Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A week of lasts - Pday, mission, emails

Email sent Monday 12 December 2011

I got the package! Thank you for the cookies! I loved them and so did G... my investigator and all of the elders in the brownsville zone today after we played sand volleyball. Thanks! And the tissues...gonna need those.

Sorry I don't have time to say much. Thanks for all the birthday wishes! It really is a crazy birthday to be my last pday my last hours of proselyting time and my last day in port isabel. We drive to mcallen tomorrow morning. And sister Mazey will find out who she is training! She will do awesome. We are just in kind of freak out mode right now though.

I think I am in shock about all that is happening. It has been a crazy week. I am so grateful for the chance I got to serve here int he greatest mission on the earth and serve with so many great people. I love it here. I look forward to seeing yall in two days, or three depending when brandy and quinton get up there. :) Please be patient if i stress upon getting home. haha. :)

I love you all!


Hermana Petersen

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's begining to feel a lot like Christmas!

Email sent Monday 5 December 2011

Happy December,

It is sure feeling like December here in Port Isabel. Though we don't have any snow, we have frio, or cold, and lots of wind lately as I guess you all have had. We are being blown away, and wearing a skirt makes the wind kinda difficult. haha. But somehow we manage.

This week was great! Sister Mazey and I had done a special fast last week, and we have been really working hard on looking for prepared people, and more importantly FAMILIES. And this week we found a bunch! It was the best finding week that I've had in awhile. It was such a huge blessing. The families that we have found are awesome, and though I won't be here to see them get baptized it's ok, I am so grateful to have been here and guided to find them. This one that we found is A.... She is a single mom with 5 kids ages 8 to 8 months. And she is 26. She has a lot on her plate. She was taught by elders about 10 years ago and went to church a lot, but was never baptized because of her mom. But now she feels like this is what she needs to help her kids to learn and behave better. Her girls are so sweet. They were hugging us from the very first day. Yesterday actually, when we went over, A... hadn't been able to find her phone all day long. So Sister Mazey suggested to the kids that we pray and ask God for help. It was a great teaching moment. One of hte girls got on her knees right away and said, I'll pray. She said the prayer all by herself and asked God to help us find the phone. After the prayer all of us started looking through their little cluttered apartment in search of the phone. And out of nowhere it appeared on the floor under a pillow that A... couldn't remember being there before. She was amazed, and the kids were surprised that the prayer worked so fast. So then we said another prayer to thank Heavenly Father for his help. What a great teaching opportunity we had wtih them. We were only at the house for about 15-20 minutes, but they have now learned a very strong lesson about prayer from personal experience.

G... is still doing awesome. We are still just waiting and praying for a Dec 11th miracle. At least I am.

This week I got a letter from an "investigator" of mine in Laredo. Really she was just the wife of a member, that I had found and visited multiple times to try to get her ready to recieve the gospel. At the time we would "go over to teach the kids" and just make her sit in on the lessons and participate since she wasn't very keen on being taught herself to prepare for baptism. But little by little we developed a relationship with her and trust. I loved her, and could see that some day this family could all be faithful active members, but that time did not come while I was there. But in the letter I recieved yesterday it brought me to tears to here that 2 months after I left Laredo the son was baptized and a week later the mom. J... is now Sister D... and she wrote thanking me for my visits, and saying that she thinks of me often. It was such a blessing to see that even when we don't think our efforts bear fruits, somewhere down the line other missionaries harvest our seeds. I look forward to the day the D... family will be sealed for time and all eternity in the temple. She ended by saying, "Just keep in mind, your mission was accomplished." I just love missionary work!

This week lots of emotions are starting to fill my mind. I am completely focused, but in the back of my head I just get sad to think that it is all ending. I am excited to see you all, but the mission has just been such an amazing experience. I am so grateful to have been able to serve here in Texas.

Well I hope you all have a great week. Don't get blown away by the wind. I love you all!


