Monday, November 28, 2011

There are goals to complete, people to meet, sun to beat, and souls to keep........week 70

My dear family,

It's good to hear that all is well. The truth is, I didn't even realize that we had Thanksgiving and much less that we are approaching Christmas. It's really funny because its hot, and it stays hot.

There are goals to complete, people to meet, sun to beat, and souls to keep. We hardly even notice the days or the weeks.

Well, finally we had a baptism this week. Her name is Elizabeth. We were super grateful for the baptism. It was an answer to our prayers. She had been waiting for her baptism for over a month and finally could be baptized.

Elizabeth's baptism

I would like to comment a bit about the past few weeks. The fact of the matter is that the Lord has stretched me a lot these past few weeks. Elder Smith and I have been working hard, harder than I have ever worked in my mission. We did everything that we felt that we could or we knew how. However, the best part about missionary work is that you work and you work and as you sweat, ponder, prayer, strive, plan, teach, and plead, your mind, vision, and in the end of it all, you change. I have learned so much in the past month that I am amazed of what the Lord has been able to do through me. I have thought a lot about the trials that we have. It is almost impossible to see why in the moment but when we look back, we never regret it. I don´t know why but I love the fact that you never learn by your successes, you learn by your mistakes. We could have talked and talked about what it would be like to live on earth in the Pre-existence. Nevertheless God said that we had to get a body and live it for ourselves. You have to go and do it. You have to make a lot of mistakes but you learn. You can talk it and say it, but until you have to do it shows your true understanding.

In all of this time, I have gained a strong testimony that God grants unto men according to their desires. The questions of my soul are answered as I diligently seek the answers from the Lord. As I work and pray, I see how my vision expands and becomes more clear. I become a more diligent and effective servant in the hands of the Master. I am amazed at how the Lord knows everyone of us perfectly. I see the signs of that love every day.

I had a rather funny experience this past week. I was talking to one of our District leaders and he passed a name of a person that is preparing for baptism. He told me the name and mentioned that I knew her. I paused and thought about it and I remembered, ¨hey, I taught her!¨ I remembered that I had taught her in an exchange that I did with a few missionaries about 5 months ago. I was so excited for her baptism. As well as this woman who was named Angeles, I was talking to our other District leader and he told me that they had another woman who was being prepared to be baptized in area. He said that I knew her. I paused and thought about it and I realized that she was another woman who I met and taught in that area when I went in exchanges about 4 months ago. I remember the story because I went on divisions with a District leader to help him find the elect and bring them to the waters of baptism. We went to one lady´s house and we sat down to talk to her. As we were talking to her, I realized another woman who was in the other room. After talking to the first lady, I presented myself with the second. I said that I was a missionary and I´m here in Mexico to baptize people. I remember that I asked her if she knew about the church and she said that she did. I then asked her if she wanted to be a member of the church. She said that ¨sure, I like the church.¨ I told the district leader to write down her information. She said that she was going to leave for her home town and wasn't planning on returning. I was sad but we left cordially. The point of the story is that the current District leader who is in this area told me that he encountered this woman again and said that she asked if he knew an Elder Russell. This Elder said ¨umm, yeah, he´s really crazy.¨ From this comment she said ¨He asked me if I wanted to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. I want to be baptized.¨ When this Elder told me this story, I was so pumped. It was a tender mercy of the Lord. I turned to Elder Smith and I told him, ¨ya ve, no puedo bautizar en mi propia ├írea sino que en todas las demas!¨ (I can´t baptize in my own area rather that I do it in all of the others!) It was rather special for me.

This is the work of the Lord. Let us always be a part of it and that we realize that He is in charge. It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Russell