Monday, February 17, 2014

Feb. 17, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,

This past week has been super rough.  Which is weird, because we taught more lessons this week than we have before.  Our investigators have kind of vanished.  We've lost all contact with Carla.  We don't know if we'll ever end up seeing her again.  We've tried our best to get a hold of her and we can only try for so long before we're completely lost and have exhausted all of our resources.  We hope she'll come back and turn her life around.  Rita's life turned upside down and backwards.  The week we taught her, her stepfather got admitted to the UCLA ICU, ended up with a blood clot in his brain and had a double bypass surgery; he's now in a vegetative state.  He real father got hit by a car...and was also arrested.  Her brothers were both arrested.  She's just been hit with adversity.  I wish we could tell her why without scaring her off.  One of our investigators that wasn't progressing had some weird things happen to her in her dreams that have scared her off from talking to us.  Things are just going wrong for our investigators.  It's super nuts.  Keep the investigators in your prayers.

So, everyone here is Catholic or Born Again.  It's funny because we'll see people and say hi to them on the street, and to try and get us gone they say "I'm Catholic! I'm Catholic!"  It's like...I know...that's why I'm talking to you.  I guess they don't understand what we do.  Things with the ward are going lots better.  Ward council was a success this week and things are progressing.  There is still a lot that needs to be done, but God has blessed us with a lot of progress in the ward.

I felt crazy trunky (the word for missing home) towards the end of the week.  Valentine's night was crazy rough.  None of the couples were interested and all of the single people were working.  Saturday was the hardest though.  Everything we had planned fell through.  We ended up going back to the apartment to look through the directory to find someone to call or someone to visit.  That was when I got your card and package.  It made my day a whole lot easier, knowing I had support.  Thanks so much for that.  It helped a ton.

Even though a lot of the people in my are live in humble circumstances, there is a lot of pride in their hearts.  I was under this impression when I came out that I would run into people all the time that are searching for guidance and truth in their lives.  There is one like that.  I thought I would be finding the "fainting struggling seaman" and I'm sure that person is out there.  There are loads of people struggling out here, but no one is looking for a rescue.  Most reject the offered hand.  We're still looking for the one that is struggling and humble enough to accept the help from the Lord.  But it's really got me thinking this last week.  The gospel isn't just for those who are struggling and looking for help.  It's for everyone.  In Preach My Gospel it talks about those who are kept from the truth because they don't know where to find it.  I've found there might be a lot of those people somewhere else, but there aren't very many in SO CAL.

So it made me wonder.  Why on earth are we teaching in SO CAL?  Clearly they aren't looking for the truth (70% of the ward has it and ignores it anyway).  So why are we giving them something they don't want.  I was actually talking about this with one of my MTC teachers.  I realized it's so easy to teach someone who is having a hard time and is looking for a way out.  But I asked her "How do you teach a happy person?"  She told me something about how everyone has scars that need healing, pain something broken something repentance blah blah blah.  Yeah I understand we all have things we need to repent of.  But the happy person isn't going to see that.  So I came to the conclusion that sometimes the gospel isn't there to just make us feel better. (That's the born again religion).  I realized that no matter what we do here, it's pointless if we're not working towards something greater.  You may be pretty content with who you are, but the fact is, God has something He wants to do with you.  You might live a pretty excellent life.  But in Ether 12, we learn that God has prepared a "more excellent way."  No matter what you do, God's plan for your is always going to be better than yours.  It kind of comes with the whole being God thing.  He's just smarter than you.  So I think it's important to realize the Gospel is here to show us that way.  That helps me when people don't want to change and become better.  It helps me when I don't want to change and become better.  God's ways are better than mine.

Thanks for all you do.  You'll probably get a letter soon asking for the Missionary Reference Library (I thought I'd get it in the MTC.  Guess not).  You are all awesome.  Keep the faith.

Elder Russell

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