Monday, March 25, 2013

takes a lot of stretching and changing for the Natural Man to turn into anything close to be like Jesus Christ

Hey 'fam',
So it looks like you had some fun at temple square. I can't believe it's that busy! that's so cool.
This week was pretty fun. We've had some good lessons with a lot of less actives and also some recent converts, then of course some investigators. We've given a few blessings at the medical center. At one of the blessings I met an awesome lady, she was just there visiting her brother in the hospital. She was a sister missionary a long time ago. It was interesting hearing about some of her stories of how different it was back then. she said one time her family sent her a pink dress and the mission standards didn't let her wear it because it was not lady-like or conservative enough or something. But she had an interesting life. She said when she was growing up, either in South dakota or Virginia, they're temple district was the salt lake Temple. There was only one patriarch and so when they went to the temple which was a big occasion, they all got there patriarchal blessings. We're working with a lady form Angolia (Or something like that). She's really excited about the Gospel and came to church on Sunday. We're still working with some other people that we've been working with. On Saturday I did an exchange with the elders from the Chinese area. I was companions with Elder Meng. He is awesome. He's from mainland China and was converted when he was 18. His story is really really crazy. We keep telling him one day we're going to tell the church to make a mormon message video about him. Most of the day I just smiled in the lessons because I don't know how to speak Chinese. We helped with a service project on Saturday morning, we cleaned trash up at a park and in a Bayou. We had to clean up a few hobo's homes and found a lot of weird stuff. I think I cleaned up something around 70 beer cans. It was actually really fun, then they fed us chili dogs and there was a bluegrass band playing some hillbilly music for us while we ate. Then they had a raffle drawing and the prizes were all things like: fishing poles, a beer can sleeve, a beer shirt, bar coupons, and few normal things like water bottles. On tuesday a recent convert couple took us to a chicken and mashed patatoe southern food place, I feel like I ate 2000 calories worth of food ther but it was good. Another thing I've been doing with food that was good is instead of using the seasoning that comes with the roman, I make my own. (I feel pretty cool being able to do that) I use this cajun season called "slap ya'mama." it's delicious. well, It's been a good week. I've really learned a lot. I've been studying a lot about persecutions and trials and why we go through things sometimes that are so tough. I started thinking about some Prophets and things that they went through. Like Nephi having to leave his home and live in the wilderness for 8 years with little food and rebelious brothers, or Joseph Smith living his whole life after 14 with persecutions and eventual martyrdome. and the Pioneers building homes and having them destroyed and having to leave and travel and build new homes. Or Alma and Amulek having to see saints be burned--men women and children--along with their scriptures and then beaten and spitten upon for many days. All of these people went through unimaginable trials, yet each of them are some of the greatest examples and have brought forth some of the greatest scriptures and blessings for us. There are a lot of things that are hard for us in life. It takes a lot of stretching and changing for the Natural Man to turn into anything close to be like Jesus Christ. Here's a good scripture my companion showed me: 2 Cor. 12:9-10. Then there's also D&C 122 and D&C 54:10 and many others. --well hope the week goes good, Love y'all
-Elder Russell

