Tuesday, December 31, 2013

pictures


                               This is Mike's new area! He loves the people and his companion.








K so I'm not sure the story behind all the hair missing off his leg....ouch!

Monday, December 30, 2013

transferred into another area

So I can give y'all a quick update I don't have a lot of time today. So I got transferred into another area. I'm now in ClearLake kind of by League City. It's just south of Houston. My new companion is Elder Baird. He's from Provo, Utah. He's awesome! We're loving the new area. It's a new area, the ward used to be just sister missionaries but now we hopped in too. The Ward has some awesome members! We've only met some of them but I love it already. It's good to see some full size families now! 
So this week has been a really really long one. So much has happened but it's been all good! We had a really good Christmas meeting as a mission yesterday. it was so fun! I got to see Ephraim's rescue. That's an awesome show. Mom, I remembered some of the stories you had told me about him when I watched the movie. I loved that movie though. 
Well, I gotta get going but I love y'all. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
Elder Russell

Monday, December 16, 2013

hard to leave

Ya soooo I've been in this area for ten months and I love it! but this morning we got transfer calls (they tell us who's staying in their areas and who's leaving) and I'm getting transferred! It'll be hard to leave this ward and the members and the people we're teaching. It'll be interesting to be in a different area though. I don't know where or who with yet but I will find out Wednesday. So I don't know for sure what I'll be doing to skype y'all but maybe a member or someone will call you and work that out. haha Sorry it's hard to tell right now because I don't know exactly where I'll be. we'll figure it out. 
This week was really cool. I don't have a ton of time to talk about it but I'll tell ya a cool thing that we helped with. There was an organization that is called 'elves and more' and they donate bikes to kids who work hard in school and can't afford them or something like that, but anyway. We helped load 8,000 bikes into semi trailers. We would tightly fit a row of bikes together and then stack cardboard on top of them and stand on top and stack more. It was really cool. I wish we got some pictures. Well I'm outta time but I love y'all! Have a good one! 
Elder Russell

Monday, December 9, 2013

He takes us out of the 'hole' that we dig for ourselves if we do everything we can. He loves us so much

So first off, those pictures I sent are from a relief society thing we sang at. It was really good. We've taught some really great people this week. Zach is doing great as always. He's progressing really well. He's really smart. He's going to get baptized on January 11th. He's going to be out of town for a few weeks but he gets back on the 11th. He said, "Hey Elders is there any way that I can get baptized right when I get back from the airport? We're blessed to be teaching him. Some other people we met this week are Richawnda and her daughter Arisia and their neighbor Princess (cool names huh?). We were going to teach her son as well but I think he got kicked out of the house. They're a great family though. I'll update you on them next week. We also taught a really cool lesson with this guy named Heribel. When we met with him we were talking about baptism and challenges he's going through. The lesson was really guided by the Spirit. Every time we'd pull out a scripture or something he told us how that hit him really hard. He told us how he was hesitant to make a big choice or to be committed to baptism or church because he felt like he would just fail.  We were prompted to give him an analogy of how his life was at that moment and I started explaining it, "Heribel, so think of things this way, imagine yourself in this hole and.." and then he interrupted and said, "Exactly! I kept thinking of that" and he told us how he had been thinking that before. Then I explained, "you don't want to try to climb out of the hole because you know that on your own you can't. You know that you'll just fall back in. But I want to tell you that when you do every thing you can, you'll get almost to the top and right when you may feel you're just about to fall in Christ will reach out His hand and pull you up. He fills in where we cannot. He takes us out of the 'hole' that we dig for ourselves if we do everything we can. He loves us so much He will do that for us." (this may not sound as good as it did in the moment, when the Spirit is there touching all of our hearts it makes the analogy make more sense and it was really spiritual haha:) We had a really good week. Anyway, I gotta get going. I love y'all and hope ya have a good week!
love, Elder Russell

Monday, December 2, 2013

shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge

So this week...
I'll just give a few of the highlights.
So on thanksgiving we first at with some of the people we've been teaching (Eli's family). It was really good. Earlier on in the week they had planned just to be eating normal thanksgiving dinner because they didn't have any money but this lady at their work gave them some money to have a dinner. It was really good. It was all of the usual Thanksgiving foods with a little mexican style to them. (very good). Later we ate with some members--the Hunter's (I think Sister Hunter called you [mom], she's awesome, she made the yams with your recipe I guess and they were really good!). Ya those dinners were back to back so we got pretty full. 
I also need to give y'all an update on Zach. Man, that guy is awesome! we had a lesson with him on Saturday morning and we taught him the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. When we started teaching him the word of wisdom I asked, "so have you heard of this principle before?" and he answered, "Oh, yeah. Actually I've been living the word of wisdom for about a year now. I used to smoke a few years ago and my girlfriend suggested to live it and so I did and I even stopped drinking caffeine." We were pretty surprised. We then read through the blessings in the Doctrine and Covenants, "And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments shall receive health in their navels and marrow to their bones," and Zach said, "oh yeah I've seen that for sure," then we'd continue, "and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;" "Oh I've definitely seen that as well." "and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint," "yep", "and I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen."... he noticed all of the blessings in his life. Then we taught the law of Chastity. After going through it he told of how he was living it with his girlfriend now and how it's enabled them to have a deeper love and trust and how it's been so much better than past relationships. After that we asked him about his baptism and if he had been thinking about it at all (he had previously dropped his first baptismal date because he felt like he needed to learn more). He said, "ya, I actually wanted to talk about that. I think I'm ready for baptism. What's the procedure?" So we're planning for that pretty soon. He reads the scriptures every day and really thinks about what he reads. He even reads additional things like the gospel principles manual to help him learn. It's a perfect example of just doing the simple things like coming to church and reading and praying and how those lead to blessings and to a testimony of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith. Some other people I've taught that haven't gained a testimony didn't do these things. They didn't read the Book of Mormon, they didn't pray, and then they are surprised when they don't get the witness that we teach them about. I wish everyone would realize how great the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. It only brings happiness. It only brings peace. It only brings you closer to Heavenly Father. Every single one of the people I've taught that sincerely have read and sincerely have prayed and act on the truth they gain by coming to church have had the Spirit testify to them of the truth of the Gospel. I love the Gospel! 
Well I gotta get going but I love y'all and hope ya have a good one!
Elder Russell

