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.

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.

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.

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.
Elder Russell