Monday, January 31, 2011

When we say that we are representatives of Jesus Christ............... We Mean it!.......week 27

My dear family,

I believe that I tell you every week but it makes me smile (and be very grateful) that the Russell family is always working. There are not many moments when I hear ... we loafed around all day and didn't speak to anyone. Oh how I love my family!!!

Where to begin. Amilcingo, this city is my heart. The experiences that I have had here and the work that is progressing give me so much joy. This week we had a really sacred experience with two women named Linda and Lucy. We were walking down one of the main streets in Amilcingo to go to an appointment in the morning when we passed by two women who were working outside cutting the brush from one of the sidewalks. As we were walking Elder Campos and I stopped to ask if we could help them. They commented that everything was fine and besides, you will get your clothes dirty. Elder Campos and I both smiled and I remember commenting that I would rather walk through the streets with a dirty white shirt knowing that I had served someone than a clean white shirt which would infer such negligence. We helped these two women clean this sidewalk. After an hour or so of work they invited us to sit down and rest a bit. We talked and they were extremely receptive towards us.

What really struck me is what happened with the people here in Amilcingo. We passed by the barbershop to talk to a friend of ours and a bunch of his friends passed by. It's really funny because the people that are the most coarse or the most gangster, the major portion of them are some of our closest friends. Various of them passed by this barbershop to hang out with the owner. Because we were there, they started to ask about what we do and who we are. We sat there as our friend from the barbershop spoke about how we love and help the people. Two other teenagers were there and commented that “Hey, you are the two missionaries that helped those ladies in the morning!” We are not two missionaries from some religion who pass by your house to bash with your family about your doctrine and bore you to death. When we say that we are representatives of Jesus Christ, we mean it. When we speak about the reality of the Book of Mormon as the word of God for our days, we mean it. And when we say that we love our fellow man, we mean it. We have seen in various circumstances the lies and misconceptions about the church dissolved by people who are not members of the church. These missionaries do not do that. This church is different. And it is true. The Church of Jesus Christ should be different from the rest because it is the only one which brings salvation to the human family according to their faith and works. If you want to know a topic that lights Elder Russell like a candle is faith without works. One may say that I am a servant of God. I love my God and my fellow man. But how? Are we sure? I can knock doors all day long, explaining what is the love of God. Or, I can roll up my sleeves and get to work.

A quote from President Monson really struck me this week:

“Let us ask ourselves the questions: ‘Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?’ [Hymns, no. 223]. What a formula for happiness! What a prescription for contentment, for inner peace—to have inspired gratitude in another human being.”

The secret for happiness is having inspired gratitude in another human being. It is so true. When we left after having helped Linda and Lucy, I felt such happiness for having helped these two daughters of God and for having opened the door for the preaching of the Gospel. What has impacted me so strongly this week and my invitation to you my family is this. When we loose ourselves for the work of the Lord, when there no longer is an I in the actions of our lives, inspiring this gratitude in the lives of our fellow man, I promise you that you will be happy. Thank you. The work of the Lord is built upon the principles of sacrifice and service. All of which brings us to our knees to proclaim thank you. As the Savior of mankind, I am moved and brought to my knees to say thank you. My Father in Heaven, thank you for your Beloved son and all that He did for me. As a representative of this Perfect Son, it is the greatest joy of my life to hear the humble utterings of a Mexican family to say Thank you Father, Thank you Heavenly Father for this young man. When we recognize what God does for us through others, we are filled with this gratitude. This gratitude fills our hearts and changes who we are. It is my testimony of such a conversion.

