Elder Peper

My Mission Experience

Easter

Dear Parents and Families,

Spring has sprung in Oklahoma!  The Bradford Pear trees are blooming all over the place with their abundant and beautiful white blossoms.  They are wonderful to behold but less than wonderful to smell or to breathe.  Those of us with allergies are starting to sneeze!  Today was a near perfect day and it makes everyone feel happy.  The dreary skies have cleared and we are excited for several days of lovely weather.  This seems especially nice because Easter is only a few days away.  It will be nice for the missionaries as well as all the members to share conference on this special weekend.  All the missionaries will be able to go to their respective ward or branch buildings to view the sessions of conference.  Sometimes they invite investigators to come with them.  President Gee was happy today at how many people were invited to “Come Unto Christ” last week.  (Over 5000 of them) We feel that things are beginning to pick up again.  We are still hoping and praying that the momentum we experienced for many months will return full force.  We are loving the evenings that still have sunlight until eight o’clock.  We seldom see a missionary without a big smile and an enthusiastic handshake.  We hope your special missionary is having good experiences.

I would like to share something with you that we are inviting the missionaries to do to make Easter more meaningful.  Simply put, as the hours and days of this week pass try to remember what was happening during the first Easter week.  It is good to re-read the events in the scriptures of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  “Jesus the Christ” is part of the missionary library and this is a good time to read what is written there about what the Savior went through.  Several years ago the thought to do this somehow came to me and I have found myself more able to feel gratitude and receive understanding as I tried to stay focused during this time.  Perhaps you would be interested in joining us in this activity.  Whatever you do, we hope you have a meaningful and testimony-building weekend as you listen to church leaders bear witness of Christ and his work.  We LOVE your sons and daughters, (and parents!)  We are so blessed to be in this together, you families included.  Have a good week.

Love, Sister Gee (and President Gee)

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Letters from Mission President/Wife, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Elder Peper Trivia

After four months on his mission, here are a few interesting tidbits of information I have picked up from Elder Peper:

    • He has already had to replace the shoes we bought him before he left.  We bought a much more sturdy/expensive pair of shoes a couple of weeks ago and we are hopeful they will last a good, long time. It will be interesting to see how long they hold out.
      • Riley spends $3 each week on laundry.
        • He has had to have one of his suits repaired recently as the “pockets ripped out.”
          • It costs them $9.50 in tolls to travel to Oklahoma City for special meetings, plus they use up 300 miles from their monthly mile allotment.  Fortunately, the meetings are well worth the price.
            • The boys do not pay for haircuts.  They cut each other’s hair.  When I asked Riley how he looks, he replied, “Hot.”  I suppose by Oklahoma standards that could be true.  (Just kidding!)
              • Riley’s Grandma and Grandpa Peper write more letters to him than anyone else.
                • There are no attractive girls in Oklahoma.

                  March 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

                  Costa (Like Costco)

                  Dear Parents and Families,

                  Another week has rolled by and it was a great one because we saw the missionaries in so many settings.  First, we welcomed ten new missionaries on Tuesday.  They arrived as every group before them, a little like deer in the headlights but so eager to get going with real missionary work.  They were out doing the real thing by Tuesday evening.  We really initiated them to Oklahoma with bone-chilling wind on Wednesday.  This was transfer day and a large percent of the missionaries were in the parking lot at the Stake Center in Moore to make the switches.  Five of our missionaries returned home on Thursday.  As usual, we wonder how we will get along without them, but somehow we manage to keep going.

                  Friday was another unexpected bonus to our mission.  We were amazed that only one month after Elder Bednar was with us that Elder Claudio Costa was able to visit for another three hour spiritual feast.  Elder Costa is from Brazil.  He has a delightful accent that makes everything he says seem charming.  He also has a great sense of humor so little bits of laughter spiced up those three hours several times.  He carefully explained that if you can say “Costco you can say Costa.”  It was fun to observe his style which was so different than Elder Bednar’s style, yet was just as spirit-filled.  Elder Bednar used questions and answers almost the whole time.  Elder Costa was more traditional, using most of the time to speak to us.  He had a lot of stories to tell.  There is more than one way to skin a cat and more than one way to feed the Lord’s sheep.  I was especially impressed with how enthusiastic and positive he is.  I found myself hoping that is how Heavenly Father is.  Love is such a motivator.  It just makes you want to do better.  Elder Bednar really did the same thing.  He kept talking about just being a good boy or a good girl.  Elder Costa is one of the seven Presidents of the Seventy.  When the meeting was over the missionaries grabbed a box lunch and the plan was to get them out of there and back to work in a flash.  You can imagine how excited the missionaries were about that plan!  They love to visit with one another.  They were good sports even though they had to be herded out the door.  They were gone about a half hour after the meeting ended and hopefully back doing their missionary work with renewed zeal.

                  We were so happy the weather cooperated for the Friday meeting because on Saturday we had yet another blizzard.  It snowed all day and created icy, dangerous roads.  It is Monday night and today it felt like spring again.  It was almost warm enough to ditch the suit coats.  The Elders are always happy about that.

