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 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
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
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