May God bless you my wonderful family. I invite you to reflect upon the times in your life when you were most grateful. What did you do? What did others do? After having realized what, do what you did. Be what others were for you. Live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is my testimony as a living witness of God that He lives. Christ is the head of this church and the foundation of our lives. Fill your hearts with gratitude through the diligent study of the scriptures and service to your fellow man. You will have the happiness that you seek. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Sean Russell

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


My friend Alan is serving in the Phillipines Bacolod mission. Here are a few photos of his mission adventure...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love One Another.......week 26

Dear Family,

Thank you for all of the support, letters, and love across the miles. Mom, you are right, you always have awesome experiences with airports. I am still here in Amilcingo. I avoided another round of changes. I believe that I am going to be here for another 6 weeks unless there are special changes. I am really glad because there are still many people to talk to and there is still much work to do here. Amilcingo is my testing grounds for missionary work. I have a goal that when I leave Amilcingo I will have many ways to work as a missionary and I will know better what works and what doesn´t. Today was a funny day because I saw many Elders leave as well as others who came. It is really weird because there are many of the Elders that have the same time as me who are beginning to be trainers to the new missionaries. More than anything else, today made me think about how quickly everything has past as well as how much I still have to learn. I was a rather sobering thought. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the fact that I have another change to try some new things. But as Dad always says, you can run but you can´t hide. Hopefully I can run long enough :)

Well this week, where to begin. We had various experiences really amazing. One of which is what I learned during the week about the manner in which we should go about preaching the gospel. There is a quote by President Harold B. Lee that really struck me profoundly. He said that

“Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members”

I have thought much about this quote and it has changed my perspective and as a result my approach to missionary work. Elder Campos and I have talked a lot with the members about how they can really share the Gospel. We have talked about how we must first love the person and we must demonstrate that love through service. And how do we start to love and serve our neighbor? Its rather simple, think of what responsibilities we have as home teachers and as visiting teachers and do those things for those who are not members of the church. The way which has struck me really hard in which we should start this process of loving and serving our neighbors is one of the gifts most precious of our Heavenly Father, our families and our homes. A family that lives the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their home and invites others to participate in that immense joy becomes not only a home full of love but a source and a light for missionary work. How hard is it to invite a family to have dinner within the walls of your home? When these people enter into your home, are your walls full of pictures of your family and of the Gospel? Can they feel something different? Is this family invited to pray within the home? It is within the walls of our homes that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is applied, taught, and shared. How can we think that the Gospel is something that we discover? It is something that is caught.

I know that the Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He died so that our families could pertain after this life. When we lose ourselves in the service of others, it is then that we truly find ourselves. My invitation to you my wonderful family is to work side by side with the Lord. I am here because you have done so. I would like to invite you to invite a family friend who is not a member of the church to have dinner with you. Allow the world to feel what has formed who I am. Let those who desperately need the Gospel to find the consolation that they need as they kneel in prayer with my dear family.

I know this is His work. I am His servant and there is nothing that brings me more joy. Until next week family, take care. Remember who you are and what we have. And that we have, it grows as we share it. It is my prayer that we can all do it better.

Elder Sean Russell

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Lord continues to teach me.......week 25

Serving the community of Amilcingo

The baptism of Fabiola.

My Dear Family,

It´s really good to hear from everybody. It made me smile to think that my family is still starting and completing projects during Christmas. It´s great to hear from you Dad. I bet that you are enjoying that fact that you have not been required to travel as rigorously right now as in the past. Every day I learn more and more the reasons for various things in our family. I learn and appreciate the examples set by my father, my mother, sister, brother in law, and brothers more and more as I understand bit by bit what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Thank you for all of your examples and the lessons that you continue to teach me.

This week, where to begin. We had a baptism this Sunday in the morning before the services. It was the baptism of a young woman named Fabiola. She was baptized in the morning and received the Holy Ghost after the baptismal service. It was really special to see it. We have really tried hard to animate the members to be more involved in the work. They have responded very well and I believe that the work in Amilcingo is going to be expand rapidly. That´s another thought, changes are coming up next week. Who knows what is going to happen. If you don´t hear from me you´ll know why.

