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
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.