Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 95 in the Field: Getting "ET'd" again. (Emergency Transfer)

With Willy and the Mathis family

Wow. So yeah, lots happened this week.

On Monday we went down to Manchester where we met up with the Manchester elders and the Tullahoma elders and we played a ton of baseball. It was loads of fun. Elder Beckett didn't play too much, so he was the commentator. After that Elder Cox and I went on exchange in Manchester. Not much happened that day.

Manchester water tower

Tuesday Elder Cox and I tried a bunch of people, but majority of them were not home. We did get to meet the Anderson family who were really nice and fed us scones. We also got to teach one of their friends there as well. After that I got him some Zaxby's shakes, which apparently are very high in calories. Still tastes good though.

Seminary with Elder Cox!

Wednesday Elder Cox and I were invited to help out with the early morning seminary class. It had been the first time I went to seminary since I was inactive from the church, the 2nd semester of my Senior year in high school. They were memorizing Malachi 3:8-10, and we studied the Atonement. It was awesome! We then met back up at district meeting, and I went with my regular companions, Elders Barrus and Beckett, to go try some people, but ended up striking out.

Thursday we followed up with a lot of our investigators and also found some new ones. We also saw the Mathis family, and they were kind of sad because of a sickness in their family. We then went on an exchange with a member and tried a few people but not much luck, however, he did take us to Captain D's which is essentially like Long John Silvers. After that we were able to contact a less active who moved here from Soda Springs, ID so it was fun talking about southeast Idaho for a bit.

I think part of the reason I'm skimming a bit on the first few days of the week is because of what happened the next three days since they are kind of huge...

Friday morning around 9:05am, President Andersen texted asking to speak with me. I was very nervous ‘cause it could mean a number of things. Sadly, it was what I feared. I called him right back, and he informed me that a missionary would be leaving early because he was homesick, and since I was in a trio, I'd be called to fill his spot. I would leave Sunday after church for Spring Hill, TN to serve in the Spring Hill ward which is the neighboring ward to Thompson's Station, one of my old areas. I was very sad to say the least because I wanted to finish my mission in McMinnville. And once again was being emergency transferred from an area I liked. But I told president I'd do it.

We spent the rest of the day saying goodbye to people. In the afternoon I went on a split with Bro. Street and saw the Majors family. Bro. Majors should be receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood in a few months, which is exciting. In the evening we went out teaching with Bro. Pennington and saw Debra. It was sad saying goodbye, but I know I will see all of them again. We had a jam session with Bro. Pennington in the late evening after some dessert.

Saturday we went with Bro. Shoemaker and tried to see a few people but no luck. We did get to try a referral and contacted her. In the evening we went over to the Hoyles' spa, and they gave us these scone sandwiches which were really good. We also got to try out their massage beds which was kind of like a waterbed mixed with a jacuzzi. The jets massage your back but you don't get wet or anything. It was nice. Most of the day was spent packing for Sunday.

Sunday was kind of rough. Reminded me of when I left Hendersonville. I was asked to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting which was hard to do. Debra came to church to see me off. Elder Beckett tried to take care of Willy during sacrament meeting but failed miserably. So me and Elder Barrus had to go watch him. I also watched him during second hour. During third hour I taught Elders Quorum on the talk by Neil L. Andersen on "Faith is not by chance, but by choice." I can't really remember everything I said, but it was really good.

Here is the link to the talk, so you can watch it and/or read it, too. 

Bro. Mathis gave me a Liberty Bell in honor of my nickname "Thomas Jefferson". After that, we said goodbye to a lot of people, and then we went to the apartment where President and Sister Andersen were waiting. I said goodbye to Elder Barrus and Elder Beckett, and then off we went.

Riding with President and Sister Andersen down to Spring Hill

The drive down was kinda quiet for the first bit. They were listening to Acts 3-7 before I finally started a conversation. I talked to them about their lives before the mission and what they want to do after the mission. It was like a two hour interview with me asking the questions. It was fun.

