Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dogs are not our Friends....... week 14

My wonderful family,
As it is always the case, it is such a privilege to hear from you and hear that the Lord is continuing to bless you. I send you my very best wishes and love across the miles.

There were some experiences this week that were immensely funny as well as some extremely spiritual ones as well. First off, dogs. To bring back the memories to all who have or are serving in Central or South America, they are everywhere. I have noticed that there are two types of dogs here, extremely lazy or extremely crazy. Long story short we were teaching this investigator the first lesson this week and her dog was absolutely insane. With no exaggeration, Elder Arreola not only traded principles of the lesson and testimonies but we also learned how to distract the dog. About 15 minutes into the lesson I noticed that the dog had a strange aptitude to jump on me randomly and lick my arm. As I noticed the pace of the lesson, I took the initiative to be the distraction so my companion could finish the lesson. I kid you not, the dog completely drenched my arm in about 5 minutes. After he discovered that I was completely soaked, he embarked on his task to chew on my arm. Imagine all the while that I was trying to make as little of a scene so the spirit could testify of the message. However, he continued to munch on my arm. During the closing prayer, my hand was in his mouth. One of the greatest moments to date!

This Sunday, Elaine and Oliver came to church with the two kids. I could not stop smiling. Though I am not able to converse freely with them, I was so excited to help them during church and see their reactions. We had another investigator come to church that was really special for us. We are working hard and we are slowly but surely bringing about the work of the Lord in Amilcingo. The Lord requires a bit of creativity in His work which always makes me laugh. For instance, we were trying to motivate a less active family but they were a bit hesitant to let us in. After a rather large lunch, I was prompted to ask to use the restroom. My companion was then allotted some time to talk to them. I think I am going to use the tactic more often.

In reality, I absolutely love it here. With the work that we do everyday, I find it very easy to not realize the amazing blessing of every day. Each day is a gift from God which we are given to have joy and prepare to meet Him. I have been deeply touched by people that we meet for the first time, we teach them the first lesson, we ask them to say the closing prayer and it often goes something like this. We thank you Heavenly Father for everything. Thank you for these missionaries that you have sent us and bless them that more people will open their doors to them. Bless those who do not have bread to eat that we will help them. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Each one of these prayers touch me deeply as they are often given as we are sitting outside of a house held up by ropes and rebar. Bless the missionaries and those who do not have bread to eat. It is true that amongst the poor in spirit the Lord finds His most valiant servants. There is a tremendous beauty here. It is found within the hearts of the people who look out for one another. We have the great blessing of drawing their hearts unto Christ. There is absolutely nothing better.

Well family, take care. I love you and I feel the power of your prayers. Never stop offering up your hearts unto God. He will always answer you. I know it. I know the Book of Mormon is true, that Christ lives. Because of this, He is the foundation for everything. Always go unto Him. He is always anxious to hear from you.

With all my love,
Elder Russell

Monday, October 18, 2010

"That's NOT the language they taught me in the MTC..." ....... week 13

Dear my wonderful family,
Glad to hear that all is well. Thanks for all the emails and photos of the family. It is good to hear that all is going well and congratulation on deciding to take the photography class mom. I hope you love it.

So, I have successfully completed my first week in Amilcingo. I don't know where to start. First off, I don't know anything. That has been a wonderfully humbling experience for me. In reality, most of this week has been just adjusting to things. So first things first, Elder Arreola is a my companion that looks like an American but is actually from Torreon Mexico. More or less, if you could picture Tyler Russell as a Mexican, he is my companion. Its pretty funny. Things are going great here. The members are absolutely amazing. They are the nicest people in the world. I am becoming more and more certain that I will put on some pounds in this town. It is rather funny because almost every dinner conversation starts with "Elder Russell, do you like spicy food?" I then proceed to give my definition of spicy which always brings a laugh. Despite the initial difficulties of adjusting to a completely new culture and such, the members and our investigators have been ever patient and kind towards me. Don't worry mom, though we don't have a mamita here in Amilcingo, they are in the rest of the mission however, there are so many absolutely amazing families who feeding us more than we can handle.

So Amilcingo. If you can imagine the area of to the side Hillcrest Road in Medford, from the Merrill's until Cherry Lane, closest to MT Roxyanne, you have about the size of my area or larger. My area is really small. But it is really fun because you see members all the time as well as your investigators. Almost everyone walks or takes the combi which in essence a chevy van with the inside gutted out to put benches in it. It is so awesome!

The language is coming along better than I give myself credit for. Mexican Spanish is pretty funny because it really is a song. Its a song that the people like to write their own lyrics to. There are a lot of phrases that are solely Mexican which at first took my by surprise. For the sake of posterity, its true, the first few days were "what language are they speaking". By no means am I able to communicate fluently but I can talk to my Mexican companion and the investigators without utterly destroying everything. I count my blessings everyday.