health in their navels and marrow to their bones

So this week...
I'll just give a few of the highlights.
So on thanksgiving we first at with some of the people we've been teaching (Eli's family). It was really good. Earlier on in the week they had planned just to be eating normal thanksgiving dinner because they didn't have any money but this lady at their work gave them some money to have a dinner. It was really good. It was all of the usual Thanksgiving foods with a little mexican style to them. (very good). Later we ate with some members--the Hunter's (I think Sister Hunter called you [mom], she's awesome, she made the yams with your recipe I guess and they were really good!). Ya those dinners were back to back so we got pretty full. 
I also need to give y'all an update on Zach. Man, that guy is awesome! we had a lesson with him on Saturday morning and we taught him the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. When we started teaching him the word of wisdom I asked, "so have you heard of this principle before?" and he answered, "Oh, yeah. Actually I've been living the word of wisdom for about a year now. I used to smoke a few years ago and my girlfriend suggested to live it and so I did and I even stopped drinking caffeine." We were pretty surprised. We then read through the blessings in the Doctrine and Covenants, "And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments shall receive health in their navels and marrow to their bones," and Zach said, "oh yeah I've seen that for sure," then we'd continue, "and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;" "Oh I've definitely seen that as well." "and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint," "yep", "and I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen."... he noticed all of the blessings in his life. Then we taught the law of Chastity. After going through it he told of how he was living it with his girlfriend now and how it's enabled them to have a deeper love and trust and how it's been so much better than past relationships. After that we asked him about his baptism and if he had been thinking about it at all (he had previously dropped his first baptismal date because he felt like he needed to learn more). He said, "ya, I actually wanted to talk about that. I think I'm ready for baptism. What's the procedure?" So we're planning for that pretty soon. He reads the scriptures every day and really thinks about what he reads. He even reads additional things like the gospel principles manual to help him learn. It's a perfect example of just doing the simple things like coming to church and reading and praying and how those lead to blessings and to a testimony of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith. Some other people I've taught that haven't gained a testimony didn't do these things. They didn't read the Book of Mormon, they didn't pray, and then they are surprised when they don't get the witness that we teach them about. I wish everyone would realize how great the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. It only brings happiness. It only brings peace. It only brings you closer to Heavenly Father. Every single one of the people I've taught that sincerely have read and sincerely have prayed and act on the truth they gain by coming to church have had the Spirit testify to them of the truth of the Gospel. I love the Gospel! 
Well I gotta get going but I love y'all and hope ya have a good one!
Elder Russell

Monday, November 25, 2013

well, you're gonna have a --- of a time trying ta get me back together, ma wife's gonna cremate me and pour me over the Atlantic ocean

This week was really good! 
I'll go through the highlights
So Monday was a great day but I don't remember much of the details except that when we got home and were about to start planning the other missionaries that start in our apartment came in and we usually try to get straight to planning for the next day but if we have really good stories to tell each other we hurry and do and this was one of those times. Elder Lupton and McCleave came in and Elder McCleave had weird green stuff on his pants and they told us how someone did a drive by and shot him with a paintball gun. They were on their bikes and they were waiting for something and they just pelted him in the pants with a few shots. haha I was laughing so hard for a long time. It was pretty funny. Elder McCleave is so funny so it was ironic that it happened to him. Tuesday we taught this redneck guy named Dave. We were teaching him about the resurrection and after we read a few scriptures he said, "well, you're gonna have a --- of a time trying  ta get me back together, ma wife's gonna cremate me and pour me over the Atlantic ocean." 
Wednesday we helped sister shong weed that prairie that we've sent some pictures from before ( I think I sent some).
Friday we had a cool experience. We'd been working with a lady that hadn't come to church in like 30 years and she's started coming back now and is loving it so much that she invited all of the sets of missionaries over to her house for dinner. (There are 3 sets of missionaries (2 each)). Her husband is Jewish and I guess regularly they eat bread and juice and say some prayers to usher in the Sabbath (sundown of Friday to them is technically the beginning of the Sabbath--which to them who follow the law of moses is Saturday) It was kind of cool to see. Then we had a good meal and sang a lot of songs together. We sang a lot this weekend.
Saturday we had our friend Zach that we've been teaching come to the 'turkey bowl' with us with some of the Elder's quorum. He wasn't too much into football but we had a ton of fun. later was Hilario's baptism. He decided to attend a Spanish ward so that was the one that he got baptized into. I said the baptismal prayer in Spanish. It was also a cool experience (I couldn't understand any of the talks or anything so it was different haha, the Spirit was still felt though). After I baptized him while we were changing he told me that he wants to serve a mission. He's such a great guy. I'm excited for the good things he's got ahead of him. We also met with Zach on Saturday and he told us about some of the concerns or questions that he'd had. We were thinking they were going to be the usual concerns about the Book of Mormon or the Priesthood but he had just read through a lot of the Gospel Principles manual and his questions were like, "was there a gender of our spirits in our pre-mortal life?" he's a really deep thinker. He had a full page full of questions. I loved talking with him. We read a lot out of D&C 88, and 93 and the Book of Abraham and Moses. On Saturday we also had the adult session of Stake Conference. four of us sang 'brightly beams our Father's mercy.' it was really cool. I loved that meeting. It was all geared towards missionary work. On Sunday we had a musical/dessert night with the Rees' (I think you've met them before). We had a cool family from India come and Zach. Zach is AMAZING at the violin. He's studying Music at a school around here. He played some pieces by Bach. It was really good. Then we sang a few songs. The family from India plays Indian music. I think y'all could probably find them on Youtube if you looked up this, "David Courtney and Chandra Kantha" he said they were on there.
Well I gotta go, I love y'all.
Thanks for everything y'all do. I pray for you every day.
Elder Russell

Monday, November 18, 2013

why do we need another book?

