Monday, April 29, 2013

"Beware of Pride"

Hola family,
So this week was awesome! Mon-Thurs we had the usual fun. We are working with some awesome people. One in particular, Bing, from China. He's awesome and came to Church with us yesterday. He gets along with everyone and is awesome. I forget sometimes what I tell y'all and what I haven't told you so I'll just assume I haven't told you anything just in case I accidentally leave something out. We go to a senior center and give service once a week there. We talk with the members there and then play some intense games of Dominos. I with y'all could meet the people there, they are so funny haha, one lady named Juanita always asks us, "are y'all being good still? cuz if ya aint im gonna pull ma switch out on ya!" then she does a very unique laugh that Elder Brown and I are still working to imitate to perfection. Another thing that I don't know if I've talked about is our "transportation situation"(-Uncle Rico). We are in a car area so... we drive everywhere. We don't bike ever because (I learned) it's just not effective in this particular area. But, we decided on satuday, "ya know, why not bike today?" so we did. Ten minutes into our biking it started raining a little. It started raining harder and harder until we were pretty darn wet. We visited some of the people we had planned on and Amne was one of them, I think I talked about her before. But she kept telling us "you come in! you too wet!" (But we couldn't because her husband wasn't home and out of respect and other reasons we can't go into someones home without another adult male with us). So by then we were as wet as we'd have been if we jumped into a swimming pool. In Houston the rain comes down so hard! it's like standing under a waterfall. My planner is just starting to be dry now from Saturday. So we went home after biking on saturday around 4 and had to change because there was a ward activity we were going to at the church. After we changed into dry clothes we went out and got in our car. The trip of like 15 feet from the apartment complex door to the car got us pretty wet even though we had a jacket and umbrella. Then the rodes on the way to the church were crazy. Everyone had to drive super slow and be really careful. (A lot of people accidentally drive in water too deep and their cars just stop and their engines flood. You have to be really careful not to drive in deep water) So a lot of the rodes were blocked off and a lot of cars were just on the sides of the rodes with their hazards on. Lucky--with a few detours--we made it to the church. I have some awesome videos of our drive to the church, I'll try and send them to y'all another time. I do have some pictures as you can see of us standing on a freeway exit in water to our knees. A lot of roads had water 2 or 3 feet deep so a lot of people just couldn't drive. The ward activity we went to was a fundraiser for the youth. They gave us an italian dinner and then they had an auction on dessert. After that we had to go help the Elders that stay in our apartment. They were stuck in a parking lot at a Jack in the Box. Finally we found them and had to find a way home. We ended up just parking in a parking lot by the 610 freeway and walked a ways to our apartment. It was a crazy night. Then to top it off our power was out when we got home and it was out until Sunday night at 8. We had to move some of our food on sunday to the Church fridge so it wouldn't go bad. And it got pretty hot in the apartment without AC, but it was an awesome weekend! Besides all the crazy things, it has been a great week spiritually, I'm learned a lot from the people we teach and my companion. I read an awesome talk this morning called, "Beware of Pride" by Pres. Ezra taft Benson. As well as y'all know me your probably thinking, "why in the world would he read that? He's the most humble person I know" but it turned out to be one of the best I've read, Y'all should definetly check it out. The work is going well. Christ lives and He died so that we can become clean through repentance and be able to live with our Heavenly Father who loves us so much again. I love you guys, have an awesome Week!
-Elder Russell

