Letter from Elder Petersen:
This week we had Zone Meeting, and we had some great lessons. We've got transfer calls coming up on Halloween, so I could be going to another area next week. I'd like to stay, but that's usually an accurate indicator that I'm going to be leaving.
President Griffin told us something in Zone meeting that I really liked. He told us the story of Matthew 20. There was a man who owned a vineyard and he needed to hire people to work for him. He had a 12 hour day of work ahead, so he found some men and told them that he'd pay them 1 penny for a 12 hour day of work. They agreed and began to work. Throughout the day the man kept hiring. When there was 9 hours of work left, he hired more men on with the agreement to pay the whatever was right. And he hired men with 6 hours of work left, and with 3 hours left with the agreement to pay them what was right. And he even hired men when there was only an hour left, telling them that he'd pay them whatsoever is right. So the day came to a finish and he gave each man a penny, from the man who worked the full 12 hours to the man who worked only 1. So the men who had worked the full 12 hours began to complain, saying that it wasn't fair that the master gave them the same payment as the men who only worked one hour. But the master reminded him that he'd agreed to work the full day for 1 penny, and that it was not wrong to give him the amount he'd agreed to work for. So the question that I ask at that point is, how is that fair? It kinda leaves a feeling to me that the master just outsmarted the man who worked and left him with an unequal payment. But in the story, the Master represents Jesus, so it has to be fair. One thing I was taught in Chatt is that every parable breaks down somewhere. There is a point where the parable can no longer apply, and sometimes the Savior used this to give some hidden meaning. The point where this parable breaks down is when you ask how that is truly fair, and you can't find the answer through the parable itself. You have to follow how it compares to life, and that's how you can see what makes it truly fair. So what makes it fair is that, in President Griffin's words, working in the vineyard is awesome. Doing the Lord's work gives us reward as we go. It's a privilege to work in the vineyard, and we are more blessed the longer we work in the vineyard. So if anyone is less privileged, it's the men who only got to work in the vineyard for one hour. So we should look at our responsibilities in the gospel as a privilege, rather than a burden. I think missionary work is a great example of that, missionaries are some of the hardest workers in the vineyard, but they always love their missions.
We have a part member family in the branch who we had dinner with this week. The wife is a member and the husband doesn't want to get baptized. They both come to church every Sunday. I just talked with him about it without pushing him and he told me some things that really helped me understand him. He told me that he is a Catholic and doesn't want to change his religion and he likes coffee and an occasional beer. Usually I would have explained to someone why we don't drink coffee and alcohol if they told me something like that, but I didn't want to preach to him, I wanted to just talk. I asked him what some of the biggest differences he sees between Mormons and Catholics and the first thing he said was that for Mormons it's a lifestyle, not just a Sunday activity. I thought that was really nice, because I know he was completely sincere about it. It was cool how I got a different perspective on him when I just talked with him rather than tried to teach him something. I think some people have enough preachers in their life and they just need friends. We also got to talk and joke with him at church. We just talked about football, but he seemed more comfortable than I think I've ever seen him be in church. I'm thoroughly convinced that college football is a missionary tool. I might see if I can get President to see it that way too. We also met an inactive guy who was really cool. His girlfriend is pregnant, so one thing he told us was that he wants to get his life right with God so that he can raise his kid right. I told them that one of the focus groups for us is people who are expecting a baby or have recently had one, because if we can help them integrate the gospel in their life that will give the baby a life with less pain, more comfort, more love, more support, more direction, and just a better life. At the end of our visit with him he said that it's not often that you can say you love someone who you just met, but that he loves us to death and he really appreciated the feeling we brought to his home. I'm looking forward to working with him more.
We met with the tough guy who we gave a blessing to a while ago and he had his cancer check up and came up cancer free. He attributes it to the blessing we gave him and he was super grateful. He told us how he made a promise with God a while ago after finding out that he had cancer that he would quit smoking (2 packs a day) if God would restore his health and take away the cancer. He went cold turkey that day and God blessed him to be free of cancer. I told him how inspiring it is to me that he made that promise with God and then trusted in Him enough to give up the cigarettes. Then I talked about how we believe strongly in making promises with God and we call some of them them covenants and explained what that means. I also told him a bit about the promises of baptism and how that promise is there to bless his life, just like the promise he made with God to quit smoking. He said that he's working towards it, he's very optimistic about increasing his spirituality.
We met with Shelly again, we had a great visit with her as usual. She's had some crazy things happen in her life, so I told her how when we try to do something to follow God more in our life, Satan has a "little beeper" go off and he does all he can to drive us away from that good decision. That clicked with her and I'm glad it did, because I'd hate to see her lose interest because situations in her life became difficult. She also saw an anti Mormon post on Twitter and stood up for the church because of her experience with us. We were so excited to hear about that. It's incredible to me how some of the people we meet who aren't even members, will take such a stand to defend the church. So we got to explain polygamy and a couple other things to her, which was good. We also just had a fun conversation and at the end she said she was very grateful that we came to visit because it helped her to unwind from all of the stress in her life recently. I love being able to help people like that.
I'll have transfer news next week, Love y'all, Elder Jared Petersen