So here's the update for the week. I'll start off with tuesday. We met with a guy named Frank that hasn't come to church in quite a while. We've started out just teaching him the basics and the lessons have been going pretty good. We're putting a big emphasis on working with the less-active members. Later that night we had a ward gathering at this pizza place called Cici's. It's a pizza buffet. We had a contest to see who could eat the most pieces. I ate like 14 I think but I got last place. my companion ate like 21 I think.
We met with Hilario again during the week. He's doing great. He's really excited for his baptism this week. (I am too). He's made quite a few changes in his life lately and he seems really happy. He's reading every day out of the Book of Mormon, he's stopped playing soccer on Sunday to obey the Sabbath, he's stopped drinking coffee to obey the Word of Wisdom. He's got a lot of faith.  I'm trying to learn a little bit of Hebrew every time we meet with him but it's really hard so I haven't learned a lot haha.
We met with Nancy and her family (Eli's grandma) and when we came in and asked if they're read and prayed about the Book of Mormon she told us how she had only read the Bible and wouldn't read the Book of Mormon and won't read it or be baptized. We talked for a while and shared scriptures and bore testimony. It was a very spiritual lesson. They said that they would read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. It's interesting with all of the concerns she brough up of why she wouldn't read it (the usual one's like, "the bible says don't add or take away" and "why do we need another book?" and other common concerns), I answered all of the concerns with scriptures and tried to prove things but until we just bore testimony and left the Spirit to prove to her she wouldn't commit to read. The answer to the questions all lies on if the Book of Mormon is the Word of God, then Joseph Smith was also a man of God, a Prophet, and the Priesthood was brought back to the earth. If these things are true, nothings else matters. I love sharing with people what Nephi said, "hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good"( 2 Nephi 33:10).
Well I gotta get going. I love y'all and hope ya have a good week!
love, Elder Russell

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

He loves reading

Hey thanks for the email. It's really good to hear the updates on everything and to see the pictures.Ya, I have a bit of time in the mornings and at lunch sometimes to practice on the keyboard. I tried to make a little morning schedule so I could work out time to practice sightreading Hymns I don't know. It's kinda worked out so far haha. And ya Hilario should have been baptized last week but he hadn't set up an appointment with the Bishop yet. We talked with him last night and decided on Either November 30 or Dec. 7. He's doing really good though; we gave him a True to the Faith book and he loves it, he reads through all of the topics that he doesn't know. Lastnight we brought our friend Brother Alonzo with us. This guy is awesome I have to tell ya about him. He was baptized last year one Dec 22 (I know the date because he tells everyone he meets). He had lived a pretty bad life before then and made some really big changes. He used to ride his church 8 miles every Sunday and he's really solid now. He moved into our ward temporarily because he had lost his job. We're lucky to have him. When we came over to his place last week (which was a tiny room in his brother's house) it was all really clean and he had a little bed and a small desk in there with The Book of Mormon, The Bible, the Doctrine and convenants and the Pearl of Great Price and the Gospel Principles manuel all spread out perfectly on his desk. He loves reading them. When we took him out teaching with us this week he was--at first--a little scared because he's still really new and hadn't ever taught before. He wrote down notes and printed out papers from Lds.org to share with the people we were teaching. It was awesome. He's just a good humble guy I wish y'all could meet him. 
We did some service at a lady's house who was recently widowed in the ward. She had a backyard with a bunch of overgrown trees that were getting a little crazy so I had to take the chance to climb all of the trees and cut down any branch that needed cut. It was a really fun. I love service.
On Sunday we had dinner with an awesome family--the Stays. Brother Stay had invited some friends from school over. They were a chinese couple. Their names were Feng (or Ben) and Ruya. They were awesome. We taught them the restoration and at one point Ben was telling us about a little spiritual experience he had that led him to marry his wife. He saw her in his class at grad school in China and he heard something say to him "this is your wife." As he was telling this story it would have been pretty cool or romantic or whatever but his wife was making this face like she just ate a snail or something and was like, "Ya I didn't even know him, it is very weird!" they were a funny couple haha. They really liked the message though. We gave them a Book of Mormon and Brother and Sister Stay are going over to their place soon to talk to them about it again.
Well, Thanks for the email. I love y'all! have a good week! Share the Gospel with EVERYONE!
Elder Russell

Monday, November 4, 2013

He loves us and wants all men to partake of His salvation (2 Nephi 26:24)


So the update for the week.
It's been really great. We're starting to see some awesome
improvements with things in the area. We got calls this morning
telling us whether or not we'd be moving to another area (or be
transfered). I was certain I'd be transfered because I've been here in
this area for like 9 months! But I'm staying! I'm so glad. I love the
people in the ward and the people we're teaching and my companion's
awesome!
So earlier this week we had our district meeting and it was great and
then we were going to go eat lunch but the other missionaries had to
go somewhere else so Elder Iloilo and I went to eat at this awesome
restaurant down here called Jerry Built, we just ate with the owner of
the place cuz we're pretty big hot-shots around here. Just kidding,
but the owner really did eat with us, he knew some members of the
church and talked to us about how much he respected the church and
stuff. He was a really nice guy.
We've been spending some time teaching Hilario still (I've talked
about him in the past a lot) he's doing great. he should be getting
baptized within the next couple weeks. It's amazing seeing the growth
he's had since i've known him. He also gave me this keyboard last
week. it's been really good to be able to play the piano more, we
don't have a ton of time to play it but when we do it's great.
On Halloween we had a normal day. It was a good one though. To start
it off we did some service with that fence I mentioned about helping
with last week. we put it up all the way. During that morning it was
raining really really hard and some of the streets were flooded with
about a foot of water. We were so drenched by the time we were done
putting up the fence. It was actually way fun. Later we were about to
head in for the night (we had to be inside by 7 on halloween night)
and some people had started trick or treating. They were like, "hey
it's the Mormons like from the play!" (the Book of Mormon Musical was
recently shown here in Houston) so we got to talk to them a little
bit.
Eli's family is doing pretty good. They're really busy so it's kind of
been hard for them to read and do some of the other things we're
teaching them about but they are progressing. When we went over there
on Friday Elder Iloilo was teaching the lesson and I was trying to
keep Eli entertained (I don't know if I told you but he don't focus on
one thing very well haha) so he pulled the pass along cards out of my
pocket and gave me half of the deck. They were all pretty much the
same and all had pictures of Jesus on them. He put a card down and
said, "alright who are you going to use now?" (I think he though of
them as pokemon cards) I kept putting down my cards and I thought we
would tie since we both had cards with Jesus on them but somehow he
won. We've been trying to help his mom and grandma to quite smoking.
We're going to focus on that this week.
We taught out investigator Zach on Saturday. He's doing great. He
knows the lessons pretty well and learns really fast. He came to
Church with us on Sunday and most people thought he was a member, one
guy asked him if he was an RM. He wore a suit and answered questions
and everything. He's doing really good.
On Saturday we went to a young women in excellence award night or
something like that because one of the girls we've been teaching was
there, her name is Silanche. Her and her two brothers (Videstae and
Beltray) are from Zambia and are an awesome family. Her brothers were
sitting with us during it and taught us a little bit of swahili (Thank
You: Asante, How are you: D'iambo, Goodbye: quede')
We also stopped by at the apartment of a guy we'd been teaching. His
name is Chris. We'd been teaching him a lot about the Word of Wisdom
and we'd made several plans to help him quit smoking. He'd had a hard
time with it but made a little progress. When we stopped by on
saturday his friend answered and she was crying and told us Chris got
caught with some drugs and hanging around the wrong people and is in
jail. She was picking up everything in their apartment and throwing
away most of it because she had no where to stay now that he was gone
and the rent wasn't payed. The sad part was seeing his little toddlers
wandering around in the house, the situation was pretty rough. I was
just thinking "if only Chris would have realized the saddness he could
have been saved from if he'd done more to follow God's commandments.
God's commandments really do free us. They save us from the cords the
devil binds people with (2 Nephi 2:22) The only reason God wants us to
follow Him is because He loves us and wants all men to partake of His
salvation (2 Nephi 26:24)."
Well sorry to end on kind of a sad story. here's a better one to end
on. So Bob (that guy that does canning and he's a trucker and
less-active) is now coming to church in a white shirt and tie. He's so
nice to us. Yesterday we shared a message about become like Christ
with him and he loaded us up with homemade bread and bread pudding and
rootbeer cake. He gave us this really good shepard's pie last week.
He's one of the most generous people I know.
Thanks for the email. I love y'all.
Elder Russell

