Tuesday, December 23, 2014


     YES! The J-----'s were baptized this last week I can’t remember a happier feeling than on December 20th 2014. Their whole family came down from Idaho to watch their son - who has been inactive for the last 15 years overcoming addictions – baptize his son L----- and his wife S-----, who we had the opportunity to teach. We couldn't fit everyone who was there in the baptismal font room - so we had to use the chapel. My companion and I decided to have every one there write their testimony on a piece of paper while the family were changing; and we are making a baptism binder for them, and giving it to them on Christmas.
     The baptismal service went amazing.  Sister Bowser, the Relief Society President and one of my favorite people in this ward, gave a wonderful talk on baptism.  Then Brother J----- baptized his family - which was so great! Elder Ostberg and I were witnesses. After that a young boy in the ward gave a talk on receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.  He had [their son] L----- step on a soda can which was empty and crushed it. Then he had him step on an unopened soda can - which represented us being filled with the Holy Ghost. The can could not be crushed - no matter hard L----- tried. With the influence of God in our lives we can’t be crushed!  We just need to learn to recognized what he is trying to teach us and follow the promptings of the Spirit - no matter what they may be, they are for our benefit. 
     I remember a talk from Jeffery R. Holland where he talked about coming to a fork in the road where he and his son prayed on which way to go. They both felt strongly to go to the right.  They went there and in 400 yards in was a dead end. The Lord let him go down a different path to see the importance of staying on the right path - instead of letting him spend a lot of time in doubt while going down the correct one. The Holy Ghost reassures us of how perfectly right God’s road map is for us. With the gift of the Holy Ghost we can achieve all the necessary things we need to do in this life. We are guided to do the things we need to do - so that we may live with our families in Heavenly Father’s presence once more.
       We had our Christmas zone conference yesterday and it was great.  The topic was, what our purpose is as missionaries. Preach My Gospel says that my purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel – and through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I was able to watch this happen to the J----- family from a-z. I was asked to give a talk about my purpose as a missionary. My purpose is to be like Christ - to follow him and to influence others to do the same. Jesus was our perfect example and it is each and every one of our jobs to help others to take a full advantage of his atoning sacrifice. President Miller gave a fiery talk about how the field is white and ready to harvest and to THRUST in our sickle. Shame on us if we are not thrusting with all our might mind and strength we are on the Lord’s time not ours. It was reassuring to hear some firm speaking from President Miller.  He backed it right up with loving words - just like Christ would. This mission is truly the greatest!  It makes me so happy to be here in the Lord’s vineyard.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

12/16/14 - Week 7 Mission Field


     First off, thank you for the Harry and David gift basket.  It’s nice to get things that are authentic to Oregon.  I shared them with some of the missionaries in our district and they were great. 

     This week is going to be a big week.  The J-----'s - some of my favorite people - are getting baptized this week.  So many people are coming that we won’t be able to fit them all in the baptismal font room. They are such and amazing family and kind of remind me of some of my favorite people back home. Brother J------ had a rough past and joined the military and has been inactive for the past 15 years. Now it is like the prodigal son and he is coming home.  This family is one of the strongest in the ward now and two of them won’t be baptized until this Saturday. He has quit drinking smoking and 5 pots of coffee a day for the Lord.   Whenever we go to their house it’s like a taste of home.  Words can’t explain the joy I feel for them - and to see the good things that come from missionary work.

     Last week we had a break away moment with several of our investigators - one family specifically. The dad is kind of like brother J------ just 10 years prior. He said he felt the Holy Ghost when we read Mosiah chapter 4 with him and his wife.  It said in the next verse, that when we feel the Holy Ghost again we are forgiven - then he lit up and kept reading it over to himself. The Spirit was so strong and something clicked.  It’s just a downhill until he and his wife will be sealed together in the temple.  

     Another miracle was when we taught a mother who had been left jobless for the last month.  After we taught her about the Book of Mormon and the plan of salvation, she asked us if she could pray.  She poured her heart out in the prayer - about whether it was true and if it be God’s will she should get a job. She told us at the next lesson that we had with her, that not 30 minutes after that prayer, she received a call for a job she wanted - and her prayers had been answered. She is so excited about the Book of Mormon - and it is great.  The next two days I have two exchanges in a row which is nice, and helps me to learn from other missionaries.  

I went through my second Wal-Mart bike and had to break down and buy a nice one - which was a hit to my wallet.  But it is a plus to the Lord’s work - now we won’t half to cancel on people because of broken bikes.  I will just be a humble poor missionary.  It is never easy - but it is always worth it.  We must sacrifice our worldliness for a higher purpose - and we will be blessed. I am so thankful to be called here.  It truly is a great mission. 