Monday, April 22, 2013

The field is white and ready to harvest

Brother Lutz, I remember him. He taught our mission prep one time. He
is a cool guy. I didn't realize he went on the same mission as Uncle
Jeff. I was freinds with his son Nate Lutz. 
The Spirit is strong. It's really nice being away from all the worldy
media and everything and being able to focus on the spiritual side of
things. I've loved the packages and letters y'all have sent. It would
help if y'all prayed that we will have more people to work with. I
don't know for sure if I told you already but we don't tract at all
anymore. We teach refferals and less-actives and talk to anyone in our
path on the way to a refferal or anywhere. But we don't even go to a
park or somewhere and talk to random people. We had the goal of trying
to get around a baptism a month but now the goal is starting to change
to a baptism a week. We really just need to be guided to those who the
Lord has prepared. As we've prayed for this we've all ready been
busier this last week and the people we have met are very prepared for
this Gospel. "the field is white and ready to harvest."
That's good to hear about Dad. I think that's a good goal, it's time
for that. Sounds pretty good on Jared's race. That was a 2:20 for the
800? That's really good! (for a girl)... Just kidding, haha keep it
up. Nate Pr'd too? I'm guessing 10 seconds on the 1600? so is that a
5:03 now? Awesome! getting closer to that "sub-five" mark. Johnny is
gonna be quite the athlete, is anyone doing baseball or soccer right
now? it's that season right? Scott and all them do the paper route?
that's awesome, that's probably really good for them, how long is the
route? Johnny is already working on a whip? that's be awesome. Tell
Melissa that if she wants to get into BYU she has to be able to get
her back-hand spring down haha. That's cool, it sounds like they're
getting pretty good. Hil found an apartment on Washington Terrace? is
that by Grandma's house? (or Riverdale, whatever it is). I
can't wait to get your package, It wasn't here this morning so by next
monday i'll get it. Thanks!
This week has been another great one. We're working with some new
people I talked about before. they are Chengbing (chinese), Chi
(chinese), Pengfai (chinese), and Clinton (white) and an awesome
couple the Lowe's. I had to put the race to explain the unique name.
All are liking the lessons we're teaching. I love teaching them.
Teaching someone that has grown up in China is different though
because they don't have a Christian background. They're all VERY
smart, but they just haven't ever heard of Baptism, the Holy Ghost,
Repentance, or sometimes Jesus. It definetly changes the way we have
to teach. We also met an awesome lady from Mexico city on Saturday.
She came here 18 months ago with her 2 year old daughter who has
lucimia (i don't know how to spell it) cancer. Her daughter is really
cute, she's going through chemo right now. Anyway, this lady came here
and has learned very well english in those 18 months and been taking
care of her daughter. She said she just wanted to feel a greater
comfort and peace from God. The knowledge that God exists and that He
loves us and that He has a plan for us gives more comfort than
anything. Pengfai, when we were teaching him said that in China a lot
of people he saw go through life worrying about money and stability in
finances, and go through their whole life without being truly happy
(of course this isn't the case only in China). But people seek the
Comfort that God gives, and it's amazing what difference it makes in
their lives. I love teaching and seeing these people grow closer to
God. Thanks again for the email. I love y'all.
Elder Russell

Monday, April 15, 2013

happiness and peace and comfort

Hey, the weather here is amazing. 85 about and humid. A sister missionary at the library with us said she heard it was snowing today (she's from Lay'n [Layton]) So I imagine it'd be the same in West Point.
Well, it's been a great week as always. I don't know if i've told you before, but we go once a week to a senior center to give service. We did that on tuesday. We usually talk with them and then play some good games of dominos or occasionally get to call out bingo (old-people song version). The crowd we play dominoes with are so funny, we have some pretty interesting conversations to say at the least. On wednesday we had transfer meeting which is the meeting where we find out who is being transfered and what new areas are opened or which ones are closed. I still have the sam companion which isn't a surprise since he's my trainer and I won't complain, he's awesome. We get along really well. We do now have another companionship in our aparment now. We live in a two-bedroom so it's not crowded. They are: Elder Campell-from New Mexico, and Elder Lupton-from Arizona. They're awesome. Our apartment is pretty fun. We met a new guy this week named Clinton who seems to be pretty interested in what we've taught him. On Thursday we were teaching some recent converts. Their names are Lazerus and Afaf (from south Sudan). They were trying to teach us some phrases in Arabic, so now me and my companion can kind of say "hello," "how are you," "thank you" (the simple one's) but arabic is VERY complicated. They are awesome people. Saturday we helped with a service project in Sharpstown. I forgot, I don't think I've told y'all where my area is. We are in the Herman park south area (it's still in Houston, Kind of a sub-city) Fondren is our west border, The med. center is our east border, Bellaire is our North border, and Braeswood is our south border. By the way, the med center looks as big or bigger than salt lake city downtown, it's crazy. But anyway, the service project was way fun, we got to help a lady cut down some trees around her yard to prep a little for hurricane season, but i guess that's not till fall. I got to climb a tree and cut a few limbs off and I loved it (It's probably the closest thing to rock climbing that i'll ever do on my mission). Sunday was awesome, we had a great fast and testimony meeting. On sunday while my companion and I were studying we watched a mormon message called "A testimony of the Book of Mormon" (or something like that) by Jeffrey R. Holland. It is amazing, Y'all better watch it. I just wish everyone in the world would read the Book of Mormon and recieve the happiness and peace and comfort the Gospel brings. Jeffrey R Holland Gives an amazing testimony of the Book of Mormon. I finished the Book of Mormon this last week again and I can say that I do not doubt anything inside that book. Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and did translate that book and we are SO lucky to have it. Everyone should get the chance to read it. ..I love y'all, have a good week!
-Elder Russell

Monday, April 8, 2013

An opportunity to share our light with others...