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Too fow six"

well I kinda forgot what I was going to say to finish the letter from last week so sorry ya have to deal with that cliff-hanger. But ya for the update this week... We did quite a bit of service again. It's great I love it! We helped scoop and spread mulch at a park called Bell Park. It was really fulfilling seeing the park when it was all done. That same day after that project we helped distribute food at a senior/retirement center. We kinda got attacked by old asians there because when we brought the food up the elevator and the door opened they would all be waiting there and we'd try to explain "we have to bring it to your apartment door to drop it off" but most of them just spoke chinese or vietnamese so they just followed us tapping our shoulders saying "Too fow six", or "too sixateen" (their apartement numbers). It was a really good project though. we parked by this ice rink and there was a pile of snow outside of it and I got to throw a snowball (it felt so good!) it's weird how the weather isn't really changing here and the trees aren't dying or anything haha. On friday we helped a member and their neighbor take out the old fence in between their houses and put in a new one. 
We had a good lesson with a family we've been teaching. Their names are Silanche, Videstae, and Beltray. They're from Zambia. They're really fun to teach. We had a little trunk or treat with our ward (I'll try to send some pictures from it to y'all). Beltray was wearing this weird blonde wig. African + Blonde Mullet is a kinda weird mix. He's funny. We also had a good lesson with this awesome guy we've been working with. His name is zack. He's doing a music major in college right now and has played the violen pretty much his whole life so he's way good! at our lesson yesterday he played a fugue by Bach and it was so intense! I've never seen anyone's fingers move so fast. He's read the Book of Mormon and is starting on the D&C. 
Well that's pretty much the update for the week.
Love y'all.
Elder Russell
PS Thank you for the classical CD's! I love them! you guys are great!
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Plan of Salvation

OK so I have a ton of stuff I wanted to update y'all on but the computers here at the library are being very slow so I'll have to sum it up a bit. 
So I have a cool story about Eli and his family (that 7 year old kid i was telling you about). We went by there house on Wednesday and knocked on the door and his mom answered and said it was a bad time. We asked if there was anything that we could do for them and they said, "Well I guess if y'all don't mind you could take the trash out" and so we told them we would. right before the mom shut the door the grandma (Nancy) said, "could y'all pray for me before ya go, I'm having some problems at work?" so we went in and listened to her and one of her daughters talk about how at work some of the employees are trying to get them fired and stuff like that so it's making it really hard on them because they are struggling to get by as it is. after listening we taught them a little bit trying to comfort them and then offered to give them Priesthood blessings. Nancy got one and then her daughter that works with her (Amanda) got one, then her other daughter and son wanted one as well (they're all older than 25). By the end Nancy was pretty touched. We said a prayer for the family then and for Eli who was asleep. They invited us over the next night and as we were leaving they asked if they could feed us sandwiches. So the next day we came by and they had prepared an amazing meal for us. It was really touching because they don't have much to give. They were all so nice to us. While we were eating Elder Iloilo was talking to half the family on the couch and I was talking to the grandma (Nancy) and she said, "Ya, know, I wanted to ask you a question, because I was talking to my son the other day and he was talking about where we go after this life" (we had planned before meeting with them to teach them the Plan of Salvation so I was thinking, wow, she's been prepared for this lesson, but it got even better). then she said, "as I've thought about it more and more I don't think that we go straight to have because there's a space in between when we die and when we're judged and resurrected." then I was thinking, holy cow! we were planning to talk about that today! and then she started talking about how she thought from what she read that there are actually three heavens. God had prepared her and her family for the lesson on the plan of salvation--I'll try to send the rest of this later cause I'm outta time. just wait to post it

King of the hill! :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Priest. Hood. -Blessing