Sister Petersen

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pavo Pavo Pavo

Email sent Monday 28 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you all enjoyed it. We ate some turkey too. But made sure not to eat too much. Had some great meals though. Only two. :) Things went well this week. Working hard to meet our goals. The mission is doing well, but we have to work super hard to hit our goal this last month of December.

This sunday we had a baptism! It was a crazy week, but we saw miracles from fasting and were able to gain the trust and support of the mom of our investigator. We had been praying for weeks for an opportunity to serve her in some way and on Wednesday it came. When we got there they were cleaning the house and so we just insisted and jumped in and helped.

The baptism was S..., he is only 12, but it was fun teaching him. He is a cute kid, and so smart, just needs to be taught. I really hope that people keep teaching these kids so that they don't get corrupted by the world. The things they learn at school and "on the street" take theire lives nowhere fast. That is why teaching children the gospel when they are young is so important, so that they can have that foundation. It is essential.

G... is doing awesome. I keep praying that he will be able to be baptized before i leave.

I kinda am running out of things to tell yall as well. I hope you are preparing my room for me, haha. Cleaning up Brandy's take over probably is what you ahve to do. haha.

It got really cold these past two days. We had winds that were so strong and they blew ALL NIGHT LONG. It was crazy. Windy!

Well I hope you have a great week. We put up our christmas tree today and got it all decorated. For some reason we have a 6 foot tree in one of our closets, so we have a big one in our apartment. :) I love christmas!

I love you all!


Sister Petersen
pps THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE LETTER!!! I loved getting mail. Thanks for sending it.

ppps my comp will be getting a bike. And i bought the light thing I needed too so we will be obeying all the rules.

P-Day and Baksetball

Zone after Volleyball on Pday

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!! I'm grateful for you and to be a missionary!

Email sent Monday 21 November 2011

This week was full of hard work. Dealing with people's agency is hard sometimes, and it is sad to see them chose and make wrong choices, but we just keep teaching and testifying of the truth.

I am so grateful to be a missionary in the greatest mission on the earth - the Texas McAllen Mission. I love this work. I love all of my faithful brothers and sisters in this mission. Last night we were able to attend the special memorial service held for Elders Walker and Strong in the Weslaco chapel. About 80 of our mission's 170 missionaries were in attendance, and the rest watching in stake centers throughout the mission by internet broadcast. The parents and twin brother of Elder Strong were in attendance as well. The chapel was packed. Media from local news was there as well. The entire front middle section was reserved for us missionaries. It was such a great service. A former companion of Elder Walker, Elder Field, gave a tribute to him, as well as Elder Harris, and Elder Strong's mother. President and Sister Trayner spoke and the Area 70, Elder Villareal. As well as a musical number by a youth choir in a ward that I and Elder Strong used to serve in. And a stake choir from that stake.

It was a beautiful service, full of tears, lots of tears, but also lots of joy and the strong conviction that THE WORK GOES ON. These two elders continue the work, they are not resting in peace, but working in peace. They are not the type of missionaries who would rest. And neither are we. I have never wanted to hug so many elders before in my life, but we are such a strong family here in the TMM. I love my mission. I wish it could go on forever. I love these people. I try not to think about the fact that it is winding down because it just makes me so sad. A piece of my heart will always be here in Texas. These people are so amazing. So full of faith and love, really charity - the pure love of christ. They are such examples to me.

Here are some random but super useful things that we learned this week (composed by sister mazey and I):

Never get a haircut without first studying hair-style spanish vocabulary (sister mazye learned from experience)

Having someone tell you "I wish I could hug you right now but I know I can't" is almost as good as getting a hug.

The Light of Christ is so real...kids with very bad decision making parents know exactly what's up.

Everyone needs to keep a journal. period. no exceptions.

Sister missionaries should be able to serve 2 years...

Everyone needs to either serve a mission or go to jail at some point in their lives.