Monday, March 18, 2013

When we trust in God, He will give us peace

So it's been a good week. The heat is really starting to set in. the tempature was only 85 degrees but it felt like 105 with the humidity. Me and my comp went out this morning to do our laundry and outside at 6:45 in the morning it felt like the bathroom after someones taken a hot shower for a long time. So, I feel bad for asking but, I could definetly use a couple more short sleeve shirts... what's new this week.. I got a haircut, my companion cut it, so I'm trusting his judgement.. haha. We been teaching a lot of less actives and a lot of recent converts and of course some investigators. A lot of the people are from Africa or somewhere around there so English isn't their native language. If I went back in time to prepare for my mission I would just practice teaching the discussions to Addi. (that's really what it's like sometimes) The people amaze me. They move here from a totally different country, barely knowing any english if any at all. find some job, and go to school. A lot of them are very very smart but it's really hard for them because they don't know very good English. We're teaching some English before we teach them the discussions. So one interesting day was on Wednesday, I did an exchange with the Chinese Elders (so I was companions with a chinese companion for a day). His name is Elder Philips. It's kind funny, him and some other Elder are really into Pokemon, so we joked about it and talked about the good old days playing Pokemon cards and spending hours playing on our gameboys. But I figured out he wasn't joking, he really is into Pokemon a lot, he taught me how to play the card game "the right way". he's funny. but anyway, that day was very interesting. Everyone that we taught offered us tea or hot water  (don't worry we only drank herbal tea) it's just a part of their culture. I ate pig ear at a chinese restaurant and other food that I couldn't identify. But that was a fun day. We also had a really good devotional on Sunday. We had a bunch of recent converts talk about their conversion experience. It was amazing. I was convinced that all of the people there had the most interesting and hard lives, yet each one knew the same truths of the Gospel and bore witness of the happiness it gave them. One in particular is fighting two cancers at the same time, his leg is amputated, he is divorced, raising an adopted girl, with a million other health complications, but he said something during his testimony that really struck me. He said "Even though my life is very hard, I have peace." This life is tough. We go through hard things, but that's how we grow. and when we trust in God, he will give us peace and comfort in our afflictions. I can say that i've seen this. A lot of the people I teach have very very hard lives, but the Gospel gives them peace and comfort. I think it's mainly because they know that they will be able to make it through the hard times, that they can repent, and that they will make it back to Heavenly Father. One of my favorite truths to teach is that God loves each and every one of us. For some people, they haven't had very much love, they live in a country alone and can hardly understand anyone, but I love telling them about our Heavenly Father who loves us all. It's an amazing thing. This gospel has blessed my life so much, but I get such a great feeling see it bless others' lives as well.
well, I'll send a letter today, I can't wait to get the package haha. thanks so much for everything, I love hearing from y'all. Love you.
-Oh and mom, thanks so much for the Efy cd but i'm so sorry, you accidentally sent the DVD not the CD haha, but don't worry about it. We don't need it, thanks for the effort, it means a lot haha.

Monday, March 11, 2013

So again, EVERYONE can email me now, friends,
family, anyone. So everyone email me because I have no one's email
address. And even better than an email would be a letter. Thanks to
everyone for everything!

