Friday, April 22, 2011

The Lord Loves Us & Knows Us

The Lord loves us and he knows what we need.  That's all I can say about this week.

We taught a lesson on Monday to a teacher in the TE and it was the first lesson we taught in portugues not to one of our teachers.  I won't go into details, but it was horrible, really really horrible, and none of us were very happy when we got out of it.  That being said, Irmao Johansen got to watch us have a companionship inventory for about 40 minutes, just trying to figure out what had gone wrong, what we can work on, and how we can improve ourselves, and we all felt a whole lot better about how we decided to approach lessons from now on.

Since then, our teaching has been wonderful - amazing, really.  We taught a couple of English lessons in the TE and both times we were able to feel the spirit so strongly and be able to testify of the things that we know and really be able to teach for the needs of the people.  We were also told that we did things that the teachers had never seen before in the TE, for example, handing a Book of Mormon to an investagator at the beginning of the lesson and telling him it was his and asking him to use it during the lesson. Also we gave a very good door approach where we didn't begin "We're missionaries...".  Also, another blessing of this week was being able to go to the TRC, where they have people volunteer to be taught by the missionaries, and this time we were speaking portugues.  We taught two men, and one of them was dressed in his army fatigues (I think that's what the camo's called) and we talked to them and they both said music was really important to them, so when we were planning for our lesson Sis Ogletree had the idea that we should sing a hymn.  We taught most of the lesson, and then we said we wanted to sing for them, and we had a hymn picked out, but the man in camo asked if we could sing a particular song, and he opened to Lead Kindly Light (in portugues, of course).  The rest of our lesson was good, but I could tell that song meant so much to him and you could really feel the Spirit in the room after the song.  It's such an amazing feeling to be able to use our talents to bless the lives of others, and that God inspires us with ways that we can bless lives.  It was really wonderful.

Then, last night, we had the chance to teach three Elders who were pretending to be missionaries and their teacher was watching.  The lesson went really well - it's amazing how much the First Vision can bring the Spirit - and it was probably the best lesson in portugues we've taught so far.  After the lesson, their teacher told me that my portugues was "muitor melhor" which didn't make sense to me for a minutes until I realized that he was the same person who had listened to me teach my second week here to compare us to the pilot program.  It made me feel really good.

Portugues has grown in leaps and bounds this week, and I know that that is due in part to the speaker we had visit us on Tuesday.  Elder Richard G. Scott spoke to us, and it was the best experience I have had at the MTC.  When he walked into the room, I could feel his love for every individual there, and his desire for us to know what he knows.  At one point he asked who was learning another language to raise their hands.  We did, and he looked out over us and raised his hand and said, "I invoke my apostolic authority and bless you with the gift of tongues."  It gave me chills, and even now writing about it, I feel like I did when he said it.  It is one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had in my life.  This church is true.  I want everyone to know that I had the opportunity to hear a man who speaks on behalf of God and had him bless me in my life and in my struggles and that I have grown and understood so much more of this beautiful language since I was blessed.  The priesthood power is real, it changes lives and it blesses us so much, and to all of you worthy men who hold it, I am eternally greatful.  I know the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us, and I know that I have a purpose here at the MTC and on the mission I will serve, because God loves all His children and he wants them to know what they can be, He wants to bless them with immortality and eternal life, and that is my purpose, too, to spread the word and move His work forward.

I love you all!!!
Sister Petersen

Friday, April 15, 2011

Just Listen

Tudu bem!
 I really can't believe another week has gone by!  Days are so long, but at the same time it's crazy to think that I've been here for a month now!  I've had a lot more meetings than I expected since I'm now the coordinating sister, but it's been really enlightening.  I feel like I'm just learning now some of the things that I should have been doing all along.  IT's nice to finally know them, but I feel like we could have been so much more productive if we'd already known them.  My companions anxiously await what I have to tell them every time I get out of a meeting.

 Every Sunday we have a devotional, and this week we were really blessed to have the BYU Men's Chorus come and sing for us!  It was so amazing, and I am so grateful that people are willing to share thier talents with us - we're actually not allowed to listen to any music here at the mtc, so it was great to have some uplifting music from other countries and about our Savior.

