Monday, July 9, 2012

We Felt a Taste of the Joy........week 102

My dear family,
 
Thank you so much for your letter.  My heart is full right now from your words and the great opportunity that I have to serve the Lord as a full time missionary.  Tell all of the young men that I am way excited to hear that they are worthy and excited to go serve the Lord.  Tell Johnny Lightheart that he is going to absolutely love his mission.  He is going to see miracles in the service of this choice people. 
 
Well family, my heart is full right now.  This Sunday was very special for Elder Egan and I.  When we went to church, about half of the people who were there in church were converts, investigators, less active, or inactive families with whom we have specifically worked with.  We felt a taste of that joy of which Alma speaks.  There is still a whole lot of work to do but I am so excited to keep working. 
 
This week we had a Mission conference in Chilpancingo where we were able to meet our new mission President, President Kusch and his wife.  They are extraordinary.  I received a deep witness that he has been called of God and that he has the keys to the direction of this mission.  His wife said something in her talk that struck me deeply.  She said, ¨Elders, you can plan your preparation but you cannot plan your future.  Actually, don´t do so.  Plan your preparation and watch as the Lord guides your future.  If I would have planned my future, it would have been much less than what the Lord has given me¨  It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. 
 
I would like to share a very special experience that I had this past week.  It was Wednesday if I remember right.  We were cooked in the sun.  It was one of those days that we all have.  That night, I prayed specifically so that the Lord could give me the strength to keep the work up.  That night a had a dream of a young man who asked me, ¨Elder Russell, when can I meet with you so you can share me your message.¨ In my dream I referred to the 21st of July and said, ¨It seems like there is not going to be enough time before I leave.¨  In that moment, with tears in his eyes he told me, ¨Elder Russell, I don´t want nor need of something physical, I need your spirit here with me.  I need to feel of your spirit.¨  In that moment, I arose to the alarm and got on my knees to talk to my Father in Heaven.  There was the perspective that I needed.  There was the response to my humble prayer.  I know that God lives and answers the prayers of His servants. 
 
We are preparing a few people and a family to be baptized in these following two weeks.  We had prayed to be able to baptize a family who would be sealed in the temple in one year before we came home.  God gave us the Castillo family.  We are going to have a baptism of Araceli who will be baptized this Friday and she has placed the goal with her inactive husband to be sealed in the temple in one year. 
 
I am full of joy for the tender mercies of the Lord.  I want you to know family that God answered my prayer this week that I made about 2 years ago.  I prayed to be able baptize and seal a family before I went home.  This Saturday in the Mexico City Temple at 9 in the morning, I will have the privilege of being present in the sealing of Brother Alfredo Brito to his family.  He was the brother who was baptized the first Christmas here while I was in Amiltzingo.  I do not know what to say.  I am stunned and in awe.  This is going to be one of the most joyous moments of my life. 
 
Well family, I pray for you.  Live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Work everyday so others can come unto Christ.  There is no greater joy.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 
Love,
Elder Russell

Monday, July 2, 2012

Working Like Crazy........week 101

Dear Family,

Well this week was another great one.  I am taking forever because I am trying to send all of the pictures that I haven´t sent for the past few weeks.  I got your package and  I was so pumped.  I told my companion, ¨I GOT NEW SHIRTS!!!¨  You know you are a missionary when…. J 

This was a really great week.  We baptized Fransisca, the mom of Malena and Elizabeth.  She has wanted to be baptized for a really long time now.  She has put in her part and she had a light in her eyes the day of her baptism.  Elder Egan and I are so excited right now.  We are working and the field is so ready for the harvest.  The fruit is ripe. 


We came in contact with a man named Marcos who lives in a pueblo nearby called Platanillo.   He is getting ready for his baptism soon and his family is very interested.  His family is very well known and respected in this pueblo so we are very excited to begin to preach the g√≥spel there.  We are hoping to baptize the family before we go and begin the process of the preaching in Platanillo.  We are very excited to see the fruits from that pueblo. 

Well, we don´t have a whole lot of news.  President Kusch is now here in Cuernavaca.  We are going to have a conference with him this week.  We are working like crazy and we are loving it.  Take care family.  I love you most!!!

