Monday, October 31, 2011

Let's get to Work........week 66

Dear Family,

Here we are a soaking up every minute of our work here. I send my love and excitement to Tyler across the miles. What a marvelous blessing it is to be able to go to the house of the Lord to be sealed for eternity. Is there something more special than that? I don't believe so.

The work here has been going really good. I want to share a really funny story from this week. We went to the tops of the mountains looking for a family. We started from the top and worked our way down. As we were walking down one of the streets, two men stepped out of one of the houses. One was carrying a machete and the other was following him. The man who wasn't carrying anything saw us, paused while he looked at us and then told his companion ¨Give me the machete.¨ Elder Smith and I turned to one another and we began to walk a bit faster :)

We have various families that we are teaching right now that are progressing very well. We are really working hard to do everything for the one. We work through numbers, goals, and objectives, but in order to really achieve what we need to achieve, these numbers have to be people with real problems, challenges, and desires. When we use the records of the Church, we begin to find how the Lord works among His children. It is a topic that we have been developing and we are going to give a capacitation (presentation) to the Zone the following week.

Above all, we are very happy. As we are diligent the light comes to break apart the clouds of ignorance through disobedience. We learn, we repent, we become better, and repeat it. We are really excited to get going in this next month. We have many projects that we are going to put into practice to start to bring about more fruits here. Nothing is going to get us down!

Two weeks ago we met the Valencia Family. They are so special. We have been talking to them and we were able to share with them about how their precious daughters are alive in Christ. We explained the plan of Salvation and they were nodding and saying ¨It was because I didn't know this that I was arguing with my Pastors.¨ We are preparing them for their baptism the 13th of November. The Manuel Family for 20 of November and a young woman named Elizabeth for 27 of November. These families are progressing rapidly with other whom we are preparing for these dates. Let`s get to work!

Elder Russell

Monday, October 24, 2011

Learning every day........week 65

My dear family,

I have to tell you the truth, I´m sorry that you had transfers Dad. There is nothing worse than seeing enthusiasm and afterwords see it go. I pray that the following missionaries will be just as excited to get to work.

Well, here in Acapulco. Where do we start. I believe first and foremost, there is a lot of work to be done. Each and every day is a life lesson. When we think that we are doing a good job, there comes an experience that teaches us that we can do so much more. Elder Ballard says it in this way ¨there are two places where we can never say that we have done everything we could: in the Church and in the home.¨ I have felt that more and more every day.

I have been very impacted recently about the importance of counsels in the Church. The work of salvation is wrought about through counsels in the church. We are trying to work so that our missionaries will be baptizing every week. It is a great endeavor. We are trying to help our Zone and our missionaries through more efficient counsels so that they can baptize weekly. We feel more and more that we can bring it about each day. I have made comments that I feel that I am in a constant learning process. I learn and learn and when I have learned, I learn more. It never ends! Its so great :)

Something I learned this week has to do with our investigators when they come to church for the first time. We tried something new this week. We always invited the families to come at 9 in the morning for the services and we made arrangements with the members so that they would have somebody to sit next to. We invited the Valencia family to come to church this week but we told them that we were going to give them a tour of the church at 8:30. It was something very small but it allowed us to familiarize them with the Church, present them with the members, and help them stay the 3 hours. If someone stays during all the hours of church Sunday, they are much more apt to progress faster and have a lasting conversion. By giving a tour before the services we were able to really help this family. They had a great experience.

We have been thinking a lot about our area and the Zone in what ways we can help the people to progress in these areas. Elder Smith and I are going to speak to our District Leaders to teach them how they can better use their meetings with their Districts as if they were counsels in a ward. We are working with the leaders in the Stake so that the missionaries in this Zone will be able to plan and have assignments from their District meetings and they will be able to bring these needs to the ward counsels and to the ward organizations. We are working so that the missionaries will be working through counsels in their Districts, Wards, and Ward organizations. We feel that it will help us to have much more faith, commitment, and results as missionaries and as a Zone. We feel that through Counsels we will be able to strengthen unity and we will be able to distribute the work in the hands of everyone. We are working a bunch and we are praying a bunch so that this process can function as we feel the Lord has revealed it unto us. We have this week as a trial run before our Counsel of Zone Leaders and another week after before Zone Conference. Send your prayers that the Lord will provide the wisdom that we need to bring this work about.

