Monday, July 25, 2011

"Be something and then teach".......week 52

My dear family,

Congratulations mom on being called in the Primary. There is no other calling better than the Primary. It is good to hear that the work of the Lord is going forth at home as well as abroad. I would like to make some comments about how it is going abroad.

This week my companion came down sick with the flu. We were locked up for a few days. As such we had a lot of time to talk, pray, and seek the Spirit as to what we can do to be better missionaries and leaders here in Acapulco. We had interviews with President Spannaus and he gave us a very clear direction as to how we should help the missionaries. I learn each and every day here in the mission things that change the course of my life. I don't remember if I mentioned this to you but I love how Elder Campos described the mission. He said that his Stake President in his interview said that his mission was to baptize and in the process, the Lord is going to teach you everything that you lack. I am a living witness of that. I recognize that habits of years are changed in instants as they are put before the altar of God through humble prayer. I feel of the divine guidance of a loving Heavenly Father as He speaks of eternal potential. I also feel the deception of the adversary who is ever so subtle to say that we cannot.

In this week of reflection, study, and prayer, the Lord has taken habits and utterly changed them. He has taken someone imperfect and thrust him in the fire to see the latter brilliance of his journey. I have reflected about my mission so far. If I am not mistaken, I am already half way. I must tell you the truth, I made me a little bit unsettled. I offered many silent prayers as if to say ´no, I cant go back.´ As I thought about this I came across a quote from President Monson. It reads ´My dear brothers and sisters, no do fear. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.´ In this moment the Lord taught me a very powerful lesson. I felt a very strong comfort come over me. There is no fear. There is only faith. The degree of my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is what will ultimately give me the light which I desire. Do not fear.

In talking with President Spannaus he taught me another very powerful lesson. I asked him what I could do to help the missionaries in our Zone. He said, "Elder Russell, worry yourself for your companion and your area. Be something and then teach." I felt humbled and determined. Elder Russell, your primary goal is be the missionary that you must be for the other missionaries. After, and only afterwards, can you teach them. But be something first. It was a lesson of great humility. I have repented and I am determined to achieve what the Lord wants me to achieve.

I would like to share another experience which was powerful for me. We went to visit the sisters of the Zone to speak a bit with them. They have felt very uncomfortable in their area as they feel that Satan has a very strong hold on the people, their home, and even on the sisters. We were informed that we should go talked to them and bless them as well as their house. We spoke to them and we shared a message with them. As it says in Ephesians 6:12 that we do not have a fight against flesh and blood rather spiritual forces. It is true. After giving a blessing to both the sisters, we shared our message. They felt better and we knelt down in prayer to bless their area. They live in a rather rough part of Acapulco and we felt it appropriate to bless their area. As we knelt, I offered a prayer to my Father in Heaven to bless and protect this area and that the preaching of the Gospel would be done with power and authority. As I prayed I felt the Spirit guide my words and as Christ describes it when He healed the woman with the issue of blood, He says that he felt virtue, or power, leave Him. I felt the same as we blessed this area. I felt power leave me. I knew that the Sisters were going to be fine and the work of God would spring forth in this place.

I know that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. I know that the Lord loves all of His children and offers them His Gospel. Let us appreciate and live it. As it is states in Romans 1:16 "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is the power of God unto salvation." It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Russell

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Time has flown by

Today is the one year mark for Sean on his mission. It's gone fast, but some days it seems so slow, but he is doing well and enjoying the work. My thoughts go to his departure early on that Wednesday morning, July 21st as the sun peeked over the mountains, the air crisp, and my son (a newly set apart missionary, ready to tackle the world) with emotion in his face raised his hands one last time to say..."Hurrah for Israel, thanks mom and dad for everything, here I go...I've waited my whole life to do this". He has been missed, but I have enjoyed the rich blessings of watching him grow under the Lord's guidance in bringing eternal life to many in the cities of Amilcingo and Acapulco Mexico. The reality of how quickly time is going has hit, and I hope and pray that he will continue to press forward, never missing an opportunity to share the Lord's message of salvation with anyone he meets.

This is the Lord's training ground for the rest of his life to come. I pray he passes boot camp, with honor, strength, and eternal vision.

I love you Sean,

Monday, July 18, 2011


This is my friend Elder Colby Gschwend who is serving in Samoa. We have been friends for 11 years. It's fun to serve with him....across the world. My other friend Elder Alan Christopher is serving in the Philippines. We are certainly "all over the world".

All is well...........week 51

Dear family,
I don't have any time but all is well here. Sounds like there are a lot of changes. Change is good. I pray that you will always turn to the Lord in fervent prayer, diligent study of the scriptures and meaningful fasts. I so pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Russell

Monday, July 11, 2011

Watching the Lord's hand in the work........week 50

My dear family,

Wow, it sounds like the family is doing great. Tell the family that if they are doing what they feel the Lord wants them to do, then I give all of my support in their efforts. I know that the Lord continues to bless each and every one of you. Keep me updated on the changes of the family and the ward, I love to see how the hand of the Lord works in the lives of the people.

