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

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