Love,
Elder Russell




Monday, June 25, 2012

Another Week of Excellent Work........week 100

Dear family,

Another week passes and it is crazy how fast things are going around here.  We are working really great right now.  We had 3 baptisms this past week of three children named Juan Antonio, Angela, and Valeria.  Juan and Angela are brother and sister while Valeria is apart.  It was really special to be a part of their baptisms.  The truth of the matter is that I laughed because Valeria didn´t want to be baptized for a while but she started reading and praying more.  I am really back on my pictures but I promise to send you all of those that I due. 

Elder Egan and I are really excited to work this last month of our missions.  This last month was the best month of our mission.  I had a lot of goals for my mission when I walked into the MTC.  It has been an amazing experience see how the Lord has granted every single one of my righteous desires.  A few of my goals were these, baptize 10 people in a month, baptize a gangster, baptize a whole family who will go to the temple, and go to the temple to seal a family while I am in the mission.  I am working so the last three can happen this last month.  We are teaching a man who is repenting who will be very close to his baptism this week.  We have a few families that we hope to see progress in this month and I am just waiting the confirmation to go to the temple to seal the Brito Family from Amiltzingo.  I will let you know as the weeks go how my goals are going. 

I really don´t have a whole lot to say.  We are working, we are happy and we are doing the best we can to help out as many people as we can so they can receive the exaltation. 

I hope that everything is fine at home.  Send my concern to Joy and Josh.  I hope that everyone is doing well. 

Well family, take care.  I pray that you may continue to be blessed as you remember to keep the covenants that you have made.  Until next week.

Love,
Elder Russell



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Opportunity of a Lifetime........week 99






Dear family,

I am writing you late today because we had a special activity with President Spannaus.  He invited my generation* to go and pass our P day with him in the ruins close to Cuernavaca called Xochicalco.  We have been running all day and we have a chance to send off a quick letter.   *(The missionaries that came to Cuernavaca with him from the MTC...his generation).

Tell Joy that I will be praying for her and for her family.  May she find comfort in the words of Alma who said that Christ has taken upon us all of our pains, afflictions, and suffering.  I sincerely pray that she may find that peace as in all moments of difficultly.  I will have a special prayer in my heart for her. 

This week was a great week.  We baptized Rubi, a young woman who has gone through a lot but has decided to follow the Savior through faith, repentance and baptism.  I am having problems with the photos but I will send them along with last week’s when I can. 

We are working great right now.  The ward is going nuts about missionary work.  We have an activity this Saturday that they are just inviting the world to come.  We had the same lesson about missionary work in Priesthood Sunday and afterwards, Elder Egan and I planned a small capacitation for the ward.  We went in the chapel and we were talking about how the members could invite their friends to do missionary work.  We talked about observing the people when we invite them to come unto Christ.  It was really instructional and super funny see the members get all excited doing role plays.  Elder Egan and I were so excited.  We got a lot of work to do and we have very little time to do so.  The both of us are hoping to baptize what we haven’t done in all of mission in these last weeks.  

I would like to share a story of our activity today.  President invited us to take the day with him and when we were there in Xochicalco, we took a few minutes to have a testimony meeting.  Each one of the missionaries from my generation got up and bore their testimonies.  I sat back and was deeply moved as I listened to these missionaries.  I have worked with these missionaries for 2 years and it was nothing too new to hear them bear their testimonies.  But in this occasion, I was deeply impressed at the men they had become.  Their conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the testimonies that they gave brought the Spirit in the corner of a pyramid.  I stopped and looked at them.  And I thought of myself.  I sat reflecting on the mission, on my companions, on my President and his wife.  It was hard.  I am excited for the future and for what is coming but as Dad said, I feel like this will be the hardest calling to leave.  I am a missionary, that came when I was baptized.  The duty was elevated when I received the Priesthood and when I entered into the temple.  But the chance to give all of my time and efforts to keep my covenants is an opportunity of a lifetime. 