Thanks again for all the support friends and family! We love you

I love being able to exercise my Priesthood, it's a great blessing

Hey, good to hear everthing's going good! I think that'd be great for
dad to get into something like that. He's definetly got the skills for
it. And I don't know anyone better than you that could replace Gary
mom. That would be an awesome experience, go for it. I loved the
package with cornbread and stuff, thank you so much. I ate it in one
night I think. We get fed around 2 or 3 times a week for dinner. My
most popular meal is still roman and pb&j's (I can't get enough of
that stuff). But don't worry, that's not all I eat, I actually bought
a bag of broccoli at the store today. Congrats to Nate! That's a good
way to learn how to work hard and be dedicated by doing paper routes,
that'd be really good for him. I'm glad you guys got to have a good
day and play some dodgeball, if I miss anything it's being with you
guys doing stuff like that, but I'm so glad to be out hear. I've had a
great week. I did get to play the piano, on P-days we go to the church
and I got to play on the one there. And at the church we played a huge
game of Scatter-ball (or Poison/dodgeball) with two balls at a time,
it's way fun! We've had some really good appointments with some people
we're teaching. Haha, there was one guy that made me laugh, his name
was Richawn. We planned on teaching him the restoration in his
apartment and unexpectedly got to hear how Jesus is an anti-gram and a
galactic being from crozar (which of course is the 7th planet from the
sun) and that there are super-bugs in meat that infect your body when
you eat it, and also that we will turn into monkeys with tails if we
eat meat that is from a lower chromozome than ours... haha he reminded
me of Mike Chicorache off of the movie stalking santa. So that was
pretty interesting, we bore our testimonies to him and went to our
next appointment. I don't know if you guys know this, but the
Bretheren have told missionaries to start doing less tracting and get
all of our appointments through refferals, which is what we do.
Everyone we teach is either from a Refferal or someone we meet on the
way to a refferal. We get refferals when members refer people to us or
a missionary meets someone outside of their area in ours. We ask
everyone for refferals. We were also told by Elder Ballard that we
should teach the members the missionary disscusions and see if they
know anyone that they think can hear the Gospel. Make sure you guys
are all thinking of everyone and anyone that could use the Gospel in
their lives and talk to them about the Gospel or refer them to the
missionaries! The stronger my testimony has become of this work, the
more i've wanted to share it and the more I realize how urgent this
message is. Everyone needs to hear it! We don't realize how lucky we
are to have it! ...anyways, We also give a lot of Priesthood
blessings, the largest or second largest medical center in the world
(the Texas medical center) is in our area so we get a lot of calls to
give members and non-members blessings, I love being able to exercise
my Priesthood, it's a great blessing. Oh and this is a little random
but we've been listening to a really cool CD in our car, it's called
"They saw our Day" i think it's by lance richards or something like
that. It's a guy that did a lot of research with the native americans
and he tells about some amazing similarites with their stories they've
passed down with the Book of Mormon, it's almost scary. Oh and another
fun thing about this week was we went to visit our friends who are
Refugees from south sudan, they're such good people. They just bought
new smart phones and didn't know how to use them at all. So we spent
an hour teaching them how to answer and call and put in contacts and
choose ringtones, then shared our message with them. They are so fun
to be with. I've witnessed some great miracles this week, small and
great, I've grown closer to God and gained more love for him and for
everyone else. I have gained a lot of appreciation for the Atonement.
I spend most of my time studying Faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy
Ghost, and enduring to the end. These have helped my testimony so much
and I know they will help anyone else's, that's why they're the first
princibles and ordinances of the Gospel.
Breaking News------- Anyone can email me now, the mission pres. just
decided, so Mom could you please post my Email on the blog and make
sure everyone knows? thanks so much! I don't have hardly anyone's
address and I have no one's email so If you email me first I will
email you back. Also, I Love getting letters, so if you have time to,
keep sending them! they're always really exciting to get! Thanks
everyone, have a great week!

