Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 14, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,
Life is going great on this side of the work.  God continually watches out for His children and waits to bless them as they act in all diligence.  It's the last week of my second transfer and I'm near the end of my training (whatever that means).  Saturday we find out who's going where for next transfers and we have some pretty good ideas of what will happen.
Speaking of transfers though, Elder Williamson (one of my wardmates) got midnighted to the desert last Thursday!  Midnighted means that one day President Hobbs decides he needs someone somewhere else before transfers.  They gave Elder Williamson about a twelve hour notice and he packed his backs and left.  Haven't heard from him since and probably won't till transfers.  Meanwhile, there are two areas in my ward here and it covers half of Ontario and half of Montclair.  Elder Paulson (Elder Williamson's companion) got put into a trio with us till transfers.  So he's with us for about a week and we're covering two areas until then.  We always have something to do.  Luckily we have a car.
We got a few new investigators this past week and a couple seem pretty solid (well, all three are, but one is actually on track for baptism).  They all seem ready to hear the gospel and change their lives (I just hope we can help them with that).
The ward is doing well.  Last night I gave a fireside to the ward on how to use familysearch.org.  It's not too bad actually.  I spent a few hours the past few weeks studying up on it and got a really good feel for how it all works.  It's more fun than the youth give it credit for and easier than the seniors think.  Hop on the website when you get the chance and search for an indexing project.  There's a lot someone can do to help broaden the pool of searchable people on the website.  Elder Cook this past conference said that family history is essential for salvation.  Which pretty much means we're going to end up doing it sometime.  I think of the millennium when we'll be doing temple ordinances for those who have passed.  Wouldn't it be nice to know you contributed?  Wouldn't it be awesome when you passed on to be able to see those you know and love who went before you and to know that you were their baptism?  You did their work?  You helped them receive Christ's Atonement?  Because of you they can now have eternal life?  I think it would be pretty boss and I regret not doing it before I left.
One of our investigators is just on fire!  He totally pwns.  We committed him to baptism last week and he accepted.  Then we realized we had to teach the commandments.  No matter how much you know the commandments bless your life, there always seems to be a fear that the investigator won't see that it does bless their life and reject living it.  So we showed up and wanted to make sure he knew and recognized the spirit before we asked him to do anything.  Because the spirit is a lot better at convincing people to do things than we are.  So we walk in, sit down and start talking with him about general conference.  He loved it!  He said that he was thinking about what President Monson said and he said that he knew his neighbors for eight years and he hadn't had them over for dinner or anything and wasn't very close.  He said that he should do more as a neighbor.  I just abut crapped my pants from excitement.  Not only did he go to conference, but he wanted to apply what he learned.  I'm not sure very many members came away with the resolve to change as he did.
That resolved one of our concerns, whether or not he was willing to change.  The other one was whether or not he recognized the spirit.  So we asked him if he knew what the Holy Ghost was.  He said yes.  We figured good, he's read the bible.  We then asked him if he had ever felt it and what it felt like to him.  He responded and said that it was more than a feeling or a thought, because he knew it didn't come from him, but he said that that would be the best way to describe how it feels.  We hadn't even read him D&C 8 yet.  So we asked him how his reading was going.  He said really good, he was understanding what he was reading and he said that he felt the spirit when he read and that it led him to do good.  So we asked him where he was in his reading.  He said Alma 3.  We gave him the Book of Mormon two weeks ago!  I can't say I've ever read it that fast.  Then we asked him how he felt about Joseph Smith being a prophet.  He said he wanted to know more about him.
So he searched it....  And he said in his research that he had come across a lot of anti-Mormon literature.  He talked about how he had read that Joseph Smith had done terrible things.  He said most of what he read was heavily against Joseph Smith.  That there was very little that was positive.
We paused for a moment.  And we asked him what he thought and felt about it.  He looked at us and said "So it would make sense that he's a prophet.  I don't know of a single prophet that everyone liked, or that even a lot of people liked.  All of the prophets were rejected in the bible at one point or another."  And then I really did crap my pants from excitement.  I don't know a single person whose testimony is strengthened by reading anti-Mormon literature.  Except for him.
Anyway, that's the elect for you.  It's been confirmed to me time and time again out here that the church is true.  I know it.   Our investigator was telling us about his life.  He said a couple of years ago, he lost his mom.  He said it devastated him.  He said he got really depressed.  He ended up separating with his wife.  He lost a lot of his sanity, he lost control of his weight, his job was going terrible and he said that he almost lost his house.  It was then that he turned to God.  He started reading the bible and praying again.  As he started to do what's right, his job secured, he was able to keep his house, he finalized his divorce, he regained his health and his sanity, and his life was going a lot better.  "That's when you guys showed up, to show me what to do next."  He just amazes me.  How many investigators are prepared to hear the gospel when we show up?  Not many.  And how many recognize that they are prepared?  Only him.  He's doing so well.
I love you all and thank you for your support.  The church is true and I love being out here.  I asked President to let me stay another transfer so I could see some investigators baptized.  I hope I get to.  God is not a God of chance.  He knows what He's doing, and it is for our benefit.  Study the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.  But do more than study them, live them.  Stand as a witness at all times, in all things, and in all places.  Keep the faith.
Elder Russell

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