     I hope all of you continually show Christ unconditional love and service this Christmas - and remember the Christ in Christmas. Have charity in your hearts and lean on the Savior.  It has been cool because the section I am reading in JESUS THE CHRIST is about the true Christmas - and how nobody back them truly understood the divinity of Christ; not even himself until he had waxed strong and became the man who saved us all. Like the Savior, we don't know the impact on the world each of us are going to have - even if it is but a happy smile or a kind act of service – that can completely change some one’s life. We are all Disciples of Christ.  The path is straight.  Each of us must travel a token of what Jesus went through to really recognize his impact on us and our family. Use your struggles and turn them into gold - 1 Peter 1:7.  Nourish the seed of your faith and bring forth good fruit, Alma chapter 32.  Be a beacon of love and righteousness. I love my family and all my other brothers and sisters of God.  Merry Christmas.

P.S. - Here are the pics of the apartment. My camera broke so my companion took some pictures of us today  while we had some other elders over to do their laundry [behind the closet doors - The bathroom is next to the closet]. My new bike is the green one  - I loves it  & hope it doesn't break:).   

Monday, December 8, 2014

12/8/2014 - Week 6 - El Paso still

This Christmas season is full of wonderful things!  Although I miss going out and looking at Christmas lights with friends and family, and the wonderful things at home, - I am excited for the work opportunities. I want to thank the Mapels for the Thanksgiving card they sent me.  Big things are in the works for them - their family will be sooo soooo blessed with Gavin going to the Philippines. Greg touched my heart so much - because he is wanting to do great things with himself that I know he is very capable of.   Elder Mapel going on his mission will bless so many lives!  And he leaves so soon - which is so exciting - he has no time to procrastinate. I know he will do fine - he got his Eagle project done in no time.
My mission president has asked us to do something very hard this next month.  He wants us to sing Christmas carols, as a companionship, to strangers daily. Talk about getting out of my comfort zone. But the nice thing is – some of the doors we sang at only spoke Spanish, so I couldn't understand most of what they were saying.  We just handed them a card, said some of the ‘Espaniolish’ I know, and were on our merry way.  I know that the Lord provides for those that are obedient, serve others, and do the hard things.  The Lord gives us obstacles - only to overcome - and so we can appreciate the blessings that come from that.  This Christmas season lose yourself in others. Do your home and visiting teaching.  There are so many people in need.  Sometimes all they need is a happy hello and someone to visit them. 
We watched the Christmas Devotional last night with one of our investigator families - and made scones like at home.  The J------'s are Elder Ostberg and I's little peace of family. The message was from D. Todd Christofferson.  He told about a whole town giving a sick boy Christmas in October, because he wouldn't make it. So the whole town rallied around Ethan. Just like eagle point rallied around Ethan Jostad. Sometimes it doesn't seem fair - it seems when innocent people pass away it isn't always fair. In Alma, chapter 40, it tells us that death is a thing of joy - because it is a step necessary for each and every one for eternal happiness. Jesus died so that we can overcome the trials of death and be with our eternal families once again. Jesus Christ's death seemed horrible at the time; but as we look back, it was the most important event in history, and the reason that each and every one of us can have hope for a brighter day. Just like the sad death of Joseph Smith came to pass - lots of good came from the trials the church faced along with the pioneers - and all the way down to the trials each of us face today.
This Christmas season share the gift of Jesus Christ - make it sacred to you. Things become sacred to us through some form of sacrifice - it’s in the word sacred. Give a little more this year, and want a little less.   I guarantee, you will get so much more out of it than you can comprehend. The joy I receive on my mission from helping others is the greatest thing I have experienced in my life yet. I am so thankful to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ.  He is our head, and guides his prophets and apostles.  I love my Mommy, and my Dad, and my Sister, and all of my friends and family. Feliz Navidad.

P.S. - This was transfer week. I am staying in El Paso for 6 more weeks so P-day is on Monday.  Next transfer day will be on the 19th of January.  I love you all so so much and am praying that you will all do well financially. Sell my Jeep! My bike is starting to break.   I can’t afford a new snazzy one that works - and I need money for an iPad too... I did the math and we have rode about 800 miles this month on our bikes....... I love you and hope work is going really great talk to you next Tuesday :) Pet the weasel [nickname for our Dog, Friday] for me and say Rick loves her :)

This is one of our recent converts. He was baptized less than a week before I got here.  He plays football for UTEP and is from Juarez originally.  So blessed to know him.

