Monday, November 2, 2015

"Cuz they keep comin' from wall to wall!" - Chris Brown

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was good. We got referrals and baptisms coming up that will fill our church building from wall to wall. Literally, last week Elders Paddon and Varo went to this area that has a school house where a few members meet because the church building is really far. They are opening a group there for them to take the sacrament. Quickly it will be a branch and then we will need two more missionaries in our district to cover their area. For now though, two of us will go there every week until we get two more missionaries. I think next week Varo and I will go.

This week has been really really hot, but such is the weather in Ghana. If you guys remember that last day of Pariah (we hiked nearly 50 miles through Pariah Canyon on the Utah Arizona border when Brandon was a priest, that last day was nearly 100 degrees), that’s what it feels like all the time. I've gotten used to just being wet and sweaty all the time. Also when it gets super super hot you know it will rain like crazy later. Right now it is raining a ton. 

Elder David A Bednar came to have a devotional with us this past Thursday. The day was hot. But right as he finished it started pouring rain. We didn't get home til like 11 because of the traffic on the flooded roads. He opened up the meeting for questions. We were only invited to attend the meeting if we brought an investigator. So we took Eddie. He was so pumped. We took him a little bit early to take some pictures by the temple and to make sure we got a good seat. Elder Bednar spent most of his time answering really dumb questions that members asked complaining about the 130 year family history policy, one dude found out that he was recommended to be a bishop but they chose someone else and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to complain about it. I actually felt kinda bad for Eddie. elder Bednar talked about some good things though with personal revelation, a young boy right at the end asked about how he can prepare to be a missionary and elder Bednar exclaimed, “that is the best question that has been asked all night!" Eddie really perked up with that one because he wants to serve a mission really really bad. He had the mission presidents who were there come and give the boy some advice. They were the same answers we have been taught all along, read your scriptures and get in a habit of prayer, gain a testimony, and so forth. It was awesome. It reminded me how simple the gospel is and that all the other church "stuff" in the end doesn't really make that big of a difference. The gospel is what is important. 

I took a shower under our mango tree today. I would recommend that to all who read this, find a private, outdoor place, and take a nice cold bucket bath. It’s really refreshing. I took a picture of the little spot; I will send it next week. Really though, I’m not being sarcastic. It rocked.
Elder Peters took this photo from the roof of the building where they live (he likes to do his personal study up there) Not sure which tree is the "Shower/mango tree" but it does look beautiful there.  That Elder sitting in the Blue Chair is Elder Paddon, doing his personal study.

Seeing an apostle was cool, but the coolest thing that happened all week took place on October 28, 2015:

We taught Eddie today. He has this bench a little ways away from his house where we first met him smoking pot with his friends. Today as we were about 400 meters away approaching on our bikes I saw him sitting there alone on his bench reading the book of Mormon. When I saw this it felt like the spirit punched me in the stomach and I will be honest, it made me blink away a tear or two. Here was a man who not 12 days ago was sitting in the same place so stoned that his eyes were red and his speech was slurred. Now he was so entirely immersed in his study of the book of Mormon he didn't even notice us approaching him. As we sat down and taught him after we had the prayer I asked him if he had any questions. He proceeded to ask me about my life as a missionary; how we live, where you can go, how we pay to live, what steps you have to take to go, how we pay to live, and so on. Finally he asked me, "How old is the latest you can be to serve a mission? "I said, '25" he slowly turned his head to the ground and said, "Dang, I’m 26. But I’m really short and sort of small so maybe I can just tell them I’m 19 and they will send me right?" I let elder Varo answer that one. Tomorrow we will take him to see David A Bednar in Accra. I pray one day his dream will come true, he will get to be a missionary. God needs Eddie, and Eddie needs God. That sight was such a huge payday to see. I love watching people’s lives change. 

We bought a handful of bottle rockets for super cheap to celebrate Halloween. we didn’t have any treats or tricks so we decided that the church screaming holy ghost fire all night was gonna see some fire from Halloween ghosts, we didn't shoot them at anybody, but we did shoot them strait up in the air during their hollering. Did it faze them at all? Not one bit. It was still fun though. Happy Halloween!

Love Elder Peters

Here are some extras from some of his other letters as well:

In his notes to his Mom:

Elder Bednar didn't give a talk; he opened the entire meeting up to questions. So we got to have a question and answer with an apostle of the lord. The only negative thing was that it was mostly members asking really inappropriate questions about church procedures, not investigators and missionaries trying to move the work forward.