The work is true. I know that the Lord places the means so that His work can be wrought about. I love this work. It is my greatest joy. I hope and pray and change so that I can be the missionary that the Lord desires of me. Let us go forth is such a great cause!

Elder Russell

Monday, October 17, 2011

I am Trying to Be Like Jesus........week 64

My dear family,

Well, I send you my love and utter joy this week. Our prayers were answered this week and we baptized the Mateo family. After a long wait, they were finally baptized. Their baptism was one of the sweetest experiences of my mission. I decided to sing ¨I´m trying to be like Jesus¨ from the Primary. As I sang it, the sun beamed through the clouds of the week in Acapulco and fell upon my face. The Spirit filled my heart and it was even stronger as we saw them be baptized for the remission of their sins.

We had the privilege to speak to the 1st Counselor in the Stake Presidency about the missionary work in the Zone and in our ward. We spoke about the challenges we are facing and the help we need. He is an returned missionary and he got super excited. He told us, ¨Elders, we are going to do this work of salvation together. Tell what your investigators need and we will do it.¨ Oh how I love the faith, conversion, and energy of returned missionaries!

Well family, I am a bit busy but I love you so much. Thank you for your prayers and your faith. We are working crazy here. I hope to keep sending photos. Love you most!
Elder Russell
The Mateo Family

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grandmothers Don't Always Know What's Best........week 63

Dear Family,

It sounds like the family is doing wonderfully. I realize more and more how the Lord is in charge of His children. He knows who they are and what they need. I am eternally grateful to God that He gave me my family so that I could live up to the potential that the Lord has for me. Thank you Mom and Dad. As I talk to people every day, there are constantly experiences in which I pause to myself and I say, ¨thanks Dad¨, ¨thanks Mom¨. I thoroughly enjoyed your letters this week. Thank you. You are my greatest joys. As good ole´ Abraham Lincoln ¨All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother (and father)¨. How blessed I am to have you all.

The work is amazing. Its really funny right now. We are working like crazy and bringing about a lot of fruits. I am achieving results that I have not had in my mission. But all of these results have gotten close to baptism but they have not reached it as of yet. But as I have learned in my mission, before you can stop to think that you have done a good job, the Lord lets you know that you still have a lot to learn. Right now, I feel that the Lord is going to teach us a bit more and with His help, we are going to become super baptizing machines! I love missionary work because it is a mirror of oneself. Missionary work is so great because everything is one´s fault :) Elder Ballard has said it this way on one occasion. ¨There are two places where we can never say that we have done everything we can, they are in the home and in the Church.¨ If I achieve a good outcome, you have to have a great one. If you have a great one, an excellent. If excellent, extraordinary. And in this way strive for perfection. I absolutely love missionary work and this time that I have here. In the missionary conference that we had with Elder Ballard a few weeks back he told us that there is no other place where it would be more exciting to be today than in the mission field. I am a witness of that.

To sum it up, I am having the time of my life. This past week with Elder Smith, I have felt that the line by line and precept upon precept are starting to make an image of what I should do.

This week I was really impacted by I Nephi 18:1. He´s building the boat and he says something along the lines that the Lord from time to time showed Him the way in which He should work. I renewed my testimony of the Book of Mormon with this scripture this week and I give my testimony that it is true. When the Lord sees it pertinent, we are blessed. It is true.

Oh, I want to share a funny story with you from this past week. We had an appointment with a family that we were preparing to baptize this past week. They didn't show up. I felt that their Grandma had said something incorrect about the Church and they felt reluctant to hear from us. So we came to their house. And you want to know that happened? It was the first time in my mission that someone really chased us out of their house. It followed something like this:

Elder Russell-¨Good morning, how are you¨

Grandmother-¨Get away from my house, no one is home.¨

Elder Russell-¨It's OK ma am, I am going to speak to your daughter¨

(talking the daughter)

Elder Russell-¨So what have you thought about your baptism this Saturday? You didn't want to go to the appointment, right?¨

Daughter-¨It's that I don't know if its would be a good idea¨

Elder Russell-¨It's OK, well, we want you to follow the example of Jesus Christ. That's really all that it comes down to.¨

Grandma - ¨Tell them that your busy¨

Daughter-¨Elders, I´m a bit busy right now¨

Elder Russell-¨It's OK, can we talk with you and your family in the evening?¨

Daughter-¨Sounds good, we can .....¨

Grandma - ¨You stupid missionary, she said that we are busy, get out of here.¨

Elder Russell-¨I'm sorry ma am, I imagine that they have commented to you about their baptism. Could we come by and explain more about that to you?¨