Finally we got to the Spring Hill apartment which is located in Columbia. I got out, the missionary going home got in, and I loaded all my stuff into the apartment and met Elder Hinds, my new and probably last companion. He's from Kaysville, UT and has been out about 9 months. He's a pretty strong guy and was Elder Ihler's MTC companion.

Elder Hinds demonstrating how to skin a fish

We talked for a bit and then went off to this Easter party at the Pennington's who are relatives of the Pennington's in McMinnville.  (Small world!) It was kind of like drinking from a fire hose--so many people to talk to and meet. Elder Hinds showed off his hunting skill by catching and skinning a fish, which we later cooked and ate. After that they had an Easter egg hunt with all the little kids. It was fun to watch. In the evening we had dinner at a returning member's home. They want us to teach their daughter, which we will begin doing tomorrow.

Easter Egg chase

Today we did all kinds of stuff, which is why this email took a little longer than usual to send out. It's kind of strange all this happened. I literally had 4 companions this week. I'm hoping things will be good here even if it's just for 8 weeks. I'm grateful for all the members and nonmembers back in McMinnville and hopefully will see them again.

See y’all next week,

Elder Peery

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 94 in the Field: Meeting Elder Bednar!

Two iPads!
Lots of fun stuff happened this week.

On Monday we didn't really do anything again. We were still in a tough place because the mission hadn't reimbursed us for our bedbug stuff yet. And so we couldn't buy a whole lot. Elder Barrus and I played catch in the church parking lot, and I am slowly getting the curveball down. It's a tricky pitch. We tried a few people after that but ended up striking out.

Elder Barrus teaching with Sister Andersen.

Tuesday we found out that we had lost the phone and we were supposed to go out on exchanges that day. Luckily the guy going out with us showed up anyways. We got our phone back but ended up striking out on the exchange. We then got a lift from Isaiah down to Tullahoma for interviews. My interview with president was a bit interesting, especially since this was my last normal interview. Next transfer (April 12th) will be my very last interview with President. But yeah I got my temple recommend renewed and we also talked about the area. 

He had heard about how kindly I treated Willy, the son of Brother and Sister Mathis,  and with tears in his eyes said, "Elder, because of that image, I will never forget you. This and what you did for Eldorado. I'm so proud of how you've treated that situation." It was really cool.

Wednesday we got the car back and taught a ton of people. We had like six lessons by the end of the day! The coolest lesson was when we went out teaching with a member of the bishopric to go see Brad. Brad had questions regarding resurrection, the breath of life, and the ranks of angels... Yeah it's safe to say I haven't encountered two of those questions on my mission yet, but we were able to teach him to the best of our ability. We've also been showing around the #Hallelujah video. We haven't had too much success with it as of now, but it's a touching video for sure.  Here is the link, so you can watch it, too. 

Thursday was an eventful day. And a sad one. My iPad wasn't really working too well because of a weird glitch. It says I was using 26GB when I was only using about 10GB. Turns out after talking to three different Apple Representatives, that it was a glitch in the software and my iPad would have to be cleared. I literally was talking to everyone. The mission iPad guy, Elder Walbom was doing his best to walk me through, but eventually he had me call Church HQ about it. That was also a weird conversation since I had never talked to Church HQ. But they ended up doing something and it basically cleared everything. Everything. Notes, pictures, videos, memories, restrictions, everything. It was pretty sad honestly. 

Luckily I got a loaner iPad and I had backed up most of my photos. But it was really unfortunate to have all that memory gone just like that. Anyways, as a result, I now have two iPads because they felt it would be pointless to put restrictions on my personal one. So they gave me a loaner and basically said this will be the one I use for my last two months. But yeah, teaching wise, was kind of slow because of that whole 3.5 hour deal. But afterwards, Bishop came out teaching with us and we went and saw the Mathis family. Willy was loose, and so I basically wrestled him the entire time to keep him from wreaking havoc while my companions taught. Very difficult.

