saw a car that had a Utah University logo on it, sitting outside an apartment complex. So we proceeded to try and find whoever lived there. First door we tried we found a lady named Skylar who was the owner of the car. Turns out she's a member from Utah and was happy to have us come back sometime. We also tried some others and ended the night playing basketball at the church with some investigators.

Sunday at church only one of our investigators showed up sadly. It's been hard getting people to church lately due to illnesses. But who knows what will happen. I ended up teaching Gospel Principles again on prophets and the role they play in our lives. During Elders Quorum meeting, the Providencia Ward opened up the gym for their primary program so we had to relocate. The only classroom we could find was the room with the baptismal font. It's a pretty tiny room, so cramming about 25 people in there was fun. In the evening we had dinner with the Relief Society president, and we were going over faith. I realized a really amazing analogy that was brilliant in my mind:

A lot of people I've met on my mission claim that science is the only way to know the truth of all things and that it's foolish to have faith in a God. However faith is a lot like science. The scientific method in a nutshell (it's been almost two years since I took a science class so bear with me), is developed first with an idea or thought. For instance, "I wonder if this rock will fall faster than this leaf?" So you develop an hypothesis: "I believe this rock will fall faster than this leaf." But then you have to test or experiment your hypothesis by dropping the rock at the same time as a leaf. Seeing that your rock falls faster than the leaf you begin to develop a theory. You maintain the theory by continuing to test it and use variables. The more tests you make, the more you come to a sure knowledge that this rock will fall faster than a leaf. 

The same thing works with God and the church. We just invite people to experience the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon, there is actually a literal explanation of this. 

It starts with an idea and hypothesis:

"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." (Alma 32:27)

An experiment and theory:

"But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow." (Alma 32:30)

Maintaining the experiment and re-testing:

"And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit. But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out." (Alma 32:37-38)

And then a sure knowledge:

"41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you." (Alma 32:41-43)

So yeah, you can actually use the scientific method on the gospel. It works. And when you develop a sure knowledge, your faith in God and the gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to grow and plant other seeds for generations to follow. Cool stuff.

Anyways life is going good and I'm working hard on improving myself. I hope to be even better for these last six months. I'm so excited for Thanksgiving next week. Hope y'all are doing well! Talk to you next week!

Elder Peery

Special note from Elder Peery’s Mom:
It means a LOT to hard-working missionaries to hear a kind word of cheer
from family and friends. If you would like to send (even brief) greetings to Elder Peery
at Thanksgiving, please know that he would be truly grateful to hear from YOU! 
Contact him at:

Elder Andrew Peery
Tennessee Nashville Mission
1646 Sunset Road
Brentwood, TN 37027