12/2/2014 - Week 5

     This past week has been a big one. We have had some really solid lessons this week and the Spirit has been really strong in all of them. We brought some older more experienced members to lessons and the investigators showed a lot of respect - and it didn't seem like a couple 19 year old kids were teaching them. We took President Pérez from the missionary presidency to visit one of our investigators. This guy believes Jesus himself baptized him and gave him the priesthood when he was 8. His wife is a temple worker and just last week we finally helped him realize that he is not sealed to his wife. President Pérez has told us not to drop him because one day he will be baptized. [This investigator] has been a minister in his past and a chaplain for a prison, his heart is finally just beginning to soften. When he is baptized it will be a glorious day in heaven. I am so looking forward to that day and for the other investigators. They are going to receive the greatest gift which is the Holy Ghost.
      I love being a missionary so much – no matter how hard it gets. Since it is the holidays we don't have to drag members along as much. They are getting more into the missionary spirit. We got in another car crash this week - while going with a member to get stuff from our crashed car. We were rear ended by a semi-truck. Luckily it was going pretty slow, in traffic, so we were only hit going around 3 miles an hour. The adversary may be trying to stop our work, but we kept fighting back. I punched Satan in the face after the crash, by giving the people in the accident Books Of Mormon - and they were really excited.
     One of our investigators’ husband is an E7 in the army and has all kinds of clearance. He took us on base at Fort Bliss and taught us some combat moves. It felt so good to get on a wrestling mat and roll around. We had Thanksgiving Mexican style at one of our investigator’s house. George offered to have us pray over his food with his family. We had another dinner at a member’s house. I am so thankful for the hospitality I have received here. The people here are great! Even through the struggles we have had, I am still finding ways to get through this. The Holy Ghost helps my life so much and it is amazing how a day lasts a week - but the weeks seem as days. Being obedient to the Lord’s commandments - is a commandment.
      The Lord blesses each and every one of us for being obedient. I am so thankful for the blessings I have received on my mission. The crazy thing is, that the blessings are from helping others. Don't be afraid to talk to people. We never know who God has prepared to receive the message of the restoration. This Christmas remember that Jesus Christ is the gift to us and our families. I am so thankful for each of you and your support. Be thankful for the blessings we have in this life. I love my family and friends so much and hope you are all doing well!

Monday, December 1, 2014

11/25/14 - Week 4 Mission Field - The Spirit of God

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am going to share something that I am most thankful for -THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST. Some people think all we are trying to do is baptize them - and that is partially true. But it’s not about numbers – it’s that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. When we don't let our souls be subject to the atonement of Jesus Christ, John 3:5 says that we cannot enter into the kingdom of God - unless we are cleansed by water and fire. The Holy Ghost acts as a cleansing agent that continually keeps us from becoming dirty in the eyes of God - and gives us the ability to repent. Remission of sins isn't possible without the Holy Ghost. Some other benefits of the Holy Ghost are he brings things to our remembrance and comforts us through our struggles- John 14:26. The hymn, “The Spirit of God” has been in my head all week.The Spirit of God
My bishop called on me last minute to speak in church and instead of it being a 10 minute talk it ended up needing to be a 35 minute talk. The Lord filled my mouth and the Holy Ghost brought things to my remembrance. I filled that time with about 20 minutes of prep - and the ward members said I was inspirational. They were right ... I was inspired by the Holy Ghost. Most of those words where not mine! If there is one thing I have learned on my mission it is listen to those promptings - no matter how ridiculous they sound. I will give an example. We were in a lesson with a new investigator. He kept trying us to go in the woods and do shrooms with him so that we could receive enlightenment. I was then prompted to share the brightness that the Book of Mormon had brought to my life. How it answered the questions of my soul.  With the Bible it makes God’s doctrine complete - making the plain simple and precious things more visible.  Through pondering these things I received my own answer and enlightenment - without drugs. He then said that if we can walk without crutches of drugs - he wanted that!  He is now reading and praying about the Book of Mormon - and is considering being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost - to be that constant companion and to bring the answers of his soul - to be complete through praying, reading and pondering. I would not be able to do that on my own - but with the Holy Spirit of God all things are possible.
We had the opportunity to have Elder Heber C. Corbridge, of the Seventy, speak to us for 6 hours during zone conference this week. He really helped me realize some things - to be an effective missionary, home teacher, or just a good person. Look for ways to help people, then make a plan on how we can help.  It doesn't need to be intricate in design - all people need to know is that we care about them. Then we need to take responsibility for that.  Don't wait for others to do it.  You don't need to have a calling from God to help an old lady with her groceries -or anything like it.  Then, simply follow through with the prompting you get, to help out.  1. See it   2.  Plan it   3. Own it  4. Do it!

I am so thankful for my friends and family, dog, the support I am receiving from you, and the wonderful gift of Jesus' Atonement. At this time of year and I hope you can all look at and be thankful for Christ.  In this Christmas season, don't be caught in material things, but in the love of God -who sent his son for us - John 3:16. Have fun times with your families. God loves families.  He gave us families so that we can experience the love he experienced with us, before this life. Happy birthday to Jared Dabel this month! And happy birthday to Karly Cox on the 28th - this black Friday. I love you all and pray for you lots. Hasta luego

Random Thoughts from the first 2-4 weeks

Random information from our chats:

Elder Pedersen and Elder Ostberg - taken by a member family.