Hey Fam,
So, Thanks so much for the letters and the packages. I was so happy to
get those! It's so good to hear from you. I almost forgot about
Halloween coming up until you sent that stuff in the package. so, you
said some of the stuff in the package was for Eli, or was that another
package that's coming? I hope you weren't talking about the spider
rings and the fairy-wand/glowstick. I'd rather keep those for myself.
(Just kidding) But thanks, it means a lot.
This week was good as always.
So I don't know if I told you in a letter or an email, but one time I told you about a guy named Bob that hasn't gone to church in a really long time (probably around 20 years or more). He's the one that is a trucker that does canning and dehydrates fruit. He's a really cool guy. We've been meeting with him more frequently and reading the scriptures with him. This Sunday he came to church and sat with us. It was really cool. A huge part in bringing him back has been his roomate--who's also named Bob (but we call him Robert). This room mate of his is a guy who was recentally baptized within the last 2 or 3 years and he's pretty funny. He's one of the biggest rednecks I've ever seen and is one of the most humble people I've met. He rides this little motorized scooter he rigged up to church every Sunday because he doesn't have a car. Every Sunday he shows up and had told us, "i've been trying to get Bob out here but he just aint comin. We'll get'em next Sunday though." The other day we were visiting with Bob and Robert and the Bishop was there with us and Robert said, "Now lemme tell ya Bishop, I'm no testimonial teller, but let me tell ya a story. I one time at work was changing a cleaner--purple industrial--so I stick a hose in the bucket and started to sift it out. So I put my moulth on the hose and I sucked some up and got a moulthfun, den I spit it and started throwin up. I went to da Hospital and they said my asophagos was clos'n up so they wanted to drill somethin. I told'em, 'now wait a minute here doc, I wanna wait a minute till my friends get'er'. Then I called up my buddies and they gave me a Priest. Hood. -Blessing. The doctor then came in and said, 'your asophagos opened back up.' " He's an awesome guy. Now him and Bob are coming to church together. Then later this week on Tuesday I think I already told ya but we went to the Temple. It was great. We were able to participate in a ton of service this week. I think there were 5 projects we did within 3 days. One of them we helped a lady do some gardening at a school; another one we helped put together flyers for a company that fundraises money for MS; another we helped a lady and her neighbor do some gardening; another one we turned the dirt over in some medians (Here in Houston there's a strip of grass and trees inbetween the two lanes of traffic on most rodes and they're called medians), and we put moulch over it after; --I never would have thought that all of that weeding I did at dad's work would have come in handy, doing these projects with the weeds reminded me of the good old days weeding there-- And the last project we did was we voulenteered at a festival thing for a 'national neighborhood night out'. We ran the activities. I was over the fan making booth. We colored pictures of Mulan and glued them to another peice of paper, then put a popsickle stick on the back... it felt like the same stuff we used to do for Youth Council. It was pretty fun. Oh and we also had a general authority come to our mission this week! It was so awesome! His name is Elder Christoffel Golden. He spoke to our mission about quite a few things. He expounded some really interesting doctrines too. It was way cool meeting him. Well Love y'all I gotta get goin. Have a great week. Elder Russell

Friday, October 11, 2013

"I'll take 3 Popsicles"

This week was awesome. We had a meeting for the mission where our President told us we're going to start opening the church buildings for the activities and things like that during the day (basically enacting the announcement from the mission president leadership broadcast in June or July (whenever it was)). So we're starting to plan the activities and things that will occupy the church building during the days.
Oh and I have to tell you about these cool desserts we had at a member's house this week. They're called banana boats I think. You just peel one strand of a banana out and scoop some of it out like a canoe and then fill it with chocolate and marshmallows then put the peel back over and wrap it in tinfoil and put it in the fire for a few minutes. They're way good.
On Wednesday we did some service with on of the members in the ward (That lady that sent you those pictures). It was way fun. We did some weeding at a school garden she works at. It might sounds weird but it felt good to pull some weeds. It's always good to have a little change once in a while.
On one day last week (I forgot which one exactly) we were going to an appointment for someone at 10am and they weren't home so we were hoping we could find someone else around them that would be around and available for a lesson and we tried a guy we've been working with lately and he was home and we read 2 Nephi 4 with him. Later we ran into this little kid named Eli that's probably like 6 or 7. He's really really hyper and is usually running around bugging people. Every time we see him he has asked us for pictures or books (because we had given him pass along cards with Christ on them). Then he usually runs away or hits us with a little twig or threatens to steal all our money and holds up a finger nail file. He's always getting into trouble. But we decided we'd ask him if he knew anyone that we could teach our message to. He told us we could teach his mom so we went over and they let us in and we taught them the Restoration of the Gospel. His mom and grandma had a lot of questions and it turns out they've had a really rough life. Eli's dad left his mom when she had a baby which died shortly after being born. Then Eli's grandpa passed away. I felt the Spirit pretty strong there. Later we were in that same complex and Eli told us to follow him to this random apartment that sells candy and he pulled out a dollar that probably meant a lot to him and said, "I'll take 3 popsicles". he then asked us what our favorite colors were and gave me and my companion each one. It softened my heart a bit that he would be willing to share some of the very little money he gets with us.
Anyway, Conference was amazing!! I loved all of the talks. All of the sessions were full of great messages. Y'all should let me know of your favorite lines and/or talks that ya heard. I loved Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk at the end of the Sunday morning session. It was great. Thanks for your email and everything. I love y'all. Have a good day, and week!
Elder Russell






Monday, September 30, 2013

Spirit was really strong

Fam-
> So as I told ya last monday, my old companion is in Austrailia now. On
> wednesday I got a new one. His name is Elder Iloilo. He's from West
> Valley. Man, he is awesome! We get along great! He's Samoan. We've had
> a good week. The other elders in our apartment are now Elder Lupton
> and Elder McCleave. Elder McCleave is new and he's way awesome too.
> He's really musical. We sing a lot in our apartment, it's way fun.
> Y'all should send us some good quartett music for us to sing. Elder
> Iloilo plays the Ukelele (I forgot how to spell it and this cpu
> doesn't have spell check). He's way good. So here's a kind of funny
> story about him. On Thursday we were driving home at the end of the
> night and in the middle of the rode there was a car with it's hazards
> on and so we pulled over and found out the guy had ran out of gas. He
> was driving an SUV and there was a gas station pretty near. It was
> right in front of a stoplight where he was. Elder Iloilo was like,
> "just follow behind me" and he got out and pushed the SUV by himself
> to running speed all the way to the gas station. He's pretty big.
> Later this week we've met quite a few new people and hopefully will be
> teaching them all this week. One night we were on our bikes and we
> were locking them up at this apartment and this girl was walking by
> kind of out of our path so I thought we wouldn't talk to her but Elder
> Iloilo started talking to her and we learned that she was a
> non-practicing jew and has been slowly going through life. By the time
> I got over (I wasn't over there at first cuz I was locking up our
> bikes) we told her about the Book of Mormon and about us being God's
> children and Him being our Father. I guess it's kind of hard to
> explain on email but the Spirit was really strong there. She was
> speechless and started to tear up. It's kind of interesting the places
> and times that the Spirit works on people. Sometimes in a place where
> I think the Spirit wouldn't be there, He testifies the strongest to
> people.
> We've been doing a little bit more biking now that I'm with Elder
> Iloilo. He likes to and I like to so why not right? In the morning for
> exercise we go on bike rides and they're way fun but there are a
> million misquitoes that end up going in our eyes and moulth. At least
> we don't have to eat breakfast after but I think we're going to have
> to get safety goggles and a bandana so they aren't as bad.
> Well, I gotta get going. I love y'all so much! thanks for the emails
> and packages. Have an awesome week!
> Elder Russell

