Monday, September 30, 2013

Spirit was really strong

> 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"


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