Never be lazy...because then you will be lazy on important days and think it's not a big deal when actually it is a very, very, very big deal (learned from actions of a member who was lazy)

Don't drive 40 in a 30 even if you are leaving church...sister mazey got a warning

If you act dumb, dumb people will trust you. (aka no one trusts a smart person)

Last words of Elder Pinter: work hard and be obedient. that is the secret to success

Love every minute because at some point your minutes start to run out. :(

Well that's a lot, but I best be going. I love this work, I know that this is Christ's church. I know that through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can be healed from any pain, sin or trial in our lives, whether we self inflicted it, or it was due to the actions of others. I know that God has a plan for us and that we WILL return to live with him and see all of our loved ones again if we follow his commandments. I testify that this is true. I love you all and I am so grateful to have you all in my lives.


Sister Petersen

Monday, November 14, 2011


Email sent Monday 14 November 2011

This week was the best of times and the worst of times in the Texas McAllen Mission.  November 8th will forever be remembered as the best day and the worst day this mission has had.

Tuesday we held a Valley Wide Zone Conference with all but two zones of the mission in which Elder Claudio Zivic of the 70 was presiding and offering instruction.  Elder Strong, Walker and Harris were in attendance at this zone conference and we were all instructed and inspired by the leaders of this great mission and by Elder Zivic who brought instruction from the general authorities of the church to direct the missionary work.  It was a wonderful conference in which he recognized us for our efforts and the great success that the many faithful missionaries have gained in the Texas McAllen Mission.  My personal favorite quote from him went something like this, "We would love it if every mission in the world could have the success that you are having here.  You have nearly doubled convert baptisms in the matter of two years.  This kind of growth is not seen in many missions in the church.  President Trayner, you are doing great things here!"  Yes, those were the words we heard from Elder Zivic, among many other counsels on how we can make it even better.

Even at one point in his training he called on Elder Walker to come up to the stand and teach us how to tie his shoe without being able to demonstrate.  He used this as an example to show us the importance of practicing and roleplaying our teaching and demonstrating to each other how we will do things so that when we actually teach lessons we will be prepared.  Elder Walker had us all laughing at his facial expressions and his fun personality as he roleplayed this with Elder Zivic.

The Conference was held in McAllen and afterwards we departed back to our own areas to work for the night.

Unknown to us at the time, but around 7:30 that same night, Elders Strong, Walker and Harris (a trio serving in Donna) were hit while riding their bikes after leaving a lesson in which they had set a baptismal date.  Elders Strong and Walker passed away this horrible night and Elder Harris was in critical condition in the hospital.

We found out through a phone call from a member on Wednesday morning at 6:46am.  To be honest, that was the begining of the longest day of our lives.  My companion, Sister Mazey was in the same MTC district with Elder Walker.  She knew him very very well, and had served under Elder Strong as zone leader.  Though I did not know these two elders personally, I knew who they were and as with all of the missionaries in this mission, they are family.

Many thoughts start to run through your head when you recieve news like this, and among them was the thought "why them? how could this happen?"  But those thoughts were quickly removed by the comforting knowlege of hte plan our heavenly father has for us.  These two elders were examples of the believers, livers of the gospel and defenders of truth.  Their love of missionary work was recognized by all around them.  God had a plan for them and we now have to accept this as part of it.  We sat and we cried and we cried, and tried to pull it together to study.  We attended our district meeting as normal and held back the tears.  It was one of the most spiritual district meetings i have had on my mission just because of the renewed sense of urgency and great importance of this work.  Bearing your testimony of the plan of Salvation takes on a new meaning when you are living what you are preaching.

A special meeting was called for the brownsville and harlingen zones in the harlingen chapel at 1:30 that day.  We went and sat in the chapel waiting for presidents arrival for about 45 minutes with all of the other missionaries.  That was a meeting I will never forget.  I can not forget the tears streaming down the elders faces and all of the hugging and statements of "I love you" that were heard that day.  Though two of our brave soldiers were transfered to heaven, those of us left here were brought closer together and strengthened by one another.

It seems that the last section of the Doctrine and Covenants was written about our two great elders.  D&C 138:55-60 reads, 

55 I observed that they were also among the anoble and great ones who were bchosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.

