Monday, July 9, 2012

We Felt a Taste of the Joy........week 102

My dear family,
Thank you so much for your letter.  My heart is full right now from your words and the great opportunity that I have to serve the Lord as a full time missionary.  Tell all of the young men that I am way excited to hear that they are worthy and excited to go serve the Lord.  Tell Johnny Lightheart that he is going to absolutely love his mission.  He is going to see miracles in the service of this choice people. 
Well family, my heart is full right now.  This Sunday was very special for Elder Egan and I.  When we went to church, about half of the people who were there in church were converts, investigators, less active, or inactive families with whom we have specifically worked with.  We felt a taste of that joy of which Alma speaks.  There is still a whole lot of work to do but I am so excited to keep working. 
This week we had a Mission conference in Chilpancingo where we were able to meet our new mission President, President Kusch and his wife.  They are extraordinary.  I received a deep witness that he has been called of God and that he has the keys to the direction of this mission.  His wife said something in her talk that struck me deeply.  She said, ¨Elders, you can plan your preparation but you cannot plan your future.  Actually, don´t do so.  Plan your preparation and watch as the Lord guides your future.  If I would have planned my future, it would have been much less than what the Lord has given me¨  It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. 
I would like to share a very special experience that I had this past week.  It was Wednesday if I remember right.  We were cooked in the sun.  It was one of those days that we all have.  That night, I prayed specifically so that the Lord could give me the strength to keep the work up.  That night a had a dream of a young man who asked me, ¨Elder Russell, when can I meet with you so you can share me your message.¨ In my dream I referred to the 21st of July and said, ¨It seems like there is not going to be enough time before I leave.¨  In that moment, with tears in his eyes he told me, ¨Elder Russell, I don´t want nor need of something physical, I need your spirit here with me.  I need to feel of your spirit.¨  In that moment, I arose to the alarm and got on my knees to talk to my Father in Heaven.  There was the perspective that I needed.  There was the response to my humble prayer.  I know that God lives and answers the prayers of His servants. 
We are preparing a few people and a family to be baptized in these following two weeks.  We had prayed to be able to baptize a family who would be sealed in the temple in one year before we came home.  God gave us the Castillo family.  We are going to have a baptism of Araceli who will be baptized this Friday and she has placed the goal with her inactive husband to be sealed in the temple in one year. 
I am full of joy for the tender mercies of the Lord.  I want you to know family that God answered my prayer this week that I made about 2 years ago.  I prayed to be able baptize and seal a family before I went home.  This Saturday in the Mexico City Temple at 9 in the morning, I will have the privilege of being present in the sealing of Brother Alfredo Brito to his family.  He was the brother who was baptized the first Christmas here while I was in Amiltzingo.  I do not know what to say.  I am stunned and in awe.  This is going to be one of the most joyous moments of my life. 
Well family, I pray for you.  Live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Work everyday so others can come unto Christ.  There is no greater joy.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Russell

Monday, July 2, 2012

Working Like Crazy........week 101

Dear Family,

Well this week was another great one.  I am taking forever because I am trying to send all of the pictures that I haven´t sent for the past few weeks.  I got your package and  I was so pumped.  I told my companion, ¨I GOT NEW SHIRTS!!!¨  You know you are a missionary when…. J 

This was a really great week.  We baptized Fransisca, the mom of Malena and Elizabeth.  She has wanted to be baptized for a really long time now.  She has put in her part and she had a light in her eyes the day of her baptism.  Elder Egan and I are so excited right now.  We are working and the field is so ready for the harvest.  The fruit is ripe. 

We came in contact with a man named Marcos who lives in a pueblo nearby called Platanillo.   He is getting ready for his baptism soon and his family is very interested.  His family is very well known and respected in this pueblo so we are very excited to begin to preach the g√≥spel there.  We are hoping to baptize the family before we go and begin the process of the preaching in Platanillo.  We are very excited to see the fruits from that pueblo. 

Well, we don´t have a whole lot of news.  President Kusch is now here in Cuernavaca.  We are going to have a conference with him this week.  We are working like crazy and we are loving it.  Take care family.  I love you most!!!

Elder Russell

Monday, June 25, 2012

Another Week of Excellent Work........week 100

Dear family,

Another week passes and it is crazy how fast things are going around here.  We are working really great right now.  We had 3 baptisms this past week of three children named Juan Antonio, Angela, and Valeria.  Juan and Angela are brother and sister while Valeria is apart.  It was really special to be a part of their baptisms.  The truth of the matter is that I laughed because Valeria didn´t want to be baptized for a while but she started reading and praying more.  I am really back on my pictures but I promise to send you all of those that I due. 

