Monday, March 28, 2011

Why do you DO what you DO?......week 35

My Dear Family,

Working hard and putting your best foot forward. Wow how I love my family! Its really good to hear that all is well. And I am very grateful for your comments Mom about the Russell´s being in the right place at the right time. I have felt that guidance many many times in my life and the truth this week was one week in particular.

I would like to tell a story about this week that was really powerful for me. We are working very very hard with the ward right now. Its really funny because the bishopric is giving us full rein to do what we need to do with total support. Due to the fact that they know our work and the reasons why we are working in this work, they have been nothing but supportive for us. Something this week made me recognize how much I love these people. I have thought a lot about the importance of the one in missionary work. I thought about where I come from. I thought about the people who are here in this area. I think about the lives of the people and the families that are preparing themselves to go to the temple to be sealed as families. I felt so powerfully what it truly means to have joy in this world.

This week I was speaking with Elder Pineda and he asked me about the reasons why I do some of the things I do. Yes, I know that I am imperfect. The truth, I am very well known in that group. However, when we planned and worked on some things this week he asked me a few times why I do these things. I felt something very strong within me when he asked me that question and I told him that when you have served these people in the area with everything you have for more time, you will understand why I do the things I do.

When they become everything to you, you will understand what it really means to be a missionary. I spoke rather bluntly but I feel so strongly about the subject. I want to be the missionary that will never miss an opportunity. I don´t ever want to miss the chance to change the life of the one. I become very emotional with the subject. I will work until the last moment so that I may be able to find one more Betty Turner. I want to give everything I have and as I have been blessed to say that the Lord has allowed me to start another history like that of the Russell family. I want to prepare the way for many more ¨Elder Russells¨. I felt a bit like Moses this week that if my life and even my exaltation could be traded for the exaltation of others, I would do it. I love these people. I work everyday and I mimic what the other Elder Russell says in that I forget how I was before. I really began what it means to have life here in the mission field. What occupied my time before no longer means anything to me. We are spreading the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ by which we can have happiness and exaltation. Is there anything more important?

I love you very much my dear family. I will be forever grateful to my Father in Heaven for having been born in a family in which the Restored Gospel was taught. I love this work and I have never been so happy in my life. To see the lives change under the direction of the Spirit is a miracle and a blessing that I cannot describe. Live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and you will find your happiness. It is rather simple. I know it is true because it is the foundation of everything for me. Let us enjoy it!


Elder Sean Russell

Monday, March 21, 2011

We have to decide what is important & what is not ...our personal wake up call.....week 34

Dear Family,

Ahh, the Russell Family. There is never a moment in which we find ourselves stopped. There is work to do. I love to hear that everything is going well with you all. There will always be an endless list of projects to do but enjoy the opportunity that we have to decide what is important and that which is not. It has been a lesson very important for me the past few weeks. We can fill all of our time doing things for others when in reality, its not our responsibility. I have learned a lot about true service. We are willing to do whatever the Lord asks us to do but in our ward here we are really focusing in the basics and the authority in the Church. Elders, can you pass by the house to give me a blessing? Yes Sister so and so, we can. Have you already called your home teachers? OR Elders, I feel like a everything is going crazy in my life, can you help me? Yes Brother so and so, but have you asked help from God? When is the last time you have read your scriptures? It is within these situations that I learn so much about how the Lord works with us.

These past few weeks Elder Pineda and I have been working really hard with our ward here. I appreciate very much your compliment mom about the service that Ammon rendered to King Lamoni. It is a principle very true. I have seen miracles in the feelings of the members of this ward towards the missionary work. I have seen our Bishop who at first was a bit skeptical towards us but now is willing to help us in whatever we need. As those around us know who we really are and the work which we are trying to bring about, hearts are softened.

I would like to relate one of the reasons why I believe that I remain in this area. The Lord knows His children and what each and every one of them needs. A few weeks ago we visited with a family called the family Cantu. This family is one of the families best known in this ward. They are members who have not attended the Church in 10 years. They have past for very hard times and forgot what their own covenants meant to them. But we had the opportunity to visit with them in these past weeks. This week, we are planning the baptism of two of their daughters and we are going to start teaching the son-in-law. The ward, seeing what the Lord has done for this family and their faith, has realized in a very strong way the importance of this work. The past few weeks have been our personal wake up calls. I love how the Lord doesn't spare much time in teach His children. It comes fast!

The Cantu family: two sisters baptized

Each and every day I thank my Father in Heaven for the opportunity to teach the principles of His Gospel. I find myself awed and immensely blessed to feel of His Spirit. To see the lives as they change when the truth is understood is one of the most magnificent blessing that I have had in my life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church of God with the authority to teach and perform the ordinances of His Gospel. I know that it is true because I have read, meditated, and prayed to God concerning the evidence of such statements. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and as such I know that we are guided by a living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. It is my simple testimony and my simple faith. I know that God is a loving Heavenly Father and is willing and waiting to answer our questions. He teaches us what we should do in this life to be happy and obtain eternal life. Let us do what He asks. We will be ever blessed in doing so.

