Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Memories...: November 2, 2006

Dear Family and Friends (except for Elder Peterson),
Wow. I can remember almost 2 years ago when I entered the MTC - the adrenaline rush as I walked into the Administration building and left behind my luggage; the wonder at receiving a nametag that said Anziano !?! Peterson - what does Anziano mean - and why does it not say Elder like everyone elses?; the anxious anticipation as the ceremony began; the sudden **it's here** of the end... and I haven't seen you since. Walking down the hallways was like a dream, and once it became real I was walking down the streets of Naples and Rome and Quartu and Florence. Days and weeks meld together to simply create time as a missionary - I've always been a missionary, right? It's difficult to remember life before the MTC. I guess that's a blessing. Now another Elder Peterson is there. I'll send him a letter.
This week was a tough week. We haven't taught much. Friday we went to pick olives with a member to help him out, as well as yesterday (Wednesday). That took the whole day. Olives don't fall off the tree at this stage (they are still slightly green), so you have to use rakes with spaces large enough for the branches but smaller than the olives. You set up a big tarp (parachute) and rake off the olives. It's time-consuming. It was fun work, though. We don't get the chance to do much hard labor. Saturday we had ZDM - Zone Development Meeting. That evening I practiced with the Primary for their program. Sunday was the Primary Program and then we went out and found some great people - the Cascine is always packed Sunday afternoons, and in Centro (the city center - dowtown) we sing in the evening. It was a good experience. The rest of the week was filled with cancelled appointments. A bit sad, but we bounce back. We have the Lord Omnipotent on our side!
I have something to tell you all - it's about the importance of goals. I have realized here in my mission the importance of setting goals. Big goals, small goals, reachable goals, visions and dreams... One day I may write a book on goals (talk about an interesting goal... smile). But I would like to tell you something that has hit me hard. Everything we do moves us in some direction. Every time we make a choice or take a turn in our lives, we go somewhere. But where? Do we simply go, without truly understanding where it is we are going - simply because we understand the short-term? For example - I remember cleaning as a little kid and wondering why we were cleaning - when would we be done? There was always more to be done - the house was never truly "clean". And then one day Mom revealed what the goal was. She wanted the house to be cleaned to a certain level at least once each week. She set the standards of cleaning and we established a day that we wanted it to happen. And cleaning not only started to make sense, but it was no longer super-stressful the rest of the week. We had a clearly-defined goal and simple steps that enabled us to chart our progress and reach the goals that we wanted. It is essential in our lives that we set goals - if I simply make the goal to "study the scriptures," when have I finished? And why do I still feel guilty when I only read a verse before going to bed some days? Didn't I do the right thing? And how much is enough when I DO have time? Why do I pray? Why do I go to Church? Why do I spend time with my friends or my children or spend time preparing lessons for my calling? What am I going towards? I have seen that having visions - for every aspect of our lives - helps us to grow in a way that is incredible. When I realized that I wanted to teach Italian at the MTC, it gave me a new reason to study Italian. It gave me the faith to believe that the Lord would continue to help me learn, and it gave me the desire to take the time to improve even when I speak well-enough. Studying the Book of Mormon with the intent of designing lesson plans to help missionaries (or even myself) on specific subjects is incredible. Intending to teach everything I learn impresses the knowledge I acquire upon my soul. And the Lord sends more - because when we have a goal, the Lord can give us personal revelation to help us reach or change our goals. So, the first step is to have a clear vision (Long-term goal) for each aspect of our lives. That takes some time. It can be tough. But once you find them, they will change you. Then you set shorter-term goals. Goals that you can do in the near future... so you don't forget them. Sometimes there are Medium-term goals as well. And then you find yourself asking yourself, "Is what I am doing now taking me toward my goal?" It's incredibly powerful - you can do anything at all in baby steps! I challenge each of you to set goals in your progression in the Gospel - evaluate who you are, truthfully, and determine who you want to be. See the vision. Then, ask the Lord what you need to do. Be humble. Go and do. Set short-term goals, and control your progress frequently. Then start walking. The pathway to eternal life is long... and many of us are staring down at our feet. We stumble and fall, only glimpsing every-so-often the light at the end. We need to simply raise our gaze to the light of the Savior and walk in His light. That is why we have goals. That is why we look towards Heaven - because it doesn't really matter if we stumble a little bit, as long as we are going in the right direction. I know that this Church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God. I love you all!
Anziano Peterson

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