 Our companionship has really grown together this past week, too.  It helps that there are only the three of us now, so our teachers can cater to our needs.  The two things we've really focused on are listening - to each other, the Spirit and the investigator - and focusing our lessons on the commitments we want to extend.  It really was enlightening to go to  the TE and have a professor help us with our planning, because we've been struggling on how to focus our lessons.  He gave us a scenario and then ask what we thought we should teach, and we all said the Word of Wisdom.  He said that was great and then asked how we were going to teach it.  Well, we all looked at each other for about 30 seconds and finally he said "How about we teach them the Word of Wisdom?"  I wish we could have seen our faces.  It was like something clicked in our brains and we realized how much harder we been making our teaching for ourselves.  The listening we've been doing has been great and I would encourage EVERYONE to try and listen like this: Just listen.  Don't try and think about how you're going to answer what the other person said. Ever.  It will come to you because you know what you need to say after you know what it is they need, and you know that by LISTENING.  Again, really simple, but so amazing.

I think everyone should also be very proud of me.   I've been using gym time to also build a skill a lack a bit, and that would be the skill of confidence when doing something I don't know how to do.  Yes, Sister Petersen has played not only volleyball, but basketball with people she doesn not know.  And it has been really amazing.  Because I've realized how much I worry about stupid things.  And how to have fun.  And I have.  Had fun, that is.

Another thing that has become invaluable to me is prayer, and probably not for the reason that you think.  Yes, it is important to talk to my Heavenly Father, and I'm doing that, but I also know that He is the most patient and understanding being in the universe, pois, I am using my prayers as personal language study.  It has helped me soooo much, because I say EVERYTHING in portugues, even if I don't know how to say it, because I know that unlike my investigators, God understands what it is I'm trying to say!  And I've also started to take notes, because its also the longest times that I spend speaking in portugues for an extended period of time, and so I figure out there are certain words and phrases I still don't know how to say, so I write them down.  I love it.  And what's even better, is that I know Heavenly Fathers appreciates my prayers more when I pray in portugues because He's called me to speak that language.  It just so happened that I was born into an English speaking family =]

Speaking of portugues and family, we did an exercise yesterday where we had to describe our families in portugues and it was pretty great.

I also ran into Danny Anderson the other day!  I didn't even know he was going to be here the same time I was.  He's going to Russia, so he'll be here for 12 weeks!  I've heard some of the Russian Elders speak, and it really is crazy, yet so amazing.  I also saw Tyler Gentry yesterday - I completely forgot that he worked here!  It's so much fun running into people from home.

 I love you all!!
Sister Petersen

Friday, April 8, 2011

Teaching, Teaching and More Teaching

This week... Days here feel like they last a week, and so when I think back to the beginning on this week... We'll just say it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

General Conference was so wonderful!  It's amazing that when you have something on your mind, it seems like the conference is directly tailored to your needs.  I felt like the only things that were talked about were service and love and the things that will lead you to serve and to love.  And that it what Missionary work is all about!  I love this work!  It also confirmed my testimony of this gospel and really made me feel like this is something everyone needs in their lives - everyone.  Because everyone does.  And the only thing that keeps us from sharing it is because we're afraid of what they are going to think of us.  And fearing what man will think of us is a form of pride (thanks to Sister Black all us sisters read Prz Benson's talk "Beware of Pride." It was very enlightening.)

I feel like I keep learning the same lessons over and over again - be proactive, be humble, take responsibility.  Our companionship was teaching "Gi" (the investigator our teacher pretends to be for us who only speaks portugues) and the lesson didn't really go over very well.  We were lacking a lot of things, especially understanding on the part of Sister Ogletree and myself, because we had little idea what was being said by Gi and Sister Cornwall, and I wanted to say things at times but hadn't a clue what was going on.  When we went back in the room to talk about how it went, there was one point where I told Sister Cornwall that she kind of gives up when people haven't followed through on commitments, and Irma Holtzclaw said "That maybe she did, but so did you."  It was one of those moments where you soak in what was said, and you fully realize that what they're saying was true and that you really didn't give it your best effort at all.  And I was really humbled.  I'm so glad for people who are willing to point out my faults since it's so difficult to notice those sorts of things for ourselves.

After that lesson we dedicated ourselves to teaching better lessons by planning more, and we have had so great planning session since then, really focusing on what our investigators need, about why we're teaching certain things and making sure that we're fulfilling our purpose of bringing people to Christ as we teach, and it's been really helpful.  On Wednesday we taught four lessons by the end of the night (which we'll do again tomorrow) which might not seem like a lot, but the most we've ever taught in a day before was 2, so it was a little rough by the last one.  But it was so neat to be able to teach, because that's what we're here for and that's how we learn best.  I have also been told that I need to talk more, so that is something I'm really trying to work on.  We're all trying to work at being more unified as a companionship.  It's a lil difficult since we are so different and yet so alike in some ways.  But we have seen what o Senhor can do when we dedicate ourselves to him and it is wonderful.

