Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Great to Be a Missionary........week 57

My dear family,

What a week. I can't believe how fast it went by. It is so great to be a missionary. Good work everyone. In a few words, if the Russell family is not working, studying, raising a family, or fulfilling a church calling, it means that they have died. I will never forget the talk by a young man in the 6th ward who said that the church doesn't have a symbol like a cross. There is the honey bee if you insist. He made a joke that the only honey bees that he had ever seen were either working or dead. It makes me think of my family :)

Well I am super pumped to be a missionary right now. I am completing the prophecies of Troy who said that the missionaries really begin to work when they have a year in the mission. I feel this way right now. I am beginning to understand how to find families in the mission field. It is so much better when you teach a family. We are teaching some 12 families right now with another 5 that we already have appointments the following week. WHOO! When a family learns and accepts the Gospel, they strengthen one another and they work to enter in the temple. There is nothing better than that. I am very anxious to hear from some of my converts in Amilcingo as they will be ready to enter into the temple as families in January. My goal as a missionary is to help unify as many families as possible.

This week has been a week filled with revelation and life changing lessons. I learned this week that the success of any endeavor consists in 3 things; the basics, your diligence, and your ability to do it when you don´t want to do it. I realized that I am always trying to reinvent the wheel. I don´t have to. God has already revealed His Gospel to His prophets. I just have to master the basics, be diligent, and work when it is hard. This week an excellent example of this for me. My companion has always helped me with this. He always quotes the movie Glory Road in which the coach says that we master the basics because more than that is dangerous. I want to baptize. How can I do that? God has already explained how. I just have to master the principles of how, do it, and stick to it always. It has been a life lesson for sure.

We are preparing a baptism of a girl Luz this Friday. We are very excited. We have others that we are teaching so that they can be baptized the following weeks.

I want to share with you a very basic formula of how to do the work of salvation. To bring people to Christ through baptism, you need to present them to the missionaries. To help others to become active again, you need to bring them to church and present them to the bishop. To help them stay active, you need to present them to the members. That´s all. It's really simple but it will bring more joy and happiness in your life than you can imagine. I have my personal goals to do everything I can so that I can do that with those who I know. There is no greater joy. And with what end in mind? The temple. My life´s goal is to say hey, look at my awesome eternal family and all of those whom I played a part so that they could have the same. That´s all. My life in a nutshell. I am a very simple member of the Church of Jesus Christ. But I am super happy. Remember, stay to the basics because more than that is dangerous.

The Lord calls us to do His work. He is capable to bring about His purposes without us but He calls us to find joy in being part of His work. There is no greater work. If you are reading this letter and you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, contact the missionaries and be baptized. If you are a member but you don´t feel super strong, talk to the bishop and do what he tells you. If you see a new member of the Church, present yourself and invite him over for dinner. I promise you that the Lord will touch your heart and you will feel of His love. As the prophet Alma said in Alma 31:35 "Behold, their souls are precious, oh Lord, and many of them are our brothers; therefore, grant us, oh Lord, power and knowledge so that we can bring them, our brothers, again to thee." I offer the same prayer to my God. I know He answers the prayers of those with humble hearts. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Russell

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fulfilling the Doctrine of Christ........week 56

My dear family,

How are you family? It always sounds that the Lord blesses you in more ways that we often realize. Good work to everyone. Thank you family for everything you have done for me and all of the prayers in my behalf. They are very much appreciated.

Right now I am very happy. Why? Because we are bringing souls unto Christ. We had 2 baptisms this past Saturday and 9 in the Zone. When we complete with what corresponds to us we are happy. When we fulfill the Doctrine of Christ which is baptism, we are happy. I feel very much like Thomas Edison who said that he didn't fail, he only discovered 999 ways not to make the light bulb. I do not feel like I have failed, yet that I have found 999 ways how not to do missionary work. I feel that I am starting to understand how to really be a missionary. I want to give my testimony that God knows us perfectly. I absolutely love missionary service because God changes you to become a greater instrument in His hands. I love it because the righteous desires of my heart are considered line upon line, precept upon precept. For example, I believe it is Elder Ballard who teaches that the study of the Gospel will change behavior faster than a study of behavior will change behavior. I have seen how a defect of mine which I have had for all of my life is taken away in an instant when the Lord grants me a portion of revelation. I have learned that if the desire really is righteous and correct, God will grant you the knowledge and the capacity to bring about His work. President Spannaus always says it in this way: when a missionary finally realizes how to be a missionary, he already ended his mission. I feel very much in this way.