So, Conference was amazing! We are so lucky to have such great church leaders. Hearing their messages and testimonies stregthned my testimony so much. They are men of God and they are His inspired teachers. It was interesting to me that out of all of the deep doctrine and subjects to speak on, they chose to speak on what they did. It seemed like they taught a lot of simple pure truths. I love this. I saw one common theme that stood out to me throughout all of conference. That is, God is our Father, He loves us, and He will give us peace if we seek Him. The first teaching in the first missionary discussion is this, God is our loving Heavenly Father. This is my favorite thing to teach to people. How amazing is it that we are children of God, and that He's made a plan for us to become more like Him, and return to live with Him? This is so important. I really like what Quentin L. Cook talked about on Saturday; When we obey God, we are given peace, when we have peace, we can bring peace into our homes, when we have peace in our homes we bring peace to our community, and when there is peace within our communities, the world becomes more peaceful as a whole. This is why Alma said he wanted to "Declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, That there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth." I really liked Sister Elaine S. Dalton's talk. "where e're thou art, act well thy part" they have that at the MTC too. We have so much potential to make a good influence on those around us. Elder Standley G. Ellis kind of talked about it in his talk. We have such an opportunity to share our light with others, in our home, at work, and anywhere and everywhere.
Well I'm trying to think of anything that happened this week...
We had a crazy rain storm on Wednesday. It was pretty cool. We caught a white Cockroach while doing some service at a members home. We took it back to our apartment and were going to frame it but it turned black after a few days. We moved out of our smokey apartment into another one. I hope we're done moving for a while. Transfer meeting is this wednesday, i'm really excited! it's crazy.
Here are some pictures. Some are random. There are some of our apartments. One has all those Books of Mormon. a cochroach. and others...

 All the different Languages in Elder Russell's area! So cool!

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's amazing how God works in everyone's lives and the happiness we can have from Him

Haha so first Happy April fools. I was going to do a funny april fools joke to you but I just couldn't do it because it'd be too mean, so I decided to spare you. Glad to hear the Easter egg hunt went good! Jared's lucky I wasn't there or there wouldn't have been any eggs left. That's a lot of money for Addi, she could buy a lot of gum with that. That's good to hear Hil has a friend. haha just kidding. Friends have a huge influence, it's always helpful to have good ones. I can't believe (soon to be) Elder Jackson already gave his talk!! When does he leave? That's exciting! you'll have to give him my email or something. It's interesting how God is always watching over us haha, I'm the garage didn't burn down. We've been working with a lady from central african republic named Amne. I don't know if I told y'all last email, but we thought from what she told us that she only spoke Sango, but we figured out the other day that she can read and speak some Arabic so we are excited because now we can give here a Book of Mormon for here to read (she can't read in English and they don't make anything to read in Sango).  (really quick i'll give some background info on here: she's native from central africa, she showed us Songo people and they looked like an african tribe) She told us an experience she had that was pretty interesting, I don't know if i completely understood her because of the language barrier between us but she said she had a time where she fell asleep or fainted for three days and no one could wake her up but then because of God's love she woke up and said something about us coming and helping her become closer to God (it's hard to understand exactly what she means sometimes) but she's awesome. I got to go to PopEyes for the first time this week--it's a fast food restaurant here that has fried chicken and biscuits. It's really popular here. On Wednesday we did an exchange but I had to stay in our area and be the one in charge for a day, it was kind of stressful but it turned out good. We had to move apartments because we need a two-bedroom instead of the one we were in so one Friday and Saturday that's what we did. We stayed in the same complex but just a different apartment. We were really excited but our new apartment smells pretty bad. haha On saturday morning me and my companion woke up with headaches, I think whoever lived there before us had to have been a chain smoker. The other missionaries can even smell the smoke on our clothes so we are moving again haha... this is random, but we found a frog lastnight and it peed on are apartment floor, it was kind of weird. On Sunday our Easter service was awesome! me and another missionary sang with the ward choir and got to narrurate the stuff inbetween the songs. We had our ward bell choir playing with us and it sounded really good. After Church we had a huge Easter meal with some awesome members that brought over some non-member friends. After that we went over to another meal appointment and ate so much. I was so full. We hardly had to buy any groceries this week because we have so many leftovers in our fridge from yesterday. Sunday we spent some time with this couple. We met them because a while ago she somehow heard about our church and asked for a blessing. she's going through cancer and chemo therapy so that's why they're here in Houston. They are really humble are very Christian. They are very nice. We talked about the plan of Salvation with them an they were very interested. They actually came to Church with us on Sunday and said they liked it. We really felt the Spirit last night as we were talking with them. It's amazing how God works in everyone's lives and the happiness we can have from Him.
Well, it's been a good week. It's getting hotter here. I hope all is going well at home.