Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 103: FINAL EMAIL from the Mission Field

 Zoe's baptism, Saturday, May 21, 2016

Well in two days I will be on a plane for home. It's weird it's all over. There's been a ton of anxiety the past few days. Very similar to what it was like before I left. It's rare when I get to sleep before midnight. This is a very hard time period for me right now since I'm excited to go, but sad to leave. Should be interesting.

Anyways at least we had a great week.

Monday we spent most of our time at the church playing basketball and other stuff. In the evening we went over to a recent convert's home for dinner and enjoyed teaching their sister who used to live in Norfolk, VA. Not much else happened after that.

Tuesday we had a history lesson on Joseph Smith with Joe. He really reasoned with a lot of the things about Joseph's life and was touched by a lot of events. He then took us out to Olive Garden for lunch as kind of a goodbye gift. This was kind of the tone for the week. After that we ended up dropping a few investigators such as an Arabic guy who isn't progressing in any direction. We also saw Zoe that day and went over the interview questions one more time. Not only did she know them, she expounded a lot on them too. It was really cool.

Wednesday morning was my departing interview with President Andersen. It was kind of a sad situation but he was really awesome. Among the things he told me was "On behalf of the Lord I can promise that He is pleased with your mission and is grateful for your help in His work." It was a really humbling meeting. He was sad to see me leave but excited for my future.

The last district photo
(from left to right: Hermana Hill, Elder Peery, Sister Crossley,
Hermana Hooker, Sister Woods, and Elder Hinds)

It was also the final district meeting for Sister Woods and me. So after the trainings, our companions gave us eulogies and we took funeral photos.
Elder Peery's funeral

It was very bittersweet but it was really cool. After that we had a meeting with a recent convert, which was fun talking about the Pearl of Great Price.

In the evening we had our last correlation meeting with our ward mission leader, which was equally sad. After the meeting Elder Hinds went to interview someone the sisters were teaching for baptism, so I played Pakistani (basically dodgeball where you have to get everyone out without getting out yourself) with a bunch of youth.

Thursday we went and tried a bunch of people after shipping my bike home. That was the last package needed for home. Eventually we went over to Zoe's again and found out she has a new addition to the family! A cute 7-month year old puppy named Sheba. She's part lab and is wayyy chill--like didn't even bark at all when we showed up. Very obedient too. But yeah later on the zone leaders came and interviewed Zoe and she passed with flying colors.

Friday we went over to Zoe's again for lunch before heading to the church for another lesson with the recent convert. She was going to the temple that night for baptisms and she had a few questions. When she went that night she had a great experience, and we were really happy for her. After that we practiced this musical number with the sisters for their baptism, which was a few hours after ours. It was originally going to be Go Tell it on a Mountain, but there just wasn't a reverent way to play it on piano that I knew, so we went with Come Thou Fount, and it worked a lot better. While we were tracting, I got nipped by another dog. Thankfully this dog was about the size of a half-gallon of milk, and since it was a house dog, I wasn't too worried.

I told Zoe the next day that any opposition to her baptism was just being thrown on me instead of her, which I said was just fine. We also got a call from President while tracting that Elder Hinds will be training next transfer, which will be good for him.

The cake the Hermanas made for me

In the evening we went to a not-so-surprise party for me. The Hermanas made me a cake, which was so awesome. It was kind of sad saying goodbye to the Hispanic portion of the Ward.

The Spanish goodbye party

Saturday was really special. Lots of people showed up to Zoe's baptism, and it was just a really special occasion. I was way nervous and I ended up having to redo the baptism twice before getting it right on the third attempt. On top of that I forgot to pack another white shirt, so I was still wet when I changed. But aside from that it was a really special experience. My favorite part was after the baptism, she was invited to bear her testimony. She panicked and asked me to go up with her. I bore my testimony first and then she did. There were a lot of tears in the audience as she bore a beautiful testimony. Her mom of course was crying. It was great.

After that we went to the hospital to give a blessing to a member who had just had her baby the day before. The baby's name was Elam, which is from the Book of Mormon and I guess it means "eternal". Pretty cool experience.

After that we went to the sisters’ baptism, played the musical number, and then went to Cracker Barrel for lunch. In the evening we were invited to the church for a wedding reception. What was really cool was some people from Thompson's Station showed up as well as some members from Smith Springs (my first area—and the ward where my parents lived when I was born). Most particularly awesome was Sis. Danielle Clark Hardisty showed up, so I got to say goodbye to her.  She has known me since I was a baby and was my very first babysitter when she was just a teenager growing up in the ward where my parents lived at the time.  Her mom, Estella Clark, was my mom’s visiting teacher and very good friend.  It was an awesome day.