Friday we had a short planning session at the church and then went to go see the Majors. We had to cut our visit short, but they are doing really well. We then went out with a member to go teaching and contacted an investigator as well as a less active out in the boonies. While out there, the member took us to an Amish store, which was kind of different. They were nice people, but they just looked at us like we were weird or something. They also spoke something they called Pennsylvania Dutch, which was interesting. We got some peanut brittle and homemade honey and jam out of the deal, which was really good stuff. In the evening we went and got some BBQ thanks to a nice member who paid for us.

Cool car we saw while contacting in the country area. (This neighborhood is not particularly country).

Saturday was probably the biggest day of the mission! We went with Brother Burt down to Madison at around 5am. Unfortunately, Debra wasn't awake. And we tried very hard to wake her up. But anyways, we got there around 7, and I started seeing a lot of familiar faces from around the mission. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Craig C. Christensen were coming to our mission to speak to us for a few hours. I sat in the second row next to Elder Stange and my two companions. The meeting began around 7:45 and we strapped in for the best hours of my mission.

Elder Craig C. Christensen

Here is the link to Elder Christensen's bio at

Elder Christensen spoke first. He's a towering dude. Probably about 6' 7" and was very kind. He spoke about how "the essence of teaching repentance is helping people change. They have to make those changes. We don't try to rush through repentance to baptism.  It is a requirement. Conversion isn't an event, it's a process." It was really cool how he broke it down into a few steps:

1. Your mission isn't about you. The spirit isn't coming to you because of you are; it was who the family you are teaching are. It's about the people you teach as well as any you come in contact with. (He did also reference the whole personal conversion too).

2. We must open our mouths and not let our companions do all the talking.

3. The role of the companion who isn't teaching, is pouring out his heart hoping that the spirit will touch the lives of these people. And discerning what the investigator is feeling.

4. The power of testimony. The power comes to their hearts as you bear simple testimony to the people you teach.

5. The spirit is the real missionary. It conveys the message. The spirit can continue to teach even when you aren't there. 

6. Be devastated when someone isn't fulfilling their commitments. Stop teaching. Don't keep pouring on the lessons.

It was very simple.  

Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

And then Elder Bednar took the stand. It was awesome.  He was a little smaller than I imagined. He's a little shorter than me by about an inch. We were expecting him to be like he is in his conference addresses, but he was very different. On the contrary, he was hilarious! And also incredibly straightforward and brilliant. He began by stating two principles:

1. "Don't write down everything we say. There is a culture in this church that tries to take notes of things we say word for word. What happens to those notes after a few months or a year? They're gone. Our words will later be printed in the ensign anyways. So stop that. Instead, write things that the spirit illustrates to you based on what we say. In short, write on small plates. Not large plates. (Referencing how the small plates in the Book of Mormon were the spiritual things of the Nephites and large plates were the secular history of the Nephites).

2. "None of us will play the guess what's in my head game. Neither should you." (Basically asking questions looking for a specific answer. He asked questions that had no right or wrong answers usually. They were questions that checked our understanding and also made us think.)

He then proceeded to talk to us about how we exercise our faith and what we plan to do with that when we get home. He talked about an incident that he attended recently while talking with thirty returned missionaries (men and women) who had developed doubts about the church. One of them told him how he looked up stuff online and that destroyed his testimony. Elder Bednar stated "Have you been putting in as much time into the Book of Mormon as you did looking at those sites?" The young man said no. Elder Bednar illustrated that not using the Book of Mormon while encountering opposition is like walking into a dark room with a flashlight and not turning on the light. Without it, there is only darkness. With it, we can see things as they really are.

There were many other things he taught, such as teaching people to ask in faith with a decision to act, not just to know. And helping people become agents, not objects. Every question he asked us was along the lines of "What did you learn from that? Where are you at with your understanding of that question? How are you going to apply what you learned?" It was really spiritual. He then opened it up for questions. Many missionaries asked good questions and the answers we received were incredibly spiritual and logical. Everything he said made sense. One question I remember was someone asked him what should members do to be better missionaries. There were two things I remember he said: 

"One problem many members have is that they pray for the missionaries to have success at finding new investigators as well as to have missionary moments. What they should be doing is praying for THEM to find new investigators as well as missionary moments."

