Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,
So the was a little rough, not gonna lie.  But those weeks happen, and it's okay.  It's just really discouraging sometimes. :P  Haha no but the week went fast, so it wasn't a long rough.  It was just a quick rough.  So that made it alright as well.  It was crazy hot though.  When I got here, everyone was like "No, it usually doesn't get over 100 degrees here, even during the summer." was totally 108 last week.  Which is officially the hottest weather I've ever been in.  So it was fun biking in that.  It actually wasn't that bad.
On Friday, Elder King and I were at an interview for an investigator in our district (Elder King is District Leader) and right after the interview we get a call from the brother of one of our investigators.  I pick it up and he started telling me about kittens.  He was talking pretty fast, so I couldn't really understand what he was saying so I was super confused.  "No, we can't actually have pets, so we can't take a kitten."  I said.  "No, they're stuck in a pipe."  He said, which I thought was kind of weird, why would anyone try and give a pipe with a kitten in it to anyone?  It took a little conversing for me to figure out what he was actually trying to say.  Apparently a cat had kittens in his back yard, and when the kittens got old enough to walk, they fell into a sewer pipe (which was technically supposed to be closed, but for some reason it wasn't) in his back yard.  They had been meowing for about four days, but he thought they were under his house and that they just lived there.  I don't know how he found out they were in the pipe.  But anyway, he was able to get one out, but the other was stuck in an area he couldn't reach.  So we started digging up the pipe to see if we could cut it and reach the kitten. When we got to the pipe, we found out it was clay (very hard to cut/break).  This was about and hour into it (he had been at this since was now 5pm.)  Long story short, we called some plumbers and they dug a hole (in the right spot...) cut the pipe and got the kitten out.  We really didn't do a whole lot...but it was cool that the first people that came to our investigator's mind to help was us.  And, we have an article about it in the local newspaper (Sunday's) and the two main pictures are of me holding the kitten.  That was kinda cool.  There are missionaries talking to us from all over the valley about the article.  It's really kind of humorous because we didn't really do anything.  Go figure.  Oh yeah, and the kitten's fine now--it was adopted by one of the plumbers.
My bike was also stolen this past week.  That was...depressing.  So now I'm borrowing my roommate's bike.  He's trying to sell it to me...but it's not exactly the best bike in the mission (he got it at a yard sale for $30.)  I think the most depressing part about the bike being stolen is it technically wasn't even my bike.  When I got to the mission, they gave me one to borrow till I got my own.  For some reason I was under the impression that it was a permanent loan.  Well, now I have to get my own bike anyway.  I just hope Elder Parker (former missionary who left his bike in the mission) doesn't come back to haunt me.  The deal is, when I go home, I leave my bike behind.  Which I'm okay with.
I've been thinking loads about repentance this week.  I've read some more from the Miracle of Forgiveness and just from some other things that have happened in the week, it seems to be a pretty prominent subject for me recently.  I guess it should be since it is one of the first principles of the gospel.  It really is an incredible opportunity to repent and become better.
So often we get got up in the mysteries of the gospel (where Kolob is located, why bad things happen to good people, anything in the book of Revelations) and we miss what is really important.  You know the Gospel of Jesus Christ is really just Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End.  That  The whole thing.  Everything else is just important to know.  Priesthood Authority, The Plan of Salvation,  The commandments, the laws and ordinances--they're all just pieces that shoot off from the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.  Shyeah, the gospel really is as simple as that.
Accordingly, the Atonement of Christ was suffered to bring about the Gospel.  Had the atonement not taken place, the Gospel would not exist, and there would be no salvation.  Sometimes I forget that living by faith (not by sight) is a privilege.  Sometimes I forget that repentance is not a punishment, it's the complete opposite.  Baptism isn't just a ordinance, it's a covenant made so we can receive the blessing of the spirit.  Enduring to the end is not a sentence placed on us for this life, it's and ongoing outreach of our Father in Heaven to extend forgiveness.
Everything thing in the gospel (God's entire work and glory) is to bring us eternal life.  The Atonement of Christ allows us to access that on conditions of repentance.  What an amazing opportunity.  And that opportunity never leaves.  Ever.  It takes time, it hurts often, it brings humility, sorrow, remorse, reconciliation, restitution, change.  But it brings peace, confidence, spirit, love, knowledge, light, physical and spiritually blessings, purpose, joy in this life and the next.  It's totally worth it too.
Anyway, I gotta run.  How was reading Chapter 6 of PMG?  What were your attributes you chose?  What have you done to work on them?  Did you follow the prayerful commitment pattern?
As always, I want to let you know the church is true, it always has been and always will be.  I love and appreciate all you have done for me.  Keep the faith and don't you dare ever go back on it.
