Monday, July 28, 2014

more meaning now

whoops I forgot to forward this to y'all last week... sorry (last week's lupdate)
So, this week we had transfers and Elder White got transferred (he just finished his 12 weeks of training so we weren't too surprised). I'm training another companion now. He is so awesome! His name is Elder Theis. He is a great teacher and has great desires and loves to work and wants to work hard and is willing to be obedient (from what I've seen, if you get two missionaries together with those things they always get along and things go great). I'm excited for the next 12 weeks with him. We've loved things so far this week! We've seen a lot of great things happen already. On thursday we had dinner with some members in the ward named the Garcias. They are awesome! They are Peruvian and don't speak a lot of English, but I don't know if I have met more loving, hospitable, Christlike people on my mission. They are so nice. When we come in their apartment they immediately have us sit down and they are always laughing or smiling when they talk and then they set up the table just for 2 (me and my companion--I don't know exactly why only us, I think it has something to do with the culture), then they are just so polite and nice. When we share our lesson with them they listen carefully trying to understand our English but they feel the Spirit and are so grateful to us for sharing it. They have amazing testimonies. Whenever we leave Sister Garcia says, "wait, wait..." then she runs into her kitchen and makes a snack bag with water, granola bars, and pudding or something else in them and gives them to us. I imagine that God's Kingdom will feel in many ways like their home does, full of people like them and like many of the great people I get to know out here and know back home. Anyway, they're amazing! We had a cool miracle the other day. We were walking over to one of our investigator's houses to give here a Book of Mormon on CD because she has difficulty reading at her age (her name is Virginia and she's preparing for baptism pretty soon), and we came across a parking lot and a lady got dropped off by a car that then drove away and we talked with her and she started telling us how she was just telling her friend in the car about God and how she needed him in life right now. Then she remembered she forgot her keys in the car and hurried and called her friend and asked her to bring back the keys in her car. She then hung up and told us to follow her back. We went back and the when her friend got out of the car she said, "alright, thanks. Now you guys can talk, I'll see you later." We started talking to her friend and she said that she has been pretty depressed in life and felt confused and needed guidance. She told us that she was pretty amazed that she was talking to us at that time because she had prayed the night before for the first time in two years that she would be able to find some kind of help or guidance. Prayer works and God blesses us with miracles. Those are two things that have really been confirmed to me this past week. We've seen a lot of other miracles this week. One member we had asked to join us at a lesson and he had a lot of complications come up with his car so he fixed one thing and another came up until it got to a point that he rode his bike to meet us at our lesson. (he's awesome and really loyal obviously) He told us when he got there, "I told you I'd be here so I just decided to pull out the bike." It had been raining the day before and most of that day, but he said he was praying that even though a lot of things went wrong that while he did what he could and rode his bike that the rain could hold off long enough to get to where he needed to go. When we walked over to our appointment we walked up and knocked on the door and as soon as we got under the side of the roof of the house the rain just started pouring down. It was kind of funny but amazing. Sometimes it may seem insignificant to one person hearing these but in a personal experience of them they mean everything to you. 
Life is great. I love my mission. I love my companion. I love this ward and the members in it. I love y'all.
love, Elder Russell

This week was amazing. Something we've been doing as a mission is we've been trying to have a prayer each day that lasts at least 15 minutes. Honestly, prayer has been something that I have struggled with a little bit--not the part of actually saying the prayer, rather, the understanding of why we need to pray and how to pray and what the purpose of it is. I've really pondered about prayer and about God and His plan and I couldn't understand exactly why an Omnipotent, Omniscient God, who governs all things, would be influenced in any way by a mortal, imperfect, person who not only lacks knowledge, but judgement as well. I figured that to say that God is governed by or influenced by the prayers of us would be to say that He wouldn't be sufficient to produce and fulfill this perfect plan that He has made. Anyway, these and many thoughts have really occupied my mind a lot throughout my mission and I couldn't make sense of a lot of things. I tried to keep doing it because the Spirit has directed me that it is good and it is right although I don't completely understand it. But as I have participated in this challenge of our mission--to pray daily with at least one prayer that lasts for 15 minutes or longer, I have developed a more intimate and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father and my prayers have become less of a checklist and less of a series of rote statements that are repeated without meaning day after day and night after night; instead, now I have begun to talk to Him in a way that I would talk to a friend. He is our Father, I know He wants to hear us and that's one of the biggest ways that we can establish and build a relationship with him. I wouldn't say that I had serious problems with prayer and that I wasn't doing it before, I prayed a lot every day--I gained so much from my prayers throughout my mission and without them I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I'm at and I wouldn't be anything close to who I am--but my prayers have really improved. They have more meaning now. I was recently reading in Ether 3:2 where it says, "O Lord, though hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires." I think Prayers play a necessary role in us exercising faith and gaining strength and gaining blessings and help in our lives. I noticed that we really were led a lot this week and as we prayed to be led to those who needed our help it really happened. On saturday we ended up biking down a rode that we don't travel on much and we hardly ever have biked on it, but as we rode down the rode we ran across a less-active women who was having a really hard day. She had her phone broken and a few other things come up including a really deep cut on her hand that had happened earlier that day and she showed us and it definitely needed stitches. a lot of things had happened that day and she had work pretty soon and she was so stressed out and crying and we were able to help her and everything ended up working out. It was such a miracle to be in the exact right place at the exact right time. I love this gospel and I know that prayer works and God knows each of us. 
-love y'all, Elder Russell

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