"Your demeanor will influence those who will pull you towards them to know more, instead of you pushing it on them."

The other question I remember is that someone asked what it means to be a special witness of Christ (which is what the twelve are called to be). Elder Bednar explained that to be a special witness means that you are a witness of His name, which he said, "The name of Jesus Christ refers to Him, His divinity, His living reality, and His capacity of the Only Begotten of the Father. To be a special witness of the name, means you can bear witness of Him. It includes his power, priesthood, and principles. Your whole purpose is is bearing witness of His reality to all the world. When people hear that witness, they are held to a higher accountability than before."

That was really cool. There were many other things he said that blew our minds. I tried to write as much as I could, even though he told us not to haha. 

But yeah after the time was up, he said he wanted to shake our hands and so everyone in the room, members and missionaries, got that opportunity. I got that opportunity. I can't tell you how awesome that felt. I also shook hands with Elder Christiansen and Elder Meredith who is the area authority for the area, as well as President and Sister Andersen of course. It was a great meeting for sure.

My step-dad served in the same mission as Elder Bednar. When Mark was a “greenie,” he got to go on an exchange with Elder Bednar.  Here is a link to Elder Bednar’s bio at

Sunday I took care of Willy, and he was a lot more riled up that day. He didn't sit still or behave in Primary, so I had to walk with him again. After that we went over to try a few people and then went to see Debra and basically filled her in on all she missed.  She was sad, but said she was happy we got to go. We also had dinner there, which was good. In the evening, I felt like my chest was burning and I think I may have some acid problem. So that's fun. Probably all the healthy stuff we eat around here haha. 

So yeah it was a good week. I hope y'all had a good one too. Today is my 22 month mark. And on Wednesday I will have 8 weeks left. That's crazy. But yeah anywho things are going “good.”

Talk to you later. Have a beautiful Easter.  Follow Him and find new life.

Elder Peery

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 93 in the Field: Baseball and Bedbugs?

 Batting practice!

We had a lot of cool stuff happen this week.

Monday we biked to the baseball field and Elder Barrus and I spent some time in the batting cages. I hadn't played baseball in many years, but I still was pretty good. I also spent some time pitching to him and occasionally got him on a few good pitches. However he's a seriously talented kid for sure. He's teaching me how to throw a curveball which is fun. We didn't do too much after that other than contacting a referral.

Getting back into pitching!

Tuesday we went to try this solid lady we knocked into the week before whose name is Hilda. She was very much pleased by the idea of the spirit world and wants her family to get to know Christ better. She works on a barge up in Paducah, Kentucky for four weeks (so four weeks working, four weeks home) so we won't see her for awhile, but she said she'd read the Book of Mormon because we gained her trust.

We also went out teaching with a member during the afternoon and saw some less actives with him. In the evening we went out teaching with another one, but struck out, so we went to do some of his home teaching. One of the active members in the ward we went to see was actually born and raised in Asheville, NC! Of course that was like 70 years ago so it was very different from when I lived there. But he remembered all kinds of stuff that is still there like Sweeten Creek Road. Still cool.

Wednesday for district meeting, Elder Cox gave his first training, and he did a really good job. Elder McClain also trained on key indicators and such, which was good too. After that we went tracting but no luck. We then went out with another member and saw a less active and one of our investigators, Mike. Mike had a lot of good questions, but it sounded like he was going from us, to his Church of Christ preacher, and then back to us in a confused state. We kept telling him to pray about it and the member did a great job fellowshipping as well. Then the member took us out to a Chinese buffet which was awesome! In the evening we went over to the Majors and had a good talk with them about the temple. They understand it a lot more now which is great. After that we came home and after planning, Elder Beckett noticed a little thing crawling on Elder Barrus's shoulder....

Bedbugs. Yep. Nasty little critters.

We basically ransacked the place (neatly) looking for any other sources of bed bugs. Unfortunately, my bed was the only place we found any more. We only found about 4 total (one on Elder Barrus and three on my bed) but that was enough to basically deep clean the apartment. We called President that evening and he was shocked, because in the past two to three years, our apartment has had bedbugs over 6 times. You'd think they'd get the hint.