As we have been working here, there are various families here in Insurgentes that within one year they will be in the temple.  But a few weeks ago I started writing Hermano Alfredo Brito from Amiltzingo.  When I got on to read my mail today he wrote me and said, ¨Elder Russell, it looks like we are going to be sealed as a family the 14 of July.  I hope you can be there.¨  Right now, I am filled with an emotion that I cannot describe.  Hno Alfredo was baptized for the example of his 7 year old son.  It was 7 at night and all of our appointments had fallen through and we sat on the street curb thinking about who we could visit.  We were fasting to find someone to baptize.  When Elder Campos asked me who we should visit I said Alfredo Brito.  We visited him Wednesday and Saturday he was baptized, the 25 of December.  To think that he will be sealed to his family the 14th is a joy that I cannot describe.  I know that the work builds upon the work of every missionary but I have prayed since the beginning of my mission, ¨Father, I want to be able to baptize and seal a family.  Even though I will do all that I can so that all can receive me, I ask thee that one family may be sealed.  Father, I want to be able to say that because I served my mission, at least one family will be come with me to see Thee again.¨  I have had that prayer in my heart for 2 years and I will keep praying until the 14th of July. 

Family, to say it all, I cannot describe the emotion that I have to be Elder Russell: Representative of the Savior Jesus Christ.  This is the true joy that Paul spoke of for those who truly seek happiness.  This is the joy of my life: to bring about my duty towards God and His children.  It is my prayer that we may always do so.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love,
Elder Russell










Saturday, June 16, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Clearly One of the Greatest Missionary Experiences Ever!........week 98


Dear family,

The work is going along great right now.  I am so excited to be a missionary.

Well, we had our last changes this weekend and I AM STAYING IN INSURGENTES!!!!  I was so excited to be able to stay here with Elder Egan.  We are working great and since we joined our ¨two¨ areas with the other Elders we have had a momentum that is contagious.  I have been trying to upload the photos but we had 2 other baptisms this week.  One was Xochitl who is a woman who we have been teaching for about 6 weeks who was baptized this Saturday in the afternoon.  Xochitl is great.  Xochitl was a great baptism like the others that we have had but I would like to comment about the other baptism of a young woman named Fani.  It was a huge miracle.

Fani has been going to church in Taxco with her boyfriend for the past 4 months.
Something happened there and she stopped going.  When Elder Egan was with Elder Galeana, they were walking in a dirt road when all of the sudden a kid ran up to them with water.  He said that the lady from the store gifted it to them. Elder Egan and Elder Galeana went to greet her.  She said her name was Fani and had been listening to the missionaries.  Well, a week or two passed and we didn´t have contact with her.  In the afternoon we were waiting to start Xochitl´s baptism and Elder Egan went into the secretary´s office to invite Fani to the baptism.  She showed up when we were finishing up everything.  We asked her to stay a bit so we could talk.  While I was getting everything picked up my companion presented her to the members who were present in Xochitl´s baptism. After, we grabbed our ward mission leader and we started to talk to her.  We asked her about her story and how she came in contact with the church.  

Remember that this was the first time that I had had contact with her.  I asked her what she remembered of the missionary lessons.  She taught us all of them from memory.  I stopped and asked her, ¨Why are you not baptized?¨  She said for something that happened with her boyfriend.  But she then told us that she had a vision where Christ told her directly that she needed to be baptized and preach the Gospel.  We were wigging out :)  Within ourselves we were jumping and screaming, ¨this is awesome!¨ We invited her to be baptized and she accepted right away.  We told her that she could be baptized the following Saturday.  She said that she couldn´t.  Friday?  No, she said that it would have to be for the following, the 23 of June.  We sat back listening to her and we sighed.  My companion thought out loud and said, ¨the truth is, if you want to, you could be baptized today.¨  This was at 6:15 pm Saturday.  She stopped a second and said, ¨I could be baptized today?!?  I want to be baptized today.  I don´t want to wait any longer.  It will just have to be before 7, I have to be home at that time.¨

My companion sprung up and started calling the Zone leaders so that they could come to interview her and calling all the people who had just left Xochitl´s baptism to come back for another baptism.  They were just like, ¨What!?!  Another baptism?  Who?¨  We told them to just come and that we would explain the rest later.  While my companion was calling everyone, I did a pre interview to see how she was for her baptism.  She was super ready.  The bishop and the relief society president just looked at us with the look of, ¨the both of you are nuts!¨  The Zone leaders showed, interviewed her, and at 6:45 I was suited up in the wet jumpsuit that Elder Egan had used to baptize Xochitl but for Fani´s baptism.  When we were in the font, I had to ask Elder Egan what was her name. And that´s how it went.  Within less than 60 minutes I had known, pre interviewed and baptized Fani.  The greatest story of an Unich that I have every heard.  And clearly one of the greatest missionary experiences ever!  