It is cold here too - it got to 27 the other day with a hardcore wind chill. Have you heard the singer Alex Boye? He sounds like John Lee Hooker but sings hymns :) 

Don’t send too much stuff - our apartment is so tiny we sleep in the kitchen.

Here’s me like 100 yards from the Mexico border on exchanges.  The big X stands for Mexico.

On Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 4:35 PM, Richard Pedersen <richard.pedersen@myldsmail.net> wrote:

It’s impossible for me to go gluten free around here.  I can’t give up the green chili enchiladas members feed us to - amazing. I mostly just eat chicken and beans and taters - but people give us food and were not supposed to refuse

On Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 4:33 PM, Richard Pedersen <richard.pedersen@myldsmail.net>wrote:

I am going through my protein powder - I can’t eat enough food and I have lots – it’s just that I burn so many calories biking all day. One of our investigators works at Dillards.  We’re going next week to check out the sales - apparently they have Armani 1000 dollar suits for 50 bucks - notify Gavin and Jared of that.

On Tuesday, November 18, 2014 3:13 PM, Richard Pedersen <richard.pedersen@myldsmail.net> wrote:

Yes [we are ok for Thanksgiving] we have the Hodges taking us for turkey day - with a 25 lb. bird and 7 different kinds of pie - maybe save the pie filling for xmas:)

(When asked about the accident and whether he was driving)

I am not allowed to drive yet - since I am still in training.  It was just was just us rear ending them - but the police report found us as the innocent party. The thing that sucks though - is we are going to be on bikes for a very long time.

My accent really isn't that bad. It is not Texas here - it’s Mexico with military. There is a member in our ward who is a chiropractor - I think I’ll call him, but I am feeling fine. It was tempting to go to the hospital - but I want none of that crap while I’m serving the Lord. 

Me drinking apple juice from a corona cup - what a coincidence,

This is the Corrnado Sandman - this guy says he cuts rocks with his eyes.

11/18/2014 - Week 3 in the Mission Field -

Well my week came to a very abrupt stop yesterday… El Paso drivers are the worst ever.  They all come over from Juarez and cut people off. 3 cars in front of us, a lady cut another off… It ended up in us being in a pile-up. I am so thankful that we are all safe - no injuries. I wish I could say the same for the car. We spent all morning taking care of that and getting it out of the impound lot and to the shop. I am a little stiff but I took some Advil and was feeling good enough to bike 5 miles to the library to email yall!
I went on my first exchange this week with our zone leaders. Elder Snow and I had a blast! We saw some investigators - one of whom who had a disabled child. I was able to share how special she was to him -through my experiences with Ty and Robbie, and my mother’s work. 
We have been so busy with lessons. I have found out how important it is to have members present for lessons.  Sometimes we can’t even get our foot in the door without them - and the Spirit is so much stronger with them present. Everyone go out with the missionaries!  It is so important with helping bring souls unto Christ. The more I look at missionaries in our ward, in our past - it isn't always the ones we think are the good ones that are working harder. Being a consecrated missionary is few and far between.     Try to help every missionary you see to become consecrated to their mission. Be encouraging and uplifting.  There is a lot of work that we don't see missionaries do. Be the member that reminds them through your actions that missionary work is the most rewarding thing that we can do unto this life. I never said it was easy - but it is the best thing I have ever done.
The Bible teaches us that bringing one soul unto Christ is greater than anything else in God’s eyes. That one person has the opportunity to receive the highest exaltation - even unto God. Ether 12:27 teaches us that God gives us each struggles, so we can make them into strengths.   That is the purpose of this life - to prepare through trial and error and hard work. Alma 34:32.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the trivial things of this life. Be progressive, perform your labors, and love one another!   Prepare yourself so that when the trial of your faith comes it will be seen as good in the Lord’s eyes 1 Peter 1:7.  Most importantly - have some fun while doing it! This life is meant for us to walk in the rain and enjoy it. Try to be like Lieutenant Dan from Forest Gump - make your peace with God in the middle of the storm, and have some faith!

I want everyone to try and be like Jodi Jarvie and Brett Beal this week - and see the blessings God brings because of it. I love each and every one of you. Please let me know what I can do to help you. Look for the little blessings in life. Sometimes they are hidden under struggles. Dad I want you to know that you have been an important influence in my life and have taught me a lot more than I realized, now that I am on my own.  Dad - get back on the horse and ride! Don't just coast. You don't realize the impact you have on others.  Brent you need to share your experience and skill with new people. I love you all and pray for you so much please do the same for the missionaries especially Donavaghn Jarvie.   I feel like he needs it. Take care! I can’t wait to hear about how you all are doing.