I have been considering how on earth I will be able to have any money at all to get started in life when I get home. I will be washing my clothes and showering with a bucket outside under our mango tree thinking, "maybe I will just camp out in Provo canyon, set traps for game, plant a garden (I guess I wont just have mangos and bananas at the ready all the time), and wash my clothes by hand in a bucket, and shower like I do here. Then I will be able to pay for school." that’s something I have learned on my mission: even if it comes down to that, I can pull off paying for school.

I don’t think they celebrate thanksgiving because it is about the pilgrims landing in America. Doesn’t really apply to Africa, they didn't celebrate Halloween. Elder Paddon and I bought a handful of bottle rockets for 1 cedi and shot them off for Halloween that was pretty fun. Christmas is huge here. I guess people will cook for about 3 days leading up to Christmas. I will talk more about Christmas in the future but be thinking of good questions to ask me on the phone.

I found the wallet sized photo in dads big thing of photos that was his Christmas present for me. It is really nice. One of the pictures is a picture of you cheering Josh on at the end of a race at Layton Park. I taped that one up by the side of my bed along with a few others. After saying my prayers one night I laid down and put in my iPod and started listening to "The Work" album (by the Nashville Tribute Band}. As I lay the song "Bless My Son" came on. Looking at the picture of you cheering Josh on, and listening to that song I could see you kneeling at your bed each night pleading with the Lord to "soften hearts of stone" I want you to know that your prayers are felt. I know that much of the success on my mission is due to my righteous mother praying for her son. I can feel you cheering me on, maybe not as physically as Josh gets to enjoy finishing a race, but spiritually. Thank you.
This is the photo that Brandon is talking about.  We took several photos of things going on at home and made "Inspirational Posters" out of them for him to hang on his wall.  
BTW - I loved the seasoning packets. See if you can find more Alfredo or four cheese sauce mix packets. They fewer ingredients you have to use in those packets the better. I can get water, butter, powdered milk, ketchup, flour, oil, eggs, pretty easily. Tomato sauce, cheese, real milk, meat (especially beef), salsa, is really hard to find. I am certain I won’t taste real milk until I get home.

She asked him if he's getting enough to eat:

I have food, I bought a big thing of spaghetti noodles to eat for the Sunday if we didn't have a member invite us to dinner, because that usually happens on Sundays. I was just looking for something to add flavor to it. I always have enough to eat, whether or not it is something that is super delicious is another story, but you dont eat for pleasure in Africa, you eat to live. I promise I have plenty to eat

From his notes to Josh: (good advice for all teens...and especially some good tips for the Cross Country team)

I know that high school seems like it may drag on at times, but one day you will miss it so enjoy it while it lasts. 

That picture is so cool of you guys running in the fog. Brad is an excellent photographer. As you train for NXN I want you to keep some things in mind:

1. Pray. See 2 Nephi 32:9. Put as much diligence and effort into your prayers as you would a race and your "performance will be concecrated unto thee"

2. Study your scriptures. Put as much effort into your scripture study as you do your homework, and I know that you will be blessed for it. As you prepare for tests and workouts make a habit of reading your scriptures to prepare. In Alma 26:12 Ammon says that he doesn't boast of his own strength because he knows that he is so weak compared to how incredibly powerful God is. Through God you can do all things. Remember that. 

3. Focus on strengthening your weaknesses. Ether 12:27 "and i will make weak things become strong unto them." Dont focus on your weaknesses, focus on changing them. If you are struggling with morning prayers put an intense focus on that, if your form gets floppy finishing speed workouts focus on tweaking it to perfection. 

As you do these things, putting as much energy into your spiritual life as you do into your academic and athletic life, you will do miricles. 

Encourage the whole team to be like the young men described in Alma 53:20-21. 

I love you a ton, keep up the good work. 

Love Elder Peters

I also wanted to tell you that after a particularly difficult day at about 9:30 at night this past week I looked at my watch and it said it was 3:30 at home. I thought what you guys would be doing at home and knew that you would be running. So I laced up my shoes and went for a little run around my compond in little circles for about 20 minutes and thought to myself "on the other end of the planet, Josh is running right now too." so i went on a run with you that night. It rocked!

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