So that was our week.  Brandon, Xochitl, and Fani were confirmed this Sunday and we got a bunch of people to teach and baptize in these next 6 weeks.  We got work to do!!!  

Well family, take care.  I love you so much.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest treasure that I have.  And I am so grateful to be able to gift it to all those who I come in contact with.  Try it.  God will strengthen you and you will feel of His Spirit.  It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love,
Elder Russell


Monday, June 4, 2012

Because a Child read the Book of Mormon........week 97

Dear family,

I bought a hammock...Thanks Grandma!!!  I am sending a few photos. The family is the Pacheco family.  I`ll tell you their story in a bit.  The other is of Brandon, the young man who Elder Reyes baptized after the services Sunday.

 The Pacheco Family
Sebastian, Ximena, and Veronica Pacheco
 
     
 Brandon's Baptism with Elder Reyes

So we have been working with the Pacheco family for quite a long time, since I got here.  They have been in and out of the teaching pool for a total of about 9 months.  They have had testimonies of the church but for social reasons hadn´t made the choice to be baptized.  We have been helping the family to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know of its truth.  Of all of the family, the youngest, Sebastian, read the Book of Mormon with all his heart and prayed to know if it was true.  When we showed up to visit them Thursday night he told me,

                 "Elder Russell, you are not going to believe me but I want to be baptized.´  

                  The truth is that I was shocked.  From there, we turned to his sister Ximena (they say  it
                  like He-men-a) and we asked her, 

                 ¨Do you want to be baptized with your brother?¨  She said sure.  Then we turned to her
                  mom Veronica and we asked her, 

                 ¨Do you want to be baptized with your family?¨  She was sooooo nervous.  

Actually the day of the baptism, Saturday, she still didn´t know if she wanted to be baptized.  But we had already put her in the program :)  When the service started, she was still a bit unsure but when she saw her children being baptized, she entered the waters and was baptized with them.  The truth was that it was one of the most special baptisms of my mission because with Elder Gosnell we had worked hard to help this family get baptized.  And everything happened because the youngest child was willing to read the Book of Mormon.  

Brandon is one of her neighbors who has been going to church for a long time but in another ward.  We came to know him and his dad and the following week Brandon was baptized.  His dad, Baltazar, has been a member for a very long time.  For some questions hasn't been attending but has been very excited to be once again in church and now with his son.  Elder Reyes baptized him and it was a great experience for the both of them.  Actually, Elder Reyes and Elder Galeana have now returned home to prepare to leave ´for real´ on their missions.  I am so proud of Elder Reyes.  He has overcome many personal struggles and weaknesses to be able to serve the Lord as a missionary.  He was very sad that he had to return home.  He told me, ¨Elder Russell, I don't want to go home.  I want to go on my mission.  Pray for me so that I can leave as soon as possible.¨  God brought about miracles in 3 weeks. 

Well we are working a lot and we have a lot more work to do.  Elder Egan and I now have to combine 2 areas.  It's going to be awesome.  Next week is changes.  I hope to stay but something is telling me that I am going to be sent somewhere.  We will see what happens. 

Family, I love you.  Thank you for everything that you do.  I hope that you may always find peace, joy, and comfort in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Love,
Elder Russell

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Elder, Do You Hear Me?"........week 96

Dear family,

Well, this week we had a baptism of two people, Ulisses and his sister Tamara.  It was really special.  The computer can´t read my card so I will send the pictures later.  We are still working the four of us in our ward and Elder Reyes and I have changed up our side of the ward.  It´s amazing.  When I heard that the two missionaries were going to be with us, I wanted to go to a few colonies of our ward.  These are the ¨dead¨ colonies that the missionaries never work in.  I wanted to take up the challenge.  We set out to work and the Lord has been blessing us with one miracle after another.  