Elder Egan and I are really excited to work this last month of our missions.  This last month was the best month of our mission.  I had a lot of goals for my mission when I walked into the MTC.  It has been an amazing experience see how the Lord has granted every single one of my righteous desires.  A few of my goals were these, baptize 10 people in a month, baptize a gangster, baptize a whole family who will go to the temple, and go to the temple to seal a family while I am in the mission.  I am working so the last three can happen this last month.  We are teaching a man who is repenting who will be very close to his baptism this week.  We have a few families that we hope to see progress in this month and I am just waiting the confirmation to go to the temple to seal the Brito Family from Amiltzingo.  I will let you know as the weeks go how my goals are going. 

I really don´t have a whole lot to say.  We are working, we are happy and we are doing the best we can to help out as many people as we can so they can receive the exaltation. 

I hope that everything is fine at home.  Send my concern to Joy and Josh.  I hope that everyone is doing well. 

Well family, take care.  I pray that you may continue to be blessed as you remember to keep the covenants that you have made.  Until next week.

Elder Russell

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Opportunity of a Lifetime........week 99

Dear family,

I am writing you late today because we had a special activity with President Spannaus.  He invited my generation* to go and pass our P day with him in the ruins close to Cuernavaca called Xochicalco.  We have been running all day and we have a chance to send off a quick letter.   *(The missionaries that came to Cuernavaca with him from the MTC...his generation).

Tell Joy that I will be praying for her and for her family.  May she find comfort in the words of Alma who said that Christ has taken upon us all of our pains, afflictions, and suffering.  I sincerely pray that she may find that peace as in all moments of difficultly.  I will have a special prayer in my heart for her. 

This week was a great week.  We baptized Rubi, a young woman who has gone through a lot but has decided to follow the Savior through faith, repentance and baptism.  I am having problems with the photos but I will send them along with last week’s when I can. 

We are working great right now.  The ward is going nuts about missionary work.  We have an activity this Saturday that they are just inviting the world to come.  We had the same lesson about missionary work in Priesthood Sunday and afterwards, Elder Egan and I planned a small capacitation for the ward.  We went in the chapel and we were talking about how the members could invite their friends to do missionary work.  We talked about observing the people when we invite them to come unto Christ.  It was really instructional and super funny see the members get all excited doing role plays.  Elder Egan and I were so excited.  We got a lot of work to do and we have very little time to do so.  The both of us are hoping to baptize what we haven’t done in all of mission in these last weeks.  

I would like to share a story of our activity today.  President invited us to take the day with him and when we were there in Xochicalco, we took a few minutes to have a testimony meeting.  Each one of the missionaries from my generation got up and bore their testimonies.  I sat back and was deeply moved as I listened to these missionaries.  I have worked with these missionaries for 2 years and it was nothing too new to hear them bear their testimonies.  But in this occasion, I was deeply impressed at the men they had become.  Their conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the testimonies that they gave brought the Spirit in the corner of a pyramid.  I stopped and looked at them.  And I thought of myself.  I sat reflecting on the mission, on my companions, on my President and his wife.  It was hard.  I am excited for the future and for what is coming but as Dad said, I feel like this will be the hardest calling to leave.  I am a missionary, that came when I was baptized.  The duty was elevated when I received the Priesthood and when I entered into the temple.  But the chance to give all of my time and efforts to keep my covenants is an opportunity of a lifetime. 

As we have been working here, there are various families here in Insurgentes that within one year they will be in the temple.  But a few weeks ago I started writing Hermano Alfredo Brito from Amiltzingo.  When I got on to read my mail today he wrote me and said, ¨Elder Russell, it looks like we are going to be sealed as a family the 14 of July.  I hope you can be there.¨  Right now, I am filled with an emotion that I cannot describe.  Hno Alfredo was baptized for the example of his 7 year old son.  It was 7 at night and all of our appointments had fallen through and we sat on the street curb thinking about who we could visit.  We were fasting to find someone to baptize.  When Elder Campos asked me who we should visit I said Alfredo Brito.  We visited him Wednesday and Saturday he was baptized, the 25 of December.  To think that he will be sealed to his family the 14th is a joy that I cannot describe.  I know that the work builds upon the work of every missionary but I have prayed since the beginning of my mission, ¨Father, I want to be able to baptize and seal a family.  Even though I will do all that I can so that all can receive me, I ask thee that one family may be sealed.  Father, I want to be able to say that because I served my mission, at least one family will be come with me to see Thee again.¨  I have had that prayer in my heart for 2 years and I will keep praying until the 14th of July. 

Family, to say it all, I cannot describe the emotion that I have to be Elder Russell: Representative of the Savior Jesus Christ.  This is the true joy that Paul spoke of for those who truly seek happiness.  This is the joy of my life: to bring about my duty towards God and His children.  It is my prayer that we may always do so.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Russell

Saturday, June 16, 2012