The Lord has and continues to teach me many lessons that will bless the lives of many people. One of those lessons has been about service. I have thought a lot about service the past few weeks. I have studied, pondered, and the Lord has helped me to better understand what it truly means to serve. Various comments from the prophets of today as well as those of old teach us that we cannot have spirituality without service. There is nothing that makes us more happy in this world and prepares us for the world to come like selfless service to your fellow man. There is a portion in Gospel Principles that says that the work of God is wrought about through the faith and actions of men, women, and children. Like the principle of faith, the Lord works according to the faith of the children of men. In the same manner, the work of the Lord is wrought about by those who are willing to act. The love that we have for God and for man is manifest through works, particularly service. By serving with this love, we are in all reality, bringing about the work of God. I have thought a lot about this topic as well as in terms of Justice and Mercy. I have thought about how oft times when we see that someone has not been at church, has not participated in the activities, or maybe isn´t doing everything that they should, we are really quick to tell them what they should do. But the Lord taught me something extremely important. We do not knock at the door of that person to tell them all that they are doing wrong. Rather, with sincere concern for that person, we arrive at their door, ask if everything is ok, and we offer whatever we can to help them. The Lord taught me this lesson very powerfully. One demonstrates what one might understand of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This person may claim to have faith in Jesus Christ. The other however, understands what it means to take upon himself the name of Christ. This person understands how the work of God is brought about and in what manner. I hope, pray, and serve so that I can be more like the latter.

Well family, until next week, take care. I love you all dearly and never forget the grand blessing it is to be a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.

Elder Russell

Monday, January 10, 2011

Demonstrate Love through Service.......week 24

Another week has flown by. Sounds like the family is doing great. I received the package mom as well as one from Brother Minor. Thank you both. Elder Campos was so excited to play with the car. We made a skate park in our apartment to celebrate the occasion. As well there was a bunch of gel that I received as a gift from an elder for Christmas that I decided to use for the first time. Enjoy what it truly means to be Mexican :)

This week, absolutely amazing. We have made some drastic changes here in Amilcingo. We have really tried hard to love the people and demonstrate that love by serving. We have been in our work clothes almost everyday trying to help the people here. We have seen a drastic change in the perspectives of the members relative to their role in the work as well as the manner to work with us. We had a devotional last night by Elder Campos and I where we presented a plan for the members to participate more in the work through the same love and service that we are striving to convey. The members showed great interest to be more involved and we are going to check on their efforts in the following weeks. We have about 4 families that we are preparing to contact and teach through the members this week. We will see how the Lord will work through us this week.

We don't have much time but know that I love you very dearly family. Thank you for your prayers and continued support in the behalf of missionary work. I learn and appreciate more and more everyday the importance of my family and the manner in which the taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing that means more to me. Until next week, take care and know of my prayers for your success and happiness.

Elder Sean Russell
Boys will be boys! The Skate park...Being Mexican? Elder Russell, you make me laugh.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Forget Ourselves and Serve.......week 23

The baptism of Alfredo and Angelica

The Liahona cover photo

My Dear Family,

As is always the case, it is good to hear from you. Its good to hear that there are still many projects to be done. I still haven't received the second package but don't worry, it will come. Two of the pictures are of the baptism of Alfredo and Angelica. The other is my personal cover to the Liahona. News years here is just like Christmas, two or three days to drink as much alcohol as possible. Don't worry, we enjoyed a few days to eat with some members.

This week was a week very powerful for me. I learned a great deal about what missionary work is really about. This week Elder Campos and I have focused really hard on service to others. We have helped anybody and everybody with anything they need. I have thought a lot about service and I was taught something very powerful. Everything we do in the church and for the world is motivated by love. This love makes us forget ourselves and serve. Within this love there is the desire to share the Gospel with others. As such, this past week as well as the week to come, we have are looking for as many opportunities as we can to serve our fellow man. I love the principle that Jesus Christ came into the world with many purposes, one of which was establish His church with missionary work. To bring about this work, He gave the priesthood or the power and authority to act in the name of God to ordinary men. Christ set the perfect example as He walked the streets healing the sick and bringing comfort to afflicted. He took upon himself the form of a servant. Should we not follow the example that He set? It has become something that we have implemented here and something that I have set goals to better develop.

I know that our Heavenly Father lives. I know that Jesus Christ in reality gave His life for the sins of the world and provided us a way so that we could be happy and return to live with God. I realize more and more each and every day that with everything that God has given us, we should forget ourselves and serve. I have never found more happiness than that which I am able to do every day: serve and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I send my best wishes to the family and pray for your continued success. May we renew our faith in Christ to do the things that we should and live the lives that will bring us happiness and eternal life. It is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Sean Russell