Ok, due to the fact that I haven't said many stories, I am going to fill the time I have with nothing but stories. We were walking in the street one day this week and we needed to teach some people. As we were walking Elder Zepeda offered a quick prayer, we spoke to the next lady that we saw and we talk her and her family. The next day I did the same, we found a woman who accepted her baptismal date and is really interested. The same day I offered a quick prayer to find someone and 3 seconds later a car pulled over and a young man got out and started to talk to us about the Church. A few weeks ago we met an inactive man who was really depressed. We invited him to come to church but didn’t want to because he put pretexts that the members of the church didn’t care about him. I loved this comment. The same Sunday I mentioned the situation in Priesthood meeting in which he wasn’t there and the brethren decided to end to lessons early and serve this man. The best part of the experience was that this man was in his house and as it began to pour rain, outside of his house were around 50 men and young men in white shirts and ties, soaked from head to toe, waiting to see what could be done to help this man. Priesthood is so cool! Right now he is making drastic changes in his life and we are preparing to teach his family.

Other experience was about a few weeks ago. We had one week left to meet our goal for the month in the Zone. We sat down as a Zone and in the same spirit of a Priesthood Quorum, we made a plan, presented it to the Lord and set forth to work. We had planned 3 baptisms for the week and we ended up baptizing 8 people. The Lord knows His children. We just need to find them and teach them. This week as we were trying to find people to teach, we worked but didn’t have much success. However, the last few days, people have commented about certain families and many came to church on their own. The Lord is very conscious of us. I have no doubt of that. We are preparing a family of three named Sylvina, Jonathan, and his son Jonathan. We are preparing to baptize them in the following weeks. We have many families like theirs that need to be married. I think we are going to have a super wedding in the ward. Their family is really special. I like to play in the Nursery with Jonathan.

These are all the stories that I have for the moment with the time but the work is moving forward with great success. Elder Zepeda is very talented in music and has been teaching me a lot. With this we have been doing performances in baptisms and we are preparing Family Home Evenings and I am preparing to start the ward choir. I have seriously dedicated myself to learn the piano as I am preparing to lead the ward choir and play in the ward meetings. I spent time today and learned ¨Nearer my God to thee¨. I hope to be able to play in sacrament meeting 2 or 3 songs in 2 weeks. I have a lot of prayers to offer but I know that we have been and will continue to animate this ward. Missionary work is so cool.

I love you family. Thank you for all of your prayers. Trust in the Lord and He will not leave you all comfortless. It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Elder Russell

Monday, July 4, 2011

I felt a prompting........week 49

My dear family,

How are you all? I did not have the time as we left for a capacitacion (a training week) in Cuernavaca this past week. Thank you for all of your letters as I am very grateful for all of your support.

Well, I don't have much time but I am going to tell you the facts that I haven't had the time to talk beforehand. The work here is very distinct in Costa Azul. Elder Zepeda told me about his experiences the past few months in which he told me that what I was doing here was I was doing in Amilcingo. I have learned so much from Elder Zepeda in these past few weeks than from any other companion. We are working. We don't have any other worry rather than work. I learn every day from him a great lesson. I continue learning what I means to be a leader in the mission. An adjustment for sure but I feel that the Lord is very aware of where I am and what I am doing.

I want to share a story with you about an experience I had in a small town named Alpuyeca near Cuernavaca. I was working with an Elder Blair during the training week and we went to visit with a young woman named Victoria. She was very frightened that he ex husband was going to come to her house to claim her young son. She was so afraid that she hadn't left the house and wasn't able to go to church. We came to visit with her and we sat in her house as she spoke of her fears that he will come to take her son. We sat and listened and as we were listening I felt a prompting very subtle to share a scripture about the stripling warriors. I thought to myself, ¨really?!?¨ I opened the scriptures and I shared a scripture that was exactly what she needed. As we talked we learned that her real fear was not so much her son rather that she was upset with God believing that He wanted to take away every beautiful in her life. We shared our testimonies and some scriptures and we closed with a kneeling prayer. I do not believe that I have heard a more sincere prayer in my life. It was beautiful. I was deeply moved as I heard the words of a precious child of God plead for comfort and assurity that God truly exists. The spirit filled the room. I will ever be thankful for such an experience.

This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When you have a problem or a doubt, read the book of Mormon. It was written to explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Plan of Salvation, and answer the questions of your soul. Read it, meditate what it says, and pray to Heavenly Father to know if it is true. I promise you that He will give you the answers that you need. It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Russell