                  Well, that is about it for this week.  I promise that next week’s news will be far more ordinary.  However, it really isn’t ordinary to be involved in building the Lord’s kingdom.  We are privileged and blessed.  We hope you enjoy e-mailing tomorrow.  Your love and encouraging words are so important.  Have a good week.

                  Love, Sister Gee (and President Gee)

                  March 22, 2010 Posted by | Letters from Mission President/Wife, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

                  I Miss You This Much

                  March 21, 2010 Posted by | Letters from Elder Peper, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

                  The T-Word

                  I am grateful for tornados for one reason:  they prompted Sister Gee to send lovely weekly letters to the missionaries’ families.

                  Dear Parents and Families,

                  Greetings and we hope you had a good week.  It was about a year ago that I decided to write these weekly e-mails.  One of the first ones was to reassure parents concerning the T-word. About half the missionaries have come since then so I am going to do it again.  Last fall I said that it wasn’t the tornado season so not to even think about it.  I purposely don’t choose tornado postcards for the new missionaries to sent home because I don’t want to make it worse than it already is.  Well, now it is the tornado season so I want to explain a few things to you.

                  First, my greatest worry is not about the tornados.  It is that you as parents will worry too much about the tornados, so please try not to stress about them.  Before we came we read about “Tornado Alley” and read accounts of the huge tornado that passed a couple of blocks south of the mission home a few years ago.  If a tornado happens the news media plays footage of the worst possible damage and they make it sound like every citizen of Oklahoma is in danger.  It is because sensationalism gets attention.  On the day we arrived the Brachas showed us the storm shelter and said they had never had to use it.  Now we are coming to the end of our service and so far we haven’t had to use it.  Still, it is nice to know it is there.

                  Here is what happens if a tornado is possible.  We have excellent weather people in this neck of the woods.  The weather here is very interesting so it attracts some of the best trained people to work here.  They have such sophisticated equipment that they can watch for any possibilities and predict down to the block and the minute that the tornados should pass through.  There is an excellent alarm system in place in the populated parts of the state.  They practice the siren every Saturday at noon if the weather is good and everyone can tell it is just a practice.  It makes the dogs howl about as loud as the sirens.  If there is tornado danger the local television stations stop their regular broadcasting and keep everyone informed of where the tornados are.  If they get close the sirens go off.  This has happened in the middle of the night so it is a little erie since we can’t look out and tell what the sky looks like.  There is usually a lot of thunder and lightning and hail that comes with the wind.

                  If this happens, President Gee stays glued to the television with the remote in one hand and his phone in the other.  If the missionaries are even close to the severe weather he calls to warn them and find out where they are.  Each missionary is supposed to have a contact person in their ward or branch to make sure they know what is happening. We will be reviewing emergency plans with the missionaries.  In the past, if a severe storm developed while the missionaries were tracting, total strangers  invited the missionaries in out of the storm and made sure they got home safely. The weather people tell us if we need to go to a shelter or find the smallest inside room in the place where we live.

                  The truth is that most missionaries never see a tornado, let alone get close to one.  It isn’t impossible but it really isn’t likely that they will be in one, especially since so many prayers are going to heaven for their safety.  We have confidence that they are being watched over, but we try to take every precaution.

                  Just keep praying for your son or daughter, and have faith, and don’t worry.  I hope this is helpful to calm a few concerns.  Have a good week.

                  Love,

                  President and Sister Gee

                  March 17, 2010 Posted by | Letters from Mission President/Wife, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

                  The Time is Flying

                  Elder Peper with his District

                  I heard from Riley today.  Word is that he and Elder Jackson will not be transferred this week and will both be staying in the area to serve at least another six weeks.  Next transfer date is April 28.  He said that they are excited to be staying and the ward members are all happy that they will be around for a few more weeks, as well.  He mentioned that they are completely out of food, though, because they weren’t sure if they would be moving or not so they have a big shopping trip planned today.

                  He recently wrote a letter to his Uncle Dave and shared the following:

                  I can’t believe I’ve been on my mission for over three months already.  The time is flying.  I’ve learned so much about the Gospel and about the world in general since I’ve been out here on my mission.  It’s really the best decision I’ve made.  I love spreading the Gospel around to others.

                  My companion, Elder Jackson, and I have been working really hard and it’s been paying off.  We’ve already got 4 new investigators this week.  Our biggest problem with the investigators is that they won’t act upon their knowledge.  They tell us they know The Book of Mormon is true, but they aren’t willing to come to church.  My companion and I have been discussing ways of how we can tell them how important it is for them to follow through.

                  We’ve been really blessed this week with weather, as well.  It hit 75 degrees on Tuesday, and it’s been sunny all week.  I also really appreciate the people in Texas and how nice they all are.  I’ve only been sworn at once.  Most of the time, people are really polite to us.  I’m really grateful for that.

                  My mission, overall, is awesome.  I love it.  I love the people, the area, the work, the weather, and my companion.  I feel like my life has been blessed beyond comprehension.

                  Anyway, I need to get started on weekly planning, so I’ve gotta get going.  I hope you write me back and let me know how everything is going.