One story that I loved from last week was how we came in contact with Esperanza.  We were walking by a house to see a lady that we had wanted to teach.  She wasn´t home.  But a lady was in her car leaving her house nearby.  She was watching us as we were walking.  She passed by in her car and suddenly stopped.  We passed by and she asked us, ¨what church are you from?¨ We said the Church of Jesus Christ.  She then passed me her cell phone that she had on hold and said, ¨they want to talk to you.¨  I cautiously picked up the cell phone as someone said, ¨Elder, do you hear me?¨  Mind you I was looking at a woman that I didn´t know and talking to someone I had no idea who it was.  His conversation went something like this.  

¨Elder, I am President ____  from Acapulco.  The woman who you see in front of you is a friend of mine and I want you to baptize her.  She needs this and that.  I can´t come but I am going to trust her to you, ok?  Thanks Elder, I got to go.¨  

I passed the phone back to the woman and we put a appointment to see her.  She accepted graciously.  We talked to her the next day and see is preparing herself to be baptized the 16 of June.  How cool is that!?!?!  I thought is was phenomenal.  The Lord knows His children and He puts them in our path as we keep our covenants.  We have other baptisms that we have contacted by miracles as well.  This is His work.  Of that I have no doubt.   

Well family, it has been another amazing missionary week.  This week was the ward temple trip.  When the members got back from the temple Saturday and then church the following Sunday, there was a light and a conversion so prevalent within the church.  We had various investigators who I know felt something special being in the church this past Sunday.  It was very distinct.  The truth is that I felt as if I was at home.  I felt as if I was in my home ward.  It was because I was amongst many members of the covenant.  It was a special lesson for sure. 

Take care family.  I hope that everyone finds themselves well.  Keep your covenants.  There is nothing that will give you more strength, direction, and love in your life. 
Love,
Elder Russell

Monday, May 21, 2012

What More Could a Mother Want?........week 95

Today is Elder Sean Russell's birthday.  In response to my birthday letter to him, I received this special gift from him today...Letter 1

Mom,
I don´t know how to say to you what I wish to say.  Emotion, gratitude, love, immense respect, reverence, and admiration are few that come to mind.  I have told you in various occasions that the majority of my lessons come from what I learned in my home with my mother and with my father.  I will never forget the day that I came home from school and I began talking to you about how creative I was.  I remember that you were there in the kitchen and you had a smile on your face as you patiently listened to me.  After I ended my spiel, I vividly remember your question, ¨Sean, where do you think you learned all those things?¨  I thought back to my classes and my friends (being very arrogant and selfish).  ¨No son, I taught you those things.¨  I love to share that story with those who do not find it easy to keep the commandment, honor thy father and thy mother so thy days may be long upon the land that the Lord thy God hath given thee.  Thank you mom.  I have become a missionary because my mom is a missionary. May God continue to bless you with the fruits of your labor of love mom.  May He always protect you and bless you as you continue to keep your covenants.  I love you Mom.  

Love,
Elder Russell

PS we went to a few caves today and here is a photo of President and Sister Spannaus and I.






The "Why" of What We Do........week 95

Sean's Birthday.  A letter to Dad.   Letter 2

Dad,

I thank you so much for your letter.  You hit it right on the head.  I am so grateful that have the opportunity to serve the people here.  This past week we had our Zone Conference.  This was the last one that I am going to have and the President Spannaus´s last one as well.  I was deeply moved by the Conference.  I sat there pondering about a lot of things.  Of the many topics that were prevalent, I was deeply struck by something that President told us.  He said, ¨where are you, where are you going, what are you doing, and who are you?¨ There came across me a great impression of the Spirit, ¨Elder Russell, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.¨  I was overwhelmed by the way I am able to answer those questions.  

I have been thinking a lot about what President Uchtdorf said in the last general conference.  He talked about the ¨why¨ of what we do.  I have thought much about that.  Why have I served a mission?  It is because I promised my Father in Heaven that I would do so when I was baptized and when I received the Priesthood. As well as when I entered in the Temple.  There is nothing that my leaders are going to ask me to do that I haven´t already committed myself to do before God.  I am so deeply grateful that I have made and will continue to make decisions that allow me to keep my covenants before God.  