Elder Russell

Monday, March 14, 2011

The gift of Agency, what a difference it can make......week 33

My Dear Family,

Well another week passes and I find myself writing to you. It is really amazing how quickly things happen when you are running 24/7. The family sounds like they are doing good. I have to laugh as it seems that mom and dad are now transitioning from being the parents to the grandparents. It seems like everyone is doing well and it is good to hear.

Well, this week. This week was a week of transitions. As I am in the process of helping Elder Pineda learn about missionary work, I am amazed at how much I still need to learn. We are enjoying the process of learning together. This week we have started up some projects that we had pending that I believe are really going to change the work here. We are really excited. This week in particular, I was very impact by the topic of our agency. I was struck deeply this week as Elder Pineda and I visited many inactive members of the Church. We visited with each one of them and for some reason, I love talking to inactive families. The majority of our conversations started with a dialogue that went something like this:

"Family ___ the missionaries are here in your house this afternoon. Why do you think that they are here.¨

"(With a frown) They are in my house to invite my family and I to go to church.¨

¨Exactly, wow, at least we know that we´re on the same page.¨

Its something that I find funny as well a strength of my testimony. The people who no longer participate in the Church never can forget it. They know what it is that they lack. They can feel that they are missing out. We went to speak to these families and we explained why it is really that we go to church each Sunday. When we came into these houses, the Lord permitted that we would teach these people what they needed to hear. Elder Pineda and I felt very strongly in these lessons through the Spirit that these people really needed the blessings of being faithful to the commandments of God. We felt the Spirit and we knew that these people felt the Spirit as well. But we cannot force anybody to be happy. Despite the fact that we felt that we taught clearly what was within their grasp and how the Lord could bless them, many turned away. After a few of these lessons I told Elder Pineda that for me, these are moments most difficult. When the people feel the Spirit and they know what they should do, and they don´t do it. It is very sad. But necessary. I learned a great lesson these past few days about the gift of agency or our capacity to choose. These people are capable of amazing things. Each one of us, solo by nature of being children of God, can achieve miracles if we are willing to pay the price. It is true. We will obtain the amount that we were willing to receive.

After the experiences of these families, Elder Pineda and I had a lesson with a friend of one of the sisters in the ward. We asked this young woman what it was that she hoped to learn from our visit. She explained that she had felt that there was something different within this religion and feeling something lacking, decided to take a visit with us. We taught her and invited her to be baptized. She felt the Spirit very strongly and through her tears, said that she would like to be baptized. We asked her as we finished up the lesson how she was feeling. She mentioned that she had never felt a sensation so strong in her life. She felt that she had found what she was looking for. She mentioned how much desires and hopes she had.

What has struck me this week is the difference in these two situations. When we are willing to listen to the voice of the Spirit to act upon what God is telling us that we should do, we obtain what He wants that we obtain: happiness, joy, and peace. It is my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church of Christ in the earth today with the principles, ordinances, and the authority of God to perform those ordinances which allow us to return to live with God. It is my testimony that they are true. They are everything to me.

I hope the best for you my dear family. May we continue day after day striving to become more like Jesus Christ. I promise you that as we do so, we will find that the holes that we once had in our minds and in our hearts no longer are there. We learn principle by principle, a little here and a little there yet I invite you to always strive to do the things that will draw you closer to Him. By so doing we find so much more than would would have on our own.
Elder Russell

Monday, March 7, 2011

Now is my chance to do what the Lord has taught me to do.....week 32

My dear sweet family,

Wow, I find myself writing another week. To let you know, we just had changes and I am still here in Amilcingo! Elder Campos left for another area and I received a greenie. I am training an Elder Pineda. He is awesome. Think of Colby Gschwend as a Mexican and it is him :) I started with Tyler as a Mexican, Troy as a Mexican, and now I have Colby as a Mexican. I love Mexico!

As usual, I don't have much time but I would like to send some of my thoughts to you.

This past change has been a very sacred experience for me. I don't think I mentioned it but Elder Campos was rather sick these past few weeks. We had had a lot of time to talk, study and learn from one another. For every visit that I had with Elder Campos, with every race to the hospital, and every night of prayer and morning of study, the Lord molded me. He pierced my soul. He let me know all that I lack and what that weakness does for His work. I was humbled profoundly. The Lord taught me in very powerful ways that He knows me and that I have a work to do. When I received word that I would be a trainer I knew it was what the Lord expected of me. I feel that right now is my chance to do what the Lord has taught me to do. I feel that the Lord has prepared Amilcingo and is continuing to prepare it. We joke as missionaries about fathers and sons in the mission (trainers and greenies) but I really feel like a father. I feel as if Elder Pineda is coming here to my work in my home. These people are everything to me. I love them. I have the great opportunity to share this love with my companion. I was born here, I grew up here, and I am teaching here. I love Amilcingo! :)

Well, I have to run but know that I love you family. Take care and remember who you really are.

Elder Russell