 56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first alessons in the world of spirits and were bprepared to come forth in the due ctime of the Lord to labor in his dvineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
 57 I beheld that the faithful aelders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the bpreaching of the cgospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the dspirits of the dead.
 58 The dead who arepent will be redeemed, through obedience to the bordinances of the house of God,
 59 And after they have paid the apenalty of their transgressions, and are bwashed clean, shall receive a creward according to their dworks, for they are heirs of salvation.
 60 Thus was the avision of the redemption of the dead revealed to me, and I bear record, and I know that this brecord is ctrue, through the blessing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, even so. Amen. 

As president trayner said, "we can not control the great transfer board in the sky."  God has his plan, and we are trying to learn what is part of it and accept it.  In the meeting President and Sister Trayner both spoke to us, as well as a man from LDS family services that the church flew out here from Florida.  I don't know if there was a one of us that was not in tears that day, but the tears did not fall without hope.  We all have the hope strong and the faith strong that it will be ok.

Elder Harris, also was there with us that day.  We were able to shake his hand and he bore his testimony to us.  Our love goes out to him and he truly is an example because of his strength and continued desire to serve.

Sister Mazey upon looking through her journal found a quote from Elder Walker, on meeting God again at judgement, he had said, "I want to want it to happen." (Oct 28, 2010 - see below).  As well she found his favorite scripture that he had told her while they were in the MTC, which is Moroni 10:34, which reads, 

34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to arest in the bparadise of God, until my cspirit and body shall again dreunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the eair, to meet you before the fpleasing bar of the great gJehovah, the Eternal hJudge of both quick and dead. Amen.

Elder Walker was truly ready and needed in Heaven to further the work of preaching the gospel to the dead.  There is so much more work to do there than there is here and he needed them.

We have talked with many people this week who have expressed their sadness to us for our loss this week, and we know that the work here will continue to move forward.  Great things are happening in this mission.  The spirit is here with us and nothing will stop it from progressing.  We pray for the families of Elder Strong and Walker and have a renewed desire to be the servants that God wants us to be.

I am doing well, don't you worry.  Glad to hear that Spencer is back and doing well.  Sorry I don't have time to talk about much else.  Thanks for being awesome.  I love you all so much and hope you always remember to accept whatever Heavenly Father puts in our paths.


Sister Petersen

ps. remember: WalkSTRONG
The following is from Melinda's companion, Sister Mazey:

Last night I had the humbling experience of rereading some journal entries I had written during my time with Elder Walker in the MTC. I'm not sure how to express how much it means to me now so I thought I could send you what I wrote; maybe his parents would appreciate it:

My Journal Entry October 28, 2010
“Wow so many things were awesome about today but the part that really hit me was during our teaching experience with Elder Walker and Elder Brown.  I did not realize until this last week that you can feel the spirit even in fake teaching situations.  Since then I have really made it a goal to teach and ask questions according to the spirit.  We were practice teaching “Francisco” and  “Gordon” about the Plan of Salvation – mainly the Resurrection.  I then had a question come to my mind along the lines of how they envisioned, personally, reuniting with their body to meet God.  Elder Walker…told me something afterwards I did not expect to touch my heart so deeply.  He said that the one question was so strong for him that it made him reflect on himself as Elder Walker not as Francisco.”
Next page of my Journal says:
“On seeing God again at judgment:
‘I want to want it to happen."
-Elder Walker

This is our motivation to be righteous, have faith, and endure.  We are on our way back to Heavenly Father now!”

 I hope his family treasures this memory as I do.
-Sister Mazey
Page from Hermana Mazey's journal

Sister Mazey's favorite picture of Elder Walker(left) from the MTC.

Please stop the time. It is flying too fast.

Email sent Monday 7 November 2011

Greetings again, from Port Isabel, the best area in the Texas McAllen mission.