So funny things thus far. I mentioned that Mexicans sing when they talk right. I love just listening to the people talk. The accentuation of their voices is so different but I absolutely love it. I thought often of Troys mission as the people here drive Mercedes, have huge tvs, abnoxiously loud stereo systems, and so much food but buy bottled water every day. Its so funny. I woke up one day to study and heard our neighborly rooster and goat say their morning prayers alongside our neighbors blare their music at 8 in the morning. More than anything, its just so funny. I absolutely love it. I have never seen so many PA systems strapped to trucks as a recorded announced blares through the streets. Most go something like this. Super great deal at the store, store, store, store, free, free, free (repeat until the truck passes by).

Spiritual experiences this week: we met an absolutely amazing family this week as we were knocking on doors. A young woman greeted us and told us to come back in and hour and a half. We came back, taught the first lesson, she was really interested and invited us back to talk with her husband. We did so and they are committed to baptism and attending church this Sunday. Elaine and Oliver are their names and we are so excited to continue with them. We are working with quite a few other people whom we are working hard to come to church. Its so great.

Well, my time is running short but know that everything is absolutely wonderful and I know that this is exactly where I need to be serving right now. President Spannaus told the new missionaries something that really stood out to me. It is found in Moroni 8:16 and relative to us as new missionaries. The latter portion of "do not fear what man can do because perfect love casteth out all fear". Thus, though I cannot speak fluently nor do I know every member, I am striving more than anything to love them. Thus, I am becoming truly fearless. I know that it is true. It has helped me tremendously even thus far.

Well family, take care. It is a privilege to wear your name alongside the Saviors. Know of my love for both names. I wouldn't want any other.

Elder Russell

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Companion... New Area... A Whole New World week 12

Dear Parents:

These are the assignments and companions of your wonderful sons. The picture was taken this morning when they met their companions. After the picture they all went to work to their areas. They will write to you this coming Monday.

Elder Sean Russell
Companion: Elder Arreola
Area: Amilcingo
Zone: Palmas

They are all very happy, and we are too. Have a great day!
President Spannaus

Mexico Cuernavaca Mission

Monday, October 11, 2010

4 hour flight and 1 hour bus ride...Finally in Cuernavaca!

Dear Russells:

Attached you will find some pictures we took this afternoon in the bus station and tonight in our home that you may enjoy. Dear family, your son is in the best hands he could be, in the hands of our Savior Jesus Christ, and I will be co-worker with him in this part of the vineyard. Thank you for raising this fine young man, he will be a great missionary.
With sincere love!

President Spannaus
Mexico Cuernavaca Mission

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5, 2010 MTC....... week 11


My exceptional, wonderful, amazing family,
Thank you for being so fantastic. I mimic Elder Russell's (the older) words about how conference always helps me realize how much I have truly been given. I am so blessed to have been raised in a home where there was so much appreciation, respect, love, and devotion to the Gospel. I truly appreciate it.

So notes real quick, I purchased a backpack here which has worked rather well for me. It has a side strap that I can use if I find carrying it on my back is a nuisance. I received the package and thank you so much for it.

Well family, I want to title this email "Viva Mexico!" I am extremely excited to announce that Elder Russell has received his visa and is heading to Cuernavaca on Monday. I went to the Consulate yesterday, the travel office received my visa, and gave me my travel plans today. Elder Egan and I leave Monday morning with the 9 other Cuernavaca missionaries. I still can't believe it. We are going to Mexico. President Spannaus sent me an email with a talk that he asked us to study as companions. It is amazing. It seems so surreal. Before I forget, I can call for a 5 minutes before Monday. It doesn't matter to me when I call but please send me a Dear Elder sometime this week so I can know when to call as I will be checking my next email in Mexico. I'll give my parents the courtesy this time of being informed when a missionary is calling (enjoy the laughs mom).

So, with every moment of this work, it is a constant learning curve. All of my personal studies and lessons in classes brought such a perspective to General Conference. General Conference in turn brought tremendous perspective to this week and the talk that President Spannaus sent us. I feel so propelled from everything. It is progression and each and every day brings so much more to our lives. This past week was so powerful for me because I felt more and more that I was getting to where the Lord needed me to be before I left for Cuernavaca. I know that His timing is not mine but even with the minor perspective that I have of my mission thus far, I know that He is ever aware of what is going on. I cannot wait to share what I know to be true with the people of Mexico in the coolest language in the world. I love these people so much. The advanced district that came in are such great Elders who are going to be amazing missionaries. Elder Egan and I have enjoyed every moment to speak with them and practice. Oh, and Elder Egan said that it is his cousin that served in Russia. It's a small world.

Well family, I need to be running. But I want to let you know that I am immensely grateful for your dedication to the Gospel and your family. With the little that I do know, I know enough to say that my parents knew it. I don't know a lot, but I know enough. I know that we are literally children of our Heavenly Father who loves us. He gives us families and prophets to help lead and guide us. The Book of Mormon is true and His Gospel is in the earth today. I know it without doubt. If there is anyone who is reading this who is thinking about this message, I pray that you act upon it. Find out for yourself. I know it is true. And if anyone is considering whether to serve a mission or no, do it. It has changed everything.

Elder Russell