Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28, 2010 MTC....... week 10

Dear Wonderful Family,
I'm glad to hear that you were able to slow down a bit this past week. It seems like it was due. I am running a bit low on time today so forgive me if it runs short. Never a dull moment in the Lord's work.

So I am plugging away in the MTC. I absolutely love it to be honest. Of course there is the anticipation of getting the notice to go to the Consulate but it will all come in time. I count my blessings every since day for this great opportunity. Its funny how the Lord knows exactly what you need to learn, how to do it, and in what time frame. So for me, this time frame is the biggest cram session of my life. It is so awesome! I am learning things that I wasn't even considering a week ago. Once again, He knows where we are and where we need to be. I'm loving being able to be part of it.

So for me I really have counted my blessings this week. There is so much to be grateful for first off but something struck me the other day that I'd like to share. So the Elders who are waiting for visas are being placed in different upcoming classes to have teachers, a district, and the like. The Lord knows exactly who I am and my goals. One of my goals for the MTC was to be able to leave the MTC in an advanced Spanish class. I am so blessed to say that its going to happen. Come Wednesday (tomorrow), Elder Egan and I will be joining a new advanced district for our time here. The Lord knows me so well that He has allowed me to achieve my goal. It really is amazing. Thus, Elder Egan and I will be in this district until we here further notice. We are asked to check with the travel office every day to see if there is a trip to the Consulate that day. Thus, the Mexican missionaries are very commonplace in the travel office.

Well family, it really is amazing to be serving as a servant of the Lord. I look at what I have learned and how much the Lord has molded me that it is hard to look back and believe how far I come. It is my testimony that He lives. He loves us and wants to bless us with everything He has. But He will never force our ability to choose. Through the truth of His gospel restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith we know who He really is and who we really are. It is my testimony that it is true. I am so grateful for it and I desire more than anything else to share it with others. May the Lord continue to bless you my dear family.

Elder Russell

PS Tell Linda that the chocolate milk is absolutely amazing!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21, 2010 MTC....... week 9

Dear my wonderful family,
I hope that everything is absolutely wonderful. I want to thank you so much for the package, I received it yesterday. I really am grateful for the fact that I have such a supportive family. Also, thank you for your notes on Elder Bednar's talk. They were awesome and helped out a bunch. Thank you so much for everything you do.

Well family, your overly anxious son / brother is remaining in the MTC until further notice. It is really rather funny because there are only about 5 missionaries from our zone including Elder Egan and I that have permisos. None of us know what we will be doing but we have been told a few things. Right now, we tentatively have 3 options. We could form a new district with the remaining Elders and have a teacher, class, etc. Second, we could be moved to be with the upcoming advanced district on Wednesday until further notice. Lastly, we could be put in another classroom and have study / temple time every day (I bet you can guess which one is weighing the heaviest in my mind right now). None of the Elders really know neither do the teachers nor travel desk. In all reality, all of us are just loving it. We are having a great time and we will really be happy with whatever.

So family, as usual, I am constantly amazed, taught, and molded each and every day. This week was a very powerful week for me. First off, a bit crazy because the first members of our district are heading off to their temporary reassigned missions. It has been a tremendous blessing to rub shoulders with each and every one of them. Secondly, something immensely powerful struck me this week. I thought deeply about two concepts: Preach my Gospel and the Restoration of the Gospel. We were taught a lot about Preach my Gospel and what it really is. I believe it was Elder Holland who said that "if we didn't feel that we wanted to make a few changes to it, it would be cannonized in the standard works." We were told of all the revisions and work that the apostles and others put into Preach my Gospel. As we are not capable of being instructed directly from the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency like as in the days of the Language Training Mission, Preach my Gospel is the personal training for each missionary from the Brethren. So amazing! I made a goal to use every part of it and even thus far I have seen how inspired this book really is. Every portion of it is inspired. My goal was to become a PMG missionary and I am loving the fact that I am working towards that. Second, was that I wanted to be a Restored Gospel missionary as well. I realized in very poignant moments how extremely unique and absolutely vital the Restored Gospel is. It is everything. We teach, preach, and speak of Christ as He is the means of our Salvation. Yet, without the Restoration of the Gospel with the Priesthood authority, the keys, the Book of Mormon, etc., we could not truly come to Him. I believe it was Elder Ballard who made a comment that without the Restored Gospel, we cannot have full access to the Atonement. Its amazing no?

Thus this week has strengthened me and helped me realize that my faith is very simple. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. It was through him that we have the Book of Mormon which has the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by which we can come to know of God and His plan of us. Simple, yet absolutely essential. It is this message that I cannot wait to share with the people of Mexico.

It is my testimony that He lives. I know that Christ is the head of this Church and leads and guides the affairs of the church for the salvation of His children through prophets. I know that Thomas S Monson is the Lord's annointed prophet. I know it to be true, and of how great importance to share it with the world.
I know these things are true. I love you family and may we always look to the Restored Gospel as the foundations of our faith.

Elder Russell

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September 14, 2010 MTC ....... week 8

Dear my wonderful family,
Thank you so much for your letters. I love hearing how everything is going. I give you my best wishes and love across the miles. I would also like you to give my special thanks to Brother Marks, Minor, and Sister Nay for their letters. I haven't always been able to respond to them but please let them know that theirs as well as yours are very appreciated. Before I forget, I don't have anything on my mind that I'm thinking of in terms of a package. The only thing is to just have a few extra dollars if I decide to buy some more books.