Elder Torres and Elder Malloy got their visas this week, which means that on Tuesday, there will just be us three sisters in the district.  And since our coordinating sister left yesterday for her reassignment - to Baltimore - that needed to be filled.  So, I am now the coordinating sister for the zone/ district leader of 15D.  Crazy, huh?  I don't really have too many responsibilities since we are the only sisters in the zone at the moment, but if others come in then I get to help the zone leaders with training and things like that.  And as 'district leader' I get to get our mail everyday!  How exciting is that? 

I feel like I've been slacking a bit with these letters home, because I haven't been telling you the most important things I know.  I know that God lives, that Jesus Christ is His son and our Savior, and that this beautiful gospel is the one way to make it back to Him.  I know He loves us so much, all of us, every one, because we are His children and he wants us to return to him.
Em nome de Jesus Cristo, amen.

Sister Petersen
Sis. Cornwall, Sis. Petersen & Sis. Ogletree at the Provo Temple

Friday, April 1, 2011


Ola!  This past week has been so busy, but it's been even better than the first week!

One of the first things that I got to 'help' with this week was in comparing how the pilot program for the MTC compares to the old program of teaching languages, which wasn't the funnest experience ever.  The evaluater talked to our district and asked if he could hear one person teach the 2nd lesson completely in portugues, and my companionship was volunteered because my companions basically aleady speak it.  But if they'd taught that would have ruined the point of the evaluation, so I got to teach all by myself, a lesson that we hadn't even gone over yet language wise.  It was pretty terrible.  I went through my head all the things I wanted to say and then had to re-think how to say them with my limited portugues vocab.  It was only 5 minutes long, thankfully. I got to talk to the evaluater a little afterward and he said that of the people he's listened to, I taught the lesson the best because I just kept on trying to get my point across instead of focusing on trying to get all the words right (words like "a" "the" "that" etc).  So I might not be able to speak the language very well, but apparently my teaching is alright =]
As I said, half our district got their visas so they all left this past tuesday.  It was a little sad the night before, realizing that they weren't going to be there the next morning, but our Elders (as always) went out with style: the last thing we sisters heard as we went back to our rooms was them singing "As Sisters in Zion".  I'm sad they're gone, but at the same time, the work goes on!  It's kind of amazing how easy it was to adjusting to only having 6 people in class now.  And to having Sister Ogletree as part of our companionship.  She is SO much fun!  She used to be a cheerleader in high school and she just has the happiest, peppiest aditude, which is a great blessing.
I've also been reading the Book of Mormon during my personal study and I came to the war chapters of Alma, which is not usually my most favorite thing to read.  But it was amazing this time around!  I had recently had a conversation with Elder Bahr and he had been saying that as missionaries, the 'war' we are waging is a completely defensive one, and I didn't really agree with that.  But as I read the war chapters I really realized that he was right!  And as I read, I kept thinking "This really applies to me right now!" So I would encourage you to read those chapters again and see if you can gain any insight as to how and why we need to fortify our lives.
Another thing this week was that our companionship got to teach the first lesson in portugues!  It was a little rough - Sister Cornwall did a lot of the talking, and it was kind of hard to follow what was going on, but every once in awhile I would do my very best to ask a question or make a comment that made some sort of sense.  I know the language is something I really need to work on (and I've been trying really hard, I carry a notebook of words I'm working on EVERYWHERE now) but I also know that I can learn it, because I'm supposed to.  That is a very important thing that I've realized in the last week - I'm supposed to speak this language, and therefore I will.  It has been getting better, too.  Last night our companionship spent about an hour drilling on how to conjagate verbs and it was muito helpful.
We also had the opportunity to go to the TRC this week and we got to teach Caroline and her 4 yr old daughter Monique.  It was really neat because they're originally from Brazil and are just in the United States for her husband to go to school for a year.  It made the experience very real, because she would correct our portugues to make sure she understood what we were saying and her daughter would talk to her in portugues (which for some reason really amazed me, probably just because I can't speak the language yet).  And it felt more like a real situation, since we were teaching while a little girl was running around and playing.  I didn't realize how much seeing children really brightens my day.  It was great.
I was able to go to the temple this morning with Sister Cornwall (Sister Ogletree went with our coordinating sister, Sister Black) and it was great to be able to go there as a sort of preparation for conference this weekend.  I'm really looking forward to that and you'd better be, too!
Well, I love you!!!! Hope all is well!!!
Sister Petersen