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bible study with the Book of Mormon

It's been a good week. I don't have a ton of time on email today
because I'm dropping my companion off at the mission office. He got
his visa and is going to Australia today! Crazy right? He's been my
companion for 12 weeks so it'll be sad seeing him go. I get a new one
on Wednesday ( that's when our transfer meeting is). In the meantime
(between after I drop off my comp. and until I get a new one) I will
be in a trio with the missionaries in my apartment. They're awesome so
it'll be way fun.
This week we went to the funeral for that guy I mentioned last time.
It was pretty sad thinking he won't be around anymore. He was an
awesome guy. He had some pretty crazy stories about things he went
through (he kind of seems like someone that would be from Grandpa
Hicks' side of the family). It was really great how hopeful the
funeral was though. LDS funerals are great in that way because we have
a hope of where they are and know that we'll see them again.
We've been working a bit with our friend Asefa. He's awesome. He works
crazy hours. The other day we went over to teach him and he had just
walked in the door from work. It was about 7:30 and he started work at
3 that morning and didn't even eat anything all day. He's a really
good person. He's already telling all of his friends that he Bible
studies with about the Book of Mormon.
On friday we were walking around trying some people we had been
working with and it started to sprinkle rain and we were headed back
to the car but then my companion said, "oh man, can you see that wall
of rain coming at us?" and then we started sprinting to the car and by
the time we got there (it was only like 30 seconds later) we looked
like we'd just jumped into a pool. It rains really hard. And we were
in a hurry to get to a meal appointment with some members so we just
had to go straight there in wet clothes. On the way we had the AC on
full blast so it kinda helped..
Man, I wish I could tell ya more but I gotta go now. I hope y'all have
a great week! Love ya!
Elder Russell

Monday, September 16, 2013

tears coming down his face

This week has been crazy. As I was going through my journal to see what was this week the stuff that happened monday feels like it was a month ago! 
So the highlights...
At district meeting on Tuesday we were about halfway through it and I guess our mission President was in the church anyway for an interview he had to give someone, and he sat in for our meeting. So we got more than we expected at the meeting, he talked to us about the works of exceedingly great faith for a while. It was amazing. Everyone felt so motivated from the Spirit and faith he has. It's kind of like 3 Nephi 7:18 when you cannot disbelieve his words because of how powerful and great faith he has. I've tried to start studying a lot more about faith. It's a very interesting topic. I thought I knew it pretty well but I think it has more meaning than I thought before, I'm going to try and take it deeper. 
Here's a quote from Joseph Smith about it I read this morning and really liked, "Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would have never been framed, neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which He exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute, for it is an attribute from the Diety, and He would cease to exist. Faith, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things: by it they are changed; or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation or existence." Y'all should study it this week or come up with good questions about it and then next week let me know about them.
On Tuesday we had a cool experience at a Jack in the Box restaurant. When we walked in this rough looking trucker said hi to us so while my companion was getting his food I started talking to him and after we talked and I got to know him we started talking about his beliefs and I told him our unique message about the restoration. I tried to put it really simply and boldly and he seemed to understand it pretty well. Then we talked a little more and we gave him a Book of Mormon and bore our testimonies and his heart seemed to be really softened. We asked if we could pray with him and he then told us about his wife who had recently died and we prayed for him and her and when I opened my eyes after the prayer this rough guy had tears coming down his face. 
Later during the week one of my really good friends in the ward--who had been in the hospital for a little while, and we'd been visiting him very regularly--died. It was pretty sad. One of the last days we were able to talk to him, he and his wife knew pretty well that he was going to die so she asked him what song he wanted us to sing at his funeral and he said, "How Great Thou Art." This was coming from a guy who had been in intense pain for the last 2 months at least and seemed to be in one of the most miserable situations I've ever seen any one in so it was pretty touching. 
Later during the week we were able to meet with a new guy we're teaching. He's from Ethiopia and this time of year is their new year so he had family over. It was way fun talking with him and meeting his family. He has a really strong testimony about Jesus Christ. 
Anyway, I'm outta time. But I love Y'all. Have a good week!
Elder Russell

Monday, September 9, 2013

Justice and Mercy and the Atonement

This week was a great one. I'll go over a few of the highlights:
Wednesday I was on exchange with one of the other missionaries in the district and we had a pretty good day. I was thinking about how unique some people's names are down here. We met a guy whose name was 'Power' and then talked to another guy whose name was 'Godspower.' then there are just a ton of other cool names. I love it haha.
We bought Hilario some hot coaco to sub in instead of coffee haha. It's working. He's doing pretty good. Still  working towards baptism.
We went to go visit Ben and he wasn't home so I started talking to one of the guys that live with him and his name was Richard. we of course started talking about his religious beliefs and he was into peaganism. We started talking more about it with him and I asked him about his views of God and who He is and the nature of Him. How He is all loving and perfectly fair and just and honest. Then the conversation went on and on about Justice and Mercy and the Atonement and then into the Priesthood and the Apostacy and the took a weird twist into God's light, and how it overcomes darkness and gives knowledge. It was a great lesson. Richard had some pretty crazy stories. He said at one point of his life he was really wanting to know his purpose and so he was living in a tent at the time and he did a weeklong fast and he got an answer that to be happy he had to change the way he was living. It was kind of interesting. But anyway. We met some other pretty interesting people that I wish I had time to talk about but I guess I'll just leave ya hanging cuz I'm outta time.
Love y'all, Have a Great week!
Elder Russell

