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. 
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

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.  

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


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.

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. 
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. 

Elder Russell