Sunday was my last ward council and last sacrament meeting in the Spring Hill Ward. They had me on the program to speak, so I sat up there with Bro. Kraus, the high councilor from TSTAT (Thompson's Station Ward), who was visiting our ward. The wife of the WML (Ward Mission Leader) from TSTAT was also there, since she is the stake Primary president. I bore my testimony and I could see a lot of smiles. It was sad to leave the Ward. What was cool was a brand new investigator walked into church asking to learn more while I spoke. We talked with her during gospel principles and set up a return appointment for after I go home.

After that we went home where I began packing. I finished after we had dinner at a member's home where they had invited their non-member neighbor to come over to meet us.  Cool!

My mission has meant a lot to me and to a lot of other people. There have been a lot of hard times, but I can definitely say I did my best to serve and am confident with my standing. I look forward to the future and am excited to come home. On to new adventures!

See you in two days,

Elder Peery

Saying goodbye to the bishop's kids

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week 102 in the Field: Trunky Papers and a Dog Bite

The trunky papers! It has my plane ticket and a few other things in there.

On Monday we drove up to Franklin to go hang out up there. It was us, the TSTAT missionaries, Franklin 2, Franklin 3, and the Sunset missionaries, too. Most of us went to go fishing on the Harpeth river. After that it was mostly basketball from then on. We did go to this really cool place for lunch, (I think it was called Big Shakes or something like that), and they had some really good catfish there.
1-2. Fishing on the Harpeth river

Tuesday we went and saw Joe and went over what happens after we die. He is kinda leaving it up to faith, which is good. He also said he wanted to study Joseph Smith's life more with us, which is cool. We will probably be running through the restoration again this week. Later we stopped by a few other places but didn't have too much success.

Maury County Archives! We went back there again to help out on Tuesday.

Wednesday we went to district meeting and Hermana Hooker trained on cleaning up area books while Elder Hinds trained on finding new people. We then went up to Spring Hill where we grabbed lunch and saw a recent convert who is still recovering from a hip replacement. We helped her with some things, including playing with her dog a little bit. After that we went back to Columbia to meet with another recent convert and her non-member son, and we went over the plan of salvation with them. After that we went and saw Zoey. She is still really excited to be baptized this Saturday, and we worked on the baptismal program with her that night.

Thursday we saw Zoey again as well as a few other people. We contacted this one 15 year old who asked us to come by the next day, so we were excited. Also she was a Green Day fan so that was cool. We contacted a less active who basically has a halfway house for pets. She would find a dog or cat on the street, take it home and provide it temporary shelter, and then advertise it to the area to see if anyone wanted it. She had about 20 animals in her home and by the sound of it, like 12 of them were dogs. No idea how that worked haha.

Dog bite

Friday we went and planned a little. After that we tried some people and then went to that one appointment. There was this German Shepherd on a chain just outside their house. I went first, and calmed it down while Elder Hinds went and knocked on the door, I then backed away after it was chill. The 15 year old's dad showed up to the door and brushed us off, so we headed back to the car. The dog for some reason decided to mimic the owner and ended up biting me pretty hard on my back left leg. It broke skin and hurt a lot, but it wasn't too bad. We went home and bandaged and iced it up. I took a picture later, and it looked a lot better.

Here's what the bite looks like today.

Saturday we went to go help out this one less active with their yard. It was kind of a pain cause he lived on a large spot of land, and I had to push mow it. But it was a good workout haha. He fed us lunch, and while I was bringing in some water, I bashed my head on some weird lattice thing that was hanging from the doorway. It hurt a lot. Still does. But anyways we went from there to this one party for a recent convert's one year old son. And I just wasn't feeling good. We had to leave early for home. Turns out I ended up getting food poisoning from lunch. Wasn't fun.

Sunday was good though. Even though I was still in a lot of pain. I was asked to speak next Sunday to bear my final testimony in a sacrament meeting as a missionary. It's going to be weird. Also the great news was Zoey came to church which marked #3 so she is all set to be baptized this Saturday. The only hard part will be getting her last name right since its Polish haha. After church we went and had lunch with the Miles, which was great. They're the family who are Chicago Cubs fans. After that we tried a few people but mostly didn't see any.

