August 7, 2017
Hello everyone! This has been a very eventful and changing week. I can’t believe how much has happened over the course of this week, but let’s jump in!
Monday was Elder Peterson’s last day here! We went to Boston and had a crazy day filled with a ferry ride over, going to aquarium, walking through Boston and just enjoying ourselves. It was a lot of walking, but we had so much fun! That evening, we had dinner with the Titus’ at a really fun Chinese restaurant called Kowloon! The inside looks like a boat and the entire atmosphere is fun! The food was fantastic, and at the end of the evening, we asked someone to take our picture for us, and he turned out to be a member! He is from Springfield, MO and was out here visiting family! They had stopped by the Statue of Liberty and ran into some service missionaries as well! He had a fun day!
Tuesday morning we drove down to the mission home, through Boston, which was crazy! President Miller was doing interviews early so that he could get through all of them. We spent a good amount of time there and I got to see “my dad” (trainer), Elder Woodward! He is the best, by the way. Hope you are doing well if you are reading this! We also got to help Sister Miller prepare the dinner for the incoming missionaries that would be arriving in hours at that point. We dipped cream puffs in chocolate, made a dip with cilantro and sour cream, and prepared a Cafe Rio style dinner! It was a lot of fun, and we were able to spend time around Sister Miller, who is also the best. That afternoon, we drove back and long story short, we eventually got to the church and started preparing for Justin’s baptism. The youth were doing water balloon volleyball, which we weren’t sure how that would affect the baptism, but it ended up being just great. Justin and his family got there early and we got him ready and walked him through everything that would happen, as well as Gustavo. The baptism started a little late, but it flowed really well. Brother LaPierre gave a great talk on baptism to start it all off. He talked about how this day would shape the rest of his life, and went through each successive stage that would build on his decision to get baptized (Aaronic Priesthood, Temple, College, Marriage, Kids, Calling, etc.). He told it more like it was a story, and so it really opened up why this day was important for him. After the talk, Justin was baptized by Gustavo, one of the recent converts here (I sent a picture of us at Casa Vallarta *PS: Mom needs to find that picture in the files ….I will add it later*). It was simple, but powerful. After he got changed, I had the opportunity to talk on the Holy Ghost. I focused on the fact that now that he would be given the Holy Ghost, as he diligently studied and moved forward, he would be able to gain a strong testimony of all of the principles of the Gospel. It came together all at the last minute, but I hope it stuck with him even just a little. Others were able to welcome him to the ward, and his mom bore her simple testimony as well. After we had sung the first song, I looked over, and she had a few tears coming down, and so did Justin. The Spirit was there, and it was a special moment for them. Many people were able to come and support Justin, and thanks to many members and leaders, it all came together really well! Especially since it was Elder Peterson’s last day!!!
Wednesday was a good day. We worked on getting the apartment and the car ready and we put all of his luggage in the car, and headed off to the Weston Chapel. We overestimated for the amount of traffic and ended up getting there about an hour earlier than we had planned. It was all good though! Many missionaries that we have all served with were there, one for the trainer meeting, but also to meet up and switch, so many hugs (to other Elders), were given and our faces were all hurting after a while from smiling around each other.
When Sergio arrived with the New Haven Elders, he was shocked that we were early 🙂 We had a good conversation though. He will be traveling a lot soon and will be writing as he goes. He is starting to write more with his specialties in the Old Testament, New Testament, and Judaic Studies, but he is also incorporating LDS ideals and doctrines. It is really cool and he has more on the way!
Eventually, we all settled down and the trainer meeting started. The main theme was loving the new missionaries. President Miller told us that they all have amazing potential and that he is not worried about the future of this mission. We talked about really letting them move forward and doing much of the leading, even early on. He also encouraged us to be sensitive to the changes that would be occurring in their lives.
After about an hour, they all walked in! All 28 of them. I had no idea who would be my new companion. A few new missionaries were called up, and then one missionary was named, and for a split second, I thought,”We could probably be companions, but this is really early in the process”, and then President Miller announced that I would be his trainer! I was super excited! His name is Elder Merrill! He is from Dublin, CA and we are very, very, very similar in many things. In our personalities, in the way we act, in our decisions so far in life, everything! He loves the outdoors and also went to a year of college at BYU Provo. We also look similar! I am super excited to serve with him! Our first dinner in his entire mission was with the LaPierres! They took him in well, and he ended up teaching most of the lesson! He definitely has the “green fire”! That night, we tried stopping by a less active, and she wasn’t home, but we walked across the street to find a restroom. As we were walking, I contacted a guy and gave him and card, and right after we finished, Elder Merrill said,”Ok, let’s evaluate how that went.” Ever since, we have been evaluating like crazy! He has a desire to get better and to really be a great missionary, which keeps us both on our toes.
Thursday morning, we had a pretty good weekly planning session. We also did service at the Salem Farmer’s Market, but at the beginning, a church group came into the courtyard and had something like a revival. They were singing and dancing and then had a testimony meeting. A lot of it sounded similar to a generic testimony meeting, but I realized the difference in our churches isn’t Jesus Christ and His Atonement, but the restored gospel, and that that is what we should be teaching.
I guess I won’t have time to finish the weekly overview. I wish I did, but Justin was confirmed on Sunday and I was able to do that. The spirit was there, and even though the blessing was a little rocky, I know it was from Heavenly Father. I love you all!!! Follow the Holy Ghost