Dad, thank you for being my Father.  I feel that you have been the motor in my to do as the hymn says, ¨our useless cares from us to drive.¨  I pray that I may do that constantly so I can be a more efficient and powerful tool in His Hands.  Thanks Dad.  I love you.

Love,
Elder Russell

Monday, May 14, 2012

Still working hard...week 94

Dear family,
 
I don´t have much time today but I`ll squeeze in what I can.  Elder Egan and I are working with a few Elders here in Insurgentes for the next 3 weeks and they came in today.  My temporary companion is Elder Reyes and the companion of Elder Egan is Elder Galeana.  They are missionaries who are going to be working with us for 3 weeks.  They went on the mission but for issues returned home.  So we are going to be working with them for the next few weeks to see if they can return to the mission field.  So if I mention their names it is for that reason. 
 
I loved to be able to see and talk to the family.  I felt like it was the weekly Sunday checkup via webcam.  I am so grateful that everyone is doing well.  I don't have much different to say than from yesterday but I am excited to keep working.  We have our Zone Conference this Wednesday and a Ward Mission Activity this Friday.  We got a lot of work to do and we got two more missionaries to help us out. 
 
I love you family.  I am so thankful for you.  May God bless you as you continue to serve in His vineyard. 
 
Love,
Elder Russell

Monday, May 7, 2012

To truly see the hand of the Lord in the lives of the people is the greatest joy that I have.........week 93

Hey family,

Well, the business first. I got your package and THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!  I was super excited.  You know when you are a missionary when you get excited about receiving a toothbrush.  Elder Josh Gosnell came with his grandpa, dad, and cousin to visit the mission.  It was great to see him with his family at church.  He served his mission very honorably.  The directive for the phone call is that we have 45 minutes and we can use webcam.  I am going to see if we can go with a member and call you from their house.  I will call you via Oovoo Sunday at 8:00 my time or 6:00 your time.  Oh and tell Elder Christopher that he is officially dead :)

Well,. I got a lot of talking to do.  The first photo is of an activity that Elder Gosnell and I put together with the members, investigators and converts.  We played a bunch of games. 


 My team got to the finals in tug of war but the ward secretary and his team beat us out.  So close!!


The other photo is of Elizabeth and her baptism a week ago.  She and her sister are so cool.  They love the gospel.  We are working with her mom, dad, and brother so they can join them as well.




The other photo is when we received the package.  I was so excited.  Elder Egan got jealous that I got a toothbrush, toothpaste, and whitening.  I laughed pretty hard.   We are such missionaries :)


 
The other was a baptism of Delia.  A really cool sister in the ward told us that she knew somebody who had already received the lessons but wasn't baptized.  She told us that her friend wanted to be baptized now.  We showed up, interviewed her, and she was ready to go.  A true Eunic.  To my surprise it was Delia.  I had tried to baptize her 4 months earlier.  She had prayed last week and knew that she should be baptized.  Even with all of the opposition from her family she took the decision.  I am so proud of her.  The teenager next to her is a young man who is the only member in his family who just received his mission call.  He is going to Guadalajara.  He is going nuts.

 
 The last pictures are of a man Hector.  The missionaries had passed by his house trying to get him baptized for years.  His brother in law told us that he wanted to be baptized.  We showed up and asked him what had made the difference.  He said that his daughter came up to him one day and asked him, ¨Daddy, are you going to baptized me when I turn 8?¨  The short story, the daughter won.  He had a complete change of heart and has already placed the goal to baptize his daughter in the following February and be sealed in the temple a year from now.  The truth, a great weekend.