Well family, this past week has been miracle after miracle. It has been a continual round of where are the Mexican missionaries going and who is able to go. There are about 150 missionaries who are expected to leave a week from today to Mexico and we were informed that there are only about 50 who are going to be able to obtain their permisos. Long story short, Elder Egan and I are on the list to obtain them. Thus, they are going to keep us here to meet with the Consulate with the hope that we will be leaving on time or a little bit later. All of the Cuernavaca missionaries and I believe Merida missionaries are obtaining permisos and the rest is random. Thus, we don't know exactly our timing but we do know that we are leaving for Cuernavaca if not in a week, shortly thereafter. It truly is nothing less than a miracle. I'd like to tell a bit why this is so special to me.

So these past few weeks I have been changed and molded in ways that only the Lord knew how to do. Each day I am tossed into a furnace for something else that needs to change or needs tweaking. I have felt that the time I have here is precious and I feel that if I continue to use it as I have been, the Lord will magnify my ability to do His work. For some reason, I have always felt that the time here is small but if I utilize it, I will be blessed tremendously. I have felt such a strong drive to give it everything. When I heard yesterday about my permiso, I was at ecstatic beyond belief. However, I found myself been deeply moved almost to tears. The Lord's work is the same everywhere but I had been called to serve the people of Mexico. For all the talk of not being able to go there was hard and led me to great introspection. Each day with different news brought more desire to serve these people. I hoped and prayed silently in my heart to let me serve these people. From the moment I opened my call until now, I don't want to be doing anything else or be anywhere else. I struggle to write what these people mean to me. I have waited my whole life to serve them. All my talents, abilities, and desires have been cultivated and facilitated to teach these people. I felt it so strongly when I met Elder Nunez. When he told me about his home, the progress of the church, and the missionaries who have served there, I wanted nothing more than to be there. This is everything to me. This gospel, these people, my family. I feel as if the Cuernavaca missionaries are being sent because there is such a need within this mission. I will never take for granted this amazing blessing that the Lord has provided. I have more determination to work for the Lord for these people right now than at any other time. The MTC has fulfilled something very sacred for me. Through it, the Lord has taught me to want it more than anything. To desire to teach the Gospel with everything you have. I am so blessed for it.

May the Lord continue to bless you my dear family.

Elder Russell

PS Mom, I will never forget your quote at the pear farm. "50% do 200% of the work." Lets get to work!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 7, 2010 MTC....... week 7

Dear Family,
Tell Landon happy birthday for me. Wow, three years old already. That flew by. Glad to hear that things are becoming somewhat consistent. Sounds like you have been running nonstop for the past couple of weeks. As usual, questions first before I forget. First, I fasted for Troy as you asked and feel free to relay that as you see fit. I have 2 sandisks and I have only been using one. I have had quite a few friends of mine roll in the past few weeks. For instance, Elder Beal is not only here but he lives like 100 feet away from me. It has been rather fun. I haven't used any of my 100 dollars that I had for emergency. It is good to go but I have spent a little bit of money on the debit card for extra language materials. I would rather have more language books than food so I have spend a bit on it. Hopefully that was everything!

Alright, where to start. So first off this past week has been filled with gratitude. Elder Egan and I were released from our callings as Zone Leaders on Sunday. We were expecting at a week or more until we would be released but we were informed on Sunday. It came with mixed feelings. It was a bit difficult to have it happen as I have grown to love each member of our Zone. I felt so priviledged to be able to help and hear the testimonies of the Lord's army. Our Zone is the largest of all the zones in the MTC and I had the great opportunity to rub shoulders with amazing missionaries and help others in small ways. During our Sacrament Meeting, as I sat looking at each of the missionaries, I had a small impression tell me that "Elder Russell, this is only the beginning." I sat reflecting that day and feeling so grateful for the opportunity to serve them and the amazing opportunity to serve the people of Mexico.

So this week has been filled with more time to study which has been received with much delight. I have enjoyed every moment to dive into the scriptures and attend the temple. Each and every time, I learn something new. I feel each and every time that the Lord leans over me and says "that will make a difference for one, this another." It is a wonderful way to study knowing that it has everything to do with others. What a way to live!

So the language is coming along very well. I feel that my time here will be the perfect amount to learn what I can. It is interesting to learn a language when you are not speaking with natives. Graciously, I have a teachers and others to talk to but nonetheless, there is some that I am not going get until I arrive in Mexico. But as I continue with it, I really love the Mexican people. They are hilarious. Their outlooks and faith are amazing. I can't wait to talk to them each and every day.

One thing that has really struck me this week is the principle of gratitude. I have noticed strongly this week how much I truly am blessed. I see so that as I am grateful, the Spirit comes much easier, I learn much more and much faster, companionships work easier and better, and each and every day is the greatest day of my life. I have never been so happy to wake up each morning (its ok mom, give it some time to sink in).

Well family, I need to run. Give my best wishes and love to all. Know that I keep you in my prayers and that the Lord is ever watchful of you. Puede el Senor bendecirles con feliz todo sus dias!

Elder Russell