(Now comes the kids of this family to greet us with smiles)

Grandma -¨Now I am mad, get out of my house. You do everything wrong.¨

Elder Russell-¨May we help you with the laundry, we would really like to speak to you without any hard feelings¨


Elder Russell-¨OK ma' am, we are going to leave. It was a pleasure in meeting you. ¡Hasta Luego!¨

I don't know if I did it justice or not but this Grandma was serious business. I left and I began to laugh. I thought to myself ¨the church is so true. Why else would there be crazy grandmas who want to kill us?¨

May we find joy in our service for the Master. It is an inexplicable that comes from giving one´s heart to God. May we do so even more in our lives. It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Russell

Monday, October 3, 2011

"I've got your back"........week 62

My dear family,

Wow, where do we begin. What a spiritual feast this weekend. We have had a lot of changes and a lot of improvement. This was the last week for Elder Zepeda, we had Counsel for the Zone Leaders, General Conference, baptisms, and changes in the mission. We have been working a bunch. I have a new companion called Elder Smith. I knew him from Cuautla, an excellent missionary. I am very excited to see what the Lord has to teach me through him. I would like to share a few experiences from this week that have really impacted me.

This week we didn't have much time to hit the road but we left to work Tuesday in the morning. We went to a place that we had never been to and we began to speak with the people. We didn't feel that we were having much success in this place and we thought that we should look for another place to work. However, we felt that there was someone who we needed to find in this place. As we continued talking to people, nobody seemed to show much interest. We felt that we should go down a certain street. As we went down this street, there were two houses. We went to the first and nothing. As we looked at the last house, we thought to ourselves, one more and we are going somewhere else. As we talked to these people, we found a wonderful family of 3 which the parents went to church to see General Conference. This is a very humble family. They don't have phones nor do they have reception in this part of Acapulco. We couldn't communicate with them to be able to go to church with them. And in this part, it costs a lot of money to go up there and return. To be able to go to church would be a very great sacrifice. But they did it. From a public phone, they called us to tell us that they would be there at 11:00 to see the prophet speak. I was astonished by their faith. They taught me a great lesson about the importance of the Spirit in this work.

I love being a missionary. I see how the Lord teaches me line upon line and precept upon precept. I love it because when the Lord gives me a piece of comprehension, I have the opportunity to apply it and thus gain wisdom. When this process occurs, I feel that I can do anything with the help of the Lord. As I demonstrate to Him that what He will give me, I will do it, I am blessed with more. In such a way, the Lord can prepare me to do better His work.

Today I had a rather miraculous experience. Today was the last day in the mission for my companion Elder Zepeda. As we woke up this morning, I noted a certain sadness in my companion. The first words that he spoke were these. "Today I am the most miserable man in the world." I was shocked by his comment. But I sat pondering about it. It was the last day that he had to be a missionary. He felt it. Wow, a heart ripper for sure. I gave my thanks to God for another day to be His servant. I am so grateful for this priviledge to be a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives. You are all His children. He loves you. He has given us a plan so that we can return to live with him. As we understand it, we are filled with understanding, comfort, and purpose. I know that it is the truth because God has made it known to my heart and my mind. For which, I cannot say nothing rather than the truth.

This General Conference, I felt a very special connection with the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ. I felt very strongly that they were not people so distant but fellow workers in His vineyard. I felt that it truly was a conference for the workers of the Lord. I learned so very much. I would like to comment on something rather special for me in this General Conference. Elder Jose Alonso of the Seventy gave a taught about going to the rescue of those who are lost. I was rather moved by his talk. He is from Cuautla. His father lives in Amilcingo. My companion and I had the privilege to help activate this faithful servant of the Lord. He told us in our visits, "Elders, I know that the church is true. I always knew it. I had been looking for a way to come back for a long time. I thank God that you came to visit me." As Elder Alonso spoke, I felt as if I was saying to him, "Don't worry Elder Alonso, I got your back :) ". Alongside the talks of Elder Ballard, President Monson, Eyring, Uchtdorf, Elder Packer, Holland in Priesthood and many others, I felt very much this comment, ´Dont worry President / Elder _____, I got your back. You can count on me.¨

As Abraham Lincoln says, Everything that I am and every hope to be I owe to my angel mother. I will change it a bit. For everything that I am and ever hope to be I owe to my dear family who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you. I owe it all to you.

Elder Russell