                  Love,

                  Elder Riley Peper

                  March 16, 2010 Posted by | Letters from Elder Peper, Photos, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

                  Trudging

                  Dear Parents and Families,

                  Greetings from Oklahoma and Texas.  We hope you are doing well.  Today I have been thinking about something I call trudging.  I became conscious of trudging when I was reading the book, “Fire of the Covenant” by Gerald Lund a few years ago.  The day the handcart pioneers took off there was a feeling of celebration and excitment.  That soon gave way to blisters on hands and feet, fatigue, thirst, and boredom.  They had to trudge and just keep going to reach their destination.

                  Today was gray, rainy, and dreary.  Only people who truly like to get wet would feel like it was a celebration to go out tracting.  It seems like we are facing more opposition and problems since Elder Bednar’s visit.  By now we should know to expect that because Satan and friends like to answer back.  We have learned that we all have to keep trudging even on days when we don’t feel exuberant about what we are doing.  Today President Gee and I were talking about this and he said, “Something really good must be about to happen.”  We have learned that difficulties often mean there are good things waiting just around the corner.  We have heard that there are family members who are looking forward to missions in the future who read these little messages.  I hope it helps prepare them to know there are trudging days as well as days of  joy.

                  The rain stopped later in the day and the sun was starting to peak out again.  Spirits lift quickly with a little sunshine or with a little kindness or interest in hearing the gospel.  We constantly marvel that the Lord can use young, inexperienced elders and sisters to successfully carry the gospel message to the world.  There is no logical way this should work but it does.  In the process another generation of faithful church members and leaders is prepared.  We know this is the Lord’s work.  It is a great experience to be observing this on the front lines.  Again, we appreciate your encouragement, support, and prayers.  Your sons and daughters can always use some cheerleaders as they do this work.  For those of you whose loved ones are serving as senior missionaries, we want you to know they are doing wonderful work.  They help in ways only they can do.  Thanks for encouraging them to serve.  Have a great week!

                  Love, Sister Gee (and President Gee)

                  March 11, 2010 Posted by | Letters from Mission President/Wife | 1 Comment

                  Transfers Date March 17

                  Elder Peper’s most recent letter dated Feb. 28, is optimistic and informative, as usual.  He notes that the next transfer date is March 17.  This means it is possible he could be transferred to another area.  He suggested I ask those of you writing to him to begin sending your letters to the mission office, in case he is transferred. The mission office will forward the letter directly to him, wherever he is.  If he has left his current apartment, and you send a letter there, the chances that your letter will be forwarded are slim.  You can write him at the mission office address until we find out if he is staying or moving.  The address is:

                  Oklahoma-Oklahoma City Mission
                  416 SW 79th St. Ste. 210
                  Oklahoma City, OK 73139-8121

                  The bulk of his letter contained the names of all of the people and families in the area that Riley has grown to love and will greatly miss if he leaves.  He gave quite a list of people who mean a lot to him.  He also mentioned the Senior Missionary Couple who are serving on the base.  He says:

                  “I’m going to really miss the Senior Missionaries who are on the Base.  They are some of the coolest people I know. They are definitely my Grandparents away from home.  They are from Cincinnati, Ohio.  She was a school teacher and he was in the Marines for a long time.  They are Military Relations missionaries, so they are non-proselytizing.  I’m going to miss them a lot.”

                  He then asked me to tell everyone “hi” and that he misses them.  He will be calling home in two months and he seems as excited about that as I am.

                  March 4, 2010 Posted by | Letters from Elder Peper, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

                  Dear Madi

                  An envelope from Elder Peper addressed to both of his sisters arrived today.  Inside the envelope were two seperate letters, one addressed to each sister.  I did not see the letter to Delaney, as she read it and put it among her things before I had a chance to peek.  I was privileged to read the letter to Madi, though, since she is only 5 and overwhelmed at reading too many words on one page.  I particularly appreciated Riley’s way of helping Madi understand the importance of what he is doing and to know that, even though he is far away, he loves and misses her.

                  In the first paragraph, he asked all about Madi and the things she is doing. He then explained a little bit about what he is doing on his mission.  Here is an excerpt:

                  I miss you a lot and can’t wait to see you!  I do love being on a mission, though.  I get to teach people about Heavenly Father and Jesus and how much they love us.  I also get to baptize people and give people blessings.  It’s really fun, and I know Heavenly Father wants me to be in Texas right now.  I wish you could visit.  I do get to call home in two months, so I will talk to you on Mother’s Day.  That is going to be awesome.

                  I love you a lot and I hope you are being a good girl.  Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.  I love you and miss you!

                  Love, Riley

                  (He included a pencil sketch at the bottom of the letter.  It was a picture of Madi skiing. She was particularly delighted because he drew her using ski poles, which she doesn’t get to do very often but so wants to, like the big kids do.)

                  What a blessing it is for our family to be a part of this experience with Riley.  I hope some of these letters and posts help you to feel included, as well.

                  March 1, 2010 Posted by | Letters from Elder Peper, Photos, Uncategorized | 2 Comments