Elder Russell
P.S.  I'll see if I can send pictures later today.  The library is kicking me out of the computer system for time. ;)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 4, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,
The fire didn't destroy too much.  It was up in the preserve at Rancho Cucamonga though.  I'm in Ontario so we didn't get too many effects.  Just ash, smoke, and wind.  It got in our eyes while we were biking though and made it hard to breathe.  Yeah totally not comfortable, but it's okay.  it cleared up by the middle of the first day.  But the wind kept coming for the next two days.  It was nuts.  I don't recommend biking in ash and smoke.  It's not the easiest.  But everything is all good now.  Elder King and I were talking and we both wanted to go foreign speaking, foreign country, cold missions (well, for me, that or south America).  Haha yeah, we both ended up in SoCal.  It's great here though!  I really do have a blast.  Finding, as always, is tough.  But the people are pretty nice here.
The work is fun, as always.  This week was totally exhausting!  Yesterday was really hard to keep awake.  It was probably because we had a BAPTISM on Saturday night!  Maggie and Erik (our awesome investigators) are officially members of the church.  It took a whole bunch of work trying to make schedules fit because it ended up being a week earlier than planned, but they were baptized on Saturday night.  It was so awesome to be there.  Maggie's friend Bro Peterson baptized her and Elder Bringhurst came back to baptize Erik.  Then on Sunday I got the opportunity to confirm Erik.  He's such an awesome kid.  He's nine and I'm pretty sure his testimony is prophet material.  He's super bright and kind.  Maggie's husband showed up and also came to church the next day for the confirmations.  We have plans to teach him starting on Wednesday.  He's open and receptive, but it needs to go slow.  Pray for him!  His name is Maricio.  He's super cool and he got along well with those at church.  He'll be awesome.
However, now this week will be super hard as well, most of our lessons and plans this past week went toward Maggie and Erik's baptism, so now we have to focus on finding and put more attentions to that.  But we're excited.  Elder King is good at finding and teaching.  So it shouldn't be too hard.
Oh yeah!  This crazy thing happened this week as well.  Two days after the fire, there was this huge flood in the south end of Montclair (part of my area).  There were a few blocks of homes that were evacuated and the missionaries were called to help those in the city.  So we were flying priesthood power.  And we were swooping people up into the air and carrying them away to safety.  Okay, that's not true, but that's the kind of thing that goes through a missionary's mind when he's caught daydreaming.
No this week has just been a lot of fun and super draining.  As far as Mother's Day goes.  Just be ready all day.  We're going over to a member's house for dinner and then they'll let us Skype after I think.  So it'll probably be 7-8pm or thereabouts.  But still just be ready starting right after church. ;)  Also, yes, we are Skyping, I only have a Skype account and to get a face time I would need 1) an iPhone, and 2) an apostate website.
Haha!  That reminds me.  Anytime we see something that involves something outside of the rules, we always call it apostate.  So we call any websites that aren't apostate websites.  We call hearing music that's on the radio apostate (or gentile music).  It's just fun saying apostate.  You kind of learn to cherish the little things as a missionary.
Recently, Elder Hernandez and I have started going down to the track at Ontario High before breakfast to go running.  We time our mile every Tuesday morning.  ...I'm a lot slower than I was a year ago.  I won't tell you I'm a minute slower...but I totally am at the mile.  It's kind of sad...but at the same time...I don't really care.
We lost touch with one of our most solid investigators because his work schedule changed.  Dangit!  But we'll keep praying for him.  He is still really awesome and I have no doubt that one day he'll be baptized.  I just hope sooner than later.  That's always disappointing.
I started reading the miracle of forgiveness.  Sometimes I wonder if President Kimball just makes sins up.  And then I read his sources and realize no, he's telling the truth.  Which makes me feel less than awesome.  Elder Simpson (one of my ZLs) was reading some of it and he always says "Well...he pegged everyone on the planet with that paragraph."  Unfortunately...Elder Simpson says that about every paragraph.  It's kind of humorous, but at the same time, it makes me feel bad.  Because there is so much sin and there's not a single soul that doesn't sin.  Repentance truly is an amazing thing.
I love and pray for you.  I miss you loads and wish I could be there with you.  But actually I don't.  I wish you could be here with me.  How did PMG study go on chapter 2? (Yeah, I'm following up on your study as well).  Read chapter 13 this week and figure out what your responsibilities are in finding people to teach.  Also to see how you can help others in their callings.  Keep the faith!
Elder Russell
P.S.  Sorry I don't have a specific time to call you on mothers day.  We don't have a time set up yet.  But I figure you'll be home all day anyway (it's the Sabbath).  That or doing things for other mothers.  Which in that case, it would be okay if you miss my call because you're serving.  However, I do want you to meet this family we're Skyping with.
P.P.S.  This is Maggie, Erik, Elder Bringhurst, Elder King, and myself at the baptism.