 

This past week we had a Conference of Leaders in Cuernavaca.  It was so special to see the President Spannaus, his wife, and almost all of Elders whom I have a close relationship.  It was President´s last training of leaders.  I love President Spannaus.  He has made a tremendous impact in my life.  We are going to have a Zone Conference the 16 of May.  I still have another chance to talk to him and enjoy of his counsel.  
The past few weeks have been filled with emotion.  I have a goal to do more work in these last 3 month than all the work I have done up to this point.  I loved the comments of Elder Egan when we were talking about church yesterday.  He mentioned, ¨Elder Russell, I have never seen a ward more involved in missionary work than this ward.¨  I told him that he was to thank the recent work of Elder Gosnell and I.  To truly see the hand of the Lord in the lives of the people is the greatest joy that I have.  To have leaders and companions who have led me to know and do what the Lord expects of me has been a tremendous privilege and love.  As President says, when you know how to be a missionary, you finish.  I feel a bit like that right now. 

Nonetheless family, I am excellent.  I am happier than ever.  I feel that I know what the Lord expects of me.  I just have to do it.  May we bring the power of Godliness in our lives and in the lives of other through the making and keeping covenants.  Without the making and keeping of ordinances and covenants, the glory of God cannot be manifest.  But when it is done, God begins to bring about miracles in His vineyard.  Of that I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Love,
Elder Russell

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Work of the Lord........week 92

Dear family,

Well, we had a baptism last week.  It was of Elizabeth, Malena´s sister.  I can´t seem to upload the photos so I will send them afterwards.

Elder Gosnell´s last night as a missionary.  We did the ritual of "cutting the tie".  

Elder Gosnell faithfully completed his mission today.  There are always a bunch of mixed emotion with all of that.  I am so excited because I am going to stay here and do you know who is my new companion?!?!?!  ... Elder Egan.  I laughed so hard when they told me.  We are going to work like crazies here.  Elder Gosnell and I learned how to bring about the work of salvation in a ward in these past changes.  It is miraculous how the Lord has taught us how we can bring His work here.  I would like to give you a hint how to do it.  Read DC 101, 103, and 105.  From there study the doctrine of the wheat, the tares, the salt, covenants, and the strength of the Lord.  I mentioned a bit about this doctrine a few weeks ago and it has stayed with me.  It has left a very deep impression on me.

I would like to mention something that the Lord taught me a bit ago.  Every desire that we have can be fulfilled and every problem can be solved if we are willing to make and keep covenants.  We were talking in our Elder´s Quorum meeting a few weeks ago about how to obtain unity in a family, branch, ward, or stake. The brethren had their various answers but I was impressed by what came to my mind.  I turned to Mosiah 18 and the baptismal covenant.  If we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, keep His commandments, and be witnesses of Him everywhere we go, He promises us eternal life, a remission of our sins, and the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  So why is there disunity in a marriage, ward, or stake?   It´s because we need to better make AND keep our covenants.  With all other covenants that we make, if we will MAKE these covenants and KEEP these covenants, we will be totally happy and we will be able to return to the presence of God.  Something that has really impacted me about making and keeping covenants is that those who do both parts because the true servants of the Lord here on this earth.  God shows His love and His power through them.

We have learned that here with our members and investigators.  It is interesting to note that every time that we make a covenant, in order to keep that covenant, we must be willing to sacrifice.   And that sacrifice is always for the welfare of someone else.  For example, someone will not be willing to invite his friend to church, stay with him in the classes, and prepare himself spiritually to teach and lead his friend to the waters of baptism unless he has made the covenant of baptism.  It´s simple.  Everything that we do as missionaries and as people requires work.  It requires genuine sacrifice.  As Dad always says, ¨when the call to keep our covenants is convenient, give me a call, I would like to know.¨  We cannot truly bring about the work of the Lord unless we are friends of the Lord, not only His servants.  For the friend knows why the Lord does what He does while the servant no.  And how can we change our fallen nature to a higher plain?  How can we bring the power of God in our lives?  How can we show the power of God in the lives of those with whom we come in contact with?  Through the making and keeping of covenants.

My dear family, I invite you to learn of the conditions of your covenants.  I invite you to make a list of your priorities and put obedience to those conditions first.  As you do so, everything else will fall into place.  I can promise you that in the name of Christ.  You will find every desire satisfied and you will find the solutions to the difficulties that you face.  It is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love, 
Elder Russell

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Got No Time........week 91



Dear family,
I got no time.  Baptisms of Alma and Malena.  Tell you more when I can.
Love,
Elder Russell