Wednesday, February 28, 2007

When faith endures.: August 23, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
I think my little sister's story in Honors English has been perpetuated for every child in the Peterson family. I got a B- on that essay, the worst grade I received in the class, because of the same problem. I actually never got the packet for To Kill a Mockingbird, and had about three days to do the essay on a book that was utterly distasteful in my opinion. I think we should talk to the school to determine if we are on all of their mailing lists. I don't see why we wouldn't be there 9 times, but... maybe the other children can write their essays in advance. It makes me laugh.

Little Brother! Take AP Bio! Don't get discouraged - follow the counsel of the Prophet to get the most education you possibly can! You may feel a bit behind, but you are smart - you will catch up fast, and you will hopefully learn to love it (make a game of memorizing all the words - AP Bio is a lot of terminology). You can do it! I love you!
Then, I have some questions. In the mission field, you don't have the opportunity to look things up online. Even if you use the computer, you have only one site available - Could you look some stuff up for me and tell me what the answers are?
First, what is vinegar? As in wine vinegar - I know it goes through some type of process from wine to vinegar, but exactly what is it and how long does it take? And how do you get vinegar from apples or tomatoes? Please tell me - I've wanted to know for sooooo long because there is a huge vinegar culture here!?! Another reason - in one house I've been in they had huge casks of wine in the cellar and said it had turned into vinegar... would that be true? Also, they boil a lot of wine here for cooking purposes... what does that do? I would like to know the chemical answers, so I can understand it...
Next... I can't remember. That's ok.
Now, for the prospective missionary brother, a "cool mission story". Hmmmm. There are tons. Here's a little one. Last week, we developed / proved a new idea for finding during August, when all the Italians go on vacation and the city of Florence fills up with tourists. We went to the main piazze (squares) and sang. The first time, a few weeks ago, it was pretty effective. The second time, it rained a lot. The third time, it was a bit effective, and we sang with missionaries from the other zone. Then, we invited another district of missionaries to sing with us on Sunday. The day dawned raining. It was very cloudy, and even if it stopped raining just long enough for us to arrive to Church safely (on bikes, remember!) (the Lord loves us - cool story in itself), we continued to hear the rain pounding. We went home after lunch and it was still raining. There was no one outside. When we arrived at home, I realized the importance of the weather, and we offered a prayer that the Lord would stop the rain and cause the clouds to clear and the sun to come out around 5 so that the city could be filled with people for the rest of the night by 6, when we had scheduled to sing. I really felt inside that the Lord would answer my prayer. For a few more hours, the clouds lingered menacingly, then, around 5, suddenly began to blow away. The sun came out, for the first time in a few days, and we entered Piazza della Signoria (the original site of the David statue, and a huge tourist area) bathed in light and surrounded by tourist groups. We sang together and saw great success. What do we learn? We need to ask the Lord for the miracles we want to see, and then believe that He will grant the blessings we seek. I know you will see miracles, little brother. You simply need to ask for them and then put yourself in the hands of the Lord.
We had interviews this last week, and finally finished our scambi (exchanges). Good thing, since transfers are next week. My companion goes home next week. Wow. I am grateful that I can never remember the date, only the day of the week. It makes me somewhat blissful to have to look up the date in my daily planner.
Something hit me really hard this last week while we were doing scambi. For a while now I haven't liked competition, and sunddenly I started seeing the signs of it... You can read in the scriptures that "My disciples of old sought occasion one against another..." or "Shall the eye say unto the foot, I have no need of Thee?" Apostles in the early Church complained that the revelations of God weren't good enough, that the language could be improved. Others sought after positions of prestige. Miriam and Aaron went before the Lord to "prove" themselves prophets just as good as Moses... I won't talk about today; I'll talk about the principle I learned. We are all in a great war. Or a track meet. Or a relay race. And the Lord is He who places us exactly where we need to go. I laugh and think of computer games where the player controls multiple characters, each with different talents and abilities, and uses them for a variety of different purposes, including placing them in difficult but overcomeable situations, giving them specific talents or abilities, and using them according to his own designs. One character is not better than another, and at the end of the game each character becomes more and more similar to the others as they each improve in the areas in which they have personal deficits. We are in a war where each of us has to fight his or her own battle. No one can do it for you, and it is an incredibly personal feat. We are in a track meet where each person is in his own event, the only runner on his team, the only jumper on his team. His personal success is the only thing that counts. We are in a relay race, and we each must do our own part, whether swimming butterfly or freestyle or backstroke. Each individual counts. Think about yourself - do you cheer for the others on your team? The team of the children of God? Do you rejoice in the achievements of others? Or do you secretly wish that you had received the honor lauded to another?
Sometimes we are too much motivated by competition, but we are not climbing a corporate ladder. Just because you are called to be bishop or stake president does not mean you are better or more qualified or more spiritual than anyone else. It simply means that the Lord chose you to accomplish a task only you could do, until He decides that you have finished. It is the same in any track meet, or any relay race, or computer game (sigh, and smile!). Who are you to say that glory from God is merited? On the other hand, just because someone else receives the glory of God or of men does not mean he is better than you. It has nothing to do with it. Life is filled with opposition and evil and good and rich and poor and bond and free simply so that God can place each of us in the places we need to be to learn the most we can. The success of one is the success of us all - if you are a high-jumper, do you cringe when your teammate wins the long jump? No - you cheer ecstatically! In the same way, we should look at the entire human race. The gain of one is not the fall of another, but the glory of God.
Now to explain an example. We were "blown in," which means that both my companion and I were transferred into this area. As our old investigators began coming back from vacation, they called the other companionship (because they knew them slightly better). The other companionship in the district took all of them, and to make a long story short, we had no one to teach. That's really tough. We also had no members to visit. Even tougher. And the other missionaries were teaching and visiting members and getting plenty of referrals. What should the attitude be? In the end, the people who matter most are the investigators. As long as they are taught well, they will improve and progress towards their baptisms. We get to run a different race, and find new people. Hence, my invite for all of you. Look into yourselves, deep, deep down, and ask if you rejoice in the achievements of others. If your best friend, who runs a bit slower than you, wins the 100-meter in the Olympics and is declared "fastest man in the world," what would you say? Would you challenge him to a race? Or would you cheer for his success and go on to the gold in the 200-meter race that the Lord has placed you in? I challenge each of you to truly and sincerely learn to find joy in the honors and achievements of others. They are all trophies that we all share. A baptism is not a medal worn by one - it is a prize we will all glory in in the last day. May each of you learn the importance of true charity - glorying in the glory of God as it makes itself manifest in the lives of the children of men!
I know this Church is true. I know that as we go out and exercise faith, the Lord will answer our prayers. He will bless us. Not me, but us. If He opens the door to someone else because I knocked it, then we have won the race! I know that Jesus is the Christ, and I love you all!
Anziano Peterson

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