We had a baptism of a young woman named Hortensia who is amazing. She came to church, listened to us, accepted everything and was baptized. She is such an inspiration for me. Elder Zepeda and I have been praying and working very hard these past few weeks and we are beginning to see the results. We are preparing for 3 baptisms this week, 1 the next week and another the following week. We hope to add to these days and the following weeks as we are praying for opportunities to find choice families and changing a bit our way of working. There is such joy in the work of salvation. I cannot express what it means to me to be worthy to work side by side with the Lord. Every true joy and happiness is found in the work of salvation. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by angels of the Lord. I am continually reminded how I learn and how I have become who I am. How do I know this or that about the Gospel? Because my parents taught me and I have had teachers throughout the years who have given me knowledge. How have I learned how to be a missionary? Because I have an excellent companion, President, and Preach my Gospel. There is truly no greater call than that of a teacher of the Gospel.

I have learned an amazing principle in my missionary service. When there is a problem, we seek the counsel of the authorized representatives of God and we do what they say. Period. It is the success. When we accept our responsibilities and we look for the answers through the prophets and the Spirit, we will obtain the success we need. For example, I have a problem with my work commitments and the church. Great question. Let us look at the words of the scriptures and of modern day prophets with the Spirit. I promise you that there will be the doctrine and various suggestions that if followed, will give you the balance that you need. Try it. Exercise your faith. I need to find people to teach. Where are the words of the prophets for that? Preach my Gospel. And what can I do? Oh wow, here are a bunch of ideas. I have learned this lesson and it has changed everything for me. God knows everything.

Our problems, situations, and worries are nothing new. And besides, He has already had an eternity to practice. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. We just need to accept responsibility, learn the doctrine from the prophets, and follow their counsels and suggestions. It's everything. Elder Maxwell explained it in this way "Those who live the Telestial Law blame others, those who live the Terrestrial Law wait until someone teaches them, but those who live the Celestial Law accept responsibility and learn." What law are we living? In our work? Family? Church? Marriage? Callings? I love it!

May we always accept our responsibilities and trust in the Lord that He has revealed, reveals, and will reveal everything pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Let us accept, trust, and get to work. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Russell

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Photos from Monday

Visiting a local tourist church on P-day

Looks like Elder Russell has had the chance to hold a guitar again.
Jamming on P-day in Mexico?

Monday, August 15, 2011

God Answered our prayer........week 55

The baptism of Adelina

My dear family,

Here goes my fast letter. Wow, good work family. I laughed about Troys experience. Congratulations to you Grant for your results in your Econ class.

This week was a week of miracles. I would like to tell the story of my first Eunich in the mission. She is called Adelina. We met her this week, invited her to be baptized, was baptized this Saturday and was confirmed this Sunday. It was so amazing! She was telling all the world that she had been baptized and how wonderful it was. The Lord is beginning to shed his blessings over our area. We have many baptisms lined up for the next few weeks and we trust in the Lord that He is going to let us begin to baptize every week. There is nothing better than baptizing every week. Here we come.

Other experience really special. Saturday night, we knelt in prayer as a companionship and we prayed to God that He would touch the humble in heart to come to the Church solos so that we could prepare them for baptism in three weeks. We worked all week long but we didn't feel like we met anyone who would be baptized in this week. It was this night that we commanded the humble in heart to come to church. We came to church and there were two people, one for our area and the other for the other area of the ward. They came with members. We didn't know them nor had we taught them anything. God answered our prayer and we are going to prepare these two people for baptism in 3 weeks or less. How grand is my God!

God lives. He governs His children and will always work miracles as we show our faith to Him. I know Him and I want to know Him even more. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Russell

Monday, August 8, 2011

True Faith in Jesus Christ....week 54

My dear family,

What a week! We have seen the hand of the Lord in our work daily. We find ourselves giving everything that we have to bring about the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In this letter I would like to talk about a subject very sacred to me. I feel impressed that it will benefit someone who may read this.

I would like to call it true faith in Jesus Christ. It means that we are willing to do whatever the Lord asks us to do. We are so desirous to change our hearts and our lives that we are willing to give everything to the Lord. I am imperfect. I am tried and tested every single day. Day after day I think in my mind who I am and who I am going to be. Through these thoughts I create my desires. These desires create my priorities. These priorities shape the choices that I make. The choices that I make change my eternal destiny. I have learned in a very powerful way that my desires shape everything. I find that I am not the same person I was a day ago. I am not the same that I was an hour ago. I am constantly changing and becoming better. I have thought on various occasions about what it truly is that I want.

What are the deepest desires of my heart? If I can identify them, I will know immediately if I am happy or miserable and if I will be happy or miserable in the future. I have thought much about how the Savior of the world grants unto all according to the desires of their hearts. I have pondered much of the laments of the Savior and His servants through the ages. I find that the majority of their sorrows are when they see that the hearts of their people are placed in the vanities of the world. They openly choose to reject the Savior as they follow the after their own desires. And why? They do it as they believe that their desires are good and they understand how to achieve such goals. However, their desires, even if they are good, if they are not acted upon by doing the will of God, will not bring them happiness. I have seen this repeated times in my mission and I understand more and more who my Savior Jesus Christ really is. If you want to be happy, strong, humble, bold, courageous, intelligent, thrifty, have faith, success, loving family, etc, do the will of God. If you have righteous desires and you really want to complete them, do the will of the Father. Christ gave the perfect example of this.