Cleaning all our stuff at the laundromat!

Anyways, so Thursday we spent most of the day deep cleaning. At 7:00am we drove to Walmart to get laundry detergent, quarters, and (for me) brand new pillows since I had to chuck the other ones. We then went to the cheapest laundromat we could find and washed everything we had in hot water, while we bombed our apartment. We finished everything by about 4. The entire ordeal practically bankrupted all three of us. Luckily the mission was able to cover some of it. But now everything appears to be back to normal, I hope. In the evening, after everything we went through that day, we went to the Mathis's and got to see them. We then walked back home to our (hopefully) bed bug free apartment.

Bedroom post-bedbugs (Elder Beckett can't leave his bed on the
ground anymore and my bed is no longer against the wall).

Friday we spent a lot of time planning and after that, we went to go try a few people down south. We tracted into a semi crazy dude who lived in Utah for a bit. We then had dinner with a member and got to meet an investigator we had been trying for many months. Turns out she is a student in Cookeville, TN, so she is only home on weekends.

Saturday we tried this lady for what we thought would be the last time since she hasn't answered the door ever. Turns out she was home! And she was interested! She lives in this really big house near the center of town and she is basically on the board of the city of McMinnville, so pretty high up there. She asked if we could help her by volunteering for a few things, but unfortunately the date she set, was the Saturday of General Conference, but we volunteered to do a few other things. Turns out she had been to the Independence and Liberty Jail visitors centers and was very touched by it! She was grateful for the Book of Mormon and said she'd read it.

The other cool thing that happened that day was Mike called and asked to meet up at our church. We took him on a tour and then had a lesson with him. He was still confused by his pastor on the spirit world. I essentially spirit bombed him by bearing testimony especially when he asked "If this church is true, then why do people persecute it? Why doesn't everyone just join it?"

I said something along the lines of, "Well, why did people reject the Savior of the World? Why did they forget about the miracles, the teachings, the prophesies, and kill the only perfect man on this earth? Why did the church that Jesus Christ Himself establish, fall into corruption? And why today, do good people condemn young men and women who proclaim the name of Jesus Christ to every corner of the earth? It's because salvation is not a cheap experience. It was never easy for Him, so we should never think it will be easy for us. And when people mock us, yell at us, condemn us, or even hurt us, it shows us that we share in a minuscule part the pain and suffering he felt..."

Mike decided to pray right then to see if this was true. We were very curious to see if this is what path he wanted to pursue. We got out answer Sunday night when he called saying he was sorry that he missed church, wanted us to pray for his sick wife, and said he wants to meet with us again soon.  Sweet!

Sunday was a rather almost relaxing day for us. I didn't have to teach anything or take care of anything, so I just enjoyed the classes. After church we went over to the Caten's for a really good lunch. They fed us a CafĂ© Rio recipe which I don't think I've had before. After showing them the new Easter video, I had to dart out to go with Bro.Burt on an exchange.

The small town of Viola,Tennessee

We went to the very southern part of the area near this town called Viola. We contacted a less active down there who didn't really want to be contacted, but was nice about it. We then went up to about halfway up our area and contacted a less active there after getting lost. It started raining pretty heavily and then got super bright creating… Yep a rainbow! Even better, a double rainbow!

Double Rainbow! (The second one is faint above the first one)

We also saw Debra and she is slowly getting there. She's been having a rough week with anger issues. March is apparently one of her hard months too. In the evening, we did some more planning and that was about it.

So yeah, minus the bedbugs from which I'm still recovering (I've got a lot of bites on my back haha), this was a great week. We hope to see more of it! In other news for those of you who are counting down, this week marks the last of the double digits since I now have about ten weeks left. It's crazy to think how close it is, but I'm doing my best to stay focused.

This week we have interviews with our mission president on Tuesday, and then we get to meet Elder Bednar on Saturday. I'm really excited about it! Be sure to check out next week's email!

Elder Peery

I’d love to hear from you!  Please contact me at:

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

(I am not on Facebook at this time.)