I'm very excited and nervous for my last week. It'll be really fun. But what won't be fun will be saying goodbye a lot this week. I'm hoping that it'll be a good week. We will see what happens. 

Thank you all so much for all your thoughts and prayers these past two years.

See you in one,
Elder Peery

Elder Hinds and a baby pig named Justin Blubber

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week 101 in the Field!!! Birthday, Fishing, and Cinco de Mayo

 Me and Steed

So on Monday we went fishing near this dam in Columbia, TN. I took some pretty good photos and Elder Hinds struck out on fishing. I think that was the first day I was with him that he didn't catch anything.

James K. Polk home from the front

Anyways after that we went downtown to visit the James K. Polk home, which is basically one of the more famous things in the city. It's like the equivalent to Andrew Jackson's Heritage, except it was the home of Polk's parents and his childhood. It's the only standing home of President Polk. For those of you, like me, who don't really know a whole lot about President Polk, here's some interesting facts:

He ran for President in 1844 and served from 1845-1849 after serving as a lawyer and a congressman, I believe. He only served one term and died less than a year out of office in his 50's He was President during the war with Mexico and was present during the annexation of Texas as well as seeing the other states that came with that acquisition.  He is one of three US presidents from Tennessee (Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson are the other two), however he was born in North Carolina.

Polk home from the back

But yeah, we toured the house and had a pretty good experience. There wasn't too much there, but the museum was really fascinating. After the tour we went up to TSTAT (Thompson’s Station Ward) and hung out with the elders there just playing basketball.

Tuesday was my birthday and in the morning we got a call to help out this family move some pretty heavy stuff from their shed to the house and from a Penske truck to the shed. It was exhausting. After that we got a call from Elder Steed, my old companion in Eldorado, Illinois, who had finished his mission in October. He had come back to visit the mission this week so he took us out for blizzards at DQ. It was weird seeing him not as a missionary anymore. But cool none-theless. After that we had lunch at Olive Garden thanks to a gift card, and then we went down for a lesson with Zoey, which went well. After that we went over to the Maury County Park where a good chunk of the ward were there and threw me a surprise birthday party. It was a lot of fun and I appreciated everyone who did that for me.

Birthday party!

Wednesday we did not have district meeting because Hermana Hooker was sick, so we instead went out contacting people. We didn't have a whole lot of success but we did see a recent convert and later on we contacted some old investigators. We did go out to eat with the Zone Leaders again, which was fun.

Thursday we had district meeting since Hermana Hooker was better, and I trained on dropping and deleting investigators. Basically cleaning up the area book so that missionaries know who they need to go see, and who is on the back burner. We also had a mini party since it was Sister Crossley's birthday that day. So we celebrated hers and my birthdays. After that we went over to Zoey's again, and this was pretty cool. We had asked her on Tuesday to pray about who she wanted to baptize her out of the ward, and she ended up picking me. It'll be the first time I ever baptize someone which will be cool. I'm excited for it.

Friday we did some planning as well as some other things. We tried a few people and set up some appointments and then got a ride to Hampshire, TN where the bishop lives and we had dinner there. It's funny cause everyone is talking about and asking if I'm excited to go home. I wouldn't say excited, I would say ready. I feel ready to go home. I've done a lot on my mission and I'm excited for the last bit of it.

Saturday we had a Cinco de Mayo party at the park, which was a lot of fun. We had a lot of people come out to it. They had a giant slip and slide which was really tempting, and a lot of good barbecue. After the party we went to go help out a member with his yard. He later brought over one of his Mennonite friends who was cool to talk to.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, so after church we got to Skype home. We had technical difficulties at the first house so then we just went to our place to Skype. It was kinda weird in my opinion, since I see most of my family in roughly 16 days so most of the time was spent talking about other things than the mission like what plans are for home. I'm looking forward to it. After that we went and gave a Hispanic lady a blessing. She didn't speak any English and the Hermanas kinda bailed on us, so it was interesting. I used whatever Spanish I knew and it was fun. We also found out that Zoey went to Columbia Ward's meetings, which are an hour after ours are so she is well on her way to getting baptized on May 21st.

Fishing by the dam in Columbia

Today we are up in Franklin, TN and I'm currently writing this while they are fishing again. I've kind of gotten burned out of fishing. It's okay every now and then, but like every week is getting ridiculous haha. 

Anyways, hope y'all are doing well and thank you again so much for all the birthday wishes.  It has meant so much to me.

Have a good week!

Elder Peery