What were the aspirations of Christ? What were His goals? It was the salvation of His brothers and sisters. How did He accomplish that? It gave His life to do the will of His Father. This is the difference. This is what changes someone from mediocre to exemplar. When our righteous desires dominate our minds, the will of God will dominate our actions. If this is the case, we will achieve what the Lord desires of us and we will become who the Savior desires of us. If the desires of my heart are the same as those of the Father and I am willing to give my life to do the will of my God, I have become one with God. I have become a Disciple of Jesus Christ. When this occurs, the powers of God are shown amongst His children because there is someone who will do His will. God will change our hearts, our families, our relationships when we become the means by which He will work. I call this consecration or true faith. There is nothing that will separate me from the love my God, only my own heart. I will never that that happen. My desires are His and my will is His. If my desire changes for a moment away from what they should be, pray with all the intensity of your heart so that they will return. Is it not miraculous to know that the Savior of the world was about to turn away from the cup of the Atonement. Yet He gave His desires to God. ´I finished my preparations unto the children of men´. And as the pain came with greater force, He prayed more intently. We have much to learn from our Savior Jesus Christ.

This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are the work of God. His greatest creation. We are made in His image. I know it. Christ is my Savior. I love Him with all of my heart. Have righteous desires. Know Him. It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Russell

Getting my feet wet in the work

Preparation Acapulco? Who knew?

"Is this Heaven? No, It's Iowa...."
But not today, it is heaven in the mission. Warm climate, beautiful beaches,
a companion in the work, and a badge that bares His name on my shirt.... doesn't get much better than this!

"O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of my heart,
that I could go forth and speak with the trump of God,
with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people."
Alma 29:1

Tracting the beaches of Acapulco?
You never know who the Lord will put in your path.

Sean's smile, still makes me smile.
Contagious even across the miles.
He is so and miss him.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What have I learned over the past year?........week 53

My wonderful family,

Well, I am going to dedicate this email to answer those questions that you gave me. The reason that I didn't write beforehand is because we had Counsel for the Zone Leaders and we were in Cuernavaca yesterday. I am going to do my best to answer your questions and I pray that I can do so in appropriately.

What have I learned so far... that it is an excellent question. I am come to understand in a very powerful way that was and still am nothing. I am come to realize how the Lord knows exactly who I am and gives me companions, investigators, members, leaders, and a President who teach me. I have learned and realized all of the defects that I have. Something that may seem very small becomes huge when we serve as missionaries. We are with people all day long. We are with a companion all of the time. I am learning more and more to invite others to come unto Christ more boldly and receive correction more humbly.

How has my perspective changed? Everything about my perspective has changed. I believe that I can explain all of this very simply with the word consecration. God gives us power and we become like Him when we are fully dedicated to bring about His work: which is the salvation of souls. It is a very simple concept yet it moves me deeply. God gives us families so that we can return to live with Him again. He invites them to live the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ which is an invitation to become consecrated in His work. God knows of our problems. We all have them. To change them, we become consecrated through the Gospel of Jesus Christ by helping others do the same. Or in other words, we invite others to be baptized. I don't know a whole lot however I know the source of my eternal happiness and how I am going to achieve it. As my family invites others to be baptized, we will obtain such joy that we will not be able to explain. My perspective has changed as I know exactly who I am, where I am going and how I am going to do it. I was not born in this time, within a family of the Church to waste my time worrying about money and the problems of every day. I was born in this time to learn the Gospel from choice parents of God, to receive the Priesthood, and within my calling and authority, invite everyone to come unto Christ through baptism. The Lord prepares His children to change a young man like me so that his worries of grades and future can be changed to inviting all to come unto Jesus Christ. It consists of the tutelage of the Lord and the decision of the student. The Lord will never leave us without His tutelage but I have already made my decision and there is no going back. There are two roads, one less taken. I have taken it and it has made all of the difference.

If I could change anything in the past year, I would want to focus more in my calling and my responsibility than try to change everyone else. I love this principle. I have learned that the most important thing that I can do to have a successful mission, career, and family is do with all of my heart what relates to me. For example, if I find that there are problems in a ward, although I may be teaching in the primary, I am going to teach in the primary with everything I have. If I want to help a brother, son, wife, father, mother, friend, etc to be better, I must focus myself in my own responsibilities. By so doing, I will help them to realize their own potential. I find that it really can be defined like this. Instead of criticizing someone, I am going to inspire them. The latter shows a personal responsibility and a deeper faith. If I want to have an excellent family, ward, work group, etc, I am going to inspire them. Simple, but only the Lord knows why I took so long to learn it :)

This is all that I have time to answer right now but I hope that you can feel what the mission has meant for me so far. I was rather emotional when I realized that it was already half over. I love you family, but I don't want to go home. I will return but I promise you that I am never coming back (to who I was before). God lives. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know it. Share it. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Russell