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Some pics of us at the boxing club and in front of the great and abominable church... (Lakewood) haha"



prophets

Love in Hebrew is Ahava and simply means 'to give'. Me and another missionary were thinking today about how when you exercise diligently your appetite and desires that would make you unhealthy seem to fade away. Like after working out we didn't want sweets or fatty foods. You want healthy food. It's kind of the same with godly things. When you put in the diligence in labors of God's ways (or the way of love), the unrighteous and prideful desires/feelings will fade away and your desire will change to the God's desire. It all starts with doing His will.
Man, I just got that package y'all sent. First off, thanks. second, I cannot believe how different Jacob looks. He looks like Johnny! 
That's cool with the truck. That'll be really nice for pulling the trailer for the hay rides at como springs. (right dad?) Also with the Merriman's. I might need a pink bike to ride when I get home to get back in shape haha. Speaking of getting in shape. Guess what we did for our district meeting this morning? Boxing Club!! ha, ya we have this member in our ward that invited us to come because it was free the first time. They led us all in this crazy workout. It kicked my butt! Boxing is an intense sport! 
So this week went really good. It was very busy and pretty stressful but good. 
Some of the people we're working with:
Ben: he's still really struggling with the Word of Wisdom. He's really awesome and has some good intent. But I think he just needs a little more understanding. When we met with him last time he was like, "Elder's, I think I'm really starting to understand this Word of Wisdom thing (as he was smoking and drinking tea) haha we're still working with him on that.
Hilario: Getting ready for Baptism! He's way awesome. He comes up with some very good questions. Here's a little something for y'all to do, I'll ask you one of his questions and answer it how you would in the next email/letter you send, "So, with all of the people that lived before Jesus, the Atonement hadn't happened yet, so how did they repent and stuff?" 
It's way fun to talk with him.
Louis: When we met with him last he was like, "guys, I'm sorry you're going to be mad probably, but I'm gonna need another one of those books... I have a good friend that was deported to Afghanistan so I gave it to him and told him 'man read this book, it's true and it if you have questions maybe I can answer them or if I can't i know who can'. (this is someone that we had only taught one lesson!) during our first lesson with him after we talked about prophets he was like, "I was thinking about prophets today because there happened to be a documentary thing on tv about prophets so they were on my mind". then after the lesson he talked about how he and his wife were kind of in a rough spot because she needed a job really bad so he asked us to pray that she'd get one. The next day we saw him and he told us how she got called for some interview and now has several asking for other interviews. Sometimes those kind of miracles don't seem as big when it's not you personally but for louis this was a huge miracle. God really does care about us. 
Last one is Martin:
Martin is a chef at this way fancy restaurant. He was praying one day that his family would be able to come closer together and to God and later that day we showed up. A lot of cool miracles like this have been happening.
Anyway, I'm runnin a little short on time. But thanks for all of the letters and emails and stuff. I love y'all. Hope you have a great week!!
Love, Elder Russell

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Elda? das my name!"

Man, we need some members like mom here! Those are the kind of people
we pray for haha. Did she really have refugees over at the house? When
I come home I'm going to have to go to the refugee centers just to
talk to all of them and feel like I'm in Houston again.
Scott and the scouts went to bountiful mountain? Huh, I didn't really
know there were a lot of camping sights up there. that's really cool. Who's driving the gold taurus now by the way (or did you
sell it to get Moroni on his mission?).. (just kidding--from the RM if
you didn't catch on but I think you did). Anyway, sounds like the
missionary work is going great in the area. How often do you meet the
missionaries and how often do they--if they have--come to visit?
School's all started up today huh? Man, the summer went by pretty
fast... that's weird to think.
Mom, That's really good to hear about Chloee's mom. I will add her and
CC to my prayers. I can't believe how much missionary work you're
doing! We need some of that fire with our members. We do have some
good members in the area but it's just really awesome what I hear
you're doing.
So this week has been really good. I'm trying to think back of when
the beginning of the week was and it feels like it was a month ago. We
got to do a lot of service with the members of the ward. One of the
projects was another Eagle project for a young man. It was in an area
called 'Third ward' (or 'Sunnyside') (It's a lot like the 'Sunnyside'
from Toystory 3 haha). It was fun though. We scraped paint off of this
house and then repainted the whole thing. It turned out really good.
With another project we got to help put together packages for homeless
Vets. The packages has tolietries and some kitchen supplies and stuff
so when they go to the homeless Vet center and are given a room they
have something to start out with. (here's a link for some pictures and
stuff: http://blot.chron.com/mormonvoice/2013/08/mormons-aid-community-in-helping-homeless-veterans/
).
On Saturday we got to help a member in our ward with some gardening at
an Elementary school. It was pretty fun. Those pitctures I sent in
that earlier message are from it.
So I don't know if y'all remember Hilario, but we'd been working with
him for quite a while. The other day he texted us and said that he
made the choice that he wanted to be Baptized. He had been thinking
about this for at least a month. It was an amazing miracle.
I'll tell you a couple more highlights before I gotta go. The other
day I was with Elder Lupton (not my normal companion because we did an
exchange, which is when you switch companions for a day). and we were
talking to this lady about the church and Elder Lupton was doing a
really good job and I looked over at him and saw this huge crazy
looking ant on the middle of his collar, right above where the knot of
the tie is, and he was like, "wait, is there something you wanted to
say?" (because he noticed I had something on my mind.) and then the
huge ant crawled into his shirt so I knew it'd be kinda weird if I
described what happened so I just said, "...uh no"... and then when we
stopped talking to the lady I told him a huge ant just crawled down
his shirt and he started patting everywhere and finally we found it.
it was funny in the moment though.
Later while I was with him we were teaching this cool guy we met the
Restoration in his home and at the end of his lesson he was asking us
about our names. (we always get the people like, "whoa, is y'alls
brothas? ya both had the same names Elda?) so I started to explain the
usual answer we give, "No no, we're not, we just go by "Elder" while
we're on our missions. It kind of means, "missionary", (then I said
something I shouldn't have) "It's not a real name of course haha".. ..
then his girlfriend peeked out around the corner and was like, "Elda?
das my name!".. ya, I haven't met anyone else whose name was Elder
even though I've heard every other crazy name you could think of so
... whoopsi daisy. I guess I won't assume things like that anymore.
And then we also got to teach the word of wisdom to our drunk
Investigator and his high roomates.. that's always interesting.
So it was a good week. Thank you so much for the package and the
email. Mom, that granola was AMAZING! that is the best granola I've
ever had. thanks for the letters too. I love hearing from y'all.
Love ya guys, Have a good week!
Elder Russell