Monday, March 4, 2013

I love this Gospel so much and I love Joseph Smith

Hey everyone,
     So I got here in Houston last Tuesday  It was a good flight and everything went well. My mission president and his wife are really nice. I love it here in Houston, the weather is warm everyday, it smells like summer and I just wear a short sleeve everyday. The first thing we did when we got here was go with a temporary companion and do "running" (or talking to random people on the streets)--the hardest part was finding someone who spoke English; the companion I was with could have a Spanish conversation with people even though he was assigned English speaking. He said he just picked it up since so many people speak it. I don't know if I could ever to that but so far I can say "we are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints," and "the book of Mormon." in spanish haha. 
     My comp's name is Elder Brown. He grew up in Clinton and Kaysville and went to Davis high. He's pretty cool, we get along well. He's a zone leader in this area so it's kind of an interesting companionship because he has a lot of "ZL business." This area I'm in is called the Herman Park West area. I've heard this is the most diverse area in the world, I fully believe it. I've yet to teach a white non-member family, I love it. We've taught a few Mexican families, some Russian, and quite a few Africans, also one from Serbia and many others I didn't know what they were. One of my favorite investigators name is Joseph. He's from South Sudan and speaks Arabic (and a little English). He's an awesome guy. There are some people with some awesome names that we teach, to name a few--Ebony, Evette, Shaniqua, Shaquisha, Rommy, Andro, Richawn... 
    We spent this morning (P-day) doing laundry and all that good stuff. Then went to china town for a little with the Chinese elders and the Vietnamese Elders. I figured out I have the best mission in the world, it's pretty much every mission and nationality combined into one. There are SO many different ethnicities. A lot of people have only lived here for a few years, before they lived in Africa or Vietnam or some crazy place. Which reminds me, in my ward there are a lot of 20 year old couples because they go to school down here. There is a medical center that's huge right by or in our area, I think one of the biggest in the world. Chinese people are awesome, my companion almost bought a Ti-chi sword at the Chinese equivalent of a dollar store this morning (it was pretty cool but I resisted buying anything). We have two Elders in our zone that are from Mainland China, they're way funny. One's name is Elder Cia (Fun-Fact--He was chosen as an "athlete" in China when he was in third grade because that's how they choose who are athletes in china, so his whole life was kinda centered around track and hurdles, he was going on to be professional but broke his back.) and the other is Elder Meng. Another Elder we're with a lot is from a Navajo Indian reservation and learned Vietnamese for his mission. Our Apartment is a pretty good size, I like it. Each day has just kind of meshed together since I got here. The People here in Houston are very nice. Not too many have the "hick" accent, But they do say "y'all" or "yu'all" a lot... I was talking to my comp this morning and said y'all on accident.. it was weird. 
   Our area is a car area so I haven't been doing a lot of biking, although I did do an exchange and go out with some biking missionaries on Friday. We went to a dinner appointment with this awesome family. They were the Hernandez family and had an "initiatory process" for the new missionaries which was eating this cycle of 7 hot sauces. I tried the first, second, third and so on... they weren't so bad. Then I got some confidence and tried the 2nd to last hottest one which was called "da-bomb"... My tongue and ears and nose and eyes felt like they were on fire. It was the hottest thing I've ever tasted. It felt like my tongue was burnt. so that was fun. He told me to try the hottest one but i decided not to. It had Bio-hazard logos on it and you had to sign a waver to buy it. It couldn't touch your skin because it's so crazy.  I think Brother Hernandez said the one i tried was 900,000 S on the "hottness scale." That day we also rode bikes in Sugarland trying to catch some nonmembers. There are some HUGE houses there. It's a really nice area. We mostly go to Apartment complexes to teach, people in our area. there are some pretty nice areas and then there are the Ghettos (which I like better). 
    Well now for the spiritually side of things. It's been great. I've been able to teach a lot of people that are so ready for the Gospel. We got 2 baptismal commitments last week. The field is white and ready to harvest. But it hasn't been easy. There have been a couple days that have been pretty tough but that's when I've learned the most. I've gained such a love for the scriptures and for prayer. Nothing feels better than sharing the Gospel with those you know will benefit from it. I love the people I teach and just want them to have the knowledge of the Gospel to bless their lives. I've shared the Restoration the most out of everything. We mostly just end up teaching the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. We don't get into too much other stuff. I've learned that sometimes we focus too much on the deep doctrinal stuff, but the subjects that have helped my testimony the most are faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I've come so much closer to God through studying these and prayer and reading. I love this Gospel so much and I love Joseph Smith for restoring it.

This is my apt. address:

4615 No. Braeswood #213D
Houston, TX, 77096

This is the preferred address for mailing letters and packages:

Texas Houston South Mission
602 Eldridge RD
Sugar Land, TX 77478

Oh and thanks everyone for the letters and everything, I've loved hearing from y'all. If you want me to get fat, keep sending candy. I really like snacks but I could do with less sugar. Oh and we listen to a lot of EFY music...  my companion knows the words to every EFY song on every CD, it's kinda sad, i'm starting to be the same. We don't have the 2010 CD though, I think it's in my room. Mom can you send that please? Thanks. Love you all.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Good Report!

In Mike's letter home today he sent this "notice of room inspection" which made us a chuckle a bit!  On the back he wrote,  "Mom, you'd be proud of how clean my room is ha ha- I love ya"  Yes, I am very proud.  Cleanliness is next to Godliness, right? :)

So Mike has been in Houston now for three day's and he's loving it!  His Mission President is a cousin to my dear friend growing up!  It's a small world.  One of the company (there is a branch in Houston) laborers picked up Mike's bike at Walmart and took it over to the Mission Home.  Mike had prearranged this so he'd know what one to get.