This week was such a whirlwind. It was crazy. We just didn't even have time to breath. Not to mention that yesterday was daylight savings time and nobody told us so we got up an hour earlier than we had to and missed that extra hour of sleep that was much needed. :( but we'll get over it. But really this week flew by. Sister Perkins and I carved a pumpkin last p-day of two sister missionaries, it was cute, when I get home you can see the picture. sorry, don't have time to send it now. haha. On tuesday I got to pick up my new companion. Sister Jenna Mazey is from San Diego California, well Carlsbad really I guess. She is super cute and lots of fun and talks a lot. My throat is getting dry from talking so much :) but that is good cuz I love it. haha. People ask us all the time if we are sisters, cuz we are kinda the same height and sort have the same hair and eyes and blah blah blah, so everyone here thinks we are really related. It's funny. But it also is funny how alike we are in other ways too. It will be a fun last transfer.

That is crazy that it is snowing for you. Sad there are no piles of leaves.

We are teaching this one kid, and he is really funny. He is a jokester. He is 18 and is a "cool kid" if you know what I mean. He has a tatoo of "misunderstood." His name is D... and he knows that baptism is something he needs to do, but he also knows, even without being told that he needs to stop drinking...and some other things in order to be ready. He just says it is really hard because of the "scene for kids his age." He is amazed by us, being 22 and 23 and that we don't do that stuff. He comes up with the funniest analogies for things, for instance when teaching the sacrament he saw a picture of the sacrament cups and called it "shots of holiness." It is hard to not laugh while in lessons with him. Stay serious stay serious stay serious, but afterwards when we get in the car we just bust up laughing over some of his lines. He is really cool though. He is probably one of the smartest people I have met here on my mission. He picks up on things so fast and understands the scriptures so well. It is incredible for someone who didn't finish high school.

Umm, g... is doing well, we're just still waiting on approval. I really hope it comes before I leave. That would be so sad if it didn't.

We are still teaching i... and i... and debating about their baptism, because they are 10 and we want to make sure that they can stay active afterwards even though their parents aren't interested. Their older sisters were baptized three weeks ago, and they are doing great but we will keep working with the twins to help them too. It is sad if children have to pay for parents wrong choices. That, too me, is against the 2nd article of faith, it really frustrates me that maybe because of the lack of desire to follow christ of their parents, the children have to suffer. ugh. Being a missionary makes me want to be such a good parent someday.

Well got to go, I love you all. Write me letters!!!! I think my mailbox is broken maybe cuz it never gives me letters. hint hint.


Sister Petersen

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hope you carved some pumpkins for me!

Email sent Monday 31 October 2011

Well, well well.  Today is halloween and we are not allowed to work really.  We have to be in our apartment by 7.  :(  And tomorrow is transfers!  After 3 and a half months with sister Perkins, President is splitting us up.  I will be getting a new companion tomorrow.  Sister Mazey!  I have met her before and she is great!  Super cute and a hard worker.  So I am really excited to spend the last 6 weeks with her here in port isabel.  I am glad to have a change, and not a change of area.  I love it here, but getting a new companion will keep me on my toes.
Yes mom, we have primary programs here, they are so cute.  I love them.  Also we had some ward halloween parties, with costumes, they were fun. 
Something that I have been studying lately is the new Relief Society book, Daughters in My Kingdom.  I guess before I never really understood or fully appreciated the relief society, but reading about it's history has really opened my eyes.  That book is awesome!  I encourage all relief society sisters and even priesthood holders to read it to better understand the purpose and divine mission of this auxiliary organization of the church.  It is really cool, and I have a much stronger resolve to do my part as a relief society sister. 
Dad, what size t-shirt do you normally buy if you were to buy one?  And what do you all want for christmas.  I think I will do my christmas shopping here, cuz it is much cheaper.  So let me know what you want.
Port Isabel gets all decked out for Halloween, there are decorations everywhere, and people are dressed up, I'm sure tonight.  It gets really crazy and that is why we have to be inside. 
But I have to go, sorry the library is closing. 
Sister Petersen