Monday, August 19, 2013

miracles just from opening the Book up and reading little portions


Hey mom, good to hear from you. Ya it's cool to be able to get a few emails back and forth while i'm on here from ya:) I'll send the main email in a bit. Thank you SO much for the zucchini bread! I am so excited to get it, i was craving that! seriously!
SOooo, Here's a quick list of some highlights this week.
We got this awesome referral as a text that told us about this guy saying something like, "Ben... Has read the Book of Mormon and is ready to be Baptized" so we head on over to his house and get to know him and he is awesome. Something about him just lets me connect with him (it might be the Erassure poster hanging on his wall, or the fact that he's living like its the 80's) anyway, he's really cool. He hasn't read all of the Book of Mormon yet but he's working on it. He says that every time he reads things just always work out. He's seen miracles just from opening the Book up and reading little portions. 
We got to do a lot of service this week. We helped a kid named Josh with his eagle project. We took out some flower beds at an Elementary school so it would look less 'girly'. (then we put in some new ones). Then we helped put together care packages for homeless veterans in another project. Then we helped one of the ward members with a neighborhood project where we cleaned up this land that the neighborhood shares and uses as a backyard. It was a really cool project. We got to meet a lot of the neighbors and get to know them. We're working with the members a lot more. Our mission President has put a big emphasis on Member-missionary work and service. It's been a good week. Well... I gotta get going I don't have a lot of time. Thanks for the email. And thanks so much for yr'alls packages and letters, I love reading them! I love you guys. Have a good week.
Elder Russell

Monday, August 12, 2013

I really respect Leo because he used to be a drug lord

 After seeing some of the members here and hearing their conversion stories I have no doubt that anyone can change their lives and live the Gospel. That's really exciting to hear about Tara too. 
So this week has been really good. I will mention a few highlights but try to make them short because we are pretty short on time. So on Saturday we had a huge soccer game at a park with a bunch of members and their non-member friends as well as a guy we're teaching (and he's from Nicaragua so he can play pretty well). The game was way intense. Probably 70% of the people were foreigners (either refugees from Africa or people from somewhere in south or central america) that really knew how to play soccer and then there were some missionaries and a few white guys that were also way good. It was so much fun. Then when we were about an hour in it started to rain really hard. (so hard you couldn't see 75 ft in front of you). The field got all muddy and we still played. It was a blast. Later that night we helped set up and usher for an African wedding. It was pretty fun. The people were pretty energetic. The prayers were said a little different.. haha but it was fun. Then on Sunday we met with a pretty cool guy. His name is Leo, he's straight outta Jamaica and has huge long dread-locks. When he opened the door yesterday he was in the middle of putting them in his hair. He was twisting it together and then putting in this wax stuff with it and then clipping it. He's the biggest Bob Marley fan I've ever met. He looks like him and his whole walls are covered with posters of him. I really respect Leo because he used to be a drug lord and be very addicted to them. He decided though--at one point of his life--that he was done with it. That drugs and all of the other things he had gotten into had messed his life up. So he prayed to God and then he quit everything (drinking, smoking, drugs) cold turkey. He later had heart problems and had to have some intense surgeries and now has to carry big batteries that power a pump inside his stomach that regulates his blood. He has had a lot of trials but has an amazing testimony of God and a good knowledge base of Christian beliefs. He really loves to talk.. a lot. So during our lesson I just had to interrupt him every so often by asking him a question that would direct what he was saying towards the lesson we were trying to teach him. Then we'd try to add in a few things to what he said. He's way smart. Well, I gotta get going but thanks so much for the email again and for the cookie's and letters y'all sent! they were delicious! ..and the cookies were also good! Tell grandma and grandpa thanks for the beenie too! If I get heat-stroke from wearing it you can blame it on them.
Love y'all
Elder Russell 

Monday, August 5, 2013

most faithful people I've met

Thanks for the email Mom. Man, these pictures are making my pretty jealous. Good old 9th street! I'm glad no one messed up on the rock climbing knots haha. I found a piece of rope the other day and tied a few knots in it and I was glad I could still remember them. That's sad to hear that Mark left. He sounds like he was way awesome. I wish I would have been able to meet him. That's so cool how close y'all got. Jared and Nate are at high-altitude camp? You'll have to let me know how that goes. That's a way fun camp. I can't believe they have 55 of them going! I went on a run the other day and I've been scared that I lost my speed but I felt like I was cruising! (Probably just because I was running past all the Texan runners (no one knows how to run here)) Next transfer (which starts not this week but the next) me and my comp are planning on doing a cut-transfer and try to get in better shape. My goal is to be able to do a one-armed pull-up with my right and left arms, and to run more. Anyway...
We had an amazing week this past week. We've been blessed so much. Thanks for all of the prayers. We met so many new people to teach and it's pretty exciting. We met this awesome family the other day. We were going to visit this investigator we have that's from Congo but he wasn't there but his brother answered (who was like 13 years old) and we asked him if he had any friends that we could teach. He led us to his neighbor's house and they let us in. This family was from Zambia (south africa) they speak Swahili, Kinyarowanda, Nyanga, and a bit of English haha. The kids are awesome. We are going to start teaching their family and teaching their dad English. The kids came to church with us. The other day we brought them some cookies from a member that we had eatin dinner with and they weren't home so we gave them to some kids playing soccer and we played with them a little bit and they were way good. I told them they had to teach me some moves and they did haha. We talked to them about the Young Mens program at church and they said they'd come. We should have 4 come on Wednesday. We've also been teaching this awesome couple that also came to church. The wife is going through stim-cell transplant and it's pretty rough but they are some of the most faithful people I've met. They want to get baptized but we're trying to work it out because the treatment makes it pretty complicated. 
Anyway, the areas going really good. My district is doing way good too! At our meeting last week we were able to talk a lot about specific things that we could do to better our areas. I am pretty excited with the progress we've seen. THanks for all the prayers and packages/letters. Mom, I did get the cookies and they didn't taste like soap very much but kinda did. I still loved them of course. I don't know what it is... Maybe just the way they transport the boxes. Maybe try double or triple bagging them? Either way, thanks so much. I love you guys and hope you have a great week. 
Elder Russell
PS I love how you are emphasizing the goal setting Mom, that is such a good idea. Goals produce better results than we would think we could get. Thanks for the email.